Category Archives: Contentment (or not)

The charms of Miss Bates

Why is it everyone likes Miss Bates so much?

“Her daughter [Miss Bates] enjoyed a most uncommon degree of popularity for a woman neither young, handsome, rich, nor married. Miss Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world for having much of the public favour; and she had no intellectual superiority to make atonement to herself or frighten those who might hate her into outward respect.  She had never boasted either beauty or cleverness.  Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a failing mother and the endeavor to make a small income go as far as possible.  And yet she was a happy woman, a woman whom no one named without goodwill.  It was her own universal goodwill and contented temper which worked such wonders.  She loved everybody, was interested in everybody’s happiness, quick-sighted to everybody’s merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother and so many good neighbors and friends and a home that wanted for nothing.  The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to everybody and a mine of felicity to herself.”

Emma, volume 1, chapter 3

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Filed under Beauty, Character description, Contentment (or not), Emma, Happiness, Miss Bates, Money, Popularity, Poverty

Learning to brook being happier than I deserve

Can’t resist posting one more from Persuasion today:

“‘It is a sort of pain, too, which is new to me.  I have been used to the gratification of believing myself to earn every blessing that I enjoyed.  I have valued myself on honourable toils and just rewards.  Like other great men under reverses,’ he added with a smile, ‘I must endeavor to subdue my mind to my fortune.  I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve.'”

Captain Wentworth, during the card party at the Elliots, after he learns that Anne would have accepted him had he come back to her much sooner
Persuasion, volume 2, chapter 11

I love the hint of grace here.


Filed under Anne Elliot, Capt. Wentworth, Contentment (or not), Grace, Happiness, Persuasion

Pity party with Mrs. B.

This week, the grandaddy of all Austen adaptations (and my personal absolute all-time favorite), Pride & Prejudice.  Whoo-hoo!

So many quotes… not sure where to start.  But I love this line from Mrs. B.

“Not that I have much pleasure indeed in talking to anybody.  People who suffer as I do from nervous complaints can have no great inclination for talking.  Nobody can tell what I suffer!–But it is always so.  Those who do not complain are never pitied.”

Dear Mrs. Bennet, talking to Charlotte Lucas after her great disappointment in not getting Lizzy to accept Mr. Collins
Pride & Prejudice, volume 1, chapter 20 (emphasis mine)

Such a great pity party line!

Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet. Image copyright BBC.  Watch an interview with Alison on the role of Mrs. B. at the BBC site.


Filed under Contentment (or not), Conversation, Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Self-deception

Queen of pity parties

“Mary was happy no longer: she quarrelled with her own seat, was sure Louisa had got a much better somewhere, and nothing could prevent her from going to look for a better also. . . . Anne found a nice seat for her, on a dry sunny bank, under the hedgerow, in which she had no doubt of their still being, in some spot or other.  Mary sat down for a moment, but it would not do; she was sure Louisa had found a better somewhere else, and she would go on till she overtook her.”

Persuasion, volume 1, chapter 10

I love Mary.  Nothing snaps me out of my own pity parties faster than thinking of her, and her “I’m sure Louisa has found a better,” as Sophie Thompson says in her brilliant performance.

I realize now that I am not entirely sure what a hedgerow looks like, but here is a shot of one of the fields around Steventon, where Jane grew up.


Filed under Anne Elliot, Contentment (or not), Mary Elliot Musgrove, Persuasion


No books quite yet…

“There is always something to be hoped from Delay.”

letter to Cassandra
April 30, 1811 [72]

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Filed under Contentment (or not), Letters

Wherever you are…

“Wherever you are you should always be contented, but especially at
home, because there you must spend the most of your time.”

Mrs. Morland
Northanger Abbey, volume 2, chapter 15

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Filed under Catherine Morland, Contentment (or not), Mrs. Morland, Northanger Abbey

A time for everything

“My dear Catherine, I am afraid you are growing quite a fine lady. . . . Your head runs too much upon Bath; but there is a time for
everything — a time for balls and plays, and a time for work. You have had a long run of amusement, and now you must try to be useful.”

More sensible advice from Catherine’s mother
Northanger Abbey, volume 2, chapter 15

Today I am going to try to be useful.  😉


Filed under Balls, Bath, Catherine Morland, Contentment (or not), Mrs. Morland, Northanger Abbey

Fretting over trifles

“You should never fret about trifles.”

Northanger Abbey, volume 2, chapter 15
Advice from Catherine’s sensible mother, after she returns home from Northanger Abbey and “could neither sit still nor employ herself for ten minutes together.”


Filed under Catherine Morland, Contentment (or not), Mrs. Morland, Northanger Abbey