“Do I have everyone’s attention? I should very much appreciate all of you being seated straight away. Who is that vulgar, hairy, woman in the atrocious red cape…oh, it is you, bishop. La, I though you were Princess Esterhazy. Well my goodness, I was under the impression you were taller. I should have recognized you, of course, by that elegant beard, so unlikely an allurement to be possessed by a princess. Now, for a baroness if would have been, of course, excusable…yes, thank you, please be seated your Eminence so that I may commence with my humble tribute.
It is wonderful to see so many old and dear friends here. Well, old at any rate (ahem). I should like to introduce my family to you, but, first I would thank our very thoughtful hostess, Miss (will someone hand me my spectacles – Darcy be a dear – thank you ) Ah, here it is…Miss Misty Braden – what a charming name. Would you please stand. Very nice. I am certain we need not worry overly. Miss Braden, I am sure, is certainly of the Devonshire Braden’s and not from those unpleasant American Braden’s. I should like to thank her, and her writing site, The Manuscript Rodent, for giving us this opportunity. Thank you, Miss Braden. Thank you. Miss Braden. That is quite enough bowing. Miss Braden. Oh do sit down, please!
Now a number of my relations are present and I should be very proud to introduce them to you all.
First, of course, is my handsome and very proficient daughter. Anne. Anne de Bourgh. Anne! Yes you, Anne, who else would it be, I’ve only one daughter. Stand up, gel! Oh bother. Someone find her vinaigrette please…there you are dear. Feeling better? Feeling quite the thing, are you? Excellent. Now stand up straight, Anne! Don’t slouch!
She’s lovely isn’t she? Ah, so very pale and wan. No hint of vibrancy. There is a reason for this, other than good breeding. It is not common knowledge, but I shall tell anyway. Anne has suffered her entire life from a series of peculiar and debilitating maladies - shortness of breath, palpitations, headaches, eye spasms, the occasional swoon. Uncontrollable crying. Yes. Oddly enough they usually crest whenever I walk into a room but then lessen when I leave. I know, how sad for her. And it apparently is common in other members of my family as well; I have found throughout the years that very many of my relations suffer from these anomalous symptoms. At least they do when I am in the vicinity. Oh well. ‘What wound did ever heal but by degrees.” That is Othello, you know. Of course if my willful, obdurate nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy, had married Anne when I suggested all those many years ago my daughter’s illnesses would have, I am certain, vanished. The young today, they are so very selfish, don’t you find?
Darcy why are you muttering and stomping your boots? He angers so easily these days; come over here and let me introduce you. My word, you look positively grim. Turn to the people. Isn’t he handsome? Stand up straight! Fitzwilliam Darcy is my sister Anne’s son, my late sister Anne, and the pride of Derbyshire. See how elegantly he dresses, how gracefully he comports himself. He is the perfect romantic gentleman. Dark, brooding fine-looking, arrogant, haughty…rich…some call him proud but I do not. I feel he merely has an accurate measure of himself that is all. He is a tall sort of man also, is he not? Extremely vertical for his weight.
Darcy and I had quite a splendid relationship for many years; he always would attend me during Easter, along with his reprobate of a cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Fitzwilliam is my brother’s son - a second son. A soldier.
Apparently the clergy would not have him.
Now Darcy, who, as I have already pointed out, is a very handsome gentleman of great intellect and superior lineage has made an incredibly ill-fated misalliance with Miss Elizabeth Bennet. No need to stand Elizabeth, nor speak if possible. What? What have I said? Why is he angry with me now? The young today are such a trial, they can be so argumentative. To continue, Elizabeth’s father is a gentleman of no consequence so the less said about her, him, or their embarrassing family, the better. Her mother is a absolute horror of a woman, completely lacking in accomplishments, her sisters are plain, awkward, hoyden or timid. Take your pick.
Next to Darcy is his lovely sister Georgiana Darcy. Georgiana plays the pianoforte extremely well due to her constant practicing. Stand please, Georgiana. Posture, Georgiana, do not droop so! As you can see she is a tad too tall, and rather too womanly, frankly speaking, for her young age. Truly refined young girls of the aristocracy are small boned and thin and never speak. Not until they agree to the marriage of their father’s choosing, that is and then they merely say ‘yes’. A truly elegant woman never speaks until she has children. And then she never stops. Oh, for heaven’s sake, don’t pout, Georgiana, you will develop puffy eyes, making you appear even more unappealing. Whyever is she crying?
Now, on to my tribute to Miss Jane Austen. She was…witty and quite opinionated. There, I’ve said it. She was intelligent. I do not mean to insult her but there it is. To use the vulgar colloquialism of the day, she was a blue stocking. We did not rub along well together. I first met Miss Austen in 1796 during her stay at Goodnestone Park in Kent. She was visiting there with her brother Edward, a most pleasing young man and his good wife, a delightfully silent young woman…unlike her sharp tongued and clever sister-in-law. Darcy! I do not appreciate nor condone that raised eyebrow! It is most threatening. Please lower it immediately.
Where was I? Oh, yes. I came to discover that Miss Austen was writing a novel at the time, quite a useless ambition for a young woman, but, the young never listen to sense, do they? It was entitled First Impressions. I cautioned her most wisely regarding the capriciousness of the publishing industry and, due solely to my counsel, she wisely sold the copyright to her manuscript for 110 pounds. Quite a coup I believed, for a girl. She had asked Mr. Edgerton for 150 pounds but I convinced her that she was fortunate to receive any amount for that silly story, let along 110 pounds! Poor dear. I am certain no one ever heard of the book after that, although I did hear mention that Edgarton changed the name of the book.
But whoever heard of Pride and Prejudice?
For some reason Jane refuses to speak with me, even unto this day.
La, children they are so unappreciative, are they not?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh Pays Tribute to Jane Austen (eventually) was written by Karen Wasylowski, author of Darcy and Fitzwilliam: A tale of a gentleman and an officer, which was just chosen as one of the Summer Reading picks by the Orange County Register.
Make sure to stop keep your eyes peeled in the coming days; you never know when you might get a chance to get your greedy little kid-gloved hands on this...
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