This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday 17 November 2016

Mr Knightley's housekeeper: a rant.

In moments of doubt there are various books to which mankind turns in search of succour, wisdom, and revelation.

(Moments? Who are we kidding?)

Mine tends to be the Complete Works of Jane Austen.

In the passage below, Mrs Elton, who manages to be just about the only person in Emma's Highbury too monumentally stupid to notice what a complete dork she herself is, is talking to Mr Knightley (the clue as to his own character, as so often, is in the name).

'If any difficulties should arise, my housekeeper is extremely clever.' [says Mrs Elton]
'I will answer for it, [says Mr Knightley] that mine thinks herself full as clever, and would spurn anyone's assistance.'
'I wish we had a donkey...'*

Now, Mr Knightley really does happen to be nearly as clever as he thinks he is, and he's certainly right on this occasion, because telling people you're clever than they are is unlikely to endear you to anyone. 

(Giving out the message that anyone who disagrees with you is stupid and/or immoral isn't going to help, either.) 

And, you know something? Just at the moment I can't help thinking that reading Jane Austen might have saved everyone an awful lot of trouble.

Word To Use Today: hodge. Mrs Elton's housekeeper is called Mrs Hodges (not a lot of people know that) which is a name used for a typical rustic. A hodgepodge is a confused mixture or a stew. The word comes from hotch, from the Old French hocher, to shake.

*This looks like a political statement, and if it were it would be rather clever. Actually, though, I try to avoid making political statements (because hey, what do I know?) so it's really just an accident.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are very welcome, but please make them suitable for The Word Den's family audience.