Gone are the days of corsets, of days spent picnicking the countryside, of men in possession of a good fortune who are in want of a wife. Much has changed since Sense and Sensibility was first put to paper. Yet hearts are still very much the same.
In light of a world waning in romance, Victorian Trading Co. sought an interview with Jane Austen on her birthday, December 16th. For none quite personifies Jane Austen like the lady herself.
VTC: As it is your 241st birthday, what guidance can you dispense in regard to aging gracefully?
JA: You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance give you pleasure.
I must say, if any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.
VTC: How would you advise those who wish to lead a romantic life as you did?
JA: If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.
VTC: Is there anything to be done about a woman in love?
[Laughs] A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment. Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.
The mere habit of learning to love is the thing; and a teachableness of disposition in a young lady is a great blessing.
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VTC: What is your comment on the predicament of the lack of Mr. Darcys?
JA: 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.
Whether or not he arrives, let me leave you with this thought: Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience—or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.
VTC: How can one secure a gentleman such as he?
JA: There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.
To read more quotes see The Guardian’s Jane Austen in quotes: 30 tips for a successful life See just how successful you are by taking Buzzfeed’s quiz: Are You An Accomplished Woman? (According to Pride and Prejudice). Or perhaps you might even be inclined to peruse our Jane Austen gifts.
We’re curious. If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would it be?