Tag Archives: Modern history

Jacob Tonson and the Kit-Cat Club

Jacob Tonson and the Kit-Cat Club


In the snowy spring of 1733, Samuel Croxall, a classical translator, travelled to Herefordshire to visit his retired publisher, Jacob Tonson. Tonson was now an emaciated, deaf old man, who spent his days drinking sack and reading by the fireside. According to Alexander Pope, however, Tonson’s mind remained “full of matter, secret history, and wit and spirit“. Croxall was hoping to extract some of this „secret history“ – an account of the most important London gentlemen’s club of the early 1700s, founded by Tonson: the Kit-Cat Club.

Napoleon in caricature

Napoleon in caricature

The turn of the 19th century was a golden age of caricature across much of the northern Europe – from Russia in the east through Prussia and the Rhineland to France and Britain to the west. London, boasting artists like James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson, soon became the unofficial capital of European caricature.

Black gold: The triumph of oil

Black gold: The triumph of oil

Yet within the single lifetime of some of its oldest inhabitants today, Europe has undergone an astonishing transformation, a transformation largely wrought by a different resource – oil. The vagaries of supply of that resource from inside and outside Europe have literally changed the history of the world.

The British Midshipmen: Apprenticeship at Sea

The British Midshipmen: Apprenticeship at Sea

It would not have taken Midshipman Horatio Nelson long to earn that life board ship – at least below decks – was harsh, cramped,uncomfortable, malodorous, and exhausting. Midshipmen – as many as twenty aboard a large warship – were berthed on the lowest deck, the dank and airless orlop, packed into a room no larger than 10 by 18 feet.

Tasmania, 1803 – 1836

Tasmania, 1803 – 1836

After the departure of Baudin from Sydney it was discovered that there was an inclination on the part of the French to settle in some part of Australia. It was known that the inlet called Storm Bay, in the island then known as Van Diemen’s Land, had especially attracted their notice, its shores having been so green and leafy.