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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The surprising presence of Charlotte Smith’s Emmeline in the subtext of Austen’s Sense&Sensibility

Last week, in my latest quiz, I presented a series of quotes from a work of literature which I did not identify, but which I suggested were connected in a subtextual and significant manner to one of Austen’s novels in particular.

Today I’m back to give you the answer, which my Subject Line has already revealed – Charlotte Smith’s first novel, Emmeline, published in 1788 when Jane Austen was not quite 13 years old ---and the Austen novel which is rich in significant connection to Emmeline is Austen’s first, Sense & Sensibility, published 23 years after Smith’s debut, in 1811. In particular, certain characters and events in Emmeline shine a bright allusive light on certain events I previously determined had occurred in Sense & Sensibility.

Without further ado, here are the passages from Emmeline which I quoted, and, in each case, the detail on the allusive usage made thereof by Jane Austen:

#1: “Fitz-Edward, who was about five years older than Delamere, concealed, under the appearance of candour and nonchalance, the libertinism of his character. He had entered very young into the army; the younger son of an Irish peer; and had contracted his loose morals by being thrown too early into the world; for his heart was not originally bad. With a very handsome person, he had the most insinuating manners, and an address so truly that of a man of fashion, as immediately prejudiced in his favour those by whom he wished to be thought well of. Where he desired to please, he seldom failed of pleasing extremely; and his conversation was, in the general commerce of the world, elegant and attractive.”
#1 EXPLANATION: Fitz-Edward is a secondary source, along with his best bud, Delamere, for the pleasing, insinuating manners of Willoughby in S&S.

 #2: “Fitz-Edward insisted on his being blooded and put to bed; and then went to the apothecary of the village near which the accident happened, and procuring a phial of laudanum, infused it into the wine and water which Delamere drank, and by that artifice obtained for him the repose he otherwise would not have been prevailed on to take. After having slept several hours, he desired to pursue his journey in a post chaise…”
 #2 EXPLANATION: Fitz-Edward’s strategic spiking of Delamere’s wine with laudanum, in order to put the latter out of commission for hours of deep sleep, points directly to Mrs. Jennings’s spiking of Elinor Dashwood’s wine that I described a few weeks ago here: “Wineglass full of SOMETHING: Mrs Jennings’ Constantia wine a roofie for Elinor in S&S” http://tinyurl.com/jz9p9vo

#3: “Yet I had no intention of terrifying you, or of abruptly rushing into the presence of Adelina. It is true, that for some nights past I have walked under the window where she and my child sleep: for I could not sleep; and it was a sort of melancholy enjoyment to me to be near the spot which held all I have dear on earth. As I pass at the ale house where I lodge as a person hiding in this island from the pursuit of creditors, my desire of concealment did not appear extraordinary. I have often lingered among the rocks and copses, and seen Adelina and my child with you. Last night I came out in the dusk, and was approaching, to conceal myself near the house, in hopes, that as you love walking late, and alone, I might have found an opportunity of speaking to you, and of concerting with you the means of introducing myself to her without too great an alarm.”
#3 EXPLANATION: The above is Delamere’s explanation as to how he obsessively stalked Adelina, exactly the way I described Willoughby stalking Marianne a few weeks ago here: “Why Austen’s Willoughby stops at MARLBOROUGH on his way to CLEVELAND in S&S” http://tinyurl.com/je2k3jq

#4: “…my father, who had been in a declining state of health ever since his second marriage, appeared to grow worse as the period of separation approached. He seemed to have waited only for this beloved son to close his eyes; for a few days before he was again to take leave, my father found his end very rapidly approaching. Perfectly conscious of it, he settled all his affairs; and made a provision for me and my brother William out of the money of the present Lady Westhaven, which the marriage articles gave him a right to dispose of after her Ladyship's death if he left no children by her; and recommended us both to his eldest son.’
'"You will act nobly by our dear William," said he; "I have no doubt of it; but above all, remember my poor Adelina. Camilla is happily married. Tell her I die blessing her, and her children! But Adelina—my unfortunate Adelina is herself but a child, and her husband is very young and thoughtless. Watch over her honour and her repose, for the sake of your father and that dear woman she so much resembles, your sainted mother."
#4 EXPLANATION: Of course, that passage is echoed by the famous deathbed scene described at the start of S&S, as further explained here: “The 2 deathbed utterances of Austen’s Sense&Sensibility: Mssrs Dashwood…& Jennings?” http://tinyurl.com/gvsj3qc

#5: “She felt a pensive pleasure in retracing the lonely rambles she used to take at the same season at Mowbray Castle; and memory bringing before her the events of the two years and an half which had elapsed since she left it, offered nothing that did not renew her regret". 
EXPLANATION #5: There we have Smith’s Emmeline as a source for Marianne Dashwood’s nostalgia about her lonely outdoor rambles. 

#6: Notwithstanding the steadiness Emmeline had hitherto shewn in rejecting the clandestine addresses of Delamere, he still hoped they would succeed. A degree of vanity, pardonable in a young man possessing so many advantages of person and fortune, made him trust to those advantages, and to his unwearied assiduity, to conquer her reluctance. He determined therefore to persevere; and did not imagine it was likely he could again lose sight of her by a stratagem, against which he was now on his guard. As he fancied Lord Montreville and his sister designed to carry her with them when they went, he kept a constant eye on their motions, and set his own servant, and Fitz-Edward's valet, to watch the servants of Lord Montreville. Fitz-Edward, who had been so near losing the confidence of both the father and son, found it expedient to observe a neutrality, which it required all his address to support; being constantly appealed to by them both.
#6 EXPLANATION: There is more of Delamere’s persistent stalking of Emmeline, which is echoed by Willoughby’s stalking of Marianne in S&S.

#7: Mrs. Ashwood seemed very much pleased with her guest; for there was in her countenance a passport to all hearts. Mrs. Ashwood, tho' not in the bloom of life, and tho' she never had been handsome, was so unconscious of her personal disadvantages, that she imagined herself the object of admiration of one sex and of the imitation of the other. With the most perfect reliance on the graces of a figure which never struck any other person as being at all remarkable, she dressed with an exuberance of expence; and kept all the company her neighbourhood afforded. Where her ruling passions, (the love of admiration and excessive vanity) did not interfere, she was sometimes generous and sometimes friendly. But her ideas of her own perfections, both of person and mind, far exceeding the truth, she had often the mortification to find that others by no means thought of them as she did; and then her good humour was far from invincible.
Though Emmeline soon found her conversation very inferior to what she had of late been accustomed to, she thought herself fortunate in having found an asylum, the mistress of which seemed desirous of making it agreeable; and to which she was introduced by the kindness of her beloved Mrs. Stafford.
#7 EXPLANATION: Of course Mrs. Ashwood sounds almost identical to Mrs. Dashwood – but the above description of her shows that Austen strongly echoed her character in Mrs. Jennings.

#8: But Emmeline no sooner appeared, than one of these gentlemen renewed his visits with more than his original assiduity. The extreme beauty of her person, and the naivetè of her manners, gave her, to him, the attractive charms of novelty; while the mystery there seemed to be about her, piqued his curiosity. It was known that she was related to a noble family; but Mrs. Ashwood had been so earnestly entreated to conceal as much as possible her real history, lest Delamere should hear of and discover her, that she only told it to a few friends, and it had not yet reached the knowledge of Mr. Rochely, who had become the attendant of Mrs. Ashwood's tea table from the first introduction of EmmelineMr. Rochely was nearer fifty than forty. His person, heavy and badly proportioned, was not relieved by his countenance, which was dull and ill-formed. His voice, monotonous and guttural, was fatiguing to the ear; and the singularity of his manners, as well as the oddness of his figure, often excited a degree of ridicule, which the respect his riches demanded could not always stifle.
With a person so ill calculated to inspire affection, he was very desirous of being a favourite with the ladies; and extremely sensible of their attractions. In the inferior ranks of life, his money had procured him many conquests, tho' he was by no means lavish of it; and much of the early part of his time had been passed in low amours; which did not, however, impede his progress to the great wealth he possessed. He had always intended to marry: but as he required many qualifications in a wife which are hardly ever united, he had hesitated till he had long been looked upon as an old bachelor. He was determined to chuse beauty, but expected also fortune. He desired to marry a woman of family, yet feared the expensive turn of those brought up in high life; and had a great veneration for wit and accomplishments, but dreaded, lest in marrying a woman who possessed them, he should be liable to be governed by superior abilities, or be despised for the mediocrity of his own understanding.
With such ideas, his relations saw him perpetually pursuing some matrimonial project; but so easily frightened from his pursuit, that they relied on his succession with the most perfect confidence. When first he beheld Emmeline, he was charmed with her person; her conversation, at once innocent and lively, impressed him with the most favourable ideas of her heart and understanding….”
#8 EXPLANATION: No Janeite can read the above passage without instantly thinking of Colonel Brandon’s instant attraction to Marianne.

What does this all mean? In a nutshell, it should come as no surprise to any Austen scholar that Emmeline was on Jane Austen’s radar screen in a big way– she famously explicitly alluded to Delamere at three points in her Juvenilia, two of them in her History of England, written by her only a few years after Emmeline was published. But I can tell you that there has been practically no prior scholarship that has identified Emmeline as a source for S&S, let alone a key source, that makes is echoed so many times in both the overt and the shadow story of S&S, as I have outlined, above.

Finally, and most important, I believe that the character Adelina in Emmeline, who undergoes a secret pregnancy and then gives her infant away to her close relation, is very much the literary “ancestor” of all of Jane Austen’s secondary heroines who undergo that same experience, especially Marianne Dashwood!

Cheers, ARNIE

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