Harry Revel: a study


Harry Revel starts off as a murder mystery and ends as a historical novel, with the divide coming in Chapter XX. The last four chapters relating to the Peninsular War, bring a moral resolution, but at a distance of time and place from the original moral conflicts. The first ten chapters are set in Plymouth, although it is the Plymouth of the early nineteenth century when the present day districts were separate towns. The second ten are set in the Rame peninsula—Antony area of Cornwall, which has changed far less. In the preface to the first edition of 1903, Q warns against too close an enquiry into location. However, most named locations accord reasonably well with the O.S. Map, and such a map is invaluable in helping the reader follow the plot, especially as it is complex, possibly unnecessarily so.

The preface also mentions Q's intention of dedicating the novel to the Devon storyteller W.F. Collier, had he not died in the year of publication. William Collier was an associate of the Bodmin storyteller William Hicks. Hicks died a few years after Q was born but would certainly have been known to Thomas Q. Couch, Q's father. It might well have been Thomas who introduced Q to Collier. The story of a boy climbing a church spire and the murder of a Jewish moneylender were probably taken from Collier's recollections.

Other elements of the novel derive from elsewhere, particularly The History of Polperro, written by Dr Jonathan Couch, Q's grandfather, and edited by Thomas Q. Couch in 1870. No doubt there are other sources now inaccessible to us. We know enough, however, to realise that Q was frequently fictionalising fact. The Peninsula War chapters keep closely to the information provided by W.F.P. Napier in his History of the War in the Peninsula, Vol IV, Book VI. In describing the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812, the novel focuses on the campaign which started with the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo in January and moved on to the capture of Badajoz in April. This battle Q describes in 'Three Men of Badajoz' from The Laird's Luck of 1901. There are no characters appearing in both the novel and the short story.

There are characters, however, that appear in Harry Revel, The Mayor of Troy, and the short story 'The Merry Garden', namely Bill Adams and Ben Jope. Amelia Plinlimmon, Lydia Belcher and Captain James Brooks appear in Harry Revel and also in the following novel Poison Island. Poison Island is also about a young lad, but it is not Harry Revel. In the preface to Harry Revel Q suggested further adventures involving Harry Revel, Ben Jope, Bill Adams and Amelia Plinlimmon. Presumably, Q was intending a sequel to the novel. This was not fulfilled.

A feature of Harry Revel, as with all Q's novels, is detailed planning. He keeps the characters to the plot; they are not permitted to develop a life of their own, determining the plot as they progress. Character is revealed in action, not in reflection or self-conscious questioning. This looks back to folk story in general and the Cornish 'droll' tradition in particular. It also looks sideways to the writings of R.L. Stevenson and others, whose aim was pace and incident rather than psychological exposition. Q was particularly dismissive of certain Russian novels where characters lack motivation and direction. In the preface to Poison Island he terms himself an admirer of Stevenson, 'our master', while castigating those Russian novels where 'talk' and 'self-exploration' lead to 'stagnation'. Nor does he have any time for novels informed by psychoanalysis or Marxist materialism.

The weakness of this approach for a novelist such as Q is twofold. Firstly, it led him into over-complex plots where peripheral details hold the key to the understanding of central events. A ring and a cuff in Chapter VII identify the murderer a hundred pages further on. How many readers can remember such fleeting details? Secondly, it limits Q's greatest gift, his descriptive ability, as seen in the Lerryn Water section of The Mayor of Troy and the Corsican scenes from Sir John Constantine. Such a self-denying ordinance is self defeating.

Q wrote Harry Revel as a member of the Cornwall Education Committee and at one level the novel is a study of childhood. A number of novels, such as Poison Island and The Ship of Stars, have children as central characters. Q believed, as did certain Fathers of the Church, in a doctrine of original innocence. Nor did Q necessarily equate experience with corruption, as do many writers today. He says elsewhere that a little knowledge is not a dangerous thing if it is the right kind of knowledge.  Whether the violence and sexual irresponsibility of contemporary secular culture would approximate to the right kind of knowledge is doubtful. Harry Revel has the good fortune, even though an orphan, of mixing with virtuous people, namely Amelia Plinlimmon, the Trapps, and Isabel Brooks. By implication Q saw adults as morally responsible for children.

Q's characters fall roughly into three groups: those like Isabel Brooks and Amelia Plinlimmon who retain goodness in the face of wrong; those like the Rev. Scougall and Archibald Plinlimmon who are morally ambiguous; and those like the Rev John Whitmore and Sergeant Letcher who are morally insidious. Q does not over-emphasise evil, yet its destructive power is detailed in the murder of Isaac Rodriguez and the sacking of Ciudad Rodrigo. Unlike many contemporary historians and novelists, Q presents the reader with a moral and a material universe where the evil suffer as they have brought suffering to others. This is not a popular doctrine today, where the evil are often presented as superior to the virtuous, and innocence inevitably leads to disillusionment and defeat. This shows the scriptural basis to Q's thought. Although he was reared steeped in science, he did not see materialism as a total explanation of the human condition.

A central problem for readers of Harry Revel today, when even the Second World War is receding into the mists of history, is the absence of contextual information. Few people have much knowledge of the Cornish smuggling industry of the Napoleonic period, leaving the average reader floundering to understand what is happening in the middle chapters. Even the Napoleonic War is probably insufficiently known to access all the references in the text. Even fewer will be acquainted with the geography of Plymouth and the Rame peninsula of two hundred years ago. Whether the plot is exciting enough to carry the reader through these difficulties is doubtful. As a result, some will find Harry Revel a tedious experience. When we realise however that the novel is accurate history and the history is accessible, the work takes on a different complexion and is worth the effort. It may not be the best of Q's novels but it possesses its own virtues.

A problematic area for commentators is in identifying the debt Q's novels owe to his classical training. The influence of R.L. Stevenson is clear in a fast moving adventure story like Harry Revel, more so than classical writings. Yet looks can deceive.

In 1886, 17 years before Harry Revel was completed, Q received his classics degree and spent a year tutoring in the subject at Oxford. When Q was elected Professor of English Literature at Cambridge in 1912, it was nine years after the novel's publication. In his inaugural lecture of January 29, 1913, much of the lecture was centred on reading English Literature back not to the Anglo-Saxons but to the classical past. While the English language owed something to the grammatical forms and vocabulary of Anglo-Saxon, English literature looked to classical civilisation for its forms, style and ideas. Nowhere is this expressed more clearly that in the lecture 'The Horatian Model in English Verse'. England itself he saw as a 'palimpsest' where even the cultures of its earliest inhabitants can be discerned through the later.

Q's mind revolved around a classical axis, with this axis remaining when he came to write his novels. This is obvious in novels such as Sir John Constantine. Q's lectures are full of classical references: Plato, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Horace and Virgil all appear in 'Patriotism in English Literature'.

What underlies Q's thinking is the Greek belief in the universe and human society as being a harmony threatened by conflict and chaos, particularly by ideas of conflict and chaos. Marxism, Darwinism (as popularly understood) and the rest he saw as invidious ideas. The antidotes were religion, in his case Anglicanism, democracy and education. This informed his work for the Cornwall Education Authority following the Balfour Education Act of 1903, his work for the South-East Cornwall Liberal Association and Fowey Anglican church. Harry Revel was intended as a popular novel, but one that refuses to pander down and endeavours to inform and elevate, both through its style and its content. Disorder is symbolised by John Whitmore and George Letcher; order by Amelia Plinlimmon, Isabel and James Brooks, and when they are enlightened, Jack Rogers and Lydia Belcher. However, in Amelia Plinlimmon and Isabel Brooks there is also the Christian idea of redemptive suffering. Q saw Christianity as an extension of the classical past, allying himself with Early Church Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, as against Tertullian and 'What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?' The conclusion of Harry Revel shows order and harmony restored, although at a considerable cost. While Q can be called a Christian humanist, he cannot be called a secular humanist.

Maybe it is possible to identify another element of Greek thinking in the novel. In Egypt, Greece and Rome by Charles Freeman, there is a quotation from Peter Conrad, 'The lyric protagonist is not a man who does things but to whom things happen.' This is certainly true of Taffy Raymond in The Ship of Stars, Sophia and Tristram in The Blue Pavilions and Amyot Trestane in Castle Dor. It is generally true of Harry Revel, except for two contradictory instances: the climbing of the church spire and the joining of the army. (Freeman, 1996, p. 112).  This shows a development in Q's thinking from his earlier novels, leading on to Harry Brooks of Poison Island.

It is important to see Q's thinking as a consistent whole, whether he is expressing it in the form of novels, short stories or lectures. There is none of the compartmentalisation common in academics today, enabling them to hold contradictory opinions in line with received wisdom and political correctness.

The Peninsular War 

Chapters XXI to XXIII of Harry Revel, which culminate in the battle of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812, follow closely the account of W.F.P. Napier in his History of the War in the Peninsula (1834),  Vol. IV., Book XVI. Napier's brother is the Major Napier mentioned in the history and in the novel.

As in the novels The Splendid Spur and Fort Amity, Q uses authentic and, whenever possible, eyewitness accounts, weaving the fictional elements seamlessly in. History is therefore presented from the viewpoint of an actor in the drama. To obtain the complete picture, the novel needs to be read in conjunction with the source history. This is particularly necessary for the commentator.

Napoleon hoped to defeat Britain economically as he could not militarily. The opening of Harry Revel has Napoleon preparing for and then abandoning his attempted landing on British soil in 1805, an attempt Jonathan Couch remembered all his life. Instead, he tried to prevent trade between Britain and his European empire, which by 1811 stretched from the Vistula to the Pyrenees. To make his 'Continental System' fully effective, he required the conquests of Iberia and Russia. There was one exemption, the smuggling port of Roscoff in Brittany, much used by Q's Quiller forebears.

The Spanish government was corrupt and corrupted further by large British subsidies, with its disunited armies capable of little but guerilla warfare. Napoleon could neither defeat nor be defeated by them. The only organised force, that of Sir John Moore, he expelled through Corunna. Major James Brooks of Minden Cottage had been one of their number, losing his sight during the retreat. Yet the army had returned, with Wellington commanding a force on the Tagus. Portugal, however, was in little better position than Spain to resist the French, its royal family having fled to Brazil, leaving its political life in limbo. Its only effective forces were those integrated into Wellington's army. Napoleon might have eventually pacified Iberia if he had maintained his best regiments in the peninsula, but these were pulled out for the fateful campaign into Russia in 1812. This provided Wellington with his opportunity, attacking an isolated outpost, Ciudad Rodrigo, garrisoned by inferior troops.

The closing chapters of the novel describe the return of the 52nd Regiment to Iberia and the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo. This cleared the Agueda valley and led to Wellington's victorious campaign into Spain and eventually across the Pyrenees into south-western France. The novel describes an event of considerable historical importance.

Towards the close of 1811, with Napoleon withdrawing his best regiments, Hill in Estremadura and Ballesteros and Skerret in Andalusia occupied the immediate attentions of the French, and Wellington started to plan an attack on Ciudad Rodrigo. With the main French magazines at Valladolid and a supply line almost impossible to keep open during the winter months, Wellington believed a quick advance from Lisbon, using the Raiva river to Mondego, offered every possibility of success. Sending Quartermaster-General Murray home on leave (Napier, 1834, p. 371; Harry Revel, p. 222) and doing nothing to hide the high sickness rate among his forces – 20,000 men, including Harry Revel—hospitalised—Wellington hoped to convince the French that his campaigning season was ended.

In Harry Revel, the Bute transport brig brings from Plymouth reinforcements for the 52nd Regiment, the 95th Rifle Brigade and the 7th Light Dragoons. Having departed on July 28, the flotilla makes slow progress, not reaching Figueira on the Mondego river until September, at which point Harry Revel is dispatched to hospital with blood poisoning. (Sir) William Knighton, who befriended Jonathan Couch during his medical training in London, would have passed through the base hospital on the way to becoming surgeon to Wellington in 1808.

It is not until December 24 that Harry Revel moves forward through Coimbra with an artillery team destined to work the 36 heavy guns in the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo. Crossing the bridge at Coa, the team pass on to Celorico and Boden, where on January 7, Revel encounters the 52nd Regiment and Sergeant Henderson.

Napier informs us of the investment of Ciudad Rodrigo on January 6, with the aim of breaching the fortifications in two places on the western side, using cannon sited on two long hills called the Great and Small Tesson. To prevent such a move a Fort Francisco has been constructed on the Great Tesson. Fort Francisco has to be distinguished from the Convent of St Francisco found in the north-western suburbs of Ciudad Rodrigo. In the novel the two places are not easy to distinguish.

By January 8, the 52nd Regiment had crossed the Agueda river and climbed to a camp on the western slope of the Great Tesson, with Fort Francisco over the rise to the east. This is where Revel meets Archibald Plinlimmon. On the evening of January 8, Colonel Colborne assembles two companies from the Light Division to 'storm the redoubt of Francisco' (Napier, 1834, p. 377). Harry Revel observes the successful assault (p. 234). With Ft Francisco taken, the fortifications of Ciudad Rodrigo can be pounded from the Tessons, with trenches dug to the outposts, which took from January 9 to January 12; on which day Revel encounters Letcher and learns of the presence of Whitmore within the town. During this period the town is surrounded, according to Napier, by 'The first, third, fourth and light divisions, and Pack's Portuguese' (1834, p. 376).

On the evening of January 14, the breaching-batteries' open up against the 'fausse braye and the rampart' (Napier, 1834, p. 380; Harry Revel p. 240). By January 19, a major and a minor breach had been effected on the western rampart. Napier explains the plan of attack and the novel follows it (Napier, 1834, pp. 382-3; Harry Revel pp. 241-5).

On the right a light company is to enter the fausse braye below the castle and work left towards the major breach. On the left a light division, (the one containing Harry Revel), is to assemble below the Convent of St Francisco and follow a storming party led by Major George Napier, brother of the historian, into the minor breach. The major breach is to be taken by General Mackinnon's brigade. Pack's Portuguese are to make a 'false attack' on St Jago's gate at the far or eastern side.

The novel follows the action of the history, with the 52nd wheeling to the left and the 43rd to the right, passing the body of the mortally wounded Major Napier in the fausse braye (Napier, p. 385; Harry Revel pp. 242–4). They debouch into the deserted streets of the town. Pack's Portuguese enter the town unopposed through St Jago's gate. There follow scenes of carnage neither Napier nor Q endeavour to disguise or justify.

The entry through the minor breach leads Sergeant Letcher into a search for John Whitmore, which ends in the town square, not far from the breach. With Whitmore executed and Letcher knifed, Revel meets Archibald Plinlimmon, who is counting the dead, and hears of the death of Isabel Plinlimmon née Brooks.

A wounded Harry Revel then returns to hospital, before being transported back to Plymouth.

Harry Revel and The History of Polperro

When Jonathan Couch died in 1870, a manuscript was discovered amongst his effects which Thomas Q. Couch edited and published in 1871 as The History of Polperro. There is every reason to presume that Q knew the work well, possibly in its manuscript form, which today resides in the Courtney Library, Truro. However, it is possible that some of the material it contains came to Q in oral form from his father. It is now impossible to differentiate oral from written transmission.

Although Harry Revel is set in the Plymouth-Rame area, it appears to owe much to the 'Talland' section of the history. In his preface to the first edition of the novel, Q acknowledges a debt to the stories of W.F. Collier, stories probably transmitted orally and inaccessible to us now. There is no mention of his grandfather's writings. The nearest Q comes to any indication of  Talland is the mention of 'Looe Hill', a geographical feature ling just within the eastern boundary of Talland.

Also in the preface Q disclaims precise geographical locations; yet the places mentioned by name—Plymouth Dock, the Citadel, Cawsand, Antony—lie more or less where the map places them. The Iberian locations are exact. What Q has done is to take material from various sources and to weave a story around the locations named, with each location breathing its own peculiar atmosphere. Anyone familiar with these locations will immediately recognise the atmosphere.

One of his sources, although the parish of Talland lies on the western margin of the novel's geography, is The History of Polperro, Chapter IV, supplemented by any oral transmission. In Chapter X of the novel, Onesimus Pengelly is said to come from Looe, the western half of which traditionally lay within the parish of Talland, along with the eastern half of Polperro. 'Looe Hill' is almost certainly West Looe Hill, as the eastern hills are called Shutta and Barbican. West Looe Hill, before the building of Looe New Road, connected Looe, Talland and Polperro as part of the coastal road from Cremyll ferry and Plymouth.

In the third paragraph of Chapter IV, 'Talland', Jonathan Couch draws attention to an inscription on the front of Killgarth house, the ancient home of the Bevil family, with the wording taken from an address of Aeneas to the wandering Trojans, which obliquely connects the reader to the legends of the bull-pit on Plymouth Hoe in Chapter five of the novel. Perhaps less oblique is the information that the last of the Bevils was reputedly gored to death by a bull, a fate Sergeant Letcher escapes from in the same chapter.

The 'History' also informs the reader of a Parson Dodge, from which the name Parson Doidge presumably comes in the novel. Following Parson Dodge at Talland came the Rev Samuel Walker, incumbent from 1747 to 1752, known generally as Walker of Truro, one of the country's leading Calvinist divines. It must have been the Rev Bedford who christened Jonathan Couch in 1789. From 1793 to 1844 the incumbency fell to the Kendall family. At the time Harry Revel is set, the Rev Nicholas Kendall held Lanlivery and Talland. Presumably, Kendall married Jonathan Couch and Jane Prynn Rundle in 1810 – presumably!

According to The History of Polperro (Couch, 1871, pp. 74-6), sometime before 1812 a clergyman who had formerly held an Irish living arrived in Talland and offered his services as curate. Having a Bishop's licence, the Rev Mr Whitmore settled into the vicarage and administered the parish with admirable competence. He held open house to the squirearchy, was attentive to the poor, and appears to have had dealings, licit or illicit, with Zephaniah Job, a central figure in the Polperro smuggling and privateering syndicates. He 'married several couples'.

Whitmore kept his position for 'a long time' before doubt began to arise regarding his legitimacy and his creditors began to press him; until in 1812 he 'decamped' with 'plate and valuables', and for a time disappeared. At most points the Whitmore of the history and the Whitmore of the novel cohere. The end is different. A footnote provided by Thomas Q. Couch, the editor of the history, describes how Robert Peacock, alias Whitmore, etc., was finally apprehended for various offences in Bristol. On September 3, 1814, he was executed, showing at the end great piety.

The central moral difference between the two Whitmores is the willingness of Q's to commit murder. There is an ambiguity in Robert Peacock absent in Pickthall. Some might conclude that Q has sensationalised the historical account. However, Q might have accessed information from his father missing from the history. What is certain is that Whitmore-Pickthall joins the list of Q's villains, along with Captain Salt from The Blue Pavilions and Hannibal Tingcomb from The Splendid Spur.

The history provides curious light on something else from Harry Revel. In Chapter XII of the novel, Jack Rogers is said to own the estate of Brynn. The estate of Brinn or Brynn is to be found in the parish of Withiel, to the west of Bodmin. Jonathan Couch quotes from Bond's History of Looe that Killigarth in Talland was at one time owned by Philip Bevil of Brinn, which was also the birthplace of  Sir Bevil Grenville, one of the heroes of The Splendid Spur. Bevil Quiller-Couch, Q's son, sported the name. Killigarth came into the ownership of the Kendall family, being one of their residences at the time of Whitmore. It was during the incumbency of Nicholas Kendall that Jonathan Couch led the Methodist body out of Talland church. Why Q has Jack Rogers coming from an estate so many miles to the west of Antony is unclear.

Nor is it clear why Harry Revel re-uses material from the short story 'The Mystery of Joseph Laquedem' found in the collection of 1900, Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts. The short story is set at Easter 1807, when Isaac Laquedem, a Jew of Plymouth Dock, sends his son, Joseph Laquedem along the south coast of Cornwall to purchase guineas at 25s 6d. Joseph had crossed the Tamar on the Torpoint ferry and must have passed through Antony on his way to Looe, before encountering the vicar of Talland at his vicarage. The journey of Isaac Rodriguez occurred on June 1, 1811, purchasing guineas at 24s 6d. He is observed by Whitmore and one of the venturers. Whitmore compares Rodriguez with 'Caiaphas', the High Priest who questioned Jesus. Maybe the idea of robbing Rodriguez came into his head when passing the Jew on 'Looe Hill'. Seeing Rodriguez as Caiaphas is therefore convenient.

When Q refers to W.F. Collier in the preface to the first edition of Harry Revel  rather than Jonathan Couch or W.F.P. Napier (see The Peninsula War section), he is throwing a red herring to his readers, something he does remarkably often. No doubt there are other individuals of importance as yet unidentified.

The Smuggling Trade on the Rame Peninsula

To appreciate the middle chapters of Harry Revel, some understanding of the smuggling trade in Cornwall is essential. Q inherited this understanding from his Quiller forebears who were involved in smuggling operations from Polperro. They would certainly have landed along the Rame coast as it was both poorly populated and near to Plymouth market. Plymouth was a major market and the centre of the preventive services, the Royal Navy and the Dragoons, all of whom were employed by government to suppress the trade. With the attention of the armed services directed elsewhere during the Napoleonic War, smuggling thrived, especially when Napoleon instituted his 'Continental System' in the hope of destroying British trade. Q's great-great grandfather, John Quiller, was drowned during a smuggling venture off Roscoff in 1804. Harry Revel is set during the high point of the trade.

In Cornwall, smuggling was organised and run by share based companies. Each venture or run involved a considerable financial outlay, only possible through the involvement of wealthy individuals, especially if their position in society protected them from prosecution. The goods to be smuggled were invariably purchased through Guernsey merchants, as in Q's novel The Mayor of Troy. J.R. Johns lists De Jersey and Corbin, Nicholas Maingy and Sons, John Lukis etc. in The Smugglers' Banker (1997, pp. 162-3). Crews and landsmen had to be hired, and ponies for transportation secured: Lydia Belcher possessed some of her own. The profits of a good smuggling run could be substantial for the venturers on the basis of shares purchased, while the losses of a failed run could be severe, especially if the goods were lost. Smuggling was not seen in Cornwall as disreputable. When Davies Giddy/ Gilbert , Member of Parliament and later President of the Royal Society, entertained Josiah Wedgwood in the winter of 1797/8, he took him on a visit to John Carter, Cornwall's most famous smuggler and a person mentioned in Q's The Mayor of Troy and the short story 'King O'Prussia'. The squirearchy, the clergy, farmers and merchants, all invested in smuggling.

There can be little question that the Glad Tidings of Looe, owned by Onesimus Pengelly, which provides Harry Revel with the means of escape from Plymouth in Chapter ten, was carrying contraband, hence Pengelly's nervousness in the face of the water-guard. (The novel has 'Glad Tidings, Port of Fowey' because Looe boats were and are registered in Fowey. On the boat it would appear as 'Glad Tidings FY'.) Q possibly had a Pengelly of Looe in mind. When he was at Newton Abbot Academy, Q attended lectures by Sir William Pengelly, F.R.S., an acolyte of Jonathan Couch. Pengelly was born in 1812, the year of Ciudad Rodrigo, with his father coming from Looe and his mother from Millbrook on the Rame peninsula. William's father, Richard Pengelly, was a coastal trader, with the son as a deckhand. William's uncle, John Pengelly, was a smuggler. Maybe William occasionally sailed with him. Onesimus is possibly based on John. (Pengelly, 1887, pp. 5–10).

We become directly acquainted with smuggling operations in the Rame area in The Life of Samuel Drew (Drew, 1897, p. 64). Young Samuel was involved in the trade in the area of the novel. He was a wild adolescent from St  Austell who secured employment as a shoemaker at Millbrook, on 8s a week, in 1782. From there he moved to Cawsand and in 1783 to Crafthole, supplementing his income from acting as a landsman for a local smuggling company. In 1785, he returned to St Austell, where he came under the influence of Dr Adam Clarke, who was serving in the local Methodist circuit. Bertha Couch's Life of Jonathan Couch (1891) gives Clarke as visiting Polperro. Following a religious conversion Samuel became fully literate, although still following his profession as a shoemaker. In 1819, partly through the influence of Dr Clarke, he became editor of the Imperial Magazine, firstly in Liverpool and then in London. He ensured the publication of some of Jonathan Couch's earliest pieces.

A second source of factual information is The Autobiography of a Cornish Smuggler (Captain Harry Carter, of Prussia Cove), edited by J.B. Cornish, a friend of Q. In 1788, on board a lugger of 45 tons, mounting 16 carriage guns, Carter nearly lost his life in Cawsand Bay while unloading contraband, landing finally not far from where Harry Revel comes to land in the novel. (My great-grandfather, Thomas Carter of Germoe, was presumably of the family).

Harry Revel presents us with a smuggling syndicate run from the house of Lydia Belcher in the parish of Antony in south-east Cornwall. To the south and south-east lies the long and exposed coast of the Rame peninsula and to the east the lucrative market of Plymouth. Associated with Lydia Belcher is Jack Rogers of Brynn, JP, and Deputy-Lieutenant of Cornwall. When Harry Revel arrives at her house, in Chapter XIII, the venturers are meeting in expectation of news of the landing in Cawsand Bay.

Jack Rogers, as a JP, probably had information of the attempt by the military, led by the Riding Officer, of intercepting the run. In The Mayor of Troy such an attempt is effected, although after a false start. Arming himself with a flare, Rogers is able to warn the approaching boats of the presence of the dragoons. Thus the venturers were saved from a substantial loss. Ranged against the smugglers in Harry Revel are Tucker and the water-guard, the Riding Officer of the Customs, red coat soldiers, including Sergeant Letcher, under Major Dilke, and the Dragoons. The Riding Officer would have planned the operation.

Jack Rogers appears to be the only venturer taking the danger of discovery seriously, or seriously enough to risk himself. He warns Lydia Belcher of her house being flooded with light on the night of the run and sets off a flare illegally close to the coast, having then to hide with Harry Revel from the consequences of his action. Lydia Belcher appears oblivious to possible danger, not only in the lighting of her house, but also in the tying of her roses with French made rope, the type, known as left-handed sling rope, used for securing tubs of liquor (pp. 137).

Lydia Belcher felt secure, wisely or otherwise, in the knowledge that smugglers had to be caught in the act, no Cornish jury would convict, and people such as herself were protected by the justices. It did not prevent those involved being tried in London, although this involved other problems for the prosecution. It was not until the end of the Napoleonic War, with the release of the navy from long distance operations, that smuggling became increasingly difficult. By the 1840s it had largely ceased. As public opinion changed, there was then an attempt to deny its former existence. Q was fortunate in having a father, Dr Thomas Q. Couch, who was willing to convey the truth, a truth supported by the work of Frank Perrycoste and Jeremy Rowett Johns on the records of  Zephaniah Job of Polperro. What Q presents in Harry Revel is not pure imagination, but fiction based on solid fact.

Bibliography: Harry Revel