After what has been an exhausting couple of months, I am fully engulfed in my new life. School has started, without me. I have moved into my new home, that I have dubbed Burton Cottage. I spent a weekend going racing, and another dealing with personal and professional issues. I spent two entire months sorting, cleaning, and packing up my life so I could move. Then, my truck’s brakes went out, and I walked a mile on one of the hottest days of summer to get home from the auto repair shop. Whew, that was a sweaty one!! Life has handed me all manner of blog post material, but I decided to narrow it all down to one thing: moving.
In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the Elliots…Sir Walter Elliot and his daughters…had to “retrench”, or move, though it seemed like it was more than just moving house. Merriam-Webster defines retrenchment as “reduction, curtailment; specifically: a cutting of expenses.” I did not move because I had to cut expenses. If anything, my expenses are now a bit more than what they were.
So, what did that move involve for Sir Walter? Did he declutter and get rid of things he no longer needed or wanted? Did he have a “downsizing auction” of sorts, as the people did whose house I bought? I am positive that he did sell what he could, or at least what he was willing to give up, which did not appear to be much. He owed money and had to pay it somehow. Simply moving to a new house in a new town would not help with that…would it? I wouldn’t think so, and yet, that appears to be what he did.
In another of Jane Austen’s novels, Mansfield Park, Fanny Price moves. First as a child when she moves from her parents’ home to her aunt’s and then as a young woman when she is punished for refusing an offer of marriage by being sent back for a time to her parents’ home. I know how upset I got at being uprooted…albeit willingly…from my customary routine and having to search for my familiar things amongst dozens of boxes. For poor Fanny, it happened twice within a short period of time. Granted, she did not move house and home—only her own personal effects—but it’s still a difficult thing to manage.
What I am most curious about is the actual method of moving during the Regency. I have a mental image of wagons pulled by teams of draft horses, piled high with all manner of furnishings and crates. Of course, servants would have done most of the work for the wealthy. Still, decisions about what to take and what to give or throw away needed to be made, and that can’t have been any easier then than it was for me.
The actual move would have taken longer, as well. With six pickup trucks, including mine, and at least one small trailer, it took six men and a teenage boy approximately four hours to move my stuff, inclusive of the heavy rain we had to sit out. I moved 7/10 of a mile…from the far west edge of the village in which I live to what amounts to the center of town….1/2 mile to S. Main St., turn right, go three car lengths and turn left and it’s down 2/10 of a mile. I’d imagine I had a whole lot more stuff to move than someone would have two hundred years ago. We had to make two or three trips back and forth. During the Regency, I can’t see that happening, even for such a short move. The horses would have had to be changed out or rested. So, their options would have been to have multiple wagons and meager amounts of items or take several days to accomplish the move. Dragging the process out would not have been fun!
In the end, I think that my moving experience was not really better than that of someone in the Regency, just more modern!