Editor’s Notice: A condensed and partial model of this text appeared within the Wall Road Journal, November 25, 2021.

Jane Austen’s superbly scripted and enchanting novels about love and marriage are unmatched within the canon of western literature. It is among the ironies of life that she herself by no means married. However was she ever in love? If that’s the case, was that love requited?

Rudyard Kipling thought so. In a pleasant poem about “Jane’s Marriage,” he makes the dashing however financially insecure Captain Wentworth of Persuasion stand in for the love of Jane’s life. It is a good selection, since in some respects Persuasion appears biographical. Written within the twilight of her life as she suffered from a debilitating sickness, Persuasion is about thwarted love. Austen followers will quickly have the chance to revisit the streets of Tub with the star-crossed lovers, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth, as two new movie variations of Persuasion are scheduled to be launched in 2022.

Some students contend that in 1795-96 Jane Austen fell head over heels in love with an Irishman by the identify of Tom Lefroy. Others disagree, claiming that the concept of a romance between Austen and Lefroy is nonsense, the fiction of our personal runaway imaginations. Nonetheless others say Austen was by no means in love in any respect.

Sadly, we’ve got little proof to go on; Jane’s sister Cassandra burned all of the correspondence she thought-about too private for public consumption. Cassandra appears to have missed just a few letters hinting at a romantic curiosity, nonetheless, which have been simply sufficient to gasoline the creativeness in regards to the man Austen affectionately referred to as “my Irish pal.” You probably have seen the movie Turning into Jane, with the gorgeous and feisty Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen and the incandescently charming James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy, you realize the contours of their conjectured romance.

The story, nonetheless, is primarily one based mostly on hypothesis. Right here’s what we truly know: Over the Christmas holidays of 1795-96 Jane met Tom Lefroy when he was visiting relations who lived in Hampshire, close to the Austen residence of Steventon. A cheeky flirtation quickly developed between the 2 just-turned twenty-year-olds, a lot in order that Austen claimed they broke the bonds of eighteenth-century propriety. “Think about to your self every thing most profligate and surprising in the way in which of dancing and sitting down collectively,” she wrote Cassandra. Austen thought-about the younger man “very gentlemanlike” and “handsome,” even picturing him within the function of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, dapper in his white morning coat and barely comical in heroic consciousness. Tom’s awkward antics and attentions in direction of Jane earned him the “extreme laughter” of their households and neighbors. If we’re to take Austen at her phrase, inside a comparatively quick time period the seriousness of the connection developed to the purpose that she anticipated a proposal of marriage. Not lengthy thereafter, nonetheless, Lefroy returned to London, ending the romantic vacation interlude. The commonest story is that the dearth of wealth on the a part of the girl prompted relations of Lefroy (most likely on the behest of the rich uncle who adopted him) to whisk him away from the hazard of an imprudent match.

Whether or not within the type of parlor phrase video games or esoteric writing, the strategy of “writing between the traces” has been employed since historic occasions.

Was that the tip of it? Or did the romance proceed? There may be actually hypothesis that they met once more later in London and in Tub. Be that as it could, Tom Lefroy married Mary Paul in 1799. If Jane Austen was in love with him, her coronary heart will need to have been shattered. Even so, if she liked Tom Lefroy as Anne Elliot liked Captain Wentworth, her love would endure even when all hope was misplaced.

It was in regards to the time that Austen was ending up Emma and would quickly start writing Persuasion that her well being started to deteriorate. Nonetheless, Emma is Austen’s most playful novel, filled with midsummer magic and irrepressible wit. Charades, conundrums, riddles, acrostics, anagrams, and shenanigans galore pack the pages of Emma. The title itself is a play (M plus A) on Francis Hutcheson’s principle of ethical goodness.

Whether or not within the type of parlor phrase video games or esoteric writing, the strategy of “writing between the traces” has been employed since historic occasions. In its extra severe kind, it has been used for the aim of hiding delicate info or radical concepts supposed for particularly attentive readers fairly than most of the people. Plato, Shakespeare, DaVinci, Blake, Addison, and lots of different writers utilized the method, as did Jane Austen. A few of the commonest strategies embrace burying the delicate matter as removed from the start and the tip as doable; hiding info in acrostics and anagrams; signaling by repetition, contradiction, and incongruities; putting clues and severe truths within the mouths of fools. These methods require studying with care and a little bit of suspicion, usually taking the textual content actually, no less than on the primary studying, in order to not substitute what one thinks one sees or already is aware of for what is definitely on the web page (as was Emma’s wont).

Within the ninth chapter of Emma, Austen signifies that the novel is a play on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Evening’s Dream. Highlighting the motto, “the course of real love by no means did run clean,” the heroine wryly remarks that “a Hartfield version of Shakespeare would have a protracted notice on that passage.” Amidst this dialogue a charade is left at Hartfield, allegedly dropped there by a fairy, which we’re informed is a “motto to the chapter” and “a kind of prologue to the play.”

Right here is the charade:

To Miss—


My first shows the wealth and pomp of kings,
Lords of the earth! their luxurious and ease.
One other view of man, my second brings,
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!

However ah! united, what reverse we’ve got!
Man’s boasted energy and freedom, all are flown;
Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave,
And lady, pretty lady, reigns alone.

Thy prepared wit the phrase will quickly provide,
Could its approval beam in that delicate eye!

After inspecting the charade, Harriet instantly begins attempting to resolve the riddle, providing fairly literal guesses akin to Neptune, Shark, Trident, and Mermaid. Harriet’s lack of creativeness prompts Emma to grab the paper from her and skim it out loud, commanding Harriet to “pay attention”:

For Miss ———-, learn Miss Smith.

My first shows the wealth and pomp of kings,
Lords of the earth! their luxurious and ease.

That’s courtroom.

One other view of man, my second brings;
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!

That’s ship;–plain as it may be.–Now for the cream.

However ah! united, (courtship, you realize,) what reverse we’ve got!
Man’s boasted energy and freedom, all are flown.
Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave,
And lady, pretty lady, reigns alone.

Regardless of Emma’s blithe certainty about “courtship” because the charade’s reply, there may be truly a second reply to the phrase puzzle, which serves as an alternate prologue to the play (that’s, dedication to the novel). Invited however actually commanded to dedicate Emma to the Prince Regent— an extremely pompous and profligate man whom she disliked immensely—she mischievously composed this charade with two options, the second unstated one being the “Prince of Whales.” To corroborate this second resolution, the primary four-line stanza of the charade is an anagrammed acrostic, spelling “lamb,” as in Charles Lamb. Lamb is the writer of the scathing poem “Triumph of the Whale,” about none aside from the Prince Regent, aka Prince of “Whales.” The second four-line stanza of the charade repeats the “lamb” anagrammed acrostic, verifying the accuracy of the invention.

Regardless of Harriet’s extra literal guesses, Emma is as positive of the riddle’s resolution as she is of its supposed recipient.

“To Miss ——–.” Expensive me, how intelligent!” Harriet remarks. “Might it actually be meant for me?” “It’s a certainty,” Emma replied.

“Such candy traces!…—these final two final” particularly, Harriet cried, disenchanted that she couldn’t copy the charade into her album. “Pass over the 2 final traces,” Emma suggested, “and there’s no purpose why you shouldn’t write it into your e-book.”

“Oh! However these two traces are”–

–“The very best of all,” Emma remarked, ending Harriet’s sentence. Emma continued:

Granted;–for personal enjoyment; and for personal enjoyment maintain them. They don’t seem to be in any respect the much less written you realize, since you divide them. The couplet doesn’t stop to be, nor does its which means change. However take it away, and all appropriation ceases, and a really fairly gallant charade stays, match for any assortment. Rely on it, he wouldn’t prefer to have his charade slighted, significantly better than his ardour.

In keeping with Emma, then, separating the couplet (couple?) from earlier traces doesn’t diminish the message of affection, or the love itself. What does change, nonetheless, is the “appropriation.” These final two traces are personal—too private to share with the general public; they point out to whom the charade is addressed and thus the article of the writer’s romantic intentions. The traces are additionally a part of the proclaimed prologue (i.e., dedication) to the novel. However simply as we all know that the supposed recipient of the charade is just not actually Harriet, maybe the supposed dedicatee of the novel is just not truly the Prince Regent.

In sum, for the curious and maybe suspicious reader, all of Emma’s instructions to omit the couplet and let it stay a non-public matter quantity to a definitive trace to concentrate to it. Right here it’s once more:

Thy prepared wit the phrase will quickly provide,
Could its approval beam in that delicate eye!

These prosaic traces hardly appear well worth the train of prepared wit. However what if we apply to them the methods we utilized in respect to the primary eight traces? Allow us to additionally attend to any incongruities within the notice the fairy dropped, and to repetition in regard to the command to go away out the “final two” or “two final.”

For those who study these traces for acrostics, together with easy acrostics (letter originally), telestichs (letter on the finish), and mesostichs (letter within the center), you have got the next letters:


Now, go away off the “final two,” i.e., on this case not the entire two traces however the final letter in every of those two traces, thereby omitting “y” and “e” and taking “l” and “y” because the telestichs letters. Now you have got the next letters:


Lastly, to whom is that this charade addressed? As reproduced within the textual content, with none interpretation by a personality, it’s addressed “To Miss —” This similar salutation is repeated by Harriet throughout the course of the dialog: “‘To Miss ——–.’ Expensive me, how intelligent!”

Nevertheless, when Emma reads the charade out loud to Harriet—aggravated with Harriet’s incapacity to instantly grasp “courtship” as the reply—Emma’s impatience leads to carelessness, inflicting her to misinterpret the salutation. As a substitute of “To Miss —“, she erroneously says “For Miss —”, commanding Harriet (and us) to “pay attention.”

One of many frequent strategies used within the artwork of esoteric writing is obvious error, contradiction, and incongruity. “For” is a spoken error by Emma, however deliberate on Austen’s half. It’s inconsistent with the written charade. Accordingly, allow us to add the three letters of the mistakenly spoken phrase (“for”) to the opposite letters we’ve got gathered:


Now, anagram these letters, and what do you have got?

Jane Austen died on the age of 41, carrying in her coronary heart a love so deep and enduring that it continued to burn even when the embers of hope had longed turned chilly and ashen.

Sure, certainly. Jane Austen’s Irish pal. Her love for Tom Lefroy was a secret she couldn’t, lastly, take to her grave. The invention of the message of affection Austen encoded on this novel about love that “by no means did run clean,” is gorgeous, breathtaking, and heartbreaking. There might be little doubt that Jane Austen knew love, or the identify of the person she liked. There actually ought to by no means have been uncertainty in regards to the former, for nobody might write such completely beautiful and exquisite portraits of the wedding of true minds with out herself having skilled that love, even when that have was thwarted by every thing however probably the most inscrutable of affection’s attendants: hope. Hope, even when all hope is gone.

For these readers not conversant in the intricate artwork of esoteric writing, or those that have already determined that Austen by no means liked Lefroy (nor he her), the invention of, admittedly, a fairly sophisticated triple acrostic mixed with a seemingly trivial error within the textual content might be unconvincing. Granted, it will be extra persuasive if Austen had offered affirmation that the discovering is appropriate, as she did within the case of the “lamb” anagrammed acrostic in chapter 9, repeating it in order to go away little question that it was intentional on her half, not a matter of probability.

If I’m appropriate, each the Prince and Tom Lefroy are named within the charade that constitutes a prologue to the play, indicating two dedicatees of the novel. One of many dedicatees, nonetheless, was the article of her ridicule and the opposite of her love. It appears a pity she needed to give precise front-page billing to the one she despised fairly than the one she adored.

However by no means underestimate Jane Austen. If you’re an avid reader of Austen’s works, you have got most likely seen the Emma dedicatory web page dozens of occasions. However have you ever actually checked out it rigorously? The formatting is odd, seemingly random. All of the traces are centered till you get to the final three traces, minus the signatory. These traces are usually not left justified, proper justified, or centered.

Is the formatting of those valedictory traces merely haphazard, or is there a technique within the writer’s insanity? Let me once more counsel that we apply the strategy of studying (vertically) between the traces that we employed within the chapter 9 charade. May the seemingly random association of those three traces reveal the intentional alignment of sure letters (as a lot as early nineteenth-century typesetting might obtain!)? Are you able to see these letters? Are you able to see that they spell the identify of Austen’s “Irish pal”?

Jane Austen died on the age of 41, carrying in her coronary heart a love so deep and enduring that it continued to burn even when the embers of hope had longed turned chilly and ashen. However as was her wont, fairly than dwell on distress, she selected “to recollect the great issues fairly than the dangerous.” Kipling might have discovered this lesson from Jane Austen; his poem about her ends as all of her novels do: in happiness deserved.

In Kipling’s account, upon getting into Paradise, Jane was met by three Archangels who provided any of heaven’s presents she wished to command. “Jane stated: ‘Love.’” Immediately the seraphim set forth in search, whispering “around the Nebulae” — “Who liked Jane?” “In a non-public limbo the place none had thought to look, sat a Hampshire gentleman studying of a e-book.” The e-book “was referred to as Persuasion,” and in its pages informed, the story of their love, timeless, and richer than gold.

Completely satisfied Valentine’s Day!

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