“But, perhaps, I keep no journal.”

June 1, 2009

but perhaps I keep no.jpg
As big an Austen fan as I am, I have to admit I never really had any interest in Northanger Abbey. In fact I never bothered to read it at all. But watching the truly delightful recent PBS adaptation with my sister last week finally piqued my interest to the point that I got my hands on it. I was almost immediately laughing out loud. Here’s a sample of the dialogue – a conversation between Mr. Tilney and Catherine at their first meeting:
“I see what you think of me,” said he gravely – “I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow.”
“My Journal!”
“Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday went to the Lower rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings – plain black shoes – appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed my by his nonsense.”
“Indeed I shall say no such thing.”
“Shall I tell you what you ought to say?”
“If you please.”
“I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced by Mr. King; had a great deal of conversation with him – seems a most extraordinary genius –hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say.”
“But, perhaps, I keep no journal.”
“Perhaps you are not sitting in this room, and I am not sitting by you. These are points in which a doubt is equally possible. Not keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the tenour of your life in Bath without one? How are the civilities and compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal? How are your various dressed to be remembered, and the particular state of your complexion, and curl of your hair to be described in all their diversities, without having constant recourse to a journal? – My dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies’ ways as you with to believe me; it Is this delightful habit of journalizing which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies are so generally celebrated. Every body allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is particularly female. Nature my have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal.”
“I have sometimes thought,” said Catherine, doubtingly, “whether ladies do write so much better letters than gentlemen! That is – I should not think the superiority was always on our side.”
“As far as I have ad opportunity of judging, it appears to me that the usual style of letter-writing among women is faultless, except in three particulars.”
“And what are they?”
“A general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar.”
“Upon my word! I need not have been afraid of disclaiming the compliment. You do not think to highlight of us in that way.”
“I should no more lay it down as a general rule that women write better letters than men, than that they sing better duets, or draw better landscapes. In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.”
For journal, lets put in “blog”. Although, for that matter, I do keep a journal.

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