Printer Friendly

"Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me": politeness in Pride and Prejudice, Henry Fielding's "An Essay on Conversation" and Tom Jones.

HENRY FIELDING'S "An Essay on Conversation," first published in 1743, made an enduring contribution to the eighteenth-century conduct book tradition. Fielding sees the art of conversation as integral to "good breeding," which he defines as "the art of pleasing" (123). Although Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet "dearly love[s] a laugh" (PP 57), she usually follows Fielding's advice ("An Essay on Conversation" 124): she turns the same wit on herself as on others.

We present evidence that Austen knew "An Essay on Conversation" well, and that she was probably influenced by it when she created Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Long after its initial publication, "An Essay on Conversation" was popular. As late as 1815, two years after Pride and Prejudice was published, a writer in the Edinburgh Review, discussing the essay, states that Fielding was among the '"best writers on the subject of politeness.'" (1) Like Fielding's essay and novel, Pride and Prejudice joined British culture's continuing discussion about the nature of politeness, or "good breeding." (2) As one element of Austen's contribution to that discourse, her Mr. Darcy begins as a negative example and, through Elizabeth's influence, acquires the manners and speech of a gentleman who would satisfy Fielding's criteria for good breeding.

A second argument of this paper is that Pride and Prejudice resembles Tom Jones in implicitly connecting English landowners' politeness with the landscape style of their estates. Both Mr. Darcy's Pemberley and Squire Allworthy's Paradise Hall are picturesque in style--a conscious choice, we believe, by both authors because the picturesque was associated with what Tom Williamson calls "a mirror of the new, easier pattern of social relationships ... in the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries" (111, 112; see also Lane 68-69). This mingling of classes is represented in fiction, for example, in Elizabeth Bennet's relatives the Gardiners' friendship with Mr. Darcy at the close of Austen's novel. Our conviction that Austen's creation of Pemberley was influenced by Fielding's description of Paradise Hall does not challenge Donald Greene's essay on Pemberley's resemblance to the actual estate Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Rather, we believe that Austen could have recalled the real estate and Fielding's fictional one when she composed Chapter 1 of Volume III. Furthermore, we explain below that the most interesting aspect of the Paradise Hall-Pemberley similarity is not Austen's borrowing of Fielding's physical description; it is the original point of view from which she represents it.

Austen's readers know that she read Fielding's novel. (3) This masterpiece of fiction has won immortality for helping to create the novel as a literary form and introducing us to the character of Tom himself, remembered more, perhaps, for his naughtiness than for his social graces. Austen must have admired its comic style, her relatives' denials notwithstanding. For example, Isobel Grundy has noted a similarity between a comic technique of Austen's with John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey and Fielding's with Partridge in Tom Jones. (4) Additionally, in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth tells Mr. Darcy, "'Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own ...'" (57, bolded emphasis ours), we are reminded of two letters of Tom's. In the first, he acknowledges to Squire Allworthy "many Follies and Inadvertencies" in his behavior (202); in the second immediately afterwards, writing to Sophia Western he asks her pardon for "any Inconsistency or Absurdity which [his] letter contains" (204, italics ours). In the following discussion of conversation as a register of "good breeding" as Fielding defines it, the focus is Austen's representation of its ethical and social implications.

"The Art of Conversation" in Pride and Prejudice

Fielding and Austen were interested in the effects of one's ability to determine people's character from their conversation. From Renaissance humanism on, western European historians, politicians, and philologists had linked conversation and other indicators of manners, especially those of its leaders, to a nation's "liberty," or autonomy (at least, we would add, for those in power). The eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century politeness-liberty relationship followed classical Roman writers' view of history. Conversely, in this view, a nation's loss of liberty was partly caused by corruption of its discourse (Klein 147). (5 A generation before Fielding, Jonathan Swift wrote, "few States are ruined by any Defect in their Institution, but generally by the Corruption of Manners; against which, the best Institution is no longer Security, and without which, a very ill one may subsist and flourish" (14; italics ours). Fielding believed that "[t]he well-bred man may, in his discourse as well as actions, contribute to the happiness and well-being of society" ("Essay" 200), and Austen clearly agreed. Tom Jones and Pride and Prejudice (along with the other five Austen's novels) present characters whose eloquence eventually promotes community harmony: Tom, Sophia, and Squire Allworthy after the discovery of Square, Thwackum's, and Blifil's treachery towards Tom; and Elizabeth, the Gardiners, and the improved Mr. Darcy. For both authors, most important to the cohesion of a community is the linguistic sophistication of those holding power over others. As the wealthiest landowners in their counties, Squire Allworthy and Mr. Darcy hold the potential for greatest harm as well as greatest good.

Of course, both Tom Jones and Pride and Prejudice give us characters beyond redemption whose corrupted manners, conversation included, disrupt the lives of other people and their communities: Fielding's villains are Square, Thwackum, and Blifil, all of whom delude Squire Allworthy for some time (81-83, 106, 567-69, 585-87, 591-95). To readers, Square and Thwackum's hypocrisy appears clearly in their conversation, but Squire Allworthy glosses over their flaws because he fails to understand that a person's discourse does indeed indicate character. In Pride and Prejudice, the most conversationally ill-bred include Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, Lydia, Wickham, and initially Mr. Darcy. Through these characters, Fielding and Austen illustrate the results to a community of an inadequate attention to conversation as well as the good effects of cultivating it.

Austen's emphasis on the implications of conversation for a community is compatible with 'An Essay on Conversation," which proposes that to deserve to be called an "art," conversation must provide "some positive Good, some Pleasure or Advantage ... something which we could not find in an unsocial and solitary State" (122-23; italics ours). Fielding concludes that "It]he art of pleasing or doing Good to one another is therefore the Art of Conversation" (123; italics ours). His definition agrees with contemporary conduct books, including John Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education of 1693 (169). Following Locke, Fielding further defines the art of conversation as "Good Breeding," which he uses in its earlier moral and ethical sense: "the Art of ... contributing as much as possible to the Ease and Happiness of those with whom you converse" (123). In his rules for talking with one's equals, Fielding explains that he means "do unto Men what you would they, IF THEY WERE IN YOUR SITUATION AND CIRCUMSTANCES, AND YOU IN THEIRS, should do unto you" (124). Mr. Darcy, as we know, fails these criteria of Fielding's for some time.

One of Fielding's two examples of "PRIDE" is the man who refuses to dance in public assemblies. This character type is given a social context that closely resembles Austen's introduction to Mr. Darcy: several ladies want to dance but must sit down for lack of partners. The prideful man, Fielding asserts,
 is so absolutely abandoned to his own Humour, that he never gives
 it up on any Occasion. If Seraphina herself, whose Charms one
 would imagine should infuse Alacrity into the Limbs of a Cripple
 sooner than the Bath waters, was to offer herself for his Partner,
 he would answer, He never danced, even though the Ladies lost
 their Ball by it. Nor doth this Denial arise from Incapacity, for in
 his Youth he was an excellent dancer, but from an Affectation of
 Gravity; which he will not sacrifice to the eagerest Desire of
 others. (133)

Mr. Darcy's reply to Mr Bingley's urging, "'You had much better dance,'" is "'I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At an assembly such as this, it would be unsupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room, whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with'" (11).

Fielding continues to describe behavior that suggests Austen had been reading him when she created Mr. Darcy: those "who make no Scruple of satisfying their own Pride and Vanity, at the Expence [sic] of the most cruel Mortification of others" (italics ours). Among them is the man "who seldom goes to an assembly, but he affronts half his Acquaintance, by overlooking, or disregarding them"--to Fielding the most uncivil (134). In this vein, Austen's assembly scene continues with Elizabeth hearing Mr. Darcy's insulting reply to Bingley's suggestion that he ask her to dance: "'She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men'" (11-12). After this, Elizabeth chooses not to invest her social capital in such an impolite man.

Mr. Darcy's behavior signifies a greater failure: not engaging in the social life of a community, thus undermining it. His bad manners during his first appearances in Meryton leave the field open for Mr. Wickham to insinuate himself into the community. If there is any doubt that Mr. Darcy's ill-breeding is deep-seated, at the next assembly he snaps at Sir William Lucas, "'Every savage can dance'" (25). Perhaps every savage can, but to Fielding and Austen a truly polite young man in this situation will. Fielding elaborates on pride as "incompatible with true Understanding" (135, italics ours). He explains,
 The Qualities of the Mind do, in reality, establish the truest
 Superiority over one another; yet should not these so far elevate
 our Pride, as to inflate us with Contempt, and make us look down on
 our Fellow Creatures ... but that the fortuitous Accident of Birth,
 the Acquisition of Wealth ... should inspire Men with an Insolence
 capable of treating the rest of mankind with Disdain, is ...
 preposterous. (140, italics ours)

One is reminded of Elizabeth's talk at Netherfield with Mr. Darcy during Jane's is convalescence; when he argues that "'Vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride--where there is real superiority of mind, pride will always be under good regulation,'" Elizabeth smiles to herself at the irony (57, italics ours). Austen, like Fielding, bases good breeding on a "superiority of mind" that regulates pride. Until Elizabeth encounters him at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's pride lacks restraint.

On a morning visit to the Lucases, Jane Bennet defends Mr. Darcy: "'Miss Bingley told me ... that he never speaks much unless among his intimate acquaintance'" (19). Mr. Darcy's unwillingness to converse on social occasions to put others at ease establishes his reputation in Meryton as "proud, above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance" (10). His caustic speech at those first dances also anticipates his failure, after Wickham has become friendly with the Bennets, to tell Elizabeth or Mr. Bennet privately about Wickham's near-abduction of his sister Georgianna and his gambling. Darcy's social failure is so thorough, however, that no one would have believed him had he tried to expose Wickham. Months later, it is a Mr. Darcy aware of the moral implications of conversation who confesses his error in failing to expose Wickham and who acts to mitigate some of the damage it has caused (370, 381).

Mr. Darcy's early behavior is also a foretaste of his more serious failure to speak properly when he first proposes marriage--another failure of excessive pride and selfishness. Following his second, successful proposal, the reformed Darcy explains remorsefully to Elizabeth, "'The recollection of what I then said, of my conduct, my manners, my expressions during the whole of it, is now, and has been many months, inexpressibly painful to me. Your reproof, so well applied, I shall never forget: 'had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike-manner'" (367, emphasis ours). He now explains past failures to speak: when Elizabeth told him about Jane's letter describing Lydia's elopement, "his gravity and thoughtfulness [speechlessness] there, had arisen from no other struggles than what such a purpose must comprehend" (370). Still, his feelings kept him from speaking to lessen Elizabeth's anguish.

The Estate as a Sign of Good Breeding in Tom Jones and Pride and Prejudice

In addition to the link between Fielding's rules in "An Essay on Conversation" and Austen's dramatization of them in Mr. Darcy, the two authors concern themselves with the largest visual symbol of good breeding in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the landscape of an estate. Mr. Darcy's Pemberley resembles Squire Allworthy's Paradise Hall in Tom Jones, not only in its picturesque elements but also in figurative meaning: each represents an ideal of governance whose pre-requisite is good breeding. However, we shall see that the point of view from which the two estates are described differs, and this difference highlights a contribution of Austen's to the British novel.

Fielding's and Austen's landscapes are moderate versions of the picturesque. Besides its attention to prospects, the picturesque estate has steep and partly wild hills or mountains and meandering streams. Additional features are Gothic architecture--the Squire's house (30); the ruins of an abbey--the Squire's (31); and abruptness of views--Mr. Darcy's house appears suddenly as one drives onto the estate (245). The passages, below, describing Mr. Allworthy's and Mr. Darcy's estates include the following similarities:

* houses situated part-way up a hillside and sheltered by trees: "a Grove of old Oaks" (TJ 30); "a ridge of woody hills" (PP 245);

* prospects of a valley in front of the house (TJ 30, 31; PP 245, 246)

* those prospects "seen from every room on the front" (TJ 31); "from every window" (PP 246);

* also from the house, views of a river bordered by trees (TJ 30-31; PP 245, 246, 253-54, 255); and

* topography, especially the route of the river, as a perfect balance of art and nature: in TJ it is "owing less to Art than to Nature" (TJ 31); in PP "[Elizabeth] had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste" (245).

Although these features are all standard elements of an estate in the picturesque style, their relationship to one another does, we believe, suggest that Fielding influenced Austen.

Space limitations preclude discussing all these common elements, so we shall concentrate on the "prospect." From Fielding's lifetime through Austen's, the ideal landscape of an estate included several of these set views into the distance. The prospects obtained from a landscape represented an ideal of understanding and fair-mindedness in leading one's family, community, and nation. Moreover, looking at the distant views on his (or her) estate actually educated the owner in proper governance. In 17 12 Bishop Berkeley used the prospect as a trope to illustrate how a man who governs must "position" himself ethically:
 And if we have a mind to take a fair prospect of the order and
 general well-being which the inflexible laws of nature and morality
 derive on the world, we must, if I may say so, go out of it, and
 imagine ourselves to be distant spectators of all that is transacted
 and contained in it; otherwise we are to be deceived by the too near
 view of the little present interests of ourselves, our friends, or
 our country (32-33)

In The Wealth of Nations (1776) Adam Smith writes that a wealthy man's leisure and power to compare the ways different people work creates the "disinterestedness" that is crucial to good governance (Bk. v, ch. i, fol. 51; qtd. in Fulford 4). Prominent landscape architects, including Brown and later Repton, designed views that elicited this figurative interpretation. (6) We shall see that the prospect functions symbolically in both Fielding's description of Paradise Hall and Austen's of Pemberley.

Closely related to the treatment of prospects in Tom Jones and Pride and Prejudice is the most apparent difference between the two descriptions, point-of-view. Fielding's is from the "Author"/narrator's perspective, and Austen's from Elizabeth Bennet's. Fielding describes the grounds and house of Paradise Hall, Somerset, with no suggestion of human movement:
 The Gothic Stile of Building could produce nothing nobler than
 Mr. Allworthy's House. There was an Air of Grandeur in it, that
 struck you with Awe, and rival'd the Beauties of the best Grecian
 Architecture; and it was as commodious within, as venerable without.
 It stood on the South-east side of a Hill, but nearer the Bottom
 than the Top of it, so as to be sheltered from the North-east by a
 Grove of old Oaks, which rose above it in a gradual Ascent of near
 half a Mile, and yet high enough to enjoy a most charming Prospect
 of the Valley beneath.

 In the midst of the Grove was a fine Lawn, sloping down
 towards the House, near the Summit of which rose a plentiful
 Spring, gushing out of a Rock covered with Firs, and forming a
 constant cascade of about thirty Foot, not carried down a regular
 Flight of Steps, but tumbling in a natural Fall over the broken and
 mossy Stones, till it came to the bottom of the Rock; then running
 off in a pebbly Channel, that with many lesser Falls winded along,
 till it fell into a Lake at the Foot of the Hill, about a Quarter of
 a Mile below the House on the South-side, and which was seen from
 every Room in the Front. Out of this Lake, which filled the Center
 of a beautiful Plain, embellished with Groups of Beeches and Elms,
 and fed with Sheep, issued a River, that, for several Miles, was
 seen to meander through an amazing Variety of Meadows and Woods,
 till it emptied itself into the Sea; with a large Arm of which, and
 an Island beyond it the Prospect was closed. (30-31; italics ours)

The next two paragraphs describe the land below the house, across a valley:
 On the Right of this Valley opened another of less Extent,
 adorned with several Villages, and terminated by one of the Towers
 of an old ruined Abbey, grown over with Ivy, and Part of the
 front, which remained still entire.

 The Left Hand scene presented the View of a Very Fine
 Park, composed of unequal Ground, agreeably varied with all the
 Diversity that Hills, Lawns, Wood, and Water, laid out with
 admirable Taste, but owing less to Art than to Nature, could give.
 Beyond this the Country gradually rose into a Ridge of wild
 Mountains, the Tops of which were above the Clouds. (31; italics

The only human motion occurs outside the text in the reader's imagination, moving from the house to a farther view of its situation on the hillside, to the woods above the house, to the valley below. Fielding's static treatment of Paradise Hall parallels his characters' relatively static social status. The house sits, rooted like Mr. Allworthy, fairly high up in the world but still open to lower levels, presuming they have merit. Although well-intentioned, Allworthy makes seemingly irrevocable decisions that cause others to suffer undeservedly: banishing Tom from Paradise Hall forever (212-14), and letting the schoolmaster Partridge, falsely condemned as Tom's father, sink into near-starvation (68-69).

The passage is so impersonal that we are not even sure who is enjoying the Prospect--the house or the people. (7) This rigidity extends to the narrator's view of social hierarchy. It seems a foregone conclusion that at least one of Tom Jones's parents will turn out to be high-born; indeed, the Squire's sister Bridget is revealed as his mother, and a clergyman Mr. Summer as his father (l05, 131, 612). Mr. Summer's contribution to heredity is greater, for he is "the handsomest person ... so genteel, [with] ... so much Wit and good Breeding"--qualities passed on to his posthumous, illegitimate son (612). Tom's pedigree is obvious even to the supposedly ignorant villagers, who have no problem in passing the rumor that the Squire himself is the father (41). As Martin Battestin argues in "Fielding's Definition of Wisdom," Tom is innately good-hearted and eloquent; to become truly "well-bred," he must learn wisdom, or genuine prudence, so he can anticipate the consequences of his actions (740, 749). Once he has, he reaps the dual reward of Sophia (personification of wisdom) and Paradise Hall.

In contrast to Fielding's static description, Austen introduces Pemberley dynamically, as Elizabeth experiences it, riding with the Gardiners and later walking, then inside the house and moving from window to window, and finally walking over the grounds:
 The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground.
 They [Elizabeth and the Gardiners] entered through one of its lowest
 points, and drove for some time through a great wood, stretching
 over a wide extent.... They gradually ascended for half a mile, and
 then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence,
 where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley
 House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the
 road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome,
 stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a
 ridge of woody hills;--and in front, a stream of some natural
 importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial
 appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned.
 Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature
 had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little
 counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in
 their admiration; and at that moment she felt, that to be mistress
 of Pemberley might be something!

 They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the
 door; and while examining the nearer aspect of the house, all her
 apprehensions of meeting its owner returned.... (245)

 [They enter the dining room:] Elizabeth, after slightly surveying
 it, went to a window to enjoy its prospect. The hill, crowned with
 wood, from which they had descended, receiving increased abruptness
 from the distance, was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the
 ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene, the river, the
 trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far
 as she could trace it, with delight. As they passed into other
 rooms, these objects were taking different positions; but from every
 window there were beauties to be seen. (246; italics ours)

Elizabeth's views imply emotional involvement. Just as she moves to take in several prospects, she is also moved, emotionally and intellectually, to become the primary agent for reforming Mr. Darcy. As Alistair Duckworth has written, Elizabeth's multiple views signify her dawning insight: that there is more than one way to interpret another's behavior (Improvement 124-25; see also Clarke 215). Earlier, in rejecting Mr. Darcy's proposal, Elizabeth has asserted herself as a thinking, judging woman who does not fit the mold of the woman who uses marriage to establish or legitimize her place in society (Parker 110). She has rejected the static role in which Mr. Darcy would have placed her, opting unawares to teach him good breeding as Fielding defines it.

Powerful men in their communities, Squire Allworthy and Mr. Darcy must undergo painful discoveries about themselves. Both characters learn the value of multiple prospects, or understandings, of situations and people. Both develop the art of conversation as they learn to put less emotional distance between themselves and others. At the conclusion of each novel they do what Bishop Berkeley recommended: "go out of [our place in the world], and imagine ourselves to be distant spectators ...; otherwise we are to be deceived by the too near view of the little present interests of ourselves, our friends, or our country (32-33). Mr. Darcy acquires such a broader perspective from Elizabeth. He tells her,

"I was spoilt by my parents, who though good themselves ... almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing, to care for none beyond my own family circle, to think meanly of all the rest of the world.... and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled." (369, italics ours)

The emphasis that Tom Jones and Pride and Prejudice place on prospect-views constitutes a significant resemblance. Fielding's work as a source for Austen's creation of Pemberley and Mr. Darcy goes beyond the ethical and social basis for "good breeding," including conversation. It also reveals Austen's dilation of Fielding's character sketch 'An Essay on Conversation" into one of the most famous male characters in all of fiction.


AUSTEN, JANE. Jane Austen's Letters. Ed. Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford: OUP, 1995.

--. The Novels of Jane Austen. Ed. R. W Chapman. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1932.

AUSTEN, HENRY. "Biographical Notice of the Author." Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Ed. R. W. Chapman. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1963. 8-10.

BATTESTIN, MARTIN. "Fielding's Definition of Wisdom." Rpt. in The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling. 1750. Ed. Sheridan Baker. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1973. 733-49.

CLARKE, STEPHEN C. "A Fine House Richly Furnished: Pemberley and the Visiting of Country Houses." Persuasions 22 (2000): 199-217.

CURRY, MARY JANE. "'Not a day went by without a solitary walk': Elizabeth's Pastoral World." Persuasions 22 (2000): 175-85.

BERKELEY, GEORGE. "Passive Obedience." The Works of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne. Ed. T. E. Jessop. 9 vols. London: n.p., 1948-57.6: 52-33.

DUCKWORTH, ALISTAIR M. "Gardens, Houses, and the Rhetoric of Description in the English Novel." The Fashioning and Functioning of the British Country House. Ed. Gervase Jackson-Stops et al. Hanover, NH: UP of New England. 395-408.

--. The Improvement of the Estate. Baltimore: JHUP, 1971.

"Fugitive Pieces." Edinburgh Review (1815), qtd. in Miller xlviii.

EMSLEY, SARAH. "Practicing the Virtues of Amiability and Civility in Pride and Prejudice." Persuasions 22 (2000): 187-98.

FIELDING, HENRY. 'An Essay on Conversation." Miscellanies by Henry Fielding, Esq [sic]. 1743.3 vols. Ed. Henry Knight Miller. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan UP, 1972. 1:119-52.

--. The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling. 1750. Ed. Sheridan Baker. 2nd ed. NY: W. W. Norton, 1973.

FULFORD, TIM. Landscape, Liberty and Authority: Poetry, Criticism and Politics from Thomson to Wordsworth. Cambridge: CUP, 1996.

GILPIN, WILLIAM. Remarks on Forest Scenery (excerpt). 1791. The Genius of the Place: The English Landscape Garden 1620-1820. Ed. John Dixon Hunt and Peter Willis. Cambridge, Mass.: MITP, 1988. 338-41.

GREENE, DONALD. "The Original of Pemberley." Eighteenth--Century Fiction 1.1 (Oct. 1988): 1-23.

GRUNDY, ISOBEL. "Jane Austen and Literary Traditions." The Cambridge Companion to JA. Ed. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. Cambridge: CUP, 1998. 189-210.

KLEIN, LAWRENCE E. Shaftesbury and the Culture of Politeness: Moral Discourse and Cultural Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century England. Cambridge: CUP, 1994.

--. "Liberty, Manners, and Politeness in Early Eighteenth-Century England." The Historical Journal 32 (1989): 583-605.

LANE, MAGGIE. Jane Austen's World. London: Carlton, 1996.

Locke, John. Some Thoughts Concerning Education. 1693. Ed. and trans. John W. and Jean S. Yolton. Oxford: Clarendon, 1989.

MILLER, HENRY KNIGHT, ed. General Introduction. Miscellanies. Henry Fielding. 1743.3 vols. Middletown, Corm.: Wesleyan UP, 1972. 1: xi-xlix.

PARKER, Jo ALYSON. The Author's Inheritance: Henry Fielding, Jane Austen, and the Establishment of the Novel. DeKalb, Illinois: NIUP, 1998.

REPTON, HUMPHRY. Observations on the Theory and Practice of Gardening, London: n.p., 1803.

SMITH, ADAM. The Wealth of Nations. 1776. Oxford: OUP, 1976.

SWIFT, JONATHAN. "The sentiments of a Church-of-England Man with respect to religion and government." Prose Works of Jonathan Swift. Ed. Thos. Roscoe. New York: Derb & Jackson, 1859. 6 vols. 2: 14.

WIESENFARTH, JOSEPH. "The Revolution of Civility in Pride and Prejudice." Persuasions 16 (1994): 107-14.

WILLIAMSON, TOM. Polite Landscapes: Gardens and Society in Eighteenth Century England. Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Pub. Ltd., 1998.


(1.) Edinburgh Fugitive Pieces, 150. The "Essay on Conversation" was first published in Fielding's Miscellanies in April 1745; its popularity warranted a second printing the same month; see Miller xlviii.

(2.) On the discussions about politeness that appeared in British publications, see Klein, Shaflesbury, especially Ch. 5 discussions of "Character," "Self-presentation," and "The Paradigm of Conversation." See also Klein, "Liberty" 583-605; and the Persuasions articles by Emsley and Wiesenfarth.

(3.) In Austen's first extant letter, to Cassandra, she reports, "we received a visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin George.... he has but one fault, which time will, I trust, entirely remove--it is that his morning coat is a great deal too light. He is a very great admirer of Tom Jones, and therefore wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which he did when he was wounded" (Saturday 9-Sunday 10 January 1796). As Le Faye notes, Austen refers to an incident in Tom Jones Book VII, ch. xiv (Letters 354).

(4.) Henry Austen represents Austen's reading tastes as more Richardsonian than Fieldingesque (8). Grundy, writing of the literary tradition in which Austen worked, points out a technique shared by Fielding and Austen: the Northanger Abbey passage in which John Thorpe praises Tom Jones as the best thing since Mathew Lewis's over-the-top gothic The Monk resembles the passage in TJ in which the schoolmaster Partridge denounces the natural acting style of David Garrick, and praises another actor for his artificiality (198).

(5.) Klein cites Tacitus's Dialogus de oratoribus 36-40 and Historiarum I (147).

(6.) On the "prospect" view and ethical responsibility to one's community, see Fulford 4-6; Curry 181-83. On prospects and placement of houses see Repton Fragment xxxiii, Gilpin 338-39.

(7.) Of the static prospect at Paradise Hall, Battestin argues that it "is carefully organized so as to carry the reader's eye, and hence his imagination, from the immediate and local outward to the distant and infinite, thereby implicitly presenting the characteristic quality and intention of Fielding's art of the novel, which is a continual translation of particulars into universals ..." (745-46).


Sarah E. Brown leaves the Pentagon and her home in Annandale, Virginia, at least annually to tour English estates and peruse shops for first editions of eighteenth-century aft and books. Mary Jane Curry, a JASNA Life Member, has moved into independent scholarship and freelance writing. Sally and Mary Jane have been friends since 1976; this is their first collaboration on a paper.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Jane Austen Society of North America
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Conference Papers
Author:Brown, Sarah E.; Curry, Mary Jane
Publication:Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Previous Article:Beckford, Godwin, Austen, and the divisive 1790s.
Next Article:Shaftesbury's Art of "Soliloquy" in Mansfield Park.

Related Articles
Jane Austen and the pleasure-principle. (Conference Papers).
Circulating Jane.
Jane Austen's world as postmodern simulacrum in Fielding's narratives of Bridget Jones.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters