JaneAusten

Heaven’s Last Best Gift: Marriage as the Final End in Persuasion #JaneAusten

22 December 2015

By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.
April 11, 2014 (Original Date of Publication)
Posted at Dominicana Blog

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The fifth in a series considering considering Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas
“Above all other blessings Oh! God, for ourselves, and our fellow-creatures, we implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not by our own neglect, throw away the salvation thou hast given us, nor be Christians only in name.” —from Jane Austen’s Prayers

One of the characteristic aspects of all of Austen’s novels is that they end in happy marriages for the heroines. Several modern literary critics have wondered at the motivation behind this feature of her novels, given that Austen herself never married. Is it the case that she was vicariously living through her characters? Was she simply giving the readers what she knew they wanted? Or is there perhaps something more profound motivating her use of the marriage construct? Some critics have speculated as much. For example, one can find traces of a critique of the French Revolution in Pride and Prejudice, complete with an ‘English’ solution: a marriage between the middle and upper classes.

Here, I would like to offer quite a different allegorical interpretation of the marriage plot as used by Austen. It is easy to consider the marriages simply as the reward for the virtuous efforts of her heroines, especially considering that each one is brought about through a Deus ex machina. They all have struggled through the challenges of life and have come out on the other side as women possessing and growing in virtue. From this perspective, then, marriage is the end towards which the virtuous lives of her heroines are directed. Turning Henry Crawford’s allusion to Milton on its head, for Austen’s heroines, marriage is heaven’s last best gift.

Such a notion of a final end that rewards all the trials of a virtuous life is by no means foreign to virtue ethics. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle identifies the end of the virtuous life as contemplation; it is this state of rest to which every act of virtue is directed and in which true happiness consists. Like true friendship, contemplation is sought for its own sake; it is the most self-sustaining form of life and the most pleasant of activities. Building upon Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas identifies the final end of contemplation with the beatific vision. For St. Thomas, the virtuous life is framed as a way of perfection which finds its consummation in the last end: beatitude. It is the greatest good to which all other goods are ordered, and, holding that human actions are ordered to the good, St. Thomas concludes that the beatific vision, final happiness, is the fulfillment of all of human action. Ultimately, it is a rest that is given by God, that perfects all our potential, and that satiates all desire: heaven’s last best gift.

One of the virtues closely associated with man’s final end is hope. According to St. Thomas, it is hope of the final end that gives way to charity, which is the perfect love of God. So in a way, hope is one of the final virtues that must be acquired before the end can be attained. In Persuasion, it is precisely this virtue that Anne Elliot acquires throughout the course of the novel. She, who had been “forced into prudence in her youth [and] learned romance as she grew older,” must now learn to hope in order that she may know happiness once more.

As the novel begins, Anne is surrounded by harbingers of fading life: the time of year is autumn, her father’s line is in danger of extinction, and her family must let Kellynch Hall in order to make financial ends meet. On top of all this, she is oppressed by the prospect of her former lover once again being near her, and when he does arrive, she is made miserable in his presence. Mistakenly, she prepares herself to meet him with as much indifference as possible and to “teach herself to be insensible on such points” as meeting him and hearing others speak of him. In short, she harbors no hope for happiness and looks only to avoid as much pain as she can manage.

In the closing chapters of the first volume, there are such exquisite descriptions of the fading year that one cannot help but imagine that their narration is tinged by Anne’s despondency as she struggles to endure the affliction of a renewed, yet torturously more distant acquaintance with Captain Wentworth. Anne struggles to derive pleasure from “the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges,” mining the reserves of the contemporary poets for an “apt analogy of the declining year with declining happiness, and the images of youth and hope, and spring, all gone together.” She is withering in spirit, as she has done already in beauty, and she does not become fully aware of her closeness to despondency and despair until her discussions with the unfortunate Captain Benwick, in which she counsels him in “moral and religious endurance” in the face of the temptation to mourn ruefully over lost love.

And yet, in these last chapters, the reader finds the faintest glimmer of hope for new life and happiness in Anne’s reflections and experiences. After her conversation with Captain Benwick, she realizes just how close she had come to despairing of happiness, having sought to console another in his own loss and instill hope for the future. The morning after this conversation, Anne’s outlook begins to change for the better. She looks on nature with a more positive outlook than her November walk, praising the morning, glorying in the sea, and delighting in the fresh-feeling breeze. This internal change is mirrored by her external appearance, as she, along with Mr. Eliot and Captain Wentworth, finds herself coming into a second bloom of softened beauty.

Once she arrives in Bath, Anne begins to hope more consciously for greater happiness in life, freed from remorseful recollections of her actions in the past. Aided by the exemplary behavior of an old, poor school-fellow and the news of Louisa’s engagement to someone other than Captain Wentworth, Anne fully embraces this newfound virtue and lives in hopeful expectation of a life of happiness that is yet to come.

Of course, she is rewarded with marriage to the man she loves, but in comparison to the rest of Austen’s heroines, Anne stands out as living the most independent life of virtue; even the paragon of all things good, Fanny Price, does not quite learn to expect happiness apart from marriage with Edmund before providence intervenes. Anne’s is a more mature hope for happiness, which is not too surprising considering her superiority in age (Anne is, by far, the oldest of Austen’s heroines). Such a development is in line with Aristotle’s conviction that complete virtue took time to perfect and mature and, consequently, was rarely found in the young. The difference can also be seen in Anne’s ability to instruct others in virtue and Fanny’s conviction that she would be ill-suited for such a task.

As a result of her more solid foundation in virtue, Anne begins to develop a more independent sense of virtue. Impressed by the upbeat disposition of her poor and ailing friend, Mrs. Smith, Anne begins to contemplate a more stable and permanent source of happiness than that which the goods of this passing world can provide. Even before she begins to seriously hope for a life of happiness in a marriage to Captain Wentworth, Anne has proved herself capable of sharing in the happiness of others with little concern for any of her own selfish desires, as the many episodes at Uppercross and Lyme illustrate. More importantly, in the midst of her concern for the happiness of others, she does not compromise her own standard of happiness (“her feelings were still adverse to any man save one”). While it does not entirely depend upon the fulfillment of any single desire, Anne’s happiness does rest on a hope that finds its eventual fulfillment, its final rest, in love. Likewise, in this life, the gift of hope points us to our final rest: the vision and love of God.

Image: John Atkinson Grimshaw, In Peril (The Harbor Flare)

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.


Foundations Once Destroyed: The Importance of Principle in Mansfield Park

14 December 2015

By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.|April 7, 2014 (Original Date of Publication)
Posted at Dominicana Blog

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The second in a series considering Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

“Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own Hearts, and bring to our knowledge every fault of Temper and every evil Habit in which we have indulged to the discomfort of our fellow-creatures, and the danger of our own Souls.”
—from Jane Austen’s Prayers

“Henry Crawford had too much sense not to feel the worth of good principles in a wife, though he was too little accustomed to serious reflection to know them by their proper name.” In so few words, the narrator of Mansfield Park identifies the foundation for the remarkable attachment of the charming and playful Henry Crawford for the demure and boring Fanny Price. Henry’s doomed attraction to Fanny and his unsuccessful endeavor to win her regard comprise, perhaps, one of the greatest tragedies in all of Austen’s work. While many may lay the blame for Henry’s downfall at the feet of Fanny, at the end of the day, the readers of Austen must come to grips with the fact that, while his motives may have been admirable, his past behavior had done the greater harm by fixing in his character the bad habits that would eventually push him over the precipice. While Henry Crawford possessed the good sense to recognize the value of good principles in Fanny, he fails to acquire those values for himself.

Fundamentally, Henry Crawford, along with his sister, possesses principles that are opposed to those of Fanny. While Fanny follows a Christian morality founded upon goodness and truth, Henry ascribes to what Austen describes in him as a “school of luxury and epicurism.” Though they had very different teachers, Henry and his sister, Mary, have been brought up to seek primarily to fulfill their own desires, caring for others only insofar as it furthers their own interests. Under the influence of his philandering uncle, Henry undervalues the feelings of women, and, following the example of her jilted aunt, Mary acts with a “prudence” of a remarkably jaded nature, assuming that everyone must and does act for their material self-interest. Fanny, of course, perceives all of this and wisely resists a marriage to Henry on the grounds that they hold such divergent principles, and that she is not suited to effecting the reform of Henry’s character that would be necessary to overcome these differences.

These principles to which Fanny refers when she rejects Henry Crawford are none other than the virtues. Henry discovers as much when Fanny conspicuously sighs over his express aversion to the value of constancy, a virtue characteristic more of Austen’s era than Aristotle’s or Thomas’, but a virtue nonetheless. Moreover, Fanny’s objection to Henry’s behavior is not merely concerning his inconstancy. She is more generally concerned with his blatant disregard for the feelings of others. Fanny’s behavior and preferences accord with the fundamental precepts of St. Thomas’ natural law theory, specifically to do good and avoid evil and to avoid offending those among whom one has to live. Fanny, in accord with the classical tradition, understands that a person’s good is not simply a subjective pursuit. She must take into account the ramifications of her actions on the lives of those around her.

Another important principle that is on display in this novel is that of personal freedom. According to Aristotle and Aquinas, in order for an action to take on a virtuous or vicious character, it must be knowingly willed by the individual. Any interference with this voluntariness, whether due to an external force or legitimate ignorance, limits the actor’s moral responsibility, whether for praise or blame. Austen affirms the importance of this principle, as each of her heroines eventually claims the responsibility for her actions. Not only do these women claim their actions, they also claim the responsibility for the judgments leading up to the actions. Such a position would have been quite revolutionary, as women were expected to defer to the judgment of their male protectors. Fanny’s situation illustrates this tension, as she endures pressure to yield to the judgments of others. Nevertheless, she perseveres in the face of this struggle and asserts her right and ability to judge for herself.

This freedom of the individual to choose his course of action also implies that individuals are able to improve in character. Nevertheless, such a reform is extremely difficult, as poor choices quite often lead to more bad actions and make it difficult to ever choose the virtuous option as the habit becomes stronger. Interestingly, Austen suggests that there was a possibility that Henry Crawford could reform his character. During his visit to Portsmouth, Henry does show some initial signs of reform. While Fanny notices this improvement, she is well aware that a complete reform would require yet more time and effort. In an intriguing series of paragraphs in the final chapter of the novel, the narrator offers the readers a glimpse into what could have been if Henry had persevered. He could have been happy with Fanny had he chosen to act on what he knew was right in just one moment, but he gave into temptation and sealed his own fate.

Henry’s failure provides a good illustration of the effect that vice has on one’s moral judgment. The motives out of which he acts are good, namely humbling Maria so that she would learn to properly value the virtue of Fanny. However, Henry chooses an unsuitable means to achieve this end, as he had previously been habituated to believe that the proper way to put a young woman in her place was through breaking her heart. The real tragedy of Henry’s situation is not that he loses Fanny, but that he actually does perceive the good and falls away from it due to the disorder arising from his false principles.

Not giving up on the possibility of moral reform, Austen shows elsewhere that such a transformation is possible, as the heroine of Emma shows us. Emma Woodhouse resembles Mary Crawford in many aspects of her character, though Emma eventually is shown to possess the resolution and inclination to correct her poor behavior. The impropriety and even callousness of her own behavior weighs down upon Emma Woodhouse after she is duly scolded by Mr. Knightley. “In the warmth of true contrition,” Emma seeks to make amends for her actions and to acquire better habits that avoid offending those others in whose society she lives, unlike the willful defiance espoused by Mary Crawford when she is reprimanded by the man she loves. Ultimately, without the proper moral principles, an education in moral virtue is not possible.

Image: Engraving of Broadlands House

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.


In Pursuit of Happiness: An Aristotelian Appreciation of Jane Austen

13 December 2015

By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.| 7 April 2014 (original date of publication)
Posted at Dominicana Blog

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The first in a series considering Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

“Give us grace to endeavor after a truly Christian spirit to seek to attain that temper of forbearance and patience of which our blessed savior has set us the highest example; and which, while it prepares us for the spiritual happiness of the life to come, will secure to us the best enjoyment of what this world can give.”
—from Jane Austen’s Prayers

Describing them as “the last great representative of the classical tradition of virtues,” Alasdair MacIntyre identifies in the works of Jane Austen a marriage of Christian and classical themes. Many elements of a systematic virtue ethic shine through the entire body of Austen’s work, as the search for happiness undergirds the actions of each character that appears in the novels. Whether it entails discussing Shakespeare’s sonnets with a charming young man or accepting the proposals of a very silly clergyman, each action is directed to what the character perceives to be the good, ultimately for the sake of attaining “the best enjoyment of what this world can give,” or happiness of the pre-heaven variety. That being said, Jane Austen does not merely relate amusing vignettes describing various ways in which people go about seeking their own happiness. In the resolution of each of her novels, it is clear that only some characters achieve stable and respectable forms of happiness, while others still seek it or fail to achieve it. So, clearly some characters act in a more efficacious fashion than their counterparts, and at the heart of every instance of greater success, one finds virtue.

In his theory of the virtues, Aristotle regards happiness as the goal of all human action, including the most mundane tasks, such as eating and sleeping. Following in the tradition of Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas asserts that even evil actions which reject the good and, therefore, true happiness are actually done for the sake of what the person (mistakenly) perceives to be a source of happiness. Ultimately, both Aristotle and St. Thomas contend that only those who seek the true good achieve happiness, whereas those who reject it in favor of an inferior good remain ever discontent. In order to regularly distinguish and subsequently choose good actions from less good ones, individuals need certain habits. Otherwise, the attainment of happiness would be nothing but a matter of chance, as Charlotte Lucas argues is the case in marital felicity. Habits that dispose us to choose the good are called the virtues.

It is exactly in this way that the protagonists of Austen’s novels distinguish themselves from the rest of her characters. Her heroines do not simply ask themselves the question, how do I want to live my life, for presumably even Lydia Bennet has asked herself this question and replied, to eat, drink, and be merry! Rather, the heroines and heroes of Austen’s novels ask themselves, how do I lead a good and happy life? The reader finds evidence of this dynamic throughout the novels, as the omniscient narrator often gives glimpses into their introspective thoughts, as the characters examine their actions and question whether their deeds were truly conducive to their happiness.

Even more to the point of illustrating examinations of conscience are the episodes in which the heroines experience moments of conversion, seeking to measure the true worth of their previous deeds. Such is the case of Elizabeth Bennet when, upon careful consideration of Darcy’s letter concerning his relation to Wickham, she painfully acknowledges the rashness of her actions regarding these two men exclaiming, “till this moment, I never knew myself.” Similar experiences can be found in the accounts of Marianne Dashwood, Emma Woodhouse, and Catherine Morland in which the heroines find their actions sorely wanting in goodness and subsequently seek to reform their lives by choosing better actions, or acting more virtuously.

Another critical aspect of Aristotelian virtue ethics is the importance given to the individual, moral person in her totality. It is not a question of mind over body, but rather of an integral whole, mind and body, making decisions in the face of challenges that come up in life. This dynamic is the primary focus of Sense and Sensibility, as the title declares forthrightly. A rather poor reading of this novel would suggest that Austen favors a rational approach to romance to one based upon feeling or that Elinor, as well as Marianne, must learn something from her counterpart. However, when the narrator introduces Elinor to the reader, she is described as having “an excellent heart” and that “her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them.” Mind is not given a monopoly in virtuous action, and Elinor is by no means a stranger to emotion. It is through the union of the intellectual and the sensible that Elinor is able to weather her troubled course throughout the novel much more composedly than her overly affectionate sister, Marianne.

Austen also stresses the importance of the individual in making her own decisions concerning her happiness and how best to achieve it. Voluntariness is a necessary component of moral action, and the presence of an overriding external influence limits the act’s identifiability with the morally good or bad. This individual accountability is well displayed in Mansfield Park when Fanny perseveres in resisting the unjust persuasions of her uncle, Sir Thomas, to accept the morally suspect Mr. Crawford. Sir Thomas believes it her duty to set aside her own sense of moral uprightness in favor of his own. However, Fanny properly maintains her conviction that she is the best judge of the situation, as it concerns her own happiness and as she has had more opportunities for observing and judging the behavior of Mr. Crawford. In line with the thought of Aristotle and Aquinas, Austen empowers her heroines to assert their individual prerogative in their own decisions.

Throughout all of Austen’s novels, the reader does not only find illustrations of the presence and absence of virtue, but also depictions of its acquisition and accompaniments, such as friendship. As I proceed in this series of posts, my discussions will follow the general progression of this life of virtue, from its foundation in moral principles through its growth by the development of wisdom and finally to the attainment of the final end of happiness. Also, since friendship plays a central role in Austen’s novels and in the virtue theories of Aristotle and his followers, I will consider it, as well, as a critical component to the life of virtue. In the end, I hope to instill the conviction that there is something more than romance and drama in the novels of Jane Austen, namely a systematic approach to leading the good and happy life.

Image: James Andrews, Portrait of Jane Austen

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.


From the Archives: Reading Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas

12 December 2015

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Austen, Aristotle, and Aquinas


By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.|April 7, 2014|Posted in: Austen the Aristotelian, Books, Culture, Virtue & Moral Life

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Jane Austen novels are full of silliness and romance. However little known the merits of these works upon a first perusal, this truth is so well fixed in the mind of the reader, that they are considered as the rightful property of young women fixated upon a bygone era of balls and dresses with hardly any serious merit to recommend them to the reader of more practical and serious taste.

While the truthiness of such a claim may, in fact, be unassailable, the truth of this statement can hardly be considered as such. When Lionel Trilling offered a seminar on the works of Jane Austen at Columbia in 1973, he had to sit through two-and-a-half days of interviews in order to whittle a field of 150 interested students down to a more manageable maximum of 40. You very well may ask how many of those prospective students were young men, but, as a professor of mine once responded to such a question, this was Columbia in the 1970s; they were, most probably, nearly all men! Trilling himself relates that the ranks of these prospective students included more than one graduate student who ardently made his case to be allowed in the class.

So, what’s the big deal about Jane Austen? Why would anyone with half a brain, let alone someone seriously dedicated to the study of divine truth, care two straws about such novels? Unlike Trilling who concluded that the moral values portrayed in Austen’s novels were invariably a product of her era, I am convinced that these values have a timeless character, just as the novels have a transcendent appeal.

As the title of this introduction and the Dominican authorship of these posts suggest, Aquinas and Aristotle play no small part in my appreciation of the works of Jane Austen. Throughout this series, I hope to illustrate how many of the values found in Austen’s works belong just as much to the medieval and classical periods as her own. By showing how the virtues espoused by Austen’s heroines conform to a much earlier tradition, I hope to lead the reader to suspect that these values are just as applicable today. These works are not simply food for romantic fantasies. They provide us with serious and thoughtful reflections on how virtue ought to be lived out, particularly in regard to our relationships with others.

Editor’s Note: For the record, the staff at Always Catholic are ardent Jane Austen fans. Those who truly understand Austen know that those who do not understand great literature do not realize that Austen is considered by many to be the “greatest author of the English language”. In addition, the romance angle is but a part of her novels, whereas she has also been called by many, “the greatest social scientist of all time” because her novels dealt with relationships… brilliantly… not just romantic ones, but relationships between husband and wives, parents and children, sisters and sisters, sisters and brothers, brothers and brothers, friends and friends etc. etc.

Now, with that being said, as far as we can see, (with the exception of some observations too ordinary to point out) this series is like a dream to those who love God, theology and all things Austen. With that in mind, please enjoy this gift from Brother Aquinas Beale, O.P. Thank you, Brother.

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.

Source: Dominica Blog


From the Archives: ‘The Way of Shame: Moral Education in Northanger Abbey”

11 April 2015

11 April 2015 A.D.

By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.
April 9, 2014 (Original Publication Date)
Posted at Dominicana Blog

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The third in a series considering Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

“Teach us almighty father, to consider this solemn truth, as we should do, that we may feel the importance of every day, and every hour as it passes, and earnestly strive to make a better use of what thy goodness may yet bestow on us, than we have done of the time past.”
—from Jane Austen’s Prayers

Northanger Abbey is quite often the most difficult book for the Austen reader to enjoy, as it appears to lack the gravitas that underlies her other novels. Apart from a satirical reflection on the value of the Gothic genre, the novel seems to lack consideration of any serious issue. The language of the novel is replete with playful banter, pointing to the author’s youthful age when she penned the work, and the heroine is extremely naïve. Finally, there is the seeming mismatch of hero and heroine; Catherine Morland is a young and rather silly girl whose only purported source of attraction for the more mature Henry Tilney was “a persuasion of her partiality for him,” suggesting a certain shallowness in the hero. Given such a match, how could the narration of their history be gratifying for the demanding expectations of the avid Jane Austen reader?

In light of the theme of virtue and the stark contrast that Northanger Abbey presents with regard to her other novels, I suspect that the key to getting over many of these concerns lies in a careful consideration of the importance Austen gives to moral education as a source for plot development. From the beginning, the narrator informs the reader that Catherine Morland is a heroine in training and that the course of the novel will follow her education as a heroine. Though playfully framed as the adventures of a Gothic novel, these chronicled episodes of Catherine’s life outline a genuine and sober education in prudence, or practical wisdom. Ironically, by the end of the novel, when Catherine is thrown into truly dire and dramatic circumstances, she acts with such discretion and presence of mind that it hardly even occurs to her, or the reader, that she has finally been thrown into the midst of circumstances that properly befit the stuff of a Gothic novel.

In the four novels (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey) in which her heroines lack in virtue in some significant way, Austen uses shame as the impetus for the moral reform that in large part leads to the resolution of the novel. Marianne is ashamed of her carefree openness to Willoughby; Elizabeth regrets her prideful disdain for Mr. Darcy and imprudent trust in Mr. Wickham; Emma rues her callous treatment of Miss Bates and meaningless flirtation with Frank Churchill; and, of course, Catherine cries and laments over her naïve and unfounded suspicion of General Tilney’s character and her bold liberty in snooping about a house in which she is a guest. Each of these heroines experiences proper shame in seriously reflecting on her behavior, and each subsequently resolves to amend her character by acquiring the habits that would counteract the foolhardy inclinations that had previously led her into such folly. In contrast, the absence of shame tints the behavior of many of Austen’s antagonists; it is her shameless that shocks and disgusts Lydia Bennet’s sisters, who observe that “Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless.”

Such a role for shame in the moral education of a young person can be found in Aristotle, as well. Shame holds an interesting position within Aristotle’s theory of human action. As he describes it, it is more like a pseudo-virtue because it is not fitting for the virtuous person to experience fear of disgrace due to incorrect actions, since the virtuous person would have behaved in a proper fashion. He observes that shame “is not becoming to persons of every age but only to the young…because, living according to their emotions, many of them would fall into sin but are restrained by shame.” In other words, shame is conducive to the end of a young person’s growth in virtue and belongs to the virtuous person hypothetically; that is, if she were to commit an unvirtuous act, then she would experience shame. Aristotle maintains that it is ultimately a matter of practice and repeated experience of shame due to failure that a young person manages to grow in virtue. Thus, shame and activity are indispensable features of a moral education.

On this last point, it is interesting that in each of Austen’s novels, the critical moments of each heroine’s development occur in the midst of activity, particularly travel. Even Emma Woodhouse, who has rarely ever left her father’s side, receives Mr. Knightley’s chiding remarks during an outing to Box Hill. It seems that at least implicitly, Austen agrees that an active life is conducive to the development of virtue. So there is more than just a semblance of truth to the narrator’s ironic claim in Northanger Abbey that adventure is a necessary component in the education of a young woman. Through her adventures in Bath and at Northanger Abbey, Catherine learns how to apply the good principles she has already learned and how to properly esteem the variety of characters and behaviors in the world.

Normally in Austen’s novels the heroines are not the only students of virtue, but each of their heroes is, as well. For example, Mr. Darcy must learn to temper his pride with amiability before he can gain the respect and love of Elizabeth as he ought. On the other hand, Henry Tilney appears to be rewarded for merely feeling a sense of gratification at receiving the attentions of a pretty young woman. Nevertheless, Henry does not get the satisfaction of marrying Catherine directly after he expresses his intention. Catherine’s parents insist upon waiting for his father’s approval, which he did not receive until the end of a rather anxious series of months. Moreover, the narrator intimates that such a period did a great deal of good for Henry, as well as Catherine, by “adding strength to their attachment,” hence the rather enigmatic closing of the novel: “I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.” Catherine is not the only one who must grow more mature in order to ensure her happiness, but Henry must also establish firmer foundations in his regard for Catherine, which can only be done through a more thorough knowledge of her character. With this prolonged period of engagement, Catherine gains more time to grow in virtue and Henry receives the opportunity to become better acquainted with Catherine’s character. In this way, they become more suited for the type of virtuous friendship that will enrich and sustain their marriage.

Image: John Atkinson Grimshaw, November Moonlight

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.


The charity of Susan, the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming & Jane Austen

16 July 2014

Jane Austen portrait with textJane Austen was once asked if all her stories would have happy endings. Miss Austen was purported to have said that indeed the stories would all have happy endings. She went on further to explain that her characters would have happy aspirations and a good family lives but there would be some troubles. She added that all would be resolved with a happy ending.

Austen was criticized for years for this but her followers have hung tough (that would include moi) & knew she had a great reason for this. Her Christian faith is the reason. There is a recent book that tells about her faith and the effect it had on her life. Her happy ending theory is the imagery of the reward of heaven for a Christian life lived well for God.

Now follows the recent story of Susan, a Christian life lived well for God & the Carmelite Monks in Wyoming. A happy ending? Read this and you tell me..I think Jane would have said, “Absolutely” !!

Mount Carmel Monastery Approved! Good News for the Monks and for the Church

By Deacon Keith Fournier
10/11/2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

When the history of the Third Millennium is written, this monastery will be one of many where historians recount the rebirth of Christendom

At an open public hearing before the Park County Board of Commissioners, the monks were given unanimous approval to proceed with building the new monastery. The Monks of Mt Carmel know that their calling to live a radical monastic life, in fidelity to the original vision of the Carmelites, is special. They embrace it courageously in and for the Lord and His Church. Now they will be able to build a new Mt. Carmel for America. When the history of the Third Millennium is written, this monastery will be one of many where historians recount the rebirth of Christendom.


CODY, WY (Catholic Online)
– “Praised be Jesus Christ” said the joyful voice of a monk on the other end of the line. Within minutes I heard another joyful voice, Fr. Daniel Mary of Jesus Crucified, the Prior of this burgeoning monastic community in Wyoming formally called “Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary”.  I had another absolutely delightful conversation with this wonderful priest and spiritual father. My last conversation with him was in August. I wrote an article based upon it entitled “Mount Carmel for America: Carmelite Monks, Messengers of New Springtime” This Monk’s love for the Lord and His Church is contagious.
The last time we spoke, Father shared the monk’s hopes to build a new monastery to house their growing young community. The artist’s rendering of the 144,000 square foot French Gothic style monastery alone can send one to their knees to worship, it is so beautiful. The property will also house one of the enterprises which help the monks to be self sustaining, Mystic Monk Coffee which has grown so rapidly in popularity it has outgrown its current cramped quarters where the monks roast it, grind it and package it.
Since our last conversation I had read of concerns raised by a few neighbors about the purchase of 2500 deeded acres of undeveloped ranch land for this apostolic undertaking. Some stories online speculated it may have had something to do with the monastic way of life and devout Catholic faith of the monks. However, the reasons were really quite simple. These were ranchers, good folks, who seem to have been mainly concerned about whether the building of the monastery would change the nature of the ranchland, change the lifestyle and bring a lot of traffic. Father and the monks were able to assuage their concerns that this was a monastery and only those coming for Holy Mass, Confession or spiritual counsel would make the trek up what will be a seven mile road onto Mt Carmel.
So, now the good news; on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 1:00 p.m., at an open public hearing before the Park County Board of Commissioners, the monks were given unanimous approval to proceed with the building of Mt. Carmel for America. The commissioners wanted to know whether the land will continue to be used for ranching. The monks were happy to report that it will. They intend to keep the property as a ranch as well as work the land for farming. Father Daniel Mary explained to me that with the growing resurgence of vocations to the lay brotherhood (not all monks are clerics) the Lord had already brought ranchers to the community who would help with 1,000 head of cattle that will graze on Mt. Carmel.

None of this is new to this monk; Father Daniel Mary grew up on a ranch roughly six or seven miles from the property. His father is a rancher whose reputation is well known in those parts of Wyoming. His son speaks so highly of his natural father that, as a father of five grown children myself, it warmed my heart to hear it. He dreamed of establishing a monastery in Wyoming as a younger man. He knew that the beauty of the land, the rugged simplicity and faith of the people, and the challenge of the times required such a place. That dream is becoming a reality for this man of living faith.
Fr Daniel Mary emphasized that all of the monks, even the “choir monks” will “work the land”. He explained, “This helps us go back to our agrarian roots as monks and forms our young men in manly character. Young men need this kind of manly way of life which involves hard, physical work like clearing timber, growing gardens, tending to crops and ranching. It helps us to stay rooted in a deep, agrarian identity as monks and as men”.

The Carmelite monks in Wyoming are hardy men with even hardier hearts, dedicated to the Lord and His Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They have revived the ancient tradition of Carmel, returning to the original charism and the ancient traditions. He takes great joy in sharing the enthusiasm of the growing number of young men who are joining or discerning the community, seeking a full monastic life, and in some instances, seeking the eremitical life. There will be hermitages on Mt. Carmel for those monks called to respond to the invitation of the Lord to that special way of life in Him and for His Church.

In his plain spoken, naturally supernatural manner he explained  that he considers Mount Carmel part of a “monastic flowering” in our day. We spoke enthusiastically about Church history and how monks and similar monastic flowerings have preceded the great renewals in the Church in centuries past. With great delight he told me the young men seeking to live this life say to him “Reverend father, can we just follow the way of the Saints”. And this holy priest fully believes that, in his own words, the “surest way to go in bringing back the great monastic tradition of Carmel as a gift to and for the Church is to follow the way of the Saints”.


The Story of the Charity of Susan

In concluding our discussion he told me a very heartwarming story of the only resident who spoke at the recent public hearing. When the commissioners opened the floor for discussion, before unanimously voting to approve the requests presented by the Monks, Father Daniel Mary admits that he was a little concerned. After all, there had been some concerns from neighbors before. However, only one woman spoke, an older woman named Susan. Turns out Susan had been in the Courthouse to get license plates for she and her husband’s new truck when she saw the sign indicating there was going to be a public hearing on the Monks request to build on that property.

When the commissioners asked for public comment she stepped forward and spoke, “I want everybody to know, I love these monks. They are the best neighbors we could ever have. They pray for us all. I want all of you to know that these monks should be given full approval for everything they ask for.” Susan then came up to the monks and thanked them, leaned down and kissed the head of Fr. Daniel Mary and then left the hearing room. The second part of the session concerned the requests for “Mystic Monk” Coffee to build a new facility. It was also approved.

When the second session was complete, the monks received news that Susan had driven home and accidentally left her truck in gear when she went to get out. In a freak accident, she was run over and sustained very serious injuries. Susan died that very day. Of course the monks were shocked! They immediately drove to the house.  They found her grieving husband and went inside to console him. They hugged him. He asked “Why”? Father Daniel Mary then explained to me what they told Susan’s husband. They explained her act of kindness at the hearing. In the midst of his tears of grief he said it helped to make sense of it all for him; it was his wife’s “last act of love.”
The Monks of “Carmel of the Immaculate heart of Mary” come to us at the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium as a gift and a prophetic sign. These are real monks and real men, passionately and courageously in love with the Lord Jesus Christ and dedicated to renewing in our day the great treasury of monasticism. Vocations are not a problem for these monks; they receive hundreds of inquiries a year. They will build a place from which prayer will rise to the heavens, renewing the Church so that she can continue her redemptive mission in our age. The beauty of the monastery they will build will be added to the beauty of 2500 deeded acres of ranch land. This land is enhanced by over 6,000 acres of forested land surrounding Mt. Carmel which is part of a National Forest lease and cannot be developed.
The Monks of Mt Carmel know that their calling to live a radical monastic life, in fidelity to the original vision of the Carmelites, is special. They embrace it courageously in and for the Lord and His Church. Now they will be able to build a new Mt. Carmel for America. I have said it before and I say it again – with even more conviction – when the history of the Third Millennium is written, this monastery will be one of many where historians recount the rebirth of Christendom.  The building of this monastery is Good News for the Monks of Mt Carmel and Good News for the Church in the United States. They need our prayer and they need our financial support to build Mt. Carmel for America.

……………………………………..

For more information and to help the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming please go to: CarmeliteMonks.org & NewMountCarmelFoundation.org
Credit: Deacon Keith Fournier at Catholic Online & to the blog, Da Mihi Animas.


Jane Austen’s Birthday – What Would Our Lives Have Been Without Jane Austen? via Maria Grazia

16 December 2013

16 December 2013 Anno Domini
Posted by Maria Grazia at her blog,
My Jane Austen Book Club

austencompl1

Dear Friends,

Jane Austen’s birthday is coming soon, in two weeks, and, as we did in the past few years, we would like to celebrate the occasion here at My Jane Austen Book Club. Let’s share our love and esteem for our beloved author! You are all invited. Don’t forget it, write it down in your agenda and, on 16 December, drop in from time to time: I’ll be posting all day long.
You readers will have the occasion to meet again old Janeite friends and, maybe, make new ones. Moreover, there will be prizes to win in a great giveaway. Does it sound fun enough?

I’ve asked many friends to share their love answering the question: “What would my life have been without Jane Austen”?
I’ll be the first to answer in a short post which will open the event at 0.01 a.m. GMT on Monday night, 16 December 2013.
Lots of other contributions will ensue for 24 hours, along with a great giveaway contest that will end on 23 December and will be open internationally. Will you join us? Will you answer the question yourself?

Please go to Maria’s blog for the rest of the post and to join the fun by clicking HERE!


The “Austen Hermeneutic”: Old Mass vis a vis New Mass

16 December 2012

Originally posted by FatherZ in February 2010 and we posted it at ACBlog in October. We are reprinting the post today in honor of Miss Austen’s 237th birthday…

Sometimes I think that I’m not normal.

If I had three things in the world I could keep with me in Heaven, it would be @CatholicTeen & her brothers, New Jersey pizza with WISCONSIN cheese and the complete Jane Austen under one cover (yes it DOES exist).

I know you are saying, “What is it with these Jane Austen people?” We aren’t really normal, we talk about Austen ,Darcy & all this other stuff no one else understands except other fanatical Austenites like ourselves. The reason is that Jane keeps us sane…(LOL!) How does she do this?

First, she has written six of the greatest novels in the English language. Second, these novels are not romance novels (although romance is part of it) but stories about real people and the interaction between them. Austen really is more of a social/behavioral scientist when it comes to her writing. No one knows this more than men when they feel obliged by their wives or girlfriends to actually read one of her novels. Surprised by how much they like her style & her characters, men tend to be as fanatical about Jane as women once they “get” her.
Third, Jane keeps civil society something for us to always pine for even if we know it will never be like Regency England again.
Finally, Jane gives us hope that men and women, mothers & fathers, sons & daughters, et al will live together, love each other and be happy in the end.

Now, given all of this, what is the Austen Hermeneutic? Well, it is a piece written some months ago comparing the Ordinary form of the Mass & the Extraordinary form of the Mass(Latin Mass) to characters from Pride & Prejudice, Austen’s most famous novel. The day I found this at FatherZ’s blog, I realized just how not normal I was. I absolutely could not think of anything written on a blog that made more interested or more happy. I realized at this point, that it is All Jane Austen, all the time…the world according to Jane…now even my adored Latin Mass was being compared to Austen characters. You just can’t make this up!!!

I wanted to put it on the blog when I first started it in March, but knew the time wasn’t right. I wanted to put it out there when I felt that others would really appreciate this.

So, I wrote a piece a week or so ago about the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming, a woman who helped them and referenced Austen. I received a tweet from a friend who said, ” nerdwriter: @alwayscatholic Jane Austen AND Carmelite Monks in a single post? Someone pinch me. “

I laughed so joyfully as I realized it’s time for the Austen Latin Mass piece. So this is for my friend, @nerdwriter and all the other not normal people in the world who love Jane Austen and keep her memory alive.. Enjoy this Latin Mass/Austen post and remember SOMEBODY PLEASE PINCH ME!!

Posted originally on 28 February 2010 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, at his blog, What does the Prayer Say?

There is a fun post over at St. Louis Catholic:

If today’s faithful Catholic is represented by Elizabeth Bennet, bright, hopeful and coming of age, then the liturgical forms would have to be represented by Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham.

Lizzie & Wickham

Mr. Wickham is immediately accessible, loves to talk–especially about how bad ol’ Darcy is– has some initial minor flash but soon proves to be tedious and unreliable.

Lizzie & Darcy

Mr. Darcy at first glance looks stuffy and Mr. Darcy condescending, but proves over time to be noble, true, of high quality and charitable.

The ordinary and the extraordinary.

____________________________

Yes, I actually thought this, and then typed it, and therefore I am a loser. [No… people who can’t refer to Austen are the losers.]

P.S. Mrs. Bennet would represent Marek Bozek. Just sayin’. [LOL]


Excellent!Thanks @FatherZ, we love ya and I bet Jane loves ya too!


JANE AUSTEN SOIREE – A CELEBRATION OF JANE AUSTEN’S BIRTHDAY – GIVEAWAY HOP

16 December 2012

Sunday, 16 December 2012
by Maria Grazia at her blog, “The Jane Austen Book Club”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANE!

Thanks to all the Janeites who will drop by and decide to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday with us. It is a very special day, one in which I feel we must express our gratitude to our beloved best favourite author and spread the love for her and her work.
This event, The Jane Austen Soirée is a simple hop, linking a few blogs, the ones you find listed below, in the effort to celebrate Jane’s talent and wit.
The Austenite bloggers involved are posting their favourite page from their favourite Austen novel and readers will have the chance to win some gorgeous Austen gifts in several giveaway contests.
After taking your chances in the rafflecopter form at the end of this post, check out all the blogs taking part in the event. Good luck and Happy Jane Austen Soirée, everyone!

For the complete post and a chance to enter the Giveaway Hop for some stunning Austen gifts, please click HERE!

Sofia’s favorite page from her favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion…

“She had only time, however, to move closer to the table where he had been writing, when footsteps were heard returning; the door opened, it was himself. He begged their pardon, but he had forgotten his gloves, and instantly crossing the room to the writing table, he drew out a letter from under the scattered paper, placed it before Anne with eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her for a time, and hastily collecting his gloves, was again out of the room, almost before Mrs Musgrove was aware of his being in it: the work of an instant!

The revolution which one instant had made in Anne, was almost beyond expression. The letter, with a direction hardly legible, to “Miss A. E.–,” was evidently the one which he had been folding so hastily. While supposed to be writing only to Captain Benwick, he had been also addressing her! On the contents of that letter depended all which this world could do for her. Anything was possible, anything might be defied rather than suspense. Mrs Musgrove had little arrangements of her own at her own table; to their protection she must trust, and sinking into the chair which he had occupied, succeeding to the very spot where he had leaned and written, her eyes devoured the following words:

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”

Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from. Half an hour’s solitude and reflection might have tranquillized her; but the ten minutes only which now passed before she was interrupted, with all the restraints of her situation, could do nothing towards tranquillity. Every moment rather brought fresh agitation. It was overpowering happiness. And before she was beyond the first stage of full sensation, Charles, Mary, and Henrietta all came in.

The absolute necessity of seeming like herself produced then an immediate struggle; but after a while she could do no more. She began not to understand a word they said, and was obliged to plead indisposition and excuse herself. They could then see that she looked very ill, were shocked and concerned, and would not stir without her for the world. This was dreadful. Would they only have gone away, and left her in the quiet possession of that room it would have been her cure; but to have them all standing or waiting around her was distracting, and in desperation, she said she would go home.”


Sofia’s on Cloud Nine: New Oxford Review posts about Jane Austen!

13 January 2012

Time & Certainty: Jane Austen & René Descartes Have Tea

By Joseph T. Stuart
Guest columnist New Oxford Review – December 2011


Joseph T. Stuart holds a joint appointment in History and Catholic Studies at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. His articles have appeared in St. Austin Review, British Scholar, Chesterton Review, University Bookman, and Surveying and Land Information Science. He writes regularly for Timeless Pearls, a Catholic writing syndicate found online at www.timelesspearls.com.

Despite the century and a half separating their lives, the English writer Jane Austen would have undoubtedly offered tea to the French philosopher René Descartes had they chanced to meet. And so it happened that once upon a time, near Christmas, she looked out her front window upon the streets of Bath. Through the gently falling, large snowflakes, she saw her friend Mrs. Tatham passing by with a small company. She called for them all to come in and warm themselves. Gathered around a lively fire, the company included several ladies, an aged vicar, and Mr. Descartes, who was introduced with much formality to Miss Austen.

Mr. Descartes sat silent and aloof as the ladies bantered and sipped from their Wedgwood teacups, an intense look about his eyes. At last, Mrs. Tatham playfully ventured a question to him. “Sir,” she said, “I know that you are a great mathematician and have something to say on arriving at certainty in any field of knowledge.” The chatter died away, and all eyes turned to the philosopher. “Well,” Mrs. Tatham continued, “Miss Elie, here, is trying to decide whether or not to marry the young gentleman in the large house at the end of this street. Can you help her?” Mr. Descartes did not catch the mischievousness in Mrs. Tatham’s eyes, but Miss Austen acknowledged it with a wink at her friend.

Without even glancing at poor Miss Elie, the philosopher began telling the story of his great discovery as a young man. Plagued by skepticism, he craved intellectual security. One day he realized that thought could be independent of things. This meant that the absolute certainty of mathematics could be achieved in all other areas of life. He needed no recourse to others or to the past. He needed only to consult his reason alone. He would doubt everything and allow into his mind only those ideas that were clear and distinct, beginning with his own existence. He could build up a structure of certain knowledge within his mind and then transfer that certainty to reality outside.

After this lengthy speech, a servant refilled the aged vicar’s teacup; Mrs. Tatham yawned; Miss Austen continued to direct her steady, level gaze at the philosopher, pondering; and the others wondered how this method could help Miss Elie, even while offering obsequious praises of the obvious brilliance of Mr. Descartes.

“Sir, you are wrong.” The company instantly fell silent. The fire crackled, and teacups remained suspended midway to mouths. The philosopher’s facial muscles tightened as he turned to face Miss Austen. “Whoever studies the noble science of mathematics,” she said coolly, “admires the subtlety and clearness of its proofs. His confidence in philosophy increases, and he thinks that all departments of knowledge are capable of the same clearness and solidity of proof as mathematics. He even expects such certainty in religion or in human relationships — but certainty in these areas cannot be arrived at in the same way.”

Mrs. Tatham looked in wonderment at her friend and then broke the awkward silence by saying, “Jane, do please enlighten us as to your meaning. How else can one arrive at certainty than by this logical, scientific method of Mr. Descartes?” Mrs. Tatham smiled knowingly at Miss Austen, “Can you help Miss Elie?” Miss Austen stood and took down a manuscript from the mantelpiece.

“I have been working on revisions to a novel,” she said, “about a man, Mr. Darcy, and a woman, Elizabeth Bennet, and their pride and prejudices against each other. The story is about how, with the passage of time, their pride is gradually humbled and their prejudices removed.” She turned to a particular page. “Yes, here is where Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, at first unbelieving that Elizabeth’s hostile sentiments toward Mr. Darcy could have changed, asks her, ‘My dear, dear Lizzy, I would, I do congratulate you; but are you certain? Forgive the question — are you quite certain that you can be happy with him?… Do you really love him quite well enough? Oh, Lizzy, do anything rather than marry without affection. Are you quite sure that you feel what you ought to do?’ Elizabeth assured her that she did. Jane, not satisfied, asked, ‘Will you tell me how long you have loved him?’ Elizabeth: ‘It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began; but I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.’ Elizabeth next had to satisfy her father, who did not believe she loved him either. By repeated assurances, and by explaining the gradual change her estimation of him had undergone, relating her absolute certainty that his affection was not the work of a day but had stood the test of many months’ suspense, and enumerating with energy all his good qualities, she did conquer her father’s incredulity.”

Miss Austen halted, put down the manuscript, and sipped her tea. Everyone was silent. She continued, “As someone once said, ‘Truth is the daughter of time.’ The histories of our circumstances, the passing of external events, the surprises of unexpected revelations from people around us and before us — I am afraid that it is precisely those elements, which Mr. Descartes denies, that are so important for apprehension of truth in questions of the heart. The passage of time is necessary for certainty in love. This passage is a growth, a process of persuasion, based on many factors, such as memories, testimonies, sufferings, the looks and small actions of one to the other. It is the continuous convergence of impressions and feelings in favor of a conclusion. Each encounter between Darcy and Elizabeth was a new step toward assurance, toward a greater depth of understanding, which led, in time, to an immense certainty.”

The aged vicar now stood up to speak. “I have been listening to Mr. Descartes and to Miss Austen,” he said in a quiet manner that commanded the respect of the company. “And I want to observe that we will soon celebrate the entrance of Jesus, our Lord, into time itself. His mother, Mary, ‘kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.’ She possessed the capacity to live well even in the midst of ambiguity and uncertainty by continually pondering in her heart. Gradually, amidst the passing of time, she trusted and her thought matured. She did not concern herself with anything but what her Father asked of her, not even with ‘certainty,’ knowing the ‘how’ and the ‘when.’ She pondered in her heart those testimonies and memories and impressions she received into herself from reality outside. These converged with her reason in favor of certain conclusions. Herein lies the method, it seems to me, recommended by Miss Austen to Miss Elie.” He smiled charitably at Miss Elie who, now standing, smiled and curtsied to the vicar.

Everyone applauded the vicar, relieved that tea time had ended cordially. The ladies stood to put on their wraps, all the while chattering about the lovely snow and upcoming weddings and Christmas services. Miss Austen saw the party to the door, exchanging pleasant farewells. She paused as the philosopher stood upon the stairs and turned to her. “Not all truths, sir, can be arrived at by immediate and absolute certainty. The characters in my novels live within time, and their certainty and maturity come to them in the course of time if their reason and their heart cooperate.” She looked at him sternly and concluded, “Perhaps, sir, you should read more novels.”

Mr. Descartes silently bowed to her and took his leave.

 

Editor’s Note: Never enough Austen!


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