Emma – Jane Austen

More old novel perspectives here

A reworking of Mrs Elton’s delight in picking strawberries:

Mrs. Elton, in all her excitement of happiness about the Leave campaign’s success and her anticipation of a new dawn for Britain, was very ready to lead the way in tweeting, posting or talking: Brexit, and only Brexit, could now be thought or spoken of.

“The best outcome possible for England – a return to sovereignty – no more migrants claiming benefits. – Now there’ll be jobs for British workers. – Delightful to know that the people’s voice has been listened to – referendum a display of democracy in action. – As soon as possible would be best – no reason to delay triggering Article 50 – Brexit means Brexit – every opportunity to strike good trade deals – European market not the only customers – no reason not to open up trading with Asia – obviously good idea to retain existing relationships – number of countries clamouring to retain those links very scarce – perhaps close European neighbours preferred – reciprocal arrangements for health care useful when on holiday abroad – drop in the exchange rate a concern –  sure the pound will bounce back – after all, we haven’t actually left yet – wish we’d bought our euros back in June – couldn’t have predicted the outcome – big surprise – understand that no definite plans could have been made until outcome of referendum known – looking forward to seeing how NHS improved by the £350m a week – realise that might not actually be happening – not a promise as such – possibility of low Marmite stocks – PG Tips so refreshing – potentially being held to ransom by European suppliers – only objection to EU was the lack  of self-rule – problems ahead glaringly obvious – tired to death of naysayers – could bear it no longer – must go and turn off the news.”

…..

(Based on:  Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talking – strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of. “The best fruit in England – every body’s favourite – always wholesome. – These the finest beds and finest sorts. – Delightful to gather for one’s self – the only way of really enjoying them. – Morning decidedly the best time – never tired – every sort good – hautboy infinitely superior – no comparison – the others hardly eatable – hautboys very scarce – Chili preferred – white wood finest flavour of all – price of strawberries in London – abundance about Bristol – Maple Grove – cultivation-beds when to be renewed – gardeners thinking exactly different – no general rule – gardeners never to be put out of their way – delicious fruit – only too rich to be eaten much of – inferior to cherries – currants more refreshing – only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping – glaring sun – tired to death – could bear it no longer – must go and sit in the shade.” )

See also these muppets, Statler and  Waldorf.

.

Waldorf: That was wonderful!
Statler: Bravo!
Waldorf: I loved it!
Statler: Ah, it was great!
Waldorf: Well, it was pretty good.
Statler: Well, it wasn’t bad…
Waldorf: Uh, there were parts of it that weren’t very good though.
Statler: It could have been a lot better.
Waldorf: I didn’t really like it.
Statler: It was pretty terrible.
Waldorf: It was bad.
Statler: It was awful!
Waldorf: It was terrible!
Statler: Take ’em away!
Waldorf: Bah, boo!
Statler: Boo!

Original passage above from Emma, by Jane Austen

It was now the middle of June, and the weather fine; and Mrs. Elton was growing impatient to name the day, and settle with Mr. Weston as to pigeon-pies and cold lamb, when a lame carriage-horse threw everything into sad uncertainty. It might be weeks, it might be only a few days, before the horse were useable, but no preparations could be ventured on, and it was all melancholy stagnation. Mrs. Elton’s resources were inadequate to such an attack.

“Is not this most vexations, Knightley?” she cried. “And such weather for exploring! These delays and disappointments are quite odious. What are we to do? The year will wear away at this rate, and nothing done. Before this time last year I assure you we had had a delightful exploring party from Maple Grove to Kings Weston.”

“You had better explore to Donwell,” replied Mr. Knightley. “That may be done without horses. Come, and eat my strawberries. They are ripening fast.”

If Mr. Knightley did not begin seriously, he was obliged to proceed so, for his proposal was caught at with delight; and the “Oh! I should like it of all things,” was not plainer in words than manner. Donwell was famous for its strawberry-beds, which seemed a plea for the invitation: but no plea was necessary; cabbage-beds would have been enough to tempt the lady, who only wanted to be going somewhere. She promised him again and again to come—much oftener than he doubted—and was extremely gratified by such a proof of intimacy, such a distinguishing compliment as she chose to consider it.

“You may depend upon me,” said she. “I certainly will come. Name your day, and I will come. You will allow me to bring Jane Fairfax?”

“I cannot name a day,” said he, “till I have spoken to some others whom I would wish to meet you.”

“Oh! Leave all that to me. Only give me a carte-blanche. I am Lady Patroness, you know. It is my party. I will bring friends with me.”

“I hope you will bring Elton,” said he: “but I will not trouble you to give any other invitations.”

“Oh! now you are looking very sly. But consider; you need not be afraid of delegating power to me. I am no young lady on her preferment. Married women, you know, may be safely authorized. It is my party. Leave it all to me. I will invite your guests.”

“No,” he calmly replied, “there is but one married woman in the world whom I can ever allow to invite what guests she pleases to Donwell, and that one is  – ”

“Mrs. Weston, I suppose,” interrupted Mrs. Elton, rather mortified.

“No – Mrs. Knightley; and, till she is in being, I will manage such matters myself.”

“Ah! you are an odd creature!” she cried, satisfied to have no one preferred to herself. “You are a humourist, and may say what you like. Quite a humourist. Well, I shall bring Jane with me – Jane and her aunt. The rest I leave to you. I have no objections at all to meeting the Hartfield family. Don’t scruple. I know you are attached to them.”

“You certainly will meet them if I can prevail; and I shall call on Miss Bates in my way home.”

“That’s quite unnecessary; I see Jane every day: but as you like. It is to be a morning scheme, you know, Knightley; quite a simple thing. I shall wear a large bonnet, and bring one of my little baskets hanging on my arm. Here, probably this basket with pink ribbon. Nothing can be more simple, you see. And Jane will have such another. There is to be no form or parade – a sort of gipsy party. We are to walk about your gardens, and gather the strawberries ourselves, and sit under trees; and whatever else you may like to provide, it is to be all out of doors – a table spread in the shade, you know. Everything as natural and simple as possible. Is not that your idea?”

“Not quite. My idea of the simple and the natural will be to have the table spread in the dining-room. The nature and the simplicity of gentlemen and ladies, with their servants and furniture, I think is best observed by meals within doors. When you are tired of eating strawberries in the garden, there shall be cold meat in the house.”

“Well – as you please; only don’t have a great set out. And, by the bye, can I or my housekeeper be of any use to you with our opinion?—Pray be sincere, Knightley. If you wish me to talk to Mrs. Hodges, or to inspect anything.”

“I have not the least wish for it, I thank you.”

“Well – but if any difficulties should arise, my housekeeper is extremely clever.”

“I will answer for it, that mine thinks herself full as clever, and would spurn anybody’s assistance.”

“I wish we had a donkey. The thing would be for us all to come on donkies (sic), Jane, Miss Bates, and me – and my caro sposo walking by. I really must talk to him about purchasing a donkey. In a country life I conceive it to be a sort of necessary; for, let a woman have ever so many resources, it is not possible for her to be always shut up at home; and very long walks, you know – in summer there is dust, and in winter there is dirt.”

“You will not find either, between Donwell and Highbury. Donwell Lane is never dusty, and now it is perfectly dry. Come on a donkey, however, if you prefer it. You can borrow Mrs. Cole’s. I would wish every thing to be as much to your taste as possible.”

“That I am sure you would. Indeed I do you justice, my good friend. Under that peculiar sort of dry, blunt manner, I know you have the warmest heart. As I tell Mr. E., you are a thorough humourist. Yes, believe me, Knightley, I am fully sensible of your attention to me in the whole of this scheme. You have hit upon the very thing to please me.”

Mr. Knightley had another reason for avoiding a table in the shade. He wished to persuade Mr. Woodhouse, as well as Emma, to join the party; and he knew that to have any of them sitting down out of doors to eat would inevitably make him ill. Mr. Woodhouse must not, under the specious pretence of a morning drive, and an hour or two spent at Donwell, be tempted away to his misery.

 

He was invited on good faith. No lurking horrors were to upbraid him for his easy credulity. He did consent. He had not been at Donwell for two years. “Some very fine morning, he, and Emma, and Harriet, could go very well; and he could sit still with Mrs. Weston, while the dear girls walked about the gardens. He did not suppose they could be damp now, in the middle of the day. He should like to see the old house again exceedingly, and should be very happy to meet Mr. and Mrs. Elton, and any other of his neighbours. He could not see any objection at all to his, and Emma’s, and Harriet’s going there some very fine morning. He thought it very well done of Mr. Knightley to invite them – very kind and sensible – much cleverer than dining out.

He was not fond of dining out.”

Mr. Knightley was fortunate in every body’s most ready concurrence. The invitation was everywhere so well received, that it seemed as if, like Mrs. Elton, they were all taking the scheme as a particular compliment to themselves. Emma and Harriet professed very high expectations of pleasure from it; and Mr. Weston, unasked, promised to get Frank over to join them, if possible; a proof of approbation and gratitude which could have been dispensed with. Mr. Knightley was then obliged to say that he should be glad to see him; and Mr. Weston engaged to lose no time in writing, and spare no arguments to induce him to come.

In the meanwhile the lame horse recovered so fast, that the party to Box Hill was again under happy consideration; and at last Donwell was settled for one day, and Box Hill for the next, the weather appearing exactly right.

Under a bright mid-day sun, at almost Midsummer, Mr. Woodhouse was safely conveyed in his carriage, with one window down, to partake of this al-fresco party; and in one of the most comfortable rooms in the abbey, especially prepared for him by a fire all the morning, he was happily placed, quite at his ease, ready to talk with pleasure of what had been achieved, and advise everybody to come and sit down, and not to heat themselves. Mrs. Weston, who seemed to have walked there on purpose to be tired, and sit all the time with him, remained, when all the others were invited or persuaded out, his patient listener and sympathizer.

It was so long since Emma had been at the Abbey, that as soon as she was satisfied of her father’s comfort, she was glad to leave him, and look around her; eager to refresh and correct her memory with more particular observation, more exact understanding of a house and grounds which must ever be so interesting to her and all her family.

She felt all the honest pride and complacency which her alliance with the present and future proprietor could fairly warrant, as she viewed the respectable size and style of the building, its suitable, becoming, characteristic situation, low and sheltered – its ample gardens stretching down to meadows washed by a stream, of which the Abbey, with all the old neglect of prospect, had scarcely a sight—and its abundance of timber in rows and avenues, which neither fashion nor extravagance had rooted up. The house was larger than Hartfield, and totally unlike it, covering a good deal of ground, rambling and irregular, with many comfortable and one or two handsome rooms. It was just what it ought to be, and it looked what it was and Emma felt an increasing respect for it, as the residence of a family of such true gentility, untainted in blood and understanding. Some faults of temper John Knightley had; but Isabella had connected herself unexceptionably. She had given them neither men, nor names, nor places, that could raise a blush. These were pleasant feelings, and she walked about and indulged them till it was necessary to do as the others did, and collect round the strawberry beds.

The whole party were assembled, excepting Frank Churchill, who was expected every moment from Richmond; and Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talking – strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of. “The best fruit in England – every body’s favourite – always wholesome. – These the finest beds and finest sorts. – Delightful to gather for one’s self – the only way of really enjoying them. – Morning decidedly the best time – never tired – every sort good – hautboy infinitely superior – no comparison – the others hardly eatable – hautboys very scarce – Chili preferred – white wood finest flavour of all – price of strawberries in London – abundance about Bristol – Maple Grove – cultivation-beds when to be renewed – gardeners thinking exactly different – no general rule – gardeners never to be put out of their way – delicious fruit – only too rich to be eaten much of – inferior to cherries – currants more refreshing – only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping – glaring sun – tired to death – could bear it no longer – must go and sit in the shade.”

 

….

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