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|The Martins (longish)
Written by Nina RG
(1/27/2011 2:55 p.m.)
In Ch 4 Harriet talks of the Martins' two very good parlours, the upper-maid who has been there for 25 years, the eight cows and their summer-house. What can we infer from this?
I don't know much about the parlours but I imagined that "two very good parlours, indeed" (4) is not bad for a farmer family? The upper-maid made me think of Mrs Price in MP who has trouble managing her servants and is always complaining of them. An upper-maid who has stayed with the family for 25 years shows that they get along well, I think, and that Mrs Martin is a good mistress of her house.
With regards to the cows, I found a blog by JulieW where she mentions the Martins' Alderney cows. I've linked it at the bottom of the post. To sum it up:
Having Alderneys to provide milk for the dairy was extremely fashionable during the late 18th/early 19th century. They were sometimes kept for decorative purposes (The Earl of Chesterfield even paid £147 to have a picture painted which included an Alderney cow), but their milk was very rich and creamy - in fact their milk was the richest that could have been had at the time.
Harriet talks of Mr Martin's "great good-nature in doing something or other" (4) which means that he is a man of action. Not a bad quality for a farmer. He was bid more for his wool than anyone else in the country (4) which again would testify to his qualities as a farmer.
Mr Martin reads the Agricultural Reports which according to my notes is a "publication with information on progressive farming methods", and he reads the Elegant Extracts, a popular anthology by Knox, aloud to his family. In these volumes were collected extracts by Swift, Gilpin, Voltaire, Shakespeare, Cowper, Milton, and others. I think this shows that Mr Martin not only works hard as a farmer, but also keeps his mind going. He is not a stupid, unintelligent man (nor are his mother and sisters as he reads aloud to them, and the girls went to school). Country bumpkins? No indeed!
In fact, he might know more of litterature than Harriet who seems to be mainly interested in gothic novels (although she did enjoy his reading of the Elegant Extracts), and Emma who makes many fine lists but never reads the books on the list.
You can read more about the Elegant Extracts here (again from JulieW's blog):
Harriet spent two happy months with the Martins who are already talking of another visit ((...) a very handsome summer-house in their garden, where some day next year they were all to drink tea) (4) - I took the "all" to include Harriet. She believes everybody speaks well of Mr Martin who is "so very obliging" (4) and when Harriet went back to Mrs Goddard Mrs Martin sent her a beautiful goose "the finest goose Mrs Goddard had ever seen" (4)
The Martins seem to be a warm, happy and active family, living a contended life. They are not unintelligent and Mr Martin is a good farmer. I think I rather like the Martins:D
|Mrs Martin's Alderney cows|
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