.... her pure and eloquent blood
Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought
That one might almost say her body thought.
Other contemporaries of Austen have spoken of the high colour in her cheeks. In those days when no respectable woman wore makeup, she was lucky enough to have naturally rosy cheeks well into adulthood. And the reference to "eloquent blood" means that her colour rose when she was animated; in other words, she blushed easily.
On the topic of blushing I have finally found a theme in which I can combine my time in China with Jane Austen and the English literature of the past. One of the charming things about my female students in China (ages 18 to 20) is that they still blush, readily, if you raise the topic of boyfriends. It's like travelling to a bygone age.
Do any Western young ladies still blush? Oh yes, we all can blush, or flush, from embarrassment in social situations, but what about the blush of modesty?
Maidenly purity was a central pre-occupation in English literature prior to modern times. The blush on a maiden's cheek was seen as a mark of innocence and purity. Inevitably, the heroines of Georgian, Regency and Victorian novels are described as blushing frequently...