The Dangerous World of Regency London

Regency England refers roughly to 1811 to 1820, although the term more broadly includes 1800 to 1830. When George III, stricken by illness, could no longer function, his eldest son, the Prince, became Regent in his stead. “The Regency took its tone from the larger-than-life figure of the Prince of Wales…The age bred a lively underworld of scandal, criminality, gambling and personal notoriety. Embezzlement and fraud flourished then as now. The war against France caused further instability and led to the breakdown of law and order.” (Low, Sutton, p. xxv)

Authors of crime stories, and mysteries–such as myself, must needs delve into the dangerous world of this time. Low says that London, England, “surpassed the rest of the British Isles in crime and vice.” (Low, p. xi) No police force, as such, existed until the Victorian period, adding to this instability. The growth of the underworld had begun in the eighteenth century (Georgian period). In London, Henry Fielding became a salaried Chief Magistrate for Westminster in 1749. He established the Bow Street group, whose men became known as the Bow Street Runners. Henry’s brother, Sir John Fielding, carried on the work, and by the time of the Regency the work of the Runners had expanded considerably.

London embodied a complex world in the Regency. Crime abounded in many forms and areas. From gambling hells frequented by the wealthy, who also used the services of the deminondaines, or better class prostitutes, to the prostitutes who haunted the area of the Drury Lane and Covent Garden theaters, the area of murderers and escaped convicts–crime  held precedence. Dark streets encouraged thieves and pickpockets, (gas lighting was installed on a few streets in Pall Mall in 1807) so that the public was targeted, and gently bred females did not go about at nights without the protection of men. Few from the West End traveled to the East end without good reason, and a fully loaded pistol, or two.

Thieves came from the East End ‘Rookeries,’ or criminal districts such as St. Giles and Whitechapel. In these dens of criminality, ‘flash houses’ flourished. These were numerous pubs haunted by criminals who taught childlren thievery, pickpocketing, burglary and worse crimes. Bribery, extortion, and blackmail were rampant. While the gangland bosses ruled this part of the city, the brothel keepers ruled young, unfortunate women, who found their way to them.

South of the Thames River, the home of wild gin-drinking orgies of prostitutes and drunkards, was the home also, of the ‘Resurrection Men,’ who sold cadavers to surgeons, and were not averse to killing to accomplish it, although grave robbing was their ‘forte.’ The Thames itself, was plied by seamen, called ‘River Men,’ who pilfered warehouses, docks and ships.

All of this crime kept the Bow Street Runners on their toes, since the night watchmen were ineffective. In 1800 the Thames River Police Act was established. In 1805, a Bow Street Horse Patrol of sixty men rode on Hounslow Heath–a notorious center for Highwaymen, who terrorized travelers. Many wanted reform, but Bills put forward were slow coming into effect, so crime continued high until the Victorian period when a Police force came into being. You can see what my heroes and heroines had to deal with as they battled crime.

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Succeeding With What You Have by Charles Schwab

Synopsis of Content:

Charles Schwab wrote a very small book which became a classic soon after it was first published in 1920. In this book a man who had risen from rags to riches in reality tells his fellow man how it is done.

He begins by instructing people to think beyond their job. He gives examples from his own experience in America’s early steel industry of men who intended to amount to something more than a wage earner, worked hard, and utilized the other principles outlined in this little book.

First he counsels the value of hard honest work. Next he speaks of giving more than fair service for the pay. Then he teaches men to think continually on how the business might be improved and communicate those ideas in little ways.

Next is a chapter on how men are appraised on the job, seizing opportunities, the relative value of a college education, what employers expect, how he sees his employees as partners, men with whom he has worked and a woman’s part in a man’s success.

Some of this material, especially the last chapter, is very dated and possibly of little use today. However much of what is written here is still as true today as it was in 1920. Hard work, dedication to your goals, going the extra mile, maintaining a good and positive attitude, making a difference, all remain vital steps toward success in a business or in life.

Readability/Writing Quality:

For a book written in 1920 it is surprisingly readable. In part this is due to its small size, a pocket edition having only 55 pages which could be easily read by most in a single evening. The chapters are short enough and well written. Quotes he wishes emphasized are in bold.

Notes on Author:

Charles Schwab was a remarkable man. He started as a stake driver, a minimally paid hourly wage earner in Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills. He had little education and came from poor roots.

Carnegie took notice of him however because of his charming personality, incredibly positive attitude, great work ethic and willingness to please. He was just the kind of young man Carnegie was looking to mold and develop into executive material. Schwab did not disappoint and he eventually became Carnegie’s chief man and the first President of a corporation to earn one million dollars a year in compensation.

Through his wit, intelligence, charm and hard work he engineered the buyout of Carnegie Steel and the creation of US Steel. He then became the first President of US Steel and a short time later President of Bethlehem Steel. He was known as a master motivator of men and Thomas Edison referred to him as a master hustler.

Sadly despite a meteoric rise to incredible riches and power, Schwab came to a very poor end. In the 1920s, after having written this book, he squandered much of his wealth gambling, spending and carousing. He seemed to lose sight of his own roots and senses and became a spendthrift. In time he was in trouble and then the stock market crash of 1929 left him destitute.

In 1939 he died a poor man, deeply in debt, living off of loans in a small London apartment. On his death he owned a large amount of Bethlehem Steel stock, which during the depression was near worthless. Just a couple years later however it became very valuable as the steel industry boomed during the war.

Despite his sad end, Schwab had very clearly demonstrated in his younger years how to succeed and how to go from poverty to riches.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

1. Successful men are not natural prodigies. They win by using normal brains to think beyond their manifest daily duty. The look beyond the day’s labor and the day’s meal.

2. The real test of business greatness is in giving opportunity to others. Many fail in business because they are thinking only of their own personal gain and glory.

3. Personality is a key asset. If you have it, cherish it. If you do not, cultivate it.

Publication Information:

Succeeding With What You Have by Charles M. Schwab

This book is out of copyright however it is published by Executive Books in booklet form, costing less than $2, with a copyright of 2005 by Executive Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.

General Rating: Fair, >Good<, Very Good, Excellent

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