Jane Austen and Robert Burns

Today is the birthday of Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796).  One cannot forget those Robert Burns poems we all had to recite in high school, often our first introduction to the “romantic” poets – ‘O, My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose’ or ‘Tam O’Shanter’ or ‘To a Louse: on seeing one on a Lady’s bonnet at church’ – and of course how often do we sing or hear ‘Sweet Afton’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’!

Robert Burns - from wikipedia

Robert Burns – from wikipedia

I had the fortune a number of years ago to visit Burns’s home in Alloway, Ayr, Scotland, and became sort of enamored with him – who can not? But what of Jane Austen and Burns? – she certainly read his poetry.  And we now know that in her music notebooks she had copied out the music notation of two of Burns’s songs: My Love She’s But a Lassie Yet, and My Ain Kind Dearie – and Gillian Dooley has recently noted that Austen had written out in her own hand Their Groves o’ Sweet Myrtle, [see the link below to this full article] where it shows that Austen had transcribed the words “Save Love’s willing fetters – the chains of his Jean” to “the charms of his Jane” – evidence perhaps that Austen secretly admired Burns after all…?! [see full text of this song below]

Burns Cottage, Ayr

Burns Cottage, Ayr

All we have of her written words as to how she may have felt about Burns appear in Sanditon, with the ridiculous Sir Edward Denham spewing forth the following:

But while we are on the subject of Poetry, what think you, Miss Heywood, of Burns’ Lines to his Mary? — Oh I there is Pathos to madden one! — If ever there was a Man who felt, it was Burns. — Montgomery has all the Fire of Poetry, Wordsworth has the true soul of it — Campbell in his Pleasures of Hope has touched the extreme of our Sensations — “Like Angel’s visits, few & far between.’ Can you conceive any thing more subduing, more melting, more fraught with the deep Sublime than that Line? — But Burns — I confess my sence of his Pre-eminence, Miss Heywood — If Scott has a fault, it is the want of Passion. — Tender, Elegant, Descriptive — but Tame. — The Man who cannot do justice to the attributes of Woman is my contempt. — Sometimes indeed a flash of feeling seems to irradiate him — as in the Lines we were speaking of — “Oh! Woman in our hours of Ease’. — But Burns is always on fire. — His Soul was the Altar in which lovely Woman sat enshrined, his Spirit truly breathed the immortal Incence which is her Due. –”

To which Charlotte replies, in what critics have assumed is Jane Austen’s voice:

“I have read several of Burns’ Poems with great delight”, said Charlotte, as soon as she had time to speak, “but I am not poetic enough to separate a Man’s Poetry entirely from his Character; — & poor Burns’s known Irregularities greatly interrupt my enjoyment of his Lines. — I have difficulty in depending on the Truth of his Feelings as a Lover. I have not faith in the sincerity of the affections of a Man of his Description. He felt & he wrote & he forgot.”

“Oh! no no” exclaimed Sir Edward in an extacy (sic). “He is all about ardour and Truth! – His genius and his susceptibilities might lead him into some Aberrations – But who is perfect?…. Nor can you, loveliest Miss Heywood (speaking with an air of deep sentiment) – nor can any Woman be a fair judge of what a Man may be propelled to say, write or do, by the sovereign impulses of illimitable Ardour.”

[from Sanditon, ch. VII]

So I leave you with these thoughts on Jane Austen and Robert Burns and a few links for further reading:

Robert Burns

***********************

Full text of Their Groves o’ Sweet Myrtle:

Their groves o’ sweet myrtle let Foreign Lands reckon,
Where bright-beaming summers exalt the perfume;
Far dearer to me yon lone glen o’ green breckan,
Wi’ the burn stealing under the lang, yellow broom.
Far dearer to me are yon humble broom bowers
Where the blue-bell and gowan lurk, lowly, unseen;
For there, lightly tripping, among the wild flowers,
A-list’ning the linnet, aft wanders my Jean. 

Tho’ rich is the breeze in their gay, sunny valleys,
And cauld Caledonia’s blast on the wave;
Their sweet-scented woodlands that skirt the proud palace,
What are they? – the haunt of the Tyrant and Slave.
The Slave’s spicy forests, and gold-bubbling fountains,
The brave Caledonian views wi’ disdain;
He wanders as free as the winds of his mountains,
Save Love’s willing fetters – the chains of his Jean.

c2013, Jane Austen in Vermont

JASNA-Vermont’s Annual Birthday Tea! ~ December 5th

Please Note:   Regency Dress Encouraged!!

[see below for other Austen-related events]

You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s December Meeting

 ~The Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea!~ featuring 

   Dr. Elaine Bander*
‘Doubting Mr. Darcy’

&

Dr. Peter Sabor**
 ‘Austen’s Letter Writers in
Sense & Sensibility

and Pride & Prejudice

 
 

*****

 

~  Traditional English Afternoon Tea ~

Sunday, 5 December 2010, 2 – 5 p.m.
 Champlain College, Hauke Conference Center
375 Maple St Burlington VT 
 

$20. / person ~ $15. / JASNA Members ~ $5. / student 

RSVPs required!  ~ Register by 28 Nov 2010

Flyer:  Dec_2010_flyer_final
Reserve form:  Dec_Tea_Reservation_form final
For more information:
   JASNAVermont [at] gmail [dot] com 
Visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.wordpress.com

Please Join Us!

************************************ 

We are honored to welcome our Canadian neighbors and noted Austen scholars:

 
 
 

Elaine Bander

 

*Dr. Elaine Bander has recently retired from teaching English at Dawson College, Montreal

 
 
 

Peter Sabor

**Dr. Peter Sabor is the Canada Research Chair in 18th-Century Studies and Director of the Frances Burney Centre at McGill University. 

 

 

Upcoming in 2011 ~
March 27: ‘Jane Austen’s London in Fact and Fiction’ with Suzanne Boden & Deb Barnum
June 5: A Lecture & Concert on the ‘Music of Jane Austen’s World’ with Prof. William Tortolano 
at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier

*******************

Other Events of note:

December 1, 7pm ~ Newport, VT: Vermont Humanities Council First Wednesday Lecture:

Dartmouth professor emeritus James Heffernan will discuss the use of the fairy tale in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice in a talk at Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport on December 1. His talk, “In Want of a Wife: Romance and Realism in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,” is part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays lecture series and takes place at 7:00 p.m. 

In the history of literature, Jane Austen is typically considered a realist of social relations—and yet Pride and Prejudice remains perennially popular because it incorporates a potent feature of the fairy tale: it fulfills the fondest wishes of its poor and not conspicuously beautiful heroine. Heffernan will show how Austen reconstructs the fairy tale within the framework of social realism.  Heffernan is Professor of English, Emeritus and Frederick Sessions Beebe ’35 Professor in the Art of Writing at Dartmouth College. Author of numerous books and articles and lecturer for The Teaching Company, he has lectured around the world.

For more information, contact Goodrich Memorial Library at 802.334.7902, or contact the Vermont Humanities Council at 802.262.2626 or info@vermonthumanities.org, or visit www.vermonthumanities.org.

*December 12, 2010:  JASNA-Massachusetts Region :  Jane Austen Birthday Celebration!

 Enjoy light refreshments, including a birthday toast, and entertainment by the JASNA Massachusetts Players presenting Austen on Austen

Cost is $10* per person ($5* for JASNA Massachusetts members)
Please R.S.V.P. by Tuesday, December 7 by remitting your check with this form.

Wheelock College, Brookline Campus
43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA
For more information:  Visit the JASNA-MA website

*December 11, 2010 ~ JASNA-Greater New York Region: 

 “Reading Pride & Prejudice Backwards”, with Professor Mary Poovey followed by the Annual Birthday Celebration!
 See their website for more information

A Jane Austen Triple-Play in Montreal!

No, I am not talking about Baseball or Hockey [though I am very pleased to see the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals!] –  these endless sport finals have nothing to do with Jane Austen after all [but can we assume that Catherine Morland likely played some form of hockey on a pond in her village…?]

This “Triple-Play” was a lovely “An Afternoon with Jane Austen” in a Montreal micro-brewery where members of JASNA-Montreal / Quebec celebrated Jane Austen with cheese, chocolate and BEER! – all the while listening to three lectures about Jane: 

JASNA President Marsha Huff’s lovely “Viewing Austen through Vermeer’s Camera Obscura” and assisted by Helen Mayer and Peter Sabor as readers [always nice to hear Captain Wentworth’s heart-stopping letter read aloud by a gentleman with the proper accent!]; McGill Professor Peter Sabor gave his Philadelphia AGM talk on “Brotherly and Sisterly Dedications in Jane Austen’s Juvenilia”; and  Professor Elaine Bander of Dawson College spoke on “Revisiting Northanger Abbey at Chawton”.

I confess to actually having heard EACH of these talks – but much like re-reading Austen herself, a few hours of re-listening to others talk ABOUT her is a double treat not to be missed whenever possible [and interesting to see the variations in my notes from each talk!] – and connecting with other Austen fans, coupled with a few shots of beer makes for a perfect afternoon!

Huff’s Austen / Vermeer talk is a wonderful exploration into several of Vermeer’s paintings, building on what Sir Walter Scott wrote in his review of Emma where he likened Austen’s talents to the Flemish School of Painting.  Huff offer’s a visual comparison with Vermeer’s “The Concert” to the party at the Cole’s in Emma; “The Music Lesson” with Elizabeth performing at Rosings for Col. Fitzwilliam and Darcy; “Lady Reading a Letter” to the various scenes in Austen of heroines reading letters: Elinor, Fanny, Emma, Ann Elliot, and Elizabeth – these are just a few examples, and one must see and hear this talk to really see the connections.  Marsha has been touring all of North America in her term as JASNA President, and if you get a chance to see this, get thee hence to it immediately [and do so even if you have already heard it – it gets better each time!]  [Note that she will be doing this talk for our JASNA-Vermont group on September 26, 2010]

[We all clamor for publication of this talk, but Ms. Huff believes there would be copyright issues with the paintings.  You can visit the very complete and indeed “essential” website Essential Vermeer to see all his works [and source of above image of  “Girl with a Pearl Earring”]

Peter Sabor teaches at the Department of English at McGill University, where he is Canada Research Chair in Eighteenth-Century Studies and Director of the Burney Centre.  He has recently edited the Cambridge University edition of Austen’s Juvenilia, and the Juvenilia Press editions of Evelyn (1999) and Frederic and Elfrida (2002).  He is currently working on a new biography of Austen.

As many of us know, Austen dedicated only one of her novels to anyone – Emma to the Prince Regent, and likely much against her will!  But her juvenilia have dedications all over the place! – and eleven of these are to her brothers and Cassandra.  Are they ironic or reflective of the fictional characters?  Professor Sabor offers an amusing and scholarly take on the mind of the young Austen and her relationships with each of her siblings. [Note that Prof. Sabor will be giving this talk to our JASNA-Vermont group at our annual Birthday Tea on December 5, 2010 – though he might be changing this as we get closer as this talk is in the just-arrived-in-your-mailbox Persuasions 31 [pp. 33-45]– so you can read all about it, though lacking Sabor’s not-to-be-missed lively delivery…]

Juvenilia Press edition

Elaine Bander is one of my favorite AGM speakers – whatever the topic of the Break-out Session, I go if she is the headliner.  [Professor Bander is Regional Coordinator of JASNA / Montreal-Quebec, and President of JASNA-Canada; she is currently on the editorial board for Persuasions] – she gave this talk this past summer at Chawton, and also in Boston in the fall – her blurb for this talk:

In “Catharine,” the last of the Juvenilia, Austen shifts from the mocking fictional conventions through burlesque to dramatizing misreadings through the character of Camilla Stanley, who is contrasted to the sensible heroine Catharine Percival.  In Northanger Abbey, the only pre-Chawton novel still essentially in its pre-Chawton form, the narrator, not the heroine, has quixotic expectations, while Catherine Morland, resolutely empirical, is [briefly] led astray not by literature but by love.

Indeed Dr. Bander gives Catherine all due credit for being a worthy heroine, eschewing those critics who find her too innocent or silly:  Catherine observes, reflects, then chooses her course throughout the book, and it is only when Henry comes into the picture that her sound judgments are disturbed – you can read this article also in the new Persuasions [pp.209-219]

After these three thought-provoking talks [and always nice to end with images of Henry Tilney!] – the McAuslan Brewing Company  in Montreal offered a tasting feast of five McAuslan beers, two beer cheeses, and dark chocolate – much Austen chat ensued as we opined on the various beers to be tasted, and this fabulous afternoon ended with a very happy crowd wandering out into the windy, rain-soaked streets!

Available through JASNA-Montreal/Quebec Region is Dr. Bander’s pamphlet written for this special event:  Jane Austen and … Beer?  [Montreal:  Hartfield Editions, 2010].   [There are also two other pamphlets by Dr. Bander:  In Defence of Fanny Price [2006] [a must-read for everyone!] and On Drinking Tea in Jane Austen’s Novels [2002]; contact me if you are interested in any of these and I will forward your request to the Montreal Region]

[Posted by Deb]

Better Late than Never

Long over due are many comments on VARIOUS Austen (or Austen-related) topics. I have been so lazy in completing my online thoughts on the Austen Symposium in Lennoxville, Quebec (March!), and when at lunch with Janeite MKay, and she asked about the play, I had the thought: Well, better late than NEVER! So thoughts on that, and the last talk will come — I promise!

A little closer in time are two JASNA meetings. Our own JASNA-Vermont chapter hosted HOPE GREENBERG in Montpelier on June 7th; and Montreal/Quebec City’s chapter hosted a ‘Donwell Abbey’ strawberry picking at Elaine Bander’s Montreal home.

Before I forget – since Donwell Abbey reminds me – David from Montpelier, who attended our meeting on the 7th (he is a JASNA member! Yeah, David!!), spoke about reading P.D. James. This brought up James’ JAS (Jane Austen Society; in Britain) lecture a decade-plus ago. I just happened to have a copy of that the year’s “Report” (as JAS’s journal is called). So in digging it out for David, I re-read it myself. She brings up some points (since she treats Emma as a detective novel) about ‘clues’ in the novel that is unique and thought-provoking. But for me the more startling ideas were thoughts fired by her comments on Mr Knightley! James painted a picture of an exceptionally strong man, one who not the namby-pamby many name him to be. Makes me want to pull the novel out again — and soon!

HopeGreenberg_orange-regencyHope’s illustrated lecture on Fashion was one of the most comprehensive I have ever had the priviledge to listen to. The amazing amount of pictures – drawn from paintings, clothing (who knew Burlington’s Fleming Museum had so much in their ‘attics’!!), period drawings, etc. – as well as the lovely gowns Hope had on display (including the one she wore!), all brought to our capacity audience, visually and virtually, the fashion in Austen’s era. Thank you, Hope.

One JASNA-Vermont couple, Jim and Carol, had this to say about the presentation: Sunday was delightful …We enjoyed the presentation, especially once the sound was turned up a bit [Hope was microphoned]. I thought the visuals were very effective and useful for someone who is not at all versed in the subtleties of Regency fashion. Indeed, I have been most impressed with the intellectual content and professionalism of all three presentation we have attended. We look forward to our next meeting!”

Thanks, Jim! Great to hear such words of encouragement.

David wrote succinctly: “Thank you for hosting such a nice event…It was the largest attendance I have yet seen at a lecture, although it was only my third.”

We do have a growing and attentive audience in the Montpelier region! ‘Thanks,’ to everyone who attended Sunday.

And David shared his opinion that to bring Austen elsewhere in the state would greatly increase our presence; he writes about having some thing in St. Johnsbury — someday.

For the Montreal JASNA meeting, I went in order to meet their guest speaker, Jan Fergus. Jan’s book on 18th century publishing in Britain utilized the 1730-40 ledger (held at the Bodleian) belonging to Robert Gosling — Mary Gosling’s great-grandfather (my diarist; see SmithandGosling.wordpress.com, my research blog). Jan decried the sloppiness of Norton’s recent Austen publications; she ‘would proof them for free’, she exclaimed, as she showed the handwritten notes in the rear cover of her copy. Her lecture was a preview of her AGM lecture – on Brothers and Sisters in Austen’s novels, of course (Jan centered Sunday’s talk on Jane and Elizabeth Bennet).

The food was plentiful – and the strawberries sweet and delicious! Elaine has a lovely home, and I’m sure everyone was grateful for the invitation to visit her perfumed garden (peonies!). The weather held off just enough to make the day quite pleasant.

Two of the Montreal members are off to England, Elaine Bander herself; and Peter Sabor gives a paper at the Chawton Conference. Someday I hope it’s me that is able to hop a plane and have people anticipate some talk I’m about to give…

Which reminds me again, and I will close with this thought, of my lunch with MKay. We got to discussing – what else! – P&P films (1980, 1995 and 2005), as well as Lost in Austen. And that brought around a discussion of Darcy and Mr Collins. Between this lunch and Jan Fergus’s talk, I am convinced more than ever that 1995 (and, by extension, the Lost in Austen series) got poor Mr Collins ‘wrong’; that Charlotte was never a martyr to her marriage (a match made in heaven? perhaps not; but NOT a match made in hell either…); and that there is more to the Darcy-Collins pairing than people are willing to admit (MY paper proposal for Chawton; not accepted, of course.)

Time’s a tickin’ and Sunday morning’s winding down; so I will get off my soap box and get back to my book – a fascinating look at Virigina Woolf’s servants: Mrs Woolf and the Servants, by Alison Light. A ‘souvenir’ from my Montreal trip…

Still haven’t heard if my registration for the AGM puts me in among the 550 members going to Philadelphia… I see the numbers, as of 6/19, now stand at 503.

And JASNA’s website announces the inclusion of Persuasions vol. 3 – published in 1981. We must applaud JASNA’s dedication (and those who put these journals online for all) in making these invaluable resources available, and for free!