Good day, Just Jane 1813 readers! Today I am sharing with you a rather singular experience I recently had concerning a gentleman with a rather checkered past who all of you have probably been acquainted with at one time or another.
I am not really sure why he felt compelled to share his story with me, but after he did, I didn’t know what to make of his assertions. Can what we know of him really be limited to such a narrow point of view?
Uncertain about what to believe, I decided, dear readers, that you are the only people I can truly trust to help me discern this gentleman’s intentions towards sharing his story others. Therefore, I am indulging him in his earnest request to share an excerpt from his own writings in the hopes that together, we can help to decide the sincerity of his story.
It is with no small amount of trepidation and perhaps, I confess, just a hint of pride that this soldier of old presents himself to you for inspection.
Mr George Wickham, late of Derbyshire, Brighton, Newcastle, Bath and any number of glittering European locales, ready for his moment of reckoning.
You know me by reputation, of course.
Or perhaps I should say that you will think that you know me and you will, I suspect, have already judged my character and found it wanting. Yet I’ll wager that you have never taken a moment to wonder where a man such as I came from, how I, born in Derbyshire to a most meritorious couple, went from scandal to sobriety and back again on more than one uproarious occasion. What part did I play at Waterloo, how did I find myself kneeling before the Romanov throne or, quite by accident, running guns out of Berlin and what, as the saying goes, is in a name?
From the sun-kissed shores of Italy to the rolling grounds of Pemberley and far, far beyond, every moment of my long, long life has been lived to the full. The lad who roamed idyllic rural lanes with Fitzwilliam Darcy, who gazed at a world that stretched far beyond his Derbyshire roots and who dreamed of what fate and fortune might hold for him, grew into a most notorious man. Seducer, scoundrel, scourge of maidens everywhere… gambler, liar cheat.
Or so you think.
History has done me a most grievous wrong.
Now, more than a century since my name was first linked to all manner of roguish misdeeds, my story can be told. After years of rumour and romance, my personal archives have finally been unsealed and readers can now enjoy the true facts in the case of Mr George Wickham for the very first time, in my own words. I am a soldier, not a scholar, yet I’ll wager there is rather more bed than bayonet in my reputation.
The story that began on a storm-lashed beach in Italy with an unclaimed foundling babe did not start and finish at Pemberley. Wives were wedded, maidens bedded and seeds were sown here and there. It isn’t all Lydia, Lizzie and my dear brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy, so the time has come to tell my tale.
It was with delight that I was informed that my archive of memoirs, letters, diaries and ephemera was to be unsealed and presented to the public for the very first time. Beginning on 12th November 2016 at Austen Variations, readers will have an opportunity to read the story of my life and my people in my own words and, of course, judge me as they will. I do hope, ladies and gentlemen, that you will enjoy getting to know me; after all, one cannot always rely on first impressions.
There is much more to George Wickham than that.
A note from Mr Wickham’s editor:
The recent discovery of George Wickham’s papers in circumstances as dramatic as any novel should rightly have been a cause célèbre. It has been my honour and privilege to be appointed by the estate to put the Wickham papers into some semblance of order for readers at http://austenvariations.com.
Thank you, Catherine Curzon, for sharing this excerpt with my Just Jane 1813 readers. I can’t wait to see what Mr Wickham shares with us at Austen Variations! I’d love to hear, in the comments below, what my readers think of Mr Wickham’s tale so far. I hope you check out future posts at Austen Variations.