Thursday, March 3, 2011

3/3 and a Special Guest Appearance

It appears that nobody concerned with the Monday questions thought to take up one aspect of the Arranged Marriage. It appears to have been made four years ago. This might put the LW on somewhat less secure footing. Given the general lack of decision displayed in her character, it does not seem implausible that she might have at the very least appeared to acquiesce in the arrangement at the time it was devised. Perhaps her college education was riding on it, whether stated or unstated, and she didn't want to mention an inconvenient fact in her question for one reason or another. But there were, at the time, a number of possible positive outcomes. She might have fallen in love with her parents' choice at first sight. Or he might have refused to marry her and spared her the agony. But it appears that everything has turned out for the worst. He's nice but not her idea of The One, and he appears to love her. If she really wants to give herself her best chance to look for an in, discussing his feelings with him might give her some sort of start. As for the concept, either one has the right sort of mind to be able to be up to it or not. Although it seems she has not, there is also the chance that it could be the lesser or least evil of her choices.

Moving on, it appears that the Prudecutor may have been making an attempt to gain my approval, or the improvement in her writing, while not sufficient to the purpose but still an advance, could be a complete coincidence. But it does tie in neatly with the appearance of today's special guest:

L1: Upon my honour, I don't entirely understand how I came to be here or why. I know Miss Woodhouse - I beg her pardon, I ought to remember to call her Mrs Knightley by now, not but that I didn't at one time wonder... Mrs Cole once whispered something to me, but even at the time, I distinctly remember, because it was the week my mother began wearing her new petticoat, and I remember telling Mrs Cole that no, Mr Elton was a very worthy young, but - oh, dear, I do let my tongue run away with me from time to time. I am a talker, you know, rather a talker, but I have been told by Mr Knightley that it was actually a recommendation for this undertaking, and of course Mr Knightley must know best. He has always been such a kind and attentive neighbour, Mr Knightley, especially when Jane stayed in Highbury before her marriage - my niece, Jane Fairfax - oh, I beg her pardon, Mrs Churchill, I should say, and now gone off to live in Yorkshire, where I am told the weather is not the most... but I was speaking of Mr Knightley, and the way he used to send us all his apples from Donwell Abbey, and how cross his excellent man William Larkin was with him. But now, where was I?

Oh, now it appears that I am supposed to consider a number of questions and consider the merits of what they were told by a particular advisor. Now it is most difficult to be an advisor, as I well recall from when the Westons gave their delightful ball at the Crown Inn, and sent for Jane and myself on purpose to tell them and Miss Woodhouse as she was then whether their plans for what to do about the draughty passage to the supper-room at the Crown would be generally pleasing. But I am rather pleased with myself for how I managed on that occasion, as I did not mention the draughty passage to Mr Woodhouse, not even once. Had he known, he might have insisted on Miss Woodhouse not attending the ball, which would have been dreadful, even if in the end the ball was opened by dear Mrs Elton and Mr Weston. But, oh dear, where was I?

Oh, yes, the letters. Mr Knightley did tell me all about these letters. The first letter makes me very sad. The poor dear, LW1 was all alone when her grandfather died, unable to go and be with her family and with her gentleman friend out of town. Of ocurse, I have never had a gentleman friend, but I have lost my father, as well as wondered from time to time whatever I should do if I were to lose my dear mother, and every year or so when Mother has a cold I sometimes wonder, alhough thankfully Jane has told me that there will always be a home for me in Yorkshire, even if the weather is not always the most congenial... but Mr Knightley has told me I must stick to the point, and I really shall try.

Poor LW1 must have been truly distraught to have misconducted herself with her former gentleman friend. Now, of course, I have never done anything of the sort myself in the entire course of my life, although, naturally, one hears of these things... Mrs Cole once whispered to me... but I never really thought that Miss... oh! dear me, I almost said something I ought not to have said. It is so easy, isn't it, for a thing to slip out when one is unaware? So I imagine in that respect that I know some of what LW1 must have felt when her grandfather died. And I certainly know what it is like to mislay something that one was given by one's mother. Not, of course, that I ever had a pair of diamond earrings, although my mother did once for Christmas give me the most charming bonnet, the most delightful bonnet I ever saw, save, of course, for what Miss Woodhouse - oh, I beg her pardon, Mrs Knightley, was able to afford, and then of course Mrs Elton has always been so very kind as to let me know that she has always had the most excellent understanding of fashion. But, where was I?

Yes, the diamond earrings. The former gentleman friend has found them, and offered to return them. I cannot say anything about his demand for a favour in return, upon my honour! But they have not been returned. I suspect that LW1 might find they are delivered to her when she least expects it, much in the way all of Highbury waited month after month for a view of Mr Frank Churchill, who was always expected on a visit to his father and stepmother but he never came, and then one day, suddenly, there he was with only the least bit of notice in the world!

Mr Knightley has been considering the situation of this LW, and he is of the opinion that he wants to know more about the grandfather's death before he makes a final pronouncement. I believe he thinks that, if LW1 had expected her grandfather to die at about that time, she might have had more foresight. I don't like to judge the poor dear, who might not have realized how hard she would have been hit by such a distressing event, especially if it were entirely unexpected, but then, Mr Knightley thinks that all the people who have been making comments supporting her have been very near giving her a permanent pass for poor behaviour, and, if they do that, how can the poor dear ever be in a relationship of any sort unless it is with someone who wants to be caregiver? But I'm sure everyone else is far more clever than I, and so I should not hold up my judgment against anyone's.

Now I'm told at this point there is supposed to be a moral to the story, and the one that comes to mind is that people who live in stone houses shouldn't drop their spectacles. That is certainly true enough. My poor mother once dropped her spectacles, and could hardly see a thing before they were repaired, even though her eyesight is remarkably good for her age.

L2: Now this LW is someone much more within my own poor realm of comprehension. Not that I have ever been a mother, of course - oh, dear me! I should have had to have misconducted myself in the same way that LW1 did, and that would have been dreadful! But Mrs Goddard once whispered to me that Mrs Cole told her that she once heard Miss Woodhouse say that, as an aunt, I was as fond as any mother could be; wasn't that a lovely thing for dear Miss Woodhouse to say about me? But dear Jane was always so clever and accomplished, far more than her dear friend Miss Campbell - you know, Mrs Dixon now, whose husband sent my mother the most lovely new shawl on the occasion of their marriage, even though Colonel Campbell was not sure that they made absolutely the best choice, but Mother wears it every evening in the late autumn and winter, and it is a delightfully warm shawl; since she has had it, she has hardly had a cold at all. Indeed, Mr Frank Churchill once remarked that must be rather hard on poor Mr Perry if we all remain in such excellent health, but I believe he said that at Hartfield, and Mr Woodhouse was quick to correct him that Mr Perry is always most attentive when any of us is ill, and always so easy in his terms that, if I did not absolutely make him charge me what he would charge Mr Knightley, he would quite impoverish dear Mrs Perry and all their children. But, where was I?

Oh, yeas, dear Jane and how clever she always was. It definitely seemed Providential when it appeared that she would have to be a governess, and I certainly could never understand a word of Italian or German or all those other languages she spoke, except maybe for a little French. But LW2's boy may go on to have quite a career in some field where the utmost will be required of his intellect, and I am sure, in that case, she will be glad for him to be as clever as possible. Jane was particularly good at making her dresses, and I was convinced that, when she made herself a dress for the Weston's ball at the Crown Inn, even a London dressmaker could not have done so well, and, except for Mrs Elton, who told me that her gown was the absolute last word in what was being worn in Bristol and Bath that season, although even then, I never told her, but I rather liked Jane's dress better, and Mrs Perry once whispered to me... but where was I?

Oh, yes, irritating clever young people. I am afraid I am all too often a trial myself to those with whom I am in company. Miss Woodhouse - I apologize, Mrs Knightley, I mean, but she was still Miss Woodhouse at the time - Miss Woodhouse, I well recall, seemed quite exasperated with me on the occasion of the excursion to Box Hill, when we went there and there was some woman in an Irish car party who bore the most astonishing resemblaqnce to Mrs Elton... but then Mr Churchill told us we were supposed to tell Miss Woodhouse something very clever, or two things only moderately clever, or three things very dull indeed. Now I am sure that I always say three dull things as soon as ever I open my mouth, but then Miss Woodhouse told me there was a difficulty, as I should be limited as to number, only three at once. I did feel rather like LW2 at the time, and resolved to hold my tongue better in future, but Mrs Knightley has always been such a dear friend, always so kind to myself and Mother, and as LW2 does not indicate that her son has ever said anything of the sort to her, I am sure that, as many clever people appear to do, he is quite fond of her for her own qualities without requiring that she be a genius. Why, Mrs Martin once whispered to me - you know, Miss Smith, she was, such a pretty girl, and Mrs Knightley was so fond of her - but where was I?

Oh, yes, saying the Wrong Thing, which reminds me that I was quite to blame when dear Miss Taylor became Mrs Weston. I ought to have realized that Mr Woodhouse never approved of wedding-cake in his life, it being the sort of food that he always thought nobody's stomach could bear, although I had two slices of it and was not in the least indisposed - actually two, it was so delicious that it made me quite greedy! But I foolishly mentioned in Mr Woodhouse's hearing how kind it was of Mr and Mrs Weston to give a piece of the cake to each of the Perry children, with Mr Perry's full approval, but Mr Woodhouse seemed to become quite ill. Mrs Weston told me that Mr Woodhouse had just been saying that Mr Perry thought wedding-cake unlikely to agree with most constitutions unless taken of in moderation, and I do remember that Mr Woodhouse was constantly worried about the wedding-cake until the last crumb of it had been ate up.

Oh, is it time for the moral now? Well, since we are talking about clever young people, a stitch in nine saves time. That reminds me of the petticoat dear Jane embroidered for Mother for Christmas, and I never thought she would have it finished for the day, but she did it quite beautifully.

L3: Now, Mr Knightley seems rather cross with the original advisor to LW3. It appears that she believes that all married couples are entitled to a wedding-trip. It's all very nice for most of them, and Mr Knightley himself took Mrs Knightley to the seaside, once his brother, Mr John Knightley, was able to bring his family down from London to Hartfield to prevent Mr Woodhouse from having to be quite on his own for the duration. But entitlement is a dangerous thing, Mr Knightley was saying only the other day, and if we have that sort of entitlement, where will it end? Why, Mrs Elton, who always swears she is the least ostentatious soul on the face of the planet, is quite convinced that, if given free reign to believe in some sense of entitlement, young brides will make the most outlandish demands upon their poor pappas and mammas and everyone in the least bit concerned with their wedding-parties! But, where was I?

Oh, yes, wedding-trips. So they wish to go to the Continent, do they, but are loath to leave his little girl in inadequate care, or, at least, he is loath to do so. Now I fear that here in Highbury we have little knowledge of divorce. Even Mrs Elton, who claims to have cut the acquaintance of several divorced people in bristol and Bath, always maintains that, however much dear Mr Elton might annoy her, she would never resort to such an extremity. But it must be very hard upon the poor little girl, as I am sure it was on Frank Churchill, who was but a little boy when his mamma died, and Mr Weston not remarrying until his son was well into his twenties! If it had not been for the Churchills taking in their nephew, I don't know how they all would have got on. But, where was I?

Oh, yes, stepmothers. Now, Mrs Weston has been an excellent example of a devoted stepmother, and LW3 would do well to take her as a sort of pattern. And the Westons, of course, had no wedding-trip. Married couples can do very well without one, and Miss Weston is really quite everything that any fond parent could desire. Mrs Goddard once whispered to me that her sister in London, who knows the John Knightleys, thinks that there might be a scheme in motion to make a match between one of the John Knightley's children and Miss Weston, when they are all old enough, of course, to think of marrying, for one must think of so many things, mustn't one? My own modest observation here is that LW3 does not seem to have the best understanding of her fiance's attitude towards his daughter and his parenting duties. Surely, and Mr Knightley will doubtless support me here, it is necessary to discuss all the living arrangements most thoroughly before one has the wedding, is it not? Whether the little girl goes with her father and stepmother on the wedding-trip is of much less importance than what will come afterwards. Why, imagine what might have happened had Mr Knightley not planned everything in great detail about going to live at Hartfield and leaving Donwell - it would never have done to have not discussed the matter thoroughly in all its aspects.

I suppose the moral is, spoil the rod and spare the child, for I never could bear to think of poor little children being punished with a rod, and thankfully Mrs Goddard quite agrees with me. If LW3 wants someone used to dealing with little girls, perhaps she should spend a week visiting Mrs Goddard's school.

L4: Now, I am not sure I entirely comprehend the point of this letter. Of course, as I have said, I am a talker, rather a talker, and yet I am quite sure I don't understand why it would be more efficient for me to sit at home than to do what I do. Mr Knightley has explained it all to me, but I don't really have the headpiece to understand it all. All I know is, I go and call on Mrs Cole, and then I go and call on Mrs Perry, and then I go and call on Mrs Goddard at the school, and on Mrs Stokes at the Crown, and then to the Vicarage to call on Mrs Elton, and if the weather is fine I go to Randalls and call on Mrs Weston, and dear Mr Woodhouse often sends the carriage so that Mother and I might visit him at Hartfield of an evening - he is so fond of his rubber of whist, and Mother has whispered to me that it is highly beneficial to our income. But, where was I?

Of course, calling. I make my little round of calls, and by the time I reach home I've heard all the news in the village, and one or two little things besides, such as why Mrs Perry is not a great favourite with Mr woodhouse, but oh! I nearly said something I ought to keep to myself again, oh, dear!

Perhaps it would be a good time for me to conclude with the moral that a pound lost is many pennies spent, as apparently is the case for people who go in for all the new-fangled machinery Mr Knightley told me about, but of course I cannot get my head around it, and so advise LW4 just to go and visit all her friends, and that should make for a most happy day for her, shouldn't it?

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