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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Saturday, August 14, 2010

P.S. re Mr. Allen's Glass of Water

In quick followup to the message I just sent:

First, I had completely forgotten about Mr. Price, whose aggressive, sexualized drunkenness darkens Fanny's tenure in Portsmouth. As with so many other issues of societal and even global import, once one allusion by JA is detected, it tends to lead to others scattered through all the novels.

Second, I had also completely forgotten writing the following message only four months ago in Janeites and Austen-L about a possible allusion by JA, via the theme of drunkenness, to the Prince Regent (a frequent satirical target in the shadows of JA's novels), via the character of John Thorpe:

"Walpole would appear to have written these lines in the papers in 1782, when the Prince of Whales was in his early prime of utter dissoluteness :

Drink like a Lord, and with him, if you will. Deep be the bumper: let no liquor spill; No daylight in the glass, though through the night You soak your senses till the morning light; Then stupid rise, and with the rising sun Drive the high car, a second Phaeton. Let these exploits your fertile wit evince; Drunk as a lord and happy as a prince.

Jane Austen, it seems to me, may be referring to "your fertile wit" in that same second charade in Chapter 9 of Emma when she writes the following:

Thy ready wit the word will soon supply, May its approval beam in that soft eye!

And the back-end anagram acrostic of "see sense" in that second charade may be an echo of the Prince soaking HIS senses in alcohol!

But it will take a more fertile wit than mine to demonstrate a connection between the Prince's Phaeton and the Phaeton John Thorpe
falsely attributes to the Tilneys:

"Not they indeed," cried Thorpe; "for, as we turned into Broad Street, I saw them -- does he not drive a phaeton with bright chestnuts?" END OF APRIL 2010 MESSAGE

Obviously, what I wrote earlier this morning can be seen as an extended gloss on, and entirely congruent with, the above satirical allusion. I am hard pressed to think of any theme that JA took the trouble to pun with, where she did not also find at least one, but often more than one, real life personage, either contemporary and/or historical, who shared a certain characteristic she was lampooning or skewering with that pun. This is a prime example.


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