“[I]t was a very great event that Mr. Woodhouse should dine out,
on the 24th of December” (ch. 13).
On December 23, 1815, Jane Austen’s fourth novel, Emma, was published. Today is its two-hundredth birthday! It is appropriate that it was published during December, as events surrounding the Christmas season are an integral part of the story.
Mr. Elton’s unwelcome proposal to Emma takes place on Christmas Eve, resulting in Emma realizing the dangers of matchmaking. Emma’s sister, Isabella (Mrs. John Knightley), visits with her family over the season, and Emma enjoys being confined to the house with them because of some Christmas snow. Isabella’s husband gives his delightful tirade against holiday engagements on the way to a party at Randalls. When they were all returned safely to Hartfield, Mr. Wodehouse and Isabella enjoyed a bowl of gruel together.
There could hardly be a happier creature in the world than Mrs. John Knightley, in this short visit to Hartfield, going about every morning among her old acquaintance with her five children, and talking over what she had done every evening with her father and sister. She had nothing to wish otherwise, but that the days did not pass so swiftly. It was a delightful visit;—perfect, in being much too short. (ch. 13)
So, here’s wishing everyone a delightful time visiting with family — sans traveling in bad weather or being subjected to bowls of gruel — and celebrating Emma’s bicentennial!
Originally Posted by Miss Sneyd on December 25, 2009, 7:20 AM
Fanny and William Price (Katy Durham-Matthews and Luke Healy). Image from sns_red_curtain.
“Amid the cares and the complacency which his own children suggested, Sir Thomas did not forget to do what he could for the children of Mrs. Price: he assisted her liberally in the education and disposal of her sons as they became old enough for a determinate pursuit; and Fanny, though almost totally separated from her family, was sensible of the truest satisfaction in hearing of any kindness towards them, or of anything at all promising in their situation or conduct. Once, and once only, in the course of many years, had she the happiness of being with William. Of the rest she saw nothing: nobody seemed to think of her ever going amongst them again, even for a visit, nobody at home seemed to want her; but William determining, soon after her removal, to be a sailor, was invited to spend a week with his sister in Northamptonshire before he went to sea. Their eager affection in meeting, their exquisite delight in being together, their hours of happy mirth, and moments of serious conference, may be imagined; as well as the sanguine views and spirits of the boy even to the last, and the misery of the girl when he left her. Luckily the visit happened in the Christmas holidays, when she could directly look for comfort to her cousin Edmund; and he told her such charming things of what William was to do, and be hereafter, in consequence of his profession, as made her gradually admit that the separation might have some use. Edmund’s friendship never failed her: his leaving Eton for Oxford made no change in his kind dispositions, and only afforded more frequent opportunities of proving them. Without any display of doing more than the rest, or any fear of doing too much, he was always true to her interests, and considerate of her feelings, trying to make her good qualities understood, and to conquer the diffidence which prevented their being more apparent; giving her advice, consolation, and encouragement.”
(Mansfield Park, Chapter I)