August 31 1814: Death of Peter Parker

On August 31, 1814, Sir Peter Parker, the Captain of the Menelaus, dies at the Battle of Caulk’s field in Maryland. His first cousin Lord Byron will writes an eulogy. Byron hardly knew Parker. The poem he wrote did not spring from a personal sense of loss, but because he was asked to write it by family members. The Byronic irony makes itself felt in the poem, but not quite as much as he personally felt. He will write to Thomas Moore: “I am very merry, and have just been writing some elegiac stanzas on the death of Sir P. Parker. He was my first cousin, but never met since boyhood. Our relations desired me, and I have scribbled and given it to Perry, who will chronicle it tomorrow. I am as sorry for him as one could be for one I never saw since I was a child; but should not have wept melodiously, except ‘at the request of friends.” Continue reading

August 31 1814: Coleridge Sets his Terms

On August 31 1814, Samuel Taylor Coleridge responds to John Murray’s offer on August 29 to pay him 100 pounds to translate Goethe’s Faustus. Continue reading

August 30 1814: Mary Godwin’s Birthday


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August 29 1814: Armstrong Decides to Spend More Time With His Family

On August 29 1814, President James Madison meets with Secretary of State John Armstrong who had arrived back in Washington that day. Armstrong was held by the public to be largely responsible for having failed to protect Washington. A militia brigade, a day earlier, had voted not to follow him as Secretary of War. Still, Madison is reluctant to fire him, preferring him to “temporarily retire” so that Secretary of State Monroe could continue to act as Secretary of War. Madison wrote a memorandum of his conversation with Armstrong.

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August 28 1814: Nantucket Secession

On August 28 1814, the Massachusetts of island of Nantucket agreed to peace with Great Britain, and in effect seceded from the union. The inhabitants of the small island of Nantucket were facing food shortages as a result of the British blockade. They had been trying to negotiate with the British for most of the summer. Finally, on August 28 delegates from Nantucket met with Admiral Hothman aboard the HMS Superb off the coast of Long Island. In Admiral Hothman’s cabin, they signed an agreement that provided: “The Island of Nantucket is hereby declared Neutral.” Nantucket also agreed not to pay any taxes to the federal or state government. In return, the British agreed that the inhabitants of Nantucket would be allowed to bring food from the mainland.

(For more information, see Nantucket’s Peace Treaty with England in 1814 by Reginald Horsman: The New England Quarterly Vol. 54, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 180-198.)

(The image above is from here.)

August 28 1814: Mary and Shelley Going Home

We landed at Lucerne, and remained in that town the following night, and the next morning(August 28 Aug., 1814. 28th) departed in the diligence par-eau for Loffenburgh, a town on the Rhine, where the falls of that river prevented the same vessel from proceeding any further. Our companions in this voyage were of the meanest class, smoked prodigiously, and were exceedingly disgusting. After having landed for refreshment in the middle of the day, we found, on our return to the boat, that our former seats were occupied; we took others, when the original possessors angrily, and almost with violence, insisted upon our leaving them. Their brutal rudeness to us, who did not understand their language, provoked S*** to knock one of the foremost down: he did not return the blow, but continued his vociferations until the boatmen interfered, and provided us with other seats.

The Reuss is exceedingly rapid, and we descended several falls, one of more than eight feet. There is something very delicious in the sensation, when at one moment you are at the top of a fall of water, and before the second has expired you are at the bottom, still rushing on with the impulse which the descent has given. The waters of the Rhone are blue, those of the Reuss are of a deep green. I should think that there must be something in the beds of these rivers, and that the accidents of the banks and sky cannot alone cause this difference.

—  Mary Godwin and Shelley write about August 28 1814, in History of a six weeks’ tour through a part of France, Switzerland, Germany and Holland: with letters descriptive of a sail round the Lake of Geneva, and of the glaciers of Chamouni (1817)

 The image above is from here.