I have spent most of my adult life with Jane Austen, whose birthday is today, and she has taught me a great deal about life in general. Oddly, a lot of it has nothing to do with Fitzwilliam Darcy.
1) Derive satisfaction from your wardrobe.
“Next week [I] shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend.”
2) Take enjoyment from being an aunt while you can.
“I give you joy of our new nephew, and hope if he ever comes to be hanged it will not be till we are too old to care about it.”
“I shall think with tenderness and delight on his beautiful and smiling countenance and interesting manner, until a few years have turned him into an ungovernable, ungracious fellow.
3) Beware of becoming intoxicated...
“I believe I drank too much wine last night at Hurstbourne; I know not how else to account for the shaking of my hand to-day. You will kindly make allowance therefore for any indistinctness of writing, by attributing it to this venial error.”
...but enjoy intoxication in others.
“Mrs. B. and two young women were of the same party, except when Mrs. B. thought herself obliged to leave them to run round the room after her drunken husband. His avoidance, and her pursuit, with the probable intoxication of both, was an amusing scene.”
4) Take advantage of having money.
“I sent my answer...which I wrote without much effort, for I was rich, and the rich are always respectable, whatever be their style of writing.”
5) Break bad news gently.
“I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive.”
6) Enjoy aging.
“By the bye, as I must leave off being young, I find many Douceurs in being a sort of chaperon [at dances], for I am put on the Sofa near the Fire & can drink as much wine as I like.”
7) Keep war in perspective.
“How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that one cares for none of them!”
8) Rely on the media.
“Miss Bigg...writes me word that Miss Blachford is married. but I have never seen it in the Paper. And one may be as well be single, if the Wedding is not to be in print.”
9) Temper your expectations of love.
“There are such beings in the world — perhaps one in a thousand — as the creature you and I should think perfection; where grace and spirit are united to worth, where the manners are equal to the heart and understanding; but such a person may not come in your way, or, if he does, he may not be the eldest son of a man of fortune, the near relation of your particular friend, and belonging to your own county.”
10) Know your limitations.
“I could no more write a [historical] romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter.”
Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website,www.myrettarobens.com and on Twitter @Myretta.