Jane Austen and quoting–all gone wrong?

Quoting is something I like to do.  Actually I send friends, family and colleagues quotes over email, for their birthdays, and also on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Another little tradition have started up and kept going.

It’s quite well known, that Austen with her wicked wit, has her fair share of quotable quips.  They grace stationary and all manner of accessories but this morning my mum was a little upset.  It seems Bill Belichick, coach of the U.S. football team the New England Patriots and his companion Linda Halliday, celebrated Valentine’s Day with a tropical vacation — lovely for them.

Per CBS Sports, Halliday noted the occasion by tweeting a photo of them on the beach and: “Her caption included the following quote: ‘You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love … I love … I love you!'”

Our local CBS affiliate here in Boston, WBZ* cited the quote as belonging to Jane Austen.

Thus upsetting my mum on several levels.

Because the words just did set right with her.

She could not quite remember what they said on the air — to tell me.

Kept saying it included over and over, “I love you.”  Which didn’t ring true to me.

So I promised to search online when I had a moment at work today, which I did.

First I found the article  about their vacation and the tweet, then realized the quote was probably from the most recent Pride and Prejudice movie (2005) adaptation with Keira Knightley in the role of Elizabeth Bennet.

“Bewitched” is kind of a deal breaker here.  Right now I’m without free access to the Oxford English Dictionary, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the kind of word that would have been used during the Regency by any author in a positive context.

With a little more searching I was able to confirm it —  “You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you.  I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”  These were Mr. Darcy’s lines spoken by actor Matthew Macfadyn, and written by screenwriter Deborah Moggach.  Sources are writer and Janeite, Deborah Yaffe’s blog/website and also the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)/Amazon.

Most Janeites are familiar with Austen’s original scene and dialogue, where Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth: ‘You are too generous to trifle with me.  If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once.  My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.’

Austen continues the scene but only with description and not specific dialogue: “Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he had alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances.  The happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had never felt before and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.”

Austen excerpts from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, Penguin Classics 1985.

To be clear, I’m not slighting Ms. Moggach’s work, I enjoyed her script, and personally the only part of the 2005 film, that I disliked was the reworking/reimagining of the scene at Pemberley.

Moggach’s interpretation of Austen are expanded and quite romantic but I still prefer the original dialogue.

*Full disclosure, I was an assignment desk intern at WBZ-TV in Boston during the summer of 1991, but at that time it was an NBC not a CBS affiliate.




Letter to Cassandra, Wed. June 19, 1799–scabies, hats with flowers or fruit, and something afoot in Hampshire.

Scabies and scheduling are the first concerns of this letter, written by Jane Austen visiting Bath with her brother Edward and his with Elizabeth (Eliza).  Promptly thanks her older sister Cassandra for her previous letter and expresses relief that she was not exposed to scabies (per the notes small parasites that borrow under the skin and cause a horrible itch), that are affecting their friends the Bigg family at Deane, as well as their avoiding the problem by their traveling schedule being changed: “not sorry as it turns out that our stay here has been lengthened.–I feel tolerably secure of our getting away next week, tho’ it is certainly possible that we may remain ’till Thursday the 27th.”

Duly she reports to her older sister about their brother Edward and their purpose for the visit, “Edward has been pretty well for this last Week, & as the Waters have never disagreed with him in any respect, We are inclined to hope that he will derive advantage from them in the end;–everybody encourages us in this expectation, for they all say that the effect of the Waters is felt afterwards more than on the spot.”  (Austen’s own emphasis.)

Aside from the health benefiting waters, Bath is known for shopping –Austen then reviews her shopping errands including her efforts to address the latest fashions of women’s hats including decorations or flowers or fruit.  “I cannot decide on the fruit till I hear from you again.–Besides, I cannot help thinking that it is more natural to have flowers grow out of the head than fruit.–What do you think on the subject?”

Austen then jumps to addressing and joking about some of what Cassandra has written to her, including a reference to her work that would eventually become Pride and Prejudice, “I would not let Martha read First Impressions again upon any account & am very glad that I did not leave it in your power.–She is very cunning, but I see through her design;–she means to publish it from Memory, & one more perusal must enable her to do it.”  Aside from the wicked wit here, wondering if Austen was tinkering with the manuscript and that is why she didn’t want Martha Biggs to read it — perhaps she wanted to make some edits or changes?

Austen then jumps to lace she sent Cassandra and her cloak, going from subject to subject and acknowledges, “I do not know what is the matter with me to day, but I cannot write quietly; I am always wandering away into some exclamation or other.–Fortunately I have nothing particular to say.”

Austen then relates walking to Weston one night and then clarifies at just being happy at having the chance at a long walk.  She describes their visit at Bath as being mostly at home and not visiting that much.  Edward’s health matters it seems to keep them out of the social circle and from her tone, Austen, her brother and his wife seem reluctant circulate, “We have not been to any public place lately, nor performed anything out of the common daily routine of No. 13, Square Bath.

Austen then relays that a dinner invitation was made and then cancelled because of the health of the other gentleman.  “Edward renewed his acquaintance lately with Mr. Evelyn who lives in the Queen’s parade & was invited to a family dinner, which I believe at first Eliz: was rather sorry at his accepting, but yesterday Mrs. Evelyn called on us & her manners were so pleasing that we liked the idea of going very much.–The Biggs would call her a nice Woman.–But Mr. Evelyn who was indisposed yesterday, is worse to day & we are put off.”

Her letter jumps to a reference to their party’s eventually arrival from Bath, “It is rather impertinent to suggest any household care to a Housekeeper, but I just venture to say that the Coffee Mill will be wanted eery day while Edw: is at Steventon as he always drinks Coffee for Breakfast.”

Austen then sends all kinds of regards to Cassandra and the family, before another injection of wicked wit, “‘On more accounts than one you wishes for our stay here to be lengthened beyond last Thursday.’–There is some Mystery in this.  What have you going on in Hampshire besides the Itch from which you want to keep us?” (Austen’s own emphasis.)

Jumps again to addressing news of a recent or a soon to be wedding and concern over the gift which was another shopping concern, along with their budget for the hat decorations, “Now I will give you the history of Mary’s veil, in the purchase of which I have so considerably involved you that is my duty to economies for you in the flowers.”

Jane’s dislike of shopping or her description of getting overwhelmed in trying to make quality purchases on their shared budget is apparent, “I had not difficulty in getting a muslin veil for half a guinea & not much more in discovering afterwards that the Muslin was think, dirty & ragged, & would therefore by no means do for a Gift.–I changed it consequently as soon as I could & considering what a state my impudence reduced me to, I thought myself lucky in getting a black lace one for 16 shillings—. I hope the half of that sum will not greatly exceed what You had intended to offer up on the alter of Sister in-law affection.

Austen includes a post script in the letter to Cassandra and per the notes, perhaps finally addressing the issue she was referencing before, about other activities in Hampshire besides the scabies.  “They do not seem to trouble You much from Manydown.  I have long wanted to quarrel with them, & I believe I shall take this opportunity.–There is no denying that they are very capricious!–for they like to enjoy their elder Sister’s Company when they can.”  Per the notes, the elder sister referred to is probably Jane Bigg, so perhaps this was a misunderstanding or some sort of riff around Jane Bigg’s visits or scheduling that somehow affected Cassandra?

All notes/cites to Jane Austen’s Letters, 4th Edition, Edited by Deirdre Le Faye, Oxford University Press, 2011.









Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: On Darcy and Elizabeth and “six inches deep in mud.”

When Elizabeth Bennet hears that her older sister Jane has fallen ill in Pride and Prejudice, part of her mother’s matchmaking scheme, she sets out to visit the invalid despite Mrs. Bennet’s protests.  “How can you be so silly,” cried her mother, “as to think of such a thing, in all this dirt!  You will  not be fit to be seen when you get there.”

“I shall be very fit to see Jane — which is all I want.”

Austen often has her female characters walking, their chief mode of transportation as familiar to the Austen sisters as well, but she further elaborate’s on her lead character’s progress, “Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last within view of the house, with wearing ancles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise.”  (Austen’s own spelling.)

Austen often documents the differences in meal times in her letters and novels.  The dining schedule at home in Steventon was much earlier and less fashionable than at her brother’s in Godmersham, Kent.

Reflecting this, Elizabeth Bennet arrives when the party at Netherfield and arrives when  the Bingley party at the great house is their taking breakfast. “She was shown into the breakfast-parkour, where all but Jane were assembled, and were her appearance created but a great deal of surprise. — That she should have walked three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather, and by herself, was almost incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth was received , however, very politely by them; and in their brother’s manners there was something better than politeness; there was good humour and kindness.”  (Austen’s own spelling.)

Mr. Bingley’s good humor aside, Austen duly notes the disapproval of  the female members of the party, at Elizabeth’s daring to walk alone, unattended and during bad weather.  Austen as author, notes the social impropriety while deftly building the character of her heroine and her relationship with her foil slash love interest Mr. Darcy.  Darcy already ascribed both by his friends and the entire Meryton neighborhood as a lauded member of the gentry would have definite opinions on Elizabeth’s actions or impropriety but Austen takes the opportunity to convey Darcy’s own private debate about Elizabeth while inserting a little bit of wicked wit about Mr. Hurst, “Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all.  The former was divided between admiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion, and doubt as to the occasion’s justifying her coming so far alone.  The latter was thinking only of his breakfast.”

Elizabeth ends up remaining at Netherfield to look after Jane.  The members of the house party continue to discuss and debate her long after she has settled into nurse her older sister. “Miss Bingley began abusing her as soon as she was out of the room.  Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and importance; and she had no conversation, no stile, no taste, no beauty.  Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley seem determined not to let the subject go, Mrs. Hurst  thought the same, and added

‘She has nothing, in short to recommend her, but being an excellent walker.  I shall never forget her appearance this morning.  She really looked almost wild.'”  (Austen’s own spelling.)

These sisters continue their discussion of Elizabeth Bennet, with Mrs. Hurst adding the famous observation, “Yes and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud.”

The sisters then try to draw Mr. Darcy into their bashing and optimally make sure he is on the same page.  Miss Bingley obviously has the vested interest here, as she is trying to both make conversation with Darcy and engage him in more than just a friendship but on intimate matters.  “You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure, said Miss Bingley; “and I am inclined to to think that you would not wish to see your sister much such an exhibition.”

And of course Darcy answers (about his sister Georgiana): “Certainly not.”

Darcy is of course, as Austen often notes, a man of few words.

Again, the invoking here of appropriate behavior of young ladies, and using the example of Georgiana, Darcy’s young, beloved sister is two-fold.  Miss Bingley is trying to make her point about how uncivilized their unwanted guest Elizabeth Bennet is, and she is trying to ascertain Darcy’s level of dislike as well.  Perhaps this is to foreshadow that Miss Bingley is uncertain about her status with Darcy herself and also she suspects he may have some sort of an attraction to Elizabeth.

Miss Bingley, is appealing to the snob in Darcy, basically trying to appeal to him to officially condemn Elizabeth being from a lower class, and that way Elizabeth is dismissed formally as any kind of a love interest or rival.

After an exchange with her brother back and forth, Miss Bingley circles around again to Darcy, this time baiting him with a bit of irony, for his previous admiration of Elizabeth’s physical appearance, “I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley, in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of your fine eyes.”

We had to wait for it but here it is, the reply from Darcy:  “Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.”

So, Darcy was privately and internally debated Elizabeth’s walk across the countryside but he wasn’t going to own up to it, he wasn’t going to trash her as a woman of bad behavior, and of course his admiration for the beauty of her eyes remains.  Here, he was officially on the record there for that compliment, and to Miss Bingley’s dismay, she is recognizing more so, that Elizabeth is attractive in Darcy’s eyes and a bit of a rival, so Miss Bingley then descends on pulling apart and reminding Darcy of the Bennet’s lower social class status and family connections.

The reply here may be that Darcy fell prey to their snobbery or perhaps he conceded the point in the larger, general conversation: “But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world,” replied Darcy.

The idea that six inches of mud, and all that it represents (Elizabeth’s independence nature), didn’t repeal Darcy is interesting, Austen is playing with the idea that Darcy has both private and public thoughts and statements about Elizabeth.

All Cites to Penguin Classics, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, reprinted 1985.














Letter to Cassandra, Sunday 2 June 1799; 13 Queen Square–Bath.

This letter follows one that is missing in the chronology of Austen’s correspondence.  Here she is writing to her older sister Cassandra in Stevenson from Bath, “I am obliged to you for two letters, one from Yourself & the other from Mary, for of the latter I knew nothing till on the receipt of Yours yesterday, when the Pigeon Basket was examined & I received my due.–”

Austen dives into business first, as for shopping and receiving what seems to be a reply to an order for certain wardrobe and latest fashionable clothing items from Bath: “I will lay out all the little judgment I have in endeavouring to get such such stockings for Anna as she will approve;–but I do not know that I shall execute Martha’s commission at all, for I am not fond of ordering shoes, & at any rate they shall have flat heels.”  (Austen’s own spelling.)  So apparently, not a fan of the shoe shopping.  Duly she returns to the themes of shopping and fashion, as well as shoes later in this letter.

First, this letter proceeds with updates first on their brother with a dose of her wicked wit, “What must I tell you of Edward?–Truth or Falsehood?–I will try the former & you may cause yourself another time.”  Seems she is being a bit cheeky here, but then gives an update, as it seems Edward has been somewhat ill from their travels or adjusting to the visit in Bath and is now recovering and taking part in some of the local activities, “He was better yesterday than he had been for two or three days before, about as well as while he was at Steventon–He drinks at the Hetling Pump, is to bathe tomorrow & try Electricity on Tuesday;–he proposed the latter himself to Dr. Fellowes, who made no objection to it, but I fancy we are all unanimous in expecting no advantage from it.”  The notes does not offer any details and so presuming here that “electricity” is some sort of a curative that is a bit of a long shot, or is well known generally not too be really effective.

Hard to say at this point, if Austen is having a good stay or not on this short-term visit to Bath, along with a scheduling update: “At present I have no great notion of our staying here beyond the Month.–I heard from Charles last week; they were to sail on wednesday.”  (Austen’s own capitalization.)

And onto with a very quick update on Mrs. Austen’s health which seems to always be a required part of her letters to Cassandra: “My Mother seems remarkably well.”  Before adding, “My Uncle overwalked himself at first & can now only travel in a Chair; but is otherwise is very well.”

Austen then returns to clothing and wardrobe matters and the letter includes a short sketch of lace, “My Cloak is come home, & here follows the pattern of its’ lace.”  (Austen’s own capitalization and punctuation.)  Again there is a discussion of money for purchasing more lace and fabric, as well as Austen’s observances and experiences shopping in Bath, as well as her describing the fashion trend of flowers and faux fruit decorating hats: “Flowers are very much worn, & Fruit is still more the thing.–Eliz: has a bunch of Strawberries, & I have seen Grapes, Cherries, Plumbs & Apricots–There are likewise Almonds & raisins, french plumbs & Tamarinds at the Grocers, but I have never seen any of them in hats.”  Per the notes,Tamarinds were pods from a tree native to East India and most likely the Bath shopkeeper were stocking them as a popular item in demand.

Austen then notes how much this fruit fashion trend will actually will cost to her older sister and possible bargain hunt, “A plumb or green gage would cost three shillings; Cherries & Grapes about 5 I believe–but this is at some of the dearest Shops;–My Aunt has told me of a very cheap one near Walcot Church, to which I shall go in quest of something for You.”  (Austen’s own spelling.)  “Dear” I believe in this context means expensive or costly.

Austen continues the fashion update with noting: “Eliz: has given me a hat & it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty stile of hat too–It is something like Eliza’s–only instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon.–I flatter myself however that you can understand very little of it, from this description.–Heaven forbid that I should ever offer such encouragement to Explanations, as to give a clear one on any occasion myself.”  (Austen’s own emphasis and spelling.)

The discussion of hats and fashion is left off at this point, for more of a social update, although it rings a bit of her being leery of meeting new people in Bath: “I spent friday evening with the Mapletons, & was obliged to submit to being pleased in spite of my inclination.”  After a updating Cassandra on names of new acquaintances, Austen returns with including her worries about purchases and bringing them back to Steventon, “I am afraid I cannot undertake to carry Martha’s Shoes home, for tho’ we had plenty of room in our Trunks when we came, We shall have many more things to take back & I must allow besides for my packing.”  (Austen’s own emphasis, spelling and punctuation.)

Austen then returns to telling Cassandra of the activities in Bath and apparently noting a disdain for concerts or loud music: “There is to be a grand gala on tuesday evening in Sydney Gardens;–a Concert with Illuminations & fireworks;–to the latter Eliz: & I look forward with pleasure, & even the Concert will have more than its’ usual charm with me, as the Gardens are large enough for me to get pretty well beyond the reach of its sound.”  (Austen’s own punctuation.)

There is an off and off sad tone here I detect reading all of this, perhaps she is just missing her older sister, as well as a return to another fashion or wardrobe discussion this time of patterns and caps: “I am quite pleased with Martha & Mrs. Lefroy for wanting the pattern of our Caps, but I am not so well pleased with Your giving it to them.”  Seems a little upset that Cassandra has been so generous with the patterns, but then continues: “Some wish, some prevailing Wish is necessary to the animation of everybody’s Mind, & in gratifying this, You leave them to form some other which will not probably be half so innocent.”  (Austen’s own punctuation and capitalization.)  There is really no way to know if she is referring back again to Martha and Mrs. Lefroy here, or if this an extension or a return to a discussion of another issue with Cassandra, as it seems more detailed and complex — but the specifics are lost.

This is where I wish, and I’m sure certain scholars for the return of the lost letters, and perhaps to read Cassandra’s letters — in order to “read” or “hear” Cassandra’s side of their conversations and discussions.

Austen closes the letter saying she will not forget to write to their brother Frank and includes a post script about their sisterly correspondence: “My Uncle is quite surprised at my hearing from you so often–but as long as we can keep the frequency of our correspondence from Martha’s Uncle, we will not fear our own.”  Per the notes, this may be a reference to either Reverend John Craven or Reverend Thomas Fowle, but why either man would have an opinion on Jane and Cassandra’s often writing to each other is a mystery for me.

All notes to, Jane Austen’s Letters, Collected and Edited by Deirdre Le Faye, Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press, 2011.








Letter to Cassandra Friday 17 May 1799 — Regency Road Trip to Bath

There is quite a gap in the collection of Jane Austen’s letters here, because the last letter in the collection was January 1799 — when Austen was writing to Cassandra who was still visiting their brother Edward and his family in Kent — anxiously wanting to know Cassandra’s return date home.  We can only presume Cassandra traveled home in March or perhaps April 1799 — for this letter picks up the time line in mid-May 1799.  And here, Austen is writing to Cassandra, now at home in Steventon.

This letter conveys another Regency road trip, Austen writes of her experience traveling with her mother, their brother Edward, Edward’s wife Elizabeth and per the notes, Elizabeth and Edward’s two eldest children Fanny and Edward Jr.

Describes the trip in stages and starting of on a good note:  “Our Journey yesterday went off exceedingly well; nothing occurred to alarm or delay us;–We found the roads in excellent order, had good horses all the way, & reached Devizes with easy 4 o’clock.”

Seems Cassandra had a fondness for certain foods, or Austen just missed her elder sister at dinner, “At Devizes we had comfortable rooms, & a good dinner to which we sat down about 5; amongst other things we had Asparagus & Lobster which made me wish for you, & some cheesecakes on which the children made so delightful a supper as to endear the Town of Devizes to them for a long time.”

There is a sort of a pause here to Cassandra, not so much about their sister-in-law but perhaps more about Austen’s own misgivings about traveling to Bath: “Poor Eliz: has had a dismal ride of it from Devizes, for it has rained almost all the way, & our first view of Bath has been just as gloomy as it was last November twelvemonth.”

Not sure if this sort of is her own fatigue from travel, but Austen seems to be noting to her sister some sort of a pause: “I have got so many things to say, so many things equally unimportant, that I know not on which to decide at present, & shall therefore go & eat with the Children.”

Relays their continued journey, notes stopping at Paragon and meeting a few acquaintances.  Again there were some issues with Jane Austin’s trunk, specifically its weight and transporting it.  Apparently, Austen was not a light packer when she traveled: “I have some hopes of being plagued about my Trunk; I had more than a few hours ago, for it was too heavy to go by the Coach which brought Thomas & Rebecca from Devizes, there was reason to suppose that it might be too heavy likewise for any other Coach & for a long time we could hear of no Waggon to convey it.”  (Austen’s own emphasis and spelling.)

Austen notes they were able to find someone to transport it, but she notes there was to be a bit of a delay: “At last however, we unluckily discovered that one was just on the point of setting out for this place–but at any rate, the Trunk cannot be here till tomorrow.”

Then jumps to the accommodations at Bath with a dose of her eye for detail and wicked wit:  “We are exceedingly pleased with the House; the rooms are quite as large as we expected, Mrs. Bromley is a fat woman in mourning, and a little black kitten runs about the Staircase.”

Details to Cassandra, all of their room assignments and gives updates about both Mrs. Austen’s and their brother Edward’s post-journey states of health:  “My Mother does not seem at all the worse for her Journey nor are any of us I hope, tho’ Edward seemed rather fagged last not & not very brisk this morning, but I trust the bustle of sending for Tea, Coffee & Sugar, & c., & going out to taste a cheese himself will do hi good,–”  (Austen’s own spelling and phrasing.)

The notes don’t elaborate, but for anyone unfamiliar I believe “fagged” here probably means tired.  And Austen’s concern seemed to be minimal.  Perhaps just caffeine withdrawal?  Seems that Austen was certain that some form of coffee and tea and breakfast would recharge their brother Edward.

Also includes concerns about the weather and updates:  “I hope it will be a tolerable afternoon; when we first came, all the Umbrellas were up, but now the Pavements are getting very white again.”

Austen then conveys the social news with it seems a little combination of both wit and  unease: “There was a long list of Arrivals here, in the Newspaper yesterday, so that we need not immediately dread absolute Solitude–& there is a public Breakfast in Sydney Gardens every morning, so that we shall not be wholly starved.”

Closes the letter with some general news, that Elizabeth had a good report about the children still home and Kent, and returns to her concerns about the trunk: “I am rather impatient to know the fate of my best gown, but I suppose it will be some days before Frances can get through the Trunk–In the mean time, I am with many thanks for your trouble in making it, as well as marking my Silk Stockings.”  Per the notes, Frank or Frances–was most like one of Edward and Elizabeth’s servants.

All notes to Jane Austen’s Letters, collected and edited by Deirdre LeFaye, 4th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011.