You are currently browsing the daily archive for February 17, 2010.

There are numerous mentions of carriages in Persuasion, and if we examine them they are very interesting: considering the owners and their choices of carriage reveals much about their essential characters.

Today we shall consider Charles Musgrove and his curricle. The existence of which so irritates his wife, Mary…well, to be fair, it is not its sole existence which irritates her but their lack of a coach.

Let me explain further. To Curricles…..Dashing, wealthy young men owned them in the late 18th /early 19th centuries and this was reflected in Jane Austen’s books.  Darcy had one in Pride and Prejudice, Henry Tilney had one in Northanger Abbey, Mr Rushworth ( not dashing but very rich) in Mansfield Park; Willoughby (not rich but deceptively dashing – boo, hiss- )owned  one in  Sense and Sensibility. Mr Elliot, in Persuasion, also owns one, though he is driven in his by his servant, properly kitted out  in mourning for Mr Elliot’s dead but unlamented wife :

They had nearly done breakfast, when the sound of a carriage (almost the first they had heard since entering Lyme) drew half the party to the window. It was a gentleman’s carriage, a curricle, but only coming round from the stable-yard to the front door — somebody must be going away. It was driven by a servant in mourning.

The word curricle made Charles Musgrove jump up, that he might compare it with his own; the servant in mourning roused Anne’s curiosity, and the whole six were collected to look by the time the owner of the curricle was to be seen issuing from the door, amidst the bows and civilities of the household, and taking his seat, to drive off.

Persuasion, Chapter 12

They were smart, fashionable carriages and gave the young man the opportunity to drive himself ….an opportunity to show the world that he knew how to do these things in style and was  a competent sort of chap.

Sandy Lerner, the chatelaine of Chawton House and noted carriage owner/driver, wrote this interesting passage about curricles in The Female Spectator ,Volume 4, Issue 1 (Winter 2000):

The curricle was a conspicuous display of wealth and fashion analogous to the ownership of a high-priced, 2-seater convertible sports car. It was an unnecessary and expensive addition to an establishment as one necessarily had at least one other traveling all-weather vehicle. Also called a “bankrupt cart” because in the words of a contemporary judge they were “frequently driven by those who could afford neither the Money to support them nor the Time spent in using them, the want of which in their Business, brought them to Bankruptcy”. It was a young person’s vehicle noted for its lightness and speed, especially as it was drawn by two horses.

In Pride and Prejudice “when the sound of a carriage drew them to a window, and they saw a gentleman and lady in a curricle driving up the street. Elizabeth, immediately recognising the livery, guessed what it meant, and imparted no small degree of surprise to her relations by acquainting them with the honour which she expected.” Mr Darcy is, in one word, portrayed as stylish wealthy and competent.

The curricle shown above was designed by William Felton. He was a coach-maker, of 36, Leather Lane, Holborn, London and the illustration (along with all the others in this post) comes from my copy of his Treatise on Carriages, published in 1794

This is how he describes a curricule and its owners (and frankly sounds a little blase about the type of customers this vehicle attracted :

The proprietors of this sort of carriage are in general persons of high repute for fashion and who are continually of themselves, inventing some improvements, the variety of which would be too tedious to relate

In his book he estimated the cost of a new curricle at between £58, 9 shillings and 3 pence and £,103, 5 shillings depending on the finish and extras added to it.

And now we can see a little more clearly one of Charles and Mary Musgrove’s problems: Charles has a curricle ( a rich man’s plaything) …but as they have a growing family, they really needed not a flash sports car but a “people carrier” -a coach- in order to travel around all year in the countryside without constantly having to rely on the goodwill of Mr and Mrs Musgrove.

“I am very glad you were well enough, and I hope you had a pleasant party.”

“Nothing remarkable. One always knows beforehand what the dinner will be, and who will be there; and it is so very uncomfortable, not having a carriage of one’s own. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove took me, and we were so crowded! They are both so very large, and take up so much room; and Mr. Musgrove always sits forward. So there was I crowded into the back seat with Henrietta and Louisa; and I think it very likely that my illness to-day may be owing to it.”

Persuasion, Chapter 5

Mr and Mrs Musgrove senior own a coach-a good all-weather vehicle that can carry at least four, plus lots of luggage when they travel about the country.

This is Felton’s design for a plain coach and this is what he has to say about it:

Where only one carriage is kept, and the use of it is almost constantly required, a plain, substantial coach is to be recommended, in preference to a slight ornamental one: as by being exposed to all weathers and rough roads it is less liable  to require expensive repairs and if well formed and neatly executed in the finishing, will always preserve a genteel appearance: in this pattern of a coach there is nothing superfluous or wanting to make it complete; and for convenience may be considered as one of the cheapest of all four wheeled carriages.

A coach commissioned from Felton would cost at least  £133, 9 shillings.

Mary Musgrove is, in my very humble opinion more than a little justified in saying that it is very disagreeable not having a carriage “of their own”. The curricle is hardly a practical  all-year-round vehicle: it cannot comfortably hold more than two passengers and has limited capacity for carrying luggage as non can be stored on the roof for it is in effect, a soft top which cannot bear a load. Living in the country where the effects of the weather would be more keenly felt than in a city, a good plain coach would surely make her more mobile and comfortable. She cheers up immensely when “tending” Louisa in off-season Lyme:

Mary had had her evils; but upon the whole, as was evident by her staying so long, she had found more to enjoy than to suffer. Charles Hayter had been at Lyme oftener than suited her; and when they dined with the Harvilles there had been only a maid-servant to wait, and at first Mrs. Harville had always given Mrs. Musgrove precedence; but then she had received so very handsome an apology from her on finding out whose daughter she was, and there had been so much going on every day, there had been so many walks between their lodgings and the Harvilles, and she had got books from the library, and changed them so often, that the balance had certainly been much in favour of Lyme. She had been taken to Charmouth too, and she had bathed, and she had gone to church, and there were a great many more people to look at in the church at Lyme than at Uppercross; and all this, joined to the sense of being so very useful, had made really an agreeable fortnight.

Persuasion, Chapter 14

I think a lot of her unhappiness stems from boredom and isolation. A coach would alleviate some of that by providing her with all year-round traveling opportunities. Felton himself advises that if only one carriage is to be owned ( by a family )it ought to be a good plain coach.  You can clearly see why Charles wants a fashionable, smart curricle , as a fully paid up member of the  “Heirs to a Pretty Little Estate Club”.

But I think in this case you can see that he is being a little selfish and Mary Musgrove really is more than a little justified in saying that it is very disagreeable not having a carriage “of their own” .

Its rather like a 21st century man not wanting to sell his two- seater soft top Porsche when the family has grown and what they really need is a Citroen Picasso.

If you are not a Wordpress member, just add your email here to subscribe to this site.

An Invitation to Visit our Sister Site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

Visit our sister site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

Click on the image above to visit our Sister Site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

An Invitation to Visit our Sister Site: Jane Austen’s Letters

Visit our sister site: Jane Austen's Letters

Click on the image above to visit our Sister Site: Jane Austen's Letters

Join Austen Only on Twitter

Recently Tweeted

Austenonly on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

Categories

Copyright Notice

Copyright: This site and all images and information complied within are copyright Austenonly.com unless otherwise stated/attributed.No permission is given/implied for any use of this site, the information and images contained therein, for any commercial use whatsoever. No material may be copied in any form without first obtaining written permission of the author, save that extracts of posts may be used on other non-commcerial sites on the internet, provided that full and clear credit is given to Austenonly.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content( that is, a link must be provided to the original post/image with full attribution ). The existence of the RSS or ATOM feeds in no way authorises wholesale or part transmission of posts or parts of posts to another site without prior permission being given and attribution stated. Any sites using RSS or ATOM feeds in this way without obtaining prior written permission of the author of this blog will be subject to legal action.

Currently Reading

Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas by Rebecca Smith

Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmasby Rebecca Smith

Recently Read

James Wyatt, Architect to George III by John Martin Robinson

James Wyatt, Architect to George III by John Martin Robinson

Uvedale Price (1747-1829): Decoding the Picturesque” by Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell

Uvedale Price (1747-1829): Decoding the Picturesque” by Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell

"The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse, published by Prospect Books.

"The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse, published by Prospect Books.

The Letters of Mrs Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend, edited by Helen Lefroy and Gavin Turner

The Letters of Mrs Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend, edited by Helen Lefroy and Gavin Turner

Understanding Jane Austen: Key Concepts in the Six Novels

Understanding Jane Austen: Key Concepts in the Six Novels

The London Square by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

The London Square” by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

"What Matters in Jane Austen?:Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved" by John Mullan

"What Matters in Jane Austen?:Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved" by John Mullan

May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen's Nieces in Ireland by Sophia Hillan

May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen's Nieces in Ireland by Sophia Hillan

An Introduction to the Tokens at the Foundling Museum” by Janette Bright and Gillian Clarke

An Introduction to the Tokens at the Foundling Museum” by Janette Bright and Gillian Clarke

Vauxhall Gardens: A History by David Coke and Alan Borg

Vauxhall Gardens: A History by David Coke and Alan Borg

Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art by Aileen Ribeiro

Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art by Aileen Ribeiro

Johan Zoffany by Mary Webster

Johan Zoffany by Mary Webster

Bergere,Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear  by Serena Dyer

Bergere,Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear” by Serena Dyer

The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons by Gill Perry with Joseph Roach and Shearer West

The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons by Gill Perry with Joseph Roach and Shearer West

Jane Austen's Letters (4th Edition) edited by Deirdre Le Faye

Jane Austen's Letters (4th Edition) edited by Deirdre Le Faye

Ice Cream by Ivan Day

Ice Cream by Ivan Day

Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century by Sabine Rewald

Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century by Sabine Rewald

Pastel Portraits of 18th Century Europe by Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelly

Pastel Portraits of 18th Century Europe by Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelly

The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain by Terry Friedman

The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain by Terry Friedman

Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion 1795-1815 by Christina Barreto and Martin Lancaster

Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion 1795-1815 by Christina Barreto and Martin Lancaster

Regarding Thomas Rowlandson: His Life, Art and Acquaintance by Matthew and James Payne

Regarding Thomas Rowlandson: His Life, Art and Acquaintance by Matthew and James Payne

The Omnipotent Magician:Lancelot "Capability" Brown by Jane Brown

The Omnipotent Magician:Lancelot "Capability" Brown by Jane Brown

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, Second Edition.

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, Second Edition.

Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, edited by Patricia Phagan

Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, edited by Patricia Phagan

Ralph Allen, Builder of Bath by Diana Winsor

Ralph Allen, Builder of Bath by Diana Winsor

Fashioning Fashion European Dress in Detail 1700-1915

Fashioning Fashion European Dress in Detail 1700-1915

Jellies and their Moulds by Peter Brears

Jellies and their Moulds by Peter Brears

Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance

Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance

Sir Thomas Lawrence by Michael Levey

Sir Thomas Lawrence by Michael Levey

The Georgian Buildings of Bath by Walter Ison

The Georgian Buildings of Bath by Walter Ison

The Catalogue to the Chatsworth Attic Sale

The Catalogue to the Chatsworth Attic Sale

State Beds and Throne Canopies:Care and Conservation by Val Davies

State Beds and Throne Canopies:Care and Conservation by Val Davies

 The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century by Timothy Brittain-Catlin

The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century by Timothy Brittain-Catlin

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital by Dan Cruickshank

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital by Dan Cruickshank

London's Country Houses by Caroline Knight

London's Country Houses by Caroline Knight

Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill by Michael Snodin

Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill by Michael Snodin

Quilts 1700-2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories by Sue Prichard

Quilts 1700-2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories by Sue Prichard

Mrs Delany's Menus, Medicine and Manners by Katherine Cahill

Mrs Delany's Menus, Medicine and Manners by Katherine Cahill

Mrs Delany and her Circle by Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts

Mrs Delany and her Circle by Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 1)

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 1)

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 2)

Birds of Passage: Henrietta Clive's Travels in South India 1798-1801

Birds of Passage: Henrietta Clive's Travels in South India 1798-1801 edited by Nancy K Shields

Enterprising Women and Shipping in the 19th Century by Helen Doe

Enterprising Women and Shipping in the 19th Century by Helen Doe

Over a Red Hot Stove edited by Ivan Day

Over a Red Hot Stove edited by Ivan Day

Coke of Norfolk 1754-1843: A Biography

Coke of Norfolk 1754-1843: A Biography by Susanna Wade Martins

Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830

Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830 by Ginny Redington Dawes and Olivia Collings

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain Edited by John Bonehill and Stephen Daniels

Silhouette: The Art of Shadow by Emma Rutherford

Silhouette: The Art of Shadow by Emma Rutherford

The Dress of the People by John Styles

The Dress of the People by John Styles

Behind Closed Doors by Amanda Vickery

Behind Closed Doors by Amanda Vickery

The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, Chawton Edition

The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, Chawton Edition

A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Rundell

A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Rundell

Austenonly Flickr

February 2010
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
Protected by Copyscape plagiarism checker - duplicate content and unique article detection software.
Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
UK Blog Directory
wordpress counter
%d bloggers like this: