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The Way to Glory: Prologue

       Last updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 01:58 EST




    The general political background of the RCN series is that of Europe in the mid-18th century, with admixtures of late-Republican Rome. (There's a surprising degree of congruence between British and Roman society in those periods.)

    Major plot elements in The Way to Glory, however, come from the 19th century. Those of you who know some American history may note echoes of the Somers Mutiny, and if you're really well-versed you'll understand how greatly I simplified the details of political factions both in Washington (Whigs, Democrats, and the intimates of President Tyler whose own party had repudiated him) and in the US Navy. Real history is a great deal more complex than anything I could make up.

    The situation of the British North America and West Indies Squadron, based in Bermuda, would've been much as described during the 18th and even 17th centuries, with one important difference: Haiti didn't gain its independence till 1804. From that point through the 1880s (from which I've drawn several plot incidents) much of the squadron's work involved interceding in Haiti on behalf of British citizens (many of whom brought no credit upon their status) and refugees in general. One could scarcely ask for a better description of the term 'thankless task'. This one came with cockroaches.

    In more recent times, the US has taken over the former British role in Haiti. I suspect the roaches are still there; certainly nothing else has changed.

    I'll note again that I don't invent systems of weights and measures for the background of the RCN series: the practice would neither advance my plot nor make the world a better place. I don't assume that people thousands of years in the future will still be using the systems in use today. Those who would quarrel with my choice here might usefully ask themselves, however, how long feet and inches have been in use thus far.


Not once or twice in our rough island-story
The path of duty was the way to glory.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson
    Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington

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