Here is one of my favorite dialogues in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:
“All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?”
“Yes all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover skreens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.”
“Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,” said Darcy, “has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse, or covering a skreen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished.”
“Nor I, I am sure,” said Miss Bingley.
“Then,” observed Elizabeth, “you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished women.”
“Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it.”
“Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”
“All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”
Now, I am far beyond being considered a “young lady,” but I still have an idyllic concept about being somewhat “accomplished.” That is where the photo of the book at the beginning of my entry comes in. I picked up this book from the bargain table at Barnes and Noble when I stopped there to pick up a book one of the children needed for school. I learned a little of how to knit when I was a young girl, and last spring, I picked up a couple of sets of knitting needles at a yard sale because I thought I would like to try it again. I have looked at a few knitting books since buying the needles, but this one was a great price. Besides, I might not only learn how to knit; I might also learn how to be “cool” in the process.
I can imagine myself giving up on this little endeavor before I even get started, but I hope I can make at least one thing–a scarf or something very simple. Then I can add “knitting” to my list of accomplishments.
In 2006, perhaps “blogging” can make the list of desired skills by all “accomplished young ladies.” Darcy and Bingley might approve of this suggestion, but I am certain Miss Bingley would protest such an idea.