, Natural Philosophy d8
1. Believer in Gender Equality
Ellis believes that, physical differences apart, men and women are no different in their abilities. She is constantly frustrated by a world that believes otherwise, both the men who belittle the women, and the women who just accept “their place in the world”. She isn’t one of those women.
d8: Inspired/driven to greatness by being overlooked, ignored, and otherwise patronised by men for something she feels she is fundamentally equal, or better, than they are.
d4: Distracted by another woman’s plight that is brought on by a man, or by society's norms, and possibly fighting a lost cause as a result.
Ellis is a big believer in science as a way of explaining nature, and as a way of getting to know the mind of God. Like most scientists of this period, there is no conflict between the two.
d8: Her deep understanding of science grants insights into a situation.
d8: Rationality allows her to face situations that others might be scared by due to superstition.
d4: Rationality leads her into astray due to not realising that superstition is sometimes based on a real phenomenon.
d4: Impatient with, and scornful of, those who seek a supernatural explanation for something more readily explained by science.
3. Rapier-like Wit
Ellis has a large reservoir of biting putdowns and acerbic remarks, and will use them to put people back in their place if they annoy her.
d8: Takes down the pompous.
d4: Makes enemies.
Ladies and gentlemen. May I present The Lady Elizabeth Cecil.
A female scientist trying to get recognition in an age where women did not do science and were not regarded as equal to men.
Ellis has always had to fight for her preferred position in life; to be able to accompany her beloved brother David in his education, to be able to live her own life, to survive being a failed débutante. She is not going to be deterred from her course of action, though she will change it if circumstances dictate. She is well-travelled, having embarked on the Grand Tour as well as travelling to consult with other experts in Aether, and speaks French, German and Italian.
Lady Elizabeth “Ellis” Georgiana Anne Cecil, born in 1805, is the fourth daughter of the First Marquess of Salisbury, James Cecil and Lady Emily Mary. She is a rather plain and somewhat clumsy woman, generally with a serious expression, accompanied by a rapier-like wit.
She has a twin, David, to whom she is very close. David is the third son. Both were unexpected as their mother was thought to be too old to bear children at the time of their birth. The resulting oddity of the children, as far as the aristocracy were concerned, was regarded as being both the result of the age and temperament of their rather eccentric mother.
Both of them exhibited a deep curiosity about the world around them from a young age, and were indulged by their parents with private tutors. Both turned out to be able pupils, and their thirst for knowledge were barely slaked by their tutors, with each piece of information prompting further questions, to the exasperation of some of the tutors. This love for natural philosophy, and the wonders of the world, resulted in both being rather more focused on academics rather than on being nobility, though they both had to take the lessons in dancing, history, aristocracy (history and present structure of royalty and other noble families), militaria (military insignia, ranks, structure and regiments of the British Army, etc.), music, and other noble arts.
For David, this focus was rewarded at the tender age of 24 with a Chair in Natural Philosophy at Kings College, Cambridge. This was partially achieved through his own hard work, but truth be told, primarily by who his family is.
Ellis, on the other hand, was encouraged to take a more traditional route to success for a girl, with additional studies in the arts, music, history and languages. She tolerated this with ill grace, preferring her scientific studies, and at the relatively great age of 17, she debuted in society.
Her débutante year turned out to be a disaster, where her plain looks and clumsiness brought her little in the way of favourable attention. Her family’s wealth and position in society helped, as did her mother’s reputation as a great hostess, but she was acutely aware that the attention paid to her by men and women was purely on the basis of who her parents were–rather than on any intrinsic merits that she possessed–and she became quite adept at seeing through their motives, studying them as if they were interesting specimens. That habit, coupled with a sharp wit that was improved upon that which she inherited from her mother, did not help her in social gatherings where the intention was to attract the attention of a suitable match.
Over the course of that year, and for several years subsequently, young men have made their suit to her, but she has rejected each as being unsuitable, astutely appraising their primary motivations as social advancement and wealth. Her elderly parents, though admiring of the way their daughter could see through each one, wished that she had taken one of them and cemented her position in society. They died without seeing this wish fulfilled; her father of old age at home, and her mother in a fire at Hatfield House.
As it became obvious that she would not marry, she was granted a stipend of £500 a year by her parents, to allow her to live independently in a suitable style, and in the hope that this would help her gain a husband. She has, instead, spent her time and money immersed in academic studies, travelling extensively to do so.
In this matter, she is assisted by her brother David who has officially employed her as his research assistant for the sum of £100 a year. However, her research and his are not always on the same subject, and she is able to use the University library and gain access to other institutions using this title. This has been useful in attending lectures and accessing rare documents. Some of the joint research they have done had been published under David’s name, with Ellis being given secondary author status as his research assistant. Despite this, most (male) scientists who read the papers think that David is being too kind to his spinster sister who would otherwise have no reason to live (or so some of the more vicious rumours say).
As a result, Ellis has realised that the current arrangement, as cosy and comfortable as it is, will never get her a Fellowship at the Royal Society, her ultimate aim. Achieving this would prove that she was right in pursuing her path, and she is determined to formulate an all-encompassing theory about Aether as her magnum opus, and her election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. This had now become her life's work and having read up on all the literature available, she is determined to discover what she can in the field. To this end, she is travelling to the Hindu Kush with her trusty servant, Fiona Parling, and a manservant, recommended by her brother James, called George Alfreton to carry things, and Sergeant Geraint Williams, formerly of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, a retired and highly commended soldier of 42 that her eldest brother, James, had insisted on accompanying her on this perilous journey. Given who she is, and how much he will be paid for getting her back safely after she accomplishes her mission, Geraint is taking his assignment very seriously indeed.
Ellis has made her way to the British East India Company’s capital of Calcutta with her retainers, baggage, equipment and some luxuries to present as gifts, having taken the “Overland Route” to India, courtesy of The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (“P&O”) and the Egyptian Transit Company. This journey, which involved a voyage to Alexandria, a boat down to Cairo, an overland desert ride to Suez, and a steamship to Calcutta, took 59 days, a considerable time saving on the 100 days or more the Cape route took, albeit at a higher price.
She spent 4 days in Calcutta, where she hired 2 mounted Hindoo sepoys, 4 riding horses (for the sepoys, Sergeant Williams and herself), 2 carthourses and a covered wagon for the baggage. Mr Alfreton will drive the wagon, and Fiona will sit in it. Ellis will alternate between riding and riding in the wagon, as her whim takes her. Having acquired a letter of passage from James, she’s also managed to procure some maps to guide her to Firozpur in the North-West frontier, on the border with the Sikh Empire.
- This is a possible location to have met Majeed, Mr. Graham Hunt or Major John Hare. In the case of the first two, she might have hired them on; in the case of the Major, she might have offered to travel together; she would not do Sergeant Williams a disservice by hiring someone who outranks him.
Before setting off, Ellis wrote two letters to her brothers; one to James, and one to David. She will continue to write one letter for each during the journey, as well as keeping a personal diary (she’ll encourage Fiona to keep one as well), and a scientific journal. She’ll also make sketches and paintings of scenery, geology and animals of interest of her; she’ll never be a professional artist, but she is passable.
The journey from Calcutta took six weeks via Benares, Agra, Delhi and finally to Firozpur, with Ellis presenting herself at each city to the local East India Company agent or office to make contact, flatter them as necessary, assure them that she is quite capable of making this journey and that she’s in safe hands, enquire about any local knowledge or expertise in Aether, and ask about the road and other local conditions ahead. She was invited to dinner at each such stop, and she accepted each time. Dinner was always spent praising the food and host, followed by her regaling them with news from England and in return, they would regale her with news about India or anecdotes about life in India. In Delhi and Firozpur, she’ll also send further letters to her brothers.
At Firozpur, Major George Broadfoot (the British political agent for the North-West Frontier) failed to dissuade her from proceeding to the Hindoo Kush, despite warnings that political instability within the Sikh Empire, arising from the death of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh 6 years earlier, was making the situation dangerous for foreigners. He asked that, at the very least, her party should not to linger in the Sikh Empire. She asked about the obvious military build-up at Firozpur, to which he replied that the instability in the Sikh Empire might spill over into British India, and they were strengthening the border as a result.
Spending a week at Firozpur, she swapped horses for camels, and acclimated to riding camels instead of horses. She acquired a local guide to take her to Lahore.
She arrived in Lahore the afternoon of 2nd September 1845, and made her presence officially known to the government by requesting an audience with the Maharani Jind Kaur in order to gain permission to cross the empire into the Hindoo Kush. While she waits, she is gathering supplies, guides, maps, and any local knowledge, evidence and expertise about Aether that she doesn't not already possess. (If she is not permitted to take her Hindoo sepoys with her, she'll release them from her service, pay them off and send them back to India, replacing them with local warriors.)
- During this time, she might have met an interesting young Sikh princess called Sajjan Kaur, with a temperament that matched her own albeit with a very unconventional martial focus. She might also have met the others during the time she is waiting for her audience.
Her normal week would involve going to church on Sundays and having Sunday lunch with David and his family. (The lunch would, of course, be made by their servants.) She would often spend time with them afterwards, before going back to her own smaller house. Ellis has a house servant as well, a hard-working young woman of 19 called Fiona Parling that she had employed to look after her house and her wardrobe, and has found, to her surprise, that Fiona is rather intelligent, though not well educated. Consequently, Ellis had paid for Fiona to receive tutoring in general education for 2 hours a day and had found that she is someone to whom she can discuss matters of science. Fiona has little understanding what her mistress is talking about (though this is slowly changing due to immersion), but occasionally makes an insightful comment on how to deal with difficult colleagues and alternative approaches to matters that hadn't occurred to Ellis.
Mondays to Saturdays are normally spent either in the library, researching some topic or other, or in the lab performing all manner of experiments on aether (or helping David in his experiments). Occasionally, she will take the stagecoach across to Oxford or down to London to do research or attend a lecture. On the occasion of the latter, David would often accompany her if the matter was of mutual interest. Sometimes, they would visit their brother, James, at his London townhouse if he was in residence there.
Both Ellis and David's family would also visit James and his family at Hatfield House on occasions, especially over the Christmas period, when the family would gather together to celebrate it. David would, of course, also visit his in-laws on such occasions when time permits.
Other members of the family are:-
Father: Lord James Cecil, First Marquess of Salisbury KG PC (4 September 1753 – 13 June 1823). Married 2 December 1776.
Mother: Lady Emily Mary (née Hill), Marchioness of Salisbury (16 August 1755 – 12 November 1835). Famously unconventional (Irish) society hostess and societal rival to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Died in a fire at the family estate of Hatfield House.
Eldest sister: Lady Georgiana Charlotte Augusta Cecil (20 March 1786 –), married Henry Wellesley, 1st Baron Cowley.
Second sister: Lady Emily Anne Bennet Elizabeth Cecil (13 July 1789 –), married George Nugent, 1st Marquess of Westmeath.
Eldest brother: James Brownlow William Gascoyne-Cecil (17 April 1791 –), 2nd Marquess of Salisbury KG PC. Married to Frances Mary Gascoyne (2 Feb 1821). Widowed (1839) with 5 surviving children (one died at the age of one).
Third sister: Caroline Cecil (13 August 1793 – 23 May 1797)
Second brother: Henry Thomas Allen Cecil (22 January 1796 –)
Third brother (twin): David Horace James Cecil (16 May 1801 –)
David is also a rather plain gentleman, but as one with a degree of wealth and with the inequalities of life, he is married to Lady Louise Charlotte, the daughter of a local landowner in Hertfordshire. All three have known each other for most of their lives, and though Louise doesn't understand much about science–and less so about Ellis’s fascination with it, regarding it as a rather strange pursuit for a woman–she realises that it is important to her husband and her sister-in-law. Louise knows Ellis well enough to defuse potential social incidents where some unfortunate man might end up triggering some biting remark from Ellis, and helps to smooth over any awkwardness that arises as a result. David and Louise have four children, and it is for their sake that David is not accompanying his sister on this journey.
Fiona Parling - her trusted servant and confidante
George Alfreton - a manservant to carry things and generally do things that require physical effort
Sergeant Geraint Williams - a military escort that her eldest brother, James, insisted on accompanying her. Formerly of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, a retired and highly commended soldier of 42 that James has hired independently, with the promise of a substantial (£500) reward upon returning his sister successfully and unharmed back home after she accomplishes her mission.
- Aristocrat from a notable family
- Very intelligent
- Believer in equality of the sexes
- Fiesty and headstrong
- Regarded as eccentric
- Somewhat undiplomatic at times