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|Keeping options open
Written by Kathi
(2/15/2004 10:25 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Not just Lady C's word., penned by Mandy N
] I don't think lack of documentary evidence can be scimmed over for a potential marriage of this magnitude. Lady C talks of 'the marriage being organized from the cradle'. I find it hard to simply take Lady Catherine's word alone without at least some correspondence between the sisters or between their lawyers. In the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, marriages of the aristocracy were often planned for years in advance by parents, usually with attorneys in relation to whether the wife kept control of her own property share, childrens' marriage portions,etc.
I'm not sure whether it would be expected that when a boy was as young as 12, that those papers would already have been drawn up. (Perhaps one of our life-and-times experts can help us here.) Lady Anne could have thought it was a good idea but wanted to keep her options open, as you suggest below.
] If Lady C. had a letter at least mentioning the possiblity, I think she'd show it to Lizzy when she confronted her at Longbourn to try and extract Lizzy's promise never to marry her nephew.
Actually, that seems out of character to me. I would think Lady C is the type who would think her unsupported word was more than sufficient, especially when dealing with a nobody like Lizzy. I think she was expecting Lizzy to cower.
] For speculation, if Lady Anne shared her sister's attitudes towards class and and wealth, it doesn't neccesarily follow she will enthususe about her niece as an 'excellent match'. It is a typical attitude of the aristocracy to keep all options open. And it would be more to the advantage of the Darcys than the de Bourghs to do this. With their estate and income, the Darcys are apparently one of the top families in the country.
I imagine Lady Anne did want to keep her options open -- but great heiresses of the right age were not to be dismissed lightly.
] Darcy doesn't necessarily need a great heirss.
Of course not, but the typical class attitude was to prefer one.
] There is also a disadvantage concerning her niece. Namely, Anne is sickly and unwell. At this time, when selecting marriage partners the upper classes took health into account. The first duty of the wife was to produce a living heir.
We know little more about Anne than we do about Lady Anne, so this gets into speculation as well. We don't know how long she has been sickly (it may have been a relatively recent development) -- or even whether she's actually sick or indulging in some passive-agressive behavior.
] If Lady A was arranging her son's marriage she may not dismiss the idea of her son's marriage to Anne but I think if she did, she'd keep options open. It was really more in the de Bourghs interest to secure this match.
Yes, since the engagement hadn't actually been formalized, I imagine that she was in favor of keeping options open.
] Once again, this is all speculation. As you say, Lady A is an enigma and we don't really know enough to make firm judgements of her.
True -- but that doesn't seem to stop us, does it.
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