While Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne sat in London, plotting his own downfall, then took ship to the colonies and set out on the trail to Saratoga, the rest of the British Isles went about its business.

The North American rebellion was beginning to make its presence felt. Export revenues began falling off as colonial privateers became bolder in their attacks on British vessels, military and commercial. Although the French had taken no official stand ­p; Burgoyne would help change that ­p; England could not rule out the danger from that quarter. The result of all this was a hike in marine insurance costs, up nearly 20% as of March 17th.

Twelve days later a new venture, formed to promote woolen mills in Devonshire, crashed. Charles Baring, along with his two siblings ­p; signed the papers that dissolved John and Francis Baring and Co., then began hunting for ways to pay off £ 5500 of outstanding debts in London's financial offices. Of course the lads were not down for the count. They would regroup and go on to form a banking dynasty that would control the fates of entire nations, earning the European nickname The Sixth Great Power. They would even own, then sell, Louisiana.

Future clergyman Patrick Bronte was born in Ireland this year. He would go on to publish some unremarkable poetry and equally non-memorable prose; his future wife Maria Branwell showed a bit more talent in her literary endeavors. But of course their as-yet unborn daughters Charlotte, Anne, and Emily would go on to provide generations of readers ­p; then producers of radio, recorded books, television and films ­p; with unforgettable characters and plots.

Other literary progenitors were active in 1777. Williams Burnes (with an 'e') moved his family, including 18-year-old son Robert (no 'e'), from the 70-acre Mount Oliphant farm to the 130-acre Lochlie farm on the banks of the River Ayr. Nine years later he would publish his first book of poetry.

This same year another 18-year-old, feminist author Mary Wollstonecraft, whose own daughter will write Frankenstein, moves with her family from North London to the city's Walworth neighborhood.

A doctor, William Dodd, is hanged for forgery in London this year. And a spoken, living language also dies as Cornwall resident Dolly Pentreath passes away, the last native speaker of Cornish.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.

© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte