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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Colebrooke Connection to Jane Austen: Part Two

I just did a little further checking and found the following addiitonal data that relates directly to the tale I recounted in Part One:

It turns out that the blog entry I linked to in my previous response to Nancy Mayer, which made reference to the Belinda Colebrooke who turned out to be the daughter of the woman involved in that matrimonial fracas summarized in the 19855 Irish court decision, was written by Kelly McDonald, who is a member of the JASNA Chapter in Vermont, and who also wrote the following article:

"Edward Austen's Emma reads Emma." Persuasions Vol. 29 (2007): 234+. that Persuasions article, we read the following:

"This 1822-23 tour ended with Charles's [i.e., Emma Smith's brother, Charles Smith] engagement to Belinda Colebrooke, an orphaned heiress. In January 1825, Charles's wife of fifteen months died in childbirth."

It was after this death in childbirth that, as McDonald's article outlines, Charles Smith wasted no time in turning around, within a year, and marrying Emma Smith's friend, Mary Gosling.

So I went back to McDonald's blog entry and now the following comments about a parallel between the real life of Belinda Colebrooke and Anne Elliot make sense:

"These thoughts resonated with me, especially after reading about Belinda Colebrooke’s desire to marry young John Shaw Stewart (Emma often spells his last name Stuart). Their problem: Belinda as a ward in Chancery had to ask the court’s permission to marry — and Stewart was seen as her inferior. Especially in terms of /money/. And wasn’t that Wentworth’s situation when he first sought the hand of Anne???"

That must have been describing sometime _prior to 1822_, when Belinda was still an "infant", i.e., a minor, but after her mother (the one with the matrimonial fracas) had died.

It was only when Belinda Colebrooke came of age (and I am guessing that occurred in 1822) that she could marry _without_ court approval,and apparently John Shaw Stewart was no longer around, and now Belinda was a very nice catch (and, if she had in fact already inherited her mother's wealth free and clear, I am pretty sure that Charles Smith became a rich man upon his young bride's death), one whom Emma Smith Austen might find a very desirable marital prospect for her old friend Mary Gosling.

Cheers, ARNIE

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