I have to say, on a day like today, when my head is aching, my eyes are tired and I am feeling generally fed-up, it is the sort of time when all I want to do is curl up with my favourite Georgette Heyer in a snuggly blanket with a cuppa and shut out the rest of the world.
- Having a cuppa – yes, I do actually dress like this…
Of course, when my husband is talking to me rather loudly, it could be considered rather rude for me to shut him out 🙂 Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I’ve even had the chance to curl up and escape into a book. What with a book coming out on December 1st, starting a History degree and generally living, there just doesn’t seem to be the time. That’s when I wish I was a Duchess in 1815 and I could simply be taken care of….well….as we saw in my last blog, that’s not exactly how aristocrats lived.
So, now I’ve figured out how aristocrats lived, I would love to know what a common-as-muck-lass, such as myself, would be doing back in 1815?
Let’s look at the facts: my Dad would have been a doctor, my mother at home, I would have had three brothers, a half brother and a little sister, all supported on my father’s salary. We would have lived in a humble sort of house. For the boys, well they would have had to find careers as they had no fortune to rely on. They would have had the choices of perhaps studying at College/University, that’s if father’s purse strings stretched that far. So perhaps only the oldest son could do that, would he go into politics? I guess unlikely because he wouldn’t have any connections.
- Perhaps my Dad would have been like this…?
What about the other three? Well, they could take the King’s Shilling but they would be ordinary foot soldiers without a great hope of promotion before they got killed. Our father probably couldn’t afford a commission. So, perhaps they would learn to manage farmland or an estate. They could brush with the gentry they managed land for but forget ever even seeing any of the aristocracy.
- My brothers may have idolised Beau Brummell’s style…
Now, how about me and my little sister? We would be a weight on my father’s purse if nothing else. After all, not only must he look after us and must mother teach us what she could in place of an expensive governess, but father must also provide us with a dowry. Well, perhaps father was a physician to some of the gentry families in the city of Winchester where we lived. Perhaps he would be rewarded for his good work in those families and that would help.
- We could even have bumped into Jane Austen who lived the remainder of her life in Winchester – (I did, in fact, used to play in the attic of her old house when I was a child – for real…!)
Me and my sister, once we were of maritable age, would be brought out into the small city’s Society without a hope of going to Town for a Season. We would just be waiting for a pair of eligible gents to either come to Winchester from another part of the country or hope that one of the scallwags we’d grown up with had become somewhat respectable with a fair income to support us.
Was it all doom and gloom, purse strings and dowries and careers? Well, I guess that would have been the undercurrent of the life we would have led, but then again, I could look at my current 2012 life like that, could I not? All bills, recession, work and surviving. The thing is, when you’re living life, though you may have moments or seasons like that, they tend to be followed or preceded by a time of simply living and getting on with it.
I expect my brothers would have looked forward to the chance of visiting any of their friends in London, or simply enjoying a few parties or evenings staggering around the alleys of Winchester. Me and my sister would no doubt enjoy the small Society Winchester afforded us and get involved in all the gossip and intrigue that would go on. Mother may well do the work of a house maid, only being able to afford a cook, but she would surely be aprons-off at the sound of a morning caller and it would go straight back on when she helped father nurse the poor.
True, one in my position could not hope to meet, much less mingle with a Duke, Duchess, Earl, Countess or even a mere Sir, but that could be said of me today in 2012. Life would have been incredibly different back then, obviously, and I expect, as much as I would love it, I would miss my freedom and the chance to strut around in hot-pants whilst singing in the kitchen. I just find it interesting to imagine how I would have actually lived if I had been born in 1795, I don’t think it would have been boring just because I wasn’t an aristocrat in charge of a large fortune, I think it would have been just as exciting, challenging and interesting as a mere parson’s daughter…