What they knew — Regency Lightning

Nasa lightning

somewhat more exciting than my actual view

Joanna here. I was sitting on the couch the other day with the rain coming down about sideways and hail pinging on the front porch and lightning crashing and thunder throbbing in all the little houses on the street and also no electricity. The dog crouched behind me, cowering down low and shivering in every muscle.

Me: It’s just fine. I’m here, girl. Nothing’s going to happen to you.

Dog: (expresses skepticism with a whine)

So I asked myself how folks dealt with lightning in the Regency period. I delight to imagine my heroine — in a lull between forays into adventure — sitting in her parlour, (them not having parlors over in England,) looking out at the lightning and accompanying timpani, chilling. There’d be an ugly sorta-mostly pitbull trying to dig a tunnel to safety under her chair. No electricity for her, either, but she wouldn’t have expected any, being Regency people and all.

Thor

Thor: Not so much a Regency feature

She’d have a nice little fire on the hearth, hissing every time a drip worked its way down the chimney. 

Folks were somewhat past worshipping weather by the Regency — though I can imagine some gruff old squire exclaiming, “By Thunder! They’ve all run mad.“ and shaking The Times Op Ed page.

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A Shocking Discovery!

Murder at Kensington PalaceAndrea here, musing today on a very “shocking” topic! Ha—now that I have your attention, I shall explain! I have a new release coming out on the 24th. Murder at Kensington Palace is the third book in my Wrexford & Sloane Regency mystery series, and the plot involves electricity!

The voltaic pile (basically the first electrical battery) was invented by Alessandro Volta in 1800. As often happens in the world of invention, the discovery was sparked by a disagreement he had with Luigi Galvani, another man of science who had discovered he could make the legs of a dead frog “jump “ when they were used to form a circuit between two different type of metal. Galvani claimed he had discovered animal electricity—an electrical fluid inherent in the frog itself.

1280px-Luigi_Galvani_ExperimentVolta believed the reaction had a more rational explanation than that, and set about creating a chemical electrolyte (the fluid that creates the circuit between two different metals and thus an electrical current.) He soaked cloth or cardboard in brine and spaced them between disks of zinc and metal—and lo and behold created an electrical current! By adding more disks and electrolyte pads, he discovered he could make a voltaic pile more powerful.
Trough_battery
This awesome new discovery was hugely exciting to the scientific world during the Regency. In London, people flocked to the Royal Institution, one of the leading scientific organizations of the time, to hear lectures and see demonstrations of voltaic batteries.

 

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Thanksgiving

Blue2Hi, Jo here doing a brief post at this time, when many Americans are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. It's a pleasant idea for us all to be thankful for blessings great and small, no matter where we live. I'm a believer in noticing things that make us smile day by day, because it's easy to begin to take them for granted. We might smile at a neighbour, the light reflecting on a window, a cute display in  shop, a very satisfying cup of tea — or some days we might enjoy a delightful surprise.

So please, share something that made you smile in the last 24 hours, ordinary or unexpected. Salt lamp

I'll share two things. (I wrote this on Tuesday evening.) One is my salt lamp. It's a cold day here for Devon and the night comes early and I switched it on for its warm, golden glow. They're supposed to give off negative ions, which are the good ones, and perhaps they do, but I love that glow. 

The other pleasure is a book called Mrs. Hurst Dancing, which is a collection of pictures drawn in the early 19th century by a young lady showing the everyday life of a gentry family in the countryside. I pulled it off the shelf because I remembered it had an illustration of the family enjoying an electricy machine and I wanted to remind myself of how they were doing it.

Hurstd 

 You'll see that they're holding hands while a man fiddles with the machine. It says, "Henry Van electrifying Mrs. Van, Diana, Henry, and Isabella — Mum and HGS." It doesn't matter about the full names, but I note that electrifying is already in use, and she calls her mother Mum, as many do today.

 

 Then, of course, I spent a pleasant hour going through the pictures. There are days out, walking or riding — and the ladies ride on donkeys, not horses; alarming moments when out in a carriage; and a rather precarious clearing of flies off a window. 

Hursnf"Mrs. Sperling murdering flies, assisted by her maid, who receives the dead and wounded." It doesn't say how they stayed up there! 

You can find more pictures on the web, and the book is available, used at least.

So now,  please share "a smile of the day", and if you're celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope it involves many smiles.

And always remember that the simple act of smiling sends makes us feel happier (it's true!), and creates happiness around us, so whatever's around you at the moment, smile. 🙂

Jo