Author Topic: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club  (Read 4741 times)

snowball

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #50 on: November 07, 2020, 03:41:03 AM »
Yes...it's their only really acceptable career path, and they have a limited window of time during which they're considered eligible marital prospects.

And they're lucky!  Most women in this time period are much less privileged and much worse off.

I'm so glad I don't live back then and I have so many more choices for my life...

mspym

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #51 on: November 08, 2020, 03:54:30 AM »
I think I'm a week behind the schedule having just finished book 1 now. [shakes fist at prior obligation to another bookclub]

£400-500 a year is really genteel poverty for 4 women of their class. Rent on the cottage would have been £10-25 a year, servants probably £70-80 a year for all three. Talk of extending the cottage is in the realm of fantasy - Austen points out that it would be paid for out of the savings of someone who have never saved in her life before - but it does allow them to maintain their class.

First book seems to be setting up the themes of familial duty, enforced by financial control, and marriage as career.
- It's reckless and fool of Marianne [16!] to become openly smitten with Willoughby without him putting a ring on it. At least Lucy Steele got the legally binding engagement and her defense of her position vis a vis Elinor wasn't just This Man is Mine - it's also defense of her path out of shabby gentility and into the gentry.
- Willoughby tries to gift Marianne a horse that would have required the purchase of another horse, a groom and the construction of a stable. Nice thought buster - give the girl a gift that will bankrupt her family!
- Sir Middleton would have been 33 when he married Lady Middleton at 18 or 20. She's now 26 and the mother of 4.
- Mrs Palmer's talk of inviting the Dashwood sisters to Town was all about giving them access to more promising bachelors. Sadly, it could take their entire annual income to fund a Season - pretty risky investment for the family, unless you have connections to help you offset some of the costs.
- Marianne holds that 27 is Too Old for a woman to inspire any sort of romance and this hideous spinster's best hope is to become a nursemaid in return for security.
- I think that the original owner of Norland Park secured the estate on John Dashwood's son and only gave a life interest to Mr Dashwood as a way of escaping death duties. I'm not completely sure of the tax implications but I think if he was no longer the owner when he died, that's one set of death duties avoided, another set avoided when Mr Dashwood dies, and then a third when John Dashwood dies. Meanwhile the estate presumably grows prosperous during the long life of the toddler heir.
- Overall Barton Cottage does seem pretty Mustachian - they're drawing and playing music and walking everywhere.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #52 on: November 08, 2020, 06:33:58 AM »
I didn't realise that settlements were a way of avoiding death duties, but apparently so -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_inheritance_taxes_in_the_United_Kingdom

I always thought it was just a way of avoiding the profligate heir problem, giving the heir access to the income but preventing them from selling off the capital.  The rule against perpetuities essentially meant that you could only "settle" an estate for two generations, leaving a life interest to your immediate heir and the full estate to the next generation. It would be up to that next generation to choose whether to resettle the estate again for the next two generations.

Primogeniture meant that the estate always went to the eldest son.  If the father of a daughter only had a life interest they wouldn't have access to the capital to be able to give any of it to a daughter, so the daughter would be dependent either on the original settlor of the estate making provision for them or the father saving money out of income to create a capital sum for them.  No wonder falling down the social and economic ladder was such a big issue for women who were otherwise pretty privileged.

(The big "benefit" of primogeniture is that landed estates were more likely to stay intact and even to grow, as against being broken into ever smaller portions for each of the children.   One of the big beneficiaries of that has turned out to be the National Trust, taking over those big houses as war deaths and taxes took their toll in the twentieth century.  The National Trust has recently gone through an exercise in recording which of those houses had links to slavery.  It would be nice to see some recognition of the sexism inherent in the system that created those houses too.)

pachnik

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #53 on: November 08, 2020, 01:31:36 PM »
I watched the movie of Sense and Sensibility last night.  The one from 1995 (I think) with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet. 

The fact that the family had come down in the world was really obvious when they moved from their manor house to a rented cottage.  As well, there were a few scenes with Elinor going over the household accounts.  They couldn't afford sugar.  And beef was expensive for them too. 

ixtap

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #54 on: November 08, 2020, 04:37:39 PM »
I watched the movie of Sense and Sensibility last night.  The one from 1995 (I think) with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet. 

The fact that the family had come down in the world was really obvious when they moved from their manor house to a rented cottage.  As well, there were a few scenes with Elinor going over the household accounts.  They couldn't afford sugar.  And beef was expensive for them too.

It is clear in the book that the cottage is being let to them at less than market rate and that without the gifts of game, they would be hard pressed.

However, as I recall, they did have two servants, unlike the movie where they are going to have to learn to light the fires.

mspym

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #55 on: November 08, 2020, 04:59:05 PM »
Two maids and a manservant, so about £70-80 a year all up in wages plus board. This is why the addition of a horse and required groom would be enough to tip them over budget. That would be another £40p.a.in wages plus board plus misc horse costs, all out of a £400 annual budget. Depending on whether income tax was being charged (to pay for the war) they would have been clipped £22 in taxes or about the average annual house rental.

Zoot

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #56 on: November 09, 2020, 02:40:12 PM »
I watched the movie of Sense and Sensibility last night.  The one from 1995 (I think) with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet. 

The fact that the family had come down in the world was really obvious when they moved from their manor house to a rented cottage.  As well, there were a few scenes with Elinor going over the household accounts.  They couldn't afford sugar.  And beef was expensive for them too.

I recall listening to Emma Thompson's commentary on the DVD--she indicated that the movie had to make the Dashwoods' descent into genteel poverty look a lot worse than it actually was implied to be in the book in order for it to "carry" with a modern audience.  Austen's readership would have understood what it was to live on £400-500 a year versus what living on an estate like Norland would have been like, but not so for a modern audience.  That's not to say that it wouldn't have been quite a large difference, but that the movie had to play that up to make it "read" for modern viewers.

chaskavitch

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #57 on: November 09, 2020, 03:44:12 PM »
I watched the movie of Sense and Sensibility last night.  The one from 1995 (I think) with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet. 

The fact that the family had come down in the world was really obvious when they moved from their manor house to a rented cottage.  As well, there were a few scenes with Elinor going over the household accounts.  They couldn't afford sugar.  And beef was expensive for them too.

I recall listening to Emma Thompson's commentary on the DVD--she indicated that the movie had to make the Dashwoods' descent into genteel poverty look a lot worse than it actually was implied to be in the book in order for it to "carry" with a modern audience.  Austen's readership would have understood what it was to live on £400-500 a year versus what living on an estate like Norland would have been like, but not so for a modern audience.  That's not to say that it wouldn't have been quite a large difference, but that the movie had to play that up to make it "read" for modern viewers.

That makes a lot of sense.  Living in a house with your own bedrooms, plus maintaining and housing a maid and a manservant, still seems like a fairly "rich" lifestyle nowadays. 

mspym

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #58 on: November 09, 2020, 04:28:46 PM »
Yes but the key marker for gentility was not working for a living and with that income level they were some familial charity away from Elinor having to become a governess. Fortunately for them, there was familial obligation to not let members of your family slip into the working classes, primarily because it put your own status at risk.

diapasoun

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #59 on: November 09, 2020, 05:26:58 PM »
I am also a week behind schedule, whoops. Maybe I'll have a catch-up read with blankets on the couch tonight. :3

I like mspym's connection between marriage as career and therefore as something that is invested in -- including education and moving to where there are opportunities if the move could be afforded.

The early part about Fanny Dashwood -- oh my lord is she exactly the person I don't want to become. I grew up in a family that was holding on to middle class status with a thread, and as I've gotten a fancy job and pursued FIRE it's been very front of my mind that I don't want to be ungenerous/miserly/that rich asshole. Reading her persuade John Dashwood right out of his generous impulses is the exact thing I want to guard against!

Zoot

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #60 on: November 10, 2020, 05:50:38 AM »
Yes but the key marker for gentility was not working for a living and with that income level they were some familial charity away from Elinor having to become a governess. Fortunately for them, there was familial obligation to not let members of your family slip into the working classes, primarily because it put your own status at risk.

Yes, totally that--which makes Fanny Dashwood's basically gaslighting her husband into denying his dead father's wishes even more horrible.  I often think of Fanny as one of the worst villians in all of Austen.  ;-)

Zoot

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #61 on: November 10, 2020, 05:58:41 AM »
That makes a lot of sense.  Living in a house with your own bedrooms, plus maintaining and housing a maid and a manservant, still seems like a fairly "rich" lifestyle nowadays.

My guess is that this is something of what Thompson had in mind when writing the screenplay--that to a modern audience, the Dashwoods' having servants of any kind (and not having jobs of any kind, too!) would make them still look "rich" to a modern audience, while in the period having a servant or two wouldn't be outside the norm even for folks outside the gentry class.  In order to help modern viewers understand what was happening, they had to REALLY play up the opulence of Norland and downplay their new surroundings. 

There's a great line in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice (the one with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) where Lady Catherine says to Elizabeth, "oh, your uncle--he keeps a manservant, does he?"  Male servants were more expensive to employ, and Elizabeth's uncle was "in trade" (wealthy, but worked for a living, which put him beneath Lady Catherine's social class), and so it was a snide remark--oh, your working-class uncle has enough money to employ a male servant?  ;-)

ixtap

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #62 on: November 10, 2020, 07:54:53 AM »
That makes a lot of sense.  Living in a house with your own bedrooms, plus maintaining and housing a maid and a manservant, still seems like a fairly "rich" lifestyle nowadays.

My guess is that this is something of what Thompson had in mind when writing the screenplay--that to a modern audience, the Dashwoods' having servants of any kind (and not having jobs of any kind, too!) would make them still look "rich" to a modern audience, while in the period having a servant or two wouldn't be outside the norm even for folks outside the gentry class.  In order to help modern viewers understand what was happening, they had to REALLY play up the opulence of Norland and downplay their new surroundings. 

There's a great line in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice (the one with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) where Lady Catherine says to Elizabeth, "oh, your uncle--he keeps a manservant, does he?"  Male servants were more expensive to employ, and Elizabeth's uncle was "in trade" (wealthy, but worked for a living, which put him beneath Lady Catherine's social class), and so it was a snide remark--oh, your working-class uncle has enough money to employ a male servant?  ;-)

I know we aren't on Emma, but even the Bates had a servant. In developing countries, the idea is that you either have a servant or you are a servant. You can see a middle class developing when people have jobs with pleasant houses, but no servant to help keep it clean ...

Raenia

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #63 on: November 10, 2020, 01:42:28 PM »
I'm a bit behind schedule, but today I reached a passage that made a great imprint on me when I first read it as a teenager:

Quote
"What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?"

"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth has much to do with it."

"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."

"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. YOUR competence and MY wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfort must be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than mine. Come, what is your competence?"

"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than THAT."

Elinor laughed. "TWO thousand a year! ONE is my wealth! I guessed how it would end."

A lot of arguments about "a living wage" boil down to this.  What one views as the barest competence is an excess of wealth to another.  The essence of Mustachianism right there.

And for reference, 1000 pounds a year in 1811, when this book was published, is 81k in 2019.  Elinor's wealth would be a very good income today, though probably not what most people think of as 'wealthy,' still much more than most of us plan to spend!

diapasoun

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #64 on: November 10, 2020, 01:59:48 PM »
That's definitely one of those passages that made me think of MMM and the FIRE crew!

Treedream

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #65 on: November 13, 2020, 04:03:29 AM »
£400-500 a year is really genteel poverty for 4 women of their class. Rent on the cottage would have been £10-25 a year, servants probably £70-80 a year for all three. Talk of extending the cottage is in the realm of fantasy - Austen points out that it would be paid for out of the savings of someone who have never saved in her life before - but it does allow them to maintain their class.

I am quite shocked that you judge the rent to be so low. (I have no notion of what was usual at the time) Considering the percentage of their income that they would spend on housing would be very small compared to now. This has significantly increased over the years, whereas the price of clothing and consumbales has very much decreased over the years in comparison to income.

It clearly shows a different breakdown of usual costs at the time, but I wonder how much they spend on non-essential things. Because they would have spend about 25% percent on their servants and housing. Leaving a very significant percentage for the other things.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #66 on: November 13, 2020, 05:29:51 AM »
Food.  It's only in the last few decades in industrialised countries that food has become a small part of a household budget.  Two hundred years ago there was minimal mechanisation, no artificial fertilisers, a lot of land given over to keeping horses for work and transport.  Feeding a household was a chancy and expensive business.

Treedream

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #67 on: November 13, 2020, 10:18:39 AM »
I agree that Fanny Dashwood is mean spirited and tight. Especially considering the great difference in wealth between brothers and sisters here. However, if food was a considerable part of the budget, we cannot overlook the stay of the Dashwoods for 6 months at Norton. It was also considered strange that Mrs Dashwood would leave so soon. Now, this was much more the norm then than now. But would we house and feed our family for 6 months, when they have the means to take care of themselves?

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #68 on: November 13, 2020, 10:54:20 AM »
I agree that Fanny Dashwood is mean spirited and tight. Especially considering the great difference in wealth between brothers and sisters here. However, if food was a considerable part of the budget, we cannot overlook the stay of the Dashwoods for 6 months at Norton. It was also considered strange that Mrs Dashwood would leave so soon. Now, this was much more the norm then than now. But would we house and feed our family for 6 months, when they have the means to take care of themselves?

I hadn't thought about that. Could it be because multigenerational/ extended family households were the norm? Nuclear families living alone is a very modern development.

When the sisters were in London and Marianne was upset they tried to comfort her with olives and dried cherries. I imagine olives were extremely expensive, so the mention reinforces that the hostess is generous.
At least that's how I read it.

mspym

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #69 on: November 13, 2020, 12:20:04 PM »
@Treedream what did people spend their money on?
- clothing was very expensive in either time or money - hence the commonness of reworking existing clothing to meet the fashions of the day. It would be even more expensive when you get into class expectations - women of their class wore wool, silk, or linen, light muslins. Tight woven cotton was significantly cheaper BUT was a working class material.
-  Transportation was ridiculously expensive - a horse could cost you £50 a yeat in stabling and feed but another £40 a year for a groom plus £50 a year for the grooms horse (couldn't go out riding without a groom! Not if you wanted to maintain your status!)
- communication - all letters had to be paid for by the recipient unless you knew an MP (incl a member of Lords) who could frank your letter - mark it as govt business - and letters/letter writing was key to keeping your social network alive. Want to go to London and catch a husband?  Which of your friends from school or members of your extended family know eligible men and are willing to set up a party so you can meeting? Letters!

John and Fanny Dashwood could afford to house his stepmother and half-sisters - Norland Park would have been largely self sustaining for food other than exotic luxuries. It would have supplied all its own meat, produce, dairy and game.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2020, 03:09:03 PM by mspym »

Treedream

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #70 on: November 13, 2020, 01:37:13 PM »
Yes food and clothing was much more expensive. Hence why people who follow a strict capsule wardrobe keep quoting 34 garments including accessoires as the wardrobe size te emulate, because apparently people in regency times could do it. But they only did it due to cost.

Regarding the food production of Norland, do you think this is included in the 4,000 Pounds the estate is said to generate, or on top?

With food so expensive, it makes Sir John Middleton's gifts of both produce and game on the first day of their acquiantance very generous.


ixtap

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #71 on: November 13, 2020, 02:00:32 PM »
Yes food and clothing was much more expensive. Hence why people who follow a strict capsule wardrobe keep quoting 34 garments including accessoires as the wardrobe size te emulate, because apparently people in regency times could do it. But they only did it due to cost.

Regarding the food production of Norland, do you think this is included in the 4,000 Pounds the estate is said to generate, or on top?

With food so expensive, it makes Sir John Middleton's gifts of both produce and game on the first day of their acquiantance very generous.

Everything about Middleton and his mother in law in overtly recognized as extremely generous - from the token rent on the cottage to gifts of game and whatever else they might think they need to inviting them over for dinner regularly. And they see it as their honor to do so, although Marianne sees it as almost prostitution and considers having to regularly spend time in company of their benefactors a high price to pay.

diapasoun

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #72 on: November 13, 2020, 02:53:14 PM »
The extreme generosity of the Middletons re: food had not crossed my mind yet, thanks!

In a very different line of discussion:

I was looking up officer commissions in the British military, as I was wondering what Colonel Brandon would have earned (and therefore why John Dashwood would have been pushing Elinor at him). Interesting things I earned:

1. Officer commissions were often purchased, as opposed to a natural rise through the ranks (which I knew but didn't really appreciate how widespread it was). It's likely then that Colonel Brandon's commission was purchased. (The Navy did not do purchased commissions.)

2. Commissions were actually cash bonds, and would return to the purchaser after they gave up the commission. There was actually a big business in selling officer commissions, and one king's mistress was the center of a scandal in commission sales (!). The important bit for our discussion is that this means that commissions, in some ways, essentially functioned as pensions.

3. A lieutenant colonel's commission would have been worth anything from 4500 pounds to 9000 pounds, depending on the unit. That's $412k to $824k.

4. Holy shit no wonder people want a Dashwood to end up with Colonel Brandon. He's minimally got 4500 pounds just tied up in the commission alone, let alone anything else.


mspym

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #73 on: November 13, 2020, 03:16:29 PM »
Officer rank also factored into division of battle spoils so provided ongoing income in times of war. Which was why you'd purchase a commission for a younger son, as a way to provide a living without splitting the land. Clergy was a similar gig - you could be gifted the living of 3 or 4 parishes (3 or 4 parish's weekly collections), rotate your sermons through them and pay a curate to perform your duties in your absence.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #74 on: November 13, 2020, 03:19:10 PM »
In chapter 33 they pawned some of Mrs. Dashwood's jewellery. Clearly their much-reduced costs are still too high.
Then they run into their brother at the pawn/ jewellery maker's shop, so he would know they were in need of money.  But then he blather on about how rich the Middletons are, probably relieved that the Dashwoods have new benefactors and he is off the hook for their care.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #75 on: November 13, 2020, 04:29:08 PM »
On food again, on a good-sized estate such as Sir John's, or Norland Park, most of the land would be rented out to tenant farmers but the land immediately around the "big house" would be managed directly as a "Home Farm" to supply food to the House.  And probably the farm tenancies would have excluded rights to game so Sir John could hunt over the whole of his land including the land farmed by his tenants.  So Sir John is living significantly on produce and game from his own lands whereas by contrast the Dashwoods would have had to pay cash for all the food for a household of seven.  Sir John is not only being generous but also thoughtful (food costs would have been a big and unavoidable outlay from the Dashwood's income) and tactful (a gift in kind and one that he hasn't directly purchased is more socially acceptable than cash or purchased goods).

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #76 on: November 15, 2020, 07:59:52 AM »
In Chapter 33, John Dashwood makes a comment about the expense of "the enclosure of Norland Commons."  This seems to be a reference to the Tragedy of the Commons, which was beginning to happen around this time.  It wasn't widely recognized as significant yet, but enclosing space that used to be freely available and reserving it for the use of the landowner proved to be an important trend over the next century.  I wonder if Austen recognized the significance, or just mentioned it as a common expense that a landowner might be considering.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #77 on: November 15, 2020, 08:06:31 AM »
In Chapter 33, John Dashwood makes a comment about the expense of "the enclosure of Norland Commons."  This seems to be a reference to the Tragedy of the Commons, which was beginning to happen around this time.  It wasn't widely recognized as significant yet, but enclosing space that used to be freely available and reserving it for the use of the landowner proved to be an important trend over the next century.  I wonder if Austen recognized the significance, or just mentioned it as a common expense that a landowner might be considering.

The tragedy of the commons is a social theory, the Enclosure Acts lead to the privatization of previously collective property.

The theory was not presented until 1968 and the commons actually worked pretty well. But a good way for the crown to raise money is to sell any old thing off to the rich.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2020, 08:08:03 AM by ixtap »

pachnik

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #78 on: November 15, 2020, 08:17:24 AM »
On top of his military commission, Colonel Brandon has "two thousand a year without debt or drawback - except the little love child" according to Mrs. Jennings.  I am guessing that the 2,000 a year comes from his estate at Delaford.   As a previous poster said, no wonder the Middletons want one of the Dashwoods to end up with him!

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #79 on: November 15, 2020, 08:27:30 AM »
In Chapter 33, John Dashwood makes a comment about the expense of "the enclosure of Norland Commons."  This seems to be a reference to the Tragedy of the Commons, which was beginning to happen around this time.  It wasn't widely recognized as significant yet, but enclosing space that used to be freely available and reserving it for the use of the landowner proved to be an important trend over the next century.  I wonder if Austen recognized the significance, or just mentioned it as a common expense that a landowner might be considering.

The tragedy of the commons is a social theory, the Enclosure Acts lead to the privatization of previously collective property.

The theory was not presented until 1968 and the commons actually worked pretty well. But a good way for the crown to raise money is to sell any old thing off to the rich.

It didn't sound like the Norland Commons was something John purchased from the crown, it sounded like something that already belonged to the Norland Estate, and it was only the expense of fencing it in that John was complaining of.  Though after reading a bit more, perhaps it was rather the cost of paying the tenant farmers for the loss of rights that was the money drain.

I know that the theory was not developed until much later, but of course they couldn't be expected to see the effects before the practice became widespread.

ixtap

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #80 on: November 15, 2020, 08:44:32 AM »
The enclosure acts gave exclusive rights to lands contiguous to the estate that had been previously designated for common use. It wasn't a real estate purchase, but rather a rights purchase. Whereas previously the tenants of the estate could graze their cattle on the commons, after the enclosure, they no longer had access to pasture lands unless they were able to purchase their own.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #81 on: November 15, 2020, 09:53:33 AM »
The enclosure acts gave exclusive rights to lands contiguous to the estate that had been previously designated for common use. It wasn't a real estate purchase, but rather a rights purchase. Whereas previously the tenants of the estate could graze their cattle on the commons, after the enclosure, they no longer had access to pasture lands unless they were able to purchase their own.
Yes.  The other thing is: the system of commons in England had been in existence for hundreds of years by then.  Every commoner (a certain class of property owner in the parish, usually) would have a defined right to take a certain amount from the common, usually in the form of pasturing so many sheep, cattle, pigs or horses.  The common itself was usually the higher (or wetter, or more wooded) land that wasn't as suitable for arable production.  The rights were limited in number and amount to what the land could sustain over many hundreds of years, so it was a very environmentally sustainable system.  The problem in the late 18th and early 19th century was that advances in agriculture were just beginning (in line with the industrial revolution, I guess) and common land wasn't able to be changed to meet those advances.  So there was a big economic incentive for the landower to get rid of the commoner's rights and then "improve" the land through fencing, drainage and fertilisation.   That improvement would have been a substantial investment but one which would pay off handsomely over time.

The "tragedy of the commons" is really misnamed, because a common by definition (in English law, anyway) has defined rights which have developed over the years as being sustainable.  It's when there are no defined rights and you have a free for all, such as ocean fishing or uncontrolled pollution of air and water, that the tragedies arise.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #82 on: November 16, 2020, 05:08:59 AM »
On top of his military commission, Colonel Brandon has "two thousand a year without debt or drawback - except the little love child" according to Mrs. Jennings.  I am guessing that the 2,000 a year comes from his estate at Delaford.   As a previous poster said, no wonder the Middletons want one of the Dashwoods to end up with him!

To put this in a little context:  in Pride and Prejudice, the income of the Longbourn estate (the home of the Bennet family) was £2,000 a year, which had to stretch to support a genteel family of seven.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #83 on: November 16, 2020, 01:59:45 PM »
Chapter 33 really is the display of how awful John Dashwood is, even without his wife urging him on.

- This sentence about the Middletons "But so it ought to be; they are people of large fortune, they are related to you, and every civility and accommodation that can serve to make your situation pleasant might be reasonably expected." contrasts the good behaviour of the Middletons with his own poor behaviour. After all, he is a man of large fortune, he is more closely related, his obligation of civility and accommodation is much stronger than the Middletons and yet, he is not the one doing the right thing.

- He eyes up everyone else's money - Mrs Jennings, the Middletons, Colonel Brandon - as a way of discharging his obligations to his sisters. "His manners to [the Middletons], though calm, were perfectly kind; to Mrs. Jennings, most attentively civil; and on Colonel Brandon's coming in soon after himself, he eyed him with a curiosity which seemed to say, that he only wanted to know him to be rich, to be equally civil to him."

- His income complaints sound like the old rich person can't live on $350k a year articles [remember those?] where it turns out they have no money left over (once they have spent it all). He had to buy replacement china! He needs to landscape the estate! The neighbour's property was too good to pass up and he came very close to not being able to manage the purchase price out of his income!

- Since they are in the pattern of being nice to Mrs Ferrars in the expectation of material gain, the same thing must be at play for Elinor and Mrs Jennings - "Her inviting you to town is certainly a vast thing in your favour; and indeed, it speaks altogether so great a regard for you, that in all probability when she dies you will not be forgotten.ó She must have a great deal to leave." Again, so ready to spend other people's money and imagine they have an obligation to ensure his sisters' comfort while repudiating his own greater obligation.

John Dashwood - too cheap to even buy his sisters a pair of earrings.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #84 on: November 18, 2020, 10:52:52 AM »
My edition doesn't note books, so forgive me if I'm reading ahead, but I couldnít resist this exchange in chapter 17:

"Strange that it would!" cried Marianne. "What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?"
"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth has much to do with it."
"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. YOUR competence and MY wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfort must be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than mine. Come, what is your competence?"
"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than THAT."
Elinor laughed. "TWO thousand a year! ONE is my wealth! I guessed how it would end."

Austen forces the reader at first to consider Elinor to be the gold digging sister while Marianne is noble in her dismissal of money, then turns the tables on us showing Elinor to be the true Mustachian while Marianne is the profligate sister.

Rereading Sense & Sensibility with an eye on the finances is a delicious insight to Jane Austenís clear grasp of economic realities for women of her time.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #85 on: November 18, 2020, 10:56:07 AM »
My edition doesn't note books, so forgive me if I'm reading ahead, but I couldnít resist this exchange in chapter 17:

"Strange that it would!" cried Marianne. "What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?"
"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth has much to do with it."
"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. YOUR competence and MY wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfort must be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than mine. Come, what is your competence?"
"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than THAT."
Elinor laughed. "TWO thousand a year! ONE is my wealth! I guessed how it would end."

Austen forces the reader at first to consider Elinor to be the gold digging sister while Marianne is noble in her dismissal of money, then turns the tables on us showing Elinor to be the true Mustachian while Marianne is the profligate sister.

Rereading Sense & Sensibility with an eye on the finances is a delicious insight to Jane Austenís clear grasp of economic realities for women of her time.

Interesting interpretation: I would have thought that readers also knew how this would turn out by this point in the story and Austen is, once again, mocking Marianne's "noble" ideals.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #86 on: November 18, 2020, 11:11:33 AM »
We are Mustachian readers.  Remember Austen’s audience would have been rooting for Marianne who is the romantic heroine of the piece.  We see Austen mocking Marianne, but her contemporaries would be forced to stop and consider Marianne’s greed as it is exposed in this exchange. 

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #87 on: November 18, 2020, 11:17:36 AM »
We are Mustachian readers.  Remember Austenís audience would have been rooting for Marianne who is the romantic heroine of the piece.  We see Austen mocking Marianne, but her contemporaries would be forced to stop and consider Marianneís greed as it is exposed in this exchange.

I think you are underestimating Austen's use of sarcasm and wit, which are evident throughout her work, especially when it comes to mocking the romantic heroine. There is a reason Austen is generally considered part of 18th century literature, rather than the later romantic period.

SheWhoWalksAtLunch

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #88 on: November 18, 2020, 12:22:41 PM »
We are Mustachian readers.  Remember Austenís audience would have been rooting for Marianne who is the romantic heroine of the piece.  We see Austen mocking Marianne, but her contemporaries would be forced to stop and consider Marianneís greed as it is exposed in this exchange.

I think you are underestimating Austen's use of sarcasm and wit, which are evident throughout her work, especially when it comes to mocking the romantic heroine. There is a reason Austen is generally considered part of 18th century literature, rather than the later romantic period.

That's my point exactly.  Austen is using her sarcasm and wit to force her readers to see the "noble, romantic" heroine as economically clueless.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #89 on: November 18, 2020, 12:58:06 PM »
We are Mustachian readers.  Remember Austenís audience would have been rooting for Marianne who is the romantic heroine of the piece.  We see Austen mocking Marianne, but her contemporaries would be forced to stop and consider Marianneís greed as it is exposed in this exchange.

I think you are underestimating Austen's use of sarcasm and wit, which are evident throughout her work, especially when it comes to mocking the romantic heroine. There is a reason Austen is generally considered part of 18th century literature, rather than the later romantic period.

That's my point exactly.  Austen is using her sarcasm and wit to force her readers to see the "noble, romantic" heroine as economically clueless.
Surprisingly clueless, in fact, given that so recently her family's economic circumstances had led to such upheaval in her life and she surely cannot have been unaware of what the family income is or what would come to her on marriage?

This is a fascinating way to re-read Austen.  It hadn't occured to me before but quite possibly the woman with the most personal power and autonomy in the whole book is Mrs Ferrers, the widow of a rich man who inherited everything and has control over how it is to be inherited.  Total contrast to Mrs Dashwood, who while still married lived at a similar economic and social level (Mrs Ferrer's daughter married Mrs Dashwood's stepson) but was cut out of an inheritance.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #90 on: November 18, 2020, 01:14:47 PM »
We are Mustachian readers.  Remember Austenís audience would have been rooting for Marianne who is the romantic heroine of the piece.  We see Austen mocking Marianne, but her contemporaries would be forced to stop and consider Marianneís greed as it is exposed in this exchange.

I think you are underestimating Austen's use of sarcasm and wit, which are evident throughout her work, especially when it comes to mocking the romantic heroine. There is a reason Austen is generally considered part of 18th century literature, rather than the later romantic period.

That's my point exactly.  Austen is using her sarcasm and wit to force her readers to see the "noble, romantic" heroine as economically clueless.
Surprisingly clueless, in fact, given that so recently her family's economic circumstances had led to such upheaval in her life and she surely cannot have been unaware of what the family income is or what would come to her on marriage?


Yes, but as the younger daughter (middle, actually, but the youngest is really just a blip in the story), she's set up as the dreamier one who was allowed to indulge in her romantic fantasies, whereas Elinor, as the eldest, had to be more realistic. And of course, that's the trope at play in the relationship between the two of them (sense vs. sensibiliity) which Austen does so well: Elinore has the sense, Marianne the sensibility, but by the end we realize that Elinore has much deeper emotions than she is given credit for, and Marianne has learned some sense.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #91 on: November 18, 2020, 03:29:42 PM »
John Dashwood - too cheap to even buy his sisters a pair of earrings.

The first part of the book focuses so much on Fanny Dashwood's cheapness, but oh my do we get an excellent turn of cheapness from John Dashwood in the latter parts of the book. The part about Mrs Jennings especially astonished me! Here he is, knowing that he inherited a bunch of money he should have shared with his sisters but instead hoping that a cousin's mother-in-law will help them financially instead.

My edition doesn't note books, so forgive me if I'm reading ahead, but I couldnít resist this exchange in chapter 17:

"Strange that it would!" cried Marianne. "What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?"
"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth has much to do with it."
"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. YOUR competence and MY wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfort must be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than mine. Come, what is your competence?"
"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than THAT."
Elinor laughed. "TWO thousand a year! ONE is my wealth! I guessed how it would end."

I loved this exchange as well. It's a very pointed comparison, for sure.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #92 on: November 19, 2020, 09:01:10 AM »
Yes, but as the younger daughter (middle, actually, but the youngest is really just a blip in the story), she's set up as the dreamier one who was allowed to indulge in her romantic fantasies, whereas Elinor, as the eldest, had to be more realistic. And of course, that's the trope at play in the relationship between the two of them (sense vs. sensibiliity) which Austen does so well: Elinore has the sense, Marianne the sensibility, but by the end we realize that Elinore has much deeper emotions than she is given credit for, and Marianne has learned some sense.

Loved this insight--and I know we're not reading Pride and Prejudice right now, but wanted to highlight the similar-yet-different situation with Jane and Elizabeth Bennet in that novel.  Jane is a great beauty and both she and Elizabeth understand their familial obligation to marry well--not only to secure their own futures but that of their younger sisters by giving them exposure to circles in which wealthy eligible bachelors moved, and that of their mother, should their father predecease her.  There's a scene which as far as I can tell from a quick perusal of the text was not original to Austen, but was created by the screenwriters for the 1995 BBC production which illustrates this point well:

ELIZABETH:  "If I could love a man who would love me enough to take me for a mere fifty pounds a year, I should be very well pleased."

JANE:  "Yes."

ELIZABETH:  "But such a man could hardly be sensible, and you know I could never love a man who was out of his wits."

JANE:  "Oh, Lizzy.  A marriage where either partner cannot love or respect the other--that cannot be agreeable.  To either party."

ELIZABETH:  "As we have daily proof.  But beggars, you know, cannot be choosers."

JANE:  "We are not VERY poor, Lizzy."

ELIZABETH:  "With father's estate entailed away from the female line, we have little but our charms to recommend us.  One of us at least will have to marry very well.  And since you are quite five times as pretty as the rest of us, and have the sweetest disposition, I fear the task will fall on you to raise our fortunes."

JANE:  "But Lizzy, I would wish--I should so much like--to marry for love."

ELIZABETH:  "And so you shall, I am sure.  Only take care you fall in love with a man of good fortune."

JANE:  "Well, I shall try, to please you.  And you?"

ELIZABETH:  "I am determined that nothing but the deepest love will induce me into matrimony.  So I shall end an old maid, and teach your ten children to embroider cushions and play their instruments very ill."

« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 09:06:57 AM by Zoot »

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #93 on: November 22, 2020, 12:09:13 PM »
Here's a bit from Chapter 8 (yes, I'm behind) which could have come directly from the advice on a case studies thread on this forum or from the anti-mustachian wall of shame and comedy.  It's Mrs Jennings talking to Elinor about Willoughby, who has an estate and an income of several hundred pounds a year but is known to outspend his income -

"for they say he is all to pieces.  No wonder! dashing about with his curricle and hunters! Well, it don't signify talking, but when a young man, be he who he will, comes and makes love to a pretty girl, and promises marriage, he has no business to fly off from his word only because he grows poor, and a richer girl is ready to have him.  Why don't he, in such a case, sell his horses, let his house, turn off his servants, and make a thorough reform at once?  I warrant you, Miss Marianne would have been ready to wait til matters came round.  But that won't do, now-a-days, nothing in the way of pleasure can ever be given up by the young men of this age."

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #94 on: November 22, 2020, 03:21:35 PM »
Mrs. Jennings is wealthy, generous and knows what is best for everyone...she really is quite mustachian :)

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #95 on: November 23, 2020, 05:42:16 PM »
I deeply appreciate Mrs Jennings. :)

(I think that the sisters' change in their feelings about her, especially Elinor's change in feelings, is one of my favorite things in the book.)

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #96 on: November 26, 2020, 10:12:06 AM »
Although one of the major themes is inheritance, it seems to me that another major theme is having an occupation.   Generally the characters who find an occupation in life, whether paid or unpaid, make better choices and end up with better lives.  Contrast for instance Brandon with his army career and care for his estates against Willoughby who idly outspends his income and compromises for inheritance and marrying money.  Or Edward Ferrers with his desire to go into the church (and his error in offering marriage to Lucy in the year between school and university when he is at a loose end) as against his brother Robert's lack of any seriousness.  Or Mr Palmer who is idle at Cleveland as against Sir John who is busy with his sport and improving his estate.  Even among the widows the ones who come out better are Mrs Jennings who was the wife of a man in business and occupies herself with family (helping Charlotte with the new baby) and friends, or Mrs Dashwood who home schools her three daughters as against Mrs Ferrers who sent her sons away to be educated and appears to do nothing except be cross with her sons and decide where  to leave her money.  And then Marianne, who loses all occupation in pining after Willoughby but determines after her illness to go back to books and music.

So lots of people who mostly don't need to earn a living but look after their property and find productive ways to occupy themselves with friends and family and hobbies.  Mustachians, 200 years ago.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #97 on: November 26, 2020, 01:08:23 PM »
So lots of people who mostly don't need to earn a living but look after their property and find productive ways to occupy themselves with friends and family and hobbies.  Mustachians, 200 years ago.

LOL!  This is what Mustachianism looked like in the early 1800's.  :)  Good point about the theme of how they spend their time - constructively or not.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #98 on: November 28, 2020, 06:34:54 PM »
Although one of the major themes is inheritance, it seems to me that another major theme is having an occupation.   Generally the characters who find an occupation in life, whether paid or unpaid, make better choices and end up with better lives.  Contrast for instance Brandon with his army career and care for his estates against Willoughby who idly outspends his income and compromises for inheritance and marrying money.  Or Edward Ferrers with his desire to go into the church (and his error in offering marriage to Lucy in the year between school and university when he is at a loose end) as against his brother Robert's lack of any seriousness.  Or Mr Palmer who is idle at Cleveland as against Sir John who is busy with his sport and improving his estate.  Even among the widows the ones who come out better are Mrs Jennings who was the wife of a man in business and occupies herself with family (helping Charlotte with the new baby) and friends, or Mrs Dashwood who home schools her three daughters as against Mrs Ferrers who sent her sons away to be educated and appears to do nothing except be cross with her sons and decide where  to leave her money.  And then Marianne, who loses all occupation in pining after Willoughby but determines after her illness to go back to books and music.

So lots of people who mostly don't need to earn a living but look after their property and find productive ways to occupy themselves with friends and family and hobbies.  Mustachians, 200 years ago.

Very interesting insight!
I wonder if it's a conscious choice by J.A., or if it's a natural reflection of her values.

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Re: Austen With A Mustachian Twist! Ongoing Book Club
« Reply #99 on: November 28, 2020, 07:44:58 PM »
Although one of the major themes is inheritance, it seems to me that another major theme is having an occupation.   Generally the characters who find an occupation in life, whether paid or unpaid, make better choices and end up with better lives.  Contrast for instance Brandon with his army career and care for his estates against Willoughby who idly outspends his income and compromises for inheritance and marrying money.  Or Edward Ferrers with his desire to go into the church (and his error in offering marriage to Lucy in the year between school and university when he is at a loose end) as against his brother Robert's lack of any seriousness.  Or Mr Palmer who is idle at Cleveland as against Sir John who is busy with his sport and improving his estate.  Even among the widows the ones who come out better are Mrs Jennings who was the wife of a man in business and occupies herself with family (helping Charlotte with the new baby) and friends, or Mrs Dashwood who home schools her three daughters as against Mrs Ferrers who sent her sons away to be educated and appears to do nothing except be cross with her sons and decide where  to leave her money.  And then Marianne, who loses all occupation in pining after Willoughby but determines after her illness to go back to books and music.

So lots of people who mostly don't need to earn a living but look after their property and find productive ways to occupy themselves with friends and family and hobbies.  Mustachians, 200 years ago.

Very interesting insight!
I wonder if it's a conscious choice by J.A., or if it's a natural reflection of her values.

Well...I'm no expert, but the social structures of that time and place were a lot more inflexible than they are now, and "Mustachianism" is really such a product of late stage capitalism it makes me flinch a little to try to impose it on Regency period England.

The class of people Austen wrote about were the 1% of England. Landed gentry had a ton of money and if you were a firstborn son, you managed the tenants of your estate and as long as you did a reasonable job (a lot of people didn't) and didn't go hog wild on the income it produced (many did), you were set to live very well and not have to do any kind of real work for your living (beyond managing the estate, which was actually a pretty big job when done well, and actually the wives had quite a job in the management of the estate, as well).

"Working" for a living in any other capacity was sort of a come-down, socially. Second-born sons, all daughters, and down the line of children, had to do something for money, although if their fathers had set the estate up well they could benefit from the income of the estate, although because of complicated entailment laws they rarely could own the estate.

There was (as now) a social hierarchy of work/occupations; ordinary lawyers of the country sort who filed paperwork and that sort of thing--that was a middling profession that was typically sneered at by the landed gentry. But high-placed lawyers who served in court were more respected (it took a lot of work to get there, though, and many members of the gentry didn't really have the discipline). Doctors could be reasonably well-placed in society, but not always, and they were certainly not always well-compensated. The military in many forms was a popular choice for second born sons etc., but that too had descending forms of social acceptance and the prestigious commissions (as others have pointed out) were actually purchased.

To be honest, the more I learn about Regency period England, the more I understand why America happened. There's so little freedom for so many people, not just women. Status and money were so codified and obsessed over and actual talent and discipline and hard work were not valued so much as part of the ethos of the time in the circles that Austen was a part of (at least that's how it seems to me). Austen herself was a member of the landed gentry, but her father was a clergyman and they didn't have a lot of money. Very common to have the prestige/rank of the landed gentry class (and therefore feel limited in choice as to profession) but little of the money.

Mostly what I think you're reading in Austen is light satire of the mores of her time--the people she came into contact with and the persistent theme of people who have money and status due to zero merit of their own, and how frequently ridiculous such people were.