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Pamela's Virtue and the Gift of Fear

The sequel to the first modern novel is published this year. Up until now, novels have been a series of short stories rather than a single unified plot. Robinson Caruso came close to being a modern novel, but it reads like a travelogue. Now comes the first novel with a plot line, "Pamela... or Virtue Rewarded" by Samuel Richardson. Richardson is a printer who is encouraged to write an essay on virtue. Instead, he writes a romance novel for young girls which includes real character development. Pamela is 16 years old and works as a servant in a gentleman's home. Her master makes a number of advances but she manages to keep her virtue... just barely. He eventually offers her marriage and she accepts. In volume 2, Pamela is making cookies and jams while trying to fit into English high society. The third volume is published this year. The series is hokey even for its time, but it is an instant best seller... and it is considered a little racy... which really helps sales. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Samuel Richardson made extra money writing letters on behalf of illiterate, love-sick girls, so he developed a sense for what worried them. Apparently, they were worried about rape. Women in general and young girls in particular were extremely dependent upon a man for shelter, and protection. Even with a presumed gentleman, a young girl could end up in a wrestling match until he came across with the ring. Nowadays, women have forgotten how to manage men. Look at any movie from the 1950s and you'll see forceful feminine models. Instead of crying at their desk when Mr. Jones offers to do things to her that no other man can do, she stands up and shouts, "Mr. Jones! You are a married man!" Without making a direct accusation, everyone knows he is being crude. On the other hand, rape is violence and entirely different. I suggest reading, "The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence" by Gavin de Becker. We are all given small clues that we ignore but our instincts are telling us to run! He teaches how to listen to your instincts. It applies to men and women, and I believe his advice has saved my life at least once. [5]

The Negro Conspiracy and the Irish Famine

It is a Wednesday in March when the Lieutenant Governor's mansion located at Fort George catches fire. The fire spreads to a chapel and another building. It is considered an accident. The Next Wednesday, a fire at a captain's home, and the third Wednesday, a fire at a port-side warehouse. New York is in hysterics. They believe it is a conspiracy to burn the city to the ground and there are plenty of people to blame... like the Irish and the Negros. Manhattan has the second largest slave population of the 13 colonies at about 20%. (Number one is Charleston, South Carolina.) At the scene of the 10th fire, a slave is seen leaving so the investigation focuses on slaves. That is where Caesar and "Negro Peg" come into the picture. Caesar is a slave working at Fort George which is the location of the 1st fire and he is in love with "Negro Peg" who lives over a dock-side tavern. The tavern is a general meeting place for people who are drinking away their troubles. Well... they sure have trouble now. After the 13th fire there is a quick investigation and trial, 34 defendants are executed including the four white ringleaders. [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Did it really happen? The fires happened, certainly. Was it a negro conspiracy? I doubt it. It looks more like an accidental fire at the Lieutenant Governor's mansion. The two Wednesday fires afterward were probably a coincidence. After that, people panicked and blamed anyone who was different. They were already very fearful of a Spanish invasion and the flood of Irish Catholic immigrants was not helping. (The Spanish were Catholic. Generally the Irish were Catholic. See the connection? Me neither but it made sense to them back then.) Ireland was going through a famine after extreme cold and rain caused a massive crop failure. (This was not the potato famine. That was much, much later.) There were a lot of Ulster Irish Protestants already in the Colonies so because of all the fear, uncertainty and doubt about the Irish Catholics, the Irish Protestants started calling themselves the Scotch-Irish. The Scotch-Irish will become vital to the American Revolution and to the building of Washington, DC. [9]

A Famous Backstabber is born!

Benedict Arnold is born in Connecticut. He will become one of the bravest, competent and most trusted generals of the American Revolution. He will stand side-by-side with Ethan Allen at the assault on Fort Ticonderoga... and then resign his commission over a disagreement. His name will come to mean the very essence of betrayal when he attempts to sell Fort West Point to the British. George Washington's "Secret Six" spy ring will uncover his scheme before it goes too far. (His plan will include capturing Alexander Hamilton and George Washington as they arrive at West Point.) But Benedict Arnold will escape. For a while, Arnold will work for the British forces against his fellow Americans. He will die years later in England, suffering from the gout. Although he will have a stately funeral and resting place, his body will be exhumed in order for the church to make renovations. A clerical error will direct his body to a mass grave. His final resting place will be unmarked, and his memory unlamented. [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
So why would he do it? Benedict Arnold was a man of ability, driven by a need for praise. When he did not get what he thought he deserved, he felt betrayed and, in turn, betrayed others. But that is only a partial explanation. Benedict Arnold was a Major General of the Continental Army. That was a substantial recognition of his abilities. Perhaps more relevant was that he married his second wife, Peggy Shippen, a Crown Loyalist. She was also a looker, a socialite and she threw parties on a grand scale that put Benedict Arnold deep in debt. I'm not blaming his wife. Benedict was an adult, after all, but in his effort to please her, he exceeded his finite resources. It is sometimes the small things that trip us up... a need for praise, a desire to look better than we really are, and when the bill comes, we lie... just a little. Then we lie more and before we know it, we are selling little bits of our soul. [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1741, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. gutenberg.org. Retrieved on 29 February 2016.
  2. Robinson Crusoe - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 February 2016. “The first edition credited the work's protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents.”
  3. Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 February 2016. “Richardson first began writing Pamela as a conduct book, but as he was writing, the series of letters turned into a story. He then decided to write in a different genre: the new form, the novel, which attempted to instruct through entertainment. In fact, most novels from the mid-18th century and well into the 19th, followed Richardson's lead and claimed legitimacy through the ability to teach as well as amuse.”
  4. Age of Voltaire: A History of Civilization in Western Europe from 1715 to 1756, With Special Emphasis on the Conflict Between Religion and Philosophy, The, The Story Of Civilization. Simon and Schuster, 188-189. “He was apprenticed to a printer, and his reputation for calligraphy enabled him to add to his income by composing letters for illiterate lovesick girls; this accident determined the epistolary form of his novels, and their extensive exploration of feminine psychology and sentiment.” 
  5. Becker, Gavin De. The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence. Dell. ISBN 9780440508830. 
  6. New York Conspiracy of 1741 - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 28 December 2014.
  7. The Negro Plot (New York Conspiracy) Trials of 1741. law2.umkc.edu (2009). Retrieved on 29 February 2016. “When a series of thirteen fires broke out in March and April of 1741, English colonists suspected a Negro plot--perhaps one involving poor whites. Much as in Salem a half century before, hysteria came to colonial America, and soon New York City's jails were filled to overflowing. In the end, despite grave questions about the contours of the suspected conspiracy, thirty-four defendants were executed. Thirteen black men burned at the stake and seventeen more hanged. In addition, four alleged white ringleaders--two men and two women--made trips to New York City's gallows.”
  8. The Many-headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. Beacon Press, 174-176. 
  9. Irish Famine (1740–41) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 February 2016. “The Irish Famine of 1740–1741 (Irish: Bliain an Áir, meaning the Year of Slaughter) in the Kingdom of Ireland, was estimated to have killed at least 38% of the 1740 population of 2.4 million people, a proportionately greater loss than during the worst years of the Great Famine of 1845–1852.”
  10. Benedict Arnold - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 February 2016. “Born in Connecticut, Arnold was a merchant operating ships on the Atlantic Ocean when the war broke out in 1775. After joining the growing army outside Boston, he distinguished himself through acts of intelligence and bravery. His actions included the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, defensive and delaying tactics despite losing the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain in 1776, the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut (after which he was promoted to major general), operations in relief of the Siege of Fort Stanwix, and key actions during the pivotal Battles of Saratoga in 1777, in which he suffered leg injuries that ended his combat career for several years.”
  11. United States Military Academy - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 February 2016. “As commander of the fortifications at West Point, Benedict Arnold committed his act of treason, attempting to sell the fort to the British. After Arnold betrayed the patriot cause, the Army changed the name of the fortifications at West Point, New York, to Fort Clinton. With the peace after the American Revolutionary War, various ordnance and military stores were left deposited at West Point.”
  12. "Chapter 11 Benedict and Peggy", George Washington's Secret Six. Sentinel. “Though he had been living the high life in Philadelphia, some recent unpleasantness had wounded his ego, and he had found himself in an all-too-familiar position: humiliated, angry, and desperate to prove his worth. He was about to show the world just how important he really was. If the Americans couldn't see his value, the British would.” 
  13. Peggy Shippen - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 9 March 2016. “After Arnold died in 1801, Peggy auctioned the contents of their home, the home itself and many of her personal possessions to pay off his debts. She died in London in 1804, reportedly of cancer, and was buried with her husband at St. Mary's Church in Battersea on August 25, 1804.”

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