Thursday, 6 February 2014


"I cannot but think that good horsemanship has a great deal to do with the mind."

So says Miss Maria Bertram in Austen's dividing novel Mansfield Park (I for the record am very fond of it, not as a romance, but as a study of character. Mrs. Norris is, though more wicked than many a horror story villain, very intricately and delightfully drawn.) 

Maria is a silly girl in many respects, but I can't do anything but agree with her here. Horse riding, in my view, has more to do with knowledge and confidence than physical dexterity. Confidence, the Miss Bertrams and Miss Crawford have in bounds - perhaps even overconfidence - and so overpower poor timid Fanny with their skill in the art of dashing about looking glamourous on a horse.

I wonder if Jane Austen ever hopped in the saddle herself?

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