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|Mrs. J. Austen & Mrs. J. Dashwood
Written by Robbin
(8/17/2011 4:57 p.m.)
In Ltr. 64 Jane said of Mrs. FWA’s cousin Miss Curling that “she would probably be dull, and I am sure she would be troublesome” and later in Ltr. 67 says “Mrs. J. Austen’s hospitality is just of the kind to enjoy such a visitor” as Miss Curling. I don’t think Jane is complimenting her sister in-law.
I don’t have a very good opinion of either James or his wife Mary. During the 2007 group read of Letters 29 to 38 JulieW suggested their “somewhat avaricious behaviour” (26739) while taking over his father’s parish inspired Ch. 2 of S&S where Fanny handily talks her husband out of helping his step-mother and half sisters after the death of their father. In the 2009 group read of Letters 39 to 51 this similarity raised its ugly head again. JulieW posted two abstracts of letters (36918) from Henry and James to Frank explaining how their mother and sisters could live well without the additional fifty pounds a year he offered for their upkeep. In S&S I think Fanny is despised by her in-laws more than John and it seems Jane’s primary dislike is also for her sister in-law—she thinks well of James’ abilities but writes he is too influenced by his wife:
I should not be surprised if we were to be visited by James again this week; he gave us reason to expect him soon; & if they go to Eversley he cannot come next week.- I am sorry & angry that his Visits should not give one more pleasure; the company of so good & so clever a Man ought to be gratifying in itself-but his Chat seems all forced, his Opinions on many points too much copied from his Wife's, & his time here is spent I think in walking about the House & banging the Doors, or ringing the Bell for a glass of Water. (Ltr. 50)
Compare what Jane says about James to this description of John Dashwood:
He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted, and rather selfish, is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected; for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge of his ordinary duties. Had he married a more amiable woman, he might have been made still more respectable than he was; he might even have been made amiable himself; for he was very young when he married, and very fond of his wife. But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature of himself; more narrow-minded and selfish. (S&S, 1)
It seems Mrs. J. Austen resembled Fanny Dashwood and even if it was only a little that is bad enough. (:D)
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