Season 02, Episode 04 – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 4

Private Seminaries, How to Address Women, and Escaping Middle Class

What was a private seminary? What is the proper way to address a gentleman’s daughter? And just what is the story with the Bingley’s fortune? Find out the answers to these questions and more, in this episode of My Cousin Jane.

Audio

A Small Kind of Accomplishment

“And to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

By donating to support the show, you can improve your mind even further with exclusive behind-the-scenes information, bonus content, and more.

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.

Advertisements for Private Women’s Seminaries

Excerpts from The Female Preceptor, essays on the duties of the female sex, conducted by a lady, Volume 2 (1813) and Volume 3 (1814).

Transcript

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 LibriVox.org.

Welcome to My Cousin Jane, a podcast about Jane Austen and her works. With your host, Lee Falin. Season 2 – episode 04.

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 4.
As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it continue, please consider supporting us by going to mycousinjane.com and clicking the little donate button.

Chapter Summary

In the fourth chapter of Pride & Prejudice, we have Jane and Elizabeth discussing the events of the ball, and especially the behaviors and relative merits of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy.

But then about halfway through the chapter, Austen switches POVs. We move from Elizabeth’s POV to an omniscient POV, where we learn some of the backstory about Mr. Bingley and his family.

Two quick notes about Mr. Bingley’s two sisters:

First we have Caroline Bingley, she’s single and is usually referred to in the novel simply as Miss Bingley, but sometimes as Caroline.

The second is Mrs. Louisa Hurst, who is married to a man known only as Mr. Hurst. Caroline of course is a major antagonist in the novel, though Louisa participates in her scheming occasionally. Mr. Hurst doesn’t play much of a role in the story and is only mentioned in passing a couple of times.

Women’s Titles in Regency

Speaking of Miss and Mrs, let’s talk briefly about the forms of address used with women that did not have titles of nobility.

What we refer to as someone’s first name or given name, was in Regency England, referred to as their Christian name, because it was the name given to them at their Christening.

Their last name or surname would generally be referred to as their family name.

For married women without a title, the address was generally Mrs., followed by their husband’s family name. This was the address used by both men and women outside the family, and even most of the time by the woman’s husband while in public.

One exception was that close female friends might address a married woman by her Christian name.

For unmarried women without title, the rules were a bit more complicated. The eldest unmarried daughter was referred to as Miss. followed by the family name.

For example, references to “Miss. Bennet” refer to Jane, as she is the oldest unmarried Bennet daughter.

The other unmarried daughters of the family were addressed as Miss followed by their Christian and family names, or Miss followed by just their Christian name if people are speaking more casually. But never by just their first name, except in cases of young men who have recently had their proposals accepted.

For example Elizabeth is usually referred to outside her family as “Miss Elizabeth Bennet” or “Miss Elizabeth”.

The rules for untitled men were a bit simpler. To pretty much everyone except their close male friends, they were “Mr.”, followed by their surname. Close male friends would refer to them most often simply by their surname.

Private seminary

Let’s listen to this clip about the Bingley sister’s upbringing:

They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of being agreeable where they chose it; but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank; and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others.

Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 4

I want to talk a minute about the “seminary” referred to in this clip.

Now we learn a bit later in the chapter that the Bingley fortune was acquired by trade, which essentially means that they weren’t part of the “landed gentry”.

However the idea of appearing as an established family with an estate of their own is evident in the way they “were very anxious for their brother to have an estate of his own.”

However, it’s unclear whether or not the Bingley’s father was the one who acquired his fortune by trade, or whether it was an earlier generation. I mention this because what this private seminary consisted of would vary a bit depending on the circumstance of the Bingley family during their younger years.

It appears from Miss Bingley’s later description of what a “truly accomplished” woman means, that she and her sister would have been educated in, “music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages”.

In the popular women’s journal “The Female Preceptor”, we can find some reviews of private seminaries.

These typically start with a discussion of the merits of the housemistress—the title usually given to a woman in charge of a boarding school. Then a description of the house itself is sometimes provided, followed by the subjects covered and their cost.

You can find copies of some of these period reviews in the show notes for this episode over on MyCousinJane.com. So If you’re interested in reading them, head over there and check it out.

And while you’re there, don’t forget to signup for our awesome newsletter that gives you even more awesome Jane Austen-related news, historical references, behind-the-scenes information and other great stuff

Money Through Trade

Let’s listen to one more clip about the dance itself from Mrs. Bennet:

They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired by trade.

Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 4

So we talked about this idea a bit when we discussed the Bingley’s fortune, but the portrait painted of Bingley here is that his father was mostly likely upper middle-class, which isn’t a term you think of a lot connected to the Regency era, but during this time period the idea of an “upwardly mobile middle-class” was relatively common.

First you had well-to-do tradesmen who, like the Bingley family, had earned a relative fortune through trade, enough to allow them to purchase an estate and transition from “tradesman” to “landed gentry”.
This was made easier by the fact that many “old money” families through a combination of mismanaged estates, poor investments, and extravagant children, find themselves so “land rich and cash poor” as Mr. Preston remarks in Wives and Daughters, that they are willing (or at times required) to sell off parts of their estate in order to stay afloat.

We also have soldiers and sailors who became wealthy through the fortunes of war, as was the case with Captain Wentworth (and many of his officer brothers) in Persuasion, which we discussed back in Season one.

We also have respectable (and otherwise) individuals who marry into money, lifting them instantly from the middle (or lower) class into the gentry.

As we discussed, there are some people who looked down upon this “new money” so to speak. One of the ironies Austen highlights about the Bingley sisters is that while they look down upon such individuals, they have conveniently forgotten the origins of their own fortunes.

Conclusion

That wraps up episode 4 of season 2 of My Cousin Jane.

As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it continue, please consider supporting us by heading over to MyCousinJane.com 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.”

Season 02, Episode 03 – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 3

Mr. Darcy’s Wealth, His Behavior at the Ball, and Regency Dances – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 3

Just how rich was Mr. Darcy? Why was he being so rude at the ball? Why is it such a big deal that Bingley danced with Jane twice? And what exactly is a Boulangere? Find out the answers to these questions and more, in this episode of My Cousin Jane.

Audio

A Small Kind of Accomplishment

“And to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

By donating to support the show, you can improve your mind even further with exclusive behind-the-scenes information, bonus content, and more.

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

Transcript

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 LibriVox.org.

Welcome to My Cousin Jane, a podcast about Jane Austen and her works. With your host, Lee Falin. Season 2 – episode 03.

Welcome back everyone, or if you’re a first-time listener, thanks for joining us. Though you can of course listen to these episodes in any order, I highly recommend that you listen to each season from the start.

In each episode, 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. And sometimes, I’ll refer back to the content of a previous episode. So be sure to go back and listen to those when you get a chance.

As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it continue, please consider supporting us by going to mycousinjane.com and clicking the little donate button.

Chapter Summary

The third chapter of Pride & Prejudice launches us into our first ball. My Darcy makes an appearance, astonishing everyone with what they perceive as his haughty behavior and even insults Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Mr. Bingley pays quite a bit of attention to Jane.

A bit about Darcy

Now, I want to talk a little bit about Mr. Darcy. First of all, the man is extremely wealthy. Beyond belief wealthy to be honest. As we discussed back in the first episode of this season, we can’t just look at what 10,000 pounds a year would be worth in today’s money. We have to take into account a bunch of other socio-economic factors.

Turning again to Katerine Toran’s excellent article “The Economics of Jane Austen’s World”, it’s estimated that Mr. Darcy’s annual income is somewhere between $12,000,000 and $16,000,000 USD per year. But, the article also estimates that his total fortune is somewhere between $250,000,000 and $328,000,000 USD.

Now, there’s no denying that the man is prideful and rude, but later on we learn that he feels uncomfortable around people he doesn’t know well, and doesn’t really like meeting new people. A feeling shared by many an introvert.

Let’s listen to this sequence of events. As always, our clips come courtesy of Karen Savage and Librivox.org:

Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between him and his friend! Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again.

Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 3

When you hear that Mr. Darcy “declined to be introduced to any other lady,” you might picture him snubbing all of these poor young women trying to get his attention.

But remember from last episode how Regency introductions went. Someone acquainted with both Mr. Darcy and the young woman would present Mr. Darcy to the young woman, who would then decide if she wanted to pay any attention to him.

For an introvert, this would be a complete nightmare, no matter how rich you were.

Of course, this is all little comfort to Elizabeth when she overhears Mr. Darcy talking about her to Mr. Bingley.

The Dance

Let’s listen to one more clip about the dance itself from Mrs. Bennet:

…and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice. Only think of that, my dear; he actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time. First of all, he asked Miss Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with her; but, however, he did not admire her at all; indeed, nobody can, you know; and he seemed quite struck with Jane as she was going down the dance. So he enquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. Then, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger—”

“If he had had any compassion for me,” cried her husband impatiently, “he would not have danced half so much! For God’s sake, say no more of his partners. Oh that he had sprained his ankle in the first dance!”

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 3

A lot of people compare Regency dances to American square dances. And there are some similarities. But depending on the dance, a lot of the time people were standing around waiting for their turn to dance with their chosen partner, which left a lot of time for conversation.

Dances were typically conducted in pairs. So the “two first” that Mrs. Bennet refers to means two separate dances, one after the other. Each dance would have a particular style and arrangement, and one or more figures of movement that the participants moved through.

Each dance could last anywhere between fifteen to thirty minutes. So engaging someone for a set of two meant you might be in their company for close to an hour.

Many of the dances involved people waiting in a line (usually referred to as a set). The couple at the head of the set would dance down through the middle of the lines in different patterns, while the other participants would slowly make their way up the set as they approached their turn.

Now you might think you know how Regency dances are supposed to look, from the many ways they are depicted in films, but according to Susannah Fullerton, former president of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, and author of A Dance with Jane Austen, most Austen films stage their dances more for cinematic and story effect, than for accuracy.

If you want a sound understanding of how Regency dance worked, “A Dance with Jane Austen” is an excellent resource.

Three other quick things I want to point out about Regency dance customs.

Most books on dance etiquette advised that except for very special reasons, you were not supposed to keep the same partner for more than a single set. So the fact that Bingley danced with Jane for two sets of dances is pretty significant.

Second, it was considered a major social misstep for a lady to choose not to dance with a man who asked her. Jane Austen brags in a letter to her sister about having done this once in order to avoid having to dance with someone particularly unpleasant.

This point will come up again later in the novel.

Finally, the Boulangere gets a special mention here. Other Austen fans have pointed out that the Boulangere is pretty notable as being the only dance that Austen mentions by name. There have been a lot of different versions of this dance over the years, but when it is danced at a ball, it’s usually the final dance of the evening.

Conclusion

As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it continue, please consider supporting us by going to MyCousinJane.com and clicking 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.”

Season 02, Episode 02 – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 2

Regency Fashion Guides, Trimming Bonnets, and More – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 2

Were men and women held to the same standards of fashion during the Regency Era? What exactly did trimming a bonnet entail? How important were social norms to Mrs. Bennet? Find out the answers to these questions and more, in this episode of My Cousin Jane.

Audio

A Small Kind of Accomplishment

“And to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

By donating to support the show, you can improve your mind even further with exclusive behind-the-scenes information, bonus content, and more.

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

The Pocket Book of Etiquette

by Arthur Freeling

Transcript

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 LibriVox.org.

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

Welcome back everyone, or if you’re a first-time listener, thanks for joining us. Though you can of course listen to these episodes in any order, I highly recommend that you listen to each season from the start.
In each episode, 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. And sometimes, I’ll refer back to the content of a previous episode. So be sure to go back and listen to those when you get a chance.

As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it continue, please consider supporting us by going to mycousinjane.com and clicking the little donate button.

Chapter Summary

Chapter two is even shorter than chapter one by my estimation, and two important things take place in this chapter. First, we find out that Mr. Bennet secretly visited Mr. Bingley without telling anyone, despite what he told his wife. And second, we meet some of the daughters of the Bennet family and get some hints as to their personalities.

Just so we’re all on the same page when we discuss the family, I want to talk briefly about the five Bennet daughters, even though they’re not all explicitly mentioned in this chapter.

The eldest is Jane. Throughout the book we learn that she is considered the most beautiful, rather shy, and the least judgmental.

The second eldest is Elizabeth, though her father often calls her “Lizzy”. She is our main protagonist, and most of the novel takes place from her point of view.

Third in line is Mary. Austen isn’t very flattering when she talks about Mary. Mary’s defining trait in the novel is that she works really hard to improve herself both in reading and in musical performance, but her opinion of her talent exceeds her actual abilities.

Welcome to the club Mary.

Next is Catherine, known as “Kitty” in the novel. She doesn’t play a very large role in the novel, acting mostly as her younger sister’s comrade in arms so to speak.

Finally, we have Lydia, the youngest sister. Lydia is an impetuous young woman who appears to have little regard for the restrictions of propriety.

Though on the bright side, she is the tallest of the girls.

So, with those introductions out of the way, on to an important topic: Hat Trimming.

Hat Trimming and Fashion

When Mr. Bennet reveals his big surprise to the family, Lizzy is in the middle of trimming a hat. I want to talk about this, because it comes up again later in the book. And fashion was such an important aspect of Regency life.

Just like today, during the Regency era what was considered fashionable was constantly shifting.

Fashion advice at the time pointed out that while it wasn’t easy to judge someone’s talents, learning, or character, your sense of fashion was under constant scrutiny.

Men and women were given similar advice as to fashion trends. In the 1837 Pocket Book of Etiquette, the advice is given that:

Etiquette requires some attention to the prevailing mode, but not a servile imitation of any fashionable idiot.

1837 Pocket Book of Etiquette

Meanwhile, the section on bonnet trimming and construction in the 1853 Ladies’ Self Instructor cautions:

No doubt, in the choice both of material and of colour, considerable defer- ence must be paid to the prevailing fashion. It is well to avoid the two extremes into which some people are very apt to fall. The one is an entire disregard to the prevailing taste, and the other a servile submission to its tyrannic sway. A medium course is the only sensible one, and, in this, good sense will dictate how far to go, and where to stop.

Ladies Self Instructor

There was also a strong sense among some women of the time that rather than having your dress follow the prevailing fashion of modern England, your choice of clothing should be dictated by your body type and complection.

The 1811 fashion guide The Mirror of Graces (written by “A Lady of Distinction” warns:

Some women will actually disguise and disfigure themselves, rather than not appear in the prevailing fashion, which, though advantageous to one character of face, may have the direct contrary effect with another. I hinted at this in the earlier part of this dissertation; now I come closer to my subject, intending to enter into a minute detail of what ought or ought not to be worn by women of different moulds and complexions.

The Mirror of Graces, by A Lady of Distinction

But regardless of this which school of fashion you belonged to, everyone felt the need for a good bonnet. And the Ladies Self Instructor gives extensive details on construction, modification, and trimming of bonnets and a host of other things, claiming:

An acquaintance with the directions here given will soon enable any one to make a bonnet of almost any shape. The principles are the same in all, and details cannot be learned from books. They can only be the result of observation and experience.

Ladies Self Instructor

Maybe one of the reasons details couldn’t be learned from that book is because it has no pictures.

The instructions for reforming a bonnet from an existing foundation state:

Detach the crown from the front, and shape the material by the pattern, tack the lining and the outside to the front and cord, or otherwise secure the edges. Then make the crown, covering the top first ; then put on it the piece of the material that is to go round, in a proper manner, and secure it at the top by a single or double row of cord, fit it as tightly as possible to the frame you had before pre- pared, and fasten it on at the back. You then turn in the edges and set it on the front. The edge of the crown is to be outermost, or over that of the front. You put in the head lining and attach the curtain as in the former examples, and trim it as you choose.
Patience required indeed.

The Mirror of Graces, by A Lady of Distinction

The Next Ball

Leaving fashion behind for now, last episode, we talked about the etiquette of introductions. Mrs. Bennet is determined that in this particular instance, the social norms be properly adhered to.

But this chapter shows us that there’s at least one Regency-era social norm that Mrs Bennet is apparently quite happy to ignore—allowing all of her daughters to be “out”. As shown in this clip, courtesy of Karen Savage and Librivox.org:

Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I dare say Mr. Bingley will dance with you at the next ball.”

“Oh!” said Lydia stoutly, “I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I’m the tallest.”

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 2

Conclusion

That wraps up our second episode of season 2 of My Cousin Jane.

As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it continue, please consider supporting us by going to MyCousinJane.com and clicking 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.”

Season 02, Episode 01 – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 1

Proper Introductions, Mr. Bingley’s Wealth, and More – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 1

Exactly who could be introduced to whom during the Regency era? Who was richer, Mr. Bingley or Captain Wentworth? And what’s something that most Regency films get wrong? Find out the answers to these questions and more, in this episode of My Cousin Jane.

Audio

A Small Kind of Accomplishment

“And to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

By donating to support the show, you can improve your mind even further with exclusive behind-the-scenes information, bonus content, and more.

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

The Pocket Book of Etiquette

by Arthur Freeling

Transcript

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 LibriVox.org.

Welcome to My Cousin Jane, a podcast about Jane Austen and her works. With your host, Lee Falin. Season 2 – episode 01.

Hello everyone, and welcome to a brand new season of the My Cousin Jane podcast.

Just like last season, we’re going to be going on a chapter-by-chapter journey through one of Jane Austen’s books. But instead of examining the hidden meaning and deep literary themes of the books, we’ll be exploring what you might think of the behind the scenes featurettes or deleted scenes of your favorite movie.

Last season was all about Persuasion, which is my favorite book by Jane Austen. This season, will feature what is arguably Jane Austen’s most popular book, Pride & Prejudice.

One thing we will try to do a bit more of this season, is summarizing the events of the chapter, so let’s dive right in to chapter one.

Chapter Summary

Chapter one is super short—in my massmarket paperback version, it’s barely three pages long—but in these three pages are two interesting notes.

First, in these three short pages, we’re introduced to a whopping ten different characters by name, which is pretty remarkable.

Second, right at the start of this chapter, we have the most quoted line in Austen’s books, and possibly in the entire romance genre. It would seem wrong to go much further without hearing that line. Just like last season, our audio book excerpts come courtesy of the talented Karen Savage and Librivox.org:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 1

Of course the single man in question is Mr. Bingley, who has just rented Netherfield Park. Mrs Bennet is excitedly conveying this all-important piece of news to her husband, in the hopes that he’ll pay him a visit, so that one of their daughters can later marry the man.

House Names and Let

We talked quite a bit about the concept of letting in season one, but in review, if you own a property, you can let someone live there in exchange for paying rent. The property owner is said to let the house, and the tenant is said to be renting the house, or to have taken the house.

Let and rent are sometimes used interchangeably (though incorrectly so) in modern times.

We also talked last season about house names. Most estates in the United Kingdom were (and still are) named. Even smaller, less extensive homes were sometimes named, such as Winthrop in Persuasion.

If you own a house in the UK today, for a small fee you can apply to your local city or village council and the Royal Postal service for permission to name your house. Once your house is named, your mail can be addressed using your house number, or the house name, and the postman will know how to get it to you.

As we mentioned last season, according to some British realtors, naming your house can add as much as 5,000 pounds to its value. Why live at number 11 Windsor Way when you can live in Shell Cottage for example?

Relative Fortunes

Speaking of pounds, one of the most impressive things we hear about Mr. Bingley in the first chapter is the fact that he brings in between four and five thousand pounds each year.

The best way to get a feel for just how much money that would be today is to consult Katerine Toran’s excellent article “The Economics of Jane Austen’s World”.

We discussed this in detail in episode 9 of last season, so be sure to go back and give that a listen, but due to the differences in how wealth was used in the 1800s compared to today, Toran places Mr. Bingley’s income at somewhere between two and six million US dollars in today’s money.

Last season we mentioned that Captain Wentworth had probably earned around 41 million US dollars during his time in the navy. But remember, this was basically a lump sum of cash.

That two to six million is Bingley’s annual earnings. During regency times, gentlemen earned income from two or three specific sources. The most common were interest from investment funds, and rents from tenants on their land.

We’re told later in the book that Bingley’s family made their fortune through trade, and that he doesn’t yet own an estate, so it’s most likely that his income is derived mostly from investments. So when we compare his fortune to Wentworth’s, consider how much money Bingley would have to have set aside in investments in order to earn 2 to 6 million a year in interest, and then you’ll better understand why

Mrs. Bennet is so excited about the prospect of him marrying one of her daughters.

Introductions

Mrs. Bennet is especially concerned that her husband visit Mr. Bingley so that their daughter may be introduced to him properly. Let’s listen to her comment on this:

“But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the neighbourhood.”

“It is more than I engage for, I assure you.”

“But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for one of them. Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account, for in general, you know, they visit no newcomers. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him, if you do not.”

“You are over scrupulous, surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chooses of the girls; though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy.”

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 1

There are some pretty specific rules of propriety regarding introductions. Regency author Rachel Knowles points out that you have to be careful which sources you consult on this, because some authors confuse the rules of regency society with those of victorian society, which evolved somewhat.

Consulting a variety of sources, including Daniel Pool’s What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, and the 1837 Pocket book of Etiquette, here are a few rules our Regency friends were expected to live by:

  1. Gentlemen were always presented to ladies, not the other way around.
  2. After the initial introduction, if they met again, the lady was responsible for determining whether or not the acquaintance was to continue.

The 1837 Pocket Book of Etiquette instructs the man how to act in this situation:

In recognizing a lady in the street, always remove your hat, and slightly bow; this is an attention and mark of respect that every well-bred woman will demand, and if not yielded, will certainly consider you a fool and a boor.

1837 Pocket Book of Etiquette

However, it further warns:

Recollect, however, that the lady most notice you ere you presume even to give this mark of recognition.

1837 Pocket Book of Etiquette
  1. People of higher rank could introduce themselves to those of lower rank, but not the reverse. We see that in later in the novel with Mr. Collins.

The Pocket Book of Etiquette has a very pointed warning about this:

The superior in rank and station should (except in situations of great intimacy), first speak to the inferior. The want of attention to this rule has often placed the unlucky ignoramus in very awkward situations.

1837 Pocket Book of Etiquette

Now there was an exception to the general rules of introduction, and that was what happened at a ball. If you were a gentleman at a ball, and there was a lady there that you didn’t know, but you wanted to dance with, you could appeal to the Master of Ceremonies for an introduction.

He would then determine if such an introduction would be appropriate (based on relative rank and situation).

However, once you left the ball, this introduction did not count as a real introduction. You couldn’t then speak to one another as if you’d been truly introduced.

In the case of the Bennets and Mr. Bingley, since Mr. Bennet and Mr. Bingley were equal in rank (both being untitled gentlemen), and since Mr. Bennet was older and established in the neighborhood, it was appropriate for him to visit Mr. Bingley, and thus put himself in a position to later present him to his daughters.

We’ll see the nuance of introduction play out a bit further when we have our first ball in Chapter 3.

Conclusion

That wraps up our first episode of season 2 of My Cousin Jane.

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Either way, thanks so much for listening.

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