F&H and Austen

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Fri Jan 10 07:42:16 EST 2003

> In the Austen, we
> never see Emma as a child, though, so we don't know how much Knightley was
> her mentor then.

For what it's worth, we do have this confession from Mr Knightley on his
part in Emma's raising, from Chapter 53:

"Nature gave you understanding:-- Miss Taylor gave you principles. You must
have done well. My interference was quite as likely to do harm as good. It
was very natural for you to say, what right has he to lecture me?-- and I am
afraid very natural for you to feel that it was done in a disagreeable
manner. I do not believe I did you any good. The good was all to myself, by
making you an object of the tenderest affection to me. I could not think
about you so much without doating on you, faults and all; and by dint of
fancying so many errors, have been in love with you ever since you were
thirteen at least."

Even if we discount his reminiscence (immediately following) about the
'saucy looks' Emma used to give him as a child, 13 does seem rather young!
But then Mr Knightley is too much of a gentleman to act on such feelings,
isn't he? It all gets sublimated into her moral and social training. I
wonder if Tom's assiduity in guiding Polly's own education might be seen in
that light?


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