Cos it is very likely that you, like me, will go: 'Aaaarrrrggggggghhhhh!!! Jaaaames!!!' when you see this clip about manners during the Regency period:
And how the cricket was actually not popular in Ireland and Scotland, despite being a favourite sport in UK:
Also, Willow has posted the Becoming Jane cricket scene in YouTube.
Thank you Artisan News Service and Willow for the YouTube videos! By the way, James is bulkier, eh? Must be that 'Wanted' movie! And James is sooo cute and funny in both interview sessions!
Thursday, 27 September 2007
Cos it is very likely that you, like me, will go: 'Aaaarrrrggggggghhhhh!!! Jaaaames!!!' when you see this clip about manners during the Regency period:
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Just a short article here friends, particularly for those residing outside the United States (like me, Rachel and Michelle) and hence cannot access the Becoming Jane music scores from Walmart and other companies that provide downloaded version of music in Becoming Jane. Particularly the beloved Hole in the Wall by Purcell.
What you need to do is to have Freecorder software that will record any sounds from the internet as you enter one site. It means that you can watch YouTube and download the music from the site as they play. As I type, I am downloading the famous background music of the Becoming Jane US Official Site in MP3 format, so I can play it over and over offline!
So you have to download Freecorder or similar software first. I got mine in the same package with FLV player (that’s the software to play FLV files you download from YouTube to watch videos online) from www.savevideodownload.com. The site will tell you to download the FLV player. As you download the player, make sure that you click the option for Freecorder that comes with the software, and embed it with your Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. I’m sure that you can find a site to download Freecorder without downloading the FLV player, but I find having them both useful, so I download both anyway.
Later, you will have an additional toolbar in your IE or Firefox, with the record, stop, play and pause buttons. Punch ‘record’ if you want to record anything from the internet, and click stop when you’re hit full… I mean, when you’re done with it. It’s MP3 file, I don’t think many will have problems with that.
Have fun then!
Monday, 24 September 2007
Phew! Finally, my seminar was over, and I can give Jane and Tom more attentions they deserve. First, news. Rachel is off to
Before arriving to the drama within the drama in MP, allow me to look back at Chapter 9 (p. 83), where our hero Edmund Bertram said this to Mary Crawford:
EB: “Yes, I shall take orders soon after my father’s return – probably at Christmas.”
After learning of Anthony Lefroy, I tend to see the ‘take orders’ in this sentence as Tom Lefroy’s responsibility to take ‘appropriate action’ by marrying Mary Paul to save his family. I’m not sure about ‘my father’ reference (i.e. Sir Thomas Bertram), but indeed we cannot help noticing that such a change would happen at Christmas. Again, Jane Austen placed Christmas (a very important holiday for her) as a very important date in
Drama in the drama
Now, the drama. The theatre episodes in MP covers chapter 12 to 18. Seven chapters just to cover a private play in
Two hundred miles, everyone?
In the midst of discussing
"It is not worth complaining about; but to be sure the poor old dowager could not have died at a worse time; and it is impossible to help wishing that the news could have been suppressed for just the three days we wanted. It was but three days; and being only a grandmother, and all happening two hundred miles off, I think there would have been no great harm, and it was suggested, I know; but Lord Ravenshaw, who I suppose is one of the most correct men in
Michelle suggested that Mr. Yates’ bewailing the untimely death of a relation many miles away was a bit weird, though he had his justifications, that Lord Ravenshaw was to play in the private Lovers’ Vows himself before ‘the poor old dowager’ (i.e. Lord Ravenshaw’s grandmother) died. Yates was callously wishing that the news could have been suppressed for at least for a couple of days until they did the deed.
Placing this situation in Jane/Tom paradigm … what if Tom and Jane were "that close" to coming to an understanding, healing the hurt, when Anthony’s news came and urged him to come to
Okay, let’s look at the numbers now. Two hundred miles away, with a wish of three days’ news delay: two spatial and temporal references. And let’s look again at Chapter 3 (p. 26), as Edmund said to Fanny:
“Why, indeed, Fanny, I should hope to be remembered at such a distance as the White house. You speak as if you were going two hundred miles off, instead of only across the park.”
Hmmm… two hundred miles mentioned at least twice so far. Nothing is random in Jane Austen’s world. I think (and Michelle agrees) that two hundred miles is the reference of something important in Jane and Tom’s life. And via Google Earth, I learned that
We think that the two hundred miles reference in Mansfield Park does not only refer to Lovers’ Vows, but also to the radius among the three sites, or at least Dublin-York and York-London. And about the second reference:
“…it is impossible to help wishing that the news could have been suppressed for just the three days we wanted. It was but three days…”
Three days. THREE DAYS away... from what day? How about November 5, Anthony's wedding? Delaying it three days, we have November 8 or 9, 1798. If particular news could be suppressed at least 3 days... assuming that this reference is Jane/Tom-related, could it mean that Tom wanted to come to Hampshire on November 8 to talk of something very important with Jane? Food for thoughts and more research (as if we don’t have enough on our plates already).
Forced into the Drama
Anyway, Tom Bertram also had seen Lovers’ Vows in
Mary Crawford, being attracted to Edmund, naturally wanted Edmund to play Anhalt. Edmund initially refused, for he disliked the plots in Lovers’ Vows. But then, after three chapters of going round and round about who would play who… and that a Mr. Maddox was to play Anhalt, Edmund changed his heart and appealed for Fanny’s advice (Chapter 16, p. 142).
EB: “I do not know what to do. This acting scheme gets worse and worse, you see. They have chosen almost as bad a play as they could, and now, to complete the business, are going to ask the help of a young man very slightly known to any of us. This is the end of all the privacy and propriety which was talked about at first. I know no harm of Charles Maddox; but the excessive intimacy which must spring from his being admitted among us in this manner is highly objectionable, the more than intimacy – the familiarity. I cannot think of it with any patience; and it does appear to me an evil of such magnitude as must, if possible be prevented. Do not you see it in the same light?"
FP: "Yes; but what can be done? Your brother is so determined."
Fanny could not be more correct. Anthony had eloped anyway at that point!
EB: "There is but one thing to be done, Fanny. I must take Anhalt myself. I am well aware that nothing else will quiet Tom."
Fanny could not answer him.
Of course she could not. How could she? So…Anhalt was the bloke that finally married Amelia, played by Mary Crawford. And, Tom Lefroy should play Anhalt as well; marrying Miss Mary Paul! He realised that nothing but marrying Miss Paul would heal the wound Anthony had caused. Let’s resume.
“It is not at all what I like,” he continued. “No man can like being driven into the appearance of such inconsistency. After being known to oppose the scheme from the beginning, there is absurdity in the face of my joining them now, when they are exceeding their first plan in every respect; but I can think of no other alternative. Can you, Fanny?"
"No," said Fanny slowly, "not immediately, but--"
I remember the 1979 JAP Lefroy article that Arnie sent me (thanks again, Arnie), specifically a letter from Tom Lefroy to Mary, written in 1797 after Tom returned from his engagement to Mary during the 1797 Easter Term:
‘I fear, my dear Mary that you have been cursing Term very heartily for sometime and are almost angry with me for reckoning it so great a friend when it is so much your aversion… but I am drilling for active Service, as it were. I am anxious to come, as near as circumstances will allow, and finish Lawyer to the Bar… You will be repaid… by my best attention for life, and sharing whatever credit may accrue from my labours.’
Mary getting anxious about Tom’s commitment to her, eh? Don’t think that the study was the main reason for Tom delaying the engagement…and somehow Mary sensed it. I am not sure when Tom wrote this letter, but I am inclined to think that it was written before November 1797 when he met Jane again in Bath and felt more urge to cancel his engagement with Mary. I’m not sure if Jane knew that Tom had been engaged by then, but in any case, if he had indicated so, it would not be until Sept/October 1798 before he planned to have a serious conversation with Jane and cancel his commitment with Mary. But Anthony’s wedding changed it all.
Marriage for money
Now, let’s get back to Chapter 16 of
"But what? I see your judgment is not with me. Think it a little over. Perhaps you are not so much aware as I am of the mischief that may of the unpleasantness that must arise from a young man's being received in this manner: domesticated among us; authorised to come at all hours, and placed suddenly on a footing which must do away all restraints. To think only of the licence which every rehearsal must tend to create. It is all very bad! Put yourself in Miss Crawford's place, Fanny. Consider what it would be to act Amelia with a stranger. She has a right to be felt for, because she evidently feels for herself. I heard enough of what she said to you last night to understand her unwillingness to be acting with a stranger; and as she probably engaged in the part with different expectations--perhaps without considering the subject enough to know what was likely to be-- it would be ungenerous, it would be really wrong to expose her to it. Her feelings ought to be respected. Does it not strike you so, Fanny? You hesitate."
Did he just say 'domesticated'? As in 'to accustom to household life or affairs' or MARRIAGE? I’m not sure if ‘domesticated’ has the same meaning now with the one in Jane Austen’s time. But if it does…this passage is a strong indication of Tom Lefroy marrying Miss Paul. And Edmund (TL) also asked Fanny (JA) to put herself in Mary Crawford's (Paul's) shoes... for Tom was after all still engaged with Mary. Or was it Jane Austen asking herself to understand Mary Paul better?
“I am sorry for Miss Crawford; but I am more sorry to see you drawn in to do what you had resolved against, and what you are known to think will be disagreeable to my uncle. It will be such a triumph to the others!”
"They will not have much cause of triumph when they see how infamously I act. But, however, triumph there certainly will be, and I must brave it. But if I can be the means of restraining the publicity of the business, of limiting the exhibition, of concentrating our folly, I shall be well repaid. As I am now, I have no influence, I can do nothing: I have offended them, and they will not hear me; but when I have put them in good-humour by this concession, I am not without hopes of persuading them to confine the representation within a much smaller circle than they are now in the high road for. This will be a material gain. My object is to confine it to Mrs. Rushworth and the Grants. Will not this be worth gaining?"
Let’s see here. RUSHWORTH and GRANTS. Don't the names sound like money and wealth for you? Rush Worth. Grants. Speedy money. In JA's perspective, Tom truly married just for money (well, in all fairness, I think he liked Mary Paul as well, though not as deep as with Jane Austen). For Jane, Tom’s marriage was very political in nature. I don’t think she was wrong.
Fanny seemed nearer being right than Edmund had supposed. The business of finding a play that would suit everybody proved to be no trifle; ...There were, in fact, so many things to be attended to, so many people to be pleased, so many best characters required, and, above all, such a need that the play should be at once both tragedy and comedy, that there did seem as little chance of a decision as anything pursued by youth and zeal could hold out. (Chapter 14, p. 122)
The business of finding a ‘play’ that would ‘suit everybody’ – how about finding a ‘wife’ – a ‘livelihood’ that would suit everybody? After all, Edmund Bertram (and Tom Lefroy) had so many people to be pleased. Was not the business of "marriage" a people-pleasing initiative? Would this not have been how the Irish Lefroy family looked upon their children’s marriages – arrangements to please and humour the Old Judge Uncle?
Let’s resume with Chapter 16 (p. 143):
FP: "Yes, it will be a great point."
EB: "But still it has not your approbation. Can you mention any other measure by which I have a chance of doing equal good?"
FP: "No, I cannot think of anything else."
EB: "Give me your approbation, then, Fanny. I am not comfortable without it."
FP: "Oh, cousin!"
EB: "If you are against me, I ought to distrust myself, and yet--But it is absolutely impossible to let Tom go on in this way, riding about the country in quest of anybody who can be persuaded to act--no matter whom: the look of a gentleman is to be enough.” (emphasise our own)
It's impossible to let Anthony go on his way alone, riding about the country with his new wife... seeking for anyone's support. He, Tom Lefroy, had to come and save his brother. And the bold sections really speak for themselves, do they not? Fanny (Jane) is distraught over Edmund (Tom's) inconsistency and betrayal of his own morality. The ‘acting scheme’ – ‘marriage scheme’ just gets worse and worse.
After reading those passages, we wonder whether Tom finally asked for Jane's approval, or at least understanding. Or was this Jane's wishful thinking of Tom talking to her and asked her permission or blessings? It’s a nice indulging thought that Tom still confided in Jane after returning to
The Lefroy family conflict
Reading the hidden drama beneath the Lovers’ Vows, we see that the
EB: “Family squabbling is the greatest evil of all, and we had better do anything than be altogether by the ears."
Also, the fight between Tom Bertram and his brother Edmund (p. 119):
TB: "Don't imagine that nobody in this house can see or judge but yourself. Don’t act yourself, if you do not like it, but don't expect to govern everybody else."
Here is Tom Bertram berating Edmund over his ‘interference’ and for daring to pass judgement on Tom's own judgement. He is telling Edmund to basically live by his own rules, but not expect others to adopt them. Was this ever Jane's perception of the "selfishness" of Anthony Lefroy? Or was it that Anthony indeed quarrelled with Tom Lefroy before
In any case, Jane Austen seemed to despise the way some of the Lefroys placing burden upon Tom’s shoulders. In Chapter 15 (p. 137), Fanny was forced into acting in the drama, something that she truly did not like. Charming Edmund finally steps in, supporting his cousin's freedom of choice:
"Do not urge her, madam," said Edmund. "It is not fair to urge her in this manner. You see she does not like to act. Let her chuse for herself, as well as the rest of us. Her judgment may be quite as safely trusted. Do not urge her any more."
"I am not going to urge her," replied Mrs. Norris sharply; "but I shall think her a very obstinate, ungrateful girl, if she does not do what her aunt and cousins wish her – very ungrateful, indeed, considering who and what she is."
Here we have Fanny (Tom Lefroy) feeling the pressure of what his family and cousins wish (expect) of him and Jane Austen as the narrator disagreed with the pressure. JA might also wish that someone would talk Tom out of it (the way Edmund tried to reason with Mrs. Norris)... instead of the entire family and friends pushing him.
I plan to write another article this week about Jane’s gradual change of perception towards Anthony/Tom. I will be rather busy again these weeks, but Michelle and I have committed that we shall continue reading
Austen, J. 1814, Mansfield Park (2003 edition), Penguin, London.Lefroy, J. A. P. 1979, 'Jane Austen's Irish Friend', Huguenot Society Proceedings, vol. 23, pp. 148-165.
Pic 2: Elizabeth Inchbald, from Chawton.org
Pic 3: Elvington Bridge at the City of York in Yorkshire, from Wikipedia
Pic 4: Dublin-York-London triangle
Pic 5: the play at
Pic 6: Andrew Jack with Alessandro Nivola (Henry Crawford) and Frances O'Connor (Fanny Price), photo by Clive Coote, in Andrewjack.com
Pic 7: Fanny Price and Mary Crawford, Pemberley.com
Pic 8: the stamp of Mary and Henry Crawford, the UK Collectible Stamps
Pic 9: Mary Crawford and Fanny Price, djuna.cine21.com
Pic 10: Fanny and Edmund, from Britmovies UK
Pic 11: James Purefoy as Tom Bertram, from James Purefoy US Fansite
Sunday, 16 September 2007
Finally, the Radovici Petition or ‘Radovici's Jane Austen & Tom Lefroy Petition’ is uploaded! We need your help, dear friends, to make this little precious book re-printed again, and hence we ask for your help to click on the Petition Online and leave your signatures there. Please spread the words… Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy need you. Not only it’s homage to the Romanian authoress Nadia Radovici who has passed away a few years ago; the book is also an incredible source and bases of Jane/Tom research, however under-used it is now. The petition text is as follows:
On behalf of Becoming Jane Fansite and fans of Jane Austen/Tom Lefroy alike, I would like to raise your concerns on the very limited number of available literatures on the romance and plight of Jane Austen with Thomas Langlois Lefroy (also known as Tom Lefroy). It is, sadly, not the truth universally acknowledged that the famous English authoress once shared a poetic chaste love with the young poor Irishman who later would become the renowned Lord Chief Justice of
In 1995, however, another writer had actually written a short but memorable book exploring interesting facts and speculations about Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy’s love story. The 80-pages book was titled ‘A Youthful Love: Jane Austen & Tom Lefroy?’, published by Merlin Books in
Alas, Radovici passed away circa the year 2000 without having her book widely known or distributed. Now, Radovici’s book is out of print; its copy is very hard to find, even in second-hand markets. We, Jane Austen lovers who support the idea of chaste romance between her and Tom Lefroy, share the loss of a good book that has become one of the bases for more rigorous research on Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. Granted, more and more information on Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy has been compiled as of late beyond the scope of Radovici’s discussions. Nevertheless, we are still indebted to her book, and hence we ask any potential publishers to reprint Radovici’s book and make it widely available for the public to read.Pic: cover to Radovici's 1995 book, out of print
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
I just wanted to write a quick post as my ‘long-awaited’ Becoming Jane DVD arrived yesterday and I watched it the first chance I could last night.
I am heartbroken all over again!!! I have been wondering why this film has such a powerful impact on me. Firstly I think I am just a romanticist at heart and any doomed love story just plucks at my heart strings and bothers me for days (in this case, months) to follow! But this story is different…..I was really worried that all of the reading and insight that I have gained over the past few months would actually deter be from loving the film so much but this was not the case for I loved it more! I think that the Tom/Jane story is just so special. Since I have read more about the subject and visited Steventon and Ireland to see first hand where Tom and Jane walked and breathed, I think that I truly believe their story and feel that we cannot rest until we have done everything we can to find the truth.
Anyway, about the DVD. I ordered mine from http://www.play.com/ as I am confident in the reduced prices and service they offer. I am not saying this because of my love for everything Becoming Jane but the special features on this DVD are actually better than other’s in my collection.
Firstly, there are interviews with the director and other people involved in the making of Becoming Jane such as the fabulous people responsible for the costumes and make-up.
Also, there is the behind-the-scenes footage of the filming of two scenes from the film; the first is the boxing scene at Laversham fair when Tom launches into the ring and begins fighting. From this we see how wonderful James McAvoy is and how serious he was ensuring that it was just right. The other scene is the cricket scene. I have not watched this footage yet for I love this scene so much and I am not sure I want to see how it was filmed; I am sure that my intrigue will take over soon but at the moment I want to remain in a state of belief that it is all real and not a film!
Also amongst the special features is a series (approximately 10) of deleted scenes which made me very excited. You will be pleased to know that there are none involving Tom and Jane so they did not deprive us of any Tom/Jane interactions. There were, however, a few involving Cassandra that did not make the final cut. As I said to Icha and the others, this was such a shame for it really gave a better insight into the closeness of Jane and Cassandra. Also, Anna Maxwell Martin’s acting is so superb that it would have given her more of a chance to shine if the scenes had been included. I cannot remember all of the scenes right now but the ones that stood out for me were two in particular.
Firstly was an extended version of Cassandra’s grief for the loss of her fiancé. Right at the beginning of the film we saw Cassandra and Tom Fowle meet at the top of the stairs when they are awoken by Jane’s loud piano playing? Well in the deleted scene Cassandra retraces her footsteps to the top of the stairs, grieving for the loss of her Tom. It was really moving.
The other scene that I found particularly good showed Cassandra and Jane taking cover under a tree for it is raining hard; upon which they encounter Lucy Lefroy (Tom’s cousin) and her friend. It is set at the time when Tom returns to visit his aunt and uncle and does not go to see Jane (after the cork street meeting and before the meeting in the woods when Jane is out walking with her brother George). This deleted scene shows Jane asking Lucy with pleading eyes whether Tom is currently visiting nearby Ashe and when Lucy replies that he is, Jane appears devastated. I liked it because it is very emotionally evocative.
I think that overall, however, the final cut is perfect.
Finally on the special features is the theatrical trailer and a photo gallery. The photo gallery is fabulous; although most of the shots we have already posted here on the Becoming Jane site, there were a few treats that I had not seen before.
Sorry this post has turned out rather long but I just wanted to make you aware of something else that I noticed upon watching the film last night which actually shocked me.
When I returned from Ireland with photographs from ‘The King’s Inn’ (see my post below); myself, Icha and the others thought that the gate was used in the film. I confirmed that on viewing the film and in fact all of the shots which show Tom late and running to court were actually filmed at ‘The King’s Inn’ in Dublin. Very exciting!
If you again look at the photographs I took of the stained glass window with the ‘Thomas Lefroy’ inscription located within the building of ‘The King’s Inn’, the same shot of the glass is used in the film! We see Tom running up the stairs into the court room and he passes the stained glass window.
What I found so fascinating to comprehend is that the scenes in Becoming Jane involving a 20 year old Tom Lefroy studying in London were filmed in a place (Dublin) where the ‘real’ 50 year old Tom Lefroy actually walked! Also, James McAvoy is running up steps in front of glass that has an actual inscription of his character. Very spooky!
Pic 1: Becoming Jane DVD cover, taken from www.play.com
Pic2: Jane and Tom in cricket scene, taken from www.annie-hathaway.com
Pic 3: Jane and Cassandra, taken from www.annie-hathaway.com
Pic 4: Jane and Tom in the woods, taken from www.annie-hathaway.com
Pic 5: Stained glass window at The King's Inn, Dublin. Taken by me.
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
OMG OMG OMG! My dearest friends, my sincere apology for leaving you without a new post for two days! I have been engaged with my real life... but thank the Force, I lurked into the YouTube just now, and found out that Willow09 has posted more BJ clips! So, here they are, and thanks a lot, Willow! So far, here's clips 7 to 13.
Oh, and my Blockbuster will have Becoming Jane DVD tomorrow, so I will be off early tomorrow evening for a very sacred ritual in front of the TV! My own DVD copy is winging its way across the sea from London now... hopefully will arrive soon. HMV is extremely reliable!
Clip 7: Tom Lefroy and Jane Austen started the elopement; Jane found the letter; tavern scene....Sigh...
Clip 8: the last reading. Jane Austen, meet Jane Lefroy.
Clip 9: Willow returned to the Selbourne Wood scene. Love their first banter!
Clip 10: the first reading, Tom's abrupt entrance... cute!
Clip 11: Discussing Tom Jones. All sorts of trouble!
Clip 12: the Laverton boxing scene. Ouch!
Clip 13: Jane and Tom's conversation after Judge Langlois' wrath in London. Sob-sob! Goodbye, Mr. Lefroy!
Sunday, 9 September 2007
As Rachel returned to
From the picture, you can see that Mary Paul was indeed related to the Christmas name. Here’s the recap of Rachel’s finding:
Combining with the Roots Web, we see that Jeffrey Paul (died in 1730) and Elizabeth Christmas (born 1689) were married in 1708, and had eight children, among others Christmas Paul, who later married Ellen Carew of County Wexford (!) circa 1739. Christmas Paul and Ellen Carew had seven children, among others Joshua Paul, who married Sarah Gun of
We have not found Mary Paul’s date of birth yet, but it’s pretty much confirmed that the ‘Christmas’ element in Jane Christmas Lefroy was a homage to Mary’s ancestors. I also searched for the naming tradition circa 17-19 centuries, and I found among others this one:
The first son was named after the father's father.
The second son was named after the mother's father.
The third son was named after the father.
The fourth son was named after the father’s eldest brother.
The first daughter was named after the mother's mother.
The second daughter was named after the father's mother.
The third daughter was named after the mother.
The fourth daughter was named after the mother’s eldest sister.
At least, Thomas Langlois Lefroy followed the rules by naming his eldest daughter, his own Guardian Angel, after Mary Paul's mother (Jane Patterson) and he used her ancestor's name for ‘Christmas’. I duly give in to these facts.
But my romantic side still thinks that Tom paid a safe silent homage to Jane Austen there, for Christmas holidays were important for both Jane and Tom (not only once Jane inserted Christmas references as important events in her novels). And as dear Kari noticed, Tom had such a ‘coincidence’ to have a mother-in-law named Jane, whose husband was related to Christmases, hence the perfect name of ‘Jane Christmas’. In Kari’s words: ‘how eerily-coincidental that her name would become Jane AND her middle name Christmas. Even with the historical tradition of it it's just too perfect really.’
Why, my dear Kari, I whole-heartedly agree. And to me, Jane Christmas is still one of the most beautiful Anglo-Saxon name, in my humble opinion ;-)
Pic 1: Paul family tree, compiled by Rachel Kingston from Burke 1843
Pic 2: 'Dance of the Christmas Angel' by Deanna C.
Many thanks to Anielka for her eagle eyes… spotting that the name of Mary’s father was actually JEFFRY Paul, instead of Joshua Paul. It is our mistake for not detecting it earlier, hence we apologise for that. The picture you see now already has the part altered… and now Mary’s father was indeed Mr. Jeffry Paul.
Friday, 7 September 2007
As regular readers of the fansite probably know, I went to Ireland for three days last week on a mission to seek more information about the Lefroy’s, the Austen’s and the Paul’s (Tom’s wife Mary’s family).
I spent most of my time in the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives, both in Dublin reading various manuscripts and trying to gather as much information as possible. The bits and bobs that I did find will be posted in articles in the coming weeks but I thought that I would use this post to take you through what I did, what I felt, the people I met and the pictures I took along the way.
Wednesday late afternoon I arrived in Dublin. I had booked a hotel in the centre of the city so I settled myself then went for a wander! It really is a wonderful city. I love the people and their welcoming and friendly nature always makes me feel humble about the general attitude in England at times. I have to confess I spent the first evening enjoying the electric atmosphere of Temple bar!
I next went to Leeson Street where we know that Tom and Mary lived. We were unsure of the specific house but I went to Ireland thinking that it was now a convent. I was mystified when I could not see a convent (much like the feeling of the missing graveyard!) I walked up and down and clearly must have looked lost, or even crazy to the passers by. I noticed a Catholic School run by priests so I thought that must be my best hope of locating the missing convent. I saw an old man walking down the steps. He thought I was a nun which led to a very interesting conversation! The man was a priest and has lived near Leeson Street all his life. He told me that in the 1980’s they closed the convent and showed me the original building (i.e. Tom’s house).
Friday morning I visited Mt Jerome’s cemetery. It is huge and I was baffled about how I was going to find the grave of Tom Lefroy. Another nice person in the office helped me by retrieving a very large, very old book which had hand-written accounts of all the burials. It was so amazing and again I took a photo of the book. Tom was buried in a vault with other relatives so there is no headstone. What I found interesting was that in 1861 two coffins were moved from the city to this vault. I am not sure who these two people were. I found the vault and to my dismay there was a lorry parked in front delivering horses, yes horses, and there was no driver in sight! I thought that this situation was highly amusing considering the connections between horse riding and the Lefroy family! The plaque on the front of the vault refers to the last person to be buried in there. I had a good chat with Tom (although I am sure the others were all listening too) and asked him nicely to help us on our quest to find out the truth. It was a surreal moment and I know this sounds odd, but I felt very privileged to be there.
It was to the National Archives next where I met with a genealogist. She was really nice but again had very little on the Paul’s which was a shame. Lastly on Friday I went to Henrietta Street to the King's Inns. I was in pursuit of a glass window with the inscription of Tom Lefroy’s name. I met a man who said that he had been looking at the glass every day for years without much knowledge of its significance. It is beautiful! It was a real treat to the end of the day. On the window were the Coat’s of Arms of all the relevant people in the history of Irish law. Of course the Chief Justice, our Tom, was presented, in the bottom right hand corner. This picture is of the outside gate and as Icha suggested, it may well have been the same gate in the scene where Tom was late and rushing towards court; the scene when the wonderful Bond Street Airs is played.
Henry explained that in the 1850’s there was a family called the Putnam’s who owned a house called ‘New Court’. To me this seemed to be the most probable house as we have seen letters which stated ‘New Court.’ I mentioned the Ardmore link and he said that there are two more possible houses that existed at that time. One is actually in the complex of the Ardmore Film Studio’s which is very odd considering that Ardmore Studio’s were used in the production of Becoming Jane. The final house is in Ardmore Park. It was such a fascinating part of my trip. I have to say that my gut feeling was the house that he called ‘New Court’ but we shall see.
In the afternoon before my flight home I went to Kilruddery House in Bray. Parts of Becoming Jane were filmed there and we at the fansite have always thought it was very coincidental that some of the film was shot in the place where the real Tom Lefroy died. Especially considering that Bray is such a small town. Kilruddery House is utterly beautiful and I hope that this is reflected in the pictures.
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Okay, Ladies and Gents, Mansfield Park review Part 2. I will try to keep it shorter than Part 1, but if not, you will forgive me, Fitzwilliam (think Colin Firth’s Darcy!). Special thanks to Michelle for her precious inputs on MP. This instalment picks up Chapters 4 to 11; bear with us, we sometimes go back and forth, picking up breadcrumbs we did not detect previously. But first, let me give another support for the theory that Jane Austen borrowed a lot from Tom Lefroy for her Fanny Price. Fanny lived in Portsmouth in
Chapter 4 finds us in the mind of Edmund as he observed the engagement of Maria Bertram with Mr. Rushworth.
Edmund was the only one of the family who could see a fault in the business; but no representation of his aunt's could induce him to find Mr. Rushworth a desirable companion. He could allow his sister to be the best judge of her own happiness, but he was not pleased that her happiness should centre in a large income...
It is obvious here that Edmund was not pleased that his sister should adopt the common practice of the greatest betrayal of self, as Michelle put it, giving yourself to someone you neither respect nor admire, denying yourself your true nature. To me, this was also Jane speaking… the way she advised her niece Fanny Knight in some letters. And it does not hurt to see that some names in
Then we arrive at Chapter 10, where Henry Crawford said to Maria Bertram:
'I believe I was relating to her [Julia] some ridiculous stories of an old Irish groom of my uncle's. Your sister loves to laugh...I could not have hoped to entertain you with Irish anecdotes during a ten miles' drive.' [Bolded words by Icha]
Cheeky Jane! To me, it's obvious that she was jesting about Tom Lefroy here. And Jane Austen often talked about marriage in Mansfield Park (well, also in her other novels), so we will return to the subject of marriage later on.
Chapter 11 particularly attracted me for the obvious second paragraph:
November was the black month fixed for his [Sir Thomas's] return...His business was so nearly concluded as to justify him in proposing to take his passage in the September packet, and he consequently looked forward with the hope of being with his beloved family again early in November.
Maria was more to be pitied than Julia, for to her the father brought a husband [Mr. Rushworth], and the return of the friend most solicitous for her happiness, would unite her to the lover, on whom she had chosen that happiness should depend...It would hardly be early in November, there were generally delays, a bad passage or something; that favouring something which every body who shuts their eyes while they look, or their understandings while they reason, feels the comfort of. It would probably be the middle of November at least; the middle of November was three months off. Three months comprised thirteen weeks. Much might happen in thirteen weeks. [bolded words by Icha, italics by JA]
The italic early and something invoked my suspicion. Didn't Tom Lefroy return to
Then a dialog between the sassy Mary Crawford and Edmund:
MC: ‘Your father's return will be a very interesting event.’
EB: ‘It will, indeed, after such an absence; an absence not only long, but including so many dangers.’
MC: ‘It will be the fore-runner also of other interesting events; your sister's marriage, and your taking orders.’
Before November 1798, Tom's last visit to
Edmund taking orders to become a clergyman. Can I translate 'taking orders' as taking one's responsibility? In the case of Tom Lefroy, Tom’s return to
Also, talking about Sir Thomas reminds me of Tom Bertram, who was (to us) the portrayal of Anthony Lefroy in Jane’s perspective. It occurred to me last night as I watched the 1999 DVD of Mansfield Park (what a great movie!) that TB might actually dislike his father so much, particularly on his inhuman treatments on his slaves (not to mention the slavery itself). Hence, Tom Bertram's drunk habit &c... in addition to he might be the kind of slack person, could also due to his aversion or major dislike towards his father for what he had been doing to the slaves? The Bertrams got dirty money anyway, why not wasting it? Hence Tom protested with being drunk and gambling, not unlike Anthony protesting Benjamin Langlois’ stern views of proper marriage by marrying an ‘undesirable’ woman.
Jane, Tom and star-gazing
In the last section of Chapter 11, we are introduced to another hobby shared between Edmund Bertram and Fanny Price, in addition to horse-riding.
EB: 'There's Arcturus looking very bright.'
FP: 'Yes, and the bear. I wish I could see Cassiopeia.'
EB: 'We must go out on the lawn for that. Should you be afraid?'
FP: 'Not in the least. It is a great while since we have had any star-gazing.'
Ah… l’amour… Such a romantic thing to observe the starry nights with your significant others…Now, my dearest friends, I don't know if you know that Tom Lefroy liked star-gazing, but click this old article of mine, and you will see that Tom was indeed interested in astronomy.
And I also wrote this in the article:
Now, of course then my imagination flew away to more than 50 years from that date, when the young dashing Tom Lefroy was still in Hampshire with Jane Austen, after a ball in Basingstoke or Manydown House (when he ran away as his family laughed at him about Jane…).
In one of those nights, it was possible that he took Jane outside to the balcony or the garden and pointed at the sky. Jane then said, ‘That’s a very bright star over there. Is that Venus?’ Tom smiled and answered, ‘No. That is not Venus; it’s Jupiter. Venus is –’ he directed Jane towards the other part of the dark night sky, ‘ – there! See that bright star there? Now, that’s Venus. And it is beautiful.’ He then looked back at Jane and, after a moment of silence, added, ‘But not as beautiful as you.’
Face/palm! Of course, the Jane/Tom scene there was merely my imagination, but I NEVER thought that small article will be useful now. If we link Fanny/Edmund and their star-gazing hobby with Jane and Tom, it is natural that I suspect that Tom Lefroy and Jane Austen indeed star-gazed together. At least, during Tom’s limited time in Hampshire. A great while ago.
Ahem. Now, let’s check the stars or constellations Jane, I mean, Fanny mentioned. Arcturus, the Bear and Cassiopeia. What about them? As a very amateur star-gazer, I am curious about the stars in MP, and had several sleuthing of them.
According to Wikipedia, Arcturus is the brightest star in the Bootes constellation, only visible in Northern Hemisphere. The myth says that Arcturus is the bear guard who guards Ursa Minor and Ursa Major (Callisto and her son Arcas, seeded by Zeus), who protects and accompanies them for eternity. Arcturus is also the third brightest star in Earth's sky (after Sirius and
Now, let’s take a look at the constellation where Arcturus belongs (from the Earth’s viewpoint, that is). One of the earliest constellations identified by ancient humankind, Bootes is also known as the Herdsman. Herdsman, the Shepherd, like the Priest or a religious person. Reminds you of Tom Lefroy?
And again from Wikipedia: Boötes was also supposed to have invented the plough. This is said to have greatly pleased Ceres, the goddess of agriculture who asked Jupiter to give Boötes a permanent fixture in the heavens as a reward for doing this.
Big Dipper or Ursa Major (the stars Arcturus protects) is also called the Plough. Plough and agriculture, eh? Shall I remind you that Tom Lefroy loved gardening?
Bootes and Virgo
Bootes is located near several famous constellations, one of them is Virgo. In Poussin's painting (Shepherds of Arcadia) above, Bootes is the guy next to the maiden (Virgo). Together with Serpens and Hercules (squatting, tracing the inscription), they surrounded a tomb (Ophiuchus). An excellent example of hidden knowledge of astronomy by Nicolas Poussin in mid 17th century, for indeed you can see Bootes together with all these constellations (see Skymap.com for the month of August).
You can draw a straight line from Arcturus to Spica, the brightest star of Virgine/Virgo constellation. The old astronomy maxim is ‘follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica’. Virgo is, by the way, the zodiac of August, and also one of the only three female constellations in the Western astronomy (along with Cassiopeia and Andromeda).
Virgo the Celestial Virgin. Was Jane Austen not a virgin herself? ;-) Though we can also refer to Virgo as the representation of Mother Mary… As such, let’s see the meaning of Spica. Spica literally means ‘ear of wheat’, and hence was known since ancient times as the ‘Star of Prosperity’. Although I believe that Tom Lefroy truly loved Mary Paul later on, I do not doubt that there was prosperity motive, in the most respectable manner and intention of saving his family, in their marriage.
Virgo is also often called Astraea (‘starry’), as Wikipedia says:
According to one interpretation, the constellation depicts Astraea, the virgin daughter of the god Zeus and the goddess Themis. Astraea was known as the goddess of justice, and was identified as this constellation due to the presence of the scales of justice Libra nearby.
So, Virgo is also a representation of justice… who placed herself next to Bootes, the Shepherd. And was Tom Lefroy not a very pious barrister?
Anyway, Bootes and Virgo have always been closely linked. This is what Heavens Above says about the two constellations:
In Greek legend, Bootes is seen as representing Icarius, an Athenian who was taught the secret of winemaking by the god Dionysius. Icarius then allowed some peasants to sample his produce, but his kindness back-fired. The men became extremely drunk and were convinced that they had been poisoned, so they killed Icarius and buried him. His daughter Erigone and was so overcome with grief when she found his body that she hanged herself. Zeus transferred her to the heavens as Virgo, Icarius became Bootes, and Maera, the dog who had led Erigone to her father’s grave, became one of the dogs of Canes Venatici.
There is also a story of Bootes and Virgo as the symbol of Adam and Eve. Hmm… eating the apples, eh? Forbidden fruit of what? Of unfortunate marriage like Anthony Lefroy’s, or marriage for wealth, like Tom’s?
Anyway, let’s use the common knowledge that Virgo represents a virgin and see the graphic visualisation above. From these particular pictures, we can see that Bootes (the herdsman) seems to leave Virgo (the virgin). In the night sky, Bootes seems to face Cassiopeia (there is a picture down below; also see Skymap.com for August). And if we see the Virgo as Jane Austen herself, and Bootes as Tom Lefroy, who is Cassiopeia then?
In Greek Mythology, Cassiopeia was a beautiful but vain queen who insulted the Nereids, boasting that her daughter Andromeda was much prettier than the daughters of Poseidon himself (there…don’t let your mums do that, lest you will be chained and fed to the monsters!).
Cassiopeia forms a W or crown. If we translate it as 'noble lady', then Jane might be alluding to Mary Paul, who was a respectable woman, mostly for her wealth and connexion. Also, turn W upside down, and we have an M. For Mary! Or, we can see W as ‘wedding’ and M as ‘marriage’. There is a ‘Mary’ character in Pride & Prejudice that associates with ‘crown’ or ‘queen’. Mary King, a rich lass that almost married Wickham. Either way, to me, Cassiopeia refers to Mary Paul.
Let’s return to what Fanny said at the end of Chapter 11. Yes, and the bear. I wish I could see Cassiopeia. Could Jane be telling us that she wished to meet and understand Mary Paul better? And did Jane just mention ‘the bear’ or Ursa Major/Minor here for a decoy, or did she allude that she actually have met Anthony Lefroy, whom Tom protected, before? After all, Anthony lived in
My dear astronomer friend Alex (thanks a lot, Alex!) has kindly provided me with a simulation of the
In any case, Jane Austen evidently has designed the four lines of ‘mundane’ star-gazing talk in Chapter 11 very carefully, for the depth of information in the mere four lines of astronomy at the end of Chapter 11 is amazing. Let’s read Jane's letter
'Of my Talent in Drawing I have given specimens in my letters to You, & I have nothing to do, but to invent a few hard names for the Stars.'
Phew. After all this musings, I do not doubt that Tom Lefroy was a major trigger for Jane's interest in astronomy. Oh, and a spoiler for MP part 3 is found in Chapter 3, as Edmund said to Fanny:
“Why, indeed, Fanny, I should hope to be remembered at such a distance as the White house. You speak as if you were going two hundred miles off, instead of only across the park.”
Also see Elizabeth Inchbald. Thanks for reading the second part of MP review, and see you later!
Faye, D. L. 1997, Jane Austen's Letters, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Pic 1: Cover of
Pic 2: Henry and Mary Crawford, 1999
Pic 3: Mountains of Creation, interstellar clouds in Cassiopeia
Pic 4: Bootes, the Shepherd, from Acme
Pic 5: Virgo, the Virgin, from Acme
Pic 6: Simulation of night sky of