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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Popping The Question

Mr Collins proposes to Charlotte Lucas.

For a Regency lady, marriage is ‘the only honourable provision for well-educated women of small fortune, and, however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want’ (Pride and Prejudice).  So a marriage proposal from an eligible suitor is one of the most important moments of a young lady’s life.
Lizzy accepts Mr Darcy.
Common prudence dictates that you choose a partner with whom you can respect and esteem.  In Pride & Prejudice, Mr Bennet is extremely worried when Elizabeth tells him that Mr Darcy has proposed: ‘I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior.  Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage.  You could scarcely escape discredit and misery’.
If all goes well, you’ll receive a proposal from an eligible young man in your first season.  If no-one suitable makes an offer after your first few seasons, you’ll be nearing the ‘years of danger’ like Elizabeth Elliott in Persuasion.
Capt.Wentworth gives Anne a letter.
Mr Knightley and Emma.

Every gentleman has his own way of declaring his love.  Mr Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet is passionate but unflattering: ‘In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you’.  Darcy does not recommend his suit when he declares that their marriage will be a ‘degradation’ and speaks of ‘the inferiority of your connections’.

So Elizabeth was puzzled how to accept Mr Darcy’s second proposal of marriage. She ‘immediately, but not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances’.
How should you say ‘Yes’?  when asked? When Mr Knightley proposed to Emma Woodhouse, she said ‘Just what she ought, of course.  A lady always does’.  
Illustrations courtesy of the elegant and erudite Molland’s website.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Latest Reviews of A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England

I have been very busy working on a new project for the last few weeks, so I've been rather out of the loop. So I was thrilled to bits when I discovered this review on the Shields Gazette website:
'Discover the grim reality of Jane Austen’s England
In fact, the smells and tastes would probably make us sick; go far enough back, and we wouldn’t even be able to understand our own language.
So while period dramas are seductive on the telly, in reality, returning to, say, the turn of the 19th century may mean that your false teeth could have been taken from a dead soldier, face powder turns your skin brown, or even black, and surgery is carried out without anaesthetic.
Given that I’ve just had a tooth out, a Regency-era remedy for toothache – using a hot wire driven into an aching tooth to kill the nerve – makes me wince.
You would, then, need something like A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England, which chaperones you across the social, health etc minefields of what could feel, in effect, like a foreign country.
Not that it’s even the terrain of the working man. The world Austen moved in bordered the middle/upper class, so there is the treatment of servants to consider, and how to keep up with fashion – “What wicked people dyers are” – dyeing a dress being one way of recycling your clothes.
A dance at a ball or an assembly hall is the best, approved way to meet the opposite sex. Once married, though, having separate rooms may be your only form of contraception. Jane Austen’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth, had 10 children before the age of 35, when she died in childbirth.
It all makes for an entertaining read and is charmingly illustrated with contemporary images, including the work of hilarious caricaturist Gillray'.
There's also another lovely review here on the Heritage Traveller website.