Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Harrison Proved Right

John Harrison Clockmaker (1)

"She will be late," said Sir Thomas, taking out his watch; "but what is your difficulty?" 
Mansfield Park Ch. 23

Jane Austen was well aware of the importance of time. In the quote above she uses the simple act of consulting a watch to contrast the reactions of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram to Fanny’s dinner invitation from the Grants. However, timekeeping was not always a simple thing in the eighteenth century. 

At JASNACWNY’s March meeting David Meisel spoke about the development of clocks and watches in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In an earlier post (March16, 2015) we noted that one of the central problems of the era was keeping time at sea. A good chronometer was essential for determining longitude accurately. The presentation described the work of John Harrison in developing chronometers accurate enough to enable ship captains to know their position.

Harrison’s work was not always appreciated and many of his contemporaries did not believe his time pieces would work. Well, now we have proof of the accuracy of Harrison’s designs. Recently, the Guardian reported (2) on an attempt to measure the accuracy of a clock designed and built to Harrison’s specifications. The test was overseen by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers (who else?) and demonstrated that the clock lost only five eighths of a second over a 100 day period, well within Harrison’s original specification.

So if you missed the March meeting be sure to check out the article and then check your watch to make sure you will not be late for dinner.

(1) “John Harrison Uhrmacher" by Philippe Joseph Tassaert (1732-1803)After Thomas King († circa 1796) [1767 painting] - [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

JASNA Syracuse Sanditon Old and New

Jane Austen knows how to rock and roll. Marie Sprayberry 

From Marie Sprayberry:

JASNA Syracuse's May Day meeting will be held Saturday, May 2, at 2 pm, at RiverRead Books, 5 Court St., Binghamton.

Appropriately as we head into summer, the meeting topic will be
 Sanditon, Jane Austen's final, unfinished novel--set at a seaside resort still under development. 

In some ways,
 Sanditon was a new departure from Jane Austen's earlier work; in others, it hearkened back to much earlier writings. What new and old themes was she taking on here? And how might she have completed the novel if she'd lived to finish it? (OK, we admit that Charlotte Heywood might not have been twisting the night away to the Beach Boys at the Sanditon tea rooms...) Come and share your ideas!

Reports from those who have read either of the two major modern completions of
 Sanditon (the ones "by Jane Austen and Another Lady" and by Juliette Shapiro) are also welcome.

I agree Charlotte might not have been twisting the night away, but she may have waltzed the night away and that would have raised some eyebrows. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Central and Western NY Good Company

An entertainment in Vauxhall Gardens in c.1779 by Thomas Rowlandson. (1)

"My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company." Anne Elliot in Persuasion ch. 16

As mentioned in the welcoming post the Rochester and Syracuse regions are now one region of JASNA. Hopefully, this will make the administration of the regions easier. The great programs and good company will definitely continue. Below is the text of Marie Sprayberry's message to members about the merger.

An Important Announcement for Members and Friends of the JASNA Rochester and JASNA Syracuse Regions

At the JASNA Annual General Meeting in Montreal in October 2014, JASNA’s North American Board of Directors made two decisions on new by-laws directly affecting our Regions:

(  1)  Term limits have been set for Regional Coordinators, who now cannot serve more than three consecutive two-year terms (a total of six consecutive years). As of Midsummer 2015, A. Marie Sprayberry and Lisa Brown will have reached the six-year limit for JASNA Syracuse, and Celia Easton will have completed over ten years of service for JASNA Rochester. Moreover, both Marie and Celia would like to step down as RCs for personal reasons at this point. And there is no clear successor to Marie and Lisa in JASNA Syracuse.

(  2)  From now on, a new Region cannot be founded whose central city is within a two-hour drive of the central city of another Region. Under this new by-law, JASNA Syracuse would not have been considered for independent Region status.

The Rochester and Syracuse RCs have been discussing what to do ever since. Under the circumstances, it seems to us that the best thing to do is to merge the present Rochester and Syracuse Regions into a new Region. The JASNA North American leadership has approved the merger. Our current choice for the new Region’s name is JASNA Central and Western New York (CWNY).

Since Lisa Brown is only two years into her current service as Rochester’s co-RC, we propose that she become the new RC for the combined Region, for at least the next two years. Lisa will be assisted by an Executive Committee consisting of Celia, Marie, Christopher Cassidy (who will be the “blogmaster” for the new Region’s blog), and others to be determined later—including, we hope, some current JASNA Rochester member(s) from the Buffalo area. Any current JASNA Syracuse or JASNA Rochester members who would like to serve on the Executive Committee in some capacity should contact Lisa or Marie. In particular, we are hoping that someone will volunteer to serve as Lisa’s co-RC, in order to “learn the ropes” of becoming Lisa’s eventual successor.

Meetings will be held primarily in Rochester’s current regular meeting place (the Pittsford Barnes & Noble). Marie plans to continue with meetings at Liverpool in the Syracuse area, as well as at Binghamton and Hamilton, but will probably cut her schedule back to four meetings a year. We are also hopeful that one or more Buffalo-area members might be willing to hold occasional meetings there.

Regional dues: JASNA Syracuse has not charged regional dues (in addition to the annual fee for North American JASNA membership) since 2009, but JASNA Rochester has traditionally charged a modest $5 a year to cover incidental costs at the local level. The plan is to continue this very reasonable charge for the combined Region, for those who participate in local-level events.

Finally, the URL for the new Region’s blog will be A preliminary version of this blog is already up and running. Posts on the old Syracuse and Rochester blogs ( and, respectively) will be accessible as archives on the new blog.

1. "Thomas Rowlandson - Vaux-Hall - Dr. Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Mary Robinson, et al" by Thomas Rowlandson - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.05671.  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -,_Oliver_Goldsmith,_Mary_Robinson,_et_al.jpg#/media/File:Thomas_Rowlandson_-_Vaux-Hall_-_Dr._Johnson,_Oliver_Goldsmith,_Mary_Robinson,_et_al.jpg

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cordancia Dances

"Five positions of dancing Wilson 1811" by T. Wilson (1)

Cordancia Dances with the Meryton Assembly Dancers

The Meryton Assembly Dancers will be performing this weekend with the Cordancia Chamber Orchestra at the Cordancia Dances Concert. The Orchestra is one of the finest ensembles in the area featuring talented musicians playing a diverse repetoire of music. The concert will be held at Cutler Union at the Memorial Art Gallery April 19th starting at 2:45 pm and will include music inspired by dance.

The program begins with the Meryton Assembly Dancers performing dances related to Jane Austen’s era. After a grand procession to the tune of Mr. Isaacs Maggot the group will perform the Duke of Kent Waltz. This dance dates from the first years of the 19th century during the Regency Period. The dancers will then perform Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot. While dating from an earlier period, this dance will always be associated with Jane Austen, because it was performed in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.

The Meryton Assembly Dancers represent the Country Dance Rochester organization and consist of a group of people dedicated to spreading the joy of English Country Dance. Several Janeites contribute their elegance and style to the group.

ECD is often associated with Jane Austen as Jane Austen used balls in most of her novels to advance the themes. Jane Austen herself loved to dance. However, ECD is both much older and much younger than the Regency. The dance form goes back to the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is well documented from about 1650 onward in the series The Dancing Master published by John Playford and his successors from 1651 until 1728. Mr. B’s Maggot is a Playford dance and so would have been an old dance in Jane Austen’s time.

Brocket Hall used to film the Netherfield ballroom scene in the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice (2)

English Country Dance became less popular with the advent of the couples waltz at the end of the Regency period. However, the dance form was revived when Cecil  Sharp founded the English Folk Dance Society in 1911. Today several artists continue to compose and arrange dances in the style of English Country Dance while groups such as Country Dance Rochester meet all over the world to enjoy this very sociable activity. Come hear Cordancia Dances and experience the charm of English Country Dance.

Event: Cordancia Dances
When: April 19 2:45 pm
Where: Cutler Union Memorial Art Gallery

1. Library of Congress as edited by User:Church on 
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

2. (

"Brocket Hall" by Self - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons -