6 Matching Annotations
  1. Apr 2022
    1. baseball

      For a long time, Austen's use of the word baseball in Northanger Abbey was cited as its first appearance in the English language. But as this episode from the podcast The Thing About Austen explains, this was a mistake. Co-hosts Zan Cammack (she/her) and Diane Neu (she/her) address past speculation regarding Austen's role in the invention of this word, while providing illuminating historical context about Regency sports (Did Austen's contemporaries play baseball?), gender (Was it socially acceptable for women to play cricket and baseball?), and the supposed "all-American" game (If it was common in Britain, when did baseball makes its way into American national identity?).!

  2. Mar 2022
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    1. She says there was hardly any veal to be got at market this morning, it is so uncommonly scarce.”

      Veal, the meat of young male calves who are slaughtered between eight and twelve months of age, is not as popular in the UK now as it was in Austen’s time. At the time, it was an expensive food, hence Mr. Bingley’s decision to offer White Soup, which was made with veal broth, at the Netherfield Ball. It is unsurprising that Bath residents like the Allens would be accustomed to finding this expensive meat in the market since, as Maggie Lane explains, Bath was second only to West London “in the range and luxury of its shops” ('Domestic economy' 14). Its geographic location put it at great advantage to receive variety and high quality in foods: meat from Wales; fruit and vegetables from the Cotswolds; dairy produce from Somerset and Devon; fish from the River Severn; and imported wines from Bristol (13). So, Mrs. Allen’s concern about a shortage of veal in the Bath market strikes Lane as somewhat odd. However, as Lane herself states in more recent work, “any mention of a specific food stuff in Austen is made by a character who is thereby condemned for being greedy, vulgar, selfish, or trivial” ('Food' 268). Austen’s letters confirm that she learned about the complex social meanings of food and eating from her own domestic duties. So, although this might seem like a passing remark on Mrs. Allen’s part, it brings attention to the triviality that characterizes both Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe.

      Mrs. Allen’s remark highlights her selfishness as well as her inadequacy as a guardian. Catherine is walking in from spending more time with Isabella and Mr. Thorpe, and her intuition about his dishonesty, although not yet formulated as such, is conveyed through her thoughts about him. She realizes that he “did not excel in…making those things plain which he had before made ambiguous.” After being with him, she feels “extreme weariness” creeping over her. But Catherine’s intuition is not affirmed by her temporary guardian, Mrs. Allen, who rather than ensuring that the Thorpes are good company for Catherine, is much more concerned with the shortage of veal. The veracity of Mrs. Thorpe’s information itself must be questioned, given that her children characterize deceitfulness. Yet, in addition to underscoring character flaws, Mrs. Allen’s and Mrs. Thorpe’s reliance on the market to acquire their meat emphasizes their class. As Barbara K. Seeber points out, “[t]o be able to command food that others cannot inscribes social hierarchy” (94, 97). In this case, while Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe might be performing refinement and wealth in their preference for veal, their inability to access it emphasizes what they do not have—a large estate and cattle.

      Today, veal is consumed globally. It is prized for its tenderness, which requires that calves be restricted from exercise to avoid building muscle. For long, the farming industry has used crates to confine calves and restrict their mobility, a practice that animal advocates deem inhumane. In January 2007, the European Union banned these crates. The UK has implemented this ban for calves destined to be slaughtered for food. Otherwise, since bulls don’t produce milk and adults are not deemed good for meat, male calves are often shot when they are born. Calf crates continue to be used in the US and other countries.

      Veal production and consumption remind us of the power dynamic that justifies human dominance over nature. Seeber has argued that this dynamic was familiar to Austen, who was well aware of its intersection with male dominance over women (97-99). Indeed,these two power dynamics intersect in characters like John Thorpe, whose preference for hunting and mistreatment of horses signals his perception of Catherine Morland as prey to be caught and consumed.

      Works Cited

  4. Feb 2022
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    1. “Rest! He has only come three and twenty miles today; all nonsense; nothing ruins horses so much as rest; nothing knocks them up so soon. No, no; I shall exercise mine at the average of four hours every day while I am here.”

      How do you normally travel to your vacations? While we now depend on machines to get us where we are going, relying on animals used to be the norm. In Regency England, your travel would have depended on having access to horses, as John Thorpe indicates in this passage. While Thorpe argues that rest ruins horses, his treatment of horses counters the common practices at the time, hinting at his callous character. While traveling it was common to stop at coaching inns to get food, alcohol, rest, and fresh horses before continuing on the journey. The term “stagecoach” derives from the fact that journeys were undertaken in stages of 15-20 miles in length. At each stage stop, horses would be changed to ensure the health of the horses and the speed of the journey. Hired horses only traveled between stages, going back and forth between posts that averaged about ten miles apart. So, you would use your own horses for the first part of a journey and leave them at the coaching inn for your servant to retrieve, while continuing on your journey with hired horses. This process would be repeated at each stage of travel.

      Domestic tourism was a growing area of interest for many Britons in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. While the European Grand Tour has been popularized in literature, domestic tourism was celebrated as a patriotic way to learn about the history and modern state of Britain, as well as offering an enjoyable leisure pursuit. As John Thorpe offers to Catherine Morland earlier in this chapter, one aspect of the leisurely pursuits offered by domestic tourism was exploring the countryside by the phaeton, as depicted in this painting by George Stubbs. Travel thus became something undertaken as an activity unto itself, rather than an uncomfortable method of arriving at one’s destination. Perhaps John Thorpe and James Morland are themselves enjoying a domestic tour of Britain when they encounter their family members in Bath.

  6. Jan 2022
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    1. Neither robbers nor tempests befriended them, nor one lucky overturn to introduce them to the hero.

      Is Catherine Morland’s journey to Bath really as dangerous as the narrator leads us to believe? Or is the mockery of the sentence simply a way to highlight Catherine and Isabella Thorpe’s absurd fascination with romance and adventure? The narrator’s concern about poor weather, robbers, and accidents is not at all unfounded or unexpected. Travel in the Regency era was difficult, expensive, and could be dangerous. Today, travel by train from London to Bath takes about an hour and a half; on the coach, it would have taken about 14 hours. This chart provides more details. Roads were frequently full of mud and ruts, which only slowed down journeys. Horses were replaced about every ten miles and carriages only went between eight and ten miles an hour!

      Stagecoaches were the primary mode of long-distance travel during the Regency era, but they were not always a safe or fast method of travel. The stagecoach was first introduced to English roads in the early 16th century, and by the 17th and 18th century had become a common sight on the roads. Drivers were not on their own to plan journeys. They had the very handy resource of Cary’s New Itinerary; or, An Accurate Delineation of the Great Roads, Both Direct and Cross throughout England and Wales; With many of the Principal Roads in Scotland which provided information on routes, inns, and other important travel information.

      While coaches had become common, their rise in popularity resulted in the expansion of the presence of highwaymen. These men terrorized the roads of England, and for 100 years Hounslow Heath, near London, was the most dangerous place in the country. The roads to Bath and Exeter ran across the Heath and these travelers provided rich targets for the highwaymen. Learn more about the highwaymen here.

      Catherine’s journey to Bath is uneventful, which is to be expected, but the dangers that came with stagecoach journeys highlight the possibilities that came with travel in the Regency era.

  8. May 2019
    1. ladyship

      "The state or condition of being a lady; the rank, status, or authority of a lady" (OED).

    2. Rosings

      Fictional estate of Lady Catherine located in Kent, near Hunsford Parsonage.

      Image of the set of the 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice.