I love the Clarissa Trant book because she treats the same period — she was born in November 1800 — as Mary and Emma lived through. Yet she lived a life far different from the average English girl.
So, flipping through I thought it wonderful to read about what made a young man “shine” in her eyes (see previous post on Charles Boyle). Then, reading the introduction over again afterwards, the realization comes that if John Bramston had proposed to Charlotte Smith, Clarissa Trant, too, had an earlier proposal:
“Clarissa was often wooed but hard to win.” C.G. Luard, the editor, continues, ”I have counted twelve suitors and there are indications of more. She had a strong sense of the fitness of things, and we find her haughtily refusing a rich widower, on the one hand, and her friend Charles Boyle — whom she greatly liked and admired — as too exalted for her, on the other hand.”
Clarissa DID head towards the altar, however, with a Colonel Cameron. As with some of the Seymour siblings who married into the Smith family, there was family contention over money. According to Luard, once the settlement negotiations broke down, the “young man seems to have made no sort of fight for Clarissa”. Like many an Austen heroine, Clarissa Trant’s father — a career military man in the age of the Napoleonic Wars, had no fortune.
I was lucky enough to quickly peek at Clarissa Trant’s early diaries: they are microfilmed as part of the same series “Women’s Language and Experience“, part 5, Essex, as Mary Gosling/Lady Smith’s diaries!