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|I don't think that France
Written by JulieW
(5/29/2007 9:26 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, CH. 35 Letter & Elopement..., penned by Moni
Frank Austen was in Ramsgate in 1803 specifically to help train fencibles: look at this from Chapter 8 of Jane Austen and Her Sailor Brothers by J.H. Hubback and Edith C Hubback:
At the peace of Amiens, Francis Austen, among many other officers, went on half-pay; but when war broke out again in 1803, we find him at Ramsgate, employed in raising a body of "Sea Fencibles." This service was instituted chiefly on the advice of Captain Popham, who had tried something of the same kind in Flanders in 1793.
The object, of course, was to protect the coast from invasion. The corps was composed of fishermen, commanded in each district by an officer in the Navy, whose duty it was to quarter the men on the beach, exercise them, and to have the beaches watched whenever the weather was favourable for the enemy to land. The men were exercised once a week, and were paid at the rate of a shilling a day, with a food allowance when on service.
Captain Austen's report on the coast of the district lying between the North Foreland and Sandown is a document of considerable detail, dealing with the possible landing-places for a hostile army. He comes to the conclusion that in moderate weather a landing might be effected on many parts of this coast, particularly in Pegwell Bay, where "the enemy would have no heights to gain," and, further, "that any time of tide would be equally favourable for the debarkation of troops on this shore." But "in blowing weather, open flat boats filled with troops would doubtless many of them be lost in the surf, while larger vessels could not, from the flatness of the coast, approach sufficiently near." Of course, all is subject to "the enemy's evading our cruisers, and getting past the ships in the Downs."
This time at Ramsgate was of importance to Francis, for it was here that he met, and became engaged to, Mary Gibson, who was his wife for seventeen years.
Their more likely destination-Wickham needed to marry Georgiana remember to get his hands on her lovely money: if she had not set up a separte trust to protect her money prior to marriage then , on her marriage, all her money ,property etc legally became her husband's-was Scotland or, possibly the Channel Islands where the strictures imposed by Lord Chancellor Hardwick's Marriage Act (1753) did not apply.
Georgianan was under age( under the age of 21) therefore she could not legally marry in England or Wales without obtaining her guardians' consent . Look at this post on elopment (beware it contains spoilers for later chapters in P+P)for further elucidation ;-)
Of course, if they got to Scotland( or the Channel Islands) they could be married legally without the consent of Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. It is my opinion that Wickham would have wasted no time in consummating the marriage: in fact he proably planned to rid Georgiana of her honour on the way to Scotland to use this fact as bargaining point should he and Georgiana be discovered before they got married, don't you think?
Darcy did come upon Gerogiana unexpectedly,IMHO. Wickham and Mrs Younge appear to have been acting in concert. I daresay Mrs Younge expected to benefit financially from the marraige too. I should imagine that Mrs Younge informed Wikcham of the details of the place they were staying and organised an "accidental" meeting. Wickham had probably been in Ramsgate for a few weeks in order to work on Georgiana,and convince her of his love. Georgiana probably would not suspect his evil intent.
I'm sure Darcy would take Georgiana back to either London or Derbyshire after this event. He could not have forseen that what was supposed to be a happy interval for his sister- straight from school enjoying the delights of a summer at a quiet seaside resort under the care of a trusted servant- would end in her near disgrace.
I hope that has covered your queries,Moni .
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