Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jane

On this day in 1775, in Hampshire, England, Jane Austen was born.

That's enough, isn't it?

Okay - Persuasion, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility ... we all know those. There's also her Juvenalia, incuding Love & Freindship [sic], a short satirical epsitolatory novel, very funny:
Alas! my fears were but too fully justified; she grew gradually worse -- and I daily became more alarmed for her. At length she was obliged to confine herself solely to the Bed allotted us by our worthy Landlady. -- Her disorder turned to a galloping Consumption and in a few Days carried her off. Amidst all my Lamentations for her (and violent you may suppose they were) I yet received some consolation in the reflection of my having paid every Attention to her that could be offered, in her illness. I had wept over her every Day -- had bathed her sweet face with my tears and had pressed her fair Hands continually in mine. -- "My beloved Laura (said she to me a few Hours before she died) take warning from my unhappy End and avoid the imprudent conduct which had occasioned it... Beware of fainting-fits... Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable, yet beleive me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution... My fate will teach you this... I die a Martyr to my greif for the loss of Augustus... One fatal swoon has cost me my Life... Beware of swoons, Dear Laura... A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences -- Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint --"
These were the last words she ever addressed to me... It was her dieing Advice to her afflicted Laura, who has ever most faithfully adhered to it.
And Frederick and Elfrida, which is also very funny:
It was not till the next morning that Charlotte recollected the double engagement she had entered into; but when she did, the reflection of her past folly, operated so strongly on her mind, that she resolved to be guilty of a greater, & to that end threw herself into a deep stream which ran thro' her Aunt's pleasure Grounds in Portland Place.

She floated to Crankhumdunberry where she was picked up & buried; the following epitaph, composed by Frederic, Elfrida & Rebecca, was placed on her tomb.

Here lies our friend who having promis-ed
That unto two she would be marri-ed
Threw her sweet Body & her lovely face
Into the Stream that runs thro' Portland Place.

These sweet lines, as pathetic as beautifull were never read by any one who passed that way, without a shower of tears, which if they should fail of exciting in you, Reader, your mind must be unworthy to peruse them.

And not to forget her deliciously partisan and funny History of England, "by a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian."
The Crimes & Cruelties of this Prince, were too numerous to be mentioned, (as this history I trust has fully shewn) & nothing can be said in his vindication, but that his abolishing Religious Houses & leaving them to the ruinous depredations of time has been of infinite use to the landscape of England in general, which probably was a principle motive for his doing it, since otherwise why should a Man who was of no Religion himself be at so much trouble to abolish one which had for ages been established in the Kingdom.

And when she spoke for herself, she was funny and true:
"A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of."

Find more Jane here

(And let's all note how lucky everyone is that Lynne Truss wasn't around then...)

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