Good point! and another question
Posted by Arnessa on November 21, 1997 at 13:00:39:
In response to More precisely than that..., written by Jessamyn on November 20, 1997 at 23:36:46
] When they talk about someone's income ("Ten thousand a year!") what they're talking about is the interest on the principal they've inherited. People didn't shop around for different rates for different terms--you weren't going to spend the principal (unless disaster struck), you would keep the money invested theoretically forever, so everyone knew that you were getting five percent or whatever of your principal annually.
] The question, of course, is how the amount of the principal becomes common knowledge, but probably when a will was read the information was made public, among other things.
Certainly the value of having an estate and not being "in trade" were that you had a steady income. And the will probably let people get a good guess as to how much it was. But only if you were a man, right? Another good question is how did people know the value of a woman's dowry? Did they just calculate on the basis of her father's or brother's income? Surely the will wouldn't tell you how much a woman got, because even if the father or grandfather, say, settled a certain amount on a young girl, could not her current guardian add to her dowry however much he wanted? But maybe we don't have any indirect reports of a woman's dowry. Darcy tells us himself of Georgiana's 10,000 pounds.
I think we know the Dashwood girls had next to nothing because of John Dashwoods promise to his father, but why wouldn't other people, e.g. Willoughby, believe Marianne had a vast dowry? Because even though she lives only in a cottage now, it is possible that her father, who had been the proprietor of a great estate in Sussex, could have settled a large amount on each of his girls, is it not? So that even though they couldn't touch it now, they could have it when they were married. Maybe I don't understand clearly the money situation is S&S though. Was the principal on 500 pounds a year part of the dowry for the girls? Were they living on the interest from their dowries? Or was the dowry separate? or was there no dowry at all?
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