Review published on June 4, 2017.
This book is an altogether complete life story of two brothers, one born in 1754 and the other in 1758. Mention is made of other siblings, who either died in their youth, or of a sister, Frances, who fell by the wayside through marriage. This book has been composed based mainly on letters and documentary evidence concerning how these two brothers’ parentage became almost household names through military successes during the Seven Years War of 1756-63, or which could be deemed ‘Another European War’.
The authors, David Rutland and naval historian Emma Ellis, have written a superb book that tells us of how these two brothers, who cared for each other greatly, went their separate ways through life, yet both died comparatively young. Charles Manners, or the Duke of Rutland, was the elder brother. He inherited the Dukedom in the year 1779; he later also became the Viceroy of Ireland. His younger brother, Robert Manners, took a naval life despite opposition from his family.
They both resided in their youth at Belvoir Castle (pronounced Beaver), but were schooled at Eton and such places until they took their separate, chosen paths.
For any historian interested in mid-Georgian life, this book is an excellent descriptive rendition of aristocratic life, political engineering, and naval existence in the days of King George III. Wars with France and Spain, together with the American War of Independence at the same time, almost bankrupted nations. The naval examples of the day are magnificent in their depiction here. A lot of research has been done to support the narrative. Robert, the sailor striving to enhance his standing, is seemingly frustrated for years. The political situations are exposed too, the governmental squabbles, the intrigues and court cases, plus various disagreements run through the life of Charles Manners. His parliamentary situation is decidedly weak due to his carousing and running up debts, much to the family’s dishonour and shame. Yet, both made a success of their lives eventually, only to die very young.
The title of the book, Resolution, is in fact the name of a ship of the line that Robert captained in the West Indies amongst other places. Life there, in the heat, the constant battling for sea supremacy, the diseases, the slowness of shipboard existence makes for great reading. Various encounters at sea are told extremely well to my mind, and he deserves all the credit he can muster for his actions. However, his elder sibling conducts his life rather selfishly, almost ignoring the plight of many people who look up to him, letting things ride instead of engaging with the problem. His one redeeming feature was his avid collecting of works of art, books, furniture and so on. Much of this is still in existence even today at Belvoir Castle, despite fires that have damaged the building greatly over the years.
A really top-notch book, which tells us a lot of history, plus a brief summary of the Rutland family in more recent years. Many colour plates accompany the text, together with copies of important documents, lists, letters, recommendations etc. I enjoyed the read a lot; I took the time to read it slowly, the better to enhance this enjoyment, and I am mightily pleased I did so.
Reg Seward 5/1
Resolution by David Rutland & Emma Ellis
Head of Zeus 9781784979911 hbk Apr 2017
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