"Old Beaux and Young Beaux": an unpublished social satire by Mary Noailles Murfree.
There is more to "Old Beaux and Young Beaux," however, than an attempt to replicate an initial success. "Old Beaux and Young Beaux" is an important, if faltering, step in the development of Murfree's masculine persona, Charles Egbert Craddock, the pen name under which she wrote twenty-five novels and collections of short stories. Precisely because it is an apprentice piece, "Old Beaux and Young Beaux" is an important historical document. It demonstrates Mary Noailles Murfree's early attempts to come to terms with the technical difficulties of assuming a masculine persona and underscores the success with which she achieved her goal.
Because Murfree focused on social satire only between 1871 and 1876, and because she never returned to the form in print, placing the essay historically is rather simple. Further, because of similarities in theme and tone of the two published essays, it seems certain that Murfree wrote "Old Beaux and Young Beaux" between "Flirts and Their Ways" and "My Daughter's Admirers," which would put composition between 1873 and 1875.
While Parks's contention that "Old Beaux and Young Beaux" is a companion piece to "Flirts" seems logical because of their similarities, the narrative structure of "My Daughter's Admirers" puts the unpublished essay in a totally different context. "My Daughter's Admirers" creates a narrative framework to account for the narrator's understanding of the "types" of beaux "he" enumerates; "Old Beaux and Young Beaux" fails to do this. Thus, the structural problems with which Murfree struggled in "Old Beaux and Young Beaux" are resolved in the later essay. Therefore, it seems that the three essays represent a progression toward the development of the masculine voice Murfree felt advantageous for successful publication and necessary for personal privacy.
In "Flirts and Their Ways," an unnamed narrator considers the ploys young women use to attract men. The narrative voice is witty, urbane, and assured. The success of the narrative voice is related to its masculinity, as Alice Fay Taylor notes:
[T]he use of a male name affected the perspective of this story
["Flirts and Their Ways"]. Had Mary [sic] used a feminine pen name, the
essay could easily have been rejected as gossip. Written by a male, it would
be considered more "objective" by a potential editor.(3)
The issue of objectivity seems crucial. The narrative task of "Flirts and Their Ways" is to account for the narrator's knowledge of how the various "types" of flirts appeal to men. Obviously, such knowledge can only come from "his" experience. He further validates his credibility by confessing limitations:
Like the almanac that chronicles the transcendent virtues of each variety
of early potatoes, my trumpet gives forth an uncertain sound, and... I
shake my head and sagely opine all are good and none are best. (p. 635)
Murfree creates an additional distance by portraying the narrator as older and less susceptible to flirts, and by referring to young women as "young potatoes" (pp. 629, 635); he seems to have more in common with a "retired flirt of great brilliancy" (p. 635) who, like the narrator, has gained an objectivity by her separation from the fray and her cynicism toward the entire process. She confides that if she had it to do again, she'd do the "pious flirt," the one guaranteed to marry a rich "old Croesus Ever-so-much ... after the approved manner of her sisterhood" (p. 634).
Mur-free's talent for establishing narrative credibility has significantly improved by her next and last published satire, "My Daughter's Admirers." In this satire, Murfree's narrator is James Archer, a wealthy father who frets and catalogs the variety of beaux afflicting his home. The narrative challenge, again, is to account for the narrator's knowledge of how young beaux act when courting a young woman, here, the narrator's eligible daughter. This is knowledge a young woman, like Murfree herself, would obviously have; it is not knowledge that a father, his own experiences notwithstanding, is likely to possess.
Murfree overcomes this obstacle in two ways. First is "his" reliance on an established social context. The young men, Lyons, Olwell, Sparkle, and Crichton, are portrayed in very public arenas. As the narrator's mother tells him, though their behavior is perhaps objectionable, it is also socially acceptable:
If she [i.e., the daughter] goes into society at all, she must do as other
young ladies do; and though I myself do not admire the style of these young
gentlemen, still, they have an excellent position in the best circles, and
therefore cannot be ignored. (p. 118)
The father counters that the young men "of the present day are vastly inferior to those of my time" (p. 118), a statement that further distances the narrator from those he observes.
Distance, however, is not enough. There are moments when the "father" will not be present, and these must be accounted for to retain narrative credibility. The narrator does so by stating that much of what he knows comes directly from his daughter:
Emmy makes a confidant of me, and is very candid with regard to the
aspirants to the honor of her hand and fortune. She and I talk them and
their pretensions over with mutual frankness--with, however, one mental
reservation on my part, that I never overrule any objections she makes,
whether well grounded or groundless. (p. 119)
Murfree's progression from "Flirts and Their Ways" to "My Daughter's Admirers" suggests a rapid development of narrative skills, and perhaps this is why "Old Beaux and Young Beaux" was set aside. Certainly, the narrative structure of the essay belongs to a less skilled Murfree. The narrator, for instance, does little to account for his knowledge of the "types" of beaux he satirizes. His only accounting for it is his somewhat unsatisfactory generalization that "there is a certain fellowship among men, by which they discover what each other says in such instances." The statement, of course, is problematic. Further, in differentiating the beaux, the narrator perspective shifts occasionally to a distinctly feminine tone, as when the narrator insists that only blond men can play the "scornful beau":
It is imperative that the scornful beau shall be handsome, else he cannot
be so very scornful. If he wears whiskers they should be long, silky, and
light in color--no black-bearded man need hope to attain the distinction of
being a scornful beau. (pp. 5-6)
The narrator, again, an urbane, older man, fails to account for knowledge that would have been more likely known only to women.
For these reasons, "Old Beaux and Young Beaux" is very much an apprentice work. Parks calls it one of Murfree's "pleasant papers to read for the family's edification" (p. 64), while Richard Cary faults the essay's "puerility of mood and expression."(4) Certainly, Murfree's decision not to publish the essay suggests she was aware of its shortcomings. There is, however, much to recommend the essay. The wit, the mastery of nuance, the allusions, and the elaborate, if veiled, ironies all attest to the essay's depth. There is, for instance, Murfree's didactic beau. He rocks in a hammock, reading Hegel, the rocking, of course, suggesting the two poles of Hegel's dialectic. Thus, the didactic beau's motion recapitulates both Hegel's theory and the didactic beau's own personality: he moves from thesis to antithesis and back to thesis without ever achieving synthesis, a man of all talk and no decisive action. Murfree, similarly, warns against the priggish beau, a man "[s]o very superior, and so conscious of this superiority" that his courtship is a continual condescension. His marriage proposal is as exciting as a recitation of the Pythagorean theorem. Is a "successful" marriage as certain as a geometric formula, a hypotenuse equal to the sum of two people, no matter how unequally matched, "squared" (set against their own purposes) and added together? Such a close reading recalls Richard Cary's assessment that "[w]hat seems regrettable in her premature withdrawal to another genre is possible loss of a social critic of some consequence" (p. 32).
"Old Beaux and Young Beaux" is housed in the Special Collections Department of the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University. The 29-page text is written on ruled notepaper 5 1/4 inches wide by 8 inches long, and the paper has two punctures at the top, indicating that the essay was kept in a binder. There is an embossed stamp in the upper left-hand corner of the first page of the manuscript, but the legend is indecipherable. Both the condition of the manuscript and the quality of the copy are excellent. Murfree's handwriting is bold, large, and quite legible. The text is largely fair copy with a small number of unintelligible erasures with substitutions written over them. Occasionally, Murfree will insert a skipped word, usually when returning to the left-hand margin. Unfortunately, the conclusion of the essay is missing, and the text ends in the middle of a sentence. In editing Murfree's text, I have preserved exactly her punctuation, spelling, and the sometimes erratic syntax of her developing style. Similarly, the sudden, possibly confusing, shifts the narrator makes in moving from one beau to the next are presented without comment.
Old beaux and young beaux.
By Charles Egbert Craddock.(5)
There is a certain class of men whom Providence in its infinite wisdom has created for the purpose of dancing at parties. How they fulfill their mission and adorn their appropriate sphere the drawing rooms of this enlightened land can testify. These are the dancing beaux pur et simple.(6) Simple enough, heaven knows. They come to dance, remain to dance, and having danced disappear--nobody knows where--whisked away by a fairy god mother a little later than twelve to return to the world on the next festive occasion, for they are seen of men nowhere else. Whether they are a spontaneous production of the soil, upon what they subsist, how they manage to live, and move, and have their being, are scientific questions of which this paper does not propose to treat. Enough for us that they are here, faultlessly gloved, cravated, and booted, duly attired like menials (noblesse oblige(7)) with a respectable notion of time and tune, and at least six cut-and-dried phrases apiece. They are natural recurring phenomena, and indeed what could society do without them, for if some other beaux were the only reliance of party-givers and party-goers the German(8) would soon become a lost art. Think of Chaos(9) come-again if all beaux were like the scornful beau.
Now why the latter-mentioned gentleman should consider himself entitled to sit in the seat of the scornful and contemptuously watch the young people dancing is a mystery indeed. It is not because of religious scruples for, as everyone knows, the scornful beau is not religious; nor is it because he prefers conversation as a more intellectual mode of spending the evening, for he does not talk and his silence is not of the benignant type that induces loquacity in others--effusive little Miss Just-out racks her brains in vain for something to say to him; these brilliant flashes of silence bewilder the debutante and she is thankful, oh thankful indeed, when somebody, anybody, comes up and whirls her away; and ever thereafter she avers that he is so grand, gloomy, and peculiar, she cannot make him out.
But the scornful beau has been known to dance on <rare>(10) occasions; generally when his hostess, tormented by the expression of high-minded lugubriousness and lofty dullness that sits upon his brow, fears that he is not agreeably entertained, and drags him off to be introduced to a charming girl who waltzes delightfully. Even then the magnificent froideur(11) of the scornful beau is so impressive that she feels she should, by fair rights, reverse the usual formula and "beg to present to Mr. Up-ish, my young friend Miss Meek." Favored miss Meek! In the scornful beau's dextrous management of tone and manner the conventional phrases--"May I have the pleasure" or--"Will you waltz?" convey the impression of--"I will waltz--and you may have the pleasure".
Why he comes if he does not like it better than he seems, is a secret locked in the scornful beau's own consciousness; why he is always invited when the question of entertaining him presents so many difficulties, is an enigma that baffles conjecture. Certain it is, he is always asked, and he does not disdain to come. For whenever there is a notable belle, or beauty or young lady from Afar on the tapis,(12) of the people invited to meet her "lo! Ben Adhem's name leads all the rest."(13)
The scornful beau is usually a young beau although he has been known to attain the age of thirty-five; this, however, is an instance of remarkable longevity. Into what he merges his identity when he ceases to be a scornful beau is not accurately known--his enemies may hope a henpecked husband. It is imperative that the scornful beau shall be handsome, else he cannot be so very scornful. If he wears whiskers they should be long, silky, and light in color--no black-bearded man need hope to attain the distinction of being a scornful beau. An appreciation of this truth pervades society everywhere; if a black-haired black-bearded man is so ill-judged as to attempt the role of scornful beau, the attempt is resented and frustrated; in the case, however, of a scornful blond [double space: erasure?] the fact is humbly acquiesced in and accepted as the chastening of Providence.
As to stature the scornful beau does not of necessity tower head and shoulders above his fellow man--it is surprising how very scornful a small man can sometimes be, but in this instance the matter of gait and bearing becomes of the most serious moment. On no account should the scornful beau carry extra weight, not a pound not the fraction of an ounce--I have seen men otherwise admirably adapted for the role of scornful beau, obliged to play a very minor character by reason of this superfluous avoir-dupois.(14)
No nose will do for the scornful beau except le nez Grec(15) or the nose in the air--not positively retrousse(16) but with a distinctly ascending tendency. The Grecian nose, however, is the nose to be coveted-indeed the best type of the scornful beau I ever knew bore a distinct resemblance to the superlative Apollo Belvedere--(17)
"And terrible was the twanging of the silver bow!"(18) That superbly disdainful curling upper-lip and those severely straight lineaments are an ineffable possession for the scornful beau--with them, the battle is fought and won.
The manner of the scornful beau is frigid but correct--as who should say--"Society has ordained that I should accord you a certain measure of formal respect. I comply, but note my exception to the ruling." He knows how and when to make proper remarks and he makes them, and his condescension in deigning to say anything at all is esteemed a great honor. Woe to those effervescent people who crack jokes for the scornful beau to laugh at, for they shall be disappointed and cast down. The scornful beau is intellectual--no one can look at him and doubt it; he has fine taste in many matters, quite a connoisseur it is understood; but he disdains to display his own accomplishments, and the amount of non-acquiescent aggravation he can throw into his expression as he stands near the piano and listens to the singing of the young lady from Afar, would seem to imply that he thinks unutterable things about her upper register and harbours a disdainful suspicion that she trills on one note. Not more complaisant(19) is the strenuously polite air of long-suffering patience with which he turns the leaves of the sketch-book thrust upon his reluctant notice by her zealous mamma--but indeed, is it meet that a man's nose should always be held to the grindstone of a young lady's talent!--his Grecian nose!
How different is the susceptible <beau!> what glad exuberance of compliments greet the final--"dolor"--as it murmured or whined, or shouted through the rooms according to the style, or fancy, or training of the fair singer--what delightful appreciation as he lingers over the sketchbook and guilelessly admires the professor's distinctive touches--how sentimental and tender in singing duets, when really his exclamatory O dolce bene! or Anima mia! is enough to move a heart of stone--how impossible for him to refrain from looking languishingly at a young lady through these dulcet expressions of foreign adoration--what a lingering delight are the six buttons of his inamorata's gloves--what a gay responsive vivacity when she is gracious enough to be jocose--what reckless profusion of flowers and bonbons--what charming rides and walks and long absorbed talks--what delicious hours floating on starlit waters where heaven itself brought down to earth seems fairer than above. Take moonlight and the susceptible beau from life, and what would remain of the ideal!
The susceptible beau must also be handsome if possible--indeed it is better for all concerned that all beaux should be handsome; still, ugly susceptible <beaux> have been seen, but it is desirable--nay necessary, that their ugliness should be of <the> type kindly and considerately denominated "interesting." Insultingly ugly men should not attempt to be beaux at all; the old adage "handsome is, as handsome does--" is of no avail in this connection, and maybe flouted as a glittering generality--such men should worship only the blind goddess.(20)
The susceptible beau talks a great deal about constancy; he sings a great many songs in which a prolonged--"Thee-e-e alone"--electrifies the air; he lays great stress upon his virtue. How it is that he falls so far below his standard is an interesting subject of speculation. However it may be, this tender heart recovers surprisingly soon from the wounds inflicted upon it, and these speedy recuperations form queer annotations upon the oaths which from time to time he has registered to heaven. It is odd with what unswerving faith in his constancy he manages to inspire the fair object of his devotion; perhaps the reason lies in that well-known feminine idiosyncrasy to trust so fervently in the power of her manifold charms especially as contrasted with those of her rivals. What if his tears for blue-eyed Mabel are hardly dry, Maud with the dimples, can but believe that he will continue to sing and sigh at her feet until such time as matters are ripe for a proposal, and great indeed is the stir in the dove-cot when he presently makes off in haste to precipitate himself at Marcia's shrine.
The didactic beau is fresh from College and what he does not know is certainly not worth learning. He has read very hard; he has amassed vast stores of wisdom and is not chary of bestowing of his abundance, generously telling anything he thinks you would like to know, or ought to know, and more besides, on the slightest possible solicitation and sometimes on no solicitation whatever. He stands upon the threshold of life; his large eye, roaming about the horizon, takes it all in--surely there is nothing in that untried world before him which can surprise or flabbergast this philosopher!
He is pale;--I observe as he sits on the sofa beside Leonora in the full light of the gas that he is very pale indeed--hard reading does it. He and Leonora make a [word erased] pretty picture, the light on her golden hair, on the tiny cluster of violets nestling among her curls, and his calm intellectual features. A sentimental suggestion overpowers me. I seem to see the typical youth of the world starting out bravely upon the untried steeps of the ascent to fortune and fame. He holds out his hand to the typical maiden; and she, nothing doubting, follows where he leads her. This suggestion recalls my youth, it quickens my memory, it stirs my heart as I turn back to similar scenes in my own past when I was the pale though powerful excursionist on those storied steeps. I take up a photographic album--that charitable mantle that covers a multitude of sins in drawing room eaves-droppings--and move a step nearer. --How soft are her oval checks, how delicate the flush upon them; how golden her hair--the worn old simile of sunbeams tangled among the tresses only can express it worthily;--how delicious the odor of the violets; how purple her eyes; what a gentle wistfulness in their lucent depths as they rest upon him; what rapt attention as he speaks. I listen.
"Confucius"--murmurs the didactic beau in mellifluous accents--"who was a Chinese philosopher"--kindly explanatory--"says, you know"--
But I don't know what Confucius says, and I am very much afraid I don't care. I shut the album with a bang, and go off to see how the other old fogies are getting on at the whist-table in the next room. And poor Leonora listens meekly as the words multiply and the subjects change in a kaleidoscopic fashion, and wonders how it is she never heard of Hegel before, <n>or Schelling, nor Spinoza, nor Strauss, nor yet Fichte.(21)
Meantime in the other room we deal the cards for the rubber.
How stiff must have been Nature's mood when the priggish beau was created. Such a starchy entity surely the world never before saw. He is constructed on strictly geometrical principles--he bows at right-angles, he moves with measured tread, his opinions are painfully square and painfully conventional consisting chiefly of hoary axioms; his topica are exclusively aged theories which have long ago ceased to be discussed by any one with a spark of originality, his range of reading is narrow, correct, and eminently dull; he is "set" in his ideas of religion--fast colors, I warrant you--and right, beyond the shadow of a doubt; it is utterly impossible that there can be a grain of wheat in that bushel of chaff his interlocutor's creed. So very superior is he, and so very conscious of his superiority, that he is apt to be considered insufferable by young people; the elders of families, however, deem him "a worthy man" and characterize his ideas and sentiments as "very proper."
He is rather elderly himself, but looks older than he really is. His glance has a peculiarity which seems to indicate that in some point of view he does not approve of his [erased word] interlocutor, and no matter how brilliant or vivacious the latter may be he always contrives to act as an extinguisher on every sparkle in the conversation--indeed the priggish beau may be considered the champion wet-blanket of society.
The courtship of the priggish beau is a thing of line and rule, and when he reaches the proposing point his eloquence is about as fervid as the oft-repeated assertion that "the square described on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares described on the other two sides."
Now the scornful beau in making a proposal--it is strange that a truly scornful man can so far demean himself as to become a suitor--in making a proposal the scornful beau is conventional but not absurdly exact; there is a certain fellow-ship among men, by which they discover what each other says in such instances, and the correct thing becomes established by authority and precedent. This habit, although useful, precludes anything like great variety. The most experienced young lady could find no cause for cavil in what the scornful beau says; his exposition of his sentiments is like himself, undeniably the right thing. But notwithstanding the protestations of devotion and the words of humility meet for such occasions, the sub-acute impression is created that she is the most honored and favored of mortals. Still, whatever the result, the interview is not unmitigated bliss for the scornful suitor; there is a musty old superstition hanging about in odd corners of the world that some men at some time somewhere have been rejected. Hence his nerves require bracing--for how would a scornful beau look as a disappointed lover! The world has been spared this painful spectacle. A scornful beau is always accepted with grateful rapture, and he proceeds with the supplementary formulae tending to establish the fact that he is the happiest of men, with an air which goes far to convince her that she is the happiest of women. The susceptible beau is well-drilled in such matters; discipline and experience are worth a great deal--a raw recruit shows to as much disadvantage in these flowery paths as on the fenced field of battle. The susceptible beau is expert by long practice; he can deduce the most romantic conclusions from any object or episode--a rose, a song, the moonlight--nobody but the susceptible beau knows the multifarious and utilitarian phases of the moon; a maid-of-all-work she is, to usher in his sentimental rhapsodies. The didactic beau pronounces his oration as deliberately as if he were delivering it from a rostrum. As some of his betters have done, he drives "a substantive and six,"(22) and however wildly his youthful heart may be plunging, he pays severe attention to the construction of his elaborate sentences as he proceeds. Somehow--how no mortal can tell--he manages to drag into is speech allusions to the Infinite and the Absolute. If he is accepted, his transports and philosophemes form a queer combination--rhetorically speaking. If he is rejected--what of that? all the world's great heroes have suffered reverses and with a firm step he joins the noble army of martyrs. In these matters of rejection, however, the priggish beau deserves the medal--the suddenness with which he can change his opinion and regard the Clara, adored but a moment ago, as a frivolous and flighty maiden who is ill-advisedly trifling with her own happiness; the considerate manner in which he begs that she will reserve her adverse decision until she has had time to fully consider the importance of the step she is taking; the air with which he receives her rather hasty--"oh--well--you know--I am sorry to tell you so, but I shall never regard you differently--you know"--as who should say in sorrow rather than anger--O fool and blind! the kindly though priggish regret with which he takes his departure and leaves her to the fate she has so rashly chosen having thrown away the one great opportunity of her life--no man living can do this except the priggish beau.
Intensely objective is the useful beau. Unlike the didactic beau, Chalybaus, Semler, and the pessimistic Schopenhauer,(23) he cares little for the Unconditioned, and if he thinks about he matter at all considers that those gentlemen waste their existence in an unseemly manner groveling in metaphysic dust. Material matters appeal to him, and he is often appealed to on material matters. He can be relied on at fancy-fairs; he is the make-weight of all dinner parties; he is "put up" to sing for time at little "musicales" while the soprano rests her voice after her aria, and the company awaits the coming of the contralto. If one wishes to make up an excursion-party the useful beau is required to get together the right kind of people--woe betide him if there is a marplot among them--and see to all needful arrangements for their comfort. Should there be a balky horse numbered with the excursionists, be sure it is the useful beau who drives him. If on an equestrian occasion a young lady is mounted upon an equine demon who evidently cherishes a diabolic intention of breaking every bone in her body, what solution of the difficulty is possible but that the useful beau shall exchange horses with the terrified damsel, and himself mount Dare-devil--a small matter indeed if his neck should be broken! But no such catastrophe ensues, for the useful beau is both plucky and strong, or he could not be so useful. Think of the muscular development requisite to tramp mile after mile in a pedestrian freak(24) through tangled mountain woods, constrained to pause every other minute and drag first one young lady and then another over huge boulders and through inextricable brambles--for it is to him with one accord they appeal; the scornful beau is always pushing too far ahead, or strolling too far behind to hear or heed these calls for succor--the priggish beau looks too much as though he thought it improper,--the susceptible beau is dimly seen in the distant vistas of the forests whispering sweet nothings under the broad brim of the picnic-hat which decorates the auburn tresses of the young lady from Afar--the didactic beau--but I forget--the didactic beau does not join these excursions; he is swinging in the hammock at home reading Hegel. To the useful beau they appeal with one sweet accord. And an exhilarating instance it is of woman's gentle dependence when the useful beau is in the trying process of engineering a young lady across a rustic bridge--videlicet,(25) a rickety log. She is afraid--she reiterates this fact with incredible verbal variety; she screams and shudders in quite a fascinating way albeit expressive of deadly terror; reassured in some degree by the persuasive eloquence of the useful beau she places one delicate little boot on the rough bark for a moment, then draws it back and vows she can never never cross; she clings to the suffering beau's tightly-gloved hands in the most nipping way--but these little blandishments are not for the beguilement of the useful beau; she regards the useful beau no more than a stock or stone; they are practiced because Mr [no period after the abbreviation] Upish with his scornful nez Grec and blond whiskers is watching the proceeding from the opposite bank.
If the useful beau is not already old his troubles will soon make him so.
The indulgent beau is an old beau. He is what young ladies call "a dear old thing." He reciprocates their attachment, and the younger they are the better he likes them. He is not as one might suppose from his years, peculiarly vulnerable to the charms of lovely widows or fully-fledged belles; on the contrary he is always to be found among the debutantes. There is a pervading air of romance about a charming, elderly, unmarried man suggestive of Guy Darrell or Guy Mannering indescribably alluring to the feminine heart. What girl ever cared a fig for Lionel or Harry Bertram(26) so long as the hallowed pages were consecrated by the presence of these old Guys (no pun is intended). The young do not have it all their own way--in comparison the jeunesse dore(27) is but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
The indulgent beau has not journeyed so long on this vale of tears without gaining some knowledge of how the land lies. He has discovered that the more one encourages a woman's theory of her own perfection, the more favorably is he regarded by her. Now and then it occurs to Lucia in connection with younger men, that her multitudinous gifts do not awaken as much admiration as is their due, that it is possible for her to be criticised--nay even disapproved; but with the indulgent beau she has no doubts and prattles away without so much as an arriere pensee(28) as to the impression she is making. She is gay and vivacious with him, or grave and confidential on weighty matters. Mamma wonders as she observes them sitting in the bay-window what can be the long story with which Lucia is regaling him--not altogether a pleasant story, to judge by the way she pulls at the ostrich feathers of her fan, and the distinct pout on her pretty face. Very dispassionately does the indulgent beau consider the merits of the case laid before him, and how judiciously he comments. Certainly that was no engagement whatever--Alfred has only his own egregious folly and vanity to blame; and she is as free as ever; of course he will talk about a broken heart, and a wrecked life, and make himself very unpleasant for a time, but Lucia is not to blame--so far from an engagement it could not be considered a reasonable amount of encouragement.
No one else ever even hears of Alfred in connection with this peculiar escapade which was certainly no engagement or even a reasonable amount of encouragement, and yet was enough to break his heart, wreck his life, and make him very unpleasant.
Papa's beau is not a pauper. He is an old beau too--but what a contrast to the indulgent beau! There is no romance about his old man. The most searching eye and the most vivid imagination could discover in him no resemblance to Guy Mannering. When the indulgent beau has traveled, Papa's beau has been staying at home doing nothing but making money. The indulgent beau knows everything in books and more besides, while Papa's beau knows nothing but the price of cotton--however he does pretend to know daily the fluctuations in London before it happens; he tried once in a lumbering way to expound this to Lucia, and she has ever since regarded him as more than half a maniac. Papa's beau is not literary, nor artistic, nor musical, nor scientific, nor anything but rich, and [manuscript concludes]
(1) R. E. Dembry [Mary Noailles Murfree], "Flirts and Their Ways," Lippincott's Magazine, May 1874, pp. 629-635; R. E. Dembry, "My Daughter's Admirers," Lippincott's Magazine, July 1875, pp. 117-123.
(2) Edd Winfield Parks, Charles Egbert Craddock (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1941), p. 62n.
(3) Alice Fay Taylor, "Mary Noailles Murphree: Southern Woman Writer," Diss., Emory University, 1988, p. 54.
(4) Richard Cary, Mary N. Murfree (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1967), p. 32.
(5) In the manuscript, the title is underscored twice, and only the "Old" is capitalized. Parks contends that Murfree's use of "Charles Egbert Craddock" indicates this draft is a later version of the essay, as Murfree did not begin using the pen name until after the writing of Alleghany Winds and Waters around 1874.
(6) At the Chegary institute, Murfree and her sister were required to speak only French during the week, except when they were studying Italian. Murfree returned to Nashville with the tendency to sprinkle her conversations and her early essays with French and Italian phrases (Cary, p. 18). Parks says this was a "manner that fortunately she was soon to outgrow" (p. 63).
(7) Rank has its obligation.
(8) "The German" was a short for the German cotillion, a dance of elaborate steps and figures.
(9) Chaos, in Greek mythology, was the first state of the universe, an absolute void.
(10) "The word "rare" was a later insertion into the teXt. While the manuscript is largely fair copy, insertions will be indicated with angled brackets: < >. Editorial comments will be enclosed in square brackets: [ ].
(11) Indifference or coolness.
(12) Being considered.
(13) A reference to Abou Ben Adhem, who, unlike the scornful beau, "loved his fellow man." The poem of the same name was written by Leigh Hunt.
(14) According to The New Cassell's French Dictionary, there is no such word. The coinage, of course, means having excess weight. However, it is an interesting misspelling because "pois" literally means "peas." The word for weight is "poids." The two words are pronounced the same. The coinage, unlike most of the foreign terms Murfree uses, is not underlined. The implication of the reference is that the scornful beau could readily become a burden, rather than a curiosity.
(15) Grecian nose, a long, straight nose.
(16) Turned up. The distinction between a "turned up" nose and a nose with a "distinctly ascending tendency" is an ironic one.
(17) According to The Oxford Companion to Art, Apollo Belvedere is a statue thought for over 400 years to represent the pinnacle of Greek sculpture. With the discovery of the Elgin Marbles between 1801 and 1803, it was revealed that Apollo Belvedere was a later copy of late Hellenistic or Roman origin of Greek sculpture. The comparison of the scornful beau to Apollo Belvedere suggests his manner is a refined copy of an earlier age (p. 638).
(18) The reference is to the "silver bow" of Apollo, the god of both healing and pestilence. The implication is that the scornful beau can be as pleasant or unpleasant as capriciously as Apollo; that is, he is as unpredictable as the weather. In the text, there is a double space before the quote, a single space after it, and no indention in the left hand margin.
(19) Affable, civil, obliging, or, as a noun, flatterer.
(20) The blind goddess, of course, is Themis, the goddess of justice, portrayed as blindfolded, with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other. An ugly beau can be treated justly only by a woman who doesn't have to look at him.
(21) An odd stew of philosophers: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 1770-1831; Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, 1775-1854; Baruch Spinoza, 1632-1677; Johann Gotlieb Fichte, 1762-1814. David Friedrich Strauss, 1808-1874, was a German theologian.
(22) In this instance, "substantive" refers to definitive appointment of rank, and the suggestion is that he arrives in a coach befitting his station, drawn by six horses.
(23) No reference to Chalybaus or Semler could be found. Schopenhauer, of course, refers to Arthur Schopenhauer, the German pessimist (1788-1860).
(24) A sudden, capricious whim.
(26) Guy Mannering and Harry Bertram are characters from the novel Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott. No reference could be found to "Lionel" or Guy Darrell.
(27) Gilded youth: again, Murfree misspells the French expression. The correct spelling is "jeunesse doree."
(28) Mental reservations or hidden motives. In French, the idiom is hyphenated.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||The Mississippi Quarterly|
|Date:||Dec 22, 1997|
|Previous Article:||"The curious psychological spectacle of a mind enslaved": Charles W. Chesnutt and dialect fiction.|
|Next Article:||An angel in the plantation: the economics of slavery and the politics of literary domesticity in Caroline Lee Hentz's 'The Planter's Northern Bride.'|