Friday, 9 September 2016
Jane Austen's Seamanship
Jane Austen was always concerned to get details right. Persuasion shows how she closely she paid attention to all she could learn from her seafaring brothers about naval matters.
As J. E. Austen-Leigh said in his Memoir of his aunt (1870), 'I believe no flaw has ever been found in her seamanship either in Mansfield Park or in Persuasion'.
In Mansfield Park, Mr. Price says: ‘The Thrush went out of harbour this morning . . . Captain Walsh certainly thinks you'll have a cruize to the westward with the Elephant. . . she [the Thrush] lays close to the Endymion, between her and the Cleopatra…’. The Elephant was the ship on which Jane's brother Francis was in command in the Baltic; the Endymion was the ship on which her brother Charles sailed in the Mediterranean; and the Cleopatra the ship which Charles sailed home from North America in 1811.