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Tuesday, August 26

Mrs. Elton Sez...Speechless (Almost) and Condescends Most Graciously

Dear Mrs. Elton,

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your part in uniting me with Mr. Arden. While I am sure your words were heartfelt and honorable and right (I own I was rather unclear in my request), they infuriated Mr. Arden for some unfathomable reason. Not only was he emboldened to protect my name, but after taking such a public step, he then performed the supreme honor of asking for my hand in marriage. Had you not had the wisdom to answer my letter as you did, Mr. Arden might never have openly expressed his feelings so soon.

Indeed, Mr. Knightley's intervention led to the fortuitous appointment of Mr. Arden as the rector of Stiltonbury. This position gave him the means to marry me.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your part in these events.

Gratefully yours,
Miss Eleanor Pritchard

My dear Mrs. Arden,

I wish you joy. It always gives me great, even heartfelt satisfaction, to be the means of uniting two such deserving young people. That you will have many years of happy marriage, and find as much comfort in the blessed state as me and my caro sposo, is the sincerest wish of both Mr. Elton and myself. Indeed, you need not trouble yourself to suppose that there is any little remains of ill feeling following the unfortunate altercation between our two husbands; both meant very well, I am sure, and as they are men of the cloth,they will know how to be forgiving, and treat one another quite as brothers in the future. As for ourselves, there could never be any shadow of discomfort between us, and I rejoice to see you a married woman, taking your place in the society of - Stiltonbury, you say, is your new home.

You do not mention how much a year the place will provide; but it must be a very good living to enable you to marry so soon. That is fortunate, as I imagine it to be rather an obscure little place, as we have never happened to encounter it in any of our exploring-parties up and down the country. I suppose it is too small to be famous in any particular way. Howsoever that may be, I assure you I am an avid recommender of country living. I have never felt at a loss in my own country life for a moment; but then, to be sure, Highbury is the most comfortable parish in the world. And it must not be forgotten that I am a person of so many resources, and so constantly taken up with my household, my parish, my instrument, my little concerts and select parties, not to mention the giving advice to a ceaseless stream of petitioners who for ever are consulting me - well, it is not likely that I should ever be in want of occupation. You will allow me to carry on in advice-giving to you, by right of my seniority of mind, and my experience as a clergyman's wife. And in such a capacity, I adjure you: Develop your resources, my dear Eleanor; do not neglect your parish or your piano, be as attentive as possible to Mr. Arden, and you will find yourself a very happy woman.

You need have no hesitation in extending our congratulations to your new husband, as well as to yourself; but in closing I must remind you of a little business of etiquette that you have understandably forgotten, you are such a "new broom" as a wife. You must no longer sign yourself Eleanor Pritchard, you know, my dear. You are Mrs. Arden now, and will hardly need to be reminded of this again. Do write again at any time, whenever you are in any little difficulty, and you know who will stand ready, as ever, to offer you advice in those troubles that will crop up in even the most unclouded life. They are especially likely to darken the horizon when a woman has a husband with a Temper, but on this subject I judge it best to be for ever silent.

Accept my wishes for your health and happiness, I remain,
Your devoted Friend,
Mrs. Elton

My Dear Mrs. Elton,

I am not Mrs. Arden yet, although I do consider a proposal the nearest thing to marriage. The banns will soon be posted, to be sure, but Mr. Arden is a man who takes deliberate and calculated steps. He cannot be rushed, and his wishes to renovate the parsonage house and secure adequate furnishings must first be met before we are man and wife. I will keep you apprised of our future plans, as I am desirous of inviting you to our wedding.

Most gratefully yours,
Miss Eleanor Pritchard

Mrs. Elton Sez is written/channeled by Austen-esque author Diana Birchall, whose latest book, Mrs. Elton In America, is now available. Please join her once a week for her sage and sometimes sardonic voice, as she graciously condescends to advise on a variety of subjects. Laurel Ann and Vic admit to channeling their Regency doppelgängers as they take turns writing the letters. They are usually surprised by Mrs. Elton's responses, whose mind is as unpredictable and lively as her tongue.

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Image: The Proposal, Wikimedia Commons, 1815 Woodcut

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