Saturday, October 31, 2009

Algernon Recommends the Sixth Amendment

‘The old jailer scoffed at his request to see Ian Marshall. “Obediah Dopple says it is past the time to be bringing prisoners up here.”
“May I speak to Mr. Dopple?”
‘Aye, you are speaking to him.”
Algernon held up a shilling. “Algernon Bennet says perhaps it is not too late...”

And when Algernon and Ian meet--

“Mrs. Leigh-Perrot,” Ian said. “They talk about her here. She was a gentlewoman accused of stealing black lace found wrapped in a package of white lace she had just purchased.”
“I do not know how long she was in jail, but—-“
“Eight months,” Ian told him. “In court, it was proved the store’s claim was a deliberate fraud.”
“An accused person should have the right to be called to court promptly...Longbourn, Chapter 21

Mrs. Leigh-Perrot was an actual person who did indeed spend eight months in jail on a bogus charge. Her husband remained in jail with her the entire time. Among the relatives who visited them was her sister’s daughter, a Miss Jane Austen. Jane was very fond of her aunt and mentions “her long, disgraceful imprisonment” in a letter.

Algernon Bennet was correct. An accused person should have the right "to be called to court promptly," the Jane era equivalent to "go to trial." Cases like Mrs. Leigh-Perrot's undoubtedly contributed to the drafting of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Welcome Janeites!

Literary critics are only partly right when they describe Jane Austen as the best woman novelist in the English language. Corrected, she is the best novelist in the language. Let’s edit out the gender bit.

In a scant decade from now, she will have been dead two hundred years, yet she remains the most read and revered writer to pen her novels in the language Alfred the Great was foresighted enough to save. We acknowledge that a man from a town on the Avon has a greater and most-deserved following. Indeed, he also wrote in English, but plays and sonnets, not novels.

Not everyone reads Jane Austen. Very special people do. The qualities that exalt her work are difficult to define, but, to appreciate her, one needs intelligence, a delight in human nature, and the ability to relish the subtle.

This site is a tea room where Jane’s very special people can meet, exchange insights, share favorite gems from her work, and information about her. Please sign in and become one of Jane’s regular guests.

Let's begin with a bit of a romp through her work.

Who and Where:
Jane Austen's characters are as vivid and convincing as our close friends--and sometimes more beloved! We know how they talk and how they think, making the following quotations easy to assign to the proper speaker.

1. "Nothing is more deceitful that the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast."

2. "Better be without sense than to misapply it."

3. "Strange things may be generally accounted for it their cause be fairly searched out."

4. "There is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than a book."

5. "Every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason...exertion should always be in proportion to what is required."
(Answers below)

Miss Jane’s Perspective:
On world affairs...
...The welfare of every nation depends upon the virtue of its individuals.
the Juvenilia

On living the good life...
Money can only give happiness when there is nothing else to give it.
Sense and Sensibility

Miss Jane's people have too much vitality to stay confined to the pages of a single book. Sometimes they roam around and encounter people from other pages. Can you identify these two gentlemen?

"I have been composing compliments and am able to say, quite sincerely, that you are very fine looking for a man your age."

"A man my age!" his hearer bellowed. Staring rapt into a large mirror, he added, "You must own that I am fine looking--better than fine looking--for a man of any age."

"Yes, Sir, you are better than fine looking. I did not mean to offend. Please give me leave to apologize, to apologize, to apologize."

Who and Where: 1. Mr. Darcy, P&P; 2. Mr. Knightly, Emma; 3. Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey; 4. Miss Bingley, 5, P&P; Mary, P&P.