Most of us would likely agree there is a relationship between music and nature. Listening to a babbling brook, the chirping of birds, and even the silence of snow are all common ingredients to which we can relate.
In writing Darcy’s Temptation, I wished Georgiana Darcy, who most Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) authors depict as not only a lover of music, but also as a musician with remarkable talent, to discover a mature love thanks to her music. Her romantic interest in this novel is a man who has an inherited a nearby estate, but also a man of principles, many of which do not quite align with those of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s. Darcy is a man who believes much of what Chadwick Harrison says, but he is not one to take an open stance against hypocrisy for fear it would reflect poorly on his family and place them in danger. Such is the reason he does not approve of Harrison’s possible courtship of Georgiana, not that the man’s station or his wealth is in question, but Harrison speaking out against slavery may place Georgiana in danger. Darcy has yet to discover his voice, although privately he has pursued connections to abolitionists leaders such as Hannah Moore, but that is the topic for a different post.
This post deals with the connection between music and nature. In her senior theses, Katricia D. F. Stewart, speaks of Taoist philosophers proposing music to be “a potent cosmic force capable of expanding human intelligence and enhancing communion with the non-human world” [De Woskin] The connection between music and nature is reflected in works the modern day American composers David Dunn and Pauline Oliveros “who propose that (1) listening is one of the best means for understanding our profound physical interconnectedness with the natural world, and (2) the ability to listen is the source of human creativity and intelligence. The idea of nature’s music being connected to, if not a primary source of, the human capacity for wisdom and inspiration has many roots that reach far back into human history have prevailed over time. What these ancient and modern philosophies have in common is their suggestion that attentive listening to nature helps us to perceive the interconnectedness of life – our integration with the natural world – via hearing and internalizing layers of the natural
environment our eyes simply cannot perceive. Although all of these philosophies emphasize the importance of sound and listening for intelligence, creativity, and wisdom, the modern philosopher-composers also argue an unawareness of sound is an indication of being disconnected with one’s environment, which too often occurs in urban areas most of us in Western society live in. Many other
philosophies throughout history have reflected this sentiment, making music an integral and
ubiquitous aspect of everyday life. Science – about two thousand years behind – is only just
beginning to demonstrate the physical, emotional, and mental affects of both nature and music on
human emotion and psyche, shedding light on why these two elements have always been so
critical to human life.”
The KCRW Podcast tells us, “Music has been used to communicate and to coordinate with others for thousands of years, but humans weren’t the first source of song. Birds, whales, and even bats are frequently defined by their use of musical patterns to attract mates, deter rivals, or to define who they are. From lullabies to hip-hop, we all have an affinity for music and benefit from the ways it enriches our lives. Liverpool University Professor of Music Michael Spitzer traces our relationship to music in his latest book “The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth,” and describes music as our “umbilical cord” to Mother Nature.”
The blurb for this book says it all:
165 million years ago saw the birth of rhythm
65 million years ago came the first melody.
40 thousand year ago Homo sapiens created the first musical instrument.
Today, music fills our lives. How we have created, performed and listened to music throughout history has defined what our species is and how we understand who we are. Yet it is an overlooked part of our origin story.
The Musical Human takes us on an exhilarating journey across the ages – from Bach to BTS and back – to explore the vibrant relationship between music and the human species. With insights from a wealth of disciplines, world-leading musicologist Michael Spitzer renders a global history of music on the widest possible canvas, from global history to our everyday lives, from insects to apes, humans to artificial intelligence.
But what of my story? Below is an excerpt from Chapter 15 where Georgiana teaches Mr. Harrison something of music and nature, or is her lesson something of true love?
“How wonderful, how very wonderful the operations of time,
and the changes of the human mind.”
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814
From the hill overlooking Pemberley House, Chadwick Harrison espied her walking away from her home and immediately turned his mount from the road leading to the carriageway and instead circled the building to follow Georgiana to her destination. In reality, it was she he had come to see; it was she to whom he must say his goodbyes.
Early afternoon found Georgiana climbing the hill behind the house, taking in the warmth of the spring sun. The stress of finding her brother required a more demanding walk than usual for the delicate-natured Georgiana. She neared the glade separating the lake from the foothills and took a seat on a hollowed-out log. Raising her face to the sun, Georgiana closed her eyes and listened to the world.
She took her pleasure in the quiet of the glade and the unseasonable warmth of the day. Unaware of Mr. Harrison’s presence, she gathered some wildflowers and sat twirling a long stalk as if conducting an orchestra, eyes closed and engrossed in her own world.
She had no idea how Harrison, captivated by the image of the sunlight reflecting off her golden locks, watched with longing. He wanted to take her in his embrace and kiss the nape of her neck. His eyes drank in her beauty, and it was with great difficulty he finally spoke her name. “Miss Darcy.” His voice was husky with desire.
She turned calmly as if expecting him to find her in this special place. “Mr. Harrison, this is a most pleasant surprise.” Her eyes held a new light of recognition especially for him.
“It seems I lost my way to Pemberley.” He gave her a smile of amusement. “But I managed to find you.” His smile grew by the moment. “Mayhap you might save a wayward soul.”
“I am afraid, sir, saving souls belongs in the realm of duties of Mr. Ashford. All I might offer you is the music.” Georgiana dropped her eyes as he approached.
Harrison found her words intriguing. “The music, Miss Darcy?”
“Come, Mr. Harrison, and sit by me, and permit me to introduce you to the music.” Georgiana looked him directly in the eyes and bid him do as she said. She had never felt so brave—so in control of her world.
Harrison, thankfully, moved to the log and took a seat. “Give me your hand, Mr. Harrison, and close your eyes.” Georgiana touched each of his eyelids with her fingertips. She heard the deep intake of breath he took, giving her the confidence to continue.
She spoke softly, nearly in his ear, and she knew he could feel the warmth of her breath against his cheek, for he shivered, just as did she. “Keep your eyes closed, Mr. Harrison, and listen to the music—the music is in the wind, in the rush of the reeds by the lake, and in the sun dancing off your face.” She slipped her hand in his, and he tightened the grip. They sat as such for a few moments; then she said, “Do you hear the music, Mr. Harrison?”
A smile crept into the corners of his mouth. “Who would think it possible? A man can hear something where nothing is there. Do you hear the grasshopper singing, Miss Darcy? How about the wings of the birds beating out a rhythm overhead?”
Harrison sat still, and she enjoyed the feeling of his hand as it encircled hers and of his closeness—his warmth along her shoulder. His words brought Georgiana’s attention to his face, at first thinking he teased, but realizing Harrison listened with all his being just as she did. She could not look away, memorizing the lines forming on his forehead and around his eyes.
“Do you hear the sandy swish of the leaves against each other at the top of the tree? Can you hear the rippling sound of the water as it drips from the hill to the waiting pool?” she whispered in his ear.
Harrison turned his head slowly, gradually opening his eyes and coming face to face with her at last. Only inches apart, he asked, “Georgiana, can you hear the beating of my heart?”
His use of her familiar name opened an intimacy denied to them in public. “I hear it, Chadwick.”
“Georgiana,” he whispered with such passion it should frighten her. Instead, it drew her deeper into the spell surrounding them. Hypnotized by their closeness, he asked, “Might I kiss you, Georgiana? Your beauty and your kindness steals my breath away.” She wondered if he, too, felt his control dissolving into the desire they shared.
She did not deny him—did not say a word. Just waited. Finally, he lowered his lips to touch hers, and the firmness with which she responded surprised even her. His arms encircled her as he deepened the kiss. When he reluctantly withdrew, his breath came in short bursts. Likewise, did hers. Georgiana instinctively rested her head against his shoulder, breathing in the smell of his desire and mixing it with the essence of hers. “My dearest Georgiana,” he whispered into her ear, “what does a wish sound like?”
The delight of her giggle started deep within her. She withdrew just far enough to see his eyes. “I do not know the music found in a wish, but I know the feel of it.” She traced his lips with her fingertips.
Harrison kissed her fingertips lightly and then returned to her mouth for one last time before he would be required to part from her. The memory of those kisses must sustain both him and her for many months. “Georgiana,” his voice played soft against her hair, “I must take my leave of your family today.”
“I know, Mr. Harrison.” Her voice was muffled by his cravat as she leaned into him.
“Must it be ‘Mr. Harrison,’ Georgiana?”
“Chadwick.” She smiled at him.
Harrison’s smile widened. “You never cease to amaze me, Georgiana.”
“You will be missed, sir.” She sat up and began to straighten her dress, but she looked back to caress Harrison’s jaw line.
Harrison looked deep into her eyes, and an imprecation escaped his lips. “I wish I never made a promise to your sister.”
“My birthday is not until late August,” she taunted.
Harrison gasped, “You know?”
“Of course I know.”
“Then you will wait for me?”
They both knew they had overstepped the bounds of propriety, but with the changes in the assemblage at Pemberley, neither expected him to be invited often to the house, if at all. Their chances of encountering each other regularly had decreased with the return of her brother.
Georgiana looked away. “My brother plans to present me to Society this year.”
“How? With Mrs. Darcy’s lying in?”
“I made the same argument.” The tears welled in Georgiana’s eyes. “He says it is our duty—my duty to my family.”
Distress played across her face for all the world to view.
“Georgiana,” his voice came out huskily, “I will do what you want me to do. You know my desire—my regard lies with you. Send word, and I will come for you at any time. I know I should not say these words to you, but I love you.”
Georgiana blushed, but she did not look away. “I will not allow my brother to arrange a marriage for me. I will choose to whom I present my regard. I will wait for you, Chadwick.” The resolve in her voice was a surprise to her, for she did not often practice such “stubbornness,” but her actions felt right, nonetheless. “I must return to the house; they will miss me soon.” Looking about anxiously, she stood to take her leave.
Harrison walked to where his horse grazed nearby. “I will circle around the house and come out on the carriageway. I should be making my farewells by the time you arrive home.” He prepared to mount, but Georgiana stood close, and so they embraced once more. “Miss Darcy, thank you for giving me the gift of music.” He caressed her jaw line, and then he swung himself up into the saddle.
“I will wait,” she said again with more determination, “for you, Mr. Harrison, I will wait.”
Did you enjoy that excerpt? Our once foolish Miss Darcy has “screwed her courage to the sticking place.” Darcy’s Temptation is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but it also serves as a sequel to my first novel, Darcy’s Passions. Both books were originally published by Ulysses Press, which presented me my start upon a writing career nearly 15 years ago. This is a rerelease of the original novel with a new cover, but, basically it is the same book – no major changes in the plot.
Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
The day Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, he thinks his life is complete at last. Four months later, even greater joy appears on the horizon when Elizabeth finds out she is pregnant. But it is not long before outside forces intrude on their happiness. When the unthinkable happens, Elizabeth and Darcy must discover their love for each other all over again.
Romantic and insightful, Darcy’s Temptation captures the original style and sardonic wit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while weaving its beloved characters into an exciting new tale. In a story set against the backdrop of the British abolitionist movement, family difficulties and social affairs weigh heavily on the newlyweds, and a dramatic turn of events forces Elizabeth to try to recapture Darcy’s love before the manipulative Cecelia McFarland succeeds in luring him away.
Sources for the Article on Music and Nature:
[De Woskin, K. (2002). Chinese Philosophy and Aesthetics. In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: East Asia, Vol 7 (ed. Robert C. Provine, Yosihiko Tokumaru, and J. Lawrence Witzleben). New York, NY: Routledge.]
Stewart, Katricia D. F., Linfield College, Senior Theses. Digital Commons. “The Essentialism of Music in Human Life and Its Roots in Nature.”
Giveaway: I have two eBook copies of Darcy’s Temptation Available for those who comment below. Winners will be contacted by email.