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|Not just MP
Written by Margaret C
(9/1/2013 3:40 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Jane and the Scots, penned by Ken G
so I am taking this to Austenuations.
Mind you, the Scots had been trading and emigrating to nearly every part of the English speaking world for at least 100 years prior to Jane Austen's birth, and the expulsion of the Crofters was making names like Crawford and Fraser common throughout the British Isles, and its dominions (like Canada and Australia) and Scottish traders had already played a large role in establishing the colonies and building the economies of New Jersey, Virginia, Nova Scotia, etc. and leaving their names behind them So it is hard to say if she was pointedly using Scottish names, or just choosing common names.
I do suspect Austen might mean something particular by her Scottish names, but as yet I have no idea what.
At the time, her fellow fiction authors (lead by Walter Scott) were obsessed with the Jacobite uprisings, the legends of Montrose, the battle of Culloden et al.(And even though 'T'is sixty years hence', the proscriptions on Jacobites were still enforced, at least until the Jacobins had been more or less put down, and Scott had obligingly discovered that the king that made him a baronet was as much a Jacobite as Bonnie Prince Charlie, and thereby entitled to steal his opposition's tartan(the pink tights he wore under it being completely his own thought, I believe.)
So maybe the Scottish names are literary allusions - there is the quotes from Douglas "My name is Norval" and more than one quote from Scott. It is very probable the glees and airs the musical girls were so fond of, were Scottish too.
Or they might allude to Scottish oppressions - the clearing of the Highlands, inclosure and the Crofters(or even to slavery - the Knight v Wedderburn case found that slavery had no existence in Scottish law in 1778, a much less ambiguous finding than Mansfield's Somerset decision, that ruled only that a slave-owner could not legally recapture an escaped slave in England. Although, with the Scottish interest being largely a trading interest, the most influential and best represented Scots were vocally in support of maintaining the slave trade).
Maybe they are allusions to the religious themes of MP - the 'Return of the King' theme, and predestination, against wilful rebellion or for spiritual reformation. The Chapel at Sotherton was fitted up in the time of James II and VII, the last Catholic monarch of Scotland, England and Ireland, and Fanny quotes from Lay of the Last Minstrel Scott's extremely Gothic descriptions of the ruined Abbey at Montrose by moonlight
"Full many a scutcheon and banner riven,
But as with the slavery/rebellion and literary/musical allusions, I have not seen a clear pattern pointedly paralleling a real Scottish person, and can't tell if Austen is for or against Scotland in general. However, that might be only my ignorance.
The Scottish names could have been employed to highlight some facet of the story that I am entirely unaware of, or might be an allusion to a non-Scot, or they might have been chosen precisely because they are such common and unremarkable names, and as difficult to associate with a particular real person or situation, as anonymous, as Mr Smith, Mrs Brown, or John Groom.
|More Scots in Austen|
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