Saturday, June 30
As for Matthew MacFadyen fans, fear not. As you go through my blog, you will see plenty of photos of Mr. MacFadyen. I would like to showcase Lady Jane's favorite photo of Matthew and Keira Knightley. It is stunning.
Friday, June 29
"Let them laugh," I thought, handing it around and keeping quiet. Sure enough, the first Janeite, the youngest among us, opened the book playfully. As she leafed through the pages, she became thoughtful. "This is good," she declared, keeping the book a long time.
"Hah," I thought. "That shows 'em." At the end of the evening one of the Janeites borrowed the book, and all declared they were going to order it as soon as possible. The majority of us have graduate degrees, and all of us can only be described as discerning females, so this was no mean feat.
The contents in this book alone are worthy of praise. In addition to a clear and concise organization of thoughts and topics, the author, Joahn Klingel Ray, PhD, writes with much authority. The book is an outstanding addition to any Jane lover's library. Dr. Ray is an English Professor at the University of Colorado and the pAST President of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Believe me when I say: She knows her stuff. The book is rather large to put in one's purse, so I would bring The Jane Austen Handbook when traveling. But for reference at home, I would turn to this book as well.
Portsmouth Woodcut from Jane Austen Society Australia
ITV videos of Mansfield Park are available on YouTube. Click below for the first video, then look for parts 2-18 in the YouTube side bar.
"If Rushworth didn't have 12,000 pounds a year, what a stupid fellow he'd be." Edmund to Fanny in Mansfield Park 2007 ITV movie.
My Critique: This is a very disjointed and dark version of Mansfield Park. Only individuals who have read the novel can follow this plot. Click here to read the review by Gallivant, who sums this screen version up best: It isn't very flattering but unfortunately I agree.
Thursday, June 28
In November, I wrote about the scullery maid, a young girl or woman who occupied the lowest rung of the servant class. Her domain, when she was not hauling wood or water up steep stairs, was the scullery, where she labored from dawn until dusk.
The scullery, a room adjacent to the kitchen and with a door that led outside, was typically used for washing laundry, cleaning dishes and utensils, scrubbing pots and pans, preparing vegetables, and performing simple cooking tasks that aided the cook and kitchen maids. Herbs hung from the rafters, and big open sinks made of stone stood against the walls, such as in the photo above of the scullery at Harewood House.
The scullery floor was tiled and had a drain to drain water. Because of the heat and steam of cooking and washing, the room itself was cut off from the larder or pantry, or any other parts of the house that stored food. The scullery also needed to be near the kitchen yard, coal cellar, wood house, and ash bin, as these were the rooms that the scullery maid was most apt to use in performance of her duties.
You can find a description of a scullery and kitchen of Fota House, a Regency Style house in Ireland, here. And see the basement annex to the Regency Townhouse in Hove, East Sussex here. One can view the kitchen in a virtual tour, but not the scullery, which I suspect sits adjacent to the kitchen and coal bin.
A scullery maid held no rank in the servant hierarchy. She was at the absolute bottom. Mrs. Beeton, in her excellent Book of Household Management, writes in 1861:
The cook takes charge of the fish, soups, and poultry; and the kitchen-maid of the vegetables, sauces, and gravies. These she puts into their appropriate dishes, whilst the scullery-maid waits on and assists the cook. Everything must be timed so as to prevent its getting cold, whilst great care should be taken, that, between the first and second courses, no more time is allowed to elapse than is necessary, for fear that the company in the dining-room lose all relish for what has yet to come of the dinner.
Indeed, not all was hopeless for the scullery maid, as depicted above by Giuseppe Crespi in 1710. Mrs. Beeton continues:
The position of scullery-maid is not, of course, one of high rank, nor is the payment for her services large. But if she be fortunate enough to have over her a good kitchen-maid and clever cook, she may very soon learn to perform various little duties connected with cooking operations, which may be of considerable service in fitting her for a more responsible place. Now, it will be doubtless thought by the majority of our readers, that the fascinations connected with the position of the scullery-maid, are not so great as to induce many people to leave a comfortable home in order to work in a scullery. But we are acquainted with one instance in which the desire, on the part of a young girl, was so strong to become connected with the kitchen and cookery, that she absolutely left her parents, and engaged herself as a scullery-maid in a gentleman’s house. Here she showed herself so active and intelligent, that she very quickly rose to the rank of kitchen-maid; and from this, so great was her gastronomical genius, she became, in a short space of time, one of the best women-cooks in England.
Sculleries and the duties of the scullery maid remained essentially unchanged for centuries, as these 1910 images of the scullery at the White Lion Inn attest.
The battle has ended. It was touch and go for a time, but then my most ardent admirers voted en masse and I pulled ahead once and for all. However, lest you think I am gloating, I believe my opponent is a worthy young man. MacFadyen has not enjoyed my years of fame and fandom, and yet he gave me a good run. I salute him. As for Ms. Place, she has learned this lesson: Do not mess with a Firth or MacFadyen fan.
Lizzie, my love,
I concede only because I must. My time will come. Wait for me.
The ending vote was: Colin Firth - 64%, Matthew MacFadyen, 36%. However, the total vote was 1,218 votes. This is an enormous number of votes for a casual blog. Thank you for participating.
Wednesday, June 27
Tuesday, June 26
In High Society, Venetia Murray writes:
At the Pavilion, and in other grand households, dinner was still served a la fracaise, which meant that the majority of the dishes were arranged in the middle of the table: the people were supposed to help themselves from the nearest dish and then offer it to their neighbours. If, however, someone fancied one of the other dishes, which might well have been placed at the opposite end of the table, he had to ask a fellow guest within range, or one of the servants, to pass it. It was therefore impossible to sustain a conversation because someone was always interrupting and the servants were always on the move. (p. 182-83)
The chances of the Prince Regent's guests getting the exact dishes they wanted on the menu would not have been great. At best they would have received a random sampling of such dishes as:
Les poulardes a la Perigueux, La timbale de macaroni a la Napolitaine, La fricassee de poulets a l'Italienne, Les galantines de perdreaux a la gelee, Le petits poulets a l'Indienne, La cote de boeuf auz oignons glaces, Les escalopes de volaille aux truffes, Le vol-au-vent de quenelles a l'Allemande, La brioche au fromage, Les canards sauvages, Les genoises glacess au cafe, Les sckals au beurre, Le fromage bavarois aux avelines, and de petites souffles au chocolat.
Here is one of the recipes Antonin used for the extravagant banquet at Brighton Pavilion. (Illustration above: Banquet Hall at Brighton Pavilion)
Brighton Pavilion and Chateau Rothschild
20 vol-au-vent cases, the diameter of a glass
20 cocks-stones (testes)
10 lambs sweetbreads (thymus and pancreatic glands, washed in water for five hours, until the liquid runs clear)
10 small truffles, pared, chopped, boiled in consomme
20 tiny mushrooms
20 lobster tails
4 fine whole lambs' brains, boiled and chopped
1 French loaf
2 spoonfuls chicken jelly
2 spoonfuls veloute sauce
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mushrooms
4 egg yolks
2 chickens, boned
2 calves' udders
2 pints cream
Crumb a whole French loaf. Add two spoonfuls of poultry jelly, one of veloute, one tablespoon of chopped parsley, two of mushrooms, chopped. Boil and stir as it thickens to a ball. Add two egg yolks. Pound the flesh of two boned chickens through a sieve. Boil two calves' udders -- once cold, pound and pass through a sieve.
Then, mix six ounces of the breadcrumbs panada to ten ounces of the chicken meat, and ten of the calves' udders and combine and pound for 15 minutes. Add five drams of salt, some nutmeg and the yolks of two more eggs and a spoonful of cold veloute or bechamel. Pound for a further ten minutes. Test by poaching a ball in boiling water -- it should form soft, smooth balls.
Make some balls of poultry forcemeat in small coffee spoons, dip them in jelly broth and after draining on a napkin, place them regularly in the vol-au-vent, already half filled with:
a good ragout of cocks-combs and stones (testicles)
lambs' sweetbreads (thymus and pancreatic glands, washed in water for five hours, until the liquid runs clear)
four fine whole brains
Cover all with an extra thick sauce Allemande.Learn more about Antonin Careme
I won't duplicate the excellent post on Austen.blog, where you can find a link to the article. But I will quote one passage we all responded to with deep feeling:
But it's time to rescue Austen from her fans, lest the most adventurous and discerning readers pass her by. If you look at her books closely, you find them more bleak than charming: her characters are isolated within their own minds, trapped in tight spaces, forced to socialize daily with a small group of people they can never fully trust, including their own families. Not a one of her heroines ever shares everything with a true confidant—that is, up until the marriage we never see—and everybody has secrets and conflicting agendas.
This passage resulted in a prolonged and lively discussion. We do see the weddings in a few novels, but author David Gates is right, we do not see the marriages of our heroes and heroines. But "rescue Jane from her fans and save her for a more discerning reader?" What on earth is the man talking about?
To form your own opinion, go to Austen.blog and click on the link to read the rest of the article.
Monday, June 25
The lengthening of the formal season helped in establishing Brighton as a holiday destination. By 1804 the season started late July and lasted until after Christmas, and by 1818 it had been extended until March. Visitors of note were always mentioned in Brighton's newspaper, and there were a host of them. (Illustration below is of Fashionables in Brighton, 1826)
The first notables were both members of the Royal Family, the Duke of Gloucester in 1765, and then the Duke of York in 1766. From 1771 the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland were regular visitors and the town's popularity with his uncles might have been one reason why the Prince of Wales came in 1783 and why he stayed for eleven days.
The Prince of Wales, after he became Prince Regent, began to spend enormous sums of money refurbishing Brighton Pavillion to his own fanciful specifications. Click here for my post on this beautiful palace.
In the early 18th century visitors were left to their own devices to find entertainments, but by 1810 guide books pointed out sites of interests in surrounding villages, amusements to be had, and picturesque walks. The sea was also used for entertainments such as yacht races and water parties which were watched from the shelter of the Steine. Military manoevres on the Steine and the Downs were popular.
Read more about Brighton here:
- For a later history, click on A History of Photography in Brighton
Quotes: Georgian Brighton, 1740-1820, Sue Farrant, University of Sussex Occasional Paper No. 13
Sunday, June 24
The housekeeper proudly escorts the trio, showing off the fine furniture and art work and allowing them free reign of the grounds. Jane describes Elizabeth's first introduction to Pemberley House:
On applying to the place they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was.
The housekeeper came; a respectable-looking elderly woman, much less fine, and more civil, than she had any notion of finding her.
Later on, Elizabeth moves through the rooms:
And of this place, thought she, I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and aunt...
Jane might well have patterned the housekeeper in her novel after Mrs. Garnett, the housekeeper who showed visitors around Kedleston Hall, the Palladium Mansion in Kent built by the Curzon Family during the 18th century.
Samuel Johnson visited the house in 1777 with James Boswell, who described meeting the housekeeper: Our names were sent up, and a well-drest elderly Housekeeper, a most distinct Articulator, showed us the House...
A portrait of Mrs. Garnett painted by Thomas Barber and clutching a guide book hangs towards the front of the house. Dr. Johnson's description of Kedleston Hall might just as well have been a description of Pemberley as well:
The day was fine and we resolved to go by Kedleston, the seat of Lord Scarsdale, that I might see his Lordship's fine house. I was struck with the magnificence of the building, and the extensive park, covered with deer, cattle and sheep delighted me. The number of oaks filled me with respect and admiration. The excellent smooth gravel roads, the large piece of water formed by his Lordship with a handsome barge upon it, the venerable church, now the chapel, just by the house, in short the grand group of objects agitated and distended my mind in a most agreeable manner.
Walking the grounds became part of the experience of visiting a country estate. Gardens had become less formal and had moved toward a more natural style, striking a balance between naturalism and formality. Many of these new gardens were designed to show visitors around the grounds, showing off vistas from several garden points and from small buildings, or follies.
- You and Yesterday provides more information about Kedleston Hall
- Here's a clip of Elizabeth's Encounter With Mr. Darcy at Pemberley in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice
Saturday, June 23
Friday, June 22
For the fans of the 2005 version, here is your site: Every Girl is Looking for Her Mr. Darcy. And if you think you have seen everything about Matthew, here is a flipbook about Matthew as Mr. Darcy created on June 17, 2007.
At this moment we are at 50-50%. So VOTE! (Frankly, I like them both, but I'll keep that secret to myself.) Want to vote? Click here and scroll down to the poll.
Then Lady Jane rallied her readers to vote for Mr. Macfadyen and they answered her clarion call. Now Mr. Firth's votes have stagnated. Have all the Colin Firth fans voted already? The contest currently stands at Mr. Madfadyen 59% and Colin Firth at 41%. Oh, the injustice of it all.
What is the prize? The winning Mr. Darcy will have his photo put up on my sidebar. Can there be no greater accolade?
So, Mr. Darcy fans. VOTE for your favorite Mr. Darcy! You may vote once per day for a week. Click here to vote (scroll to the bottom).
Graciously thankful for your interest in this modest blog, Ms. Place
Thursday, June 21
We could continue this glaringly lopsided battle between our favorite Mr. Darcys, gentle readers, but that would be unseemly and unkind. So, out of compassion for Mr. Macfadyen, I am declaring Colin Firth the victor of this short but fierce contest. After 36 tense nail-biting hours, poor Matthew received nary a vote. The polls will remain open for a few more days, just in case Mr. Macfadyen supporters want to come to his rescue, but I say enough is enough.
Here is another breathtaking picture of our gorgeous Colin in modern garb.
Wednesday, June 20
If you haven't seen this analysis yet, here's a fun Battle of the Mr. Darcys.
For the Colin Firth/Darcy fans,here's the infamous "Wet Shirt" scene from P&P 1995, and Elizabeth's unexpected encounter with Mr. Darcy during her visit to Pemberley. This is the moment I fell in love with Colin, but I have been hopelessly in love with Mr. Darcy since I was fourteen.
Of the two men, who do you prefer as Mr. Darcy? Inquiring minds want to know. Please note, as of midnight 6-27-07 EST US, all voting has paused.
Thank you for the correction, Kimberley!
- The English Class System, particularly the section before the Victorian era
Tuesday, June 19
Monday, June 18
Children in the early 19th century lived in vastly different worlds according to their incomes and circumstances
While the rich could afford to educate their children during the Georgian and Regency periods, the children of the working classes knew no such luxuries since there were no free state-run schools at the time.
Many children from lower income families were expected to work, often in textile mills and factories. In 1788, two-thirds of the individuals working in factories were children who worked 13 hours a day, six days per week. In fact, women and children were often the preferred laborer since they earned lower wages. Children, being quite small, were employed to repair machinery or keep them in order, often while the machines were still running. This practice resulted in many accidents or fatalities. One apprentice in a mill described his accident:
There was a great deal of cotton in the machine, one of the wheels caught my finger and tore it off, it was the forefinger of my left hand. I was attended by the surgeon of the factory Mr Holland and in about six weeks I recovered.
Children's books became popular during the end of the 18th century and early 19th century, entertaining those privileged children who could read. At the same time, funding for the local parishes that took care of pauper children, orphans, and poor families began to decrease or dry up.
Mill owners took up some of the slack, taking care of the children that parishes could no longer support. Samuel Greg of Quarry Bank Mill, an owner with a sense of fairness, insisted that: each child he took on came to him with a new set of clothing, in return he promised the Parish that he would give 'sufficient Meat, Drink, Apparel [clothing], Lodging, Washing, and other Things necessary and fit for an Apprentice.'
By the early 19th century, a series of factory acts were passed to restrict the hours that children were allowed to work, and to improve safety. (Wikipedia).
Learn more about children during this period in the following links:
Book image from the Republic of Pemberley, Ingres portrait from the Louvre
Friday, June 15
George Austen was born in 1731. His mother died in childbirth and his father died a year after marrying a new wife, who did not want the responsibility of taking care of the young lad. George then lived with an aunt in Tonbridge and earned a Fellowship to study at St. John’s. He received a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts, and a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Oxford. Called "the handsome proctor", he worked as an assistant chaplain, dean of arts, Greek lecturer while going to school.
He first met Cassandra Leigh in Oxford when she was visiting her uncle Theophilus. After they married, George became rector in several country parishes. The family grew by leaps and bounds, and eventually he and Cassandra Leigh had six sons and two daughters. Shortly after Jane was born, her father said: "She is to be Jenny, and seems to me as if she would be as like Henry, as Cassy is to Neddy.”
By all accounts George and Cassandra Austen had a happy marriage. His annual income from the combined tithes of Steventon and the neighboring village of Deane was around 210 pounds. The sales of his farm produce also supplemented his income. With so many mouths to feed, the family was not wealthy, to say the least. To augment his income even more, Rev. George Austen opened a boarding school at Steventon Rectory for the sons of local gentlemen.
Rev. Austen encouraged Cassandra and Jane to read from his extensive library. For entertainment, the family read to each other, played games, and produced plays. George Austen must have been proud of his daughter's accomplishments. He tried to get Pride and Prejudice published. The "Memoir" by Edward Austen-Leigh contains a letter from George Austen to Mr. Cadell, the publisher, dated November 1797, in which he describes the work as a "manuscript novel comprising three volumes, about the length of Miss Burney's 'Evelina'" and asks Mr. Cadell if he would like to see the work with a view to entering into some arrangement for its publication, "either at the author's risk or otherwise." Unfortunately, nothing came of this query, but P&P became hugely popular among the friends and family who read it before it was published in a much shorter form. The original 3-part manuscript no longer exists. Regardless, countless readers have delighted in the much shorter version for 200 years.
The Rev. George Austen died January 21, 1805, where the Austen family had moved after living in Steventon for over 30 years. (The silhouettes above are of George and Cassandra). On the 2nd. January 1805, Jane Austen wrote sorrowfully to her brother, Frank: "We have lost an excellent Father. An illness of only eight and forty hours carried him off yesterday morning between ten and eleven. His tenderness as a father, who can do justice to?"
The inscription on Rev. George Austen's grave reads:
"Under this stone rests the remains of
the Revd. George Austen
Rector of Steventon and Deane in Hampshire
who departed this life
the 1st. of January 1805
aged 75 years."
Double click on this grave marker to read the words. (From: Find a Grave Memorial)
Read about Jane's mother, Cassandra Austen nee Leigh on this site. Click here.
Ah, England. One of the chilliest periods I ever spent in my life was April in London.
Be that as it may, when I saw this scene in Persuasion 2007, I realized how much the settings added to the drama in this film adaptation. The Cob seemed cold and forbidding, and the waves were ominous. Considering the state of Captain Wentworth's and Anne's feelings, and their anxiety (or fearfulness) of being rejected by the other, this scene was quite apropos.
Persuasion 2007, Part One can be viewed here. You will find the other video segments in the sidebar.
In addition, you can also watch the 1995 version of Persuasion here.
Critique: The 2007 version of Persuasion is quite serious and somber. The scenery is lush and gorgeous, and I find the costumes more authentic in this production than in other cinematic depictions of Jane's work. Rupert Penry-Jones is the perfect Jane Austen hero and his handsome Captain Wentworth is quite to my liking. However, this production is not as full realized as the 1995 version of Persuasion, and I preferred Amanda Root as Anne Elliot over Sally Hawkins.
Wednesday, June 13
Baptism cloth, 1800, shows a fine example of chain stitch embroidery during this period. This is not one of Jane Austen needlework samples.
This Norwich Shawl was embroidered in 1800, and used an embroidery pattern that would have been popular in northern Europe.
To learn more about Jane Austen as a needlewoman, click on the following links:
- Pride and Patchworkdiscusses Jane Austen as an accomplished needlewoman.
- Jane Austen's Quilt,an article from the Jane Austen Centre, discusses the quilt in detail.
- The Jane Austen Quilt, an article from the Jane Austen Society, also discusses the quilt at length.