I can't believe this event is almost over! Thank you for hosting Miss Elizabeth, this even has been so much fun!
This letter asking for help was actually written by your's truly and I was honored when Miss Elizabeth asked to use it for her event.
Dr. Harrison from Cranford asks for advice:
Dear Jane Austen Advice Column,
My name is Frank Harrison. I am a medical doctor and have recently taken up a new post in the small town of Cranford where I assist the elderly Dr. Morgan by attending some of his numerous patients. Cranford is a bit of an oddity where the women reign supreme (not unlike amazons!), careless of new fashions and fearful of change. I've already had to rid my wardrobe of a particularly handsome red jacket because Dr. Morgan told me the ladies of Cranford would think it fanciful. But on the whole I had found the residents of Cranford very welcoming until today when many things unseen to my eye came to a head. Upon my arrival here one of my first visits was to the vicarage where I met Reverend Hutton and his lovely daughter Miss Sophy Hutton. She is an angel! and I was making strides to ask if I might court her when her young brother Walter fell ill and despite all of the methods of modern medicine I applied soon died. You may well imagine what a rift this caused between the young lady and myself and yet I loved her more each day. Quite a few months later Miss Hutton came to trust me again and I was bold enough to ask her father if I might court her. What happiness when he gave his permission! Our courtship was going on so well until this afternoon while attending the town's May festival, it came to the attention of the whole town that two other ladies felt themselves as good as engaged to me! Miss Tompkinson is a spinsterish young lady who lives with her sister in town and though I have attended her many times for palpitations and other maladies I was never aware of having shown her any other interest than that of a doctor to his patient. Likewise Mrs. Rose, who is my widowed housekeeper, seems to think that I have shown signs of love for her, which I never have done! The worst of the matter was seeing my dear Sophy stricken with horror at my supposed unfaithfulness and see her directed away by her father. I am in a state of shock from which I shall not soon recover! Please tell me dear sir or madam, what am I to do!?!
Desperate for advice,
Dr. Frank Harrison
Now here are my two answers to his letter. I've been looking forward to writing something from Isabella Thorpe (she's so silly and I actually quote her quite frequently). And Mr. Darcy's reply was inspired by a quote from him that just fit the situation perfectly.
Isabella Thorpe, Northanger Abbey
My Dear Dr. Harrison,
I read your letter with the greatest delight and have a thousand apologies to make for not answering it sooner. I really am quite ashamed of my idleness; but in this horrid town of Bath one can find time for nothing! I have really had my pen in my hand to begin a letter to you almost every day this week, but have always been prevented by some silly trifling thing or other.
I shall not pay you any compliments on your red jacket, for I have no notion of treating men with such respect. That is the way to spoil you! You men give yourself such airs! You are the most conceited creatures in the world and think yourselves of so much importance!
Why only last winter at one of the evening assemblies Captain Hunt insisted on teasing me all night. I scolded him into being respectful and refused to dance with him unless he declared that my friend Miss Andrews is as beautiful as an angel. (But in fact she had tried to put on a turban like mine but had make wretched work of it.)
You men seem to think us incapable of real friendship and I am determined to show you the difference. I carry my notions of friendship pretty high, you know. Now if I had been at that May festival and seen poor Miss Hutton treated so I would have fired up in a moment! What can you know of broken hearts? You men have none of you any hearts!
As to Miss Thompkinson and Mrs. Rose they must understand that a little harmless flirtation will occur, and one is often tricked into giving more encouragement to an attachment than one wishes to stand by. But be assured that I am the last person in the world who would judge you severely. All of these little blunders must be allowed for in youth and high spirits. What one means one day, you know, one may not mean the next. Circumstances change, opinions alter.
If you are as over head and ears in love with Miss Hutton as you say then your jilting of the spinster and the widow are quite natural. Where the heart is really attached I know very well how little one can be pleased with the attentions of anybody else. Everything is so insipid so uninteresting that does not relate to your beloved Miss Hutton! I can perfectly comprehend your feelings.
I must just give you a hint though and say that if Miss Hutton is the daughter of a poor clergyman then I entreat you to never think of her again. Nobody can think higher of clergyman than I do but everyone has their failings, you know, and everybody has a right to do what they like with their own money. It might not be on your own account that you'd wish for more money but what will you live upon supposing you came together? You will not wish to marry if you had to settle down to keeping house upon an income hardly enough to fund one in the common necessaries of life. For myself money is nothing; I never think of myself. But after all that romancers may say, there is no doing without money. Such an attachment would not be likely to promote the good of either you or the young lady. Take my word for it, that if you are in too great a hurry, you will certainly live to repent it.
But whatever you decided, do not come to Bath. I have had little pleasure here lately for the dust is beyond anything, the odious gigs just about trample one in the street and everybody one cares for is gone. Thank God we leave this vile place tomorrow!
I remain your devoted friend,
Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
Your situation seems to prove this point that I have often explained to my friend Bingley: a lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. To me it seems that no blame should rest on you for Miss Thompkinson's and Mrs. Rose's imaginings that you were paying them any particular attention. But any interference from me in your affairs would be absurd and impertinent.
If you are in earnest for your attachment to Miss Hutton I encourage you to make it your object to shew her by everything in your power that you regret the past and wish to obtain her forgiveness, to lessen her ill opinion of you. Do not give up hope but only work for her benefit and comfort in the future. Marriage to my dearest wife has taught me how influential the love of a good woman can be, a lesson which I hope soon to hear of you learning yourself.