|St. Patrick at the St. Benin Church, Kilbennan, Ireland|
|St. Patrick at the St. Benin Church, Kilbennan, Ireland|
An interesting email came to me last week from Ed Lefroy, a descendant from Thomas Lefroy (see here for our Oct 2007 post). When going through some of the books from Carrigglas Manor (built in 1837 by Thomas Lefroy) he found one called Personal Aspects of Jane Austen by Mary Augusta Austen-Leigh (1838-1922, great niece of Jane Austen) which has a frontispiece of a painting by Zoffany entitled Jane Austen.
The book was published in 1920 and interestingly the painting claiming to be of Jane Austen is the same painting known as the Rice Portrait (see our 2012 post). The Rice Portrait was originally attributed to Johann Zoffany as inscribed in this book but now is believed to have been made by Ozias Humphry (a renowned English painter) around 1788 when Jane Austen was 13 years old. Some still suggest that the painting dates to the early 19th century and thus cannot be of Austen, an interesting mystery.
Do you believe the painting is of Jane? We welcome your comments.
|That would be what Chief Justice would say. 'Never give up!'|
Believe me, my darling girl, there is no progress to be made in anything without steady and continued application, which, besides the advantages it brings in the way of improvement, makes labour pleasant from habit instead of being irksome, as it always is to the idle and irresolute.
Last night I was fortunate enough to go to see James McAvoy (yes our Becoming Jane Tom Lefroy) in a production on stage of The Ruling Class by Peter Barnes. He was absolutely phenomenal as the paranoid schizophrenic born into a wealthy, aristocratic British family. This play, focussed on social classes has stayed in my mind and today it made me wonder about Jane Austen and how the classes interacted in her time.
Jane Austen wrote often about her world and this included her social class, the gentry. The manners and customs of the gentry are always present in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. I have chosen a quote from chapter 19 of Sense and Sensibility where Edward Ferrars is speaking:
"We never could agree in our choice of profession. I always preferred the church, as I still do. But that was not smart enough for my family. They recommended the army. That was a great deal too smart for me. The law was allowed to be genteel enough; many young men, who had chambers in the Temple, made a very good appearance in the first circles, and drove about town in very knowing gigs. But I had no inclination for the law, even in this less abstruse study of it, which my family approved. As for the navy, it had fashion on its side, but I was too old when the subject was first started to enter it- (…) I was therefore entered at Oxford and have been properly idle ever since"
This fascinates me as in some ways our perceptions, customs and social interactions have changed so much from these times until today but in other ways we are still facing the same issues. For example young people today, in the culture I have familiarity with, typically have autonomy and freedom of choice in terms of their career paths (I do appreciate that this does not apply to all cultures), this suggests that traditions and connections with older times are fading. However at a time where our government in the UK are discussing university tuition fees and affordable housing for average paid workers, it is apparent that the questions and deliberations of class divide that also existed in Jane Austen's time are still very real and at the forefront of many peoples lives.
Last Saturday was Valentine's Day, so it's apt that I post something about love, which is Jane Austen's most popular topic. However, I'd like to post something about self-love and self-appreciation this time, because without a good relationship with ourselves, any relationships with others are bound to fail.
|Lizzy Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) mimicking Darcy's insult to Jane Bennet|
"...turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, ``She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.''
Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. She told the story however with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous."
|Our lovely Jane (Anne Hathaway) and Tom (James McAvoy) in BJ 2007|
|The aftermath of a massive storm in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 2005 (the Guardian.com)|
Mr. John Knightley now came into the room from examining the weather, and opened on them all with the information of the ground being covered with snow, and of its still snowing fast, with a strong drifting wind; concluding with these words to Mr. Woodhouse:
"This will prove a spirited beginning of your winter engagements, sir. Something new for your coachman and horses to be making their way through a storm of snow."Poor Mr. Woodhouse was silent from consternation; but every body else had something to say; every body was either surprized or not surprized, and had some question to ask, or some comfort to offer. Mrs. Weston and Emma tried earnestly to cheer him and turn his attention from his son-in-law, who was pursuing his triumph rather unfeelingly."I admired your resolution very much, sir," said he, "in venturing out in such weather, for of course you saw there would be snow very soon. Every body must have seen the snow coming on. I admired your spirit; and I dare say we shall get home very well. Another hour or two's snow can hardly make the road impassable; and we are two carriages; if one is blown over in the bleak part of the common field there will be the other at hand. I dare say we shall be all safe at Hartfield before midnight."
“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.”
Over the past two weeks I have been fortunate enough to be asked twice to be a bridesmaid at two dear friends weddings over the next year. I thought that it was therefore appropriate to consider wedding quotes this week. There are a number I love from Pride and Prejudice but I do not believe we have not chosen this one yet to post on the blog, it is perhaps a little cynical but brilliant.
In a conversation between Elizabeth and Charlotte Lucas in Chapter 6 of Pride and Prejudice:
Well," said Charlotte, "I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to him to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."
I have pondered over the last statement, I have tendency to want to plan and overthink everything but often that is only to my detriment, perhaps this overthinking is a waste of energy and time, perhaps happiness is indeed entirely a matter of chance.
I hope you are all having a super weekend.
|Source: this site|
To the last he retained a cheerful and patient endurance under suffering which often elicited the astonishment and admiration of those who attended upon his sickness. I remember in his last illness (only two days before he was taken from us), after he had spent a very wearisome night from want of sleep, and great oppression of breathing, we closed the window-shutters in the morning, in the hope of his getting some sleep; just then the physician for whom an express had been sent, arrived from Dublin. After feeling his pulse, the doctor asked whether it would annoy him if the window-shutters were opened for a moment, when he replied with a cheerful smile, “not at all, doctor, I always like to have light thrown upon a subject.”
|The late Mollie Sugden (1922-2009) who played Mrs Goddard in Emma 1972|
Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a School -- not of a seminary, or an establishment, or any thing which professed, in long sentences of refined nonsense, to combine liberal acquirements with elegant morality upon new principles and new systems -- and where young ladies for enormous pay might be screwed out of health and into vanity -- but a real, honest, old-fashioned Boarding-school, where a reasonable quantity of accomplishments were sold at a reasonable price, and where girls might be sent to be out of the way and scramble themselves into a little education, without any danger of coming back prodigies. Mrs. Goddard's school was in high repute -- and very deservedly; for Highbury was reckoned a particularly healthy spot: she had an ample house and garden, gave the children plenty of wholesome food, let them run about a great deal in the summer, and in winter dressed their chilblains with her own hands. It was no wonder that a train of twenty young couple now walked after her to church. She was a plain, motherly kind of woman, who had worked hard in her youth, and now thought herself entitled to the occasional holiday of a tea-visit; and having formerly owed much to Mr. Woodhouse's kindness, felt his particular claim on her to leave her neat parlour hung round with fancy-work whenever she could, and win or lose a few sixpences by his fireside.
"Bringing in a New Year is all about second chances. This year, we vow, we will do it right. We have a second chance to take better care of ourselves. We have a second chance to be kinder, wiser, and better human beings."And the most related paragraph of Persuasion, according to Laurie, would be this one from Capt Wentworth himself to Anne Elliot:
"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
"Tell me not that I am too late."
We are rolling a petition to reprint Nadia Radovici’s 1995 book titled ‘A Youthful Love: Jane Austen & Tom Lefroy?’ that is currently out of print. Please sign for the Radovici's Jane Austen & Tom Lefroy Petition and spread the words! Thanks a lot!
Jane Austen was born on
Anne Hathaway - Jane Austen
James McAvoy - Tom Lefroy
Julie Walters - Mrs. Austen
James Cromwell - Revd. George Austen (Jane's father)
Maggie Smith - Lady Gresham
Anna Maxwell Martin - Cassandra Austen
Joe Anderson - Henry Austen
Lucy Cohu - Eliza de Feullide
Laurence Fox - Mr. Wisley
Philip Culhane - George Austen (Jane's brother)
Ian Richardson – Judge Langlois
Leo Bill – John Warren
Jessica Ashworth – Lucy Lefroy
Eleanor Methven – Mrs. Lefroy
Michael James Ford – Mr. Lefroy
Sophie Vavasseur – Jane Lefroy
Helen McCrory – Ann Radcliffe
Julian Jarrold - Director
Graham Broadbent, Robert Bernstein, & Douglas Rae - Producer
Adrian Johnston - Soundtrack
Kevin Hood & Sarah Williams - Screenplay writers
Eigil Bryld - Cinematography
Jane Gibson - Choreography
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh - Costume
Gail Stevens & Gillian Reynolds - Casting
McAvoy knew his portrait of Tom could only come alive with the right Jane, and he found Anne Hathaway almost supernaturally suited for the part. “I don’t think we could have chosen anyone better to play Jane Austen," he says.
Jane Austen’s greatest love story was her own
It was at the end of 1795 when the young Jane Austen met the dashing Irish rogue Thomas Langlois Lefroy. Jane would not realise that from prejudice and innuendos between her and Tom, a fresh bud of passion would grow into love that would last for years to come, literally changing her way of looking into life and giving her new insights into her already blooming creative writing. Yet, Tom Lefroy was not a man of wealth, and thus his family needed him to find a more suitable partner than the last daughter of the Austens. Will reality defeat love, or will love triumph in Jane Austen’s life?
Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection – JA,
Nothing can be compared to the misery of being bound without Love, bound to one, & preferring another – JA,
‘Persuasion’, chapter 8, Jane Austen
To be so bent on marriage, to pursue a man merely for the sake of situation – is a sort of thing that shocks me.
The film Becoming Jane has given us an image of Jane Austen that liberates our imagination. I envy readers of my book who come to it with Anne Hathaway’s image of Jane in their mind’s eye. You will not have to struggle against the image Cassandra created to see the Jane Austen who was young and pretty, lively and in love. Anne Hathaway’s skilful portrayal of Jane Austen in Becoming Jane shows that art can have as much power to bring us closer to the truth as facts themselves can.