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Jane Austen and the Hereditary Principle

December 16, 2016



Jane Austen doesn’t have to add up.  Politically speaking.  For two centuries, she’s been vaguely labelled a “Tory”a word that doesn’t appear anywhere in her published fiction or correspondence.  You might call her “Country Party” with some justification, although it’s become a somewhat anachronistic term by the regency period.

What else do we have?  A sense that Thomas Bertram has been neglected responsibilities close to home to cultivate his slave plantation in Antigua…?  Sympathetic comments about Catholicism in the juvenile History of England alongside a comment that perhaps we all ought to be evangelicals?  Ecumenism?  Quite possibly.

Then there’s the confession that she hates the Prince Regent.  That one gets us nowhere unfortunately, because everybody in Europe despised the Prince Regent.

There is, however, in her fiction, a fairly consistent distaste for people how rely on the pride of birth at the expense of real achievement.  In P&P, the Gardiners…

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