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Preview — Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield
Alice lurks halfway up. Behind her, on the summit, there are no trees but those of the Tyburn sort, swinging with cages and corpses, as a warning to highwaymen. It seems to have worked.
Tyburn, on the edge of London, was synonymous with pubic executions. A Tyburn Tree was a triple gallows.
I don't really know why I called Alice's house Fleance Hall. I know I was thinking of Macbeth (Fleance is Banquo's son) but the connection to Alice Payne is pretty deep in my subconscious. Maybe something to do with inheritances and the sins of fathers. Her father bought Fleance Hall in his wealthier days.
Bow Street Runners have started running patrols far outside the city.
The Bow Street Runners, formalzed thief-takers or a proto-police force working for a magistrate's office in London, did sometimes operate outside of London. In 18th century England, there were magistrates and constables and other officials such as coroners, and private thief-takers, but not anything like a police force.
accent is strange.
I mention this a bit in the next Alice book: Prudence's future Canadian accent probably wouldn't have been as different from Alice's as you might expect, mainly because English accents changed a lot between the 18th and 20th centuries, so Alice's 18th century English accent might sound fairly North American to our ears. The two accents would be different enough, though, to mark Prudence as not being English. I think. There are references, during the American Revolution, of Americans pronouncing things very slowly and deliberately, to British ears. So there was a difference. Of course, it's impossible to say how Prudence's accent might differ from my own Canadian accent. I spent a few hours trying to figure out whether the phenomenon of "Canadian raising" would progress significantly in the century to come and then decided that I was getting way down into the research weeds and was probably just procrastinating.
“Well, everyone’s a Whig nowadays.
In the 1780s, the Tories were irrelevant in British politics and the main division was between factions of Whigs. Edmund Burke, for example, often considered a father of the sort of conservatism known as Toryism in modern Canada (and quoted elsewhere in the book by General Almo), was a Whig. But he was a conservative or "Old Whig."
Smallpox eradication in the twentieth century is the classic result of serendipity, although both sides claim it as a victory now.
The story of smallpox eradication is a fascinating one for anyone interested in how individuals and instiutions can make the world better. I highly recommend Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox, by Jonathan B. Tucker. There's more about smallpox in the next Alice book.
magistrate. Usually when we catch a highwayman, we offer him the chance to become a thief-taker and pay his debt to England that way, and save his neck. In your case, that will not be an option, of course.”
There are quite a few examples in court records of women convicted of highway robbery who were sentenced to transportation rather than death, even without being pregnant. Mary Bryant, for example, did get pregnant but not until she was already on her way to Australia, apparently. So I think Auden is being pessimistic here.