(& scroll down to read my literary sleuthing posts)
Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Monday, June 27, 2011

Letters 30 & 31: Henry Rice the Prodigal Son?....and Mary Lloyd plays Mrs. Elton to Peter DeBary's Frank Churchill?

_Henry Rice the Prodigal Son?_

"That James Digweed has refused Dean Curacy I suppose he has told you himself-tho' probably the subject has never been mentioned between you.-Mrs. Milles flatters herself falsely; it has never been Mrs. Rice's wish to have her son settled near herself-& there is now a hope entertained of her relenting in favour of Deane.-Mrs. Lefroy & her son in law were here yesterday ; she tries not to be sanguine, but he was in excellent spirits.-I rather wish they may have the Curacy. It will be an amusement to Mary to superintend their Household management, & abuse them for expense, especially as Mrs. L. means to advise them to put their washing out."

At the end of Letter 31, we have JA, above, revisiting, exactly one week later, that same thorny question of who will accept the Dean Curacy (and why, by the way, is it that JA spells it "Dean" when it is an adjective describing the curacy, and "Deane" when it is the village name?--she did this in both Letter 30 and now in Letter 31 as well). Now that the heir apparent, Peter DeBary, has astonished various Austens by refusing the curacy, JA now turns her attention to several other candidates.

JA begins in characteristically fine absurdist form--first supposing that James Digweed has told CEA that he has refused it, even though.....he probably has never mentioned it to CEA! Again, shades of the mangled logic progressions of Lewis Carroll! I doubt that James Digweed ever was interested in the first place, this strikes me as raillery with no factual foundation.

I also have a question--what does Le Faye mean when she writes about James Digweed: "ordained 1797 and became curate of Steventon 1798 but never actually held a benefice"?

Then we move on to another mini-satire--Mrs. Milles of Kent, whom JA is mocking as a silly gossip and long distance match prognosticator, has apparently speculated that Mrs. Rice of Kent would want her son, Henry Rice-- one year younger than JA--to settle near herself in Kent. The point is that Henry Rice was a serious candidates for the Dean Curacy, and in fact Le Faye's Bio Index reveals that Henry Rice _did_ become the Dean Curate in 1801.

Le Faye also informs us that Henry Rice was an eldest son, and "cheerful and amusing but a hopeless spendthrift and gambler, forever expecting his widowed mother to pay the debts he constantly incurred." As we will read in Letter 33, I think JA did not agree with Le Faye's appraisal of the relationship between Henry Rice and his mother. Stay tuned a few weeks on that one....

So far, this is not particularly interesting, but now it gets very interesting:

_Mary Lloyd plays Mrs. Elton to Peter DeBary's Frank Churchill?_

In regard to Peter DeBary's refusal of the Dean Curacy described by JA so elaborately and allusively in Letter 30, I just noticed a subliminal detail in the following sentence in Letter 31, which has completely altered my interpretation of the Peter DeBary saga:

"I feel rather indignant that any possible objection should be raised against so valuable a peice of preferment, so _delightful a situation_!-that Deane should not be universally allowed to be as near the Metropolis as any other country villages."

I previously suggested that in this passage JA was engaged in a put-on, speaking in the voice of her _father_, Reverend George Austen, bewildered at how Peter DeBary could possibly refuse such generous terms (which really are not so generous) to serve as curate in so advantageously situated a village as Deane (which JA hints is somehow similar to Glencoe, site of the famous massacre).

Now the phrase "so delightful a situation" has made me reasonably certain that it is _not_ the voice of Revd. Austen at all that JA is imagining, but that of _Mary_ Lloyd Austen, wife of James Lloyd, who will be the boss of the new Dean curate. Why??? Because of the following passage in Chapter 41 of _Emma_:

"...Jane Fairfax was still at her grandmother's; and as the return of the Campbells from Ireland was again delayed, and August, instead of Midsummer, fixed for it, she was likely to remain there full two months longer, provided at least she were able to defeat Mrs. Elton's activity in her service, and save herself from being hurried into _a delightful situation_ against her will."

It is not merely the exact quotation of "a delightful situation" that makes me so certain of the parallel between Mary Austen and Mrs. Elton. That was the "bread crumb" that alerted me to investigate possible parallels, but once I did, I quickly realized that there were, prima facie, a couple of promising parallels discernible between these two ladies, one fictional, one real: i.e., they are both become the wife of the local clergyman; and they are both officious busybodies (did you think of Mrs. Elton---along with Lady Catherine and Mrs. Norris----as I did, when you read "It will be an amusement to Mary to superintend their Household management, & abuse them for expense"?).

But it was when I considered Mary Lloyd Austen as the bewildered voice channeled by JA in Letter 30, that also provided a satisfying answer to the two questions I addressed in my last post, which it had not initially occurred to me might be related:

first, my inference that "Peter DeBary was the "tall clergyman who came with [the two Miss Ledgers, who, by the way, Le Faye has no idea who _they_ are!], whose name Mary would never have guessed"; and

second, my asking whether "JA [was] playfully hinting that Mary Lloyd (who was apparently not yet an item with the recently widowed James Austen) was interested in Peter DeBary."

How interesting the whole thing becomes if there _was_ this personal history between Mary Lloyd Austen and Peter DeBary, dating back 5 years to 1796. How much does it color our understanding of the little saga of the Dean curacy if Peter DeBary spurned Mary (who, as we know, was very sensitive about her post-smallpox appearance) in 1796 despite her having shown interest in him, leaving Mary to eventually refocus her matrimonial aspirations on James Austen! _That_ would cast the little rant against Peter DeBary which I now attribute to Mary Austen in a more sinister light.

I imagine Peter DeBary looking at the Dean curacy and being conflicted, being in need of a living to support himself now that his long term tutoring gig in Edinburgh has come to an end, but (1) finding the financial terms offered by James Austen and his wife less than satisfactory, and also (2) being very wary of placing himself under the thumb of the very woman whom he had scorned 5 years earlier, and her husband who probably was aware that he was Mary's "consolation prize". This fits perfectly with my previous interpretation of Miss Hawkins as having been scorned by the man she really wanted, Frank Churchill, and having to settle for Mr. Elton, but holding on to bitter resentment for having been scorned.

And I think JA saw all of this, and remembered all of this, when she wrote Emma, and "a delightful situation" was her way of tagging it.

Cheers, ARNIE

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jane Austen's Allusions to Love's Labour's Lost in _Emma_: Part Three

Elissa Schiff wrote the following in Janeites: “So this was, essentially, a closet play - designed for a small group who would know the references and people referred to. Further, it was almost unactable because of [the] rapidity with which verbiage had to be delivered. So it quickly became one of those plays not, then never put on - and essentially fell out of the Shakespearean canon in people's minds. Remember - there were no great compendia editions of Shakespeare with full explanatory notes until, really the end of the 19th century.”

For another scholarly point of view, here are some excerpts on these very same topics from the Introduction to Love’s Labour’s Lost in the 1988 Bantam Classics edition of “Shakespeare: Three Early Comedies”.

First, re the quality of the play’s structure:

“The unresolved ending, in which no marriages take place and in which the Princess’s territorial claims to Aquitaine are left unsettled, should be regarded not as unfinished but as highly imaginative and indeed indispensable. The title after all assures us that ‘love’s labors” will be lost and the Princess affirms the principle of “form confounded.”

And this is a rebuttal to the theory that LLL was a topical satire:

"Equally inconclusive are theories that the play was a topical satire written for a special audience, or that it was a comparatively late play of Shakespeare’s ‘lyric’ period, 1594-5…..[Bevington then argues for a half page _against_ dating the play after 1589, when the alleged topical references would apply]…”

And now comes a description of LLL vis a vis Shakespeare’s other plays, that sounds as if it could be a description of _Emma_ vis a vis JA’s other novels:

“The world of LLL, as compared with that of most of Shakespeare’s comedies, is not only uneventful but is remarkably unthreatened by danger or evil. The characters themselves are menaced by nothing worse than themselves and stand to lose nothing more serious than their dignity. In such an artificial world, however, the preservation of one’s self-esteems assumes undue importance…”

And here is the scholar’s opinion about _performance_ of LLL:

“Clearly LLL, so daunting in the study, can be one of Shakespeare’s most vital comedies onstage. A character in GB Shaw’s Misalliance observes…,’Yes it reads well, but it doesn’t act well.’ LLL is just the opposite: it may not always read well, but it can work delightfully in the theater. The wordplay, so apt to seem tedious as one reads, becomes charmingly adolescent and zany in performance. The play revels in disguises, in masques, in misdirected letters. It choreographs its big scenes with an eye to stage picture in a way that must have been especially attractive on the scenery free Elizabethan stage….LLL contains what is probably Shakespeare’s first play within a play…Theatrical self-reflexivity encourages Shakespeare’s audience to reflect on levels of illusion and on the issue of what constitutes good dramatic art. LLL’s insistence on its own artifice helps to keep that artifice from cloying the appetite. The play is a confection, one that rewards good acting and never seems to grow old.”

But who wrote this Introduction anyway?

Well, for those who care about such things, David Bevington is “Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus Department of English & Department of Comparative Literature” at the U. of Chicago.And here’s what he says at his webpage: “I have finished updating the 29-volume paperback edition of all of Shakespeare's works that I did for Bantam Books back in 1988.”

Now that is a nice irony, in light of the recent discussion about edition of all of Shakespeare’s works in Jane Austen’s day.

And finally here is Bevington’s latest news:

“I am one of three senior editors of a forthcoming Cambridge edition of The Works of Ben Jonson, scheduled for 2011. I am currently working on a book on the history of Hamlet from sources and original text to modern-day productions and critical reception.”

Cheers, ARNIE

Jane Austen's Allusions to Love's Labour's Lost in _Emma_: Part Two

[Elissa wrote the following in Janeites responding to my previous message under the above Subject Line]: "...the play [Love's Labour's Lost] was often not included in nicely bound sets of Shakespeare's individual works...."

I responded as follows:

Google Books showed me _several_ different editions of Shakespeare printed _during_ JA's lifetime which _included_ Love's Labour's Lost. However, my personal favorite, hands down, has got to be the following one:

1788 Edition of Shakespeare's Plays, Volume the Sixth, containing Love's Labour's Lost & A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Dramatick Writings of Will. Shakspere, With the Notes of all the various Commentators; Printed Complete from the Best Editions of Sam. Johnson and Geo. Steevens. London: Printed for, and under the Direction of, John Bell, British Library, Strand, Bookseller to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales

Here is the link: it possible to imagine that volumes published by the British Library, Strand, as Bookseller to HRH the Prince of Wales, could be in the category of _not_ nicely bound sets? is it possible that the Prince of Wales---- he who spent (in today's money) untold millions on every imaginable extravagant and wasteful expenditure, a man who considered himself a world leader in aesthetics and culture, a man who, for Pete's sake, presumed, during his amorous youth, to call himself "Florizel"!----might have on display, in Carlton House, numerous _cheesily_ bound sets of Shakespeare?

And, by the way, would Samuel Johnson and George Steevens similarly be in the category of unrecognized commentators on Shakespeare?

In regard to those shleppers, Johnson and Steevens, here is what is printed at the front of this Volume, in oversized letters, right before the text of LLL:

Remarks on the Plot, The Fable, and Construction of Love's Labour's Lost:

"I have not been hitherto so lucky as to discover any novel on which this comedy seems to have been founded, and yet the story of it has most of the features of an ancient romance." Steevens.

"In this play, which all the editors have concurred to censure, and some have rejected as unworthy of our poet, it must be confessed that there are many passages mean, childish, and vulgar; and some which ought not to have been exhibited, as we are told they were, to a maiden queen. But there are scattered through the whole many sparks of genius; nor is there any play that has more evident marks of the hand of Shakspeare." Johnson.

So..... "...."many sparks of genius.....more evident marks of the hand of Shakspere..." What this means is that _even_ Samuel Johnson, he who (as I posted several months ago) absolutely _hated_ Shakespeare's pervasive punning with a furious passion, and did not lack the nerve to tell the world how much he disliked that aspect of Shakespeare's writing---nonetheless even the dour, (at least superficially) conservative Johnson was firmly _opposed_ to those editors who had shown the temerity to exclude LLL "as unworthy of our poet".

And would the Jane Austen _you_ know, upon reading that introduction, have slammed the book shut and raced to get one of those censored editions instead? My Jane Austen would have fought to her last breath to _keep_ , above all others, the edition that included LLL, precisely because my JA not only would not have been offended by any alleged vulgarities, she would have enjoyed them immensely!

And the proof of the "pudding", so to speak, is _Emma_ itself.

And apropos _Emma_ and LLL, I cannot resist to bring forward another spoonful of that allusive pudding.

In all of Jane Austen's fiction and letters, there is only _one_ place where there is a reference to a “saucy look”, and it is in Chapter 53 of Emma, when Mr. Knightley says to Emma: "How often, when you were a girl, have you said to me, with one of your _saucy_ looks -- 'Mr. Knightley, I am going to do so and so; papa says I may...."

In all of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, there is only _one_ place where there is a reference to a "saucy look", and it is in Act 1, Scene 1 of Love's Labour's Lost, when Berowne says "Study is like the heaven's glorious sun, That will not be deep-search'd with saucy looks"

Now, in case those lines sound familiar, that may be because those are the very lines which _immediately follow_ the lines I quoted in my previous message, as pointing toward the second charade in Chapter 9 of _Emma_ which I now _re_quote:

As, painfully to pore upon a book,
To seek the light of truth, while truth the while
Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look.
Light seeking light doth light of light beguile:
So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,
Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.
Study me how to please the eye indeed
By fixing it upon a _fairer eye_,
Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed
And give him light that it was blinded by.

And here's the best part of this---what is Berowne really talking about in this speech? He is arguing, with his usual great skill and casuistry, that book-study will not enlighten a person. Which of course is absurd, as both he, and the author who created him, are both book-learned to an absurdly high degree!

But back to Emma---is it just a coincidence that in Chapter 5 of _Emma_, the only other place (besides the above quoted passage in Chapter 53) where Knightley reminisces about Emma as a girl, we read Knightley saying the following about Emma's book-study habits?:

""Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing-up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through—and very good lists they were—very well chosen, and very neatly arranged—sometimes alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up when only fourteen—I remember thinking it did her judgment so much credit, that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made out a very good list now. But I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma. She will never submit to any thing requiring industry and patience, and a subjection of the fancy to the understanding. Where Miss Taylor failed to stimulate, I may safely affirm that Harriet Smith will do nothing.—You never could persuade her to read half so much as you wished.—You know you could not."

Is it a coincidence that "saucy looks" appears in two passages which are so strongly connected to playful challenges to the benefits of book-study? I leave it to you all to decide for yourselves.

Cheers, ARNIE

P.S. re Letter 30: Black Peter DeBary & The Massacre of Steventon: “What does he think of Glencoe or Lake Katherine?”

Several hours after I sent my message earlier today under the above Subject Line, it occurred to me that it was very strange that I had only found one contemporary reference to "Lake Katherine" (the 1820 geographical book I quoted from), and that this lake appeared to be worthy of mention in only one book from that entire era. Somehow I felt JA would not have mentioned it if it had not been more than that, a place of greater fame for some reason.

And then it dawned on me that the reason I only found one source was that that the _Scots_ didn't call it "Lake Katherine"!

It did not take me much Googling after that to establish that the Scottish name for Lake Katherine was, and still is, Loch Katrine!

And.. using _that_ name, I quickly found several contemporary sources, and it became immediately clear that Loch Katrine was during JA's lifetime a major tourist destination, located very close to Loch Lomond, and therefore must have been a mandatory stop for English tourists because of the unique picturesque beauty of the lake and its surroundings, that all these sources referred to.

And you'd better believe that the author who created Fanny Price would have found a way to read descriptions like the following from a 1791 book by George Keate, _Sketches from nature_:

"What exquisite pleasures some men miss for want of a higher and purer appreciation of the forms, colours, and harmonies of nature! We all feel, more or less, the emotion awakened by the beautiful, and can recall spots which have made indelible impressions on our minds. For example, how beautiful is the morning light, as it comes with its golden tint through the lattice, and by its gentle potency awakes you from slumber! How sweet to gaze through the mouldering window of an old abbey on a sunny landscape, and with a friend whom we love! How charming to watch the moonbeams shimmering on the sea or falling on a pellucid lake, as Windermere, _LOCH KATRINE_, or Killarney, when memory recalls the past, and hope glances into the future! How pure are the impressions which real beauty makes on the mind!"

If Keate's purple prose begins to sound like JA's greatest (or should I say her worst) uber-Romanticism blowhard, Sir Edward Denham, that is not an accident!

In the 16 years that intervened between JA's writing Letter 30 and JA's writing the fragment of Sanditon, Loch Katrine's greatest claim to fame arose like a fireworks rocket zooming into the night sky. In 1810, 9 years _after_ JA wrote Letter 30, a fellow named Scott (I think his name was "Sir Walter"?) decided to write a poem based on Loch Katrine, and he called it something like......The Lady of the Lake, and apparently it caught on! ;)

So that is why, in 1817, JA chose to have Sir Edward Denham, her greatest (or perhaps we should say her worst) uber-Romanticist, quote the following lines from "Lady of the Lake":

""Some feelings are to mortals given,
With less of earth in them than Heaven."

Sir Edward refers to Lady of the Lake as "that unequalled, unrivalled address to parental affection."

Has anyone reading along here actually read The Lady of the Lake? I have a feeling that Cathy Janofsky has, since she goes by the code name "NimueSprite"!

One way or another, I have a hunch that Sir Edward's description of Lady of the Lake is topsy turvy from what actually occurs, and that in some way the Lady of the Lake can fairly be construed as some sort of dreadful _lapse_ in parental affection---sort of like what happened to JA in January 1801 when she was uprooted from Steventon!

I also note from Wikipedia that one of the three subplots of Lady of the Lake is "a war between the lowland Scots (led by James V) and the highland clans (led by Roderick Dhu of Clan Alpine)." And that sounds suspiciously like what happened at Glencoe in 1689!

So, the point is that JA knew exactly what she was doing when she referred to Lake Katherine, which (according to Google Maps) is really not that far away from Glencoe, both of them being situated to the northwest of Edinburgh, and Glencoe being about 35 miles (as the crow flies) further away.

Cheers, ARNIE

Letter 30: Black Peter DeBary & The Massacre of Steventon: “What does he think of Glencoe or Lake Katherine?”

I have read all the comments in this thread and have a very different take on the following passage in Letter 30, which I first reproduce in its delicious entirety, below, for ready reference:

“Mr. Peter Debary has declined Dean curacy; he wishes to be settled nearer London. A foolish reason!, as if Deane were not near London in comparison of Exeter or York.-Take the whole world through, & he will find many more places at a greater distance from London than Deane, than he will at a less.-What does he think of Glencoe or Lake Katherine?-I feel rather indignant that any possible objection should be raised against so valuable a peice of preferment, so delightful a situation!-that Deane should not be universally allowed to be as near the Metropolis as any other country villages.-As this is the case however, as Mr. Peter Debary has shewn himself a Peter in the blackest sense of the Word, We are obliged to look elsewhere for an heir; & my father has thought it a necessary compliment to James Digweed to offer the Curacy to him, tho' without considering it as either a desirable or an eligible situation for him.-Unless he is in love with Miss Lyford, I think he had better not be settled exactly in this neighbourhood, & unless he is very much in love with her indeed, he is not likely to think a salary of 50 equal in value or efficacy to one of 75.-Were you indeed to be considered as one of the fixtures of the house!-but you were never actually erected in it either by Mr. Egerton Brydges or Mrs. Lloyd.”

The events relevant to the above which were happening in January 1801 were that because Revd. Austen was moving to Bath, he was giving his clerical position at Steventon to son James, and of course James was therefore moving with his family from Deane to the Steventon rectory. _That_ left a vacancy for a resident curate at Deane, and _that_ is what was what Revd. Austen apparently offered to Peter DeBary. That all is pretty straightforward, and not news to anybody.

I begin my analysis by pointing out that I read this passage as a put-on, with JA, for its duration, assuming the voice of her father. Hyperbolically, she speaks the outraged thoughts she imagines her father to be thinking at this moment, after Peter DeBary has crossed him up (sorta like Sir Thomas’s bewildered reaction when Fanny Price refuses to marry Crawford) and actually said “No, thank you” to what probably was a pretty chintzy offer, from DeBary’s perspective.

And of course Ellen is correct that Le Faye’s footnote (citing Chapman) is wrong, but I go further and say that it is quintessential cock-and-bull. It is not simply obtuse and wrong-headed to suggest a reference to “the knave of spades”, when the Biblical allusion is staring everyone in the face! Anyone can make a mistake, but it is much worse!

What offends me is that the footnote was calculated, written by Le Faye (and probably Chapman as well) for one reason alone—the desire to avoid even the slightest whiff of a suggestion that JA might have sacrilegiously and frivolously alluded to the denial of Jesus by Peter in Scripture—a particularly sacred portion of the Gospels. Which of course is _exactly_ what JA was doing, and, to boot, she was doing it (I cannot resist it) “in spades”!

But that is all prelude to the new perspective on this passage that I have just spent an enjoyable hour researching. Neither Le Faye, nor any other Austen biographer I can detect online, has ever given any attention to _another_ aspect of the question, which is the role of Peter DeBary in particular in JA’s satirical mini-melodrama, one in which JA gave us not one but two rather large hints:

“What does [DeBary] think of Glencoe or Lake Katherine?-

The Jane Austen I have come to know _never_ throws in place names like that without a reason, and so I was intrigued by her reference to these two places, one of which was obviously in Scotland (I dimly remembered the name “Glencoe” from elementary school, but could not recall why).

So I called on my old friends Google and Wikipedia (who get a bad rap from some folks, I think), and look what they told me:

“Early in the morning of 13 February 1692, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite uprising of 1689, infamous masacre took place in Glen Coe, in the Highlands of Scotland. This incident is referred to as the “Massacre of Glencoe”...Thirty-eight MacDonalds from the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by the guests who had accepted their hospitality, on the grounds that the MacDonalds had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary.... Under Scots law, …[such] "murder under trust"…was considered to be even more heinous than ordinary murder….The challenge to the inquiry which had been established, was to apportion blame on those responsible for the massacre, and yet the orders which led to it were signed by the King himself, who could not be seen to be responsible. The scandal was further enhanced when the leading Scottish jurist... was, in 1692, offered the post of Lord Advocate but declined it because the condition was attached that he should not prosecute the persons implicated in the Glencoe Massacre ....The conclusion of the commission was to exonerate the King and to place the blame for the massacre upon Secretary Dalrymple. The Scottish Parliament, after reviewing the commission report, declared the execution of the MacDonald men to have been murder...The Glencoe massacre became a propaganda piece for Jacobite sympathies, which were to come to a head in the next generation in the Rising of 1745.....the massacre was romanticised in art and literature, such as Sir Walter Scott's "The Highland Widow". “

The _massacre_ of Glencoe---of course, that was what I had once read about nearly five decades ago!

And then I found the following in Google Books from an 1820geographical book:
“The Forth: This river, the most considerable in Scotland, has its origin from a lake under Ben Lomond, in the western angle of Stirlingshire, and runs Eastward toStirling,near which place it unites with the Teith, and forms_LAKE KATHERINE_. From Stirling it flows west by south, and mixes with the German Ocean by a wide estuary, called the Firth of Forth. From its origin to Berwick, at the mouth of the Firth, its course, exclusive of windings, is seventy-five miles.”

So, two seemingly random names selected by JA as “evidence” in her Through the Looking Glass sort of absurdist logical sequence, and _both_ of them point to places in _Scotland_--what could this mean?

I thought about it a moment, and my first hunch was that in some way known to JA and CEA, but unknown to the world of Janeites, Peter DeBary must have had some personal connection to Scotland.

So I called on my friends Google and Wikipedia _again_, and look what they told me this time, from the 1860 _Memoir of Andrew Dalzel, professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh_:

Letter from Lord Adam Gordon, 11/2/1796: "Lord Henry Petty, son to Marquis of Lansdown, and MR. DEBARY, being in Edinburgh and to attend the Colleges there, Lord Adam Gordon begs leave to introduce them to Mr. Dalzel, and to request his best attentions to them during their residence in Scotland. Mr. Debary is tutor to Lord Henry Petty, and is a man of very uncommon good character, and well informed. Any attentions to them from Mr. Dalzel will be gratefully acknowledged by his faithful and obedt. humble servant, Ad. Gordon." "Per favour of Lord Henry Petty and Mr. Debary."

I immediately recognized the name “Lansdowne” as having multiple Austen connections.

Le Faye’s Bio Index entry for the Marquis of Lansdowne names him as “John-Henry Petty (1765-1809) a “widely travelled but rather solitary man” who built a Gothic castle in Southampton a la Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, and that is why, I believe, John Thorpe wants to drive Catherine “up Lansdown Hill”.

But…. that is _not_ the same “Lord Henry Petty” mentioned in Lord Adam Gordon’s 1796 letter.

_That_ Mr. Petty is described by Chris Viveash and Le Faye, respectively, as follows:

“... one of Miss Austen's novelsbecame the subject of conversation and praise, especially from Lord Lansdowne, who observed that one of the circumstances of his life which he looked back upon with vexation was that Miss Austen should once have been living some weeks in his neighborhood [when she lived in Southampton] without his knowing it. “

“…Lord Henry Petty, half brother of the 2^nd Marquis. It was this 3^rd Marquis…who admired JA’s works and was ‘grieved and affected’ in 1817 to hear of her death.”

So I think it highly likely that Peter deBary (who was born in 1764 and therefore was an older contemporary of the future 3^rd Marquis of Lansdowne) was that very same “Mr. DeBary” mentioned in Adam Gordon’s 1796 letter, and that he was, at the age of 32, several years after graduating from Cambridge, but still 8 years prior to beginning his career in Hampshire (but _not_ at Deane) as a curate,the tutor to his fellow Hampshireman the future Marquis in Ediburgh!

And _that_ is why, I claim, having reached the end of my own deadly serious chain of logical inferences, that JA, in early 1801, makes these two sly veiled references to Scotland in a passage depicting Peter DeBary as a “black” Peter! And of course CEA (indeed the whole Austen family) would have also been well aware that Peter DeBary had probably only just returned from that stint as tutor in Scotland, and was out of work and looking for a job!

But I think there is even more going on here than all of that. The reference to Lake Katherine would have been just a tag to point to Scotland, but the reference to Glencoe is extremely thematic, because the Massacre of Glencoe was a very famous historical event—so famous that even I, an American schoolboy in the early 1960’s, read about it in some book or another! How much more famous it would havebeen in England way back in 1801, especially to a young woman who at age 16 had written her own satirical (yet very learned) History of England! And it would have been even fresher news to JA, because we also all know that JA loved to espouse the Jacobite cause (Mary Queen of Scots being the most notable example), and Glencoe was a major rallying cry for that very cause, which reached fever pitch in 1746, only thirty years before JA was born, and was a major subtext of Fielding’s _Tom Jones_!

And here is the most important point. The veiled allusion to a massacre fits, in a very dark and very striking way, with the Biblical allusion to Peter and Jesus. Both of them involve fatal betrayals associated with horrific and infamous murders ordered by monarchs who sought to avoid responsibility for their murderous orders (Pontius Pilate and William & Mary, respectively). _Way_ too close for coincidence.

So, what does this suggest JA is saying, in a veiled way, about her father, her brother James (with _his_ “Queen” Mary!) and Peter DeBary? My personal sense is that JA viewed the entire process of the abrupt move to Bath as a kind of “massacre”, a sudden, completely unexpected betrayal of her and CEA by her parents, with brother James as the primary beneficiary of the massacre of JA’s life at Steventon, which indeed “died” very shortly after she wrote Letter 30.

Cheers, ARNIE

Jane Austen's Allusions to Love's Labour's Lost in _Emma_

In Janeites, Elissa Schiff just wrote: "It is with Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Lear, and The Tempest that we have strong, strong allusive ties to JA's Emma. And these, as you note, are all plays JA would likely have been quite familiar with, unlike Love's Labour's Lost (LLL), which she never read/saw performed, that was suggested last year."

To refresh memory, last October, Elissa, in followup to a Shakespeare/Austen quiz I had just posed to the group, which she had answered......

....posed a Shakespeare/Austen quiz of her own listing the following plot elements, sounding suspiciously like those of _Emma_...

Five pairs of romantic attachments including a "secret" engagement,
An elaborately planned-for picnic,
An elderly father,
Letters read aloud,
A musical instrument,

The education of main character through romantic errors, a character associated with representing the essence of Chivalry, a major theme of the need for women to be more independent and to look out for their own interests.

... and then giving the trick answer, LLL.

But then Elissa, to my surprise, claimed that this was _not_ an intentional allusion by JA to LLL! I disagreed at the time, pointing out that I had been, and remained, certain that LLL was an allusive source for JA. At the time, I also wrote the following:

"In 5 minutes on Google Books, I found an 1806 edition of Shakespeare's plays with the full text of Love's Labour's Lost right there with no discussion of its being a lost play. And the 1793 multivolume set lists it as one of the plays, and if I could see all 12 volumes online, I'd bet that the full text of the play is in that one as well--which has prefaces by Johnson, Malone and other very famous Shakespeare editors."

Before I amplify on my claim of a specific allusion to LLL in _Emma_, though, I should first rebut Elissa's argument that JA would only have been interested in, and alluded to, the greatest of Shakespeare's plays, because somehow the plays which are generally critically considered to be second or even third-rate would have been beneath her.

I strenuously disagree on two counts. First, the verdict is clearly in from hundreds of scholarly books and articles, that JA alluded, in her novels, to a very very _wide_ swath of literature, from the greatest to the trashiest, and everything in between. JA never limited herself only to the great, she made allusive use of everything, high and low. Just, by the way, as did Shakespeare, Joyce and many of the other greatest allusive writers of all time.

And second, a reason unique to Shakespeare---in my opinion, JA saw Shakespeare not only as separate plays, but also as a unified whole, a dramatic "Bible" with remarkably similar (and I believe not coincidental) structural parallels to the actual Bible--the First Folio is divided into large categories, just as is the Bible, and if we include the Sonnets in the mix, we have the counterparts to the Psalms and other poetic portions of the Bible.

But, my point is that this overall unity of Shakespeare (which was most brilliantly argued 60 years ago by Harold Goddard) is not merely structural, it is also thematic, and, just as in JA's fiction, the same themes and character types are presented over and over and over again, but always distinct from each other, due to the inventive genius of Shakespeare and JA. So, I claim, JA would have considered LLL as an _integral_ part of that whole, regardless of her judgment as to the relative merits of the 37 plays.

Having made that general statement, I will now briefly illustrate why I believe JA intentionally alluded to LLL in _Emma_, by giving you the following sampler (by no means exhaustive) of _additional_ allusive elements in LLL which :

(a) the characters and actions of Costard and Don Armado in LLL were in certain interesting ways transplanted into Mr. Elton and Frank Churchill in _Emma_, including, most interestingly, the MISdelivery by a messenger of love missives to ladies.

(b) the _ending_ of LLL, in which the sudden and offstage death of the King unexpectedly puts the kibosh on officializing the romantic pairings that are on the verge of occurring at the end of the play, causing a need for an extended mourning period to elapse first. This is a kind of "deus ex machina" which is echoed distinctly by the sudden and offstage death of Mrs. Churchill, which _also_ results in a delay (which I claim is a permanent one) in the marriage of Frank and Jane.

(c) the following speech in LLL 1.1 by Dumaine as he signs the pledge of self-denial in order, as the _King_ (of Navarre) puts it, to "_BATE_ [Time's] scythe's keen edge", i.e., to gain immortality via fame, is suspiciously echoed in the second charade in _Emma_ , especially in the context of the rest of the elaborate allusion to LLL in _Emma_:

"He throws upon the gross world's baser _slaves_,
To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die,
With all these living in philosophy."

"My first displays the _wealth_ and _pomp_ of _kings_.....Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a _slave_"

(d) The following line in the charade in _Emma_: "Thy ready wit the word will soon supply, May its approval beam in that soft eye!" is suspiciously resonant of the following speech by Berowne in that same scene 1.1 in LLL, where he is the only one who is complaining that maybe the King's plan for enlightenment via self-denial is not such a great plan:

As, painfully to pore upon a book,
To seek the light of truth, while truth the while
Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look.
Light seeking light doth light of light beguile:
So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,
Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.
Study me how to please the eye indeed
By fixing it upon a _fairer eye_,
Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed
And give him light that it was blinded by.

And this is also echoed later in LLL 5.2

Berowne: (Aside to Moth) Once to behold, rogue.
Moth: Once to behold with your sun-beamed eyes,---with your sun beamed eyes---

(e) [this one is connected to the recent thread about dark skinned characters in Shakespeare, Christy's list did not include the following]

In LLL 4.3, the King of Navarre mocks Berowne's rhapsodizing praises of Rosaline's "fair cheek", saying "By heaven, thy love is black as ebony", and Dumaine then chimes in with the king with "To look like her are chimney sweepers black", triggering more raillery directed at Berowne about Rosaline. "Chimney sweeper" is the official answer to Garrick's Riddle which is partially quoted in Ch. 9 of _Emma_.

(f) In LLL 5.2, we learn that Dumaine has made a gift of a _glove_ to Katharine...

Cheers, ARNIE

Friday, June 24, 2011

Harriet Smith’s "Provision for the Evening of Life" PART TWO

[Diane Reynolds responded to my first post under the above subject line as follows:] "Could you point out Harriet's defiance towards Emma when announcing that her love interest is Mr. Knightley? I remember her being surprised that Emma thought she was in love with Frank, then probably protesting too much that it was all because of Emma that she even thought of Mr. Knightley--more of Harriet's over-the-top flattery than defiance, as I remember it. I see Harriet--who i see as playing and flattering Emma--seeing an opening with Mr. K (even though she must be aware that Emma is in love with Mr. K) and then blaming Emma for encouraging it--but in terms of flattery. I think Harriet knew all along that Emma was encouraging her towards Frank but pretending that she thought Emma was encouraging her toward Mr. K. "

Over the top flattery, playing Emma like a drum, that was a constant from the beginning of the novel till that climactic scene in Chapter 47, but look at the subtle but clear shift that occurs right then, which throws Emma into a state of profound shock, very much the way Lucy Steele speaks to Elinor at a _very_ similar moment in the action of S&S--and that resemblance is _not_ coincidental:

"I do not wonder, Miss Woodhouse," [Harriet] resumed, "that you should feel a great difference between the two, as to me or as to any body. You must think one five hundred million times more above me than the other. But I hope, Miss Woodhouse, that supposing—that if—strange as it may appear—. But you know they were your own words, that more wonderful things had happened, matches of greater disparity had taken place than between Mr. Frank Churchill and me; and, therefore, it seems as if such a thing even as this, may have occurred before—and if I should be so fortunate, beyond expression, as to—if Mr. Knightley should really—if he does not mind the disparity, I hope, dear Miss Woodhouse, you will not set yourself against it, and try to put difficulties in the way. But you are too good for that, I am sure."

[Translation: "You're not going to try to throw a monkey wrench into my plans, are you, Miss Woodhouse?" There is a very very subtle defiance in Harriet's tone, a momentary seismic shift in the dynamic between them, from over the top sucking-up to a calm, resoluteness that is especially shocking to Emma precisely because it is like a bolt from the blue by comparison to Harriet's former behavior toward Emma.]

Harriet was standing at one of the windows. Emma turned round to look at her in consternation, and hastily said, "Have you any idea of Mr. Knightley's returning your affection?" "Yes," replied Harriet modestly, but not fearfully—"I must say that I have."

[Note that the narrative description of Harriet speaking "modestly, but not fearfully" is, in this interpretation against the grain, how Harriet seems to _Emma_, not what Harriet actually feels. That is key to the alternative reading, to see such narration as reflections of Emma's perceptions, not of objective reality. Then, for two memorable paragraphs, Emma gets lost in her thoughts as she realizes that she wants Knightley for herself, until Harriet, having softened Emma up with a body blow, now returns to her role as the trembling waif....]

"Harriet, who had been standing in no unhappy reverie, was yet very glad to be called from it, by the now encouraging manner of such a judge, and such a friend as Miss Woodhouse, and only wanted invitation, to give the history of her hopes with great, though trembling delight.—Emma's tremblings as she asked, and as she listened, were better concealed than Harriet's, but they were not less. Her voice was not unsteady; but her mind was in all the perturbation that such a development of self, such a burst of threatening evil, such a confusion of sudden and perplexing emotions, must create.—She listened with much inward suffering, but with great outward patience, to Harriet's detail.—Methodical, or well arranged, or very well delivered, it could not be expected to be; but it contained, when separated from all the feebleness and tautology of the narration, a substance to sink her spirit—especially with the corroborating circumstances, which her own memory brought in favour of Mr. Knightley's most improved opinion of Harriet."

[And Harriet now proceeds to consolidate her newfound power over Emma, by carefully leading Emma through her paces, giving Emma exactly the pathetic narrative that will reinforce Emma's terrified but growing conviction that Harriet really does have a firm hold Knightley's affections. Except that Emma is not that stupid, and, under the tremendous pressure of that moment, Emma comes up with something very close to the reality of the situation] :

On the subject of the first of the two circumstances, she did, after a little reflection, venture the following question. "Might he not?—Is not it possible, that when enquiring, as you thought, into the state of your affections, he might be alluding to Mr. Martin—he might have Mr. Martin's interest in view? But Harriet rejected the suspicion with spirit. "Mr. Martin! No indeed!—There was not a hint of Mr. Martin. I hope I know better now, than to care for Mr. Martin, or to be suspected of it."

[As occurs several other times during the course of the novel, Emma actually gueses _right_ but let's herself be talked out of it by a very clever manipulator! And now Harriet, just like Lucy Steele, sticks in the needle and twists it, by making Emma believe that it all happened only because of Emma!]

When Harriet had closed her evidence, she appealed to her dear Miss Woodhouse, to say whether she had not good ground for hope. "I never should have presumed to think of it at first," said she, "but for you. You told me to observe him carefully, and let his behaviour be the rule of mine—and so I have. But now I seem to feel that I may deserve him; and that if he does chuse me, it will not be any thing so very wonderful." The bitter feelings occasioned by this speech, the many bitter feelings, made the utmost exertion necessary on Emma's side, to enable her to say on reply, "Harriet, I will only venture to declare, that Mr. Knightley is the last man in the world, who would intentionally give any woman the idea of his feeling for her more than he really does." Harriet seemed ready to worship her friend for a sentence so satisfactory; and Emma was only saved from raptures and fondness, which at that moment would have been dreadful penance, by the sound of her father's footsteps. He was coming through the hall. Harriet was too much agitated to encounter him. "She could not compose herself— Mr. Woodhouse would be alarmed—she had better go;"—with most ready encouragement from her friend, therefore, she passed off through another door—and the moment she was gone, this was the spontaneous burst of Emma's feelings: "Oh God! that I had never seen her!"

[And there Harriet, the consummate actress, gives herself her own cue to exit, pursued neither by a bear nor by any suspicion by Emma of how thoroughly she has been gulled by Harriet!

Cheers, ARNIE

Harriet Smith’s "Provision for the Evening of Life"

I have been claiming for over 4 years, including at my talks in Oxford in 2007 and at Chawton House in 2009, and at all my JASNA AGM talks around the country during the past 13 months, that the character of Harriet Smith may be validly interpreted as being a Shamela and not a Pamela. I.e., Harriet can fairly be read as having her eyes firmly set on Mr. Knightley from the beginning of the novel, as an alternative to the normative interpretation of Harriet as having been corrupted by receiving dangerous encouragement from Emma to think too big, and to set her sights too high.

I just found another interesting bread crumb in the text of Emma which supports this alternative view of Harriet, and I found it, as often is the case, by accident, as I reread my post earlier today about the word “uncommon” as it appears in Chapter 9 of _Emma_ in the following passage:

"...the only literary pursuit which engaged Harriet at present, the only mental provision she was making for the evening of life, was the collecting and transcribing all the riddles of every sort that she could meet with, into a thin quarto of hot-pressed paper, made up by her friend, and ornamented with ciphers and trophies. In this age of literature, such collections on a very grand scale are not uncommon. "

I was struck this time around by the phrase “for the evening of life”, and felt certain that it was an allusion that would somehow relate to the alternative view of Harriet that I just outlined.

Google Books proved me correct, as I was led to “The Works of Alexander Hamilton…” originally published in 1793, and reprinted in 1810, where I read the following passage in a section where Hamilton is discussing the pros and cons of various ways of a government structuring its public debt instruments (i.e., its bonds) so as to makes those bonds attractive to individual investors, and thereby enable governments receive the funding they need in order to operate efficiently:

“With regard to individuals, the inducement will be sufficient at four per cent. There is no disposition of money, in private loans, making allowance for the usual delays and casualties, which would be equally beneficial as a future provision. A hundred dollars advanced upon the life of a person of eleven years old, would produce an annuity [as follows]: if commencing at 21, of $10; if at 31, of $18; if at 41, of $37, and if at 51, of $78. The same sum advanced upon the chance of the survivorship of the youngest of two lives, one of the persons being twenty-five, the other thirty years old, would produce, if the youngest of the two should survive, an annuity for the remainder of life of 23 dollars…From these instances may readily be discerned, the advantages which these deferred annuities afford for securing a _comfortable provision for the evening of life_, or for wives who survive their husbands.”

There you see almost the identical phrase, “securing a comfortable provision for the evening of life” as the narrator used to mock Harriet’s riddle collection, and it fits perfectly with the mercenary Harriet Smith whom I perceive. Emma thinks that all Harriet reads are silly riddle books, but it turns out that Harriet only plays dumb, but actually reads Alexander Hamilton (a wonderful bookend to Emma's disdain for Robert Martin _also_ having a shrewd business head and reading the Agricultural Reports), and Harriet has a very canny sense of Mr. Knightley as a shrewd investment, a man twice her age who can therefore be expected to predecease her by a period of years, leaving her, at age 45 or so, with a very tidy sort of “deferred annuity” that will make Harriet, like Lady Denham in Sanditon, a great lady!

Read Harriet’s defiant response to Emma’s stunned reaction when Harriet first tells Emma about her aspirations to marry Knightley, and you will see that it fits perfectly with the above interpretation, as you will see a Harriet who thinks (and I happen to agree) that there’s nothing wrong with an enterprising young woman (who has to contend with the prejudice of an unjust society which treats her as someone beneath even “common” people, because she is illegitimate—a society that treats her as, in Emma’s words, literally a _nobody_!) watching out for herself, and making provision for the evening of her life by pretending to be a fool in order to get something from those who were lucky enough to be born into wealth and property!

And there is (at least) one other hint which I find in the text of _Emma_, which points toward Hamilton's writing. The preface to the Hamilton 3-volume set begins with the following sentence:

"Of Alexander Hamilton, it may be said, nothing came from his pen or his lips which should not be treasured up with care….."

When I read that, I knew that it was no accident that we read the following in Chapter 40 that Harriet had been collecting the even more mercenary Mr. Elton's used bandaid and worn down pencil nub and had called them "Precious treasures"! Apparently Harriet had learned what she needed to learn from observing Elton in his pursuit of Emma, and was ready to move on to the next level, and toss her Elton memorabilia into the fire, as she was already planning to get herself _very_ cozy and warm at Donwell Abbey!

Cheers, ARNIE

The Remarkable Veiled Meaning of the Latin epigraph to Loiterer #45

Two weeks ago, I posted the last of a series of messages giving my interpretation of Loiterer #45 as having been ghostwritten by the 13 year old Jane Austen:

To recap, the essence of my claim is that Loiterer #45 was a covert satire by JA of the Revd. Benjamin William Portal, Oxford and Hampshire friend of James Austen, and in particular was closely modeled on an early chapter in Swift's Tale of a Tub, both of them being, among other things, a very elaborate veiled joke about what we politely call "flatulation". Loiterer #45 goes into extraordinary detail describing the movement of vast quantities of air and of a fantastical machine somehow connected to same. Enough said, you have to read Loiterer #45 to see what JA makes of that conceit there, it is like a previously undiscovered especially fanciful additional Juvenilia of hers (which of course, I claim, it _is_!)

After sending my last message on that topic, it occurred to me that I ought to take a look at the epigraph for Loiterer #45, because my experience interpreting other Loiterer issues which I believe JA ghostwrote, was the the Latin epigraphs are not only not random, they actually go to the heart of the satire in the issue itself. But the Loiterer itself did not deign to translate any of its Latin epigraphs, and I already had in mind just the person to contact to ask for a good translation.

I called on my friend, Mary DeForest, classicist/Janeite par excellence, to translate the epigraph from the Aeneid, which of course was authored by Vergilius (or Virgil, as he is known today) without telling Mary where I had found it, or why I was asking for it, so as not to in any way influence her answer:

"Nimborum in Patriam, Loca fæta furentibus Austris
Æoliam venit. Hic vasto rex Æolus antro
Luctantes Ventos tempestatesque sonoras
Imperio premit, ac Vinclis et Carcere frenat.
Illi indignantes magno cam murmure Montis
Circum Claustra fremunt."

Turns out Mary was on vacation, and so she only responded to me today, two weeks later, and for a moment I was in a panic, not remembering at first why I asked for the translation. But then I did read her translation and that made me recall why, and it also made me ecstatic. Here it is, and then, if you can't guess why it made me so happy from my underlinings in the translation itself, I will explain why, immediately following same:

"She came into the fatherland of the storm clouds, Aeolia, places teeming with raging _South Winds_. Here King Aeolus in a _vast cave_ controls the _struggling winds_ and the _loud storms_ with his sovereignty, and bridles them with chains and prison. They _offended_ with a _great murmur_ rage around the confines of _the mountain._]

Further translation into Swiftian scatalogese, for those not fluent in same:

"raging South Winds" refers to the kind of air that escapes from the "southern" portion of the human body; the "vast cave" is the part of the human body whence issue those "South or struggling winds"; the "loud storms" and the "great murmur" are the sounds blared out to the world announcing the arrival of those "south winds", "the mountain" is the part of the body that resembles two twin mountains side by side, and all of the above are generally considered to be quite "offensive"!

Now, whether Virgil intended this scatalogical meaning, that is a very interesting question, but I currently have no idea as to the answer, although I must admit I suspect him of a naughty pun. But what I am absolutely certain of is that Jane Austen the ghostwriter of Loiterer #45 understood these scatalogical meanings very clearly, and that is precisely why she chose that particular epigraph!

And as to my claim that JA was the ghostwriter of Loiterer #45, and that James Austen did not write this, I introduce, as further evidence, the striking parallelism between the "South winds" of the Virgilian epigraph and the veiled scatology of the argument between Mr. Woodhouse and John Knightley about the unhealthy "air" and "mud" at "South End", which shows that JA remained as enamored, and as erudite and adept in her deployment, of such sophisticated ribald humor at 40 as she was at 13!

Cheers, ARNIE

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Privacy of Fears

Christy Somer wrote the following in Austen L and Janeites:

"...Though Jane Austen obviously felt anxiety and fear around love (the loveless marriage), sex (pregnancy), and money (maintaining an aesthetically pleasing and fiscally comfortable environment), she also seems to have cultivated a reasonable and balanced trust in her family and religion -at least enough so as to help diminish those very private concerns when they arose."

You've articulated your opinion very well, Christy, but your opinion is one with which (as you already know, I am sure) I could not disagree more. I understand that what you've described, above, is the Jane Austen that you (and many other Janeites) perceive in her novels and letters, but I (and many _other_ Janeites) perceive a very different (and in some ways an opposite) Jane Austen in those same novels and letters.

My Jane Austen was a self-aware world class literary artist who hungered for recognition of her genius, and would have loved to be known and appreciated as an artist in the way Shakespeare was known and appreciated by the world even then in her era. And I believe that she had a very complicated, mixed relationship with family members and close friends which varied considerably in regard to trust issues. And she had a very very complicated relationship with organized religion. And I believe that she'd have made some sort of ironic joke about our dialogue on this topic, if she could read it! ;)

[Christy] "However, the mystery and power of language and composition finds its way of expressing itself no matter how the conscientiously precise artist tries to present a controlled and tidy picture of naturally layered contradictions."

And I also strongly disagree with that well-articulated opinion. My studies have proven to me, a thousand times over, that what I have seen in her novels and letters is not the inevitable byproduct of "a controlled and tidy picture of naturally layered contradictions", but is entirely intentional and thematically significant.

[Christy] "Ethically, is Jane Austen’s right of privacy (that private, venting space with Cassandra) being violated in such a way that her novels and life are read in ways never thought of by her? "

Based on my understanding of Jane Austen, not in the slightest, in fact I believe she'd be thrilled that her novels and life are being read in ways she deeply wished them to be thought of. I think she'd feel that since all the individuals being discussed have been dead for well over a century, that what mattered most were the ideas and themes she was so passionately engaged with in writing her letters and novels.

[Christy] "I believe Cassandra always counted on Fanny Knatchbull disposing of these letters -never dreaming that senility and loss of control would take over their destiny. "

And I believe that Cassandra, even though she was not entirely on the same page with JA in terms of all of JA's social and psychological agenda, felt a sacred duty to preserve enough of her sister's concealed meanings so that they could one day be discovered. And I think JA would have been outraged at the presumption of anyone destroying letters she wrote which she knew very well had been kept by CEA, and therefore it was clearly done with her consent.

But most important, in my opinion, it's good to have _both_ of our points of view on these subjects (as well as any others, which are expressed with sincerity and based on the kind of study that JA's writings deserve) expressed clearly and strongly, so that Janeites reading along can each make up their own minds.

Cheers, ARNIE

Yet another secret answer to the second charade in Emma (this one found by me)

Earlier today, I gave a total of five hints about yet another secret answer to the second charade in Emma (this one found by me is the second one I have found to date, which, when added to the one that Colleen Sheehan found, and the four (I think) that Anielka has found and revealed to date, makes a total of seven, in _addition_, of course, to Emma's answer, "courtship"). Talk about clueless, Emma was certain she had the only answer, and now there are seven more, and still counting....

I will now reveal the latest answer I found, along with some (relatively) brief comments explaining my five hints:

[But before I begin, one caveat--whether you love puzzle solutions or hate them, or somewhere in between, the two linked literary allusions, which I've discovered in Emma and will be summarizing below, stand on their own four feet, regardless of whether you think the secret answer I will be revealing is a valid one, or you think it is completely a figment of my imagination. The secret answer truly is only the icing on the allusive layer cake]

"1. The answer consists of four syllables."

My new answer is "coronation".

Although I stumbled upon it in a roundabout way, it can be derived simply and directly as follows:

"My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings, Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease. "

As Anielka argued, persuasively, this morning, a valid and persuasive answer to those two lines is "nation".

The best part of the word "nation" in a charade, to my mind, is that it is like a generic Lego block that can be tacked onto the end of a large number of prefixes (and not merely "impreg" ) to form a large number of interesting abstract nouns in English. Perfect for a charade in English language!

"Another view of man, my second brings,
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas! "

A valid answer to these two lines is "corona", which refers, among other things, to a crown (the English form of the same word) worn by a monarch, and which, as a bonus, also begins with the letter "c" (which abbreviation Anielka used to good effect in her explication of the "C of E" or "Church of England" answer given by her just the other day).

"But, ah! united, what reverse we have! "

And when we take nation-corona and reverse the word order, just as was done for "impregnation" (Anielka) and "implantation" (Elissa), we get corona-nation or coronation!

"Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown; Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave, And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone. "

And I claim that this is the bookend to the "Crown of _Thorns_" which I argued was metaphorically worn by Jane Fairfax _during_ her worst travail in the novel. But once her complete reversal of fortune occurs after Box Hill, and Jane winds up sitting pretty in the end of the novel, look at what Frank says:

"You will be glad to hear (inclining his head, and whispering seriously) that my uncle means to give her all my aunt's jewels. They are to be new set. I am resolved to have some in an ornament for the head. Will not it be beautiful in her dark hair?"

Sure sounds to me like Frank (and Jane Austen, ventriloquistically) is whispering seriously about a "corona"!

But the best part of this answer is yet to come, as I skip ahead to my answer to Hint #3:

"3. There is a very famous work of literature which Harriet and Miss Bates are each independently hinting about, a literary work by an author I have written about publicly within the last year as an allusive source for JA novels other than Emma, although my earlier catches have been in reference to a _different_ work of literature by that author."

That very famous work of literature is Ovid's Metamorphoses---more precisely, Book 10--more precisely still, the last section of Book 10, containing the cautonary tale of Atalanta and Hippomenes told by Venus to Adonis (which does not work because Adonis hasn't really been listening, and pays a heavy price for his inattention). And, as to the latter part of Hint #3, within the last year, I wrote about the allusions I claimed JA made to Ovid's _Heroides_: [the first of four posts on that topic that day]

I could write 1,000 words just on the subject of all the ways that Ovid's version of the story of Atalanta is alluded to by JA in Emma, but if you are really interested, just read it yourself (it's only a few pages long) and you will see a great deal of the allusion right away without your needing me or anyone else to point all the allusions out to you--they really are everywhere--and first and foremost, it won't take any Janeite very long to realize that the character of Emma owes a great deal to the character of Ovid's Atalanta!

The most dramatic textual clues in Ovid's tale, the ones that actually led me to realize the answer I was looking for was "coronation", were two lines in Ovid's Book 10:

"The Monarch of the Seas" ("Regis Aquarum")


"Atalanta was crowned victor with a festal wreath [“et tegitur festa victrix Atalanta CORONA.”]

I.e., in Latin, "Atalanta corona" literally means "Atalanta was crowned"

And now on to my answer to Hint #2:

"2. Harriet Smith and Miss Bates are two of the hint-givers--that is very much as is the case with Colleen Sheehan's "Prince of Whales" answer. There are several clues hidden in plain sight in the text of Emma which confirm that this is indeed a valid answer. "

I will give you just a taste of these clues---

Harriet Smith's "wrong" guess of "Neptune" turns out to be correct not only as pointing toward Charles Lamb's _Triumph of the Whale_, but also as pointing toward Ovid's tale of Atalanta--Neptune being the great great great grandpa of Hippomenes, as he takes pains to tell Atalanta!

And Miss Bates's ejaculation "What a transformation!" upon entering the Crown Inn for the ball takes on all new meaning when you realize that "transformation" is the Latinate synonym of the Greek-origined "metamorphosis"!

And finally, you will see a whole _new_ reason for all of Miss Bates's going on and on and on about those damned apples--as in the golden apples which just happen to play a decisive role in the outcome of the footrace between Atalanta and Hippomenes.

"4. My answer is related to Anielka's "impregnation" answer in (at least) two very interesting ways, one of which will be obvious to all, the other being subtler and based on wordplay "

And now you see what I meant by the above Hint #4--it is obvious that my answer shares the ending "nation" with her answer, but what is more subtle is that her answer depends in part on the abbreviation "reg", which is part of the words "Regis Aquarum" meaning Monarch of the Seas, which is one of the clues that points to Ovid's Atalanta tale!

And, last but by no means least, here is my explanation of my Hint #5, which I added a few hours ago:

"5. The allusion to the (deceased) author is also a kind of rebuttal to a _contemporary_ author who also alluded to that earlier author."

The deceased author was, as stated above, Ovid. The contemporary author was none other than _Hannah More_, in particular Chapter 14 (title: "A VIEW OF THE PRINCIPLES AND CONDUCT PREVALENT AMONG WOMEN OF RANK AND FORTUNE") of her (best-selling) Strictures, which includes the following passage:

" Woman in the career of genius, is the Atalanta, who will risk losing the race by running out of her road to pick up the golden apple; while her male competitor, without, perhaps, possessing greater natural strength or swiftness, will more certainly attain his object, by direct pursuit, by being less exposed to the seductions of extraneous beauty, and will win the race, not by excelling in speed, but by despising the bait.*//*"

It is not news that JA read Hannah More, but as far as I can tell, it is news that this Chapter 14 was a significant source alluded to by JA in Emma, and nobody before has ever suggested that Ovid's tale of Atalanta was part of the mix for both authors!

Again, I could write 1,000 words about this, but I suggest that if you are interested, just read the Chapter by More, and literally two dozen excerpts will ring a distinct bell for parallel passages in Emma, and you will quickly realize that JA is sending up More in a comprehensive and devastating satirical critique!

That's it for now--there is a lot more to say about all of this, some very far reaching feminist implications, but no need to go there now. I welcome any public or private questions and comments, either in these groups or at my blog, where I will post this same message shortly.

Cheers, ARNIE


I realized I had not done one last search, to see if anyone in Janeites or Austen L had ever written about JA alluding to the Atalanta tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

I did the search, and what I saw was that a long time ago, the late Eugene McDonnell had once commented that he could make a pretty good case for JA having read Ovid's Metamorphoses, and much more recently, my friend Cathy Janofsky specifically commented to me that she saw all sorts of allusions to Ovid's Metamorphoses in JA's writing.

Cathy, if you're reading along, what do you think about the allusion to the Atalanta story that I see in Emma? I bet it was one of the ones that you spotted previously.....

I also want to thank Mary DeForest, about whose Persuasions articles I have written deserved praises in the past, for being the earliest pioneer in this realm of JA's classical allusions, and showing, 23 years ago, that it was a vast untapped area for further fruitful study.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jane Austen’s Letter 29: “…by the Sea or in Wales…”

Diane Reynolds wrote the following in Janeites and Austen L: "How distressing this must have been is hinted at for me in her line: "the prospect of spending future summers by the Sea or in Wales is very delightful."

I replied as follows:

Diane, you just made me realize something very very peculiar (and very very funny!) about that comment----think about the second charade in Emma, which refers to the "Monarch of the SEA"---what are two of the secret answers to that charade? Colleen Sheehan's (the "Prince of Whales") and Anielka's ("Leviathan").

Do you get the joke? "in Wales" === > "in Whales"! As in the kind of "delight" that Jonah experienced during his Biblical sea excursion!

But what does this wordplay mean in the context of Letter 29? I would say that it fits perfectly with your notion of JA feeling powerless, swept along by "waves" stronger than she can resist, which leave her no choice but to hope that the whale/Leviathan spits the Austens out into a comfortable "Bath"(tub)!

Diane then responded to my above comment: "Arnie, The sea and wales, sea and whales possible pun is very interesting--I would dismiss it if this weren't Jane Austen. In fact, as I was reading it, I was thinking, "I knew she liked the seashore, but I didn't know she liked Wales." But if it's a pun on whales ... that would be entirely consistent with her love of wordplay. I find it difficult to imagine the family uprooting itself simply to get JA away from a suitor. I too have to think there were financial issues and that Persuasion does echo real life for her. "

Glad you agree, Diane, on both counts ("Whales" and "retrenching"), which really are two sides of the same coin, i.e., the affliction of Biblical proportions suffered by the Austen women by virtue of being suddenly uprooted. And, in addition to Ann Elliot's feelings upon being forced to leave Kellynch Hall, don't forget the reaction of the Dashwood women after they are unceremoniously shouldered out of Norland, and have their bequest from Mr. Dashwood reduced to practically nothing, both courtesy of Fanny Dashwood.

Based on all that resonating "smoke", I cannot fathom how anyone could imagine that JA was happy to leave Steventon!

And it also occurred to me since I sent my previous message to look at "by the Sea or in Wales" in context. Here is the full passage:

"My Mother bargains for having no trouble at all in furnishing our house in Bath-& I have engaged for your willingly undertaking to do it all....."


"...I get more & more reconciled to the idea of our removal...."

Translation: I get more and more angry about our being forced to leave...

"...We have lived long enough in this Neighbourhood,.."

That is exactly like the poignant lyrics of the song _Anatevka_ at the end of Fiddler on the Roof, in which the Jews of Anatevka (who have themselves been suddenly and ruthlessly uprooted from their country village for no reason other than religious hatred) start saying dismissive things about Anatevka (such as how insignificantly small it is), so as to blunt the acute pain they feel at losing their lifelong home.

"...the Basingstoke Balls are certanly on the decline,...."

Which is surely not the case at all, we all know from so many of JA's letters that she loved Balls, and made the best of them even when there weren't enough men to go around.

"...there is something interesting in the bustle of going away,..."

Which is complete nonsense, when actually we know how JA, like Fanny Price, was not a big fan of such "bustle", from various comments throughout this series of letters from 1801 from Letter 29 onward, including most famously Letter 37's "The whole world is in a conspiracy to enrich one part of our family at the expense of another."

"... & the prospect of spending future summers by the Sea or in Wales is very delightful...."

So why would JA drop in here a truthful accurate statement, when all the statements leading up to it have been topsy-turvy absurdism, and so are, as you will see in a second, also the sentences following it?"

"...For a time we shall now possess many of the advantages which I have often thought of with Envy in the wives of Sailors or Soldiers...."

The "advantages" of mourning, worry, loneliness, privation, predation, etc etc?

"...It must not be generally known however that I am not sacrificing a great deal in quitting the Country-or I can expect to inspire no tenderness, no interest in those we leave behind."

Which means that there will be many people whom JA and CEA will sorely miss, especially including 7 year old Anna Austen, with whom JA and CEA have been very close.

"...-The threatened Act of Parliament does not seem to give any alarm. ..."

Which is also why I have always read this as a final absurdity, as if Parliament enacted a special law specifically covering the move of the Austen family from Steventon to Bath.

And, last but not least, apropos the pun I claim JA made on Wales/whales, please note that in Letter 31, written only 9 _days_ after Letter 29, JA writes the following (the only other place besides Letter 29 in _all_ of JA's surviving letters to include a mention of Wales):

"Mrs. Welby has been singing Duetts with the Prince of Wales."

Is this factual? Le Faye quotes Chapman for evidence that the Prince was in Hampshire around that time, but as to Mrs. Welby, the best Chapman can come up with is the following: "Sir Alfred Welby tells me that he has a recollection of hearing that his ancestress was musical."

To which I say, "Yeah, right!" Given that the second charade of Chapter 9 of Emma indisputably makes a secret pun on the "Prince of Whales" with an "h", I find this mention of the Prince of Wales quite compelling additional evidence that the "Wales" in Letter 29 were indeed "whales". And it is even more so when we consider what a big deal Mrs. Elton and Mrs. Cole make about Jane Fairfax's being "mistress of music", etc etc, when what they are actually saying in code is that Jane is "mistress" of the kind of "music" that brought an _ill_ repute upon a woman in Jane Austen's world.
Cheers, ARNIE

Jane Austen's Letter 30: Hugh Capet and The Usurpation of the “Throne” of Steventon Rectory by James Austen

Diane Reynolds wrote in Janeites and Austen L:

“Then a statement that I am not sure I follow, but which ends on a very caustic, even bitter note: "the brown Mare, which as well as the black was to devolve on James at our removal, has not had patience to wait for that, & has settled herself even now at Deane.-The death ofHugh Capet, which like that of Mr. Skipsey-tho' undesired was not wholly unexpected, being purposely effected, has made the immediate possession of the Mare very convenient; & everything else I suppose will be seized by degrees in the same manner."

Diane, your sense of a caustic, bitter tone is validated and explained by a literary/historical allusion that the erudite JA hid in plain sight in the lines you quoted.

I did some quick checking into the name “Hugh Capet”, and found that Shakespeare refers to Hugh Capet in only one speech in all of his plays, in Act 1, Scene 2 of Henry V, when the Archbishop of Canterbury greenlights Henry V to aggressively assert his claim to the French throne.

The Archbishop, with lawyerly precision, summarizes the claims of the King of France as holding “in right and title of the female”, and therefore, he argues (of course to Henry V’s great liking), that the French King has no leg to stand on in trying to deny Henry V’s claim to the French throne, which is also “from the female”. I.e., what’s good for the goose, etc.

The Archbishop also specifically refers to Capet as “the usurper”, and so the claims of the current French king, based in part on Capet, holds a “crooked title usurp’d from” Henry V and _his_ “progenitors”.

And I believe that JA had all of the Archbishop’s speech very firmly in mind as she wrote the lines you quoted, above, in Letter 30. Note first the reference to Revd. Austen’s “ministers” who “are already deserting him to pay their court to his son.” So JA is casting James Austen as a modern day Hugh Capet, a usurper of the “throne” of the Steventon rectory (which also fits perfectly with the interpretation of JA’s History of England as also being a veiled history of the Austen family).

And in this mock legalistic verbiage, we have JA’s absurdist rendition of two mares as Revd. Austen’s “ministers”, one of whom has already bolted to the usurper ahead of schedule.

And note in that the strong parallelism to Fanny Dashwood in S&S, who has not the patience to wait for the Dashwood women to vacate Norland before _she_settles herself there.

So it is no surprise that, in the midst of this tale of royal usurpation, the name “Hugh Capet”, one of Shakespeare’s many royal usurpers, should pop up. Who knows whether Hugh Capet really was the Austen family name for the equine “husband” of the brown mare, or if she made up this name just for Letter 30. Either way, JA took full advantage of the name, and seized upon poor old Hugh Capet having apparently been put to sleep (“purposely effected”), and reframed it, in her way, like Michael Corleone seizing control of his Mafia Family by a coordinated series of hits, so that JA can then expand that one event into a global campaign of usurpation (“everything else will be seized by degrees in the same manner”).

And of course, the background of all of this is that Henry V’s being on the throne is precisely because his father usurped the throne from Richard II, another Shakespeare play which was on JA’s radar screen in a variety of ways.

And as for claims through the female line, well, here is what JA's resident experts have to say about that topic:

"How anyone could have the conscience to entail away an estate from one's own daughters, I cannot understand..."

"I am glad of it; but otherwise I see no occasion for entailing estates from the female line. It was not thought necessary in Sir Lewis de Bourgh's family."

How caustic an irony it is that JA is deploying here in Letter 30, in questioning the morality of women getting the short end of the stick in the devolution of family property!

Cheers, ARNIE

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Margaret Dashwood is a self portrait of the 13 year old Jane Austen

As I will be detailing in my book, Margaret Dashwood is a very very smart young lady, but till today, I did not realize HOW smart, nor did I realize that she was, in a very real sense, a retrospective self portrait of Jane Austen, who, in publishing Sense and Sensibility in 1811 at the age of 35, was remembering herself at the tender age of 13 in the character of Margaret.

And what made me realize that for certain was the following passage in S&S:

""Margaret," said Marianne, with great warmth, "you know that all this is an invention of your own, and that there is no such person in existence."

"Well, then, he is lately dead, Marianne, for I am sure there was such a man once, and his name begins with an F."

This comment by Margaret takes on startling new meaning in light of the following:

In my above linked blog post, I claim that Loiterer #45 was ghostwritten by Jane Austen in 1789 when she was 13, and the above passage from S&S is a sly verification of her authorship!

And what makes it even slier is that Marianne Dashwood is ALSO a retrospective self portrait of Jane Austen, but at the slightly less tender age of 17!

Cheers, ARNIE

Northanger Abbey's Veiled Allusion to the Real Bluebeard of Bath....who was connected to Jane Austen!

[n Janeites this morning, Derrick Leigh wrote] "Jane Austen's great grandparents on the Leigh side were Theophilus Leigh and Mary Brydges. Their daughter Mary Leigh married the 4th baronet, Sir Hungerford Hoskyns in 1720."

Derrick, did you happen to notice the discussion that I initiated in these groups last November about the excellent presentation by Janine Barchas at the last JASNA AGM in Portland? In her presentation, Barchas laid out, in convincing detail, the multifaceted veiled allusion in Northanger Abbey to the Farleigh Hungerford castle outside Bath, and now her argument can finally be read in the recently published Volume 32 of the print Persuasions, at ppg. 115 et seq., under the title "The Real Bluebeard of Bath: A Historical Model for Northanger Abbey")".

I mention all this because, as I read your comment, above, I was struck by the close proximity of the names "Leigh" and "Hungerford", and I made an immediate semantic association of same to "Farleigh Hungerford".

And as you will see, below, that was a very fortunate association, and, given JA's many covert parodies of the Royal Family during her own lifetime, it is a wonderful and highly ironic serendipity that a significant advance in Jane Austen studies should be furthered by seemingly unrelated news about the latest addition to the modern Royal Family. Read on to see what I am talking about....

My immediate question upon reading your above quoted genealogical factoid was to ask whether "Hungerford" was just a name that percolated around England's noble families, such that there was no special familial linkage to be inferred by its usage? My guess was that it was a very unusual name that _would_ have been associated with a particular family, and therefore it probably _was_ a marker that somehow Sir Hungerford Hoskyns was genealogically connected to the colorful Hungerford family whose real life Gothic history JA alluded to, as Barchas brilliantly elucidated, in NA.

Well, it was my lucky day, because it turns out that my hunch was spot-on. Here is the icing on the allusive layer cake, the factoid which ties _all_ loose ends together, which I just found in Debrett's Baronetage, at p. 139:

"Hoskyns, of Harwood, Co.Hereford. 18 Dec. 1676. John Hoskynswas M.P. for Hereford, 1602 and 1613; /m. /Margery, da. of William Jones, of Llanwarren, co. Hereford, esq., by whom, amongst other children, he had, John, his youngest son, a serjeant-at-law, who was returned to the house of commons, for the same city of Hereford, 1627, in which it appears he had previously sat; because, it is related, that he was committed to the Tower of London, by order of king James 1., for a speech made in that house, reflecting upon mercenary Scottish favourites. He /m. /Benedicta, da. of Robert Moyle, of Buckwell, co. Kent, esq., by whom he had issue, /Benedicta, /m. John Markey, of Alton, co. Hereford, esq., and a son and heir,

1. Sir Bennet, created a bart., 18 Dec. 1676, /m. /ANNE, DA. OF SIR HENRY BINGLEY, of Temple Coombe, co. Somerset, knt., auditor of the exchequer, by whom he had issue, //Sir John, 2d bart. & William, of Kingston; and

2. Sir John, F.R.S., was knighted during the lifetime of his father, sat as member for Hereford during the reign of James II., and was a master in the court of Chancery, /m. /Jane, da. of sir Gabriel Law, of Newark, co. Gloucester, knt., (A LINEAL DESCENDANT, BY HIS MOTHER'S FAMILY, FROM WALTER, LORD HUNGERFORD, K.G., in the reign of Henry VI.,) by Anne, da, of sir Stephen Soame, of Haidon, co. Essex, knt, by whom he had, besides other issue, 1. Sir Bennet, 3d bart. & 2. Sir HUNGERFORD, 4th bart.....who, while a younger brother, served in several campaigns under the duke of Marlborough; m. MARY, DA. OF THEOPHILUS LEIGH, OF ADLESTROP, CO. GLOUCESTER, ESQ. (BY MARY BRYDGES, SISTER TO THE DUKE OF CHANDOS)..... " [END OF DEBRETT'S EXCERPT]

The "Walter, Lord Hungerford during the reign of Henry VI" who is named by Debrett is described as follows in Wikipedia: "Walter Hungerford was the youngest son of Robert Hungerford, 3rd Baron Hungerford and Eleanor, was M.P. for Wiltshire in 1477, and, as a partisan in earlier days of the house of Lancaster, obtained a general pardon from Richard III on his accession in 1483. He was, nevertheless, arrested by Richard on the landing of the Earl of Richmond in 1485, but escaped from custody, and joined Richmond's army. At the battle of Bosworth he slew, in hand-to-hand combat, Sir Robert Brackenbury, lieutenant of the Tower of London, under whose command he had previously served, and was knighted by Henry VII on the battlefield. Farleigh Castle and some other of the forfeited family estates, though not the family honours, were restored to him, and he was made a member of the Privy Council. ....In 1497 he assisted in quelling Perkin Warbeck's rising. After the accession of Henry VIII he continued a member of the privy council, and, dying in 1516, was buried at Farleigh. His wife was Jane....and his only son Edward was father of Walter, Lord Hungerford (1503–1540)......"

And that last-named "Walter, Lord Hungerford (1503-1540)" was _exactly_ the same guy whom Barchas devotes a great deal of ink to in her article, indeed he is none other than "The Real Bluebeard of Bath" in her article title!

I capitalized, for emphasis, three parts of that quotation from Debrett's---first, the reference to a woman named "Anne BINGLEY" who married Sir Bennet Hungerford--okay, that surname was not rare, and could be pure coincidence; but second, and clearly _not_ coincidental, this same Walter, Lord Hungerford, had a descendant, Jane Law, who was the mother of the _same_ Sir Hungerford Hoskyns, 4th bart., who married Mary Leigh, as Derrick stated, above!

And now I will show how the veiled allusion to Lord Hungerford and to Jane Austen's own matrilineal ancestry in NA is more than a genealogical parlor game, which relates to my _third_ capitalized bit from the above Debrett's listing, the marriage of Mary Leigh to Sir Hungerford Hoskyns, 4th bart.

Even if there had been no actual family linkage between "Farleigh Hungerford" and "Sir Hungerford Hoskyns", even if this had been just a random coincidence of names, I claim that JA, who knew her _own_ family lineage pretty well, would have seen the wordplay potential of the closeness of these names when she decided to represent Farleigh Hungerford in NA. I know this because I also know that JA was well aware of one extremely important fact about her own Leigh lineage (her "Leigh-niage", if you will), which was directly connected to that same theme of death in childbirth, which I claim is _THE_ central theme of Northanger Abbey. I have argued that Mrs. Tilney is the symbol of all English wives who died in childbirth, the victims of their "Bluebeard" husbands. That was the subject of my own talk at the JASNA AGM, and when I listened to Barchas in November detailing her own wonderful discovery about the wife-killing "Bluebeard" Hungerford husband at Farleigh Hungerford, I knew that this fit perfectly with my own "Bluebeard" exegesis of NA, based on the completely different death in childbirth theme.

And in support of my argument at my AGM talk, I also pointed out one of the very personal connections of this death in childbirth theme to Jane Austen's own family---that same Mary Leigh (nee Brydges) whom you mentioned, above, Derrick----the wife of Theophilus, and great grandmother of JA herself---died in childbirth after bearing her twelfth child!

But what I did not realize till this morning, when I did the sleuthing which I've outlined above, was that JA may very well have selected Farleigh Hungerford, and in particular its most notorious resident, the wife-killer Walter Hungerford, as a crucial allusive source for NA, precisely _BECAUSE_ she already was well aware of the above described genealogical connection---as per my third capitalized section---of JA's _own_ maternal great grandmother (who died in a wifely victim of childbirth) to her "sisters" in wifely victimhood, the three wives of that evil Walter Hungerford!

And, by the way, you will want to read P. 122 of the current Persuasions for Barchas's detailed account of how things went down for Walter Hungerford and, in particular, his third wife, Elizabeth, who managed to survive him and even prosper after his death!

I just rescanned Barchas's article as carefully as I could, and I still cannot find any indication that she realized the connection of the Hungerford family to the Austen family, and I know that she did not draw any connection between the "Bluebeard" antics of Walter Hungerford and the death in childbirth theme which I have described in NA.

So I claim that when you combine Barchas's original discoveries from her article together with my own original additions to same, you get an enormous synergy, which brings out in 3-D a particularly important example of what Jocelyn Harris called "Jane Austen's Art of Memory"!

Cheers, ARNIE

Monday, June 20, 2011

Letter 30: The (Un)faithful Maria's (Un)happy Event

With the help of two of Diana Birchall's speculations back in 2006, I think I have figured out a bit more about the Payne Mystery in Letters 28 and 30, which I discussed in my previous post.

Letter 28 jokes about "the Faithful Maria" Payne's feeling more certain of "the happy Event", and Letter 30 jokes about "to what noblemen [Mr. Payne] bequeathed his four daughters in marriage", and now I think that "happy Event" in the former is one and the same thing as the hypothetical marriage of Maria--who was the eldest of Mr. Payne's four daughters---in the latter! Here is how I see it all playing out via JA's clever wordplay.

There are only two places in all of JA's novels where JA refers to a "happy Event".

One is in Ch. 57 of P&P:

"[A letter f]rom Mr. Collins! and what can /he/ have to say?"

"Something very much to the purpose, of course. He begins with congratulations on the approaching nuptials of my eldest daughter, of which, it seems, he has been told by some of the good-natured, gossiping Lucases. I shall not sport with your impatience by reading what he says on that point. What relates to yourself is as follows: 'Having thus offered you the sincere congratulations of Mrs. Collins and myself on this _HAPPY EVENT_, let me now add a short hint on the subject of another; of which we have been advertised by the same authority. Your daughter Elizabeth, it is presumed, will not long bear the name of Bennet after her elder sister has resigned it, and the chosen partner of her fate may be reasonably looked up to as one of the most illustrious personages in this land.'

"Can you possibly guess, Lizzy, who is meant by this? -- 'This young gentleman is blessed, in a peculiar way, with everything the heart of mortal can most desire -- splendid property, noble kindred, and extensive patronage. Yet, in spite of all these temptations, let me warn my cousin Elizabeth, and yourself, of what evils you may incur by a precipitate closure with this gentleman's proposals, which, of course, you will be inclined to take immediate advantage of.'

"Have you any idea, Lizzy, who this gentleman is? But now it comes out --

"'My motive for cautioning you is as follows: we have reason to imagine that his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, does not look on the match with a friendly eye."

"/Mr. Darcy/, you see, is the man! Now, Lizzy, I think I /have/ surprised you. Could he or the Lucases have pitched on any man, within the circle of our acquaintance, whose name would have given the lie more effectually to what they related? Mr. Darcy, who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish, and who probably never looked at /you/ in his life! It is admirable!"

Of course the "happy event" to which Mr. Collins's letter refers is the impending marriage of Bingley and Jane. But what is equally interesting vis a vis Letter 30 and it's reference "to what nobleman" is Mr. Collins's hint about the additional likely marriage of Lizzy and Darcy! After all, it is universally acknowledged among Janeites that Mr. Darcy is both a "nobleman" _and_ a "noble man", and a quick word search in the text of the novel reveals that Darcy has a "noble mien" and a "noble" estate, and also, in Ch. 54, bears Bingley's sitting next to Jane with "noble indifference"! With these five essential aspects of nobility covered, we can safely aver that Mr. Darcy is in fact the "quintessence" of nobility!

So it seems clear to me from all of the above that part of the background meaning of JA's jokes about Maria Payne and her family in Letters 28 & 30 is to point to the romantic climax of P&P.

And that's exactly where Diana's catch from 2006 kicks in, to make it _doubly_ clear, because Diana had observed that "the faithful Maria" sounds an awful lot like the narrative description of Caroline Bingley as Darcy's "faithful assistant" when she chimes in to get a dig at Lizzy on the topic of the truly accomplished woman:

" 'Oh! certainly,' cried his _FAITHFUL ASSISTANT_, "no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with."

When you put these two bits of allusive wordplay together, one from Letter 28 and one from Letter 30, there can be no reasonable doubt that this pointing to P&P (which JA was clearly still revising at that time) is all entirely intentional on JA's part. turns out that my suggestion to Diana back in 2006 that Maria Bertram might be an allusive source behind "the faithful Maria" _also_ gets a boost, from the _second_ of the two references to "happy event" in JA's novels, in Ch. 9 of MP:

Mr. Crawford smiled his acquiescence, and stepping forward to Maria, said, in a voice which she only could hear, “I do not like to see Miss Bertram so near the altar.”

Starting, the lady instinctively moved a step or two, but recovering herself in a moment, affected to laugh, and asked him, in a tone not much louder, “If he would give her away?”

“I am afraid I should do it very awkwardly,” was his reply, with a look of meaning.

Julia, joining them at the moment, carried on the joke.

“Upon my word, it is really a pity that it should not take place directly, if we had but a proper licence, for here we are altogether, and nothing in the world could be more snug and pleasant.” And she talked and laughed about it with so little caution as to catch the comprehension of Mr. Rushworth and his mother, and expose her sister to the whispered gallantries of her lover, while Mrs. Rushworth spoke with proper smiles and dignity of its being a most _HAPPY EVENT_ to her whenever it took place.

However, where "happy event" was accurate in P&P, here in MP, the meaning of "happy event" is completely ironic and dark. The "happy event' is the impending marriage of (the anything but faithful) Maria to Mr. Rushworth, but here there is no real happiness at all, in this doomed mismatch. What a tragic ironic the reader already knows, which is that happiness will not be in either Maria's or Mr. R's future, because the only man to whom Maria is actually faithful is Henry Crawford!

Now, I am not claiming that JA already had a draft of Mansfield Park in the works in 1800 when she wrote Letters 28 & 30--rather, I think that when JA conceived MP in 1813 or thereabouts, she still had, in the back of her mind, the idea of a Maria who is both faithful and unfaithful, with the real life Maria Payne and her life at Daylesford in 1800 having somehow remained vivid in JA's fertile imagination!

And, finally, as to what sort of veiled commentary this all constitutes about the real life Maria Payne, who was over 50 at the time JA wrote Letters 28 & 30 (whereas two of her three younger sisters were only around 30 at the time)--I think Diana's guess is a shrewd one---i.e., that Maria's role at Daylesford was something like that of Caroline Bingley at Netherfield. I would only add that equally apt would be an even less savory representation in JA's novels, and one a lot closer in age-----the middle aged unmarried Mrs. Norris at Mansfield Park, playing the role of "surrogate wife" to the master of the house.

Either way, not a flattering portrait at all!

And therefore, perhaps, just perhaps....JA had one additional bit of wordplay fun in MP, when she wrote:

"...though Mansfield Park might have some pains [Paynes?], Portsmouth could have no pleasures."

Cheers, ARNIE