On Message Boards

Well ridiculous Christian Chapel drew me in, so now that’s another message board I am addicted to.

Pemberley will always be my first and most wonderful message board home. Especially with such incidences as one which has been going on over the last week when “Peter” came into our midst. He appeared on the Persuasion board with a thread titled: “Is there a plot to this book?”

Unlike Flynn’s earlier Pemberley hijacking attempt, Peter kept his language calm and friendly, but we all saw past his supposed good will as he tried to trash our most favourite book. And then he received replies from at least 16 different ladies (not including myself, I had nothing witty to say) who coldly and politely put him in his place. This was all punctuated with some guy called David William who kept posting things like “Peter is mauled.”

Then Peter got lost as all the women started finding metaphors about the book (“I love your description of Persuasion being like a flower blooming!”), and interpreting the novel as a story about secret agents.

I love message board communities. They are beautiful, like a flower blooming.

Captain Harville, who had in truth been hearing none of it, now left his seat, and moved to a window, and Anne seeming to watch him, though it was from thorough absence of mind, became gradually sensible that he was inviting her to join him where he stood. He looked at her with a smile, and a little motion of the head, which expressed, “Come to me, I have something to say”; and the unaffected, easy kindness of manner which denoted the feelings of an older acquaintance than he really was, strongly enforced the invitation. She roused herself and went to him. The window at which he stood was at the other end of the room from where the two ladies were sitting, and though nearer to Captain Wentworth’s table, not very near. As she joined him, Captain Harville’s countenance reassumed the serious, thoughtful expression which seemed its natural character.

“Look here,” said he, unfolding a parcel in his hand, and displaying a small miniature painting; “do you know who that is?”

“Certainly: Captain Benwick.”

“Yes, and you may guess who it is for. But” (in a deep tone) “it was not done for her. Miss Elliot, do you remember our walking together at Lyme, and grieving for him? I little thought then — but no matter. This was drawn at the Cape. He met with a clever young German artist at the Cape, and in compliance with a promise to my poor sister, sat to him, and was bringing it home for her; And I have now the charge of getting it properly set for another! It was a commission to me! But who else was there to employ? I hope I can allow for him. I am not sorry, indeed, to make it over to another. He undertakes it” (looking towards Captain Wentworth); “he is writing about it now.” And with a quivering lip he wound up the whole by adding, “Poor Fanny! she would not have forgotten him so soon!”

“No,” replied Anne, in a low, feeling voice, “that, I can easily believe.”

“It was not in her nature. She doated on him.”

“It would not be the nature of any woman who truly loved.”

Captain Harville smiled, as much as to say, “Do you claim that for your sex?” and she answered the question, smiling also, “Yes. We certainly do not forget you so soon as you forget us. It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You are forced on exertion. You have always a profession, pursuits, business of some sort or other, to take you back into the world immediately, and continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions.”

“Granting your assertion that the world does all this so soon for men (which, however, I do not think I shall grant), it does not apply to Benwick. He has not been forced upon any exertion. The peace turned him on shore at the very moment, and he has been living with us, in our little family circle, ever since.”

“True,” said Anne, “very true; I did not recollect; but what shall we say now, Captain Harville? If the change be not from outward circumstances, it must be from within; it must be nature, man’s nature, which has done the business for Captain Benwick.”

“No, no, it is not man’s nature. I will not allow it to be more man’s nature than woman’s to be inconstant and forget those they do love, or have loved. I believe the reverse. I believe in a true analogy between our bodily frames and our mental; and that as our bodies are the strongest, so are our feelings; capable of bearing most rough usage, and riding out the heaviest weather.”

“Your feelings may be the strongest,” replied Anne, “but the same spirit of analogy will authorise me to assert that ours are the most tender. Man is more robust than woman, but he is not longer lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature of their attachments. Nay, it would be too hard upon you, if it were otherwise. You have difficulties, and privations, and dangers enough to struggle with. You are always labouring and toiling, exposed to every risk and hardship. Your home, country, friends, all quitted. Neither time, nor health, nor life, to be called your own. It would be too hard, indeed” (with a faltering voice), “if woman’s feelings were to be added to all this.”

“We shall never agree upon this question,” Captain Harville was beginning to say, when a slight noise called their attention to Captain Wentworth’s hitherto perfectly quiet division of the room. It was nothing more than that his pen had fallen down; but Anne was startled at finding him nearer than she had supposed, and half inclined to suspect that the pen had only fallen because he had been occupied by them, striving to catch sounds, which yet she did not think he could have caught.

“Have you finished your letter?” said Captain Harville.

“Not quite, a few lines more. I shall have done in five minutes.”

“There is no hurry on my side. I am only ready whenever you are. I am in very good anchorage here” (smiling at Anne), “well supplied, and want for nothing. No hurry for a signal at all. Well, Miss Elliot” (lowering his voice), “as I was saying, we shall never agree, I suppose, upon this point. No man and woman would, probably. But let me observe that all histories are against you — all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps, you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

“But how shall we prove anything?”

“We never shall. We never can expect to prove anything upon such a point. It is a difference of opinion which does not admit of proof. We each begin, probably, with a little bias towards our own sex; and upon that bias build every circumstance in favour of it which has occurred within our own circle; many of which circumstances (perhaps those very cases which strike us the most) may be precisely such as cannot be brought forward without betraying a confidence, or, in some respect, saying what should not be said.”

“Ah!” cried Captain Harville, in a tone of strong feeling, “if I could but make you comprehend what a man suffers when he takes a last look at his wife and children, and watches the boat that he has sent them off in, as long as it is in sight, and then turns away and says, ‘God knows whether we ever meet again!’ And then, if I could convey to you the glow of his soul when he does see them again; when, coming back after a twelvemonth’s absence, perhaps, and obliged to put into another port, he calculates how soon it be possible to get them there, pretending to deceive himself, and saying, ‘They cannot be here till such a day,’ but all the while hoping for them twelve hours sooner, and seeing them arrive at last, as if Heaven had given them wings, by many hours sooner still! If I could explain to you all this, and all that a man can bear and do, and glories to do, for the sake of these treasures of his existence! I speak, you know, only of such men as have hearts!” pressing his own with emotion.

“Oh!” cried Anne eagerly, “I hope I do justice to all that is felt by you, and by those who resemble you. God forbid that I should undervalue the warm and faithful feelings of any of my fellow-creatures! I should deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known only by woman. No, I believe you capable of everything great and good in your married lives. I believe you equal to every important exertion, and to every domestic forbearance, so long as — if I may be allowed the expression, so long as you have an object. I mean while the woman you love lives, and lives for you. All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one: you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone!”

She could not immediately have uttered another sentence: her heart was too full, her breath too much oppressed.

“You are a good soul,” cried Captain Harville, putting his hand on her arm, quite affectionately. “There is no quarrelling with you. And when I think of Benwick, my tongue is tied.”

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14 thoughts on “On Message Boards

  1. Anonymous

    Mine was hardly a coup d’etat…

    I just said that it would have been more exciting if Mr Knightley carried dueling pistols and went around challenging people.

    Reply
    1. Alison Post author

      No you didn’t.
      You said:
      “What Mr Knightley needed was a rocket launcher.”
      And then went into how it would have been much better if he’s blown up Emma instead of marry her.
      And then I got in trouble 😡

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Aww c’mon. You know it’s true.

        Austen needed to experiment with Genre a bit more. I can see Mr Knightley played by Harrison Ford protecting Harriet Smith (who is actually the president) from Gypsies (generic arab terrorists – a threat to peace and liberty).

        Then, Knightley has a steamy love affair with Emma (Angelina Jolie) but then kills her, leaving it up to Harriet (Woody Harrelson in drag) to untangle the long trail of lies, corruption and deceit before it is too late.

        Meanwhile, Mr Woodhouse has to defuse the dirty bomb the gypsies planted somewhere in Highbury. Before it is too late.

    1. Alison Post author

      “Ah!” cried Spally, in a tone of strong feeling, “if I could but make you comprehend what a woman suffers when she takes a last look at the last words on the page, and closing the book, then turns away and says, ‘God knows whether I ever read it again!’ And then, if I could convey to you the glow of her soul when she does read it again; when, coming back after a twelvemonth’s absence, perhaps, and obliged to be put on a the library’s waiting list, she calculates how soon it be possible to get it home, pretending to deceive herself, and saying, ‘It cannot be ready till such a day,’ but all the while hoping for it twelve hours sooner, and seeing it on the shelf at last, as if Heaven had given it wings, by many hours sooner still! If I could explain to you all this, and all that a woman can bear and do, and glories to do, for the sake of these treasures of her existence! I speak, you know, only of such women as have hearts!” pressing her own with emotion.

      Reply

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