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>A Regency Scene – A Mischievous Scheme

10 Jan

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A continuation of: part 1 and part 2

The only person in the county to share her opinion was her best friend, Amelia Warren, whom she had known since childhood. Miss Warren, who was three years her senior, acted the part of her adviser in all matters of importance; it was mainly through her influence that the Hamilton family lived with economy and good taste. Amelia frequently with her brought the latest news from Paris in terms of fashion and the occasional gossip. Thanks to her great wealth and title, Miss Warren could do whatever she pleased and had taken a lover rather than a husband.

The only reason society still acknowledged her was because her promiscuity was a private affair only Audrey could confirm. The lover had to her even been introduced; Mr. Dawson, a gentleman’s second son and therefore heir to nothing except an allowance of a meagre 500 pounds per annum. This display of shocking indecorum initially repulsed Miss Hamilton. But once she saw the freedom the arrangement provided and the many pleasures her friend was privy to, she began to envy her situation rather than condemning it.

“You should take a lover, Audrey. Disinterested as you are in marriage, you should still allow yourself access to the pleasures of matrimony,” Amelia imparted as they were drinking tea in the drawing room.

Audrey’s eyes grew dilated and she shifted in her seat and fidgeted with her dress.

“That is impossible. I should fear being discovered. Besides, I have not completely despaired of men; after all, Catherine found herself an excellent husband so it can be done. We are to organise a ball next week at The Crown. Mr. Sharpe has engaged me for a dance and I am promised an introduction to the elusive Mr. Beckham.”

The man featured in their conversation with some regularity and both were anxious to make his acquaintance to find out his true nature. “Oh, I forgot to mention – my mother lately stumbled upon Mr. Beckham at her tailor; she told me he is excessively handsome and exceedingly obliging.”

Miss Hamilton could not but laugh at her theatrical language. “Which does not account for his treatment of us. I shall believe it when I experience his kindness myself; I do not trust another’s opinions. Our neighbours are too impressionable to be relied upon for any sort of valuable information.”



“And does my mother fall in that category?” Amelia teased.

“She’s certainly knowledgeable compared to mine.”

Amelia smiled. “Oh, high praise, indeed! But let us speak in earnest. Are you on the lookout for a husband?”

Even Audrey herself did not know her heart. “Only a very great man can tempt me to accept him. I have not seen a worthy suitor yet. But mama has set her sights on a visit to London so that might remedy my predicament.”

Miss Warren adored London and had long wished her friend to spend the season there; she knew Audrey to be a hopeless romantic and no romance could be found in the country at present – all eligible bachelors had gone away to Town to catch an heiress.

“I think it a very good development. You stayed away too long – such country grudges sully one’s reputation. Besides, I have a great acquaintance in Town and I shall endeavour to introduce you to every single one of them.”

Audrey sipped her tea and indulged in some quiet reflection; perhaps she had stayed away too long, indeed. “I am much obliged, Amelia. My only worry is that no one shall notice me when you stand next to me.”

Although the two friends were equal in beauty and wit, Amelia’s wealth and prospects were superior. Audrey, though respectable and rich, could offer no title or grand estate.

“Nonsense. I have made it perfectly clear I do not wish to marry. No gentleman would willingly subject himself to a rejection by making me an offer. No, I am quite resolved to promote you as the most beautiful, angelic and sweet-tempered girl in the country. You shall have all the attentions that you deserve. You may rely upon it.”

But Miss Hamilton, having endured only one proposal and one season in London, flushed at the notion of such relentless attentions to her person. She hoped that those vying for her notice would be well worth the effort. “They shall abandon me once an introduction to my mother has been made.”

Ever since returning to the country since her disastrous first season, her mother had scared away any potential suitors; her persistence was infamous, her methods questionable.

“Do not make yourself uneasy. The gentleman in Town are far too worldly to be so easily discouraged; but, perhaps I should include a warning in my promotion of fair Miss Hamilton. It might arouse their sympathy, rather than their abhorrence.”

But the idea sickened Miss Hamilton. “No, pray don’t speak of my mother. I will invent some scheme to keep her home. I might apply to the generosity of my aunt and uncle in escorting me to events. They are sociable creatures and very fond of me. They often write to beg me to come visit. I shall make my apologies to my mother and explain. To do so without injuring her shall be my only difficulty.”

“Can we not send you to Town under some pretext? Surely, your relatives have need of you. Otherwise I will take it upon myself to devise a reason. At any rate, I could accompany you so your arrival would cause the necessary alarm and curiosity.”

“Oh, yes. Mama dotes on you. She thinks you a very good influence (ahem). I am certain of her acquiescence if we were to travel together.”

Amelia’s eyes glistened with mischief. “Now all we have to do is tell her.”

At such times of emotional trial she turned to poetry: John Keats was her current favourite, after a brief time of Wordsworth. It was in poems a gleam of life with all its promise and potential revealed itself to her. “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,” she recited to herself to give her courage. Taking in a sharp breath, she entered her mother’s room and thought to herself: what would Jane do? Jane, of course, being Jane Austen.

>Movie Spotlight: Bright Star

9 Jan

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                                                                                                                              John Keats portrait
Bright Star is unlike most period films. For one, anyone familiar with John Keats his life can reveal the film will have no happy ending. If the lovers do not live happily ever after, then what is the strength of the film? It has first-class acting, beautiful poetry, colourful costumes and lovely scenery. The film starts as Keats moves next door to Fanny Brawne and is far from successful as an author. Reviews for his poem ”Endymion” are bad – humiliatingly so. But his fashionista neighbour, who makes a living designing clothes, sees his potential when she hears the first passage:

A THING of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.       

To say that their relationship soon blossoms into a passionate romance would sell the affair short for they did not immediately get on well. However, once they ceased to dispute, it allowed them to form a friendship which transitioned into a life-altering love affair. As lovers, they corresponded and never consumated their love as circumstances prevented them from getting married.

After a long night out in the cold, Keats grew weak and sickly and soon began to exhibit the symtoms of consumption. Despite her best efforts, Fanny is unable to cure him and he is sent away to Italy to test the warmer climate. Unfortunately, it is too late and Keats quickly dies, leaving Fanny heartbroken and reciting the poem he dedicated to her in between sobs:

Bright Star

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.

Excerpts from the film:  

     



Costumes in the film:

Fanny Brawne, a budding fashionista, designs all her own costumes. As such, the picture is filled to the brim with interesting costumes and experimental designs. It gives the film a unique look that sets it apart from its fellow period dramas. Below you see a few of Fanny’s lovely outfits as seen in the film. Some of them are plain outrageous, while others catch my attention due to their simplicity and elegance.







That is some collar, Fanny!

Regency Barbie?

Possibly the most beautiful image in recent film

Interviews with the Cast and Crew: