Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/18

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corrected manuscript. This cannot, I believe, be accurately called even a first draft. It is rather the beginning of a rough sketch, which may almost be described as shorthand notes of a tale for which all details, possibly even the conclusion or main thread of the plot, have yet to be determined. No hint was given to her family of how the story would be developed. From the ampersands, broken sentences, and other clear signs of carelessness and haste in the original, we may be sure that Miss Austen was merely jotting down ideas for characters and scenes as they came into her mind without a thought for sequence or arrangement. With her experience and natural aptitude for expression, she may by chance have hit upon a phrase or two that could survive revision; but here we have no more than ta few interesting and suggestive notes for reference, when she had time—alas! never granted her—to begin writing another novel.

The Watson, on the other hand, also a much-corrected manuscript, probably written at Southampton in 1807, is an early draft of Emma, probably no further differing from that novel in scenes, characters, and plot than Sense and Sensibility departed from Elinor and Marianne or even Pride and Prejudice from First Impressions. Unlike Sanditon, this fragment has been thought out and composed—both in plot and phrasing. Miss Austen already knew what she intended to do with her characters, as she informed her family in some detail, and was actually engaged upon telling a tale. ‘Mr. Watson was soon to die and Emma to become dependent for a home on her narrow-minded sister-in-law and brother. She was to decline an offer from Lord Osborne, and much of the interest of the tale was to arise from Lady Osborne’s love for Mr. Howard and his counter-affection for Emma, whom he was finally to marry.’ It remained unfinished for reasons wholly connected with personal circumstances of her private life, and when, after the