My Particular Friend footnotes: The Affair of the Code Duello 2

Beginning with The Mantua Maker:

I was near seventeen and not yet out, the delay attributable to my father’s poor financial health, he wanting to delay the necessity of providing for my dowry as long as possible.

dowry: that money that a wife brings to a marriage provided for by her parents. By the law during the period, that money becomes the property of the husband. Dowry is different from the dower, which is a widow’s right to a share for life of her husband’s estate (typically a third of his property or holdings) and was protected by common law. Which is different from a jointure — a pre- or post-nuptial agreement that includes property and financial assets. A husband could leave his wife his entire estate under a jointure. Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibility “was a widow with an ample jointure,” and presumably Mrs. Ferrars was also left her husband’s entire estate under a jointure, which is why she has financial control over her sons Edward and Robert.

That thought made me laugh. Charlotte a spinster!
spinster: old maid, a woman who’d never married and is childless. A woman’s prospects on the marriage market began to dim at what to us would seem a very early age. By twenty-seven, Charlotte would run the risk of being a considered a spinster were she not so wealthy. Men had a longer shelf life, of course, for it was their job to acquire the wealth needed to secure a wife, and that took time. That’s why we see thirty-something men marrying teenage girl in Jane Austen novels.

‘Men fighting duels. What is your opinion?’
‘I suppose I don’t understand it, miss. Why don’t they just go at it hammer ’n’ tong? That’s how men solve their problems, i’n’it, so I don’t see why gentlemen shouldn’t do the same.’

Gentlemen fought duels with gentlemen; they did not fight duels with people of lower classes. One reason for this is that dueling required the use of and training with expensive weapons, not available to commoners.

I had presumed on my hostess for far too long and I knew that eventually Charlotte and Mrs Fitzhugh would return to London and I was unsure if I was to join them.
return to London: the haut ton began return to London for the sitting of Parliament around Christmas, although this was usually delayed by various hunting seasons until about Easter

I was surprised at this last, having always assumed Mr La Fontaine was an invention, like that of our housekeeper’s husband.

Often unmarried professional women would call themselves Mrs So-and-So to lend an air or respectability (cooks, housekeepers, etc.); younger women might also do this to lend some gravitas to their advice or services.

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