Letters of Jane Austen (Brabourne)

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Letters of Jane Austen
Jane Austen, lord Brabourne



LETTERS OF JANE AUSTEN


―――


A MEMOIR






“ He knew of no one himself who was inclined to the work.
This is no uncommon motive. A man sees something to be
done, knows of no one who will do it but himself, and so is
driven to the enterprise. ”


Help’s Life of Columbus, ch I.


TO
THE QUEEN’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.


Madam,

It was the knowledge that your Majesty so highly appreciated the works of Jane Austen which emboldened me to ask permission to dedicate to your Majesty these volumes, containing as they do numerous letters of that authoress, of which, as her grand-nephew, I have recently become possessed. These letters are printed, with the exception of a very few omissions which appeared obviously desirable, just as they were written, and if there should be found in them, or in the chapters which accompany them, anything which may interest or amuse your Majesty, I shall esteem myself doubly fortunate in having been the means of bringing them under your Majesty’s notice.


I am, Madam,
Your Majesty’s very humble
and obedient subject,
BRABOURNE.


INTRODUCTION


It is right that some explanation should be given of the manner in which the letters now published came into my possession.

The Rev. J. E. Austen Leigh, nephew to Jane Austen, and first cousin to my mother Lady Knatchbull, published in 1869 a “ Memoir ” of his aunt, and supplemented it by a second and enlarged edition in the following year, to which he added the hitherto unpublished tale, “ Lady Susan, ” for the publication of which he states in his preface that he had “ lately received permission from the author’s niece, Lady Knatchbull, of Provender, in Kent, to whom the autograph copy was given. ” It seems that the autograph copy of another unpublished tale, “ The Watsons, ” had been given to Mr. Austen Leigh’s half-sister, Mrs. Lefroy, and that each recipient took a copy of what was given to the other, by which means Mr. Austen Leigh became acquainted with the existence and contents of “ Lady Susan, ” and knowing that it was the property of my mother, wrote to ask her permission to attach it to, and publish it with, the second edition of his “Memoir.” My mother was at that time unable to attend to business, and my youngest sister, who lived with her, replied to the request, giving the desired permission on her behalf, but stating at the same time that the autograph copy had been lost for the last six years, that any letters which existed could not be found, and that my mother was not in a fit state to allow of any search being made. It so happened that no reference was made to me, and I only knew of the request having been made and granted when I saw the tale in print. But on my mother's death, in December, 1882, all her papers came into my possession, and I not only found the original copy of “Lady Susan” — in Jane Austen's own hand-writing — among the other books in the Provender library, but a square box full of letters, fastened up carefully in separate packets, each of which was endorsed “For Lady Knatchbull,” in the handwriting of my great-aunt, Cassandra Austen, and with which was a paper endorsed, in my mother's handwriting, “Letters from my dear Aunt Jane Austen, and two from Aunt Cassandra after her decease,” which paper contained the letters written to my mother herself. The box itself had been endorsed by my mother as follows : —

“Letters from Aunt Jane to Aunt Cassandra at different periods of her life — a few to me — and some from Aunt Cassandra to me after At. Jane's death.”

This endorsement bears the date August, 1856, and was probably made the last time my mother looked at the letters. At all events, a comparison of these letters with some quoted by Mr. Austen Leigh makes it abundantly clear that they have never been in his hands, and that they are now presented to the public for the first time. Indeed, it is much to be regretted that the “Memoir” should have been published without the additional light which many of these letters throw upon the “Life,” though of course no blame attaches to Mr. Austen Leigh in the matter.

The opportunity, however, having been lost, and “Lady Susan” already published, it remained for me to consider whether the letters which had come into my possession were of sufficient public interest to justify me in giving them to the world. They had evidently, for the most part, been left to my mother by her Aunt Cassandra Austen ; they contain the confidential outpourings of Jane Austen's soul to her beloved sister, interspersed with many family and personal details which, doubtless, she would have told to no other human being. But to-day, more than seventy long years have rolled away since the greater part of them were written; no one now living can, I think, have any possible just cause of annoyance at their publication, whilst, if I judge rightly, the public never took a deeper or more lively interest in all that concerns Jane Austen than at the present moment. Her works, slow in their progress towards popularity, have achieved it with the greater certainty, and have made an impression the more permanent from its gradual advance. The popularity continues, although the customs and manners which Jane Austen describes have changed and varied so much as to belong in a great measure to another age. But the reason of its continuance is not far to seek. Human nature is the same in all ages of the world, and “the inimitable Jane“ (as an old friend of mine used always to call her) is true to Nature from first to last. She does not attract our imagination by sensational descriptions or marvellous plots; but, with so little “plot“ at all as to offend those who read only for excitement, she describes men and women exactly as men and women really are, and tells her tale of ordinary, everyday life with such truthful delineation, such bewitching simplicity, and, moreover, with such purity of style and language, as have rarely been equalled, and perhaps never surpassed.

This being the case, it has seemed to me that the letters which show what her own “ordinary, everyday life“ was, and which afford a picture of her such as no history written by another person could give so well, are likely to interest a public which, both in Great Britain and America, has learned to appreciate Jane Austen. It will be seen that they are ninety-four in number, ranging in date from 1796 to 1816 — that is to say, over the last twenty years of her life. Some other letters, written to her sister Cassandra, appear in Mr. Austen Leigh's book, and it would seem that at Cassandra's death, in 1845, the correspondence must have been divided, and whilst the bulk of it came to my mother, a number of letters passed into the possession of Mr. Austen Leigh's sisters, from whom he obtained them. These he made use of without being aware of the existence of the rest.

However this may be, it is certain that I am now able to present to the public entirely new matter, from which may be gathered a fuller and more complete knowledge of Jane Austen and her “belongings” than could otherwise have been obtained. Miss Tytler, indeed, has made a praiseworthy effort to impart to the world information respecting the life and works of her favourite authoress, but her “Life” is little more than a copy of Mr. Austen Leigh's Memoir. I attempt no “Memoir” that can properly be so called, but I give the letters as they were written, with such comments and explanations as I think may add to their interest. I am aware that in some of the latter I have wandered somewhat far away from Jane Austen, having been led aside by allusions which awaken old memories and recall old stories. But whilst my “ addenda ” may be read or skipped as the reader pleases, they do not detract from the actual value of the genuine letters which I place before him. These, I think, can hardly fail to be of interest to all who desire to know more of the writer; and, although they form no continuous narrative and record no stirring events, it will be remarked that, amid the most ordinary details and most commonplace topics, every now and then sparkle out the same wit and humour which illuminate the pages of “ Pride and Prejudice, ” “ Mansfield Park, ” “ Emma, ” &c., and which have endeared the name of Jane Austen to many thousands of readers in English-speaking homes.


Brabourne.

May, 1884.



Letters of Jane Austen


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1796



The first two letters which I am able to present to my readers were written from Steventon to Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra in January, 1796. The most interesting allusion, perhaps, is to her “ young Irish friend, ” who would seem by the context to have been the late Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, though at the time of writing only “ Mr. Tom Lefroy. ” I have no means of knowing how serious the “ flirtation ” between the two may have been, or whether it was to this that Mr. Austen Leigh refers when he tells us that “ in her youth she had declined the addresses of a gentleman who had the recommendations of good character and connections, and position in life, of everything, in fact, except the subtle power of touching her heart.” I am inclined, however, upon the whole, to think, from the tone of the letters, as well as from some passages in later letters, that this little affair had nothing to do with the “ addresses ” referred to, any more than with that “passage of romance in her history” with which Mr. Austen Leigh was himself so “imperfectly acquainted” that he can only tell us that there was a gentleman whom the sisters met “whilst staying at some seaside place,” whom Cassandra Austen thought worthy of her sister Jane, and likely to gain her affection, but who very provokingly died suddenly after having expressed his “intention of soon seeing them again.” Mr. Austen Leigh thinks that, “if Jane ever loved, it was this unnamed gentleman” ; but I have never met with any evidence upon the subject, and from all I have heard of “Aunt Jane,” I strongly incline to the opinion that, whatever passing inclination she may have felt for anyone during her younger days (and that there was once such an inclination is, I believe, certain), she was too fond of home, and too happy among her own relations, to have sought other ties, unless her heart had been really won, and that this was a thing which never actually happened. Her allusion (letter two) to the day on which “I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy” rather negatives the idea that there was anything serious between the two, whilst a later reference (letter ten) to Mrs. Lefroy's “friend” seems to intimate that, whoever the latter may have been, any attachment which existed was rather on the side of the gentleman than of the lady, and was not recognised by her as being of a permanent nature.

The first letter is written on her sister Cassandra's birthday, and is directed to her at Kintbury, where she seems to have been staying with her friend Ehzabeth Fowle (often referred to in these letters as “Eliza”), née Lloyd, whose sister was the “Mary” who “would never have guessed” the “tall clergyman's” name, and who afterwards married the “James” (Jane's brother) who was taken into the carriage as an encouragement to his improved dancing. Elisabeth Lloyd married the Rev. Fulwar Craven Fowle, who was the Vicar of Kintbury, near Newbury. Mr. Fowle was, I have always heard, a good sportman, a good preacher, and a man of some humour. He had a hunter at one time which he named “Biscay”, because it was “a great roaring bay.” He commanded a troop of Volunteers in the war-time, and King George the Third is reported to have said of him that he was “the best preacher, rider to hounds, and cavalry officer in Berks.”

The Harwoods of Deane were country neighbours of whom we shall find frequent mention. They were a very old Hampshire family, living upon their own property, which was formely much larger than at the date of our letters, and which, I believe, has now passed away altogether from its former possessors. Close to Deane is Ashe, of which Mr. Lefroy was rector, and Ashe Park, now occupied by Col. R. Portal, and in 1796 belonging to Mr. Portal, of Laverstoke, was at that time occupied by the family of St. John. The Rivers family lived, I believe, at Worthy Park, Kingsworthy, and I imagine the Miss Deanes to have been of the family of that name living in Winchester. One member of this family has since held the neighbouring living of Bighton. The Lyfords were medical men, father and son, living at Basingstoke. It will be noted that one of them attended Mrs. George Austen in the illness mentioned in the earlier letters, and it was one of the same family who was Jane Austen's doctor in her last illness at Winchester. In a little volume concerning the “Vine hunt” which he printed privately in 1865, Mr. Austen Leigh tells a good story of the grand-father of the “John Lyford” here mentioned, “a fine tall man, with such a flaxen wig as is not to be seen or conceived by this generation.” He knew nothing about fox-hunting, but had a due and proper regard for those who indulged in it, and it is recorded of him that upon one occasion, having accidentally fallen in with Mr. Chute's hounds when checked, he caused great confusion by galloping up in a very excited state, waving his hat, and exclaiming “Tally-ho! Mr. Chute. Tally-ho! Mr. Chute.” Not that he had seen the fox, but because he imagined that “Tally-ho!” was the word with which fox-hunters ordinarily greeted each other in the field.

Among the people mentioned as having been at “the Harwoods' ball” were several who deserve notice. “Mr. Heathcote” was William, the brother of Sir Thomas, the fourth Baronet of Hursley. Two years after the date of this letter, viz., in 1798, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Lovelace Bigg Wither, Esq., of Manydown; he was Prebendary of Winchester, and pre-deceasing his brother, his son William succeeded the latter as fifth baronet in 1825, sat for Hants in five Parliaments, and afterwards for Oxford University for fourteen years. He was made a Privy Councillor in 1870, and lived till 1881, very greatly respected and beloved by a large circle of friends. In 1796 the Heathcotes lived at Worting, a house in a village of the same name, situate about five or six miles from Steventon. Mr. J. Portal was Mr. Portal, of Freefolk House, near Overton. He married twice, and, living till 1848, was succeeded by the eldest son of his second wife, Melville Portal, who was afterwards for a short time member for North Hants. Mr. John Portal's eldest daughter by his first marriage was Caroline, who married Edward Austen's fourth son William. Adela, one of his daughters by his second wife, became the second wife of the “Little Edward” mentioned in the letters, who was the eldest son of the same Edward Austen, Jane's brother, the owner of Godmersham and Chawton. She died in 1870. Mr. Portal's brother William lived at Laverstoke, which, as well as Ashe Park, belonged to him. Mr. Bigg Wither, of Manydown, had two other daughters besides Mrs. Heathcote, namely, Alithea, with whom “James danced,” and Catherine, who afterwards married the Rev. Herbert Hill, who enjoyed the double distinction of being Southey's uncle and (at one time) chaplain to the British factory at Lisbon. “Ibthorp” was a house near Lord Portsmouth's place, Hurstbourne, where lived as a widow Mrs. Lloyd, the mother of Eliza, Martha, and Mary. Her husband, the Rev. Nowys Lloyd, had held the two livings of Enbourne near Newbury and Bishopston, Wilts, and at the latter place fell in love with “Martha Craven,” who was living there with an “Aunt Willoughby,” having run away from a mother whom family tradition alleges to have treated her badly. Mrs. Lloyd died in April, 1805, when the Austens were at Bath. The Coopers, whose arrival is expected in the first, and announced in the second letter, were Dr. Cooper, already mentioned as having married Jane Austen's aunt, Jane Leigh, with his wife and their two children, Edward and Jane, of whom we shall frequently hear. I have no means of knowing who is referred to as “Warren,” but there was, and is, a Hampshire family of that name, of Worting House, Basingstoke, and it may very likely be one of them, since they were of course near neighbours, and likely to be intimate at Steventon. Neither can I bring proof positive as to the identity of Mr. Benjamin Portal, which is the more to be regretted because a person with such “handsome” eyes deserves to be identified. There was, however, a certain clergyman, the Rev. William Portal, a member of the Freefolk and Laverstoke family, who had a wife, seven sons, and the Rectory of Stoke Charity in Hants. None of these sons married, but, judging by dates, some of them must have been living about 1796, and probably Benjamin was one of them.

The third letter of 1796 is dated from London, where the writer had evidently stopped for a night on her way from Steventon to Rowling, a journey which in those days was a much more serious affair than at present, when a few hours of railroad take us comfortably from one place to the other. Rowling was and is a small place belonging to the Bridges family, being about a mile distant from Goodnestone. Edward Austen, Jane’s brother, lived there at this time, though whether his brother-in-law, Sir Brook, let it or lent it to him I cannot say. Probably the former; at any rate, here he lived, and here were his three eldest children born. The subsequent letters (four to seven inclusive) were written whilst Jane was visiting her brother, and are full of touches of her own quaint humour. Mrs. Knight had not left Godmersham at this time, but was about to do so, and my grandfather and grandmother were going to take possession. The " Mr. and Mrs. Cage " were Lems Cage and his wife, Fanny Bridges. Harriet and Louisa were the two unmarried sisters of the latter; Edward, their brother, and the "Mr. and ]Mrs. Bridges " must have been Henry Bridges, next brother to Sir Brook (fourth baronet) , who was Rector of Danbury and Woodham Ferrers, in Essex, who had married Jane Hales the year before this letter was written. Sir Thomas Hales, his father-in-law, was M.P. for Dover, and had four daughters besides Jane, of whom the two youngest, Harriet and Caroline, are here mentioned. Harriet died unmarried, Caroline married Mr. Gore in 1798. Sir Thomas had died in 1773, and was succeeded by his son of the same name, who dying in 1824, and having only one daughter, the baronetcy became extinct. The allusion to " Camilla in Mr. Dubster's summer-house " (to whom Jane likens herself when her brother’s absence obliged her to stay at Rowling till he should return to escort her home) will be understood by those who have perused Miss Burney’s novel of that name, and to those who have not will, I hope, be an inducement to do so, as it will certainly repay the perusal. Lady Waltham was the wife of Lord Waltham, and a great friend of Lady Bridges.

There are other allusions to things and people scattered throughout these letters, to understand which it is necessary to bear in mind that they are often made in the purest spirit of playful nonsense, and are by no means to be taken as grave and serious expressions of opinion or statement of facts. When, for instance, speaking of Mrs. Knight, the widow of Godmersham, she says “it is imagined that she will shortly be married again,” and in the next letter speaks of her brother Edward as intending to get some of a vacant farm into his occupation, “if he can cheat Sir Brook enough in the agreement,” she is writing in the same spirit of fun as when she presently tells us that her brother had thoughts of “taking the name of Claringbould,” that “Mr. Richard Harvey’s match is put off till he has got a better Christian name,” and that two gentlemen about to marry “are to have one wife between them.” Mrs. Knight was advanced in years at the time, and her marrying a second time a very unlikely thing to occur ; and I suppose no man ever lived who was less likely to " cheat " or take advantage of another than my grandfather, Edward Austen. It is in the same vein of fun, or of originality, if the phrase be better, that she speaks (letter seven) of " the Captain John Gore, commanded by the " Triton, " instead of " the " Triton,' commanded by Captain John Gore," and, in the postscript to the same letter, of her brother Frank being " much pleased with the prospect of having Captain Gore under his command," when of course the relative position of the two was precisely the reverse. Many people will think this explanation superfluous, but I have so often met with matter-of-fact individuals who persist in taking everything in its plain and literal sense, that I think it well to make it. It is to this day a peculiarity of some of the Austens (and doubtless not confined to them) to talk and write nonsense to each other which, easily understood between themselves at the time, might have a curious appearance if published a hundred years hence. Such expressions as a " chutton mop " for " a mutton chop," to clerge (i.e. to perform the duties of a clergyman), and to " ronge " — i.e. "to affect with a pleasing melancholy " — are well enough when used and appreciated in family letters and conversations, but might give rise to curious dissertations upon the different use of particular English words at different times, if given without comment or explanation to the public, whilst the literal interpretation of things said in jest to those who understood the jest at the time would cause the most serious mistakes as to the real meaning of the writer and the spirit in which she wrote.

The sixth and seventh letters are full of local and personal allusions of more or less interest. The dinner-party at Nackington is pleasantly described, and the wealth of Mr. Milles referred to in the pretended expectation expressed that he would have advanced money to a person with whom he had no relationship which might have induced such generosity. It was natural that Lady Sondes' picture should be found in her father's house, for in that relationship stood Mr. Milles to her. She was at this time living at Lees Court with her husband, who did not die until ten years later. Bifrons was at this time in the possession of the Taylor family, from whom it afterwards passed to the Conynghams; but I do not know to whom Jane refers as the individual upon whom she once fondly doated, although the “once” could not have been very long before, as at this time she had not yet completed her twenty-first year. Mrs. Joan Knatchbull lived in Canterbury. She was the only sister of Sir Wyndham Knatchbull, who died in 1763, when the title and estates went to his uncle. The other people referred to in these letters are either dealt with in the preliminary chapters, or do not appear to require further notice, having little to do with Jane or her family.


――――


I.


Steventon: Saturday (January 9).

In the first place I hope you will live twenty-three years longer. Mr. Tom Lefroy's birthday was yesterday, so that you are very near of an age.

After this necessary preamble I shall proceed to inform you that we had an exceeding good ball last night, and that I was very much disappointed at not seeing Charles Fowle of the party, as I had previously heard of his being invited. In addition to our set at the Harwoods'ball, we had the Grants, St. Johns, Lady Rivers, her three daughters and a son, Mr. and Miss Heathcote, Mrs. Lefevre, two Mr. Watkins, Mr. J. Portal, Miss Deanes, two Miss Ledgers, and a tall clergyman who came with them, whose name Mary would never have guessed.

We were so terrible good as to take James in our carriage, though there were three of us before; but indeed he deserves encouragement for the very great improvement which has lately taken place in his dancing. Miss Heathcote is pretty, but not near so handsome as I expected. Mr. H. began with Elizabeth, and afterwards danced with her again; but they do not know how to be particular. I flatter myself, however, that they will profit by the three successive lessons which I have given them.

You scold me so much in the nice long letter which I have this moment received from you, that I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together. I can expose myself, however, only once more, because he leaves the country soon after next Friday, on which day we are to have a dance at Ashe after all. He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man, I assure you. But as to our having ever met, except at the three last balls, I cannot say much; for he is so excessively laughed at about me at Ashe, that he is ashamed of coming to Steventon, and ran away when we called on Mrs. Lefroy a few days ago.

We left Warren at Dean Gate, in our way home last night, and he is now on his road to town. He left his love, &c., to you, and I will deliver it when we meet. Henry goes to Harden to-day in his way to his Master's degree. We shall feel the loss of these two most agreeable young men exceedingly, and shall have nothing to console us till the arrival of the Coopers on Tuesday. As they will stay here till the IMon- day following, perhaps Caroline will go to the Ashe ball with me, though I dare say she will not.

I danced twice with Warren last night, and once with Mr. Charles Watkins, and, to my in- expressible astonishment, I entirely escaped John Lyford. I was forced to fight hard for it, however. We had a very good supper, and the greenhouse was illuminated in a very elegant manner.

We had a visit yesterday morning from Mr. Benjamin Portal, whose eyes are as handsome as ever. Everybody is extremely anxious for your return, but as you cannot come home by the Ashe ball, I am glad that I have not fed them with false hopes. James danced with Alithea, and cut up the turkey last night with great per- severance. You say nothing of the silk stock- ings ; I flatter myself, therefore, that Charles has not purchased any, as I cannot very well aff'ord to pay for them ; all my money is spent in buying white gloves and pink persian. I wish Charles had been at Manydown, because he would have given you some description of my friend, and I think you must be impatient to hear something about him.

Henry is still hankering after the Regulars, and as his project of purchasing the adjutancy of the Oxfordshire is now over, he has got a scheme in his head about getting a lieutenancy and adjutancy in the 86th, a new-raised regiment, which he fancies will be ordered to the Cape of Good Hope. I heartily hope that he will, as usual, be disappointed in this scheme. We have trimmed up and given away all the old paper hats of Mamma’s manufacture; I hope you will not regret the loss of yours. After I had written the above, we received a visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin George. The latter is really very well-behaved now; and as for the other, he has but one fault, which time will, I trust, entirely remove — it is that his morning coat is a great deal too light. He is a very great admirer of Tom Jones, and therefore wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which he did when he was wounded.

Sunday. — By not returning till the 19th, you will exactly contrive to miss seeing the Coopers, which I suppose it is your wish to do. We have heard nothing from Charles for some time. One would suppose they must have sailed by this time, as the wind is so favourable. What a funny name Tom has got for his vessel! But he has no taste in names, as we well know, and I dare say he christened it himself. I am sorry for the Beaches’ loss of their little girl, especially as it is the one so much like me.

I condole with Miss M. on her losses and with Eliza on her gains, and am ever yours,

J. A.

To Miss Austen,

Rev. Mr. Fowle's, Kintbury, Newbury.



II.


Steventon: Thursday (January 16).

I have just received yours and Mary’s letter, and I thank you both, though their contents might have been more agreeable. I do not at all expect to see you on Tuesday, since matters have fallen out so pleasantly; and if you are not able to return till after that day, it will hardly be possible for us to send for you before Saturday, though for my own part I care so little about the ball that it would be no sacrifice to me to give it up for the sake of seeing you two days earlier. We are extremely sorry for poor Eliza's illness. I trust, however, that she has continued to recover since you wrote, and that you will none of you be the worse for your attendance on her. What a good-for-nothing fellow Charles is to bespeak the stockings! I hope he will be too hot all the rest of his life for it !

I sent you a letter yesterday to Ibthorp, which I suppose you will not receive at Kintbury. It was not very long or very witty, and therefore if you never receive it, it does not much signify. I wrote principally to tell you that the Coopers were arrived and in good health. The little boy is very like Dr. Cooper, and the little girl is to resemble Jane, they say.

Our party to Ashe to-morrow night will consist of Edward Cooper, James (for a ball is nothing without him), Buller, who is now staying with us, and I. I look forward with great impatience to it, as I rather expect to receive an offer from my friend in the course of the evening. I shall refuse him, however, unless he promises to give away his white coat.

I am very much flattered by your commendation of my last letter, for I write only for fame, and without any view to pecuniary emolument.

Edward is gone to spend the day with his friend, John Lyford, and does not return till to-morrow. Anna is now here; she came up in her chaise to spend the day with her young cousins, but she does not much take to them or to anything about them, except Caroline’s spinning-wheel. I am very glad to find from Mary that Mr. and Mrs. Fowle are pleased with you. I hope you will continue to give satisfaction.

How impertinent you are to write to me about Tom, as if I had not opportunities of hearing from him myself! The last letter that I received from him was dated on Friday, 8th, and he told me that if the wind should be favourable on Sunday, which it proved to be, they were to sail from Falmouth on that day. By this time, therefore, they are at Barbadoes, I suppose. The Rivers are still at Manydown, and are to be at Ashe tomorrow. I intended to call on the Miss Biggs yesterday had the weather been tolerable. Caroline, Anna, and I have just been devouring some cold souse, and it would be difficult to say which enjoyed it most.

Tell Mary that I make over Mr. Heartley and all his estate to her for her sole use and benefit in future, and not only him, but all my other admirers into the bargain wherever she can find them, even the kiss which C. Powlett wanted to give me, as I mean to confine myself in future to Mr. Tom Lefroy, for whom I don't care six-pence. Assure her also, as a last and indubitable proof of Warren's indifference to me, that he actually drew that gentleman's picture for me, and delivered it to me without a sigh.

Friday. — At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will be over. My tears flow as I write at the melancholy idea. Wm. Chute called here yesterday. I wonder what he means by being so civil. There is a report that Tom is going to be married to a Lichfield lass. John Lyford and his sister bring Edward home today, dine with us, and we shall all go together to Ashe. I understand that we are to draw for partners. I shall be extremely impatient to hear from you again, that I may know how Eliza is, and when you are to return.

With best love, &c., I am affectionately yours,

J. Austen.

Miss Austen,

The Rev. Mr. Fowle’s, Kintbury, Newbury.



III.

Cork Street: Tuesday morn (August, 1796).

My dear Cassandra,

Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted. We reached Staines yesterday, I do not (know) when, without suffering so much from the heat as I had hoped to do. We set off again this morning at seven o’clock, and had a very pleasant drive, as the morning was cloudy and perfectly cool. I came all the way in the chaise from Hertford Bridge.

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XXXVI


Southampton: Wednesday (January 7).

My dear Cassandra,

You were mistaken in supposing I should expect your letter on Sunday; I had no idea of hearing from you before Tuesday, and my pleasure yesterday was therefore unhurt by any previous disappointment. I thank you for writing so much ; you must really have sent me the value of two letters in one. We are extremely glad to hear that Elizabeth is so much better, and hope you will be sensible of still further amendment in her when you return from Canterbury.

Of your visit there I must now speak " incessantly "; it surprises, but pleases me more, and I consider it as a very just and honourable distinction of you, and not less to the credit of Mrs. Knight. I have no doubt of your spending your time with her most pleasantly in quiet and rational conversation, and am so far from thinking her expectations of you will be deceived, that my only fear is of your being so agreeable, so much to her taste, as to make her wish to keep you with her for ever. If that should be the case, we must remove to Canterbury, which I should not like so well as Southampton.

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You will be surprised to hear that Jenny is not yet come back; we have heard nothing of her since her reaching Itchingswell, and can only suppose that she must be detained by illness in somebody or other, and that she has been each day expecting to be able to come on the morrow. I am glad I did not know beforehand that she was to be absent during the whole or almost the whole of our friends being with us, for though the inconvenience has not been nothing, I should have feared still more. Our dinners have certainly suffered not a little by having only Molly's head and Molly's hands to conduct them; she fries better than she did, but not like Jenny.

We did not take our walk on Friday, it was too dirty, nor have we yet done it; we may perhaps do something like it to-day, as after seeing Frank skate, which he hopes to do in the meadows by the beech, we are to treat ourselves with a passage over the ferry. It is one of the pleasantest frosts I ever knew, so very quiet. I hope it will last some time longer for Frank's sake, who is quite anxious to get some skating ; he tried yesterday, but it would not do.

Our acquaintance increase too fast. He was recognized lately by Admiral Bertie, and a few days since arrived the Admiral and his daughter Catherine to wait upon us. There was nothing to like or dislike in either. To the Berties are to be added the Lances, with whose cards we have been endowed, and whose visit Frank and I returned yesterday. They live about a mile and three-quarters from S. to the right of the new road to Portsmouth, and I believe their house is one of those which are to be seen almost any-where among the woods on the other side of the Itchen. It is a handsome building, stands high, and in a very beautiful situation.

We found only Mrs. Lance at home, and whether she boasts any offspring besides a grand pianoforte did not appear. She was civil and chatty enough, and offered to introduce us to some acquaintance in Southampton, which we gratefully declined.

I suppose they must be acting by the orders of Mr. Lance of Netherton in this civility, as there seems no other reason for their coming near us. They will not come often, I dare say. They live in a handsome style and are rich, and she seemed to like to be rich, and we gave her to understand that we were far from being so ; she will soon feel therefore that we are not worth her acquaintance.

You must have heard from Martha by this time. We have had no accounts of Kintbury since her letter to me.

Mrs. F. A. has had one fainting fit lately; it came on as usual after eating a hearty dinner, but did not last long.

I can recollect nothing more to say. When my letter is gone, I suppose I shall.

Yours affectionately, J. A.

I have just asked Caroline if I should send her love to her godmama, to which she answered " Yes."

Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,
Faversham, Kent.


END OF FIRST VOLUME



ILLUSTRATIONS
 
Vestibule at 4 Sydney Place, Bath Frontispiece
 
page
No. 4 Sydney Place, Bath, formerly the residence of Jane Austen vi
 
Facsimile of an autograph letter of Jane Austen, 1900 3
 



No. 4 Sydney Place, Bath, formerly the residence of Jane Austen
Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu

LETTERS OF JANE AUSTEN



Facsimile of an autograph letter of Jane Austen

Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu


Letters of Jane Austen


XXXVII

Southampton: February 8.

MY DEAREST CASSANDRA,

My expectation of having nothing to say to you after the conclusion of my last seems nearer truth than I thought it would be, for I feel to have but little. I need not, therefore, be above acknowledging the rceipt of yours this morning, or of replying to every part of it which is capable of an answer, and you may accordingly prepare for my ringing the changes of the glads and sorrys for the rest of the page.

Unluckily, however, I see nothing to be glad of, unless I make it a matter of joy that Mrs. Wylmot has another son, and that Lord Lucan has taken a mistress, both of which events are, of course, joyful to the actors; but to be sorry I find many occasions. The first is, that your return is to be delayed, and whether I ever get beyond the first is doubtful. It is no use to lament. I never heard that even Queen Mary’s lamentation did her any good, and I could not, therefore, expect benefit from mine. We are all sorry, and now that subject is exhausted

I heard from Martha yesterday. She spends this week with the Harwoods, goes afterwards with James and Mary for a few days to see Peter Debary and two of his sisters at Eversley, the living of which he has gained on the death of Sir R. Cope, and means to be here on the 24th, which will be Tuesday fortnight. I shall be truly glad if she can keep to her day, but dare not depend on it, and am so apprehensive of farther detention, that, if nothing else occurs to create it, I cannot help thinking she will marry Peter Debary.

It vexed me that I could not get any fish for Kintbury while their family was large, but so it was; and till last Tuesday I could procure none. I then sent them four pair of small soles, and should be glad to be certain of their arriving in good time, but I have heard nothing about them since, and had rather hear nothing than evil. They cost six shillings, and as they travelled in a basket which came from Kintbury a few days before with poultry, &c., I insist upon treating you with the booking, whatever it may be. You are only eighteen pence in my debt.

Mrs. E. Leigh did not make the slightest allusion to my uncle's business, as I remember telling you at the time, but you shall have it as often as you like. My mother wrote to her a week ago.

Martha's rug is just finished, and looks well, though not quite so well as I had hoped. I see no fault in the border, but the middle is dingy. My mother desires me to say that she will knit one for you as soon as you return to choose the colours and pattern.

I am sorry I have affronted you on the subject of Mr. Moore, but I do not mean ever to like him; and as to pitying a young woman merely because she cannot live in two places at the same time, and at once enjoy the comforts of being married and single, I shall not attempt it, even for Harriet. You see I have a spirit as well as yourself.

Frank and Mary cannot at all approve of your not being at home in time to help them in their finishing purchases, and desire me to say that, if you are not, they will be as spiteful as possible, and choose everything in the style most likely to vex you—knives that will not cut, glasses that will not hold, a sofa without a seat, and a bookcase without shelves.

Our garden is putting in order by a man who bears a remarkably good character, has a very fine complexion, and asks something less than the first. The shrubs which border the gravel walk, he says, are only sweetbriar and roses, and the latter of an indifferent sort; we mean to get a few of a better kind, therefore, and at my own particular desire he procures us some syringas. I could not do without a syringa, for the sake of Cowper’s line. We talk also of a laburnum. The border under the terrace wall is clearing away to receive currants and gooseberry bushes, and a spot is found very proper for raspberries.

The alterations and improvements within doors, too, advance very properly, and the offices will be made very convenient indeed. Our dressing table is constructing on the spot, out of a large kitchen table belonging to the house, for doing which we have the permission of Mr. Husket, Lord Lansdown’s painter — domestic painter, I should call him, for he lives in the castle. Domestic chaplains have given way to this more necessary office, and I suppose whenever the walls want no touching up he is employed about my lady’s face.

The morning was so wet that I was afraid we should not be able to see our little visitor, but Frank, who alone could go to church, called for her after service, and she is now talking away at my side and examining the treasures of my writing-desk drawers — very happy, I believe. Not at all shy, of course. Her name is Catherine, and her sister’s Caroline. 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There is not much more- in this letter, and then we have unfortunately an- other gap of nearly two letterless years, there being none in my collection from June 6, 1811, until May 24, 1813. LV Sloane St.: Thursday (April 18). My dear Cassandra, I have so many little matters to tell you of, that I cannot wait any longer before I begin to put them down. I spent Tuesday in Bentinck Street. The Cookes called here and took me back, and it was quite a Cooke day, for the Miss Rolles paid a visit while I was there, and Sam Arnold dropped in to tea. 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Cambrick! With grateful blessings would I pay
The pleasure given me in sweet employ.
Long may’st thou serve my friend without decay,
And have no tears to wipe but tears of joy.

————


On the same Occasion, but not sent.

Cambrick! thou'st been to me a good,
And I would bless thee if I could.
Go, serve thy mistress with delight,
Be small in compass, soft and white;
Enjoy thy fortune, honour'd much
To bear her name and feel her touch;
And that thy worth may last for years,
Slight be her colds, and few her tears.

APPENDICES


—————


I

The notice taken by the Prince Regent of Jane Austen's novels cannot be better described than in the words of Mr. Austen Leigh in the following passage, which I venture to transcribe from his book :—


“ It was not till towards the close of her life, when the last of the works that she saw published was in the press, that she received the only mark of distinction ever bestowed upon her; and that was remarkable for the high quarter whence it emanated rather than for any actual increase of fame that it conferred. It happened thus. In the autumn of 1815 she nursed her brother Henry through a dangerous fever and slow convalescence at his house in Hans Place. He was attended by one of the Prince Re- gent's physicians. All attempts to keep her name secret had at this time ceased, and though it had never appeared on a title-page, all who cared to know might easily learn it: and the friendly physician was aware that his patient’s nurse was the author of ‘ Pride and Prejudice.” Accordingly he informed her one day that the Prince was a great admirer of her novels; that he read them often, and kept a set in every one of his residences; that he himself therefore had thought it right to inform his Royal Highness Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/401 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/402 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/403 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/404 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/405 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/406 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/407 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/408 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/409 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/410 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/411 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/412 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/413 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/414 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/415 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/416 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/417 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/418 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/419 Page:Austen - Novels and Letters 12.djvu/420 dearest Fanny, that your poor little watch always seemed in an uncomfortable state. If you like to have a new one, I shall have great pleasure in providing you with one, and as I suppose you will be in Sloane Street a day or two in your return, it would be a good opportunity to make your choice. A watch and chain will certainly not cost less than 20 guineas, and you may be assured I shall not grudge 5 or 10 more to please my dear God-daughter. Draw upon your Uncle Henry, therefore, for what you require. By a letter from Miss Cuthbert, I find I am in your Papa’s debt.

The Ball was full, but the harmony of the evening was destroyed by the folly of Lady C. Nelson, who made a select Supper Party, and disobliged all the rest. When she and her Party returned to the Ball-room, the other set would not oin her dance, the music was stopped, and in short there was a grand Row. The Dinner had passed off better. No Toast was drank with more enthusiasm than Mr. Milles, who represented Canterbury at the time of the King’s accession. He bow’d and bow’d again, and was cheer’d and cheer’d again. Mrs. Palmer was at the Ball.

Adieu, my dear. Affectionately yours, C. K.[1]



THE END





  1. The “intended aunt ”-“ Dolly, my dear ”—was Dorothy Hawley, Sir Brook’s second wife.
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.