Celebrating the Release of “Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary” + Giveaway

MDF Cover copy
EBD Cover Concept copyLast week, I brought you an excerpt from my latest release, Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary ©2015. This week, I have another variation. This one is a 43,000 word novella entitled Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary. ©2015  I hope you enjoy the excerpt below. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of two eBook copies of the book up for grabs. 


Chapter One

“There is nothing for it,” he said with a heavy sigh. “I will gather Georgiana from London and set a course for Pemberley.”

Attempting to clarify his thoughts, Darcy stood under the trees of the well-groomed grove of Rosings Woods. He spent a long night, a night in which he saw his dreams of marital happiness dissolve as quickly as the mist drifting in from the Swale. He spent the hours of darkness composing a letter of apology and of parting for Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and a few minutes prior in the new day’s early hours, he placed it in her hands with a plea for the lady to read it.

Darcy sank down upon a wooden bench that his aunt placed along the carefully cleared path. Darcy doubted Lady Catherine ever walked in this part of the grove, but it was very much of his aunt’s nature to maintain carefully tended lawns and enchanting pathways leading to a nature walk.

“It is my fault,” he told a rabbit, which scurried into the opening. “I sorely misjudged the lady. I assumed my consequence would secure Miss Elizabeth’s approval.” Darcy shook his head in disbelief. “I certainly acted in a gormless fashion. I desired the woman because she did not easily succumb to the allure of my family’s position, and then I knew surprise when Miss Elizabeth acted as she always does. My fault…” he groaned before burying his head in his hands.

With his eyes closed, the scene of last evening’s horror replayed across his imagination.
“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 expected Miss Elizabeth’s immediate agreement, but was met instead with her cold response.

“In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express an obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot–I never desired your good opinion, and you certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to occasion pain to anyone. It was most unconsciously done, however, and, I hope will be of short duration. The feelings which you tell me long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation.”

A second groan escaped Darcy’s lips.

“Certainly I did not show well before the lady,” he whispered harshly. “I should have guarded my words. The colonel will have a sound laugh when he learns of my folly.”
His cousin’s words in describing Darcy’s lack of social skill to Miss Elizabeth still echoed in Darcy’s memory.

“It is because he will not give himself the trouble.”

“Yet, even so, how could Miss Bennet be so misguided as to think I would quickly recover from my professions of love? Did she not realize my declarations honest?”

Another would never fill the hole in his gut. Emptiness always followed Darcy about, but after taking the acquaintance of Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy thought she would make him whole. Now the yearning was stronger than ever, as if his Soul reached out, only to have its hands slapped away for being imprudent.

“How do I begin again with the image of Miss Elizabeth etched upon my heart?”
With acceptance of the impossible, Darcy stood slowly before sucking in a steadying breath.

“Lady Catherine and Ann are likely to be in the morning room. Her Ladyship will not be happy to learn I mean a speedy exit from Rosings.”

Returning his hat to his head, Darcy squared his shoulders. Yet, the sound of hurried footsteps had him spinning in the direction of the gate where he encountered Miss Elizabeth earlier to observe a familiar figure weaving his way in the direction of Hunsford Cottage.

“What the devil is he doing in Kent?” Darcy growled.

* * *

If Elizabeth, when Mr. Darcy gave her the letter, did not expect it to contain a renewal of his offers, she formed no expectations at all of its contents. No longer encumbered by his sudden appearance or his equally speedy exit, she could now stomp her foot in annoyance and complain under her breath, both of which brought little relief to her anxiousness.
“Dratted man! I should have thrown his letter at his too stiff back.”

Yet, instinctively, Elizabeth clasped the letter to her chest.

“It is not as if the man plans to offer you his hand a second time,” Elizabeth told the rising hopes she fought hard to quash. “Foolish girl,” she warned her racing heart. “A man of Mr. Darcy’s importance could not be made to beg for my acquiescence.”

After Mr. Darcy’s withdrawal last evening, the realization of what she did made inroads into Elizabeth’s resolve.

“Even though the connection would benefit my dearest family, my esteemed father would never permit me to marry purely for the bond.” Elizabeth sought justification for what others would perceive as a moment of pure foolhardiness. “And God knows I could never tolerate the man’s control of my life. I am not cut of the same cloth as Jane: I cannot act the martyr.”

Thoughts of the pain Mr. Darcy brought to her sister’s door only riled Elizabeth further.

“I have no wish in denying that I did everything in my power,” Mr. Darcy replied to Elizabeth’s accusation with assumed tranquility, “to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success. Toward him I was kinder than toward myself.”

Elizabeth looked in the direction Mr. Darcy walked: The gentleman had turned once more into the plantation.

“I should follow him, tear up this declaration of his superiority, and throw it into his face. How would you like that, Mr. Darcy?” Elizabeth taunted the spot where she last saw the gentleman.

Although she would never admit it aloud, recovering from Mr. Darcy’s proposal was not yet achieved: Since his hurried departure from Hunsford Cottage last evening, Elizabeth thought of little else. Such was the reason she begged off assisting Charlotte in the garden to indulge her need for air and exercise.

“After last evening’s headache, I fear I am totally indisposed for employment,” Elizabeth told her friend.

When she left upon her walk, she purposely chose the lane, which led farther from the turnpike road rather than to face the possibility of encountering Mr. Darcy in the parkland. But Elizabeth’s efforts were fruitless for Mr. Darcy appeared suddenly from a grove, which edged the park. She thought to retreat, but he saw her, and Elizabeth was not of the nature to cower; therefore, she stood her ground, moving again toward the gate, which led to the groomed grounds.

“Miss Elizabeth,” he called while she refused to acknowledge his approach with either a curtsy or verbal reply. Mr. Darcy held out the letter, which she took without thought. He said with what Elizabeth termed as haughty composure, “I was walking in the grove some time, in the hope of meeting you. Will you do me the honor of reading that letter?”
Elizabeth looked down at the letter held tight in her grasp.

“I suppose I should read the poisonous missive and be done with it,” she grumbled.

Reluctantly she returned to the path leading further into the woods. As she walked, Elizabeth broke the wax seal and opened the letter, two sheets of foolscap, written quite through, in a very close hand covered by an envelope, itself likewise full.

“Rosings. Eight of the clock,” she read aloud the first line. Her steps slowed, but Elizabeth continued along the prescribed path. “Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of the sentiments, or renewal of those offers, which were last night so disgusting to you.”

As I expected, she thought, there will be no renewal of Mr. Darcy’s proposal. Elizabeth did not know whether that particular fact disappointed her or brought gladness for the finality of the man’s regard.

“I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten; and the effort which the formation and the perusal of this letter must occasion should have been spared, had not my character required it to be written and read.”

Elizabeth paused suddenly to huff her indignation.

“Naturally Mr. Darcy’s unbridled pride would demand the last word on the matter. Heaven forbid Mr. Darcy practiced the idea of going one’s own way and letting others do likewise. I wish he were before me so I might bring the gentleman more clarity upon the subject.”
With a growl of resignation, she returned to both her walk and the letter.

“You must therefore pardon,” she read through tight lips, “the freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice. Demand?” she hissed. “When did you not demand, Mr. Darcy? And do not flatter yourself to think you know my disposition!”

Despite the fact she unwillingly gave into her strong curiosity to read what would amount to nothing but untruths, Elizabeth was not about to give the gentleman an inch of rightness.

With anger’s bile rising to her throat, she raised her eyes to the heavens, saying a quick prayer for patience. Elizabeth stood perfectly still, seeking the goodness Jane would practice in this sham, but she could not seem to bring her emotions into check. In frustration, she sat a bruising pace, knowing she could not return to the Cottage and her friend without first burning away some of her animosity toward the man. If Mr. Collins learned of Mr. Darcy’s proposal, her cousin would likely drag Elizabeth by her hair to Rosings Park to apologize to Lady Catherine for having drawn the attention of Her Ladyship’s nephew.

“It is very unladylike of me to think so, but I would enjoy throttling the gentleman!” Elizabeth fumed as she marched along smartly while ignoring the beauty of God’s hand, which she would customarily cherish. “How is this madness ever to end? How may I face Mr. Darcy and his aunt when all I can think upon is the gentleman’s umbrage? It will be a difficult fortnight before I can escape to Longbourn.”

Elizabeth glanced at the pages she held tightly to her cloak.

“Should I continue with this deceit or place it in one of Mrs. Collins’s fireplaces?” she mocked.

She shook the offending letter harshly. Determined to have no more to do with Mr. Darcy, with trembling fingers, Elizabeth began to refold the pages. Yet, before she could complete the task, her eyes fell upon the lines from which she last read.

Her pace slowed once more, and unwittingly, Elizabeth read, “Two offenses of a very different nature, and by no means of equal magnitude, you last night laid to my charge. The first was that, regardless of the sentiments of either, I detached Mr. Bingley from your sister.”

The man possessed a way of forthright speaking, which always challenged Elizabeth’s best efforts of equanimity. Never having fully subsided, her anger roared again.

“Do you mean to deny your involvement, Mr. Darcy? You bragged of your success in the matter only last evening,” she huffed.

Ignoring where her steps led her, as well as the thickening of the vegetation surrounding her, Elizabeth bit out the words as she continued reading Mr. Darcy’s recitation aloud:
“My second offense, that I had, in defiance of various claims, in defiance of honor and humanity, ruined the immediate prosperity and blasted the prospects of Mr. Wickham. Willfully and wantonly to throw off the companion of my youth, the acknowledged favorite of my father, who had scarcely any other dependence than on our patronage, and who was brought up to expect its exertion, would be a depravity to which the separation of two young persons whose affection could be the growth of only a few weeks, could bear no comparison. But from the severity of that blame which was last night so liberally bestowed, respecting each circumstance, I shall hope to be in the future secured, when the following account of my actions and their motives are read. If, in the explanation of them, which is due to myself, I am under the necessity of relating feelings, which may be offensive to yours, I can only say that I am sorry. The necessity must be obeyed, and further apology would be…”

“Absurd!” Elizabeth screeched as she stumbled upon a tree root, pitching forward. Before she could right her stance, a loud click announced she wandered too far from the customary path through the woods. All she could do was scream as the trap meant for a fox snapped shut about her ankle. Her half boots did not prevent the sharp claws of the leg trap from piercing her skin.

* * *

Darcy quickened his pace, but even so, by the time he reached where the lane leading to the turnpike road marched along with the parkland’s paling, he lost sight of the figure. In frustration, he turned in a circle to survey the various paths leading to Hunsford Cottage, the woodlands, and the park.

“Which way did the scoundrel flee?” He ground out the words. “I thought the dastard in Meryton.” But then the obvious connections arrived. “Could Mr. Wickham’s presence in Kent be the reason for Miss Elizabeth’s refusal?”

Darcy’s mind became a red-hot haze.

“Has Miss Elizabeth renewed her interest in the gentleman?” he whispered in harsh tones. “Perhaps an elopement is afoot. Would than not be the pinnacle of irony?” A deep sigh of acceptance escaped Darcy’s lips. “If the lady’s heart is engaged elsewhere, you escaped a miserable marriage, Darcy.”

More determined than ever to be quickly from Rosings, Darcy crossed to the gate to return to his aunt’s manor house. He knew he should make the effort to ensure the unwelcomed visitor left the area, but he could not engender the effort. He would instruct Lady Catherine’s head groom to send out men to drive Darcy’s long-time enemy from the estate’s land.

“And if Miss Elizabeth chooses to follow Mr. Wickham, then more the pity for the Bennets.”

The sound of a dog barking somewhere off to his right had Darcy’s ears straining to locate the noise. Lady Catherine’s games keeper used several Springer spaniels and bloodhounds to keep poachers at bay, as well as to rid the parkland of the creatures Her Ladyship deplored.

“Perhaps the hound cornered a different breed of poacher,” Darcy declared with a wry twist of his lips. “As much as I hold no desire to come upon a lover’s tryst, my pride demands I know the truth.”

* * *

Face first, Elizabeth smacked the ground hard. With nothing upon which she could catch a handhold, she struck the earth with a resounding thud, one that drove the air from her lungs and literally, shook every bone in her body.

“Lord in Heaven,” she groaned when a breath was finally possible, as she attempted to shove her body upward upon her elbows, only to collapse again from the pain shooting up her calf. She sputtered against the clump of grass and dead leaves at her lips. “What have you done, Elizabeth Bennet?” she chastised. The pain coursed through her leg, and tears formed in her eyes. Raising her head to claim her bearings, she made a second attempt to right her position, only to be held firmly in place.

“A trap,” she pronounced aloud, as the blackness fogged her thinking.

In her distracted state, Elizabeth stepped into a trapper’s lure, which was bad enough, but the leg trap also caught part of the bowl of her day dress, essentially locking her right side in place. She could not bend her knee, nor could she sit to remove the trap. Elizabeth lay upon her stomach in a wooded area of the estate, a place few would think to look for her; there was no means of escape unless she created one.

“It is not as if God means to send you a rescuer,” Elizabeth grumbled as she fought for a lucid thought.

Even though, she realized the futility of her efforts, Elizabeth dutifully emitted several loud calls for assistance. She waited after each for an answering response, but when none came, the fear returned to her heart. Moisture ran down her temples and formed upon her upper lip. With difficulty, Elizabeth worked her right arm free of her cloak to wipe at the droplets only to come away with blood smears upon her glove.

“What else, God?” she grumbled, realizing her nose and forehead seeped blood.

With a concentrated effort, Elizabeth raised her head to look over her shoulder to the trapped ankle; again, she attempted to move her injured foot only to be met with more excruciating pain.

“I cannot simply lie here,” she groaned in frustration.

However, as the blackness staked its claim upon her sensibility, Elizabeth succumbed to the need to rest her forehead upon her arm, thinking she simply required a few moments to construct an idea for escape. The calm of her surrounds lured her closer to unconsciousness, but the sound of something moving through the woods had her alert with apprehension.

When the two dogs came bounding into the path ahead of her, Elizabeth did not know whether to celebrate or know more fear. The animals stilled with a warning growl and a barring of teeth.

“Easy,” she whispered. Her heartbeat hitched higher. “Is your master about?” She turned her head slowly to look for the animals’ owner. The hound put his nose to the ground and began to sniff her cloak and arm. “I am not your enemy,” she said in soothing tones.

And then the dog did the unthinkable. He sat beside her and lifted his voice to the trees. The spaniel joined the hound in setting up an alarm, and if the sound was not so ear piercing, Elizabeth would applaud their efforts in her behalf. Instead, she covered the ear closest to the dog with her free hand.

“This is all Mr. Darcy’s fault,” she added her complaint to the mayhem, as the hound took up the call once more. “Him and his dratted letter.”

* * *

With a couple of miscues, Darcy followed the sound of dogs’ pleas. Yes, there were two: a hound, which split the air with his long, mournful howl, and the deep, resonant ‘woof’ of a working dog. Periodically, Darcy paused simply to listen to the animals ring an alarm. They evidently cornered either a two-legged intruder or a four-legged one. Darcy was betting on the former, but either way, he meant to learn the truth of the racket. However, he did not chase the sound without first removing the Queen Anne pistol he carried in his jacket and then checking the hidden blade in his walking cane.

Prepared for action, when Darcy rounded the curve in the narrow path, he did not expect the sight, which greeted him.

“Miss Elizabeth?” Darcy stumbled to a halt when the spaniel sat low in his haunches to growl a warning against Darcy’s approach.

“Easy,” Darcy said without the anxiousness rushing through his veins. He glanced to where Elizabeth Bennet lay unmoving upon the ground. Instinctively, he knelt to the dog’s level. “I mean the lady no harm.”

Darcy permitted the animal to sniff him before he stood again. Edging closer to Elizabeth, he cautiously examined the situation. Her crumpled form brought an ache to his heart. Seeing her such reminded Darcy of the petite fragility her frame claimed; often, Elizabeth’s personality made her appear larger than she was.

“Elizabeth?” Darcy knelt to whisper into her hair. “Speak to me.”

Although muffled by the earth into which she spoke, Elizabeth weakly chastised him.
“I never gave you permission, Sir, to use my Christian name.”

Despite the dire situation, Darcy smiled.

“That is my darling girl,” he taunted.

Raising her upper body upon her elbows, Elizabeth protested his familiarity.

“I am not your ‘darling girl,’ Mr. Darcy. Not your darling anything.”

Darcy thought, Not yet, but instead he asked, “Where are you injured?”

She turned her head stiffly to glance at him over her shoulder.

“My right ankle. While reading your cursed letter, I stepped in a trapper’s lure.”

Her lips were tight, and there was blood caked upon her forehead and chin.

“My God, Woman!” Darcy exclaimed as he flipped Elizabeth’s cloak from his way. “Why are you not caterwauling in pain?”

Darcy’s fingers trembled as they lightly brushed the steel trap, while his admiration for the woman increased substantially.

“I promise I will fill several handkerchiefs with my tears once this is over,” she quipped.

Elizabeth gasped, biting hard on her lip to stifle the cry of pain, when Darcy attempted to loosen her skirt tail from the mechanism.

“I apologize, Miss Elizabeth,” he mumbled as he examined the situation from a different angle.

Elizabeth heaved a heavy sigh.

“I would like to say I am your champion, but I fear my patience is dwindling. You will know success in this matter, will you not, Mr. Darcy?” she asked breathlessly.

Darcy’s mind filled with unbearable pressure to yank the offending lure from her sight, but he said, “Bear with me. I promise to free you.”

Elizabeth returned her head to her forearm.

“I am at your disposal, Mr. Darcy,” she said wearily.

Darcy suspected her supposed calm came from a bit of delirium. He wished he fetched a groom or Lady Catherine’s grounds’ man before he set out upon this task, but his pride told him Elizabeth Bennet refused him because she preferred Mr. Wickham. Little did he think a letter of explanation could bring her more pain.

Darcy caught the rent in the hem of her gown and gave it a mighty yank to open the tear further. Unsurprisingly, Miss Elizabeth did not protest, a sign the lady succumbed to her peril. Gently, Darcy ran his hand along her back to check her breathing. Although weak, her breaths were as if she were sleeping.

Assured, his worse fears would know another day, Darcy reached behind him to find his discarded cane lying beside the pistol upon the ground, before giving Elizabeth’s shoulders a tender shake to arouse her.

“I mean to pry the trap open,” he explained. “Do you possess the strength to lift your leg free of the contraption while I hold the lure open?”

Elizabeth raised her chin from the ground.

“Tell me when, Sir.” For a split second, Elizabeth’s body stiffened with alertness, and then she went completely limp. From beside him, the spaniel whined.

“I agree,” Darcy grumbled as he crawled on all fours to check her breathing once more.

Finding her unconscious, but breathing normally, Darcy scrambled to his feet to straddle her booted ones. Stripping away his caped coat and tossing it to the ground, he edged Elizabeth’s left foot from his way; anxiously, he placed the toe of one of his Hessians on the right side of the trap, loosening the tension of the mechanism as it eased from her skin. Even so, Elizabeth did not move, a fact that worried Darcy greatly. Miss Elizabeth was likely the most strong-willed woman of his acquaintance. Her resting docilely was not a good omen, in his opinion.

Slowly and carefully, Darcy wedged the cane into the small opening. His heart told him to hurry, but his mind kept repeating the need for great care.

“Do not wreak more damage upon the woman,” Darcy said aloud. “If the trap is sprung again, it will likely do irreparable harm to Miss Elizabeth’s ankle.”

He swallowed hard before he placed the toe box of his left boot upon the opposite side of the trap. Using his weight to lower the left side of the lever, Darcy paused only long enough to suck in a steadying breath. Squatting awkwardly over the device, Darcy reached down to capture the curve of Elizabeth’s ankle in his gloved hand. He wished he could shift his weight to keep his balance, but any swift movement could release the trap again.

Patiently, he lifted Elizabeth’s foot, bending her leg at the knee. There were several jab wounds in the creamy skin of her exposed calf, and her ankle appeared badly bruised and swollen. Inch by terrifying inch, Darcy lifted her foot higher. When he cleared her limb of the trap, Darcy removed his right foot, and the lever slammed against his cane. Keeping a tight grasp upon her foot, he released the left side. This time, his cane cracked and bent. Free to rest Elizabeth’s foot again upon the ground, Darcy gently lowered her leg to rest upon the grassy area. Standing to look upon his work Darcy’s eyes fell upon the trap. In anger, he caught the bent metal of his hidden sword and tossed the trap against the side of a nearby tree.

Clear at last, Darcy dropped to his knees beside Elizabeth.

“I have you,” he chanted as he rolled Elizabeth to her back. Darcy used his handkerchief to wipe away the trickle of blood from her nose. Unconscious, Elizabeth did not fight him, and Darcy took a perverted pleasure in having the right to tend her.

“You shall have a black eye, my love,” he observed as Darcy checked her arms and legs for any broken bones. With the release of the pressure upon Elizabeth’s ankle, the puncture wounds began to bleed, and Darcy stripped off his cravat to wrap about her leg. He would like to remove her boot, but he suspected he could cause Elizabeth more injury if he did so.
Instead, Darcy loosened the fastenings of Elizabeth’s cloak to toss it upon his discarded coat. He would leave both garments until later.

“Come, Love,” Darcy spoke in soft tones as he lifted Elizabeth to him. Her breathing was even, which gave Darcy hope. “Like it or not, Elizabeth Bennet, after your recovery, you will be Mrs. Darcy. You are thoroughly compromised, my girl.”

Darcy turned his steps toward Rosings Park. Lady Catherine would disapprove of his actions, but he would not permit his aunt to hush up his actions. One way or another, Darcy meant to have Elizabeth as his wife. Darcy assured his pride that she would learn to return his affections once Darcy had her alone at Pemberley. His ancestral estate would work its magic on Miss Elizabeth’s heart, and he would have her in his bed each night.

“My wish is for you and children,” Darcy whispered into Elizabeth’s hair.

With tails wagging and playful yips, the dogs rushed ahead of him as Darcy wove his way along the tree-rooted path. Neither he nor the animals took note of a dark figure stepping from behind a tree. The man scooped Darcy’s coat and pistol from the ground. Turning to where he hid while Darcy tended Miss Elizabeth, the interloper bent to gather the pages of the long-forgotten letter. With a smile of conniving, the man saluted Darcy’s retreating form. The interloper refolded the pages and slipped them into his jacket pocket, along with the pistol, before disappearing the way he came.

The eBook version of Mr. Darcy’s Fault is on sale for a special introductory price for a limited time. 

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Exogamous and Endogamous Marriages in Austen’s Works

Brittanica.com defines an “endogamous marriage” as the custom enjoining one to marry within one’s own group, while Wikipedia says “endogamy” is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such a basis as being unsuitable for marriage or for other close personal relationships.The penalties for transgressing endogamous restrictions have varied greatly among cultures and have ranged from death to mild disapproval. Endogamous marriages are designed to keep a blood line pure or to create a dynasty by consolidating a family/house/community. British royalty have known this practice from its beginning, and many other examples exist in history.

Anne Elliot and Lady Russell

Anne Elliot and Lady Russell

In Austen’s work, we can think of several such marriages. Lady Catherine De Bourgh wished Darcy to marry her daughter Anne, consolidating the family ties and blood lines. Edmund Bertram marries his cousin Fanny. Charles Musgrove proposes to Anne Elliot, but when Lady Russell dissuades Anne in hopes of a better connection, Musgrove marries Mary Elliot, keeping the connections between the most important families of the community intact.

An exogamous marriage, on the other hand is a union of opposites. This might be political, social, or temperamental foes. The purpose of an exogamous marriage is to inject new blood into one of the Nation’s most revered and ruling families. The New Zealand Slavanic Journal says, exogamy is marriage outside a social group. “In social studies, exogamy is viewed as a combination of two related aspects: biological and cultural. Biological exogamy is marriage of non blood-related beings, regulated by forms of incest law. A form of exogamy is dual exogamy, in which two groups engage in continual wife exchange.” Cultural exogamy is the marrying outside of a specific cultural group. (New Zealand Slavonic Journal, Victoria University of Wellington, 2002, Volumes 35-36, p.81)

Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland

Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland

The most obvious examples of exogamous marriages in Austen is Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, Captain Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot in Persuasion,  and Henry Tilney and Catherine Moreland in Northanger Abbey.

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet

Some would say the same of George Knightley and Emma Woodhouse’s joining, but in many ways their marriage is also endogamous: The Woodhouses and the Knightleys are the leaders of Highbury society, and the Knightley/Woodhouse marriage will restore the portion of Donwell Abbey that the Woodhouses have claimed as part of the marriage settlement of Isabella Woodhouse. Also, Knightley and Emma are related by marriage. Knightley’s brother is Emma’s brother-in-law.

The weddings in Austen’s works are always financially and socially advantageous for the heroine. We, generally, assume this phenomenon occurs because Austen recognized the sting of inequalities in marriage during the Regency. Gentlemen chose women based on their abilities to deliver an heir. Not for love. Not for her intelligence. Unless the woman possessed the qualities of an “accomplished” lady

Miss Bingley

Miss Bingley

[[Miss Bingley:] “Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no [woman] can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with.  A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved.”], she was not considered good marriage material.

We also learn from these marriages that some of those who marry for economic advantage are considered “weak minded” or “selling out.” For example, Charlotte Lucas’s acceptance of Mr. Collins is looked upon by Austen, the character Elizabeth Bennet, and Austen’s readers as an abomination.

Mrs. Bennet criticizes Elizabeth’s refusal of Mr. Collins with these words:

“Ay, there she comes, looking as unconcerned as may be, and caring no more for us than if were at York, provided she can have her own way. But I tell you what, Miss Lizzy, if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all; and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead. I shall not be able to keep you — and so I warn you. I have done with you from this very day.”

Later, when Elizabeth learns of Charlotte’s engagement to Mr. Collins, Elizabeth is astonished.

The possibility of Mr. Collins’ fancying herself in love with her friend had once occurred to Elizabeth within the last day or two; but that Charlotte could encourage him seemed almost as far from possibility as that she could encourage him herself; and her astonishment was consequently so great as to overcome at first the bounds of decorum, and she could not help crying out: “Engaged to Mr. Collins! my dear Charlotte — impossible!”

Charlotte responds with…

“I see what you feeling, you must be surprised very much surprised, so lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had time to think it all over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic, you know — I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’ character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.”

It was a long time before she [Elizabeth] became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr. Collins’ making two offers of marriage in three days was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted. She had always felt that Charlotte’s opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own; but she could not have supposed it possible that, when called into action, she [Charlotte] would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte, the wife of Mr. Collins, was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself, and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.

Others in Austen’s works have known unequal marriages.

The opening lines of Mansfield Park address the inequality between Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. Like Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, Sir Thomas marries a woman who was a beauty in her youth. Unfortunately, Lady Bertram becomes neurotic, a hypochondriac, and lazy. She values people’s attractiveness over all else. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bennet is a foolish, noisy woman whose only goal in life is to see her daughters married. Because of her low breeding and often unbecoming behavior, Mrs. Bennet often repels the very suitors whom she tries to attract for her daughters.

Mr. William Elliot

Mr. William Elliot

Such revelations leads one to wonder whether “being entranced” by the opposite sex leads to disappointment in marriage. Please note how Austen’s heroines must turn from the “charms” of unworthy gentlemen [Wickham, Willoughby, William Elliot, etc.] to discover contentment in marriage. Is Austen giving us her opinions of cads and scoundrels? Let us face the truth, the gentlemen these heroines claim are often something of a prig, a man of unbending principles. Is this Austen’s idea of honor? Do you suppose our dearest Jane ever knew such a man? Did she know the disappointment of unrequited love?

I look forward to your insights. Comment below and let’s have a conversation.

Posted in British history, Great Britain, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, real life tales, Regency era, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Regency Era Lexicon – Continuing on to the Letter “S”

Regency Era Lexicon – Continues with the Letter “S”

s. – the abbreviation for shilling (a shilling is a English silver coin worth twelvepence; 20 shillings = one pound)

Sabbatarians – VERY strict observers of the Sabbath

sack – a dry white wine from Spain

St. Giles – a notorious London slum with a large Irish and Jewish population; a center for prostitution

http://www.royal.gov.uk/ theroyalresidences/ stjamesspalace/ stjamesspalace.aspx


St. James Palace – the official residence (until 1837 when Queen Victoria moved the royal residence to Buckingham Palace); St. James’s Palace is the senior Palace of the Sovereign, with a long history as a Royal residence. As the home of several members of the Royal Family and their household offices, it is often in use for official functions and is not open to the public.

“Saint Jane” myth (not necessarily a Regency term, but important to the era) – When Henry Austen wrote his biography of his sister Jane, he presented a “saint” to the world, which is in sharp contrast to the Jane Austen we meet in her letters.

saloon or salon – a large room, such as a drawing room, used for receiving and entertaining guests; this room often doubled as a picture gallery in a fine house

salver – a silver tray which held calling cards; either placed on a table in the hallway or delivered by the head servant to his master/mistress; also used by servants to passing around biscuits during social gatherings

sal volatile – smelling salt (made with ammonium carbonate)

sandals – used by ladies in the early part of the century; slipperlike shoes that fastened over the instep with a strap

sash – worn by little girls as a complement to the muslin frock

schoolroom – where children received their lessons in a wealthier home; large enough for dancing lessons and to accommodate games indoors; “in the schoolroom” meant a young lady had not made her “Come Out”

scout – a man servant at Oxford

Scottish reel – a folk dance with gliding steps and jumps; a quick-stepping dance

scullery – place where dishes were washed and stored

http://empirepost.com/ XEP/A-US/SFL/Pages/ 1765-1820/USC-1765.htm


sealing wax or sealing wafer – a drop of wax (dropped wet over the fold of a letter and allowed to dry) or a sealing wafer (a thin disk of dried paste used to seal a document) was used to seal a letter (There were NO envelopes.); a signet ring or seal pressed into the wax secured the paper seal; usually made of beeswax; red wax was used only for business; other colors for social correspondence; black wax indicated mourning

seals – small ornament on a watch chain, including a seal to set the wax on a letter

sedan Chair – a rickshaw-like enclosed chair with two poles, carried by two men, one at the front of the poles, another at the back of the chair holding the rear poles

seedcake – a sweet cake usually made with caraway seeds

sell up – selling all of a person’s worldly goods to settle his debts

seminary – the most fashionable, educational, and expensive institution for young ladies; girls learned sewing (“work”), reading, writing, mathematics, French, and history, along with dancing, music (instrument and singing), and art (although these fine arts often cost extra)

senior wrangler – in Cambridge’s math honors exams, the top students were called “wranglers”; the highest ranked student was the “senior wrangler”

sennight – a contraction of “seven nights” = one week

sent down – expelled from a university

servants’ hall – a special room where the servants of a household ate and socialized

servants’ quarters – servants (both male and female) had their bedrooms in the manor house’s attic, basement, or a separate wing of the house (The lady’s maid often had a room near her mistress.)

set – the name given to a group of dancers in a dance, as well as the series of dances they perform

settee – an indoor chair on which two people could sit

http://www.stickleymuseum.org/blog/archives/1533/ Columbus Avenue Hall Settle c.1902 Collection of Crab Tree Farm

Columbus Avenue Hall Settle c.1902 Collection of Crab Tree Farm

settle – a wooden bench with a high back on which several people could sit; usually found in taverns and rustic homes; often faced the fireplace

settlement – the legal arrangement of property; marriage settlements involved ensuring that a woman would receive pin money, a jointure and portions for her future children; strict settlements ensured that a landed estate remained entailed against the possibility of a male heir selling or mortgaging it; settlement under the Poor Law meant a person could not receive financial relief in a parish without being born in the parish, been apprenticed in the parish, or being married to a parish resident

Seven Deadly Sins – pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth

Seven Dials– an infamous criminal district in London; it was the seven streets that converged upon St. Giles (see above)

sexton – the man who rang the bells and dug the graves at a churchyard

shaking hands – was a sign of real friendship, not generally part of an introduction as it is in current times; occurred less frequently between members of the opposite sex; was considered improper

shawl – worn by women throughout the century

sheriff – in previous centuries the High Sheriff was the king’s representative in the shire (i.e., the Sheriff of Nottingham); by the 1800s, the “sheriff” was a country gentleman who entertained the assize justices when they made their judicial circuit; in some areas, the sheriff also carried out official county business

shift– a long kind of nightgown type of material which women wore as underwear, along with the corset (“drawers” did not become popular until the 1860s); “shift” replaced the word “smock”; eventually, “shift” was replaced by the word “chemise”

shilling number – a monthly installment of a serialized novel (very popular in the mid and later part of the 19th century-more of a Victorian term, rather than a Regency one)

ship-of-the-line – a warship usually of 60+ guns; one that could take its place in the “line” of battle

shire – unit of regional government run by the earl and the sheriff (shire reeve) in the monarch’s name; the Normans substituted the word “county” for “shire”; “The shires” in foxhunting groups referred to the Midland shires, including Rutland, Northamptonshire, and Leicestershire

shivaree – a noisy mock serenade (made by banging pans and kettles) to a newly married couple (also referred to as belling, charivari, chivaree, callathump, and callithump in regional areas of the US and UK)

shorts – knee breeches

shove-halfpenny– a children’s game similar to shuffleboard, but played on a table and with coins

sideboard – dining room furniture that held extra dishes; later, it became a storage place for plate, silverware, etc.

Sir – the title by which baronets and knights are addressed

sitting room – used for morning activities (reading, letter writing, cards, painting, sewing, etc.); in smaller manor houses the husband would have his study at one end while the wife had her sitting room

sizar – scholarship students at Cambridge

skittles – similar to bowling (nine pens or skittles)

small clothes – knee breeches; A gentleman wearing shirt and breeches (only) is considered to be undressed. Though modestly covered by modern standards, by 18th Century standards he is considered to be in his ‘small clothes’ – his underwear.

smock frock – an outer garment worn by the agricultural working poor

snob – meant someone of no social standing, the opposite of a “nob”

snuffers – scissor-like instruments used to trim the wicks of tallow candles

Social Season – London’s fashionable high life; ran from February to June and September to pre-Christmas

solicitor – a lawyer who dealt in wills and estate issues; they could not appear in court; therefore, solicitors would hire a barrister to represent his client in court matters

Somerset House– housed various government offices, most notably the tax office (Board of Inland Revenue); located on the Strand in London

Southwark – the “Borough”; located across the Thames south of London

sovereign – a gold coin worth a pound (first came into circulation in 1817)

spatterdashes – long gaithers to protect the legs from water and mud

http://www.edelweiss patterns.com/blog/?p=1175


spencer – a short jacket worn by ladies of the day; for men, a spencer was an overcoat without tails

sponging house – a house run by a sheriff’s officer where debtors were housed while they repaid their debts

Sprezzatura – Though dating from the Renaissance, Castiglione’s sprezzatura remained in place during the Regency. Taught from childhood, “gracefulness” became a way of life. A member of the gentry should speak and act with modest confidence; maintain emotional control; use proper language; and be well educated in literature, the arts, history, and dancing.

squire – a term of courtesy for a member of the gentry whose family lved for generations in an area and who had tenants on his property; often served as the justice of the peace in the area

stagecoach – public transportation, generally for the lower classes; the Royal Mail coaches were quicker and more expensive than the regular stagecoaches (Note: Jane Austen’s house in Chawton was located beside a main stagecoach route; therefore, the noise of the carriages was commonplace for Austen in those days.)

stair rod – metal rods clamped along the base of a riser to hold the carpet in place

stall – metonymy at work; a position a prebendary held (i.e., Dr. Grant in Austen’s “Mansfield Park” succeeds to a stall in Westminster.)

stand up – to dance with someone

Fitzroy Stanhope was a designer of carriages in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Several vehicles are associated with his name. http://www.caaonline. com/caa_content.asp?PageType=Dept&Key= 15&MCat=9

Fitzroy Stanhope was a designer of carriages in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Several vehicles are associated with his name. http://www.caaonline.

stanhope – a light carriage with no top; could have 2 or 4 wheels; named for the Honourable and Reverend Fitzroy Stanhope (1784-1864)

Statute of Wills – passed by Henry VIII in 1540, the statute allowed a person to leave his property to anyone he wanted, provided he had stated his desires in a will; unfortunately, Parliament had not abolished the “Statute of Uses” from 1536, which supported the concept of primogeniture, so primogeniture remained the preferred inheritance method

stay – one of the two halves of a corset

staylace – one of the laces used to tighten a corset

steeplechase – a horseback ride or race across country; originally the gentlemen raced toward a distant steeple; therefore, it was a straight course, but that did not mean the race lacked obstacles

steward – managed the estate for the owner so that the owner did not have to deal directly with tenant farmers; the steward would oversee the estate’s accounts, settle tenant squabbles, purchase seed and animals, etc.

stile – a set of three or four wooden steps built to help people over a wall or fence constructed in a field to keep animals enclosed

stillroom – where preserves and wine were kept in a house; also where coffee and tea was made

stock – a tight, stiff collar worn by men, especially soldiers; it was also the black shirtfront over which the white bit of collar was fastened for clerical dress

stone – a measurement of weight = 14 pounds

strand – shore of a river or ocean

stud – horses raised for breeding or racing

stuff – name for different kinds of fabrics, but generally applied to those commonly made of wool

sugarloaf- the hard, crusty form in which sugar was available; usually shaped like a cone

sugarplum – a round piece of flavored candy made chiefly of sugar

surgeon – a man who tended to external injuries (broken bones, wounds, etc.) “Physicians” never bloodied their hands. Physicians were addressed as “doctor,” whereas surgeons were referred to as “mister.”

surtout – a man’s overcoat, very much like a frock coat

swallowtail coat – a man’s coat, which had long tails that tapered down the gentleman’s back

sweetbread – the thymus gland or pancreas of a young animal, especially a calf or lamb, used for food

sweetmeat – a candy, such as a candied fruit

swing glass – a mirror similar to a cheval glass

Posted in British history, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, Regency era, vocabulary | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sir Walter Scott, the Historical Romance, and the Creation of a National Identity – Part II

Last Tuesday, we had our first look at how Sir Walter Scott perfected the “formula” for historical romance while creating a national identity. [April 14 post – Part I] 

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet http://www.britannica. com/EBchecked/topic /529629/Sir-Walter-Scott-1st-Baronet

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet http://www.britannica.

Sir Walter Scott’s fiction quite often uses the plot devices of inheritance and lineage. Scott’s generation knew of the defeat of a great stateliest: that of Napoleon Bonaparte. Therefore, it would be an easy jump to the conclusion that Ivanhoe is of the nature of the returning soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars. Patrick Parrinder in Nation and Novel [Oxford University Press, ©2006, 155-156] says, “…Ivanhoe is a returning crusader whose eyes are gradually opened to the ills of his native country. It is true that he belongs to the remnant of the Saxon nobility, grimly hanging on to what is left of their feudal possessions, but Scott sees that their day is over. The imperial unity foreshadowed by the crusading armies represent England’s future. Cedric, the Saxon chief, believes he is the representative of the old English nation, so that his kidnapping and imprisonment in Front-de-Boeuf’s castle ought to give him the status of an important political prisoner. But all the Normans want is to extract a ransom and to rape Rowena, his ward. Cedric, in any case, has divided his followers by disowning Ivanhoe for going on the Crusades, thus separating him [Ivanhoe] from his beloved Rowena. Athelstane, her intended bridegroom, is a renowned Saxon warrior but little else. Eventually, he is exposed as the cock that will not fight against its Norman masters.”

To understand the story, the reader must remember that King Richard mounted the Third Crusade in 1190, shortly after attaining the English crown. Richard had far less interest in ruling his nation wisely than in winning the city of Jerusalem and finding honor and glory on the battlefield. He left England precipitously, and it quickly fell into a dismal state in the hands of his brother, Prince John, the legendarily greedy ruler from the Robin Hood stories. In John’s hands, England languished. The two peoples who occupied the nation–the Saxons, who ruled England until the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and the French-speaking Normans, who conquered the Saxons–were increasingly at odds, as powerful Norman nobles began gobbling up Saxon lands. Matters became worse in 1092, when Richard was captured in Vienna by Leopold V, the Duke of Austria. (Richard had angered both Austria and Germany by signing the Treaty of Messina, which failed to acknowledge Henry VI, the Emperor of Germany, as the proper ruler of Sicily; Leopold captured Richard primarily to sell him to the Germans.) The Germans demanded a colossal ransom for the king, which John was in no hurry to supply; in 1194, Richard’s allies in England succeeded in raising enough money to secure their lord’s release. Richard returned to England immediately and was re-crowned in 1194. (Spark)

We find general disruption among Prince John’s followers. Only the character De Bracy maintains even a semblance of the code of chivalry upon which many early stories thrived. In chapter XXXIV, we find…

“There is but one road to safety,” continued the Prince, and his brow grew black as midnight; “this object of our terror journeys alone—He must be met withal.”

“Not by me,” said De Bracy, hastily; “I was his prisoner, and he took me to mercy. I will not harm a feather in his crest.”

“Who spoke of harming him?” said Prince John, with a hardened laugh; “the knave will say next that I meant he should slay him! —No—a prison were better; and whether in Britain or Austria, what matters it?—Things will be but as they were when we commenced our enterprise—It was founded on the hope that Richard would remain a captive in Germany—Our uncle Robert lived and died in the castle of Cardiffe.”

“Ay, but,” said Waldemar, “your sire Henry sate more firm in his seat than your Grace can. I say the best prison is that which is made by the sexton—no dungeon like a church-vault! I have said my say.”

“Prison or tomb,” said De Bracy, “I wash my hands of the whole matter.”

“Villain!” said Prince John, “thou wouldst not bewray our counsel?”

“Counsel was never bewrayed by me,” said De Bracy, haughtily, “nor must the name of villain be coupled with mine!”

Scott writes an “adventure” story. There are scenes of knights and jousting tournaments; yet there are also scenes with the outlaws of Sherwood Forest and the highwaymen. There are gritty scenes of the attempted rape of both Rowena and of Rebecca. Rebecca is a Jewish maiden, the daughter of Isaac of York. She tends Ivanhoe’s wounds after the tournament at Ashby and falls in love with him, even though she cannot know him as her husband for Ivanhoe is Christian. Rebecca is the most sympathetic character in the novel. She is a tragic heroine. Brian de Bois-Guilbert was a Knight Templar (a powerful international military/religious group dedicated to the conquest of the Holy Land, but often meddling in European politics). It is Brian who attempts to rape Rebecca. During Scott’s time, many believed Bois-Guilbert represented Napoleon’s attempt to unify Europe. 

Parrinder [156-157] says, “So, although the Saxon-Norman conflict is the official national historical issue around which Ivanhoe revolves, Scott’s interest in this conflict seems perfunctory at best. He had described his heroes as ‘very amiable and very insipid sort of young men…’ We many say that Scott’s heroes are insipid because they are respectable nineteenth-century young gentlemen [with whom his readers could easily identify] dressed up as actors in history, but Ivanhoe seems like a burlesque even of the normal Scott hero. So marked is his passivity that he is first discovered lying prone, whether from exhaustion or depression, at the foot of a sunken cross near his father’s house. He enters and leaves the house incognito and spends much of the remainder of the novel prostrate, carried from place to place in a litter as he is cured by Rebecca of the wound he receives at the tournament. It is true that we twice see him in his appointed role as a champion on horseback, as if he only comes to life when encased in steel from top to toe. The qualities which have brought him high in King Richard’s counsels are never on display. In his second fight with Bois-Guilbert he is ‘scarce able to support himself in the saddle’ and too weak to strike an effective blow. The day is saved, and Rebecca vindicated, by an act of God, since the Templar is seized by an apoplexy in the moment of combat.”

ivanhoeStructurally, Ivanhoe is divided into three parts: (1) Ivanhoe’s return to England in disguise and the tournament at Ashby constitutes the first section. [Disguise, at a point of reference, is a major motif in the novel, as not only Ivanhoe, but also Wamba, Richard, Cedric, and Locksley assume disguises.]; (2) Sir Maurice de Bracy kidnaps Cedric’s party. De Bracy lusts after Rowena. Richard and Locksley free the prisoners.; (3) The Templars and Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert take Rebecca captive. The trial-by-combat decides whether Rebecca will live or die. 

One of the major criticisms of Scott’s Ivanhoe is the freedom with which Scott employed historical fact. Also, Scott’s depiction of Jews is considered stereotypical at best. Yet, we must recall this is a “romance,” not a historical novel. As I write Regency romance, I am told often by those who write historicals that my novels are meant to please, not to instruct. Needless to say, I would beg to differ. I spend more hours than I would care to count in research, but my purpose here is not to debate whether there is room for imagination in the mist of research. What I wish to point out is how Scott’s opinion of King Richard goes against the idealized image of the King, especially that found in 19th Century England. Rosemary Mitchell, an Associate Principal Lecturer in History and Reader in Victorian Studies at Leeds Trinity University College, UK, says, “This is the message of Ivanhoe, with its equivocal chivalry: you can learn from the past, you can even recreate it, but ultimately you cannot and perhaps should not try to return to it.” [Mitchell, Rosemary, ‘Glory, Maiden, Glory': The Uncomfortable Chivalry of Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Open Letters Monthly: An Arts and Literature Review]

“The resolution of the novel has never been universally popular: the very earliest readers found fault with Scott’s decision to marry the hero to the blonde Anglo-Saxon princess, Rowena, rather than the beguiling brunette Rebecca, daughter of Isaac the Jew. Scott’s decision was not taken lightly: the marriage of Ivanhoe, the friend of the Norman King Richard and the flower of chivalry, was intended to symbolise the reconciliation of the Anglo-Saxons with their French conquerors and the foundation of an inclusive English nation. But not that inclusive: Scott, no mean medieval scholar and no rosy-eyed observer of his own time, does not pretend that Rebecca and her fellow Jews were acceptable to the new English people – or even to their nineteenth-century descendants. At the close of the novel, Rebecca and her father depart to Spain and we hear no more of them.

“This was – and still is – very unsatisfactory for many readers. True, Rowena is Ivanhoe’s childhood sweetheart: he was disinherited before the novel begins by his father, Cedric the Saxon, for threatening to disrupt her dynastic marriage to the portly Anglo-Saxon pretender Athelstane, and returns in disguise to try and win her hand. That was what brought him to the tournament illustrated on the cover of your abridged copy. But then it is Rebecca who has ensured that he has a horse and armour and could participate in the chivalric combat; it is she who will nurse him after he is wounded at the tournament, and it is for her that he fights in the concluding trial by battle at Templestowe. What a disappointing ‘happy ending’ it is then, when he marries the marginalised Rowena: Rebecca might be a Jewess, but then this is a romance and surely a timely conversion to Christianity and a runaway marriage to Ivanhoe (in the style of Shylock’s daughter, Jessica, and her Christian lover Lorenzo) is a narrative possibility? Not for Scott, whose nationalist and historicist agenda demanded the union of Saxon princess and Norman sympathiser under the aegis of the self-declared king of the ‘English’ people, Richard the Lionheart.

“Scott’s original readers loved Ivanhoe, but they often did neither liked nor understood what the novel had to say about the creation of nationhood, the character of historical change and the human consequences of it. So they frequently rewrote the plot to satisfy their narrative desires for a happier ending. In Thackeray’s comic sequel, Rebecca and Rowena (1850), the marriage of Ivanhoe swiftly becomes a penitential one, as Rowena develops into a monumentally pious nag. Ivanhoe’s escape to join Richard I’s campaigns in France proves less than entirely successful, as the crusader king has become debauched and unappealing. Relentlessly engaged in the non-stop slaughter of all the enemies of England and Christendom (and these appear to be many, and remarkably poor at warfare), Ivanhoe works his way round Europe like a middle-aged backpacker in armour. In his absence, he is presumed dead, and Rowena marries her old suitor, the fat and jovial Athelstane. He keeps her firmly and affectionately in her place – until she eventually dies in prison, having tactlessly taken King John to task. This neatly emancipates the long-suffering Ivanhoe, whose tour of duty now takes him to Spain: here he again encounters Rebecca, who does now obligingly abandon her faith in favour of Christianity, facilitating their eventual union. One of the great Victorian realists, a still greater satirist, Thackeray was not entirely comfortable with his ‘improved’ ending to Ivanhoe: the couple have no children and are rather melancholy in their mirth. Perhaps Thackeray realised that Scott’s ending was, after all, a more meaningful one.” [Mitchell, Rosemary. Open Letters Monthly: An Arts and Literature Review]


As many of you expected, I must bring Scott back to my dearest Miss Austen. This is what Sir Walter Scott said of Jane Austen in 1826.

Jane Austen. (1775–1817). Pride and Prejudice. The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917. [Bartleby.com]
Criticisms and Interpretations
I. By Sir Walter Scott

“READ again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of “Pride and Prejudice.” That young lady has a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The big bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me.”—From “The Journal of Sir Walter Scott,” March, 1826. 1

“We bestow no mean compliment upon the author of “Emma” when we say that keeping close to common incidents, and to such characters as occupy the ordinary walks of life, she has produced sketches of such spirit and originality that we never miss the excitation which depends upon a narrative of uncommon events, arising from the consideration of minds, manners, and sentiments, greatly above our own. In this class she stands almost alone; for the scenes of Miss Edgeworth are laid in higher life, varied by more romantic incident, and by her remarkable power of embodying and illustrating national character. But the author of “Emma” confines herself chiefly to the middling classes of society; her most distinguished characters do not rise greatly above well-bred country gentlemen and ladies; and those which are sketched with most originality and precision, belong to a class rather below that standard. The narrative of all her novels is composed of such common occurrences as may have fallen under the observation of most folks; and her dramatis personæ conduct themselves upon the motives and principles which the readers may recognize as ruling their own, and that of most of their own acquaintances.”—From “The Quarterly Review,” October, 1815.

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The Rise of Preventive Medicine in England in the 18th Century

Early on, the civilize world saw the study of nature as essential to the welfare of all mankind. The 16th Century saw great strides. Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at its center. The publication of this model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) just before his death in 1543 is considered a major event in the history of science, triggering the Copernican Revolution and making an important contribution to the Scientific Revolution.

Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour), and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments.

Portrait of Vesalius from his De humani corporis fabrica. Attributed to Jan van Calcar (circa 1499–1546/1550) - Page xii of De humani corporis fabrica (1534 edition), showing portrait of Andreas Vesalius. Original scan of page cropped to show portrait alone, contrasted slightly to 70 in Microsoft Photo Editor. The original book from which the scan arises is a copy of the 1543 edition stored in the collection of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Public Domain

Portrait of Vesalius from his De humani corporis fabrica.
Attributed to Jan van Calcar (circa 1499–1546/1550) – Page xii of De humani corporis fabrica (1534 edition), showing portrait of Andreas Vesalius. 

Meanwhile, Andreas Vesalius was an anatomist, physician, and author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy, De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body). Vesalius is often referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy. He was born in Brussels, which though now part of Belgium, was then part of the Habsburg Netherlands. He was professor at the University of Padua and later became Imperial physician at the court of Emperor Charles V. One must keep in mind that Vesalius faced much prejudice from the ecclesiastical enthusiasts for his work.

In the middle of the 16th Century (1532), an Act of Parliament in England provided for the “institution of Commissions of Sewers in all parts of the Kingdom.” (Fitzgerald, John Gerald, et. al., An Introduction to the Practice of Preventive Medicine, page 653.)

The 17th Century saw the publication of “Novum Organum.” The Novum Organum, full original title Novum Organum Scientiarum (‘new instrument of science’), is a philosophical work by Francis Bacon, written in Latin and published in 1620. The title is a reference to Aristotle’s work Organon, which was his treatise on logic and syllogism. In Novum Organum, Bacon details a new system of logic he believes to be superior to the old ways of syllogism. This is now known as the Baconian method.

The title page illustration of Instauratio magna Francis Bacon (author) - *EC.B1328.620ib, Houghton Library, Harvard University Houghton Library at Harvard University   Location Cambridge, Massachusetts - Public Domain

The title page illustration of Instauratio magna
Francis Bacon (author) – *EC.B1328.620ib, Houghton Library, Harvard University Houghton Library at Harvard University Location Cambridge, Massachusetts – Public Domain

Also, in the 17th Century we find the accomplishments of William Harvey. Harvey (1 April 1578 – 3 June 1657) was an English physician. He was the first known to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the brain and body by the heart, though earlier writers, such as Jacques Dubois, had provided precursors of the theory.

Even so, it was the 18th Century’s domain to develop modern preventive medicine. Richard Mead’s advice, for example, during the plague of 1663-1665 became crystalized in the legal decrees of George I, especially in the practice of quarantines. 

Sir John Pringle, 1st Baronet, PRS (10 April 1707 – 18 January 1782) was a Scottish physician who has been called the “father of military medicine.” In 1742 he became physician to the Earl of Stair, then commanding the British army in Flanders. About the time of the battle of Dettingen in Bavaria in June 1743, when the British army was encamped at Aschaffenburg, Pringle, through the Earl of Stair, brought about an agreement with the Duc de Noailles, the French commander, that military hospitals on both sides be considered as neutral, immune sanctuaries for the sick and wounded, and should be mutually protected. His first book, Observations on the Nature and Cure of Hospital and Jayl Fevers, was published in 1750, and in the same year he contributed to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society three papers on Experiments on Septic and Antiseptic Substances, which gained him the Copley Medal. Two years later he published his important work, Observations on the Diseases of the Army in Camp and Garrison, which entitles him to be regarded as the founder of modern military medicine. Pringle’s work “resulted in a diminution in the incidence of typhus fever and enterie disease.” (Fitzgerald, pg. 653)

James Lind introduced the idea of “dietetic measures” with his Treatise on Scurvy in 1753. James Lind (4 October 1716 – 13 July 1794) was a Scottish physician. He was a pioneer of naval hygiene in the Royal Navy. By conducting the first ever clinical trial,he developed the theory that citrus fruits cured scurvy. He argued for the health benefits of better ventilation aboard naval ships, the improved cleanliness of sailors’ bodies, clothing and bedding, and below-deck fumigation with sulphur and arsenic. He also proposed that fresh water could be obtained by distilling sea water. His work advanced the practice of preventive medicine and improved nutrition.

Richard Mead (11 August 1673 – 16 February 1754) was an English physician. His work, A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Method to be used to prevent it (1720), was of historic importance in the understanding of transmissible diseases. Mead considered quarantine  a preventive medicine – separating the healthy from the sick – essential to suppressing the contagions of the time. 

Captain James Cook gave a notation in his many journals to the teachings of Pringle, Mead, and others during Cook’s great voyage of discovery. He received the gold medal from the Royal Society of London for his paper on the preservation of his sailors from scurvy. (Sala, G. A., and E. H. Yates, editors, Temple Bar, Volume 94, page 373.) Cook’s voyage lasted for a little over 3 years, but during that time, despite being beset with numerous difficulties, only one man out of his 118 man crew died. This was unprecedented at the time, and Cook gave credit to the application of hygienic rules and dietetic measures advocated by James Lind to his crew’s success.

Edward Jenner (1749-1823), Discoverer of vaccination. James Northcote - National Portrait Gallery - Public Domain

Edward Jenner (1749-1823), Discoverer of vaccination.
James Northcote – National Portrait Gallery – Public Domain

Next we find the work of Edward Jenner, who was an English physician and scientist who was the pioneer of smallpox vaccine, the world’s first vaccine. He is often called “the father of immunology,” and his work is said to have “saved more lives than the work of any other human.”

This growth of preventive medicine brought a more “enlightened” and more humane time. Politics and religion and education formed a bond that brought England to the forefront of the world. 

Posted in British history, Great Britain, medicine | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating the Release of “Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary” + Giveaway

Although I have written nearly a dozen Austen-inspired retellings, sequels, and mysteries, Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception is my first attempt at what is known as a “variation” in the JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) community. In a variation, the author changes one of the events in the original Austen story line and creates a new and intriguing twist. Leave a comment below for a chance to win an eBook copy of this release. 

EBD Cover Concept copyWhat if Fitzwilliam Darcy refused to approach Elizabeth Bennet when he spots her upon the grounds of Pemberley? What if Elizabeth permits Mr. Darcy to think her the one ruined by Mr. Wickham? What if love is not enough to bring these two souls together?

FITZWILLIAM DARCY’s pride makes the natural leap to ELIZABETH BENNET’s ruination when she appears, without notice, upon Pemberley’s threshold to plead for his assistance in locating Darcy’s long time enemy, George Wickham. Initially, Darcy refuses, but when Charles Bingley demands that Darcy act with honor, Darcy agrees. The idea of delivering Miss Elizabeth into the hands of Mr. Wickham rubs Darcy’s raw. Even so, Darcy does his best to bring Wickham to marry Elizabeth Bennet; but it is not long before Darcy realizes Elizabeth practices a deception, one he permits to continue so he might remain at Elizabeth’s side.

Their adventure takes more twists and turns than does the original Pride and Prejudice, but the reader will enjoy the devotion displayed by both Darcy and Elizabeth as they not only bring Wickham to toe the line in Lydia’s defense, but they work their way through new misconstructions. Darcy’s finally wooing of Elizabeth brings them both to a public declaration of their love.

Excerpt “Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary”
Chapter One

Darcy froze in his steps.

“It could not be,” he whispered to his foolish heart. He returned to Pemberley a day early to make the final arrangements for the surprise he meant for his sister. He left Georgiana in the care of his friend, Charles Bingley, and Bingley’s sisters. Darcy experienced a twinge of guilt at his expecting Georgiana to contend with Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, but Miss Bingley’s effusions sorely wore Darcy’s patience away, and so he made his excuses.

He cut across Pemberley’s parkland to come forward from the road, which led behind it to the stables. Upon his approach, Darcy noted the unmarked carriage before the estate. Recognizing the possibility of visitors in the common rooms, he remained in the shadows, meaning to enter the private quarters through the back entrance; yet, the appearance of a young woman upon the rise leading to the river brought Darcy to a stumbling halt. From a distance, the woman had the look of Elizabeth Bennet, but he did not approach. Darcy acted the fool previously and refused to be found wanting again.

Perhaps a month after his disastrous proposal to Miss Elizabeth at Hunsford Cottage, Darcy spotted a young lady entering Hatchard’s Books, and without thinking, he followed her.

“Miss Elizabeth,” Darcy said as he came up behind her, but when the woman spun around to greet him, the lady was not the woman whose being haunted Darcy’s thoughts for almost a year.

The girl’s forehead furrowed in confusion.

“Pardon me, Sir. Do we hold an acquaintance?”

Darcy bowed stiffly.

“It is I, miss, who begs your pardon. From behind, I thought you a long-standing acquaintance.” He stepped back to widen the distance between them. “I apologize for the inconvenience.”

The girl’s frown line deepened.

“Yet, you called me by my Christian name.” The tone of the girl’s voice spoke of her suspicions.

Darcy swallowed the blush of embarrassment rushing to his cheeks.

“If you are also an ‘Elizabeth,’ it is purely a coincidence,” he insisted.

“I am.”

Darcy rushed his apologies when he spied a matron marching to the young woman’s rescue.

“Then I am doubly apologetic. My actions placed you in an awkward position. Please forgive me.” He held enough experience with Society mamas to know when to make a speedy exit.

During his return to Darcy House, Darcy silently cursed his inanity for stumbling into what was a more humiliating situation. Later, in his study, he admitted to the empty room, if not to himself, that he missed looking upon Elizabeth Bennet’s animated countenance.
“If it were she,” Darcy warned his conscience, “Miss Elizabeth would have, in all probability, presented me the direct cut. The lady spoke quite elegantly upon her disdain, and you are imprudent to think your letter would change Miss Elizabeth’s mind. Accept the fact the woman is not for you.”

And so when Darcy noted another possessing Elizabeth’s likeness upon the streets in the warehouse district of Cheapside a fortnight later, he turned away with the knowledge that as a gentleman’s daughter, Miss Elizabeth would not be found in Cheapside. He strove to convince himself that he would soon replace Elizabeth Bennet’s charms with that of another.

Belatedly, realizing he studied the woman standing upon the rise longer than was proper, Darcy slipped through an open patio door to escape the vision of Elizabeth Bennet at Pemberley, which so often followed him about. It was deuced frustrating to look for the woman wherever he his steps took him.

“Leave it be,” Darcy chastised as he crossed the drawing room only to be brought up short a second time by the appearance of his housekeeper.

Mrs. Reynolds caught at her chest in obvious surprise.

“Mr. Darcy,” she gasped. “I did not realize you returned, Sir.”

Darcy caught her elbow to steady the stance of his long-time servant. Mrs. Reynolds came to Pemberley when he was but three. She, Mr. Nathan, his butler, and Mr. Sheffield, his valet, all knew the Darcy family’s employ for over twenty years. “I noted visitors, and as I was not dressed properly, I thought to avoid the necessary greetings,” he explained.

“I have just this minute turned them over to the gardener,” Mrs. Reynolds assured.

Darcy swallowed the question rushing to his lips.

“Very well. Then I am free to seek the privacy of my quarters.”

“Yes, Sir.” Mrs. Reynolds glanced toward the entrance hall. “Should I have a footman bring up bath water, Sir?”

Darcy nodded his agreement. Again, he fought the urge to ask of the estate’s visitors, but Darcy chose not to punish his pride with false hopes.

“Has Miss Darcy’s gift arrived?”

“Yes, Sir. As you instructed I had the instrument placed in Miss Darcy’s sitting room. It fits perfectly. Miss Georgiana will know such joy.”

He smiled with the woman’s kindness.

“My sister deserves a bit of happiness. After my ablutions, I mean to view the arrangement personally.”

“Very good, Sir.” Mrs. Reynolds started away to do his bidding. Yet, despite his best efforts, Darcy called out to her. “Yes, Master William. Is there something more?”

Darcy’s eyes searched the staircase where he often imagined Elizabeth Bennet standing. Such yearning swelled his chest that he experienced difficulty breathing. It is best not to know, he cautioned his wayward thoughts.

“Would you tell the footman I will require his assistance in dressing. Mr. Sheffield and my coach will arrive later this evening.”

“Certainly, Sir.”

“And you and I should speak before Mr. Bingley’s family arrives. Miss Bingley did not enjoy the vista from her guest room when last the Bingleys were here.”

A scowl of disapproval crossed his housekeeper’s features. Darcy knew many of his servants prayed he would not take up with Caroline Bingley. He expected if he were to act so foolish, he would receive a large number of notices of leaving from his staff.
“Perhaps before supper, Sir,” Mrs. Reynolds said stiffly.

Darcy nodded his approval, and the lady strode away; yet, he whispered to her retreating form.

“Have no fear. Only one woman knows my approval as the Mistress of Pemberley.” Darcy chuckled in irony. “And it remains unfortunate that even Pemberley’s grandeur could not entice the lady to overlook its master’s shortcomings.”

* * *

Mr. Darcy’s housekeeper consigned Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle over to the gardener, who met them at the hall door. As they followed the man toward the river, Elizabeth turned to look upon the gentleman’s home. For very selfish reasons, she opposed her aunt’s suggestion of the tour of Mr. Darcy’s estate, but Elizabeth was glad she came. In her future daydreams, she would picture him on the grand staircase.

If Elizabeth, when Mr. Darcy gave her the letter he wrote in clarification of his actions, did not expect it to contain a renewal of his offers, she formed no expectation at all of its contents. But such as they were, it might well be supposed how eagerly she went through them and what a contrariety of emotions they excited. No one observing her progress could give voice to her feelings. With amazement did she first understand that Mr. Darcy believed any apology to be in his power; and she steadfastly denied that he could possess an explanation, which a just sense of shame would not conceal.

With a strong prejudice against everything he might say, she examined his account of what occurred at Netherfield. She read with an eagerness, which hardly left her power of comprehension, as well as from an impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring, so much so she could not attend to the sense of the written lines before her eyes. Mr. Darcy’s belief of Jane’s insensibility Elizabeth instantly resolved to be false, and his account of his real objections to the match brought such anger that she could not declare his actions just. The gentleman expressed no regret for acting upon his beliefs, at least none, which satisfied her. Elizabeth declared his style lacking in penitence, instead of naming it haughty and prideful and insolence.

But Mr. Darcy’s account of his relationship with Mr. Wickham bore so alarming an affinity to Mr. Wickham’s own narration of the events that astonishment, apprehension, and even horror, oppressed her. Elizabeth wished to discredit it, but every line proved that the affair, which she believed beyond the pale, could name the gentleman entirely blameless throughout the whole.

In hindsight, Elizabeth grew absolutely ashamed of her accusations. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling she was blind, partial, prejudiced, and absurd.
“I acted the harpy,” Elizabeth whispered as she implanted the image of Pemberley upon her mind.

When her relatives insisted upon touring the estate, Elizabeth convinced herself that viewing Mr. Darcy’s property would prove just punishment for the pain she caused the gentleman.

“Of all this, I might be mistress,” she reminded herself with each new discovery of how easily she and Mr. Darcy could suit. They held similar tastes in architecture and décor. “So different from his aunt’s ornate presentation at Rosings.”

And so, although Pemberley’s gallery sported many fine portraits of the Darcy family, Elizabeth searched for the one face whose features she wished to look upon again. At last, it arrested her, and Elizabeth beheld a striking resemblance to Mr. Darcy, with such a smile upon his lips as she remembered to have sometimes seen when he looked upon her. The viewing brought Elizabeth instant regret for she recognized the honor of Mr. Darcy, which led her to consider his regard for her with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than she ever admitted, even to herself.

Elizabeth wished she could tell Mr. Darcy that she found Pemberley “delightful” and “charming,” but she quickly deduced the gentleman would assume her opinions mischievously construed: Mr. Darcy would think her praise of Pemberley a device to elicit a renewal of his proposal.

“Better this way,” Elizabeth whispered as she turned to follow her aunt and uncle further into the woods. “I have memories of Pemberley, and no one else is the wiser of my presence under Mr. Darcy’s roof.”

* * *

Unable to quash his curiosity any longer, after supper, Darcy sent for Mrs. Reynolds.
“Yes, Sir?” The lady curtsied from her position inside the open door to his study.
Darcy motioned her forward.

“Would you see there is a vase of yellow roses placed upon the new instrument in Miss Darcy’s quarters.”

Mrs. Reynolds’ countenance relaxed.

“I asked Mr. Brownley for fresh cuttings previously, Sir.”

Darcy nodded his approval.

“I should not think to instruct you on providing for Georgiana’s pleasure. You have been an exemplary member of Pemberley’s staff for longer than I can remember.”

The woman blushed at Darcy’s kindness, but she kept a business-like tone.

“I also aired out the green bedchamber for Miss Bingley’s use. I pray that will serve the lady’s purpose.”

Darcy understood Mrs. Reynolds’ poorly disguised question.

“You may inform the staff I hold no intention of seeing Miss Bingley in the family quarters. The green chamber is close enough.”

Mrs. Reynolds closed her eyes in what appeared to be a silent prayer of thanksgiving.
“Will that be all, Sir?”

Darcy’s heart raced, but he managed to pronounce the necessary words.

“Did we have more than one set of visitors today? Thanks to your efficiency, I so rarely encounter the estate guests, but I would not have you beset upon. Your first duty is to the running of Pemberley.”

“No, Sir. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner were the only ones we accepted in well over a week. It is no bother: I am proud of Pemberley.”

“Mrs. Gardiner,” Darcy’s mind caught the name and rolled it through his body like a tidal wave striking a ship. If the lady he observed was Elizabeth, had she married? Had she thought to compare what she earned to what she lost?

Darcy’s mind retreated from the possibilities, but he could not quite quash his fears.

“A young couple then? Perhaps on a holiday?”

Mrs. Reynolds shook her head in denial.

“Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner would be the age of your late parents. I overheard Mrs. Gardiner tell her niece a tale of the village oak. It sounded as if the lady spent part of her childhood on the London side of Lambton.”

“Her niece?” Darcy’s mind latched onto the one word in his housekeeper’s tale that rang with hope.

“Yes, Sir. A fine young lady. Very kind to her aunt, offering her arm to Mrs. Gardiner’s support. I believe the lady held an acquaintance with you. She and her aunt had a private conversation when they spotted the miniature of Mr. Wickham on your father’s mantelpiece.” Mrs. Reynolds’ shoulders stiffened. “I am sorry to report, Sir, I could not give Mrs. Gardiner a civil account when she asked her niece how the young lady liked it. In truth, I quickly turned the conversation to your miniature.”

“I appreciate your loyalty,” Darcy said with a wry smile.

“My respect for the girl increased when she admitted she knew you ‘a little’ and that she found you ‘very handsome,’” Mrs. Reynolds continued.

Darcy’s eyebrow rose with curiosity. He hoped perhaps Mrs. Reynolds described Elizabeth Bennet, but he could not imagine Miss Elizabeth’s declaring him handsome: The woman abhorred him.

“And how did this conversation come about?”

Mrs. Reynolds blushed, but she did not avoid his unspoken accusation, a sign of her long-standing position in his household.

“Do not look to place blame, Master William. I respect the late master’s kind heart and his benevolence toward his godson, but I see no reason to display George Wickham’s image in this house. Even the late Mr. Darcy could peer down from Heaven and see Mr. Wickham turned out very wild.”

“We will discuss the future of Mr. Wickham’s likeness upon another occasion. Speak to me of your conversation with the young lady.”

It was Mrs. Reynolds’ turn to raise an eyebrow in interest; however, she swallowed her questions.

“Mrs. Gardiner remarked of your fine countenance when she looked upon the miniature, and then the lady asked her niece whether it was an accurate likeness. I then inquired if the young lady held an acquaintance with you. When she admitted as such, I asked if she found you a handsome man.”

“Then, it was Mrs. Gardiner and you who placed words in the lady’s mouth,” he reasoned. Darcy felt the female likely agreed only to be rid of the conversation.

Mrs. Reynolds blustered.

“The girl’s aunt and I stated the obvious,” she declared with a tone commonly found among upper servants. “But neither Mrs. Gardiner nor I instructed the young lady to search out your portrait in the gallery nor did we lead her to it again and again.”
Darcy’s heart hitched higher.

“I count no one named Gardiner among my acquaintances. Did you overhear the young lady’s name?”

“Her aunt called her ‘Lizzy’ several times so I would assume it is Miss Elizabeth or Lady Elizabeth.”

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet,” Darcy corrected. Remorse at not having met her today filled his chest. A glance to his housekeeper said Mrs. Reynolds wished an explanation. “The young lady’s parents are neighbors of Mr. Bingley’s estate in Hertfordshire. If it is truly Miss Elizabeth, we met upon several occasions. I believe I stood up with her at the Netherfield’s ball.”

“Then perhaps you might renew the acquaintance,” Mrs. Reynolds suggested. “Mrs. Gardiner was to dine with friends before the family moved on to Matlock. I am certain Mr. Bingley would wish to behold Miss Elizabeth again.”

An invisible hand squeezed Darcy’s heart. Should he risk an encounter with Elizabeth Bennet? Had his letter softened the lady’s disdain for him?

“Miss Bingley took a dislike for the Bennets,” Darcy offered in explanation. “Mr. Bingley developed a regard for Miss Bennet. His leaving Netherfield was poorly done.”

“I am sad to hear it, Sir, but your confidence explains the halfhearted air, which follows Mr. Bingley about.”

Darcy nodded his acceptance: His housekeeper gave voice to what Darcy’s pride denied. Darcy sorely wounded his friend by acting in partnership with Miss Bingley in separating Bingley from Miss Bennet. With a second nod, he excused his servant. For several long minutes, Darcy stared off into the emptiness, which marked his life.

“I cannot seek out Miss Elizabeth,” he told the rise of expectation climbing up his chest. “Even if the lady might offer her forgiveness, Miss Elizabeth holds no interest in renewing our acquaintance. Furthermore, I do not deserve happiness when I robbed my friend of an opportunity to know it.”

* * *

“You are very quiet this evening, Lizzy.” Her aunt’s friends invited them to dine in the evening, but once they returned to their let rooms, Elizabeth preferred to spend time alone with her thoughts of Mr. Darcy.

“Just a bit fatigued.” Elizabeth made herself smile at her dearest aunt.

“Then you should retire early,” her Uncle Edward declared.

Her aunt ignored her husband’s lack of intuitiveness.

“Are you certain what the Pemberley housekeeper said of Mr. Wickham did not upset you? I would venture the woman’s loyalty to the Master of Pemberley colored her opinions.”
Elizabeth expected her aunt to ask of Mr. Darcy, not of Mr. Wickham.

“Not in the least,” Elizabeth assured. “While in Kent, I learned more of what occurred between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham, enough so to acquit the former of any ill doing.”

Aunt Gardiner’s interest piqued.

“Would you care to elaborate?”

“I promised my source secrecy.” Elizabeth would like to confide in her aunt and uncle for she wished someone would give her permission to beg Mr. Darcy’s forgiveness, but she dug the pit of regret in which she wallowed. “As I explained in my letter before I departed for Kent, Mr. Wickham bestowed his affections upon Miss King, and I held no loyalty for the man when I arrived on Charlotte’s threshold; therefore, I was free to accept other versions of the events.” Hers was an exaggeration of what occurred, but it held some truth. “Although I still believe handsome young men must have something to live on, I pity whoever accepts Mr. Wickham’s hand.” If only I did not previously express my opinions to the contrary, Elizabeth thought.

“That is quite a transformation,” her uncle observed.

“I am only aggrieved that I behaved with foolish disregard for Mr. Darcy. I treated the gentleman poorly.”

Her aunt’s question came quickly.

“Is this revelation the source of your reluctance in viewing Mr. Darcy’s home?”

Elizabeth swallowed the bile rushing to her throat.

“I rejoiced today when Mr. Darcy’s housekeeper informed us that we missed his return to Derbyshire by a day. I would not wish to encounter the gentleman. Our last exchange of words was far from pleasant.”

“If I knew…” her uncle began.

Elizabeth shook off his regrets.

“I asked the inn’s staff of Mr. Darcy’s being at Pemberley before we came to the place.”
“We should be on to Matlock the day after tomorrow,” her aunt declared. “Even with Mr. Darcy’s presence at Pemberley we are not likely to encounter him. My friends do not travel in the same circles as Mr. Darcy. We shall be gone soon, and the gentleman will know nothing of our coming into his part of the shire.”

Purchase Links (Note! The eBook version of the book is on sale for a limited time. Grab your copy now.): 






Posted in Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Regency era, Vagary | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Early Political History of England: The West Saxons

Under King Offa, the Mercians defeated the Northumbrians, but the Mercian rule lasted only as long Offa remained in control. The Mercians were replaced by a line of West Saxon kings, including Ine (688-725); Egbert (802 -839), and Alfred the Great (871-901), who subdued the Mercians. During Egbert’s rule the West Saxons attained supremacy for both Northumbria and Wales accepted Egbert as their lord, and East Anglia sought his protection. 

“Egbert (Ecgberht in Anglo Saxon) king of Wessex (802-39), and the first Saxon king recognized as sovereign of all England . He was the son of a Kentish noble but claimed descent from Cerdic (reigned 519-34), founder of Wessex, the kingdom of the West Saxons in southern England. During the late 8th century, when King Offa of Mercia (reigned 757-96) ruled most of England, Egbert lived in exile at the court of Charlemagne. Egbert regained his kingdom in 802. He conquered the neighboring kingdoms of Kent, Cornwall, and Mercia, and by 830 he was also acknowledged as sovereign of East Anglia, Sussex, Surrey, and Northumbria and was given the title of Bretwalda (Anglo-Saxon, “ruler of the British”). During following years Egbert led expeditions against the Welsh and the Vikings. The year before his death he defeated a combined force of Danes and Cornish at Hingston Down in Cornwall. He was succeeded by his son Aethelwulf, the father of Alfred.” (Royal Family History)

Meanwhile, the Danes penetrated the country, and Egbert’s successors felt the full force of the Danes’ strength. Aethlred, Egbert’s grandson lost his life in 871 to the Danish force. However, Alfred the Great defeated the Danes at Ethandun in 878. Alfred set off a separate piece of land, called a Danelagh, for the Danes. 

alfred“In 870 Alfred and his brother Aethelred fought many battles against the Danes. Alfred gained a victory over the Danes at Ashdown in 871, and succeeded Ethelred as king in April 871 after a series of battles in which the Danes had been defeated. Not all his campaigns were so successful; on a number of occasions he had to resort to buying off the Danes for a brief respite. Five years of uneasy peace followed while the Danes were occupied in other parts of England. In 876 the Danes attacked again, and in 878 Alfred was forced to retire to the stronghold of Athelney which was at that time an island in the Somerset Levels. The legend of him burning the cakes probably comes from this period. Saxons & Vikings Book available here

His come back and great victory at Edington in 878 secured the survival of Wessex, and the Treaty of Wedmore with the Danish king Guthrum in 886 established a boundary between the Danelaw, east of Watling Street, and the Saxons to the west. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says that following his capture of London in 886 ‘all the English people submitted to him, except those who were in captivity to the Danes’. In some respects, therefore, Alfred could be considered the first king of England. A new landing in Kent encouraged a revolt of the East Anglian Danes, which was suppressed 884–86, and after the final foreign invasion was defeated 892–96, Alfred strengthened the navy to prevent fresh incursions.

During periods of peace Alfred reformed and improved his military organization. He divided his levies into two parts with one half at home and the other on active service, giving him a relief system he could call on to continue a campaign. He also began to build burhs (fortified strongpoints) throughout the kingdom to form the basis of an organized defensive system. Alfred is popularly credited as being the founder of the Royal Navy; he did build a fleet of improved ships manned by Frisians and on several occasions successfully challenged the Danes at sea.” (Royal Family History)

In addition to his fine military organization and law code, Alfred also encouraged literature. He is considered responsible for “The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” and the translation of Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History.” 

Alfred’s successors continued the conquest of Britain. Edward recovered East Anglia, Essex, and much of Mercia. His son Aethlstan overcame the Scots, Welsh, and Danes. Under Edred, the Danes were subdued to the level of peaceful subjects of the kingdom. 

220px-Saint_DunstanAn unlikely reformer was the monk known as St. Dunstan.  “Dunstan (909 – 19 May 988) was an Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, a Bishop of Worcester, a Bishop of London, and an Archbishop of Canterbury, later canonised as a saint. His work restored monastic life in England and reformed the English Church. His 11th-century biographer, Osbern, himself an artist and scribe, states that Dunstan was skilled in ‘making a picture and forming letters,’ as were other clergy of his age who reached senior rank.

Dunstan served as an important minister of state to several English kings [Edred and Edgar]. He was the most popular saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the Devil.” (Dunstan)

220px-Ethelred_the_UnreadyUnder King Edgar, local self-government grew. When Aethelred the Redeless came to the throne, the local aldermen declared their own independence. Royal power took a nose dive, so to speak. The Danes again revolted. Aethelred received no assistance form his nobles against the Danes, so in 1002 on St. Brice’s Day, Aethelred ordered a massacre of Danish settlers. Soon, Aethelred was deposed. 

At Swein’s death, Cnut became the Danish chief. He was opposed by Edmund Ironside and London, with whom he signed a treaty. With Edmund’s murder, Cnut became sole ruler.  He reigned from 1016 – 1035. 

220px-Knut_der_Große_croppedAs a Prince of Denmark, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking activity in northwestern Europe. His accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England and Denmark together. Cnut maintained his power by uniting Danes and Englishmen under cultural bonds of wealth and custom, rather than by sheer brutality. After a decade of conflict with opponents in Scandinavia, Cnut claimed the crown of Norway in Trondheim in 1028. The Swedish city Sigtuna was held by Cnut. He had coins struck there that called him king, but there is no narrative record of his occupation. The kingship of England lent the Danes an important link to the maritime zone between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, where Cnut, like his father before him, had a strong interest and wielded much influence among the Gall-Ghaedhil. Cnut’s possession of England’s dioceses and the continental Diocese of Denmark – with a claim laid upon it by the Holy Roman Empire’s Archdiocese of Hamburg-Bremen—was a source of great leverage within the Church, gaining notable concessions from Pope Benedict VIII and his successor John XIX, such as one on the price of the pallium of his bishops. Cnut also gained concessions on the tolls his people had to pay on the way to Rome from other magnates of medieval Christendom, at the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor. After his 1026 victory against Norway and Sweden, and on his way to Rome for this coronation, Cnut, in a letter written for the benefit of his subjects, stated himself “King of all England and Denmark and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes”. (Cnut the Great)

The English line returned after Cnut’s death. Cnut’s two sons died without heirs, and Edward the Confessor, son of Aethelred, became king. Edward was a Norman, and he brought many Normans to England with him, and they wielded a great influence in affairs of state. After Cnut’s death, the deaths of his heirs within a decade, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his legacy was largely lost to history. Historian Norman Cantor has made the statement that he was “the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history”, despite not being Anglo-Saxon.

Edward the Confessor was King of England from 1042. He lived in Normandy with his mother Emma of Normandy’s relatives until shortly before his accession to the English Throne. During his reign power was held by Earl Godwine and his son Harold, while the king devoted himself to religion, including the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey (consecrated in 1065), where he is buried.

Godwine, the Earl of Wessex, opposed the Normans, and was, therefore, exiled in 1051. The Normans were unpopular. Therefore, Godwine returned to England in 1052. Godwine’s son Harold becomes principal adviser to the King Edward in 1053.  

Harold succeeded his father as Earl of Wessex with his Godwine’s death in 1053. At that time, Wessex covered the southern third of England. Earl Siward died in 1055 and Earl Elfgar in 1062, providing Godwine’s children with the opportunity to assume control of Britain. Tostig assumed the earldom of Northumbria. Harold succeeded Edward the Confessor as King. That is until he was defeated in the Norman Conquest. 

In 1064, Harold visits William of Normandy and swears an oath to support William’s claim to the throne. 

 At the end of 1065, King Edward the Confessor fell into a coma without clarifying his preference for the succession. He died on 5 January 1066, according to the Vita Ædwardi Regis, but not before briefly regaining consciousness and commending his widow and the kingdom to Harold’s “protection”. The intent of this charge remains ambiguous, as is the Bayeux Tapestry, which simply depicts Edward pointing at a man thought to represent Harold. When the Witenagemot convened the next day they selected Harold to succeed, and his coronation followed on 6 January, most likely held in Westminster Abbey; though no evidence from the time survives to confirm this. Although later Norman sources point to the suddenness of this coronation, the reason may have been that all the nobles of the land were present at Westminster for the feast of Epiphany, and not because of any usurpation of the throne on Harold’s part.

In early January 1066, hearing of Harold’s coronation, Duke William II of Normandy began plans to invade England, building 700 warships and transports at Dives-sur-Mer on the Normandy coast. Initially, William could not get support for the invasion but, claiming that Harold had sworn on sacred relics to support his claim to the throne after having been shipwrecked at Ponthieu, William received the Church’s blessing and nobles flocked to his cause. In anticipation of the invasion, Harold assembled his troops on the Isle of Wight, but the invasion fleet remained in port for almost seven months, perhaps due to unfavourable winds. On 8 September, with provisions running out, Harold disbanded his army and returned to London.

On 12 September William’s fleet sailed. Several ships sank in storms, and the fleet was forced to take shelter at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme and wait for the wind to change. On 27 September the Norman fleet finally set sail for England, arriving, it is believed, the following day at Pevensey on the coast of East Sussex. Harold’s army marched 241 miles (386 kilometres) to intercept William, who had landed perhaps 7000 men in Sussex, southern England. Harold established his army in hastily built earthworks near Hastings. The two armies clashed at the Battle of Hastings, at Senlac Hill (near the present town of Battle) close by Hastings on 14 October, where after nine hours of hard fighting and probably less than 30 minutes from victory, Harold was killed and his forces routed.

When Edward died in January 1066, his childlessness led to a struggle for power. The succession went first to Harold Godwinson and then to the conquest by William of Normandy nine months later at the Battle of Hastings in October 1066. 

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