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Friday, December 16, 2016

An awkward guest list for Jane Austen's birthday party

Today, we celebrate the 241st birthday of Miss Jane Austen, who many regard as one of the most brilliant authors in literary history. From Pride and Prejudice to Persuasion, her fictional contributions to society are immeasurable.

Such a fine lady deserves a proper party on just such an occasion as this but what if someone mixed up the Who to Invite with the Perhaps We Should Not list? In that case, there would be some amusement to be found as the meeting of these particular minds would undoubtedly cause quite a commotion as we shall soon see:

OH,MR. COLLINS!: Arriving far too early would be this devoted supplicant of Lady Catherine De Burgh, eager to sing her ladyship's praises rather than the lady for whom the party is being held in the first place.

Of course, he would find a moment to make one of those well rehearsed compliments of his that are"always acceptable" to Miss Austen and perhaps even compare her home to one of the best guest rooms at Rosings, which for him is high praise indeed:

LADY CATHERINE THE LESS THAN GREAT: As to her ladyship, she would most condescendingly attend and more than likely have her daughter Anne waiting outside in the carriage, the better to make a quick departure once her duty is done.

Most of her conversation would be about the inconvenience of such a gathering during the holiday season, the lack of notable persons to make such a long journey worth the effort and how she herself would have a far better party at Rosings.

No doubt, she would insist on changing the venue of the party and firmly request that Miss Austen join her outside to discuss the matter further, which would certainly lead to quite the verbal battle worth overhearing(discreetly, of course):

ENTER THE ELTONS: No doubt, Mr. Elton and Mr. Collins would be happy to exchange comparisons of local patronesses with each other,although I suspect that Mr. Collins might find his new friend to have been a bit presumptuous in his first choice for the position of wife.

Charlotte,on the other hand, would have to deal with Mrs. Elton and her constant chatter about her "caro spouso",her plans for a musical society of some sort and how surprisingly respectable her new neighbors are. Poor Charlotte, not even daily doings at Rosings could truly prepare her for this:

WINKLING IS COMING: There are many delights to be had in the company of Mrs. Jennings,as her favorite son-in-law will vouch for, and certainly among company such as this, she would be a welcome face in the crowd.

However, some of that pleasure would arise from her attempting to "winkle" a few secrets out of Lady Catherine and trying to think of a few suitable suitors for poor Anne, not to mention making sport of such uptight fellows as Mr. Collins and Mr. Elton.

Hopefully, Miss Austen will suggest some musical entertainment as a distraction and probably play the pianoforte herself in order to keep the considerable peace before her birthday cake is to be served:

Even with such a contentious lot in attendance, any party with Jane Austen's characters would be a true treat. If it were not for her snobbish ladies and pompous gentlemen, we would not be as able to appreciate the polite charms of her heroes and heroines as much as we do.

Before departing such an engaging party, I must mention that Caroline Bingley would certainly contrive to make an appearance with reluctant companions in tow.

 Although she is the mistress of subtle verbal stings, I do think that even the firm resolve of Mr. Darcy would crack if Caroline persisted on making too many feline remarks about the dancing being done at Miss Austen's party. All of this would only cause Jane to sneak off with Elizabeth Bennet for a much needed private moment of mirth, which makes any birthday celebration all the better:

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