Austenian humblebragging?

Another quotation from Jane Austen (once again via Chris Ambidge), this time from a letter of 11 December 1815 to James Stanier Clarke, about Austen’s novel Emma.

Surely this is false modesty — and couched as a boast, so that it looks like what we’d now call humblebragging.

On the background, from Wikipedia:

James Stanier Clarke (1766–1834) was an English cleric, naval author and man of letters. He became librarian in 1799 to the Prince of Wales.

… From 1815 for a short period Clarke was in contact with Jane Austen about her novel-writing: they were introduced by Austen’s friend the surgeon Charles Thomas Haden. Having shown Austen round the library at Carlton House in November, and arranged that the Prince should have Emma dedicated to him, Clarke also made suggestions in correspondence for Austen’s future writing. These she mocked in the satirical manuscript Plan of a Novel, according to Hints from Various Quarters, not published in her lifetime.

Sly old Jane.

The Prince of Wales in question was the Prince Regent George, who succeeded his father George III (yes, the George III of American Revolution fame) in 1820, reigning as George IV. On George, from Wikipedia:

George IV [as Prince Regent] led an extravagant lifestyle that contributed to the fashions of the Regency era. He was a patron of new forms of leisure, style and taste. He commissioned John Nash to build the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and remodel Buckingham Palace, and Sir Jeffry Wyattville to rebuild Windsor Castle. He was instrumental in the foundation of the National Gallery and King’s College London.

(Jane Austen died in 1817, so didn’t get to see George succeed to the throne.)

Now, on humblebragging, from the buzzwords section of the Macmillan Dictionary (in an entry first published 7/16/12), on the compound noun (of the form Adj + N) humblebrag:

a statement in which you pretend to be modest but which you are really using as a way of telling people about your success or achievements

The word humblebrag was coined in 2011 by American comedian Harris Wittels, who set up the corresponding Twitter account and currently compiles a monthly top ten ranking of the most shameless humblebrags. The American Dialect Society voted humblebrag its ‘most useful’ word of the year for 2011, and derived forms humblebrag as intransitive verb, and noun humblebragger (a person who regularly does this), have also begun to appear.

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