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|Grand life, married life...
Written by Barbara
(2/3/2003 2:04 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, M.T. The Marriage of George and Cassandra Austen, penned by Caroline
] What did she see in him, do you think? Was it just a love match? Or did George Austen have prospects before him, and money behind him ? Was he a young man who was going places, or did she give up a grand life to live in comparative poverty for ever?
Disclaimer: My scholarship is no doubt--NO doubt--not up to the level to which you are all accustomed on this board, but I did want to try to participate in this discussion, if I can keep up with you all. As part of my preparation for the topics of this week, I was reading Jane Austen: A Family Record by William and Richard Austen-Leigh, and revised by Deidre LeFaye. For this week I was reading the chapter Austens and Leighs.
I read that Dr. Theophilus Leigh, Cassandra's uncle and the Master of Balliol college at Oxford had been impressed and delighted by his niece's cleverness when she was as young as six years old and he was visiting with her family. This book also suggests that it is very probable that Dr. Leigh introduced Cassandra to George Austen--either he or Dr. Cooper, who was a fellow at All Soul's at Oxford, and four years later married Cassandra Leigh's sister Jane.
Although Cassandra Leigh had lots of connections and there was a bit of money coming down from the Perrot side of her family as well, she was still the daughter of a clergyman herself, and so I don't know that she would ever have looked higher than to be the wife of a clergyman herself. The fact that George Austen was handsome, clever, and intended a life in the church would make him seem rather ideally suited to a woman who was also very clever and had grown up in a clergyman's household with family members who were intellectuals as well.
As for George Austen, I read that when he was proctor at his old college of St. John's, he could also have become a fellow of that college and lived there, had he chosen to remain celibate. (I understand that the fellows of the colleges had to be celibate at that time--was it while they lived in the college?) But George Austen wanted to have a wife and a family of his own.
When I read that, I got to thinking that it was not too surprising that he should want a family life of his own, considering that his mother died when he was one or two years old and his father when he was six and then he and his two sisters were passed around among various relatives.
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