Reading with Austen: What Mary Bennet Reads in “The Other Bennet Sister” by Janice Hadlow

For our ‘Reading with Austen’ Readers: I posted this originally on my Jane Austen in Vermont blog, but thought it would be an interesting exercise to see which of the many books mentioned by Janice Hadlow in herThe Other Bennet Sister were actually in Edward Knight’s library at Godmersham – so here is the post, with the addition of all titles in the the GPL and whether they are safe in the Knight Collection, or LOST SHEEP.

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In Janice Hadlow’s The Other Bennet Sister, a brilliant effort to give the neglected-by-everyone Mary Bennet a life of her own, Mary’s reading is one of the most important aspects of the book – we see her at first believing, because she knows she is different than her other four far prettier and more appealing sisters, that her prospects for the expected life of a well-married woman are very limited, and that she must learn to squash her passions and live a rational life. She also mistakenly thinks that by becoming a reader of philosophical, religious, and conduct texts that she will finally gain approval and maybe even love from her distant, book-obsessed father.

So Mary embarks on a course of serious rational study – and one of the most insightful things in the book is that she learns, after much pain and introspection, that this is no way to lead a life, to find happiness, to find herself. She rejects the novels like the ones Mrs. Bennet finds at the local circulating library as being frivolous, largely because James Fordyce tells her so…

So, I have made a list of all the titles that Hadlow has Mary reading or referring to – all real books of the time, and many mentioned and known by Jane Austen. Hadlow is very specific in what books she puts in Mary’s hands! And shows her own knowledge of the reading and the reading practices of Austen’s era. [If anyone detects anything missing from this list, please let me know…]

I am giving the original dates of publication of each title; most all the titles in one edition or another are available on Google Books, HathiTrust, Internet Archive, or the like – I provide a few of those links, if you are so inclined to become such a rational reader as Mary….

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Anonymous. The History of Little Goody Two Shoes (show JA’s copy). London: John Newbury, 1765. Attributed to various authors, including Oliver Goldsmith. We know that Jane Austen has her own copy of this book, here with her name on it as solid proof.

This exact copy, as noted in Gilson K1, is owned by the great-grandsons of Admiral Sir Francis Austen. It has been on display in the exhibition at the Jane Austen’s House in Chawton in 1975 and at the British Library in 1976.

Mrs. [Sarah] Trimmer. The Story of the Robins. Originally published in 1786 as Fabulous Histories, and the title Trimmer always used. You can read the whole book here: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Story_of_the_Robins

Nothing in the GPL.

Rev. Wetenhall Wilkes. A Letter of Genteel and Moral Advice to a Young Lady: Being a System of Rules and Informations: Digested Into a New and Familiar Method, to Qualify the Fair Sex to be Useful, and Happy in Every Scene of Life. London, 1746. Another conduct book.

Full text here: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/012393127

Nothing in the GPL.

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Catharine Macaulay-wikipedia

Catharine Macaulay. The History of England. 8 vols. London, 1763-83. A political history of the seventeenth century, covering the years 1603-1689. This was very popular and is in no way related to the later History published by Thomas Babington Macaulay. You can read more about this influential female historian in this essay by Devoney Looser: Catharine Macaulay: The ‘Female Historian’ in Context

5 volumes only are noted in the GPL catalogue and all are extant in the Knight Collection:

 

Rev. James Fordyce. Sermons to Young Women. London, 1766. A conduct manual.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins chooses to read Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women aloud to the Bennet sisters, Lydia especially unimpressed: “Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him …’.

You can find it on google in later editions, but here is an abstract for 2 of the sermons to give you an idea.

And here an essay on Fordyce and P&P by Susan Allen Ford, who also wrote the introduction for the Chawton House Press edition of the Sermons (2012) : http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol34no1/ford.html

Listed in the GPL and in the Knight Collection at Chawton House:

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Frances Burney. Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World. London, 1778. Hadlow gives Evelina a good hearing – in the discussion in Mr. Bennet’s library with Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth directly quotes Austen’s own words in defense of the novel that are found in Northanger Abbey. [Evelina, and Mary’s difficulty in coming to terms with such a frivolous story, is mentioned more than once].

Evelina. U Michigan Library

The only work of Frances Burney listed in the GPL is The Wanderer – and that remains in the Knight Collection – only 3 of the 5 volumes, volumes 1 and 5 have gone missing… so are LOST SHEEP:

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Other Novels mentioned are:

Samuel Richardson. The History of Sir Charles Grandison. London, 1753. 7 vols. Reported to be Austen’s favorite book, all seven volumes!

And all 7 volumes are in the GPL catalogue and remain in the Knight Collection: [but where oh where is Pamela??]

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Henry Fielding. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. 4 vols. London, 1749. Supposedly the reason Richardson wrote his Grandison. [Mentioned more than once] – and here we find three LOST SHEEP:

There are three Fielding titles in the GPL:

  • Tom Jones (1749 – it says it is 6 volumes) – it is however, a LOST SHEEP
  • A Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon (1755) – a LOST SHEEP
  • And Joseph Andrews (1742) – a LOST SHEEP

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Laurence Sterne. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. 9 vols. London, 1759-1767.

In the GPL catalogue and in the Knight Collection – only 2 volumes are listed, dated 1760, 2nd ed. Sterne published the first 2 volumes in 1759, and seven others followed over the next seven years (vols. 3 and 4, 1761; vols. 5 and 6, 1762; vols. 7 and 8, 1765; vol. 9, 1767).

The GPL also lists Sterne’s The Sermons of Mr. Yorick (London, 1765-66) – and the 7th ed. is happily in the Knight Collection.

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Hugh Blair – wikipedia

Hugh Blair. Sermons. Vol. 1 of 5 published in 1777.

You can view it full-text at HathiTrust.

Mary Crawford refers to Blair in Mansfield Park:

“You assign greater consequence to the clergyman than one has been used to hear given, or than I can quite comprehend. One does not see much of this influence and importance in society, and how can it be acquired where they are so seldom seen themselves? How can two sermons a week, even supposing them worth hearing, supposing the preacher to have the sense to prefer Blair’s to his own, do all that you speak of? govern the conduct and fashion the manners of a large congregation for the rest of the week? One scarcely sees a clergyman out of his pulpit.”

Well, both Blair’s Sermons (all 5 volumes of varying dates) and Blair’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. 11th ed. 3 volumes (London, 1809), are in the GPL catalogue and remain in the Knight Collection:

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William Paley, by George Romney (wikipedia)

William Paley. A View of the Evidences of Christianity. London, 1794.

Paley is well-represented in the GPL: this Evidences (2nd. ed., 1794) – in the Knight Collection, but also his:

The principles of moral and political philosophy. By William Paley, M.A. Archdeacon of Carlisle. The second edition corrected (London, 1786) – in the Knight Collection.

Horæ Paulinæ, or the truth of the scripture history of St. Paul evinced, by a comparison of the epistles which bear his name, with the Acts of the Apostles, and with one another. By William Paley, M.A. Archdeacon of Carlisle. 1st ed. (London, 1790) – in the Knight Collection.

Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of The Deity, collected from the appearances of nature. By William Paley, D.D. Late Archdeacon of Carlisle. The Sixteenth Edition, 1 vol. (London, 1819) – a LOST SHEEP

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Aristotle. The Ethics of Aristotle. [no way to know the exact edition that Mr. Collins gives to Mary – it’s been around for a long time!]

The GPL lists only one Aristotle title, and this is a LOST SHEEP:

Aristotelous Peri Poiētikēs. Aristotelis De Poetica Liber. Textum recensuit, versionem refinxit et animadversionibus illustravit, Thomas Tyrwhitt. Editio Tertia (Oxford, 1806).

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Mentions: all Enlightenment thinkers and heavy reading for Mary!

John Locke – LOC (wikipedia)

 

John Locke: the GPL lists only this title and it is a LOST SHEEP

Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The false Principles and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, And his Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter, is an Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government. By John Locke Esq; The Fifth Edition. 1 vol. (London, 1728).

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau:  much more popular in Edward’s library! – there are several titles listed, these all in the Knight Collection:

Emilius; or, an Essay on Education. By John James Rousseau, Citizen of Geneva. Translated from the French by Mr. Nugent. In two volumes (London, 1763)

A Project for Perpetual Peace. By J. J. Rousseau, Citizen of Geneva. Translated from the French, with a Preface by the Translator (London, 1761).

Lettres de deux amans, Habitans d’une petite Ville au pied des Alpes. Recueillies et publiées par J.J. Rousseau. 3 vols. (Amsterdam, 1761)

Oeuvres diverses de Mr. J.J. Rousseau, citoyen de Genève. 2 vols. (Amsterdam, 1762):

There is some LOST SHEEP material here, but what is actually missing needs to be sorted – M Rousseau is in need of further investigation and might get his very own blog post!

Collection complette des oeuvres de J.J. Rousseau. 1774-1783. partially a LOST SHEEP

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David Hume (McGill)

David Hume has three titles in the GPL:

The History of England, from The Invasion of Julius Cæsar to the Accession of Henry VII. Containing the Reign of The Prince before Conquest, William the Conqueror, William Rufus, Henry I., Stephen, Henry II, Richard I. and John. By David Hume, Esq. 1 vol. (London, 1777) – in the Knight Collection.

Essays, Moral and Political.  The Second Edition, Corrected. 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1742) – a LOST SHEEP (though we know it sold at auction in 2013).

The Life of David Hume, Esq. written by himself. 1 vol. (London, 1777) – a LOST SHEEP

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A Dictionary of the Greek Language – Mr. Collins gives a copy to Mary:

We cannot know what book Mr. Collins gives Mary – but there are a number of titles in the GPL either in Greek or translated from the Greek. There is this one Greek grammar which I shall include here since it is a LOST SHEEP:

The Elements of Greek grammar, with notes for the use of those who have made some progress in the language. By Richard Valpy. 1 vol. (London, 1805).

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Edward Young. Night Thoughts. 1743. wikipedia

Edward Young. The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality. [Known as Night-Thoughts]. London, 1742-45. [No wonder Mr. Hayward suggested a lighter type of poetry!]

You can read the whole of it here, if you are up to it…: https://www.eighteenthcenturypoetry.org/authors/pers00267.shtml

This is in the GPL and is unfortunately a LOST SHEEP: The complaint: or, night-thoughts on life, death, and immortality. By Edward Young. 2 vols. (London, 1746).

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image: wikipedia

William Wordsworth, portrait by Henry Edridge, 1804; in Dove Cottage, Grasmere, England. Britannica.com

William Wordsworth. Lyrical Ballads. London, 1798. Full title: Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge [Mr. Hayward does not mention Coleridge at all!], first published in 1798 and considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature. Most of the poems in the 1798 edition were written by Wordsworth; Coleridge has only four poems included, one being his most famous work, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Here is a link to the full-text of “Tintern Abbey” that so moved Mary: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45527/lines-composed-a-few-miles-above-tintern-abbey-on-revisiting-the-banks-of-the-wye-during-a-tour-july-13-1798

Well, I find this interesting – The Knights must not have been much for the Romantics! Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Shelley – none are in the GPL at all; Robert Southey has three titles, all in the Knight Collection, so I shall leave him for another day…

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William Godwin. Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness. London, 1793. [Godwin married Mary Wollstonecraft and was the father of Mary Godwin Shelley]. Outlines Godwin’s radical political philosophy.

William Godwin (portrait by James Northcote) and Mary Wollstonecraft (portrait by John Opie) – from BrainPickings.org

No Godwin either, nor any Wollstonecraft…

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Machiavelli (wikipedia)

Machiavelli – is referred to by Mary, so assume she is familiar with his The Prince (1513).

But we do find Machiavelli!:

The Works of the famous Nicolas Machiavel, Citizen and Secretary of Florence. Written OriginaIly in Italian, And from thence newly and faithfully Translated into English. 1st ed. 1 vol. (London, 1695) – a LOST SHEEP

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Image: Guide to the Lakes. ‘View on Winandermere’ [now called Windermere], by Joseph Wilkerson. Romantic Circles

William Wordsworth. Guide to the Lakes. [full title: A Guide through the District of the Lakes] – first published in 1810 as an anonymous introduction to a book of engravings of the Lake District by the Reverend Joseph Wilkinson. A 5th and final edition was published in 1835 – you can read that online at Romantic Circles here, along with a full account of its rather tormented publication history: https://romantic-circles.org/editions/guide_lakes

Alas! no Guide either…

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John Milton. Paradise Lost. A mention by Mr. Ryder who is defeated by its length, so we know Mary was familiar with it.

Milton gets his due in the GPL:

Paradisus Amissus. Poema Joannis Miltoni. Latine Redditum A Guilielmo Dobson, LL.B. Nov. Coll. Oxon. Socio. [By John Milton, trans. William Dobson, William]. 1 vol. (Oxford, 1750) – in the Knight Collection.

Paradise Lost. A Poem. The Author, John Milton. 1 vol. (London, 1736) – this is a FOUND SHEEP – thanks to three of our esteemed GLOSS Friends!:

Paradise lost. A poem, in twelve books. The Author John Milton. 1 vol. (London, 1751). This is LOST SHEEP (perhaps Mary Bennet absconded with it??)

Paradise regain’d. A poem, in four books. To which is added Samson Agonistes; and Poems upon Several Occasions: And Poems upon Severl Occasions. The author John Milton. The Second Edition, With Notes of various Authors, By Thomas Newton, D. D. 1 vol. (London, 1743) – another LOST SHEEP.

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The Edinburgh Review / The Quarterly Review – brought to Mary by Mr. Ryder, and for which Mr. Hayward perhaps wrote his reviews. The Edinburgh Review (1802-1929); Quarterly Review (1809-1967, and published by Jane Austen’s publisher John Murray) – both were very popular and influential publications of their time…

None are listed in the GPL catalogue, which is not to say that the Knights and Family did not pour over these on a regular basis…

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The Other Bennet Sister is an enjoyable read – it is delightful to see Mary Bennet come into her own, that despite what she viewed as an unhappy childhood, she finds her way through a good number of books in a quest to live a rational, passionless existence. And that the development of some well-deserved self-esteem with the help of various friends and family, might actually lead her to a worthy equal partner in life, just maybe not with Mrs. Bennet’s required £10,000 !

©2020 Reading with Austen Blog

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