Friday, March 19, 2010

Finding Solace

Jane Austen received her only proposal of marriage at 27.

Considering the great writer lived to 42, she was decidedly well beyond middle age by the time her sole prospect arrived.

The engagement involved practical circumstances for Austen and Harris Bigg-Wither, a family friend who, by most accounts, was unpolished and plain (though educated at Oxford).

Austen likely entered the engagement for personal reasons benefitting her family; her fiancĂ© came from a family of means, and Austen knew this would help her provide for her less comfortable parents and siblings.

But it was not to be.

Jane Austen must have realized the arrangement was a betrayal of her heart, for she withdrew her acceptance the following day.

The novelist spent the rest of her days in solitude, spending time only with family and of course the many manuscripts covering her desk.

I sometimes think about Jane Austen - undeniably a very romantic woman, and yet no great romance to call her own. I can identify with the burden of carrying around a sensitive heart, a yearning for a great love.

An unfulfilled longing.

My only blessing is that I am sure to survive well beyond Austen's 42 years. I come from good stock; my only living grandparent is about to turn 90, and my other grandparents lived far longer than other folks their age, despite poor diet and smoking habits.

I know I'll find what my heart desires.

I just need patience.

"Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love." - JA



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2 comments:

Chrissy said...

Never knew that about Jane Austen...It must of taken a lot of courage for her to do that... I had been married for 25 yrs. until a tragedy happened... and I thought I had my second chance but had to make that decision to end it because it was becoming toxic... that was hard for me to do and something I never had to do... so maybe I was experiencing what Austen did in a somewhat similar way? For now I am at peace being single, but like you I would love to have that special relationship..

TGirsch said...

Patience, Grasshopper. When it happens, it happens. I went to a friend's wedding this past Friday, his first and only one. He just turned 39. And he married a wonderful woman.