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|Letter 23: Not as bad as it sounds, but bad enough?
Written by Line
(11/29/2006 6:36 p.m.)
Our whole Neighbourhood is at present very busy greiving over poor Mrs. Martin, who has totally failed in her business, & had very lately an execution in her house.--Her own brother & Mr. Rider are the principal creditors, & they have seized her effects in order to prevent other people's doing it.
When I first read this, I thought someone had been publicly executed, possibly right outside Mrs. Martin's house, but instead I gather she went bankrupt. Also, at first I thought her brother wasn't being very brotherly, but on second reading I guess he and his friend were trying to protect her possessions from other creditors. To me, this is a good reminder that living in JA's time wasn't just about pretty clothes and having servants to do the dirty work, but that people had serious financial troubles then, too - in fact, more serious, because there was no government welfare to fall back on (except maybe the poor house). I wonder what line of business Mrs. Martin was in?
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