Canaries out of work

The Major’s Faux Fiancée

by

Erica Ridley

A Netgalley review

This author is definitely the successor to Georgette Heyer in writing Regency romances but with a soupcon of sex.

There is a well portrayed female who takes up ‘causes’ but actually doesn’t quite understand the full consequences or the complete reasons behind the sad stories, but rather follows and champions those who shout the loudest eg about income tax.

Additionally she was naive about how to achieve successful societal change – not realising that you need power and influence. She knew that she, as a women writing letters, would not be considered so rather she gave herself male names to sign her letters. But a sheltered clergyman’s daughter of that time did not have a full education about politics and economics, and did not realise what was really needed – and this was brought out later in the story.

I would have appreciated a little explanation, for the uninformed reader, as why these issues had arisen. I knew some of them. For instance home weavers’ jobs had seriously declined due to the automation of weaving in mills, and that income tax had been needed to pay for the Napoleonic Wars. But what was the problem with the Davy Lamp? Other than that canaries were no longer required?

So off I trotted to the Internet to find out about the Davy Lamp.davy lamp

I knew that the Davy Lamp was used in coal mines to detect the presence of gases which could harm the miners. The gas that was detected  was methane and tended to occur in small pockets as the mines grew deeper.

The final design was very simple: a basic lamp with a wire gauze chimney enclosing the flame. The holes let light pass through, but the metal of the gauze absorbs the heat.  The lamp is safe to use because the flame can’t heat enough flammable gas to cause an explosion, although the flame itself will change colour. [http://www.rigb.org/our-history/iconic-objects/iconic-objects-list/davy-lamp]

Once the lamp was put into production, deaths in mining decreased dramatically, however, deeper mines could then be dug which increased the danger although but not as much as before. One can only assume that the complaints were coming from miners who had to then dig further into the mines, but the lamps were not faulty nor directly at fault.

There were also the protests about income tax.  This was a result of the changes that had been implemented in the late 18th century. Previously, tax was paid on land and everyone who had land whether gentry or tradespeople or innkeepers all [aid it. Additionally indirect tax was paid in the form of excise duties – custom duties we would think of them now or VAT. Household necessities such as salt, candles, soap etc were all taxed as were luxury items such as horses, silk, wines etc. These excise duties varied according to the need for money by the Govt and during the Napolenic wars of course, many items could not be shipped into the UK legally – hence the increase in smuggling during this period.

With the coming of war and the ideas of Adam Smith, taxes were rationalised and new taxes introduced. There was some protest but as corruption was also dealt with revenue for the Govt increased until 1793 when the first Napoleonic war started. To pay for this war higher taxes were required. An inheritance tax and an income tax were introduced and were very unpopular as you can imagine. It was considered intrusive and impolite to know what people were earning – and it is still not something people in Britain are happy to share with others – but after a time it was realised that the war needed financing and it became a sign of support and patriotic duty to pay the taxes.

I give this 3 stars with the potential for 4 r even 5 if these real historical issues are properly discussed rather than alluded to and requiring the reader to enquire further.

 

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