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|A Respectful Man, Though His Name was Richard
Written by BarbaraB
(4/2/2012 7:58 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, References?, penned by Stephanie
This is the title of a little blurb from the Friendly Jane Austen by Natalie Tyler:
In the first paragraph of Northanger Abbey Austen tells us that Catherine Morland's father, a clergyman, was "a very respectful man, though his name was Richard," an echo of her treatment in The History of England of Richard III, who is also "a very respectable man." Here we catch Austen in the interstice between her rollicking juvenilia, which was designed to amuse her family with jokes and hyperbole, and her mature works. The name Richard is never given to a hero of Austen's later works, although Richard, along with Robert, Ralph, David, Jem, Will Ned, and Roldolphus, is one of the numerous scions of Mr. and Mrs. Willmot of the three-chapter tale Edgar and Emma, which was probably composed before Austen was fourteen. At twenty she wrote to Cassandra that "Mr. Richard Harvey's match is put off till he got a Better Christian Name, of which he has great Hopes."
One is tempted to think that Austen may have included the seeming non sequitur about the name of Richard as a small stiletto jab at Richard Crosby, who retained the manuscript for thirteen years, without publishing it. He was hardly a worthy foster father for the precocious, antic child he had purchased for ten pounds. Austen's description of another Richard, the unfortunate Richard Musgrove in Persuasion, has occasioned shudders in some readers...
Like Barbara, I have seen this assertion before in other references but don't know where I've seen it. If I come across any, I will post them.
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