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A profligate son was once each Georgian parent’s worst nightmare. To his father, William Jackson’s imprudent spending, incessant partying, and sexual adventures have been a convinced signal he used to be at the slippery slope to damage. yet to his pals, William used to be a “damned strong fellow,” a captivating, impeccably dressed younger gentleman with enviable seductive abilities who was once prepared to guard his honor in duels. Mr. Jackson and his son seen one another throughout a generational hole that neither may possibly bridge, and their improper dating had catastrophic effects for his or her family.

In The Profligate Son, historian Nicola Phillips hauntingly reconstructs this kinfolk tragedy from a lately came across trove of letters and court docket files. After Mr. Jackson’s acquisition of a fortune in the course of his carrier for the East India corporation in Madras was once undermined by means of fake accusations that ruined his occupation, he invested all his destiny goals in his in basic terms son. William grew up in nice convenience and used to be despatched to the easiest faculties within the kingdom. but if the kin moved to London, the teen rebelled opposed to the loneliness and infrequently brutal regimes of public education and escaped to discover the pleasures of the city together with his prosperous buddies. His makes an attempt to provoke his friends led him into disastrous degrees of debt that led to his imprisonment and ever extra unlawful efforts to fulfill his collectors, which appalled his prudent, sternly moralistic father. Mr. Jackson made up our minds that the one method to strive against his son’s wayward habit was once to fully reduce him off. In doing so, he condemned William to repeated imprisonment and a deadly voyage to an Australian penal colony. In Sydney William sought to rebuild his lifestyles with a relations of his personal, yet even there his father’s legacy introduced additional tragedy.

A masterpiece of literary nonfiction as dramatic as any Dickens novel, The Profligate Son transports readers from the steamy streets of India and the stylish squares and seedy brothels of London to the sunbaked beaches of Australia, tracing the arc of a existence lengthy buried in history.

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If his father may perhaps settle the account, it might be worthy it since it was once “a topic of significant excitement to be restored to excellent healthiness, which I now imagine i'm. ”36 a true go back to well-being was once not going, even if, as the major benefit of those often vegetable-based treatments used to be that they supplied a brief beauty influence, while the extra universal therapy with mercury usually prompted worse indicators than these of the gonorrhea or syphilis being handled. certainly, the executive good thing about vegetable treatments used to be secrecy: victims taking mercury will be struck with a fever, suffer aching joints and swollen gums, produce over the top salivation, and exude a fetid odor that can not often get away realize. it really is probably that William used to be discomfort basically from a recurrence of the clap, yet for Mr. Jackson a actual treatment was once inadequate; the rot had sincerely taken carry in his son’s soul. 37 four AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN London and Guernsey, 1809–1810 people in a modern sphere can't be solely agreeable to one another except they're good dressed; nor can that sex which they mainly price be pleasantly maintained, with no most suitable equipages, selection wines and magnificent entertainments. As, as a result, the need of the case calls for such lodgings . . . the legislation of honour doesn't glance very properly into the potential through which they could were procured. — Theophilus Christian, the trendy global Displayed (1804) William’s “one unlucky yr” didn't finish with the passing of his 17th birthday in November 1808. within the New yr, temperatures plummeted and the rustic used to be beset with storms and heavy snow. Beggars died of chilly at the streets of London, and farther north birds have been came upon frozen to dying the place they perched. the ambience inside 30 Gloucester position remained equally glacial, punctuated with common stormy outbursts among father and son. one of many worst of those storms used to be brought on by means of one other of William’s sexual adventures. On a chilly evening in mid-January, whereas the remainder of the loved ones was once drowsing, William crept up the again stairs dressed simply in his nightshirt. He opened the door to the feminine servants’ room and walked over to the place his mother’s maid lay napping. The negative woman was once startled from her sleep through this undesirable male apparition claiming to be Thomas the footman. William, with an conceited loss of generosity, later protested that he had no goal of seducing the girl—had she “any pretensions to attractiveness, she may well then certainly have fallen a sufferer to all robust love, yet as she is extra to be in comparison to one of many Devil’s Nymphs than to a Venus, that [was] completely out of the query. ”1 This unflattering bravado was once most likely an competitive kind of self-defense as the seduction of servants used to be a favored hobby between younger gents and one who gentry fathers frequently condoned. Sexual conquests of any style have been facts of elite male virility between friends, and plenty of fathers secretly applauded symptoms of precocious sexuality of their offspring.

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