1790-1799 - William Wilberforce & The Louvre & The Meter

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1790  

George Washington is president – George III is king of England/William Pitt is the prime minister – Catherine the Great is tsarina of  Russia – Charles IV is king of Spain – Louis XVI is king of France (last French king) – Frederick William II is king of Prussia – Leopold II ascends to the thrones of The Holy Roman Empire, Germany, Hungary, Croatia and  Bohemia (all kingdoms part of the Holy Roman Empire) on September 30

Leopold I is born to Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld and Countess Augusta of Reuss-Ebersdorf he later becomes the first King of the Belgians in 1831 [Germany on the Belgian throne]

A snapshot of how the city of London emptied annually: For want of money John Byng, a retired naval officer, “reluctantly worked in London from 1782, as a commissioner of stamps and was relieved to leave his employment each summer and travel rural England, which he so loved. In August 1790, as he headed northwards to Biggleswade, Byng witnessed the annual desertion of the city: ‘The roads are now crowded as London empties in August and fills in February.’ In a guide to London published that same year, advice was given on renting houses: ‘The dearest season is from Christmas to June, when families are in town and the parliament is sitting; the cheapest, when families are out of town, and the parliament prorogued.’” (JAE 82)

Thomas Young, at 17 years old, reads Isaac Newton’s book Opticks for the first time (he starts his own investigation on light and sound while at Cambridge in 1797) (LMWKE 95)

August 24, William Wilberforce turns 31 

December 16, Jane Austen turns 15 

December 17, Ludwig Beethoven turns 20

 

1791 

George Washington is president/John Adams is vice president – George III is king of England/William Pitt is prime minister – Catherine the Great is tsarina of Russia – Charles IV is king of Spain – Louis XVI is king of France (last French king) – Frederick William II is king of Prussia – Leopold II is on the thrones of The Holy Roman Empire, Germany, Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia

March 2, John Wesley dies in London

Sacagawea is approx. 3 years old

“Towns and cities across England were expanding rapidly, leading Horace Walpole in 1791 to comment: ‘There will soon be one street from London to Brentford, ay, and from London to every village ten miles around!…Bath shoots out in crescents, circuses, and squares every year: Birmingham, Manchester, Hull and Liverpool would serve any King in Europe for a capital.” He also wrote, “I have twice been going to stop my coach in Piccadilly, thinking there was a mob,” only to realize it was the usual Londoners “sauntering or trudging” down the thoroughfare (LTA 302)

Anne Radcliff’s novel, The Romance of the Forest, with a romantic French location, is published

The First Illustrated, Family Bible is printed in the United States by Isaac Collins and Isaiah Thomas

August 24, William Wilberforce turns 32 years old, during this year he brings the motion to abolish the slave trade again (first time was in 1789) back to the House of Commons, but it is defeated in a 163 to 88 vote

September 30, Mozart’s last opera, The Magic Flute, premiers at the rustic Theater auf der Wieden near Vienna, “On one level, The Magic Flute is a simple fairy tale concerning a damsel in distress and the handsome prince who rescues her. Beneath the surface however, the piece is much more complex. It is an allegory of the quest for wisdom and enlightenment as presented through symbols of Freemasonry; Mozart and Schikandeder (the theatrical producer) were both Freemasons” (The first Grand Lodge, an association of lodges, was founded in England in 1717) (EB)

December 5, Mozart dies

Thomas Young spends the last two months of 1791 staying with his great uncle, Dr. Brocklesby, at his house on Park Lane in London and is introduced to his intellectual circle of friends, normally he would stay at Barclay’s house in Red Lion Square, Thomas notes in his journal on December 12 that Dr. Lawrence, Sir George Baker, Richard Porson and another came to dinner; and that one of them read out Dr. Johnson’s Latin poem written in completion of his great dictionary, meanwhile “the alcohol flowed convivially around the table—at least into Porson’s glass if not Young’s (as a Quaker he abstained), who remembered occasions when the subtlest nuances of Greek were discussed and dissected while Porson was ‘somewhat characteristically attempting to fill his glass out of an empty bottle.’” Haha (LMWKE 28-29)

August 24, William Wilberforce turns 32 

December 16, Jane Austen turns 16 

December 17, Ludwig Beethoven turns 21 

 

1792  

George Washington is president/John Adams is vice president) – George III is king of England/William Pitt is prime minister – Catherine the Great is tsarina of Russia – Charles IV is king of Spain – Louis XVI is king of France (last French King) – Frederick William II is on the Prussian throne – Francis II becomes the king of Germany as well as the last Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (the Holy Roman Empire dissolves in 1806, but just before that he becomes the Emperor of Austria in 1804 as Francis I)

In May, two French astronomers, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre and Pierre Méchain, are selected to go on expedition to find out that the measurement is between the North Pole and the equator, this is in order to come up with a standard measurement: the meter; The meter will be one ten millionth (1/10,000,000) of the distance between the North Pole and the equator; The two men will finish the expedition in 1798, and all the data they gathered will be then presented to an international conference if savants in Paris in 1799 (Wikipedia)

Thomas Young spends his last summer of rural calm at Youngsbury with Barclay, and in the fall, at age 19 he moves to London and takes lodgings in Westminster not far from his medical lectures and his great uncle Brocklesby’s house (and not too close either, one may imagine in Young’s thinking), from now on, he became a citizen of the world’s greatest metropolis, and began his studies as a medical student, though at the time, none of London’s six general hospitals had a medical school, and only St. Bartholomew’s Hospital offered regular medical lectures, however, there were many privates lecture courses on offer (LMWKE 31 and 33)

August 24, William Wilberforce turns 33 years old, during this year, he again brings the motion to abolish slavery which is now supported by hundreds of thousands of British subjects who had signed petitions favoring the abolition of the slave trade, however, a compromise measure supported by Home Secretary henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, which calls for gradual abolition is agreed to and passed in the House of Commons, much to the disappointment of Wilberforce and his supporters (for the next 15 years, Wilberforce isn’t able to achieve very much toward ending the slave trade—in part because of the domestic preoccupation with the war against Napoleon, see 1807 next)

In England, “Following the French Revolution grotesquely elaborate fashions gave way to naturalistic styles, imitating the Classical world. Ladies wore simple gowns based on Greek and Roman styles that were copied from the many archaeological finds being unearthed at places like Pompeii and Herculaneum. Men’s fashions were influenced by more practical military dress, which resulted in sober clothing, more suitable for country life than the extravagance of the urban fashions of the preceding period. Advances in technology also saw the textile industry shifting into factories, so that many more clothes were made of new cotton fabrics (using imported cotton-wool) rather than the traditional woolen, linen and silk fabrics.” (JAE 115)

August 24, William Wilberforce turns 33

December 16, Jane Austen turns 17

December 17, Ludwig Beethoven is 22

 

1793  

George Washington is president/John Adams is vice president – George III is king England/William Pitt is the English prime minister – Catherine the Great is tsarina of Russia – Charles IV is king of Russia – Frederick William II is king of Prussia – Francis II is on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany

January 21, Louis XVI, king of France, and Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, are executed, aged 38 and 37, at the Place de la Révolution in Paris, and the French monarchy is abolished

The Musee du Louvre is established in Paris

August 24, William Wilberforce turns 34

October 8, John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, dies, aged 56, at Hancock Manor, Boston, Massachusetts

December 16, Jane Austen turns 18

December 17, Ludwig Beethoven is 23

 

1794  

George Washington is president/John Adams is vice president – King George III is on the throne of  England/William Pitt is the English Prime Minister – Catherine the Great is on the Russian throne – Charles IV is on the Spanish throne – Frederick William II is on the Prussian throne – Francis II is on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany – France is a Republic, no monarchy

Port of Odessa founded by order of Catharine the Great (Catherine II) Empress of Russia, who at some point is inoculated against smallpox by an English doctor named Thomas Dimsdale (and given the title Baron Dimsdale for having done so), Baron Dimsdale goes on to try and help Thomas Young with his consumption

While en route to Cornwall to study its mines and mineralogy for a few weeks, Thomas Young and his friend Gurney visit Young’s parents in Milverton, as well as his great uncle Brocklesby’s patient, the duke of Richmond in Bath, Richmond was there taking the waters under the advice of Brocklesby, while there Thomas Young made a very good impression on him, and was later offered the job of being Richmond’s personal secretary as he was both a politician and military man, but Young decli nes the offer, as he wants to continue with his medical studies (LMWKE 40)

June 19, Thomas Young is elected to become a member of the Royal Society, a week after his 21st birthday, the proposal was made in March, and signed by several physicians, including William Heberden Jr., a physician to St. George’s Hospital and to King George III (LMWKE 38), after this, Young leaves London on horseback (there are no railways yet) to travel to Edinburgh for medical school, along the way, he stops off in Derbyshire and visits the vicar of Buxton (a friend of his uncle Brocklesby) who introduces him to Robert Bakewell, a pioneer in the scientific method of breeding livestock, he went on from there and visited Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles Darwin) who’s book, Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life, had just been published, Young later wrote some sever criticisms of this book in a letter, but still, “he [Young] very much enjoyed his visit to Darwin’s house, writing later, “He gave me my choice of looking over three cabinets, of cameos, of minerals, and of plants; the last two I viewed superficially, but spent some time with him in admiring a collection of impressions bought in Italy: he says that he borrowed much of the imager of his poetry from the graceful expression and vigorous conception which they breathe,” and Darwin wrote flatteringly of his guest, “He unites the scholar with the philosopher, and cultivation of modern arts with the simplicity of ancient manners,” Young reached Edinburgh on October 20, found lodgings in St. James’s Square, and was immediately immersed in studies and society (LMWKE 43)

Ann Radcliff’s novel Mysteries of Uldolpho, which takes place in sixteenth-century France and Italy is published

December 16, Jane Austen turns 19

 

1795 

George Washington is president/John Adams is vice president – George III is on king of England/William Pitt is prime minister – Catherine the Great is tsarina of Russia – Charles IV is king of Spain – Frederick William II is king of Prussia – Francis II is emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany – France is a Republic, no monarchy

April 8, the future king George IV is forced to marry Caroline Amelia Elizabeth, daughter of Charles II, duke of Brunswick, at St. James Palace (they had one daughter together)

June 8, “King” Louis Charles (son of executed French king Louis XVI) dies at Paris Temple, France (he was rumored by many to have been smuggled out of prison and still lived in the 1800s, in fact there is a character in Huckleberry Finn (1884) that is supposed to be him, the lost king)

By this time, there are probably family Bibles in most homes (I’m sure Jane Austen’s family had one, King George III definitely had access to one, and so did his son, Prince George IV, William Wilberforce turns 36 years old on August 24, he definitely has a Bible)  

David Barclay of Youngsbury (Barclay banking family), with whom Thomas Young (double split experiment) had previously stayed with (he turns 22 years old on June 13), spends 3,000 pounds to liberate 30 slaves from a plantation that has fallen to him in Jamaica, Barclay is an abolitionist as is his young house guest, Thomas Young, who won’t have sugar, or any other food product that comes from the slave trade, right now Thomas Young is in Edinburgh at medical school during the spring semester, while he at school, he takes up the flute, dancing (he thinks he can improve the minuet with ruler and compass) and even theater going, he goes and sees Sarah Siddons! (original painting of her at the Huntington Library and Gardens), he saw her in plays titled Douglas, The Grecian Daughter, The Mourning Bride, The Provoked Husband, The Fatal Marriage, Macbeth, and Venice Preserved, because of this, some of the Quakers in the town are a little miffed at this, and when admonished by one of them he says he “thought it right to go, etc. etc., as civilly as I could,” then, after school is out, Thomas Young packs up a horse with everything he needs from clothing to paper and colors and parchment for sketching, paper and twine to wrap up minerals and solutions to preserve insects, and then just goes off into the Scottish Highlands by himself, for heaven’s sake, but he does stop at some places with wonderful hospitality, (read LMWKE 48 for a wonderful description of this), he returns to Edinburgh on August 6 to pack things up and see some friends, he then rides south to England, stopping in the Lake District, in Liverpool and in north Wales, he sells his horse in Birmingham and proceeds to London by coach to his great uncle’s house who was anxiously waiting for him (remember he’s 22 right now), after this he heads off to Germany to go to medical school at the Göttingen University (partly founded by George II of England back in 1737, by a pleasing coincidence, this university will excel in physics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when it becomes a founding center of quantum mechanics, there in 1833 Karl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber invent an electromagnetic telegraph, when the coincidence was discovered in 1911, a plaque commemorating Young was placed on the building next to the tablet commemorating Gauss and Weber)

At this time, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish (1748-1811), is living at Chatsworth, he is married to Lady Georgiana Spencer (1757-1806), during his time, his Devonshire House in London becomes the center of Whig party politics and Georgiana reigns as queen of society and fashion

In London, “A new building rises in Capel Court to house the London Stock Exchange, it’s voices are recorded in The Bank Mirror of 1795. ‘A mail come in—what news? What news? Steady, steady—consols for tomorrow—A great house has stopt—Payment of the Five per Cents commences—Across the Rhine—the Austrians routed!—the French pursuing! Four per cents for the opening!’ The Bank of England and the Stock Exchange still dominate this small compact area of land. The Mansion House stands close by, on the site of the original Stocks Market, where fish and flesh were traded from the thirteenth century. And so this trinity of institutions may mark one of the city’s sacred sites. A study of successive maps shows the area being more and more darkly engraved, as the building of the Bank of England gradually grew in size until it took up the entire area between Lothbury and Threadneedle Street.”

December 16, Jane Austen turns 20 

 

1796  

George Washington is president – King George III is on the throne of England – Catherine the Great is on the Russian throne – Charles IV is on the Spanish throne – Frederick William II is on the Prussian throne – Francis II is on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany – Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld marries Catharine the Great’s son, the Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich of Russia (second in line to the Russian throne) at 14 years old, they have a very unhappy marriage – William Pitt is the English Prime Minister – “Many grand country homes and smaller houses were being constructed or rebuilt in what we today call the ‘Georgian’ style, such as Dodington House near Bath, a sixteenth century manor house that was completely rebuilt over many years from 1796” (JAE 81)

December 16, Jane Austen turns 21

 

1797  

John Adams becomes the 2nd president of the United States on March 4King George III is on the throne of England – Paul I ascends to the Russian throne in November – Charles IV is on the Spanish throne – Frederick William II is on the Prussian throne until November 16 when Frederick William III ascends the throne at age 27 (he reigns until 1840) – Francis II is on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany

William Pitt is the English Prime Minister “In June 1797 George MacAulay, a merchant insurer, remarked on London’s expansion: ‘In the evening I walked sev’ral times round Finsbury Square, a place which now approaches nearly to the elegance of the Squares in the West. I remember it a place for rubbish, and not a House built!’ This square was where James Lackington had just established London’s largest bookstore.” (JAE 83)

In November, Thomas Young is made president of the Emmanuel College Parlour (or common room), he was not unpopular, but was also not part of the whole college “scene,” you might say, then on December 13, he went to visit his great uncle Brocklesby at his home in London, Thomas had dinner with him, and he was in good spirits, but right after having retired to bed, Brocklesby died suddenly, he left the greater half of his fortune, including his Irish estates to his other nephew, Mr. Beeby, and about half of the remaining fortune went to Thomas, including his house and furniture in his London home in Norfolk Street, his library, prints and pictures, along with 10,000 pounds (about fifty times that in present day), “At least a part of Young’s mind must have been relieved to see old Brocklesby go, though naturally he put nothing on the subject on paper. His death came at the perfect moment for his great-nephew, when he was no longer in need of help or guidance, and liberated him from immediate financial worries. Young transferred some of his own books from Emmanuel College to his great-uncles residence in London, imported some pictures from there into Emmanuel to make his college rooms cheerful, and acquired a horse and servant…when he returned to London from Cambridge for good two years later, the world would truly be his oyster.” (LMWKE 65)

The Portland Font is made between 1797-98, it is a 22-carat gold font with figures of Faith, Hope and Charity, and was designed in the neo-classical style by Humphrey Repton and made in the London workshop of Paul Storr. Now housed in the British Museum (CBM 137)

For a map of London in 1797 see the book Jane Austen’s England 

December 16, Jane Austen turns 22

 

1798 

John Adams is president – King George III is on the throne of England – Paul I is on the Russian throne – Charles IV is on the Spanish throne – Frederick William III is on the Prussian throne – Francis II is on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany – William Pitt is the English Prime Minister 

Mayer Amschel Rothschild’s son, Nathan Mayer Rothschild, is sent to England to further the family interests in textile importing with 20,000 English pounds of capital (equivalent of 2.1 million pounds in 2020), Nathan Rothschild later became a naturalized citizen of England in 1804 and established a bank in the City of London—the first Rothschild foreign branch (Wikipedia)

January 11, Alexander Hamilton turns 41 (or 43) 

Thomas Young, an English Polymath (double-slit experiment) writes to his brother, “Although I have readily fallen in with the idea of assisting you in your learning, yet [there] is in reality very little that a person who is seriously and industriously disposed to improve may not obtain from books with more advantage than from a living instructor…Masters and Mistresses are very necessary to compensate for want of inclination and exertion: but whoever would arrive at excellence must be self-taught,” at this time, he is attending Emmanuel College in Cambridge and self-teaching himself quite a bit, since he had already spent a year at Edinburgh and a year in Germany getting an education in Physic, and Cambridge didn’t have a medical school, but still he was required to go there for two years before he could come to London and practice medicine, he is 25 years old right now (LMWKE 15/65)

December 16, Jane Austen turns 23

 

1799  

KINGS & PRESIDENTS: John Adams is president – George III is king of England/William Pitt is prime minister – Paul I is tsar of Russia – Charles IV is king of Spain – Frederick William III is king of Prussia – Francis II is emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany –

“An Article in the Edinburgh Magazine in January 1799 examined why novels were so popular: ‘we fly for relief from the sameness of real life to the composition called the Novels. In them we find common things related in an uncommon way, which is precisely the remedy we have been seeking to vary our amusements…It is this art of making much out of little that reconciles us to a course of novel-reading. We find how tame and insipid real life is; we awake in the morning, dress ourselves, go out shopping or visiting, and return in perfect safety to the same employment or amusements this day that we returned to yesterday, and which will probably engage our time to-morrow. It is not remarkable, therefore, if young and active spirits become tired of a routine so dull and unvarying, and are desirous of adventures which may distinguish them from the common herd of their neighbors…Such are to be found in novels.’” (JAE intro xxi)

After an 8 year long expedition of gathering data for the measurement between the North Pole and the equator, French astronomers, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre and Pierre Méchain present their findings to an international conference held in Paris, in order to standardize a unit of measurement, the meter; A meter is 1/10,000,000th of the distance between the North Pole and the equator 

Thomas Young is still attending Emmanuel College during this year, he turns 26 years old on June 13 – The Royal Institution on London is founded by Count Rumford, a physicist of importance and also a determined, flamboyant and unscrupulous American of royalist sympathies, originally born plain Benjamin Thompson into a farming family in Massachusetts, who had obtained his title as a count of the Holy Roman Empire while acting as war and police minister for the elector of Bavaria, unlike the Royal Society which was focused on science and lectured to scientists, the Royal Institution was to bring science to non-scientists for the purpose of finding ways to apply science in every day life, although physics was one topic, so was bread-making, the design of cottages and cottage fireplaces, how to make cheap soup for the poor, etc.

December 14, George Washington dies at his home in Mount Vernon, aged 67

December 16, Jane Austen turns 24 years old

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