We Can Get a Relative Feel by Comparing Salaries
Posted by Cassia on October 27, 1997 at 17:56:37:
In response to Revolution, written by Ann on October 23, 1997 at 18:24:38
] ] One common trick is to track the price of bread over the ages, as that is a pretty vital & common product. But I hope no one would argue that a loaf of bread today is the same product as one in 1813!
] There is also the whole Industrial Revolution standing betwen us and Austen. Something like a knit blanket would have been made with very long hours of labor, but today a machine can turn one out in a minute. How can we compare things that were produced painstakingly by hand, to things that can be manufactured in seconds today, with the decrease in labor costs and the increases in efficiency that modern manufacturing bring. It just isn't possible.
The Bennets weren't really bas off unless you compared them to the truly rich Bingleys or the mightily rich Darcys (who are amoung the 400 riches families in England). This becomes highly apparent when you know that a well educated governess cost 25l/annum; a butler, 60L; a lady's maid 25L+her choice of the lady's clothes to sell on; a tutor, 2 shillings-1L depending on the topic. A sucessful doctor (not a fashionable one) might get by on 200L; and an attorney, about 500L depending on the type of practice he undertook. So the Bennets are quite fine except for their paltry dowries. Somehow their parents never managed to save athing during the approx. 25 years of marriage.
The thing I want to know is how did they manage to spend so much money when we know that they rarely ever strayed from Longbourne, had no governess and only kept a single carrige? Mrs Bennet would have had to go to the dressmaker's incessantly and give a dinner nearly everynight to spend do much. Was the estate incumbered when Mr Bennet inherited it? Did he take a large mortgage to make improvements? Was the library as much a drain on resources as Lydia's pocket money? I can't see Mr Bennet having a serious problem like gambling.
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