The Raging Storm Following
Jane Austen's Time
A Male-Voices Web Page

[Under Construction - Work in Progress] Watch where you are walking here, there are a lot of debris, tools, construction materials, etc. All that will be removed eventually. You are invited to move about and comment on the plans and proceedings if you wish - that would be useful. I ask only that you recognize that what you will see here is more experiment than final design.

The focus in this final page is on the aftermath of Jane Austen's time - the evolution of events with initial conditions set in the regency period. Special emphasis is placed on those things that should not be associated with our Lady's time and society. We strive to properly date attitudes that others might try to attribute to our favorite author. That is to say, we try not to confuse the concerns of Jane Austen with those of later generations. Here is a link to the

Table of Contents
for This Final Page

Science and Mathematics

This section contains some rather arcane - um-mm, I mean matters of only special interest. So, here is your escape hatch to the next section if that is your wish.

Do you think of mathematics as a "science"? Most people do, but I do not; for me, there is no science without experiment and that restriction clearly excludes mathematics. Galileo said it best, "Mathematics is the language of science" - much like the English language is the vernacular of the advertisement or commercial industries. This is such a close association that mathematics, quite naturally, is confused with science. However, mathematics is more rationally associated with symbolic logic, a topic of philosophy.

There is no denying that the rapid development of mathematics and its explicit, innovative introduction into the language of the physicist spurred development of those sciences; and, subsequently, the development of the engineering arts and practice.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) died nearly fifty years before Jane Austen was born. In the interval, the centers for both the physics and mathematics had moved elsewhere, primarily to France. (In those days, the two disciplines were not as divisible as today.) The cause of that shift is rather interesting because it is so human; apparently, the English and the continental scientists had become alienated. The breach began with the controversy over the conflicting priority claims of Newton and Gottfried von Leibnitz (1646-1716) over the "discovery" of calculus. It was a silly argument, calculus has two component parts - differentiation (archaic "fluxions") and integration (archaic "quadratures") - and both parts had an antiquity long before Newton's time; in fact, Greeks were achieving impressive quadratures some two millennia before Newton.

Newton - or maybe it was Leibnitz - merely discovered that the two processes were inversions of one another (to within an arbitrary constant). This is referred to as the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. That is a misnomer because neither Newton nor Leibnitz could prove his "theorem" because the definitions were not on a sufficiently rigorous footing to allow for mathematical proofs of any kind. True mathematical proofs only became possible nearly two centuries later with the work of Karl Weirstrass who founded the discipline on those "delta-epsilon" definitions so familiar to you from that elementary calculus course in high school.

The result is that you can reasonably argue that calculus was discovered two millennia before Newton or two centuries after. After having said all that, I recommend you adopt the conventional, Newton/Leibnitz wisdom, because there is little doubt that the discipline became interesting and popular with the insights of those two giants. Maybe that is the crucial kind of contribution. The reason is that Newton completed, in a sense, the revolution begun by Kepler and Galileo - the integration of mathematics, especially calculus, into physics and then into science in general.

The social sciences were not immune to this innovation; we have the examples of Malthus and Condocet in Jane Austen's time. Although, in the case of social sciences, the impression faded a good deal.

Also, continental philosophers had considered Newton's theory of gravitation to be somewhat occult and that attitude caused an angry reaction in England. In retrospect, the French seem correct in this characterization of Newton's "action-at-a-distance" force - it is only with Einstein's theories that the gravitational force is stripped of this metaphysical aspect.

So it is that the English school would choose to ignore the accomplishments of the French scientists. So it is, that by the time of Jane's death, English physics and mathematics had fallen behind the rest of Europe by nearly a hundred years! However, nearly the opposite judgment can be made about the English engineering-sciences.

Industrial Revolution

Well, the English had fallen behind in the physical sciences of mechanics but they retained their lead in another, unrelated branch of physics, and that would lead to developments that have a profound effect on your life and mine. The Jane-Austen contemporary, Joseph Black (1728-1799), was a Professor of Medicine at the University of Glasgow, but it was his experiments in physics that would bring him everlasting fame. In particular, he was the first to correctly describe the physics of water and steam. He correctly characterized and demonstrated the way in which these two phases could store heat as well as the nature of energy exchanges during the conversions between the two phases. His lab technician was another Jane-Austen contemporary, James Watt (1736-1819), who had the job title of "scientific instrument maker". Watt first became aware of steam engines when he was asked to adjust a small laboratory version used for classroom demonstration. Watt didn't invent steam engines, but he did revolutionize the design of these industrial devices.

Watt left the university and began the manufacture and sale of his new, improved versions of the steam engine. His most important business associations began about the time of Jane Austen's birth. To Watt's time, the primary commercial use of steam engines was in the pumping of water from coal mines. That is, when a mine is exploited down to the water table, one must do some pumping or else abandon the resource.

A Watt engine

A Watt Engine of 1785

The older versions of the steam engine weren't very efficient, but that didn't matter in the mining of coal because there was always a lot of low-grade coal lying around one couldn't sell at a profit, so operators would just use it to fire the pump engines. The main feature of the new Watt engine was the higher efficiency, so his first sales were in the copper mining industry where fuel costs were important. Another of his first successes was in the iron industry where the engines were used to pump air into the furnaces to produce a higher temperature to reduce the ore to metal. Watt was an excellent engineer and he solved a number of interesting technical problems. For instance, he invented the best way to convert the initial and unavoidable reciprocating motion of the steam engine to rotary motion and that opened up a number of new applications and sales. He also added a number of safety features such as a pressure-release valve and a water-level control valve. It is important to control the level of liquid in a boiler because if all the fluid boils off, the pressure rapidly builds up in the boiler and the result is an explo- excuse me - the result is a rapid disassembly.

Have you ever heard that expression, "good writers borrow and great writers steal"? If you have, then you will understand what I mean when I say that Watt was a great inventor. In particular, he violated the patent rights of British millwrights in order to place speed control devices on his steam engines. (My encyclopedia erroneously says that he invented the "flyball" governor for speed control - NOT!) Precise control of engine speed is not required for pumping water out of mines, but it is required for most factory applications such as in textile mills. I mean that without speed control, a factory designer simply could not design the hardware systems required to properly exploit child labor or the labor of any other category of under-represented and powerless persons - so, show your appreciation! Actually, Watt died about the same time as Jane Austen and so neither would have an inkling of the nature of the economic and social forces that Watt had unleashed. The early evidence was already there perhaps, but no one seemed to comprehend what was happening at that early date.

There was one important problem that Watt could not solve and that was the low material strength of boiler walls. In his day that strength was about 8 psi, many, many orders of magnitude less than that of today. The practical implication is that boilers of his time were constructed very large in order to supply the capacity required. For that reason, he could only design stationary engines. So, when we call Jane's brothers "sailors", we can mean sailors in the strictest, literal sense of the word. The Austen men sailed from one end of the earth to the other (and then came to command large stretches of water in the bargain). However, shortly after Jane Austen's death, the material strengths improved to such an extent that steam locomotion did become possible, and Jane's sailor brothers may have ended their careers in command of steamships.

To what extent was society changed by these and other developments of the Industrial Revolution? A great source for that discussion is Jane Austen's own nephew, born James Edward Austen - later "Austen-Leigh". Our Lady loved this nephew, encouraged, and honored him. He was sixteen years old when he attended her funeral in 1817. He would become Auntie's first biographer more than fifty years later (Memoir of Jane Austen, 1871). Apparently, the family noticed that people were starting to read Jane Austen again and interest in her life and circumstances was on the rise. James Edward was not a trained writer, certainly not a biographer, and he did not have access to the materials available to later scholars. He lacked objectivity. However, beside a first-hand, intimate acquaintance with Jane Austen, James Edward had one other advantage that sweeps away all these considerations - he had a keen mind - he had an Austen mind. No other biography written since is as well conceived, even though all others may contain more trivia and other detail.

James Edward, now a very old man, took a moment to reflect on the changes that he had witnessed in his lifetime.

"As my subject carries me back about a hundred years, it will afford occasions for observing many changes gradually effected in the manners and habits of society, which I may think it worth while to mention. ... Some of this generation may be little aware how many conveniences, now considered to be necessaries and matters of course, were unknown to their grandfathers and grandmothers. ... Ignorance and coarseness of language also were still lingering even upon higher levels of society than might have been expected to retain such mists. ... [A neigboring squire] narrating some conversation which he had heard between [Jane Austen's father and mother], represented the later as beginning her reply to her husband with a round oath; and when his daughter called him to task, reminding him that Mrs. Austen never swore, he replied, 'Now, Betty, why do you pull me up for nothing? that's neither here nor there; you know very well that's only my way of telling the story.' "

"... The smaller landed proprietors, who seldom went farther from home than their country town, from the squire with his thousand acres to the yeoman who cultivated his hereditary property of one or two hundred; then formed a numerous class—each the aristocrat of his own parish; and there was probably a greater difference in manners and refinement between this class and that immediately above them than now can be found between any two persons who rank as gentlemen. ... I believe that a century ago the improvement in most country parishes began with the clergy; and that in those days a rector who chanced to be a gentleman and a scholar found himself superior to his chief parishioners in information and manners, and became a sort of centre of refinements and politeness."

"... Every hundred years, and especially a century like the last, marked by an extraordinary advance in wealth, luxury, and refinement of taste, as well as in the mechanical arts which embellish our houses, must produce a great change in [the household's] aspect."

Between the time of the Aunt's death and the Nephew's biography was the time of the invention of devices run on gas and electricity, and the invention of steam locomotion both on land and on the sea. Jane's last thoughts of her baby brother would have been of his captain's command of large sailing ships of the British Navy. Decades later, the now-Admiral's last thoughts of his sister would have been during his illness aboard a Naval steamship and just after his latest extension of the British Empire. There is so much more, but I conclude with this:

"But I doubt whether the rising generation are equally aware how much gentlemen did for themselves in those times, and whether some things that I mention will not be a surprise to them. Two homely proverbs were held in higher estimation in my days than they are now--'The master's eye makes the horse fat;' and, 'if you would be well served, serve yourself.' ..."

So, what if Jane Austen had been born a generation later, would she have continued to ignore the existence of the lower classes? Would she have continued to ignore the plight of the working poor? Of course not! The woman was liberal-minded and she was a passionate, compassionate human being. She would have been another George Eliot or Charles Dickens - just a whole lot funnier. But, here is my question for you, would you and I have been better off with another George Eliot or do we need Jane Austen for other purposes? You can probably guess my answer.

Population Explosion

What came first, the industrial revolution or the population explosion? Which was the cause and which the effect? This is the place to turn to that interesting question.

Before I get started on that, let me explain something important that Malthus didn't seem to understand. This is something I will refer to from time to time. When you are to study the growth or decline of a population - perhaps any animal or vegetable population - you need only concentrate on what happens to the females. I mean that the fertility, the growth/decline potential, is tied up entirely in the condition and prospects of the females. Boy! that makes me mad! - but that is the fact.

Let me give you obvious examples. Suppose you want to humanely eradicate a feral-cat population of ten males and ten females, and suppose your capturing method is ninety percent effective. Now, if you capture nine males, neuter, and then release them, how many fewer feral kittens will be born in the next season? Probably no fewer because the females will recruit that one remaining, happy, dog-tired male. On the other hand, if you capture nine females, spay, and then release them, you can expect that ninety percent fewer kittens will be born the next season. Do you see what I mean, the females carry the entire fertility of the population - the males are like oxygen, necessary but rarely in such short supply that they materially affect birth rates. (Incidentally, it is crucial to release the treated cats back into the colony because their territorial instincts will discourage immigration of other cats - the established cats should be rewarded for this service, so feed and otherwise care for them!)

I bet you think that the California law that prohibits the shooting of female deer is gallant. I don't think so. I think the idea is to preserve the fertility of the population while, at the same time, blasting away at it.

As you may know, human populations recover fairly quickly after a war. For example, if you examine the historical European birth rates per thousand women, you will have trouble finding any indications of World War II even though an entire generation of young European men, of the most viral age, had been nearly wiped out. OK, so here is a quiz: do you expect that a population can recover from a great plague as quickly as it does from a great war? My guess is "no, not in general", and that is based upon the principle I am taking such trouble to explain.

[Under Construction]

Karl Marx
Friedrich Engels

It is no accident that a discussion of economic theory follows an account of advent of steam power. Just as it was no accident that the rapid development of economic theory followed the advent of the First Industrial Revolution. I mean, can the communist manifesto be far behind the invention of speed controls for factory engines?

Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born the year after Jane Austen died and the year that our Lady's last two novels were published. Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was born two years later. As usual, our intentions in this section are extremely limited; we will excerpt from Marx and Engels on the population theories of Malthus and on the rights and the situation of women.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) published The Wealth of Nations a few months after Jane Austen's birth. It is no coincidence that this seminal work of economic theory was published in the same year as the Declaration of Independence. The two documents were published, in part, as a reaction to the same set of British policies - the infamous mercantile policies. The English were establishing a nice, comprehensive policy that would allow the British sphere-of-influence to operate efficiently, and what happened? Everyone got pissy! The Americans decided that they will have their own nation, thank you, and then this Scotsman published a bombshell of a book in which he proved, mathematically, that any amount of government interference in the marketplace will lead to disaster.

It is odd how things change; Smith was a kind of radical calling for change while the modern proponents of his theories tend to lie on the far right of the political spectrum - defenders of the status quo. Modern proponents of Adam Smith's theory rigorously prove their case that the unfettered, competitive marketplace will operate at the optimal efficiency, just as optimally as the equations suggest. I am anxiously awaiting the discovery of a competitive marketplace, so that all this beautiful mathematics can be verified; however, I expect that dark matter and gravity waves will be observed first. Marketplaces are just too important for any society to allow them to be anything like competitive - we are not stupid you know.

We don't talk a lot about Malthus these days, because Marx and Engles sunk his reputation, they could go on and on about what a fool and a devil he was. In a way, Malthus laid himself open for that because he made the greatest error an intellectual can make, he became involved in politics. I mean, he became involved in the politics of welfare and applied his theories, in a logical manner, to come to some misguided and cruel conclusions. Politicians seized upon these pronouncements and exploited them to terminate some welfare practices that had been working quite well for some time.

So it is that, in our own times, some people talk about Malthus without ever having read his work. Perhaps they do not want to touch the pages composed by a pariah. Certain sociologists and economists should stop talking about him for a bit and actually read his essays. They are not that long and are easy reading. I suspect that a lot of folks will be surprised to discover that he fully delineated the concept of "demographic transition" long before those who are given the credit. I say "surprised" because many think they are refuting Malthusian forecasts by reciting this very theory. It is an odd world we live in; however, it is a world in which we may come to discuss Malthus more and more.

[Under Construction]


Eugenics, DNA,
and Frankenstein

We don't discuss Malthus much these days (Marx and Engels spoiled his reputation.) However, we may come to discuss his dark vision more and more. Although, before that, we may come to discuss Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and The Last Man more and more.

When I first wrote this page, I could turn to my TV and watch Dr. Kevorkian (Dr. Death) and his legal accomplice-servant explain that they would soon add an organ-harvesting clause to their suicide compacts. And, I had watched an account of the experiment in which fetal spinal tissue was observed to grow when implanted into a living human spine. This was a result that promised new medical benefits and a new way for medical faculty to earn tenure and respect. This meant that fetal spinal tissue had been placed in the same category as fetal brain tissue, and all of us were glad of that because we didn't want aborted fetuses to become the proverbial sow's ears of our new millennium.

Since that time, our pesky fetal tissue has not even begun to provide the benefits that our researchers promised us.

I confess that I greeted the announcement that the fetus was not a person with a great deal of skepticism. I wondered, does this mean that the fetus is not human? If not a person, then what is it? Is the embryo still something different? - less than or different from a fetus? During the revision of this page, I was able to listen to the argument for embryonic stem-cell research. That debate helps me understand what the orthodox opinion is to become - the fetus and the embryo are not persons, not human, they are commodities. Those things will be thought of as economic goods - like a loaf of bread, a gallon of gasoline, a pound of butter, or a human kidney.

Embryonic, stem-cell research is being sold to us on the basis of its medical benefits. But, based upon recent history, I have different projections - I suspect these developments will be visited upon the marketplaces for cosmetics and aphrodisiacs. I mean that, when you hear that some laboratory or other is going to use embryonic stem cells to replace wrinkled skin, revive the growth of the female breast, augment musculature, or permanently improve blood flow in the penis, then I suggest you invest. I predict that these opportunities are in the offing.

Of course, it will be the medical benefits that our Universities will publicize; but, think about the improvement of our high school, college, and Olympic athletes! - of our Little Leaguers!

I predict even better bio-industry investments further down the line, reanimation and same-sex procreation!

All this might become a vast new set of industries for America, and a way to finally balance our foreign trade. Also, since every family has unwanted pregnancies and unwelcome older family members, I may actually live to observe the till-now theoretical but long sought-after competitive marketplace. And what a boon for developing nations! Currently, the very poor can only sell us their kidneys (for the time being, they are allowed only one such sale per person.) But, in future, the poor nations will manufacture, process, and export embryos. Think about how much one of those impoverished women might receive for an entire ovary. (Think about how much a supermodel might receive for an entire ovary!) All this new economic activity will help developing nations become just like us.

Is anyone in control here? Is this what William Godwin promised us? Or, is this what his daughter predicted? To be truthful, I long for some of the more unorthodox ways of thinking. - Bravo, Pope John!

[Under Construction]

Picture a Bright Blue Ball
Just Spinning, Spinnin' Free

It is a truth, generally acknowledged, that the poet Cowper (pronounced "Cooper") was one of Jane Austen's favorite. In fact, family members would tease her that she must marry him some day. Claire Tomalin quoted some lines from Cowper and suggested that if Jane Austen had noticed them, she would not have pointed them out to her brothers--these lines express Cowper's detestation of field sports and their cruelty [Tomalin-JA, Chapter 13]. Perhaps--Ms Tomalin may be right except in the case of Brother Edward Austen, who joined his sister in her detestation of English field sports. So, I choose to believe that Jane did notice these lines and liked them:

The savage din of the swift pack...detested sport
That owes its pleasures to another's pain,
That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks
Of harmless nature


First Page: Jane Austen,
Mary Wollstonecraft,
& Mary Shelley

Second Page: Women Writers,
Influences in Jane Austen's Time

Third Page: The Gathering
Storm In Jane Austen's Time

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