“We have consulted physician after physician in vain, till we are quite convinced that they can do nothing for us and that we must trust to our own knowledge of our own wretched constitutions for any relief.” Diana Parker Chapter 5
A letter from Diana Parker updates her brother on their ongoing health issues. She does not believe in doctors. She may have two possible large families for his resort. Charlotte meets Lady Denham and Miss Brereton. One is shrewd, the other a heroine. Lady Denham does not want a doctor in Sanditon. Her husband poor Mr. Hollis would still be alive today without them. Charlotte meets Sir Edward Denham and his sister. He runs on about the “terrific grandeur” of the sea and poets. She thinks him downright silly. Later he tells her he was born to be a seducer and plans to woo Clara by affection or carry her off. Mr. Parker’s three siblings arrive in Sanditon and update him on their health woes. Diana has arrived to make arrangements for the Camberwell Seminary who she has procured through a chain of friends. Charlotte thinks she is activity run mad.
Chapter four opens with a letter from Diana Parker read by her brother. We begin to learn about the extent of their medical maladies. Diana is suffering from “my old grievance, spasmodic bile.” She thanks her brother for his efforts to find a doctor for Sanditon, but she is entirely done with the whole tribe and they prefer to treat themselves! This is an interesting dichotomy. Mr. Parker is trying to establish a health spa and his sister does not believe in doctors for herself or her siblings but does for others? She understands that having a doctor at Sanditon will attract visitors and help her brother’s enterprise but she wants none of it. She will not visit Sanditon because the sea air would be the death of her, so evidently she does not believe in natural remidies either. Ten days of leeches applied to her sister Susan has not cured her headaches. Her solution is to advise her to have three teeth drawn! This is shocking to Charlotte who thinks it is extreme. Mr. Parker agrees with her. Interesting that the two siblings are not in agreement on medical philosophies. This set up is a great way for Austen to develop the pros and cons of medical treatment and praying upon the sick.
Lady Denham was of middle height, stout, upright and alert in her motions, with a shrewd eye and self-satisfied air but not an unagreeable countenance; and though her manner was rather downright and abrupt, as of a person who valued herself on being free-spoken, there was a good humour and cordiality about her — a civility and readiness to be acquainted. The Narrator Ch 6
Charlotte begins to tour the neighborhood and visits the circulating library where she finds all kinds of trinkets to buy. Among the books is a volume of Camilla. “She had not Camilla’s youth, and had no intention of having her distress.” Ha! Camilla: A Picture of Youth is Fanny Burney’s widely popular 1796 novel focused the matrimonial machination of a group of cousins. Austen had mentioned Camilla in her defence of a novel in Northanger Abbey.
“And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language.” Northanger Abbey, Ch 5
I found it quite amusing that her heroine Charlotte has heard of Camilla but dismisses it because of the heroine’s challenges. What we know of Charlotte’s life so far would not put her in the line of a romantic heroine. Quite the contrary. Just to mix things up, later we do see her interest in Clara Brereton, Lady Denham’s companion, who she thinks is a “bewitching heroine in a novel.” Obviously she does read novels and thought she fit the part, but sees no apparent persecution by Lady Denham to qualify her in the Gothic vein. “On one side it seemed protecting kindness, on the other grateful and affectionate respect.”
“I make no apologies for my heroine’s vanity. If there are young ladies in the world at her time of life more dull of fancy and more careless of pleasing, I know them not and never wish to know them.” The Narrator (speaking to the reader directly) Ch 7
More introductions bring Sir Edward Denham and his sister Esther into Charlotte’s new social circle. Esther is cold and indifferent, but her brother is all charm and affability and Charlotte is impressed until he starts spouting romantic nonsense about the “terrific grandeur of the ocean” to her and erroneously quoting poetry which she quickly calls him out on. She believes that Burns’ life had certain irregularities that prevented her from trusting his writing. “He felt and he wrote and he forgot.” Sir Edward passionately defends him, but she thinks Sir Edward overly sentimental and downright silly and changes the subject to the weather. Lady Denham has her own agenda too. She reveals that even though Sir Edward is the heir of her late husband’s estate, he depends upon her for support. He must marry for money. “if we could but get a young heiress to Sanditon! But heiresses are monstrous scarce!” She is giving Charlotte fair warning that even though he is handsome, charming and titled, she should look elsewhere.
“Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive. With such personal advantages as he knew himself to possess, and such talents as he did also give himself credit for, he regarded it as his duty. He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive.” The Narrator Ch 7
Charlotte’s suspicions of Sir Edward are soon solidified when he continues to rattle on about books. “I am no indiscriminate novel reader. The mere trash of the common circulating library I hold in the highest contempt. You will never hear me advocating those puerile emanations which detail nothing but discordant principles incapable of amalgamation, or those vapid tissues of ordinary occurrences from which no useful deductions can be drawn.” He has been influenced by Samuel Richardson and his followers. His “great object in life was to be seductive” and he regards it as his duty. “He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces.” Lovelace refers to anti-hero Robert Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s 1748 novel Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady. Sir Edward openly announces to Charlotte that he has designs on Clara who is young, dependent and his rival for Lady Denham’s fortune. Clara sees his game. He is oblivious and if he can not seduce her with affection, he would carry her off, just like his hero Roger Lovelace.
“Invalids indeed. I trust there are not three people in England who have so sad a right to that appellation! But my dear Miss Heywood, we are sent into this world to be as extensively useful as possible, and where some degree of strength of mind is given, it is not a feeble body which will excuse us — or incline us to excuse ourselves. The world is pretty much divided between the weak of mind and the strong; between those who can act and those who cannot; and it is the bounden duty of the capable to let no opportunity of being useful escape them. My sister’s complaints and mine are happily not often of a nature to threaten existence immediately.” Diana Parker Ch 8
Diana Parker arrives in Sanditon totally unannounced. Like her brother Mr. Parker, she has acted on impulse and brought her two siblings with her even though they are all very ill (in their minds?). Diana has a thousand fears for her sister Susan who bore the travel tolerably well. No hysterics until they reached Sanditon! While Diana talks a blue streak about her medical news and her lengthy chain of communication to procure Mrs. Griffiths and her Camberwell Seminary group to Sanditon, Charlotte is amazed at her energy in the face of her condition. “Unaccountable officiousness! Activity run mad!” Diana explains that the world is divided between the weak of mind and the strong and those who can act and those who cannot. “It is the bounden duty of the capable to let no opportunity of being useful escape them.” We hear Diana and her brother talk about her illnesses and how debilitating they are to her, but we have no evidence of it – yet!
Vouchsafed, beau monde, venturesome, watering-place, milch asses, chamber-horse, physic, verily, beseech, indubitable, vicissitudes, aberrations, coruscations, illimitable, sagacity, forbearance, puerile, emanations, amalgamation, alembic, sublimities, incipient, aberration, amelioration, indomitable, eleemosynary, sagacity, assiduity, alacrity, belles letters.
By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 4 Giveaway
Enter a chance to win one copy of Sanditon and Other Stories, by Jane Austen (Everyman’s Library) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by midnight PDT Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winner to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.
Upcoming event posts
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up
© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose