‘That Is Capital’
The city of London, as the center of the publishing industry, provided the material basis for Jane Austen's career. The turnpike system that connected the capital with the provinces made possible the national circulation of manuscript and print by way of mail coach. Bingley brings back from town a fresh source of complication that will keep the narrative open for a further some volumes. The lengthy commentary that accompanies the engraving of Cheapside details the commodities sold in each of the warehouses and shops. The vignette reveals Austen's characteristically inspired observation of children, but very little about London. Austen greeted her published novel not as the direct offspring of her pen, but as if it had been reclaimed from a surrogate mother after being completed in the womb of the metropolis. Austen was familiar with Gracechurch Street, just east of Cheapside, as a comparable conduit for transport.