Harrison's "Sea Watch" No.1 (H4), with winding crank
("H4 low 250" by Phantom Photographer - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
"Oh! do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch." Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park Ch. 9
In the early eighteenth century timekeeping was a difficult task. The iPhone and Apple Watch had not yet been invented. Accurate timekeeping was especially important for ships at sea so that their navigators could know the longitude of the ship’s position. The invention of an accurate chronometer by John Harrison in the mid-seventeen hundreds helped to solve the problem and made a great deal of money for Harrrison.
By Jane Austen’s time timekeeping was well established. Mary Crawford however did not wish to be ruled by a watch. Perhaps she understood the limitations of the current technology or, more likely, simply preferred her own alternate reality.
Sir Bertram, however is perfectly willing to be ruled by the dictates of his watch. When informed that Fanny has been invited to the Grant’s for dinner he immediately consults his watch.
"She will be late," said Sir Thomas, taking out his watch; "but what is your difficulty?" Mansfield Park Ch. 23
Nothing surprising here about Fanny being asked out.
Jane Austen was acutely aware of time and used it in her novels. Join us at our next JASNA CWNY meeting to learn more about period clocks.
Event: March Meeting of JASNA CWNY
Place: Barnes and Noble, Pittsford NY Community Room
Time: 1 pm