Friday, 20 August 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 122

We were deliberating whether we should keep these quote of the week dedicated to words only written by Jane Austen but we thought that it would be ok, on occasion and not too regularly, to include quotes made by other prominant people in Jane's life. So who better to start with than Tom Lefroy.

This is taken from a letter he wrote to his wife Mary in 1801. It is written in his memoirs, page 29 - 30. The title of the letter is: To His Wife (Mountrath, Friday night).

"I do not say that we are to extinguish the affections which belong to the different relations of life; on the contrary, by the pure and sincere exercise of them, selfishness is in some degree extinguished, but the gratification arising from the most delightful of these affections should not form the stay, and hope, and prop of life. No; therein consists the excess and the abuse: but I’ll say no more on this head, lest you should tell me that nothing but my vanity could suggest the necessity of sermonizing you in this manner. I own, however, it is grounded on a conviction that the sensibility and devotedness of my darling wife’s attachment to a certain degree impair her own enjoyment. But, remember, I am not willing to part with the least atom of it to any earthly object; whatever of it ought to be pruned away, let it be transplanted to that region where we may hope and trust to enjoy it in bliss unfading."
I think that this quote lends to lots of different interpretations. I think that it is clear to say that he knows what love means. I like to believe he is saying that love is ultimate selflessness and is aiming to distinguish between the short term gratifications arising from a lustful relationship and the long term foundations which develop a truly loving relationship. He goes on to state that Mary is obviously a highly devoted and attentive wife and he fears that her own enjoyment is impaired by such actions. He does not want her regard for him to diminish, only for it to be translated to another form in which they both can enjoy it forever.

I think that this quote demonstrates his awareness of matters of the heart. My interpretation may be very different from others so I welcome comments and alternatives.


Pic: Tom Lefroy

5 comments:

Anne Shirley said...

Hi, Rachel!
I don't agree with you, =)
I think he tried to convince his self about he loved his wife like he must did, and like everyone else. Or I think she loved him more than he did love back. I don't know... I seems that in these years people write in a little odd way, if you compare it with these days.
(sorry if my english isn't good enough)
Kiss!

PS: thank you for your and Icha words the other day, you made me feel more hopefull =)

Rachel said...

Thanks Anne. I do agree with you that perhaps Mary loved Tom more than he loved her but I do think that he had a great respect for her.
Thanks for taking the time to post comments.

Anonymous said...

If one remembers the time that this letter was written, one was actually very luck to marry for love and not just convience. I think that Tom came to love his Mary and was worried that maybe she was working to hard with the house and the children to do something that she actually enjoyed. As relationships age, affections change. I think that might be what he is saying here. I think she did love him more but he came to love her as a husband should. He understood love and how relationships change with time.

thanks for including a quote from Tom. Very intresting to think about and try to interpret.
Lis

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Rachel said...

Thanks Lis. I think that Tom understood how relationships change over time aswell, although so many people unfortunately dont. It takes a great awareness and sensitivity.

Thanks also to NotAlone for your comment.