In Austen-L, Linda wrote: "Yes, "imagination" is sometimes linked to "fancy" in the novels; "whim" and "fancy" are often linked as well. Here are three examples where "imagination" appears close to "fancy":
"In Lydia's imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility
of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the
streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers."
"You supposed more than really existed. But now suppose as much as you
chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every
possible flight which the subject will afford, and unless you believe me
actually married, you cannot greatly err."
'"Historians, you think," said Miss Tilney, "are not happy in their
flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising interest.'"
Linda, those two passages in P&P and one in NA are not the only passages
where both words are used in close proximity. Below I reproduce _nine_
others I found from amongst all six novels. Note that 1/3 of the twelve
are (no surprise to me) in _Emma_, and further note in particular the
matched set of passages from Chapters 37 and 45 in _Emma_, which are
_both_ very specifically about the reality or unreality of Mrs.
Churchill's ill health, which tells us that JA had the paired use of
those two words in the passage in Ch. 37 in very conscious mind as she
paired those same words to describe the identical item in Ch. 45.
When you read all twelve examples for sense, I believe it will be found
indisputable that when JA uses the words "fancy" and "imagination", or
variants on same, in the same passage in her fiction, she is universally
using them as _synonyms_. And, from a quick scan of a sampling of the
much more numerous examples of where she uses these two words in
separated passages, she generally uses them interchangeably as well.
So, whatever JA's familiarity was with Crabbe's or anyone else's
distinctions between "fancy" and "imagination", she, in her novels, did
not make any noticeable distinction between them whatsoever.
Which brings me back to Letter 91--I believe I must go back to my
initial position, which is that JA was mostly likely using those two
words in the same sentence, in order to make a hyperbolic point to her
sister--she's saying, in effect: Cassandra, if you want to understand
the preceding passage, you must use your imagination, and what's more,
use your imagination, too! Sorta like the cliche about real estate
sales---what matters is location, location, location. Well, in reading
JA's coded passages, whether in her letters or in her novels, what the
reader needs to bring to the table is imagination, imagination,
Here, then are those other nine passages:
S&S Ch. 9: His person and air were equal to what her FANCY had ever
drawn for the hero of a favourite story; and in his carrying her into
the house with so little previous formality, there was a rapidity of
thought which particularly recommended the action to her. Every
circumstance belonging to him was interesting. His name was good, his
residence was in their favourite village, and she soon found out that of
all manly dresses a shooting-jacket was the most becoming. Her
IMAGINATION was busy, her reflections were pleasant, and the pain of a
sprained ankle was disregarded.
S&S Ch. 41: The idea of Edward's being a clergyman, and living in a
small parsonage-house, diverted him beyond measure; and when to that was
added the FANCIFUL IMAGERY of Edward reading prayers in a white
surplice, and publishing the banns of marriage between John Smith and
Mary Brown, he could conceive nothing more ridiculous.
NA Ch. 5: This sort of mysteriousness, which is always so becoming in a
hero, threw a fresh grace in Catherine’s IMAGINATION around his person
and manners, and increased her anxiety to know more of him. From the
Thorpes she could learn nothing, for they had been only two days in Bath
before they met with Mrs. Allen. It was a subject, however, in which she
often indulged with her fair friend, from whom she received every
possible encouragement to continue to think of him; and his impression
on her FANCY was not suffered therefore to weaken.
NA Ch. 10: You will allow, that in both, man has the advantage of
choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both, it is an
engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each; and
that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each other till
the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty, each to endeavour
to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed
themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own
IMAGINATIONS from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours,
or FANCYING that they should have been better off with anyone else.
Emma Ch. 15: His eldest daughter's alarm was equal to his own. The
horror of being blocked up at Randalls, while her children were at
Hartfield, was full in her IMAGINATION; and FANCYING the road to be now
just passable for adventurous people, but in a state that admitted no
delay, she was eager to have it settled, that her father and Emma should
remain at Randalls, while she and her husband set forward instantly
through all the possible accumulations of drifted snow that might impede
Emma Ch. 31: But, on the other hand, she could not admit herself to be
unhappy, nor, after the first morning, to be less disposed for
employment than usual; she was still busy and cheerful; and, pleasing as
he was, she could yet IMAGINE him to have faults; and farther, though
thinking of him so much, and, as she sat drawing or working, forming a
thousand amusing schemes for the progress and close of their attachment,
FANCYING interesting dialogues, and inventing elegant letters; the
conclusion of every IMAGINARY declaration on his side was that she
refused him. Their affection was always to subside into friendship.
Every thing tender and charming was to mark their parting; but still
they were to part
Emma Ch. 37: That she was really ill was very certain; he had declared
himself convinced of it, at Randalls. Though much might be FANCY, he
could not doubt, when he looked back, that she was in a weaker state of
health than she had been half a year ago. He did not believe it to
proceed from any thing that care and medicine might not remove, or at
least that she might not have many years of existence before her; but he
could not be prevailed on, by all his father's doubts, to say that her
complaints were merely IMAGINARY, or that she was as strong as ever. It
soon appeared that London was not the place for her. She could not
endure its noise. Her nerves were under continual irritation and
suffering; and by the ten days' end, her nephew's letter to Randalls
communicated a change of plan. They were going to remove immediately to
Richmond. Mrs. Churchill had been recommended to the medical skill of an
eminent person there, and had otherwise a FANCY for the place.
Emma Ch. 45:Mrs. Churchill, after being disliked at least twenty-five
years, was now spoken of with compassionate allowances. In one point she
was fully justified. She had never been admitted before to be seriously
ill. The event acquitted her of all the FANCIFULNESS, and all the
selfishness of IMAGINARY complaints.
Persuasion Ch. 17: Lady Russell let this pass, and only said in
rejoinder, "I own that to be able to regard you as the future mistress
of Kellynch, the future Lady Elliot, to look forward and see you
occupying your dear mother's place, succeeding to all her rights, and
all her popularity, as well as to all her virtues, would be the highest
possible gratification to me. You are your mother's self in countenance
and disposition; and if I might be allowed to FANCY you such as she was,
in situation, and name, and home, presiding and blessing in the same
spot, and only superior to her in being more highly valued! My dearest
Anne, it would give me more delight than is often felt at my time of life!"
Anne was obliged to turn away, to rise, to walk to a distant table, and,
leaning there in pretended employment, try to subdue her feelings this
picture excited. For a few moments her IMAGINATION and her heart were
bewitched. The idea of becoming what her mother had been; of having the
precious name of "Lady Elliot" first revived in herself; of being
restored to Kellynch, calling it her home again, her home for ever, was
a charm which she could not immediately resist. Lady Russell said not
another word, willing to leave the matter to its own operation; and
believing that, could Mr. Elliot at that moment with propriety have
spoken for himself! -- she believed, in short, what Anne did not
believe. The same IMAGE of Mr. Elliot speaking for himself brought Anne
to composure again. The charm of Kellynch and of "Lady Elliot" all faded
away. She never could accept him. And it was not only that her feelings
were still adverse to any man save one; her judgment, on a serious
consideration of the possibilities of such a case, was against Mr.
Elliot. ….. Lady Russell saw either less or more than her young friend,
for she saw nothing to excite distrust. She could not IMAGINE a man more
exactly what he ought to be than Mr. Elliot; nor did she ever enjoy a
sweeter feeling than the hope of seeing him receive the hand of her
beloved Anne in Kellynch church, in the course of the following autumn
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