Ninth Circle – Teaching Composition
The most challenging and depressing circle of adjunct hell. Realize that after the first day your students are reading and writing at a fifth grade level. Spend eternity trying to teach them grammar and the basics of syntax. Realize it is going to take a lot longer than eternity to teach them how to write.
ANOTHER BRIEF DIGRESSION on this rather WTF moment of Scotland’s 18th-century history, because you may well be asking why on earth John Paul Jones wanted to kidnap a relatively obscure Scottish noble. The answer seems to be because John Paul Jones had grown up very nearby, so the Earl of Selkirk was the local big important figure throughout his childhood, and clearly his first thought when somebody had the idea to get a few ships together and go kidnap a British noble for ransom.
It was an extremely badly thought through kidnap attempt. The kidnappers arrived, to find that Dunbar wasn’t even there - he was hundreds of miles away in England, visiting some of his sons at school. His son and heir wasn’t there either (he was one of the boys at school in England), and neither were the next three sons. The only family around were Helen (Lady Selkirk), and some of the younger children.
This was obviously not the plan. So they discuss what to do, and somebody suggests they take the only son they can - Thomas, aged five.
At this point, Helen - who, picture the scene, is six months pregnant and surrounded by enemy sailors - says that if they take Thomas it will be over her dead body.
More discussion. And the version of this John Paul Jones told later on was that the sailors wanted to loot and pillage all they could, and he talked them down to taking the family silver instead. But the version you get if you dig into the story a bit deeper is that the sailors were discussing what to do, because obviously this wasn’t going very well but surely they couldn’t just go away with nothing, and Helen herself suggested they take the family silver. They gladly agreed to this, and Helen sent one of the servants to get it and handed it over to John Paul Jones’s men herself - and then told them to write out a receipt. Which one of them *actually started to do* until another one grabbed it out of his hand and told him off. Anyway, they left with the silver, nobody got hurt, and eventually John Paul Jones sent it back with an apology.
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