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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

P.S. re Fe Fi Fo Fum, I hear the heavy step of Fanny's UN-cle (and of General Tilney’s slow pacing & receding steps)

After I hit the Send button on my last post, I remembered that I had taken note in this 5/18/11 post….
of the following:

“I also spoke at the AGM about General Tilney courting Catherine for himself, and not on behalf of his son Henry--but I also stated that idea was not original to me, even though it did occur to me on my own in 2009--when I first researched that point after thinking of it, I saw that it was first argued in print, as best I can determine, in an excellent 1998 article by my friend John Dussinger: “Parents against Children: General Tilney as Gothic Monster”, Persuasions 1998, #20, 165-177.  But even John, writing in 1998, did not realize that earlier credit is due to Maggie Wadey, the screenwriter of NA1, back in the late 80's. When I re-watched NA1 after getting this idea, I saw that there is one moment in that adaptation (when the house maid at the Abbey comes in to wake Catherine up) when the General's amorous interest in Catherine is implied by what the house maid says to Catherine, even though Catherine (and, I’d guess, probably 99% of those who watched that adaptation) does not (consciously) register the implication.”

Now, in light of my recognition of the intentional parallel between the ominously slow tread of both General Tilney and Sir Thomas, I decided to revisit John Dussinger’s article, to see what he had to say about that parallel, and here’s the relevant text of his article, in which he does indeed eloquently describe  parallels between General Tilney and Sir Thomas—I will just quote the relevant section of the article here, as John expresses himself perfectly well without any help from me:

“…The free indirect discourse…implies that the General has actually remarked that Catherine is as lively a walker as she is a dancer. If, as a widower, the General may feel more at liberty in stepping in as an eligible beau here, it is also noteworthy that Henry seems scarcely present at all. Just as the hero in Gothic romances is usually passive in contrast to the villain, according to Judith Wilt, so at least whenever his father is around, Henry’s role is relatively diminished. It is the General, for instance, who has the power of inviting Catherine to Northanger; and it is he who decides to allow her to ride alone with Henry in his curricle on the way. No matter how far removed from the crazed Manfred, the General reveals a comparable sexual prowess of the Gothic father in competition with the son for the heroine.
This motif of the lascivious father-in-law is much more complexly drawn in Mansfield Park, where Sir Thomas Bertram seems to take a stronger interest in Fanny Price’s physical appearance than either of his sons ever do:
“Fanny knew not how to feel, nor where to look. She was quite oppressed. He had never been so kind, so very kind to her in his life. His manner seemed changed; his voice was quick from the agitation of joy, and all that had been awful in his dignity seemed lost in tenderness. He led her nearer the light and looked at her again—inquired particularly after her health, and then correcting himself, observed, that he need not inquire, for her appearance spoke sufficiently on that point. A fine blush having succeeded the previous paleness of her face, he was justified in his belief of her equal improvement in health and beauty.”
The repeated use of the word “kind” in this passage bears comparison to Pamela’s description of Mr. B.’s ambivalent behavior towards her at the beginning of Samuel Richardson’s novel. Her parents immediately warn her: “‘Oh! That frightful word, that he would be kind to you, if you would do as you should do; these things make us very fearful for your virtue.’” And again quoting her words, they ask: “‘But then, why should he smile so kindly upon you? ’”. The problem, of course, is that as a young and marriageable master, Mr. B.’s particular interest in his servant, really his ward as well, is suspicious.
By contrast, Sir Thomas’s attention here seems harmless enough, and Fanny has nothing to fear but regret: “his kindness altogether was such as made her reproach herself for loving him so little, and thinking his return a misfortune” .
Yet as if Austen wanted to emphasize that Sir Thomas’s kindness toward Fanny was not simply from charitable motives, Edmund subsequently testifies to his father’s awareness of her sexual attractiveness:
“[The ‘but an uncle’ speech]”
It is but an uncle! In the Gothic dream-world, we have seen, the fear of incest may have good cause! It is a strange speech, perhaps something rather to be expected from a mother or a sister than from a first cousin who is eventually to marry her. At his mentioning her “figure,” Edmund leaves no doubt that his father now sees her potential as a sexual partner. Again, just as we have seen how Henry needed his father to gaze at the heroine with the right amount of male libido, so another clergyman- son defers to his father’s presumably unquestionable authority on such matters as judging female livestock for the marriage market.
At this stage, nevertheless, Fanny’s lack of property remains a serious obstacle to her becoming a desirable marriage partner, and Henry Crawford’s proposal later stimulates Sir Thomas into becoming a reincarnation of Montoni in pressuring this hapless girl into a union with a more subtle version of Count Morano. In a grotesque twist of irony, despite Fanny’s secret devotion to him all the time that he is infatuated with Mary Crawford, Edmund seems somehow devoid of any sexual desire for his cousin and instead apes his father in urging her to accept Henry Crawford’s proposal…
Although seemingly remote from the world of Walpole or Radcliffe, the situation here is demonically Gothic, though in the daylight world: again the patriarchal tyrant tries to force the heroine into a marriage without love for the sake of enhancing the estate. But more alarming is his feckless son’s role here as pander.”  END QUOTE FROM DUSSINGER ARTICLE

I had also forgotten that John referred to Edmund as a panderer. But then John, having perfectly teed up the ball ready to hit it 350 yards down the fairway, instead backs away, and takes an 180 degree turn away from the shadow story version of Sir Thomas:

“Yet Sir Thomas is finally no Manfred or Montoni; and he is far more sympathetic than General Tilney. If not very successful in communicating with his children, Sir Thomas at least has the consideration to inquire into his daughter Maria’s feelings toward Mr. Rushworth before consenting to their marriage. Then, after the trauma of both his own daughters’ moral ruin, he comes to value Fanny’s integrity and prudence as a compensating filial surrogate, welcoming her into his family with open arms along with his now disabused younger son.”

Notwithstanding that turn away from the darkest implications, there is much in John’s arguments about Sir Thomas’s resemblances to Manfred and Montoni that supports my claim of a second fictional universe of MP in which Sir Thomas was a Gothic monster like those two notorious ones.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

FE FI FO FUM, I hear the heavy step of Fanny's UN-cle (and of General Tilney’s slow pacing & receding steps)

In Mansfield Park, Chapter 11, we read Edmund Bertram (or as this speech to Fanny marks him, a Pandar-in-Training) pushing cousin Fanny Price to accept unacceptable ogling by her uncle:

"...Go to my father if you want to be complimented. He will satisfy you. Ask your uncle what he thinks, and you will hear compliments enough: and though they may be chiefly on your person, you must put up with it, and trust to his seeing as much beauty of mind in time."
Such language was so new to Fanny that it quite embarrassed her.
"Your uncle thinks you very pretty, dear Fanny—and that is the long and the short of the matter. Anybody but myself would have made something more of it, and anybody but you would resent that you had not been thought very pretty before; but the truth is, that your uncle never did admire you till now—and now he does. Your complexion is so improved!—and you have gained so much countenance!—and your figure—nay, Fanny, do not turn away about it—it is but an uncle. If you cannot bear an uncle's admiration, what is to become of you? You must really begin to harden yourself to the idea of being worth looking at. You must try not to mind growing up into a pretty woman."
"Oh! don't talk so, don't talk so," cried Fanny, distressed by more feelings than he was aware of..."

It occurred to me this morning to compare the above passage to the following passage in Northanger Abbey, Chapter 13, describing the end of Catherine Morland’s visit to the Tilney residence in Bath:

"The general attended her himself to the street-door, saying everything gallant as they went downstairs, admiring the elasticity of her walk, which corresponded exactly with the spirit of her dancing, and making her one of the most graceful bows she had ever beheld, when they parted. Catherine, delighted by all that had passed, proceeded gaily to Pulteney Street, walking, as she concluded, with great elasticity, though she had never thought of it before...."

Now, how to account for the extreme difference in reaction in two parallel situations, i.e., in both we have an 18 year old girl receiving compliments on her beauty from a much older man? I.e., why does Fanny freak out inside while Catherine gets an extra skip in her stride? I suggest to you that the explanation is simple and powerful--- Catherine has no history of being sexually abused, but Fanny does.


Catherine, who has grown up in the country in a family with two parents apparently of the same age, surrounded by similar families, is unfamiliar with the “normal” (but awful) social custom of men 3 times the age of young women coming on sexually to them. And so Catherine doesn't even realize that the General is coming on inappropriately to her, she just takes him at face value, and responds innocently and positively to the way the General is making her feel good about herself---she really thinks he is a benign charming father figure who admires her in a chaste way, and who is implicitly expressing approval of her as a suitable object of his son’s desire. In this, Catherine is extremely na├»ve.

But if Catherine had realized the General was coming on to her (as is, by the way, suggested in the 1980s NA film adaptation), and saw him for who he really was---i.e., a vile, sadistic, money-grubbing lecher, then Catherine, with her firm and unerring base of uncommonly common sense (or, as we say in Yiddish, tsechl), and her innate and unerring sense of right and wrong, would have been shocked and appalled at the unnaturalness of it.

But even though she never does realize he was hitting on her in Bath, when she’s at the Abbey, Catherine’s sharp intuition does eventually kick in and tell her there is something very bad about this man, specifically in the way he deals with women. Although she  consciously attaches her fear of him to his treatment of his dead wife, I believe Catherine on some subliminal level feels danger to herself from this cruel and vicious man masquerading as a benevolent country squire.

And now I’ve reached the part of the tale of Catherine and the General which is disturbingly parallel, and yet in one crucial sense very different, from the tale of Fanny and Sir Thomas (and yet both are, as my Subject Line suggests, disturbingly close to the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk). It’s in the way these men walk.

First, observe how JA, in Chapter 23 of NA, very subtly foregrounds General Tilney’s slow tread as something ominous:

“Catherine's blood ran cold with the horrid suggestions which naturally sprang from these words. Could it be possible? Could Henry's father—? And yet how many were the examples to justify even the blackest suspicions! And, when she saw him in the evening, while she worked with her friend, SLOWLY PACING the drawing-room for an hour together in silent thoughtfulness, with downcast eyes and contracted brow, she felt secure from all possibility of wronging him. It was the air and attitude of a Montoni! What could more plainly speak the gloomy workings of a mind not wholly dead to every sense of humanity, in its fearful review of past scenes of guilt? Unhappy man! And the anxiousness of her spirits directed her eyes towards his figure so repeatedly, as to catch Miss Tilney's notice. "My father," she whispered, "OFTEN WALKS about the room IN THIS WAY; it is nothing unusual."

When you first read NA, it sounds like a throwaway detail. But upon RE-reading, it sounds a subtle echo of the scene in Catherine’s bedroom three chapters earlier, shortly after her arrival at the Abbey, when we read the following about Catherine’s dark and stormy night:

“A violent gust of wind, rising with sudden fury, added fresh horror to the moment. Catherine trembled from head to foot. In the pause which succeeded, A SOUND LIKE RECEDING FOOTSTEPS and the closing of a distant door struck on her affrighted ear.”

What’s that about? I suggest that upon RE-reading of NA, after having also read MP, the sensitive reader will connect the dots among all these seemingly unrelated passages which are actually united by the hidden common theme of a predatory elder father figure in a position of trust, the sound of whose slow ominous approach on foot to a girl’s private space is ominous and dangerous.

But…in Catherine’s case, what is ominous never actually becomes damaging, because, lucky girl, she has no idea that there are two sharp and benevolent elves at the Abbey (you can guess who I mean) watching out for her, protecting her. Somehow, they stand quiet vigil hovering over Catherine, both when she goes to Mrs. Tilney’s bedroom, and then outside the guest bedroom where Catherine sleeps, at all times so as to keep watch for, and then subtly, by their presence, foil, any dangerous private approach to Catherine by their predatory father; and then these two eventually find a clever way (through Henry’s secret diplomacy with John Thorpe) to trick the General into believing that Catherine is not rich and therefore not really that attractive after all. Because the General, like Mr. Elton, always follows the money, not his pygmy heart (or even another, lower organ of his body, which has been known to motivate male courtship behavior).


In closing, I return to poor Fanny---as I suggested at the start, perhaps the feelings which so distress Fanny when her uncle compliments her, are so different from Catherine’s because they are based on a long history of actual prior experience, which rationally make her fear her uncle’s attention to her body. I.e., what if she finds her uncle's ogling, sexualized compliments---as if he were sizing up a young slave girl at the pier in Antigua---so distressing, in part because in the past they've been backed up by distressing behavior on Sir Thomas’s part toward Fanny?  

That is exactly what I think is the cause, and in support of that claim, I will now show you how JA sought to induce her readers pick up on this theme---i.e., I suggest that fear of molestation by Sir Thomas is the additional, hidden reason why Fanny freaks out inside again (11 chapters after Edmund panders Sir Thomas to Fanny) in the following scene:

"Having so satisfactorily settled the conviction her note would convey, she could not but be astonished to see Mr. Crawford, as she accidentally did, coming up to the house again, and at an hour as early as the day before. His coming might have nothing to do with her, but she must avoid seeing him if possible; and being then on her way upstairs, she resolved there to remain, during the whole of his visit, unless actually sent for; and as Mrs. Norris was still in the house, there seemed little danger of her being wanted.
She sat some time in a good deal of agitation, listening, trembling, and fearing to be sent for every moment; but as no footsteps approached the East room, she grew gradually composed, could sit down, and be able to employ herself, and able to hope that Mr. Crawford had come and would go without her being obliged to know anything of the matter.
Nearly half an hour had passed, and she was growing very comfortable, when suddenly the sound of a STEP IN REGULAR APPROACH was heard; A HEAVY STEP, an unusual step in that part of the house: it was her uncle's; she knew it as well as his voice; she had trembled at it as often, and began to tremble again, at the idea of his coming up to speak to her, whatever might be the subject. It was indeed Sir Thomas who opened the door and asked if she were there, and if he might come in. The terror of his former occasional visits to that room seemed all renewed, and she felt as if he were going to examine her again in French and English."

There’s the textual echo of the passage of Catherine hearing receding footsteps at the Abbey which make her tremble, and we know who Catherine suspects of all manner of horrid misdeeds-----the General!

And finally, how about Fanny’s fear that Sir Thomas will wish to “examine her again in French and English?” Examine her? in French? That combination sounds really creepy, as “examine” is a perfect word to describe the way an older lecher ogles a young girl---and where have we recently heard that same conceit of teaching “French” to a young woman as a code for sex? Oh, JA’s Letter 26 to Martha Lloyd, which I’ve been presenting more and more evidence in support of  its being a complex sexual innuendoes fully intended by JA:   "With such a provision on my part, if you will do yours by repeating the FRENCH GRAMMAR, and Mrs Stent will now and then EJACULATE some wonder about the COCKS and hens, what can we want?"

So, it’s no “wonder” that Fanny freaks out when she hears her uncle's heavy step, she really does fear that he is going to examine her in French! Today, they have a word for the terror that Fanny feels at that moment---they call it PTSD---Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

P.S.: For two earlier glimmerings on my part of parallels between Sir  Thomas and General Tilney, check out these posts of mine from 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

“It was no more than an ejaculation” & “It is but an uncle”: Jane Austen’s Homages to Sterne’s Sexual Innuendoes

For those who still doubt my claim in my preceding post that Sterne intended a sexual connotation for the word “ejaculation” when he wrote, in Tristram Shandy, for what the world thinks of that ejaculation—I would not give a groat.”---let me now present you with further compelling corroborative evidence that orgasmic ejaculation was front and center in Sterne’s mind whenever he used the word “ejaculation”—and at the end of  this post, I will relate same to Jane Austen’s bawdy reference to Mrs. Stent’s ejaculation.

In The Cambridge Companion to English Novelists, in the chapter “Laurence Sterne” by Melvyn New, at 67-8, Prof. New presents the “ejaculation” quote from Tristram Shandy, then compares it to a usage of “ejaculation: in Sterne’s equally famous Sentimental Journey as follows:
“…Yorick finds himself in a ‘case of delicacy’. Forced to share a room at the inn with an attractive fellow traveler, he finds himself protesting that he has not, in his restlessness, broken their oath of silence with his ‘O my God!’ It was, he insists, ‘no more than an EJACULATION’…Sterne’s punning use of ‘ejaculation’ in these two passages can help us understand why reading him as a satiric rather than novelistic writer best exhibits his genius to us. We might begin with the obvious: Sterne intertwines the religious (‘ejaculation’ as short prayer) with the bawdy (‘ejaculation’ as male sexual discharge)…the putative narrator of TS…tells us early on that his writing is characterized by ‘rash jerks, and hare-brained squirts’: ‘spurting thy ink about thy table and thy books’ (TS, III. Xxviii, 254); compare Toby’s wonderful question, a few chapters earlier: ‘are children brought into the world with a squirt?’ (III, xv, 219). Put another way, life begins with an ejaculation, continues by means of human exchange, some of it thoughtful, most of it by way of ejaculations that result, in far too many instances, with both sides ejaculating missiles at one another, and concludes, if one dies as one should live (at least in the eyes of the Christian world Sterne inhabited), with an ejaculation to God for…salvation…”

The explicit references earlier in A Sentimental Journey to Yorick squirting and jerking make it crystal clear, even to the most skeptical reader from Missouri (the “show-me state”), that Sterne is cleverly referring at that instant to Yorick’s double ejaculation (i.e., simultaneously verbally and sexually, as they usually do go together that way).

This becomes even more obvious when you look at the context of the scene in which Yorick says  “ejaculation”, which is as famous a bawdy scene as the ones in Fielding’s Tom Jones. Here is the scene (it is in fact the final scene in the novel)---Yorick and the French lady (and her fille de chamber) with whom he finds himself sharing intimate sleeping quarters at an inn, have consumed a great deal of wine, and have drunkenly negotiated a  “treaty” minutely setting forth the delicate terms governing how they will share the room overnight. This is high-grade sexual farce, as Yorick and the lady are both clearly intoxicated not only by all the wine, but their extremely close proximity—whetted perhaps by the additional presence of the nubile young maid-- in their respective, side-by-side beds:

“…Now, when we were got to bed, whether it was the novelty of the situation, or what it was, I know not, but so it was, I could not shut my eyes; I tried this side and that, and turn'd and turn’d again, till a full hour after midnight, when Nature and Patience both wearing out, O my God! said I.
You have broke the treaty, Monsieur, said the lady, who had no more sleep than myself. I begg'd a thousand pardons; but insisted it was no more than an EJACULATION. She maintain‘d it was an entire infraction of the treaty; I maintained it was provided for in the clause of the third article.
The lady would by no means give up the point, though she weaken’d her barrier by it; for, in the warmth of the dispute, 1 could hear two or three corking-pins fall out of the curtain to the ground.
Upon my word and honor, Madame, said I, stretching my arm out of bed by way of asseveration, (I was going to have added, that I would not have trespass’d against the remotest idea of decorum for the world)
But the fille de chambre hearing there were words between us, and fearing that hostilities would ensue in course, had crept silently out of her closet; and it being totally dark, had stolen so close to our beds, that she had got herself into the narrow passage which separated them, and had advanced so far up as to be in a line betwixt her mistress and me;
So that when I stretch‘d out my hand, I caught hold of the fille de chambre’s—

Of course, that last dash is not a typo, it is one of the most famous dashes in all of English literature, as Sterne left it entirely to the reader’s imagination as to what part of the maid Yorick caught hold of in the dark. And so the novel ends.

But now I shall relate the above directly to Jane Austen. As is well known to all Austen scholars, JA was well aware of Sterne’s writing----most famously, we have JA’s epistolary reference to “an Uncle Toby annuity” as well as Maria Bertram’s reference to Sterne’s caged starling in A Sentimental Journey as Maria yearns for Henry.

And, speaking of illicit sex as I was just reading Yorick’s insistence that “it was no more than an ejaculation”, I heard the unmistakable echo of that passage in the following equally ridiculous and distressing comment by Edmund Bertram about Sir Thomas ogling Fanny’s body upon his return from Antigua:

"Your uncle thinks you very pretty, dear Fanny—and that is the long and the short of the matter. Anybody but myself would have made something more of it, and anybody but you would resent that you had not been thought very pretty before; but the truth is, that your uncle never did admire you till now—and now he does. Your complexion is so improved!—and you have gained so much countenance!—and your figure—nay, Fanny, do not turn away about it—IT IS BUT AN UNCLE. If you cannot bear an uncle's admiration, what is to become of you? You must really begin to harden yourself to the idea of being worth looking at. You must try not to mind growing up into a pretty woman."

So, to suggest that a professional writer like JA, whose command of the English language was second to none before or since, was somehow oblivious to Sterne’s obvious and brilliant sexual innuendoes, and that she might have echoed them without realizing what they meant, is simply preposterous.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

“for what the world thinks of that ejaculation—I would not give a groat.”: The 17 Cocks of Tristram Shandy & Jane Austen’s Homages Thereto

 Rita LAMB wrote in Janeites: Arnie, all you have shown - and
shown very well - is that Nokes read it wrong. It was poor 
innocent Mrs Stent doing the ejaculating,  not the cocks. Nobody
 is indulging in ribaldry - Mrs S. least of all. The poor woman
 just didn't have many conversational gambits that didn't include 
the word 'hen-house'.  Poor worthy Mrs Stent. She must be 
spinning like a top in her blameless grave.”
Jane FOX wrote in Janeites: “OED has 1927 for the first recorded
 usage of ejaculate in connection with "seminal fluid." 

Speaking of barnyard humor, it’s my rare privilege this morning to be responding to both a Lamb and a Fox, who are uncharacteristically allied, at the same time. ;)

Rita, your argument is with the late David Nokes, as I always maintained that it was Jane Austen who was making the dirty joke, not Mrs. Stent. And your simply saying “nobody is indulging in ribaldry” proves only that….you just deny it! And I add (as I argued a few years ago), it’s not just “ejaculate” and “cocks”, it’s also “the French grammar” (with its suggestion of oral sex) that is the third part of JA’s dirty joke.  

And Jane, re the date of the supposed earliest OED listing, my Subject Line is a prominent stand-alone quote of a chapter title from near the very end of Tristram Shandy (written 1759-61), which, if the OED included (which it does not) literary usages of words with thinly veiled sexual innuendoes, would be at the very top of the list of the use of the word “ejaculation” as referring to what happens at male orgasm.

After all, Tristram Shandy famously begins with the protagonist describing the interruption of his father’s orgasm by his mother’s asking him if he wound the clock, and then Tristram goes on to refer to his post-conception self as a “homunculus”, an image of the fluid cellular processes underlying conception. So, when Sterne refers to “ejaculation” so prominently at the end of his sexual innuendo-drenched novel, there could be no doubt in the mind of any sophisticated reader of that era as to what he was winking at.

But there’s more in that same vein (or should I say, vesicle?)…..

Nancy wrote in Janeites: “Also, you can't use twentieth century critics interpretation of Sterne to prove anything about how the words were used and understood in ordinary houses in the late 18th century.”

To rebut the above, Nancy, all I need to do is quote passages containing words containing the syllable “coc-“ or “cock-“ in Tristram Shandy and various of Austen’s texts. As my Subject Line indicates, a reasonabley attentive and sophisticated reader during JA’s era of both Sterne and Austen, could readily spot the parallels. To suggest otherwise, to suggest this is a coincidence, is, well……nothing less than a true cock and bull story!

So, without further introduction, here are the seventeen ‘cocks’ of Tristram Shandy, and their Austenian counterparts:

STERNE: “…Nay, if you come to that, Sir, have not the wisest of men in all ages, not excepting Solomon himself,—have they not had their Hobby-Horses;—their running horses,—their coins and their COCKLE-SHELLS, their drums and their trumpets, their fiddles, their pallets,—their maggots and their butterflies?—and so long as a man rides his Hobby-Horse peaceably and quietly along the King's highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him,—pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it? Nay, if you come to that, Sir, have not the wisest of men in all ages, not excepting Solomon himself,—have they not had their Hobby-Horses;—their running horses,—their coins and their COCKLE-SHELLS, their drums and their trumpets, their fiddles, their pallets,—their maggots and their butterflies?—and so long as a man rides his Hobby-Horse peaceably and quietly along the King's highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him,—pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?”

AUSTEN: Admiral Croft: “What queer fellows your fine painters must be, to think that anybody would venture their lives in such a shapeless old COCKLESHELL as that?”

STERNE: In the second year my uncle Toby purchased Ramelli and Cataneo, translated from the Italian;—likewise Stevinus, Moralis, the Chevalier de Ville, Lorini, COCHORN, Sheeter, the Count de Pagan, the Marshal Vauban, Mons. Blondel, with almost as many more books of military architecture, as Don Quixote was found to have of chivalry, when the curate and barber invaded his library.

STERNE: What a SHUTTLECOCK of a fellow would the greatest philosopher that ever existed be whisk'd into at once, did he read such books, and observe such facts, and think such thoughts, as would eternally be making him change sides!

STERNE: Of all the tracts my father was at the pains to procure and study in support of his hypothesis, there was not any one wherein he felt a more cruel disappointment at first, than in the celebrated dialogue between Pamphagus and COCLES, written by the chaste pen of the great and venerable Erasmus, upon the various uses and seasonable applications of long noses…..'Nihil me paenitet hujus nasi,' quoth Pamphagus;—that is—'My nose has been the making of me.'—'Nec est cur poeniteat,' replies COCLES; that is, 'How the duce should such a nose fail?'

STERNE: Vespera quadam frigidula, posteriori in parte mensis Augusti, peregrinus, mulo fusco colore incidens, mantica a tergo, paucis indusiis, binis calceis, braccisque sericis COCCINEIS repleta, Argentoratum ingressus est….Peregrinus mulo descendens stabulo includi, et manticam inferri jussit: qua aperta et COCCINEIS sericis femoralibus extractis cum argento laciniato (Greek), his sese induit, statimque, acinaci in manu, ad forum deambulavit….Quod ubi peregrinus esset ingressus, uxorem tubicinis obviam euntem aspicit; illico cursum flectit, metuens ne nasus suus exploraretur, atque ad diversorium regressus est—exuit se vestibus; braccas COCCINEAS sericas manticae imposuit mulumque educi jussit.

STERNE: Reason is, half of it, Sense; and the measure of heaven itself is but the measure of our present appetites and CONCOCTIONS.—

STERNE: then with poultices of marsh-mallows, mallows, bonus Henricus, white lillies and fenugreek—then taking the woods, I mean the smoak of 'em, holding her scapulary across her lap—then DECOCTIONS of wild chicory, water-cresses, chervil, sweet cecily and COCHLEARIA—and nothing all this while answering, was prevailed on at last to try the hot-baths of Bourbon

STERNE: It is not like the affair of an old HAT COCK'D—and a COCK'D old HAT, about which your reverences have so often been at odds with one another—but there is a difference here in the nature of things—

AUSTEN [Henry Crawford: "I really believe," said he, "I could be fool enough at this moment to undertake any character that ever was written, from Shylock or Richard III down to the singing hero of a farce in his scarlet coat and COCKED HAT.]

STERNE: Avicenna, after this, is for having the part anointed with the syrup of hellebore, using proper evacuations and purges—and I believe rightly. But thou must eat little or no goat's flesh, nor red deer—nor even foal's flesh by any means; and carefully abstain—that is, as much as thou canst, from peaCOCKS, cranes, coots, didappers, and water-HENS—

AUSTEN: "With such a provision on my part, if you will do your's by repeating the French Grammar, & Mrs. Stent will now & then ejaculate some wonder about the COCKS & HENS, what can we want?”

STERNE: Such it was—or rather such would it have seem'd upon any other brow; but the sweet look of goodness which sat upon my uncle Toby's, assimilated every thing around it so sovereignly to itself, and Nature had moreover wrote Gentleman with so fair a hand in every line of his countenance, that even his tarnish'd gold-laced hat and huge COCKADE flimsy taffeta became him; and though not worth a button in themselves, yet the moment my uncle Toby put them on, they became serious objects, and altogether seem'd to have been picked up by the hand of Science to set him off to advantage.

AUSTEN [Emma: “…Here is my sketch of the fourth, who was a baby. I took him as he was sleeping on the sofa, and it is as strong a likeness of his COCKADE as you would wish to see.”]

STERN: A COCK and a Bull, said Yorick—And one of the best of its kind, I ever heard.

And anyway, Nancy, you will agree that any house that Jane Austen lived in was no “ordinary house”, so who cares what people who were, as Henry Tilney put it, “intolerably stupid”, did not understand in Sterne’s and Austen’s writing?

Bravo, Laurence and Jane! (he ejaculated in closing)

Cheers, ARNIE
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