Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Spy Trade

Last week there was an announcement of the new James Bond film, to come out in 2015, entitled Spectre! It's very exciting to anticipate another film about the famous spy! The past two films with Daniel Craig in the title role, have been particularly good. He and his fellow actors from the last film will be working together again to bring romance, intrigue and suspense to the silver screen once more.

Got me to thinking about spies of the 18th Century. Spying is a murky business that actually kick-started Britian's industrial revolution. For example, the town of Derby tried but was unsuccessful in competing with Italy for silk production. And so, John Lombe, Englishman, travelled to Piedmont, Italy to gain knowledge of how silk was spun there. He surreptitiously made drawings of the Italian machinery and smuggled them back to England. On his return he arranged for an engineer to construct a five-story building to use as a factory to wind, spin and twist silk! The factory ran on water power. Lombe's Mill, as it was called, was the first and successful operation of its kind!

But besides men in the spy trade, there is always the "Mata Hari", the "Pussy Galore" as it were. A surprising 18th Century equivalent was Margaret Kemble Gage, wife of General Thomas Gage of Revolutionary War fame. He was British and she a Colonist! It is said that she sent word of her husband's strategy regarding Lexington and Concord! Once he learned of her actions, he sent her to England for the remainder of the war. But, obviously, the damage was done. We in the States might view her as a patriot; back in the UK, she is considered a traitor.

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