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|How late was Mr. Knightley?
Written by Robbin
(1/31/2011 11:48 a.m.)
I think earlier in the group read there was a comment wondering just how late Mr. Knightley visited Emma and Mr. Woodhouse in Ch. 1. I wondered about it too and this week’s chapters provide the regular dinner time at Hartfield—information I can use for a guess:
Later in the morning, and just as the girls were going to separate in preparation for the regular four o'clock dinner, the hero of this inimitable charade walked in again. (9)
I don’t think 4 PM is a very fashionable hour but it seems perfectly in keeping with Mr. Woodhouse’s old fashioned ways: “He loved to have the cloth laid, because it had been the fashion of his youth” (3). Mr. Knightley arrives at Hartfield after tea time:
The wedding over and the bride-people gone, her father and herself were left to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she had lost.
Emma smiled and chatted as cheerfully as she could, to keep him from such thoughts; but when tea came…
Emma spared no exertions to maintain this happier flow of ideas, and hoped, by the help of backgammon, to get her father tolerably through the evening, and be attacked by no regrets but her own. The backgammon-table was placed; but a visitor immediately afterwards walked in and made it unnecessary. (1)
Tea time was two to three hours after dinner (see L&T posts below) so if dinner was at four o’clock then tea was served at 6 or 7 PM. I will go with 7PM (three hours after dinner) in keeping with a letter JA wrote to Cassandra of their unfashionable hours in 1798:
“We dine now at half-past three, and have done dinner, I suppose, before you begin. We drink tea at half-past six. I am afraid you will despise us.” (see L&T 43317 below)
Mr. Knightley had a late dinner at the abbey and made his appearance at Hartfield after they finished tea and were readying for a rousing game of backgammon. I don’t think Mr. Woodhouse is one to rush through his tea so I’ll add another half hour in his honor. So by this reckoning Mr. Knightley visited Hartfield sometime between sometime 7:30 and 8 PM. Considering his nature it is not surprising Mr. Woodhouse thinks it a late hour:
"It is very kind of you, Mr. Knightley, to come out at this late hour to call upon us. I am afraid you must have had a shocking walk."
"Not at all, sir. It is a beautiful, moonlight night; and so mild that I must draw back from your great fire." (1)
Other ideas or suggestions for Mr. Knightley’s estimated time of arrival at Hartfield are very welcome. (:D)
Spoilers for Emma in these posts, beware:
The Georgian Morning Written by JulieW (January 28, 2006)
Meal times etc Written by JulieW (February 1, 2008)
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