Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Altered beyond his knowledge"

"Captain Wentworth is not very gallant by you, Anne, though he was so attentive to me. Henrietta asked him what he thought of you, when they went away, and he said, `You were so altered he should not have known you again.'"

Mary had no feelings to make her respect her sister's in a common way, but she was perfectly unsuspicious of being inflicting any peculiar wound.

"Altered beyond his knowledge." Anne fully submitted, in silent, deep mortification. Doubtless it was so, and she could take no revenge, for he was not altered, or not for the worse. She had already acknowledged it to herself, and she could not think differently, let him think of her as he would. No: the years which had destroyed her youth and bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in no respect lessening his personal advantages. She had seen the same Frederick Wentworth.

from Jane Austen's Persuasion (Penguin edition, p. 57)

IMAGE: Photograph by Robert Warren


tristan said...

something on jane austen for you ...

Anactoria said...

Interesting! I wonder how they tracked down the 'manservant' who the table had been given to.

This reminds me of a thought I had the other day: I love visiting museums and old houses, but I'm always skeptical when I see the furniture supposedly arranged the way the former owners had it. Even with journals and letters (and sometimes even photographs) to help authenticate the replicated setting, I feel like we'll still never *really* know exactly how these places looked (and I'm sure few would make the claim that we ever could, although some places do certainly seem to give this impression). Sometimes these famous peoples' recreated homes look so sparse and bare - e.g. Shakespeare's home in Stratford - if I remember correctly, it was furnished with just a few pieces of stark wood furniture. Who knows how homey and cozy the same rooms might have looked when their former owners inhabited them - decorated with flowers and trinkets, with children's toys strewn about, unwashed teacups left lying around, etc.

Fortunately, we always have our imaginations.

tristan said...

the wills that people wrote suggest the paucity of stuff that was owned ... for instance,in wiltshire in the eighteenth century, a farming woman's kitchen utensils would be ennumerated and divided amongst the survivors

Anactoria said...

That's a good point, and I don't doubt that their actual furniture may often have been sparse. But still, I think the little things that would have made the place look more homey are often missing and so we're only ever getting a partial-picture, one often lacking the owner's personality.