- Apr 2019
It is interesting that Austen repeatedly references Sir Walter Scott here. Scott was a fan of Austen's work and repeatedly praised her in his journal.
Scott wrote of Austen: "Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!"
Very few controls existed on medical practice in Regency England. In fact, the UK equivalent of the FDA, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, wasn't even established until 2003. Consequently, "quack medicine" and unusual, ineffective treatments for illnesses were often prescribed to patients by poorly trained and unqualified physicians.
A phaeton) was a form of sporty open carriage popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Drawn by one or two horses, a phaeton typically featured a minimal very lightly sprung body atop four extravagantly large wheels
hire of a harp
The harp was considered a particularly graceful and feminine instrument, permitting elible young women to show off their charms and attract potential suitors. Many upper-class women, especially those in boarding schools, learned how to play instruments like the harp to make themselves more appealing in the marriage market.
terrific grandeur of the ocean in a storm
An example of the use of the ocean in the aesthetic expression of the romantic century. Images of the sea became a significant ingredient of romantic expression, and continued to emerge in the language, literature, art, and music of the nineteenth century.
Read more about the ocean and its relationship to Romanticism here
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is an island off the south coast of England. It’s known for its beaches and seafront promenades.
In Jane Austen’s time, or the early part of the 19th century, there was a clear distinction between a doctor, surgeon, and apothecary.
Doctors and physicians occupied the highest rung on the social ladder. Such citizens could still be considered "upper class" because 1) their training did not include apprenticeship and 2) the profession excluded, supposedly, manual labor
Because surgeons actually treated the patient by performing physical labor – a trade, so to speak – they occupied a lower rung on the social ladder.
Apothecaries, who learned their profession through apprenticeship and who were definitely considered to be in “trade," ranked even lower on the social scale.
The early 19th century gave rise to an epidemic of nervous disorders. Maladies of affluence and sophistication, nervous disorders paraded one's wealth, refinement and sensibility.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection, characterized by uncontrollable coughing. In Jane Austen's time, there was no prevention method (ex. vaccine) or cure to prevent whooping cough, hence why Jane herself suffered from it. Rather than consulting a physician for treatment, she used home remedies concocted by her friend and sister-in-law, Martha Lloyd.
A Charitable Repository was the precursor to the modern-day charity shop, where donated goods were sold for the benefit of the poor.
Burton on Trent
Burton on Trent (also called Burton upon Trent) is a major brewery town on the River Trent in East Staffordshire, England. It was known for producing foodstuffs, hosiery, knitting machines, and steel goods.
Hanging was the principle method of judicial execution in England from the 1700s until capital punishment was abolished in 1964.
Although we never learn what this man was hanged for, smuggling and theft were very popular activities at the time.
Haymaking (making hay from grass grown from fodder) grew in popularity as a profession during the late 18th/early 19th century. Technological advancements from the Industrial Revolution made haymaking a much easier, faster process and a much more profitable industry.
"We are always well stocked," said he, "with all the common remedies for sprains and bruises
Since medical professionals were rare, expensive, and not terribly helpful, many women learned basic nursing skills to care for their own families, and had their own home remedies, too.
Morning Post and the Kentish Gazette
The Morning Post was a conservative daily newspaper published in London from 1772 to 1937.
The Kentish Gazette is a weekly newspaper serving the city of Canterbury, Kent.
whole-length portrait of a stately gentleman
A whole-length portrait of Sir Denham would have been a luxury and a very large expense. The price of a portrait increased with the portion of the person to be depicted, thus a half-height, a three-quarter, and a full length portrait were each incrementally more expensive.
original thirty thousand pounds
Thirty thousand pounds is equivalent to over one million pounds in today's currency.
woman of seventy
For reference, the life expectancy of women in Regency England was approximately 40 years old (around the age that Jane Austen herself passed away).
He had been an elderly man when she married him, her own age about thirty.
This was an odd match for the time. In Regency England, the average age of marriage was between 23 and 27 for women and between 25 and 29 for men.
Why, what should we do with a doctor here?
During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Britain, there were virtually no legal or formal controls on medical practice. Many physicians were entirely unqualified for the position that they held. As a result, many people were distrustful of the medical profession and turned to personal recommendations for home remedies instead.
By the mid-18th century, swimming in the cold ocean was a standard therapy for illness or anxiety. The adrenaline from the shock of cold was thought to have soothing effects on the body, calming anxiety and restoring the body-soul balance.
Three teeth drawn at once—frightful!
There were no licensed dentists during this period. General physicians extracted teeth and often without anesthetic, making it a very painful (and traumatizing?) process. This explains why Charlotte is so sympathetic towards Miss Parker.
I have a great idea of the efficacy of air
Treatments for illness often relied on "fresh air" to clear impurities from the body.
Any disease marked by inflammation and pain in the joints, muscles, or fibrous tissue, especially rheumatoid arthritis.