By Nicola Phillips

A profligate son used to be each Georgian parent’s worst nightmare. To his father, William Jackson’s imprudent spending, incessant partying, and sexual adventures have been a certain signal he used to be at the slippery slope to wreck. yet to his neighbors, William used to be a “damned stable fellow,” a captivating, impeccably dressed younger gentleman with enviable seductive talents who was once keen to protect his honor in duels. Mr. Jackson and his son seen one another throughout a generational hole that neither may bridge, and their mistaken courting had catastrophic outcomes for his or her family.

In The Profligate Son, historian Nicola Phillips hauntingly reconstructs this relations tragedy from a lately chanced on trove of letters and courtroom records. 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 way of fake accusations that ruined his profession, he invested all his destiny goals in his in simple terms son. William grew up in nice convenience and was once despatched to the simplest colleges within the nation. but if the family members moved to London, the teen rebelled opposed to the loneliness and sometimes brutal regimes of public education and escaped to discover the pleasures of the city along with his prosperous neighbors. 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 determined that the one technique to strive against his son’s wayward habit used to be 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 existence 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 dependent squares and seedy brothels of London to the sunbaked seashores of Australia, tracing the arc of a lifestyles lengthy buried in historical past.

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Extra info for The Profligate Son: Or, a True Story of Family Conflict, Fashionable Vice, and Financial Ruin in Regency England

Sample text

Initially, Jackson was willing to help other members of his family both financially and socially, but he The Sins of the Fathers 17 felt they showed little gratitude for his generosity, and by 1806 he would write furiously of how fifteen hundred pounds were bestowed upon kin of my sisters, and every shilling of this sum has been lost by treachery and by folly. One of my Brothers, who had the aid of my best services at a moment of extreme peril to himself; who was placed by my efforts in the road to affluence; and who experienced my liberality in other respects, no sooner found that he could do without me than he repaid all the obligation by the bleakest ingratitude.

10 Mr. Jackson, ignoring or ignorant of warnings from writers like Barrow about the dangers of sending a boy who had previously attended public school to a private academy, began to look around for one of the higher-ranking schools of this kind that ran along classical lines. Administered by Anglican clergymen or nongraduate laymen, these progressive academies often boasted an elite clientele but also offered a much broader curriculum and more comfortable accommodation than the public and grammar schools, thus providing a more useful, modern, and increasingly popular form of education.

It was also due to the difficulty of extricating what could be considered culpable behavior from the more morally ambiguous standards of practice prevalent in India at the time. The directors concluded that, although Jackson had “no corrupt motives,” he was guilty of writing an “improper letter” in an insubordinate tone to his immediate superior at the Board of Revenue, an action that would have damaged all future correspondence with that body and made it impossible for him to continue in the post of collector.

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