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February 01, 2010
Jane Austen on Contracts to Dance
That gentleman would have put me out of patience, had he staid with you half a minute longer. He has no business to withdraw the attention of my partner from me. We have entered into a contract of mutual agreeableness for the space of an evening, and all our agreeableness belongs solely to each other for that time. Nobody can fasten themselves on the notice of one, without injuring the rights of the other. I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not chuse to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours.
Thus the dashing Mr. Tilney addresses Catherine Morland, heroine of Northanger Abbey, upon discovering her in conversation with the odious Mr. Thorpe at the commencement of a dance:
The conversation proceeds on the similarities and dissimilarities between a dance partnership and a marriage partnership. But if Catherine really wanted to impress Mr. Tilney, she would have pointed out that his real complaint sounded in tortious interference rather than in breach of contract.
February 1, 2010 in Miscellaneous, Quotes | Permalink
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