Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Nothing but Tea"



John Everett Millais [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"This very Evening is fixed on as their first ENTREE into Life, as we are to drink tea with Mrs Cope and her Daughter. I am glad that we are to meet no one, for my Girls sake, as it would be awkward for them to enter too wide a Circle on the very first day. But we shall proceed by degrees.--Tomorrow Mr Stanly's family will drink tea with us, and perhaps the Miss Phillips's will meet them… How they will bear so much dissipation I cannot imagine…” Letter the First


"What in the name of Common Sense is to recommend Brinshore?—A most insalubrious Air—Roads proverbially detestable—Water Brackish beyond example, impossible to get a good dish of Tea within three miles of the place…” Sanditon, chapter 1.

There are few things in this world that can be more happily combined than Jane Austen and tea. For this reason, The Jane Austen Society of North America Central and Western New York Region will commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death with High Tea at The Mad Hatter in Rochester, NY.

From her earliest work in the Juvenalia to her draft of Sanditon, Jane Austen used tea to move her plots forward. 

In the first quote above, a young Jane Austen uses tea in a comical description of the coming out process for young ladies. It is almost unbearable to consider the dissipation they will encounter at tea. In the second quote, Mr. Parker uses tea to disparage the competition in the beach resort business. In between those works, Jane Austen produced six of the greatest novels in the English (this is a JASNA blog after all).

Northanger Abbey
So surrounded, so caressed, she was even happy! In the joyfulness of family love everything for a short time was subdued, and the pleasure of seeing her, leaving them at first little leisure for calm curiosity, they were all seated round the tea-table, which Mrs. Morland had hurried for the comfort of the poor traveller, whose pale and jaded looks soon caught her notice, before any inquiry so direct as to demand a positive answer was addressed to her.” Northanger Abbey chapter 29

In the final chapters of Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland has returned home after a quick and less than civil ejection from Northanger Abbey and a potentially dangerous trip by public stage. She is comforted by a warm welcome from her family and, of course, they gather about the tea-table.

Sense and Sensibility
“Brandon came in while the party were at tea, and by his manner of looking round the room for Marianne, Elinor immediately fancied that he neither expected nor wished to see her there, and, in short, that he was already aware of what occasioned her absence. Mrs. Jennings was not struck by the same thought; for soon after his entrance, she walked across the room to the tea-table where Elinor presided, and whispered--"The Colonel looks as grave as ever you see. He knows nothing of it; do tell him, my dear."” Sense and Sensibility, chapter 30.

Elinor and Marianne have just received word that Willoughby is to be married to Miss Grey and her fifty thousand pounds. Marianne is distraught. Colonel Brandon has also heard and has come to see how things stand. Naturally, he and Elinor discuss Marianne’s condition over tea.

Pride and Prejudice
Anxious and uneasy, the period which passed in the drawing-room, before the gentlemen came, was wearisome and dull to a degree that almost made her uncivil. She looked forward to their entrance as the point on which all her chance of pleasure for the evening must depend.
"If he does not come to me, then," said she, "I shall give him up for ever."
The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if he would have answered her hopes; but, alas! the ladies had crowded round the table, where Miss Bennet was making tea, and Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy that there was not a single vacancy near her which would admit of a chair. And on the gentlemen's approaching, one of the girls moved closer to her than ever, and said, in a whisper,

"The men shan't come and part us, I am determined. We want none of them; do we?"

Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her eyes, envied every one to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee; and then was enraged against herself for being so silly!

"A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the sex, who would not protest against such a weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings!"” Pride and Prejudice, chapter 54.

Elizabeth has learned of Darcy’s role in rescuing her sister Lydia. Her own feelings toward Darcy have changed dramatically. His feelings toward her are unknown and she desperately wants to learn more.  The two meet in one of the most dramatic tea-enabled scenes, although Elizabeth herself is pouring coffee.

Mansfield Park
“Fanny suspected what was going on. They sat so much longer than usual in the dining-parlour, that she was sure they must be talking of her; and when tea at last brought them away, and she was to be seen by Edmund again, she felt dreadfully guilty. He came to her, sat down by her, took her hand, and pressed it kindly; and at that moment she thought that, but for the occupation and the scene which the tea-things afforded, she must have betrayed her emotion in some unpardonable excess.” Mansfield Park, chapter 34.

Henry Crawford has proposed. Fanny has refused and Mansfield Park is arrayed against her. Can she count on Edward’s support? He has been hearing the history of events in the after-dinner conversation. Only the presence of the tea service can sustain her at the moment he comes to her.

Emma
“They sat down to tea--the same party round the same table--how often it had been collected!--and how often had her eyes fallen on the same shrubs in the lawn, and observed the same beautiful effect of the western sun!--But never in such a state of spirits, never in any thing like it; and it was with difficulty that she could summon enough of her usual self to be the attentive lady of the house, or even the attentive daughter.
Poor Mr. Woodhouse little suspected what was plotting against him in the breast of that man whom he was so cordially welcoming…” Emma, chapter 50.

All has been discovered! Emma, once so distraught at the thought of Mr. Knightley’s possible engagement to Harriet, is now blissful in the knowledge of his love for her. So, naturally, they all sit down to tea. There is still Mr. Woodhouse to deal with however.

Persuasion
“The first act was over. Now she hoped for some beneficial change; and, after a period of nothing-saying amongst the party, some of them did decide on going in quest of tea. Anne was one of the few who did not choose to move. She remained in her seat, and so did Lady Russell; but she had the pleasure of getting rid of Mr. Elliot; and she did not mean, whatever she might feel on Lady Russell's account, to shrink from conversation with Captain Wentworth, if he gave her the opportunity. She was persuaded by Lady Russell's countenance that she had seen him.” Persuasion, chapter 20.

There is only one mention of tea in Persuasion, and it is a disinclination for tea that is important. Here, Anne is at the concert where she meets Captain Wentworth and, in speaking to him before the concert, comes to believe he may yet have some feeling for her. She is determined to speak more with him and declines to follow the others in a search for tea. Unfortunately she finds Mr. Elliot.

During her short life, Jane Austen gave us six beautiful novels. It has been two hundred years since Jane Austen’s death on July 18, 1817. Come and celebrate Jane Austen’s life and work at High Tea. Tea, scones, finger sandwiches, and small pastries will be served, and there is a rumor that some minor theatricals may be involved, although nothing as scandalous as Lover’s Vows. Event details are below.

The bakery shop at The Mad Hatter - irresistable
Event:   High Tea in commemoration of Jane Austen
Where: The Mad Hatter, 176 S. Goodman St. Rochester 14607
When:   Saturday, July 15 at 3:30 pm
Cost:     $30 due by July 7

Please send checks payable to JASNA to:
Marie McEneaney
1058 Harvard St
Rochester, NY 14610

Menu:
Freshly Bakes Scones
Clotted Cream & Assorted Preserves
Fresh Fruit
Assorted Finger Sandwiches (2 Choices)
Assorted Petite Desserts
Tea or other beverages


Saturday, May 13, 2017

May Meeting



The Great State of Connecticut
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut
"By some legerdemain, then, the cartoon inhabitants of this early work somehow flew off, pausing, in a form invisible to us, at the way station First Impressions, and finally discovered their intended residence in that crystal palace, Pride and Prejudice.  Or put it another way:  it took the wealth of Jane Austen’s acquired humanity and literary skill to bring off the complex interplay and cross-purposes of her most brilliant novel." (Leo Rockas, Persuasions Online, vol. 33, 2012)


Our good friend Leo Rockas will be visiting us again this month to lead our May meeting. Leo travels to us from his home in Connecticut. Recently, I reread Leo's article from Persuasions Online entitled Sisters Askew: “The Three Sisters” and Pride and Prejudice". In this article Leo reviews the connection between Jane Austen's work called "The the Three Sisters" in her Juvenalia and Pride and Prejudice. The similarities indicate that Jane Austen was thinking about the themes in Pride and Prejudice well before the novel actually emerged from her pen.

Leo is an educator, author and good friend of many in our Central and Western NY Region of JASNA. Come join us and hear what Leo in store for us at our next meeting.

Event:    JASNACWNY May Meeting
Speaker: Leo Rockas
Where:   Pittsford Barnes and Noble, Community Room
When:    Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 1 pm

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

One of the First Refinements of Polished Societies

The Meryton Assembly Dancers at Rose Hill Mansion, Geneva
(photo credit Lisa Brown)

“It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind;--but when a beginning is made--when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt--it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.” Emma chapter 29

Jane Austen loved to dance. Indeed, the very first of Jane Austen’s published letters opens with a ball scene as she describes a recent ball at Manydown.

After this necessary preamble, I shall proceed to inform you that we had an exceedingly good ball last night…” Jane Austen's Letters Diedre Le Faye (ed) 4th ed. p. 1

The letter goes on to describe who was at the dance, how they appeared, and how they behaved.

Given the importance of dance as a social activity for Jane Austen and those around her, it is not surprising that most of Jane Austen’s novels have ball scenes, and that these scenes often form pivotal moments in the novels. In Pride and Prejudice the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is initially defined when Mr. Darcy remarks:

"Which do you mean?" and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me." Pride and Prejudice chapter 3

It is clear later in the chapter that Elizabeth has heard every word. The relationship goes downhill from there, as Elizabeth hears more about Darcy from Wickham.

So, what was it like to dance in Jane Austen’s time? JASNA CWNY is proud to host the Meryton Assembly Dancers at our next meeting. Dressed in period costume, this talented group of experienced performers will demonstrate the art of English Country Dance.

Meryton Assembly Dancers at Rose Hill Mansion Geneva
(photo credit Lisa Brown)

We are all familiar with the dance scenes from the 1995 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. While it is true that many of the dances featured in the movie actually predate Jane Austen’s lifetime, these scenes have left a lasting impression on all Jane Austen fans. Recognizing the importance of this movie to the appreciation of Jane Austen, the program will present some of the classic dances from this movie. You will be able to imagine yourself dancing Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot as Lizzy and Darcy seek to better understand each other’s character. The Meryton Assembly Dancers will also dance Shrewsbury Lasses. Hopefully, Mr. Collins will not step in to wreak havoc. Other dances from Pride and Prejudice and Emma will also be performed.

For a preview see the video below.



 The Meryton Assembly Dancers perform Mr. Beveridge's Maggot

After the demonstration, all attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a series of dances from Pride and Prejudice (2005), Becoming Jane, and Emma. So you need not just imagine yourself dancing like Jane Austen, you will actually be able to do so. All dances will be called, there will be plenty of instruction, and the Meryton Assembly Dancers will gently lead the way, so you need not fear a Mr. Collins moment.

Please join us and learn to dance like Jane Austen. Here are the details:

Event:    JASNA CWNY presents The Meryton Assembly Dancers 
Where:  Community Room, Barnes and Noble, Pittsford
When:   April 15, 2017 at 1 pm