Friday, July 10, 2015

Darcy's Income

Fitzwilliam Darcy's wealth is a topic of interest throughout Pride and Prejudice. It is originally reported at his first Meryton Assembly that Darcy has an income of £10,000 a year. Ten thousand pounds would have been a very impressive annual income at that time, in The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, David Shapard writes that this income "places him among the one or two hundred wealthiest men in England then."1 Shapard then speculates that Darcy's wealth may be three times or more that of Bingley's due to the other possessions that Darcy has inherited.2

Beyond that, there is another possible hint to the size of Darcy's fortune, in Chapter 16 when Wickham is describing his many misfortunes to Elizabeth at the Phillips' party he refers to Darcy's income as "[a] clear ten thousand per annum." As Wickham is the son of a former Pemberley steward, it is possible that this could be a hint that Darcy's total annual income is actually greater than £10,000. Assuming that Wickham is telling the truth and not exaggerating, I think that could mean Darcy's annual income could be £10,000 after taxes and the estate expenses that come from estate business (e.g. costs relating to farm buying and maintaining farm equipment and paying farm workers). What that means for the actual amount of Darcy's gross income is hard to tell. We don't have enough information. Taxes were considerably less than they are now in early 19th century England. The Complete Servant, a guide originally published in 1825, suggests that 12.5% of a large income should be budgeted for "Rent, Taxes, and Repairs of House and Furniture."3 If we assume that this amount should not be included in Darcy's "clear" £10,000, it would add approximately £1,250 to his purchasing ability.

It is also quite plausible, using The Complete Servant as a guide, to infer that as a single man the prudent and responsible Darcy could be saving a large amount of money every year. In the dedication, The Complete Servant states that "a respectable Country Gentleman, with a young family" had yearly expenses of £7,000 event though his net income was between £16,000 and £18,000 per year.4 This money could have provided some of Darcy's ability to pay off Wickham as quickly as he did. These numbers could also be helpful after Darcy's marriage considering that Elizabeth has little to no dowry, making it important for Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy to consider the question of providing for their daughters and younger sons, something that I think (or hope) they would be better at than Elizabeth's own parents.

1. Jane Austen, David M. Shapard, ed., The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. (New York; Anchor Books, 2007), 17.
2. Jane Austen, David M. Shapard, ed., The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. (New York; Anchor Books, 2007), 144.
3. Samuel Adams and Sarah Adams, Ann Haly, ed., The Complete Servant. (Sussex; Southover Press, [1825] 1989), 15.
4. Samuel Adams and Sarah Adams, Ann Haly, ed., The Complete Servant. (Sussex; Southover Press, [1825] 1989), 17.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Post link: Org Chart Confusion and the American Revolution

I sadly abandoned this blog some time ago but have recently made the decision to see if I can bring it back.

To start with I am going to share a blog post that I wrote for my law firm's blog:

This post was written for the Fourth of July and takes a look at how the lack of a clear government hierarchy in the British Empire contributed to the American Revolution. Please let me know what you think!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another look at Caroline Bingley's pursuit of Mr. Darcy

It is safe to say that Caroline Bingley is one of the most hated of Austen's characters.  While she certainly has other, more serious, faults, much of the hatred seems to come from general disapproval of her continued pursuit of Mr. Darcy, probably because many of us feel a kinship to Elizabeth Bennet.  This post looks at why Miss Bingley's pursuit makes sense.

At the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley is presented as the fashionable unmarried sister of the wealthy and eligible Charles Bingley who will be acting her brother's housekeeper while he is at Netherfield.  On its face this sounds like a good situation, and it is except for the fact that she will lose that position the second her brother marries.  After her brother's marriage she will go from being in a position where she performs a useful function that gives her a degree of status to a position where she is a mere dependent who lives in her brother's house without any real authority over anything.

Enter Mr. Darcy, wealthy, handsome, intelligent, educated, wealthy, independent and all together an excellent example of a good Regency catch.  If anything Miss Bingley's interest in him is a sign that she has good taste in at least one respect and rationally speaking, Miss Bingley isn't a horrible match for him.  She herself is apparently educated, even if not a great reader, she associates with people of rank, and has a respectable fortune.  She and Darcy appear to have a relationship (not in the romantic sense) based on the mutual enjoyment of snobby repartee while in Meryton.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet as parents

When it comes to parenting their five daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet aren't likely to be up for any awards. Both of them play favorites while neglecting to educate their daughters and have chosen an economic course that requires the girls to marry well or face lives of genteel poverty which their upbringings have made them entirely unprepared for.

This is something I have referenced in previous posts, (see Mr. Bennet and the Entailment Part I and Part II) but that I think is very important to consider.  I really do think that in some ways Mr. Bennet could be considered one of Pride and Prejudice's villains, primarily due to his neglect of his family.  Mrs. Bennet really didn't do her daughters many favors, but she does at least appear to be attempting to do something and if she wasn't so focused on the idea of marrying her daughters off to rich men or so intellectually limited she might have actually accomplished something.  Mr. Bennet was certainly aware of his wife's limitations and obsessions and could have at least attempted to direct her efforts towards more useful pursuits.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Babes and Babies

A search of's electronic texts, shows that the word "baby" appears seven times (Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park), "infant" appears four times in the same novels and "babe" is never used.