The Tedettes are thrilled to find a letter written by their heroine in 1815. It’s to the personal librarian of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Fancy having a personal librarian!
The prince was the Regent. That means he was the king in disguise. At the time the King himself was not being allowed to do any king-ing. And although the Prince was doing all the king-ing instead, he was not allowed to call himself King. It was all a bit of a muddle.
Known as the ‘Prince of Pleasure’, he liked good things, especially food and drink, and nice colours and grand books – just like us bears really, and, and he was very plump. Again, like us bears.
Among the Good Things he admired were Jane Austen’s novels. As a mark of his regard he invited her to inspect his London residence, Carlton House, although as it happened wasn’t there that day, due to his getting plumper somewhere else.
So, Miss Austen was shown about by Mr Clarke, the personal librarian. Mr Clarke conveyed the Royal Desire that she dedicate her next novel, Emma, to his Princely Regent-ness. Miss Austen was not keen because she did not like the Prince’s way of king-ing. But, mindful of the proprieties, she did so.
Later the Regent, through Mr Clark, also suggested she write “an historical romance, illustrative of the august house of Coburg” to come out in time for the marriage of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coberg to the Prince’s daughter, Charlotte.
Most writers of the day would have jumped at the chance to gain favour. But Jane Austen sent this devastatingly polite reply.
To the highest man (or bear) in the Kingdom, she says, “No”.
“No, I must keep to my own style and go my own way”.
This text is from a book called Great Letters of History. And you can learn a lot about the Regent from The Prince of Pleasure and His Regency, by JB Priestly – who himself was a sort of bear too.
Bafflingly, bears, if you search on the Inter-Webs for the words ‘Prince of Pleasure’ you will find lots of books where the gentlemen seem to have … errrr … mislaid their shirts. And sometimes the gentlemen, who are not plump at all, seem to be mislaying other clothes all over the place. Just so you know.
You are in the web den of Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps) and Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In .
“Just pure magic. A bear’s love is never far away and can be shared and passed on through generations.” Susan Hampson, of Books From Dawn To Dusk.