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Written by Kathleen Glancy
(3/19/2011 2:53 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, If dedicating the book to him provoked her satire of him, no, penned by Tarn
It would have been very easy for Jane Austen to avoid dedicating Emma, as opposed to another nameless book, to the Regent. After her visit to Carlton House she wrote to Mr James Stanier Clarke saying "I must take the liberty of asking you a question. Among the many flattering attentions which I received from you at Carlton House on Monday last was the information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future work to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, without the necessity of any solicitation on my part. Such, at least, I believed to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I entreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such a permission is to be understood, and whether it is incumbent on me to show my sense of the honour by inscribing the work now in the press to His Royal Highness; I should be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or ungrateful".
He replied at once "It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the press to His Royal Highness; but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at any future period I am happy to send you that permission, which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your part".
In other words, while Jane was stuck with dedicating something to the Prince Regent the dedicated work did not have to be Emma. Possibly Mr Stanier Clarke thought Emma might be so close to appearing (when actually it was stuck in a queue at the printers) that it would be awkward for a dedication to be inserted, and considerately gave her an option. So it would have been open to Jane to write back thanking him for the clarification and saying she would dedicate her next book to the Regent - she had not yet become really ill, so could not have guessed she wouldn't have lived long enough to do that. And I am inclined to think that if Emma was indeed full of coded satires she would have done that. Especially since NA was already completed, had been for many years, and could have been revised quite easily to remove anything controversial. Instead she opted to bite the bullet, dedicate Emma to the Regent and use that to put pressure, via Mr Murray, on the tardy printers.
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