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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Answer to my Best Quiz Ever

The answer to the quiz question is Hancock, which is the connection among the following three seemingly completely unrelated bits of Austeniana, as explained below:

#1: my recent string of posts about my speculation, based on the intersection of textual evidence from _Emma_ and _MP_, on the one hand, and from historical data, on the other, that the young Phila Austen may have been a prostitute in London from age 15 to 20, before she was transported by ship--whether voluntarily or not--to India.

Connection: Of course, Hancock was the married name of Phila Austen.


#2: The following charade attributed to Henry Austen:

“I with a Housemaid once was curst,
Whose name when shortened makes my first;
She an ill natured Jade was reckoned,
And in the house oft raised my second,
My whole stands high in lists of fame,
Exalting e’en great Chatham’s name.”

The official answer given by David Selwyn for this charade is "pat" + "riot" = "patriot". However, as with the charades in _Emma_, there is a second, secret answer to this charade as well, which is why I believe the actual author of the above charade was not Henry Austen, but his precocious young teenaged sister Jane!

I hinted to think about the names of the housemaids in _Emma_. Miss Bates's housemaid is Patti, or Pat for short. The Randalls housemaid, daughter of James at Hartfield, is Hannah, or Han for short. If you give the matter some thought, you will be able to figure out how I derived the second syllable of the secret answer.

And what is even cooler is that the two answers, "Hancock" and "patriot" are themselves connected in an additional way, i.e., while Mr. Pitt, the Earl of Chatham was considered a great English patriot, we here in the States are all well aware that one of our great American patriots was John Hancock!

......yes, I do believe that JA had a very wickedly irreverent sense of humor, and also a spectacular level of ingenuity!

#3: The following two passages in _Emma_ which pertain to the family of the lawyer of Highbury, specifically refer to "Anne Cox". That sounds very much like "Hancocks", and the reference to the Coles in the same sentence is an unmistakable tag pointing to #1, above, because of the real life close connection between Mrs. Cole and Phila Austen:

Ch. 26: "The party was rather large, as it included one other family, a proper unobjectionable country family, whom the Coles had the advantage of naming among their acquaintance, and the male part of Mr Cox's family, the lawyer of Highbury."

Ch. 27: [Harriet]: “...The Coxes were wondering last night whether [Jane] would get into any great family. How did you think the Coxes looked?......They talked a great deal about [Robt. Martin], especially Anne Cox... Miss Nash thinks either of the Coxes would be very glad to marry him."

...[Emma] "She meant to be impertinently curious, just as such an Anne Cox should be."


So I do claim that JA meant to be impertinently mysterious, but playing it fair, not so mysterious as to be completely inscrutable!

Cheers, ARNIE

P.S.: At my JASNA-NYC presentation, one young gentleman in the audience was able to guess the answer "Hancock" to that charade.

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