|A Regency wedding, from Isabelle Goddard|
Sunday, 23 February 2014
While searching for some "Jane Austen" opinions about the status of women in her day, I ran across so many things that I had no idea existed. Let me start with her brother James' Loiterer No. 29. To get the complete 'picture' you really should read the entire issue. No. 29 is HERE and this is the first paragraph that starts the discussion about "MATRIMONY":
NOTHING has so often interrupted the harmony of private families, and set the whole genealogical table of Relations in arms against each other, as that unfortunate propensity which the old and the young have ever discovered to differ as much as possible in their opinion on almost every subject that comes in their way. Various in consequence are the disputes, and bitter the altercations which arise from the diversity of opinion on matters in themselves of small consequence, such as the shortness of allowances, and the length of bills, the propriety of saving money, and the pleasure of spending it. But there is one subject, which above all others affords never-failing matter of contention between father, uncles, or guardians, and their sons, nephews or wards. I mean (to use the words of a celebrated dramatic authoress) “The great universal purpose, MATRIMONY,” on which the above-mentioned personages have adopted Ideas so very dissimilar, that to endeavour to reconcile them would be a vain attempt. For nothing is more true, than that the young have taken it into their heads to imagine that youth and beauty, good temper and good sense, are the best recommendations in a wife; that on this occasion similarity of dispositions should be consulted rather than equality of fortunes, and that mutual affection is a surer basis of conjugal happiness than a hundred thousand pounds. While the old, on the other hand, that it is no matter how wide the tempers are separated, provided that the estates join: in order to get possession of a rotten borough, would gladly exchange all the beauties of the person, and all the graces of the mind; and (rather than stand upon trifles) give the four cardinal virtues into the bargain.
I will comment on the 2 parts in bold. First, "the clelebrated dramatic authoress" - who is that? After a Google search I found her, Susanna Centlivre and her writing was "The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret" (1714). This book is still available at Amazon and at some libraries, if you can believe that! I'll have to put it on my "to do" list.
Next, "the four cardinal virtues" - all right, so what are they? And it's amazing they were known way back in those "Austen" days. Wikipedia says HERE that they are piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness. Boy, if that doesn't sound like what I grew up with. And more importantly, it explains why I was raised to be a "doormat".
Such findings make me wonder "what else is out there that we don't know about?" Happy Hunting!
Linda the Librarian