Wickham's Further Treachery
Posted by Roger V on June 16, 1998 at 00:18:23:
This might be a bit of a stretch for this site, and perhaps this theory would be better put to use in a "Bits Of Ivory" story, but I at the moment don't have the ambition for it!
The details of Wickham's military service are rather sketchy (possibly on purpose), but if we consider possible locations at the time P&P was published, two come to mind-- the first is of course the Continent, but the second is North America, where the War of 1812 was being fought.
By what had to be one of the most monumental blunders in American military history, cities like Baltimore were well-defended, but the capital, Washington, DC had virtually no defenses at all. Consequently, it was no problem for British forces to march into the city and set much of it on fire in August, 1814. The two biggest "targets" were the Executive Mansion (not yet called the "The White House," and the Capitol, which at the time consisted of two standstone "wings" connected together by a wooden gallery, and which housed both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Fledgling Library of Congress.
Anyway, I do have a point to all this, which is that since most of us are pretty well agreed that Wickham was a total scoundrel, then he probably also was heavily involved in the burning of Washington. Possibly he urged his men to further acts of vandalism than orders from higher up had specified, and he probably helped himself to sliver and other valuables in the Executive Mansion before it was burned. Legend has it that British troops found the dining table still set when they entered the building.
Now, if you will bear with me a little longer, I will mention that the First Lady at this time was an incredibly intelligent, resourceful woman named Dolly Todd Madison, wife of President James Madison. She is credited with saving a number of irreplacable items from the Executive Mansion, the chief one being an original painting of George Washington. When the government returned to Washington, she carried on her duties as First Lady with incredible skill, despite the improvised quarters she had to work with. And, I'm quite certain she MUST have read Jane Austin!
For a little more information about Dolley, the link below will take you to an online article about her. Even if you don't read the article, it contains a portrait of Dolley (probably in her later years) in an Empire-style gown, demonstrating that fashion, even then, had no trouble crossing the Atlantic! Another portrait of her, as a younger woman, but also wearing the same style clothing now hangs in the Red Room of the White House.
As I said in the beginning, this all is a bit of a "stretch" to be included in the RoP, but at least in American eyes, having Wickham involved in burning the Executive Mansion brings him to a new low!
- Link: Dolley Madison
- A Small Fly Ken 15:36:35 6/16/98 (4)
- Wickham the scoundrel Jill s 14:21:22 6/16/98 (1)
- Have you read "Flashman"? Linden 21:01:33 6/16/98 (0)
- Scoundrel or 'Hero'? Marie-Bernadette 10:29:27 6/16/98 (2)
- Hey, Wait a Minute! Roger V 13:51:29 6/16/98 (1)
- I'm a Gemini; we always contradict ourselves; however... Marie-Bernadette 17:32:32 6/16/98 (0)
- Dolley Madison's fashions Carolyn B 08:11:32 6/16/98 (0)
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