Lovely (rich) Kent

“People get so horridly poor & economical in this part of the World, that I have no patience with them.–Kent is the only place for happiness.”

letter to Cassandra (Jane’s brother Edward, who had been adopted by wealthy cousins and inherited great estates lived in Kent)
December 18, 1798 [14]

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Filed under Letters, Money, Poverty

What indeed?

“’What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?’” [Marianne]

‘Grandeur has but little,’ said Elinor, ‘but wealth has much to do with it.’

‘Elinor, for shame!’ said Marianne; ‘money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it.  Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction as far as mere self is concerned.’

‘Perhaps,’ said Elinor, smiling, ‘we may come to the same point.  Your competence and my wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfort must be wanting.  Your ideas are only more noble than mine.  Come, what is your competence?’

‘About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than that.’

Elinor laughed. ‘Two thousand a year!  One is my wealth!  I guessed how it would end.’”

Elinor & Marianne discussing with Edward the need of money for happiness
Sense & Sensibility, volume 1, chapter 17 [emphasis mine]

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Filed under Competence, Elinor, Happiness, Marianne, Money, Sense and Sensibility, Wealth

Conspiracy theory

“The whole World is in a conspiracy to enrich one part of our family at the expence of another.”

letter to Cassandra
May 21, 1801 [37]

Jane was upset that her father’s extensive library had only been valued at 70 pounds.  Her brother James and his wife Mary had taken over the Steventon rectory (along with the living) when her father retired to Bath, and ended up with many of the family things.

The rectory no longer exists, but here is a picture of St. Nicholas in Steventon.

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Filed under Austen family, brother James, Letters, Money

Topaz crosses

“[Charles] has received 30 pounds for his share of the privateer & expects 10 pounds more–but of what avail is it to take prizes if he lays out the produce in presents to his Sisters.  He has been buying Gold chains & Topaze Crosses for us;–he must be well scolded.”

letter to Cassandra
May 27, 1801 [38]

Jane’s younger brother Charles was in the navy (along with their brother Frank).  You can see the topaz crosses Charles bought his sisters at Jane Austen’s House Museum.

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Filed under Austen family, brother Charles, Generosity, Letters, Money, the Navy

Vulgar economy

“The Orange Wine will want our Care soon.–But in the meantime for Elegance & Ease & Luxury . . . I shall eat Ice & drink French wine, & be above Vulgar Economy.”

letter to Cassandra
July 1, 1808 [55]

Jane was writing from Godmersham (pic above), her brother Edward’s home, which was certainly above Vulgar Economy.

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Filed under Economy, Letters, Money

Men of large fortune

“But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them.”

Mansfield Park, volume 1, chapter 1

Oh, how true!


Filed under Beauty, Mansfield Park, Men, Money, Wealth

The ‘thoroughly benevolent’ Mrs. Norris

Horrible Mrs. Norris!

“Mrs. Norris had not the least intention of being at any expense whatever in [Fanny’s] maintenance.  As far as walking, talking, and contriving reached, she was thoroughly benevolent, and nobody knew better how to dictate liberality to others: but her love of money was equal to her love of directing, and she knew quite as well how to save her own as to spend that of her friends. …

“Under this infatuating principle, counteracted by no real affection for her sister, it was impossible for her to aim at more than the credit of projecting and arranging so expensive a charity; though perhaps she might so little know herself, as to walk home to the Parsonage after this conversation, in the happy belief of being the most liberal-minded sister and aunt in the world.”

Mansfield Park, volume 1, chapter 1 (emphasis mine)

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Filed under Economy, Generosity, Greed, Mansfield Park, Money, Self-deception

Can money make a man smart?

Apparently so!

“If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.”

What Edmund Bertram thinks to himself about Mr. Rushworth
Mansfield Park, volume 1, chapter 4

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Filed under Edmund Bertram, Mansfield Park, Men, Money, Mr. Rushworth, Wealth

Oh, to be respectable

“The Rich are always respectable.”

letter to Cassandra
June 22, 1808 [53]

Jane was joking (as always), because she had just received a gift of money from her brother Edward’s adoptive mother (it’s complicated…), Mrs. Knight.


Filed under Letters, Money, Wealth

Provided she could marry well…

“Miss Crawford was glad to find a family of such consequence so very near them, and not at all displeased either at her sister’s early care, or the choice it had fallen on.  Matrimony was her object, provided she could marry well, and having seen Mr. Bertram in town, she knew that objection could no more be made to his person than to his situation in life.  While she treated it as a joke, therefore, she did not forget to think of it seriously.”

Mansfield Park, volume 1, chapter 4 (emphasis mine)

I want to condemn Mary Crawford for this sentiment, but no doubt it was the way (nearly) everyone thought then. And I wonder — how much have we really changed?  Although my definition of marrying well and Mary Crawford’s are completely different.

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Filed under Mansfield Park, Marriage, Mary Crawford, Money, Money and Marriage