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|Full of Thanks & Full of News (long)
Written by Robbin
(2/15/2011 11:03 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Miss Bates drops a bombshell (chapt. 21), penned by Delories
In the chapters this week Miss Bates is “Full of thanks, and full of news” (21) and trivial and not so trivial information as usual. I agree Delories that Ch. 21 is a gem but I do have a couple of differences of opinion on the meaning of what Miss Bates lets slip:
Miss Bates unintentionally upstaged Mr. Knightley by announcing “Mr. Elton is going to be married" to “A Miss Hawkins of Bath.”
This is information rather than news, it is trivial and a sad commentary on the Bates situation: “my mother was so afraid that we had not any salting-pan large enough”
Jane has never met Mr. Elton which is not surprising since this is her first visit in two years (19) and he has only been the vicar for two years (16). “Jane, you have never seen Mr. Elton! no wonder that you have such a curiosity to see him."
Surprisingly Mr. Elton has a nice bone in his body: “His extreme attention to my mother -- wanting her to sit in the vicarage-pew, that she might hear the better…”
Evidence of Jane’s travels with the Campbells: “Jane says that Colonel Campbell is a little deaf. He fancied bathing might be good for it -- the warm bath -- but she says it did him no lasting benefit.”
There was a rumor or suspicion Emma was Mr. Elton’s object. Mr. Elton is good friends with Mr. Cole. To Emma Mr. Elton’s “propensity to dine with Mr. Cole” was one of his failings. Mr. Elton might have bragged of his persuasion Emma was receptive to his attentions that inturn passed it to his wife who gossiped it to Miss Bates:
Well, I had always rather fancied it would be some young lady hereabouts; not that I ever -- Mrs. Cole once whispered to me -- but I immediately said, 'No, Mr. Elton is a most worthy young man -- but' -- In short, I do not think I am particularly quick at those sort of discoveries. …At the same time, nobody could wonder if Mr. Elton should have aspired -- Miss Woodhouse lets me chatter on, so good-humouredly. She knows I would not offend for the world.
I think Miss Bates may have unwittingly outed Jane. She told her aunt personal opinions of Mr. Dixon which she refused to divulge to Emma in Ch. 20. Where the opinions she gave to Emma were general she told Miss Bates that Mr. Dixon is a well-looking man:
Mr. Dixon, you say, is not, strictly speaking, handsome."
"Oh! as for me, my judgment is worth nothing. Where I have a regard, I always think a person well-looking. But I gave what I believed the general opinion, when I called him plain."
Miss Bates thinks Jane may be tired, health again, and is glad to claim an arm for her. I don’t know if Miss Bates is matchmaking her niece with Mr. Knightley but is he leaving at the same time with a purpose to escort them or is it just coincidence? His name is Knightley: Oh! Mr. Knightley is coming too. Well, that is so very! I am sure if Jane is tired, you will be so kind as to give her your arm."
Miss Bates is careful of Jane’s health: “Jane, you had better go home directly -- I would not have you out in a shower! We think she is the better for Highbury already”
Delories, I thought when Miss Bates asked “How does Miss Smith do? She seems quite recovered, now” in Ch. 21 she was referring to Harriet’s cold, the one that kept her from attending Mr. Weston’s Christmas party in Ch. 14 & 15.
Miss Bates is not prominent at the Cole’s party in Chapter 26 but via Mrs. Weston she does reveal Mr. Knightley’s kindness in troubling his carriage for herself and Jane:
I made my way directly to Miss Bates, to assure her that the carriage would be at her service before it took us home; for I thought it would be making her comfortable at once. Good soul! she was as grateful as possible, you may be sure. 'Nobody was ever so fortunate as herself!' -- but with many, many thanks, -- 'there was no occasion to trouble us, for Mr. Knightley's carriage had brought, and was to take them home again.'
In Chapter 27 Miss Bates gives us a nicer view within the Bates home:
Frank can be truly obliging: 'For, would you believe it, Miss Woodhouse, there he is, in the most obliging manner in the world, fastening in the rivet of my mother's spectacles.
Miss Bates reveals more of Mr. Knightley’s kindness to her family. He gives them apples from two particular apple trees every year and because Jane likes them gave them the rest of his supply in a second batch:
He sends us a sack [of apples] every year; …he [Mr. Knightley] asked whether we were not got to the end of our stock. …the very same evening William Larkins came over with a large basket of apples ... it was all the apples of that sort his master had; he had brought them all -- and now his master had not one left to bake or boil.
Jane’s residence with Campbells has not prepared her for the mortifications of being quite poor and dependent upon neighbors for kindness, even onto food. I think Jane’s near quarrel with Miss Bates reveals a great deal of pride, not wrong-headed pride, but the kind that makes it difficult or unpleasant to accept charity. Perhaps this is an example of why Jane and the Campbells feel it may be best for Jane to give up society and begin her life as a governess sooner rather than later:
No, I should not say quarrelled, for we never had a quarrel in our lives; but she was quite distressed that I had owned the apples were so nearly gone; she wished I had made him believe we had a great many left. Oh! said I, my dear, I did say as much as I could.
The Bates must send the apples out to be baked: “Then the baked apples came home, Mrs. Wallis sent them by her boy” It is another sad commentary on their situation.
Miss Bates worries about Jane’s appetite: “…and she really eats nothing -- makes such a shocking breakfast, you would be quite frightened if you saw it.”
They were saving the few apples left for Jane, perhaps because of her poor appetite, delicate health:
“about the middle of the day she [Jane] gets hungry, and there is nothing she likes so well as these baked apples, and they are extremely wholesome, for I took the opportunity the other day of asking Mr. Perry… I could not absolutely say that we had a great many left -- it was but half a dozen indeed; but they should be all kept for Jane”
Lastly, the Bates ladies are always grateful for the generosity of their neighbors but I thought it was amusing how Miss Bates ramblings in chapters 21 and 27 reveal they do not always follow Mr. Woodhouse’s ideas about food. (Not that I blame them.) His advice for pork loin preparation is “steaks, nicely fried, as our's are fried, without the smallest grease, and not roast it” and “not over-salt the leg; …very thoroughly boiled, just as Serle boils our's” then it will not be unwholesome. Aside from salting the Bates will do just the opposite:
My dear sir, if there is one thing my mother loves better than another, it is pork -- a roast loin of pork …I shall not attempt calling on Mrs. Goddard, for I really do not think she cares for any thing but boiled pork: when we dress the leg it will be another thing. (21)
If Mr. Woodhouse knew of so much diversity I am sure it would trouble him. They are not quite so independent in the preparation of apples:
I have so often heard Mr. Woodhouse recommend a baked apple. …only we do not have them baked more than twice, and Mr. Woodhouse made us promise to have them done three times -- but Miss Woodhouse will be so good as not to mention it. (27)
Are there any other tidbits from Miss Bates this week? Thanks for reading! (:D)
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