Season 02, Episode 10 – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 10

Why is poetry the food of love? What’s so funny about four-and-twenty families? And how do you play Loo? Find out the answers to these questions and more, in this episode of My Cousin Jane.

Playing Piquet and Mending Pens

Is Piquet more fun than Loo? Did Mr. Darcy really mend his own pens? Why did he need to and how did he do it? Find out the answers to these questions and more, in this episode of My Cousin Jane.


Show Notes

Note: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. This means that every time you click on one and then buy something, I get paid billions of pounds by a secret organization trying to bring back the Regency period…or I get a few fractions of a cent from a company like Amazon, one or the other.

Books referenced in this episode


Note: Transcripts on this site are the scripts I used when preparing to record the show. They may or may not be a 100% faithful representation of the final recording. Audio clips of Pride & Prejudice come from Karen Savage’s narration of Pride & Prejudice, courtesy of

Welcome to My Cousin Jane, a podcast about Jane Austen and her works. With your host, Lee Falin. Season 2 – episode 10.

Welcome back to another episode of My Cousin Jane. Each week, we look at what you might think of as the behind the scenes featurettes or deleted scenes of a particular chapter in Austen’s books.

This week, we’re going to talk about Pride & Prejudice Chapter 10.

As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it continue, please consider supporting us by going to, signing up for our newsletter, or clicking on the little donate button.

Chapter Summary

Chapter 10 is one of my favorite chapters in Pride & Prejudice.

The banter between Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, as well as the attempts on Caroline Bingley’s part to simultaneously disparage Elizabeth and use her to get Mr. Darcy’s attention, are all great examples of Jane Austen’s ability to use smart dialogue and social wit to tell an entertaining story.


This week we have yet another Regency card game introduced to us. Let’s listen to this clip courtesy of Karen Savage and

Elizabeth joined their party in the drawing-room. The loo table, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing, and Miss Bingley, seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter, and repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game.

Price & Prejudice, Chapter 10

We’ve talked about commerce, Vingt-un, and loo, and this week we find our Netherfield friends playing piquet, which is a two-player trick-taking game.

If you don’t remember how trick-taking games work, go back and review episode 09 of this season, where we talk about the rules of the game of Loo.

Piquet is one of those games that seems really complicated at first, but once you start playing it, it seems really simple. But then once you understand what’s happening, you realize there’s more to it than you thought.

If you want the complete rules to this and many other fascinating historical games, I recommend you check out John McLeod’s popular historical card game reference site,, but here’s a quick summary:

You start with a deck of 32 cards containing only the cards 7 through Ace. Each player is dealt twelve cards, which leaves eight in a draw pile.

Players take turns each round as the “Elder” and “Younger” hands. Each round has three phases: exchange, declaration, and trick taking. The elder hand goes first in each phase.

In the exchange phase, the elder hand can exchange up to five cards with the draw pile while the younger can exchange up to three.

In the second, or declaration phase, the elder hand “declares” their best plays in three different categories.

After each declaration, which is done without revealing any cards, the younger hand announces whether they can beat that play or not.

The younger hand then declares their best plays for any category where they announced a better play than the elder hand.

Points are then awarded according to how good each player’s declarations were.

After all the declarations are made, the elder hand leads the trick-taking phase of the round.

What makes piquet so interesting is that even though you never see your opponent’s cards until the trick taking round begins, if you’re paying close attention to what is declared during the declaration phase, you can almost always figure out what cards they have, which allows you to plan your strategy for the trick-taking portion.

It’s a fun game with a few different variations. I recommend you find a copy of the rules and play through it a couple of times with a friend. You can also find digital versions of the game online.

The game is also referred to as Le Cent, and appears under that name in the classic French story, Gargantua and Pantagruel, which we discussed back in Episode 06.

Mending Pens & Dancing Reels

Now, in case card games aren’t your thing, let’s turn our attention to letter writing, and Miss Caroline Bingley’s observations on what a great letter writer Mr. Darcy seems to be:

“You write uncommonly fast.”

“You are mistaken. I write rather slowly.”

“How many letters you must have occasion to write in the course of a year! Letters of business, too! How odious I should think them!”

“It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of to yours.”

“Pray tell your sister that I long to see her.”

“I have already told her so once, by your desire.”

“I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well.”

“Thank you—but I always mend my own.”

“How can you contrive to write so even?”

He was silent.

“Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement on the harp, and pray let her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley’s.”

“Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again? At present I have not room to do them justice.”

“Oh, it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January. But do you always write such charming long letters to her, Mr. Darcy?”

“They are generally long; but whether always charming, it is not for me to determine.”

Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 10

I just want to take a moment to discuss the idea of mending pens. According to an article written for the Jane Austen Society of North America by Robert Hurford, editor of Editor of Journal for the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting, mending pens was something that most people preferred to do themselves, though there was difference between mending pens and cutting them into their initial shape.

Most people during the Regency era wrote with either a feature quill, or a graphite pencil. In this scene, Darcy would have been writing with a feather quill and ink.

Turning a feather into a quill was a relatively specialized task, and most people did not do this themselves. But, mending a pen—the feature quill equivalent of sharpening your pencil—was something that most people did prefer to do themselves. But before we talk about how to do it, let’s talk about why it was needed

There were two main kinds of ink in use during that time period, carbon black (made from mixing soot or lamp black with either gum or glue), and iron gall ink (made from soaking gall nuts from an oak tree in water, and then mixing in an iron salt). Both inks were typically sold in powdered form, and you would add water to them before use.

Since this ink is relatively wet, it would cause the tip of the quill to soften and deform as it was used. Most of the time, writers would have three or four quills at hand, and when one became too wet to use, they would switch to another until the wet one dried out.

You could make your tips last a little longer by writing on a softer surface, which is why many regency era writing desks, and the letter writing boxes that were placed on top of writing desks, had soft felt tops.

But mending a pen was relatively straight forward. Most people used a small knife, cleverly referred to as a “pen” knife, to sharpen and reshape the tip of the quill. Though again, you had to wait until the quill was dry before you could mend it.

One last note on this scene: most people during this time period learned to write using English Round Hand style, so we can assume that this is the style of writing Mr. Darcy was using.

If you want to explore the topic of regency handwriting in more detail, I recommend getting a copy of Barbara Heller’s special edition of Pride & Prejudice. Heller used the science of paleography—the study of historic handwriting, to recreate plausible handwriting styles for each of the letters in the novel based on the writer’s personalities and background.

Heller based much of her research on the study of Austen’s handwriting, as well as conversations with expert calligraphers.

Heller’s special edition of Pride & Prejudice includes nineteen hand folded letters with appropriate postmarks, which have been inserted into “pouches placed at just the right moments in the story.”

You can find a link to the book in our show notes on


That wraps up episode 10 of season 2 of My Cousin Jane.

As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to help us out, please consider supporting us by heading over to and clicking on the little donate button.

Either way, thanks so much for listening.

Subscribe to the My Cousin Jane Newsletter

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *