Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/20

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severely fastidious in the careful practice of her art would surely have remained content.

In many respects Lady Susan, written in Bath about 1805, must be regarded as somewhat outside the categories enumerated above. Yet it is also a work Jane Austen did not consider worthy of publication, if it was ever designed for print, and it cannot certainly be described as a typical Jane Austen novel.

It is a complete and, as we may safely assume, a final draf—the manuscript almost free from corrections or erasures, in that respect an example of finished work. On the other hand, it is written in ‘Letters,’ a form experimented with in the early days, and expressly discarded for ever as an instrument of narration. Upon careful examination of her life and the continuous development of her art, I am personally disposed to believe that it was a deliberate exercise in composition, as Love and Friendship and the fragments of childhood were written—without design. Her novels were thought out, first written, redrafted, and finally revised, when settled in Steventon or Chawton. During the unsettled years in Bath and Southampton, she gave some, interrupted, attention to old and new work; during which it may well be that she was exercised about her ability to deal with a type of character never congenial to her joyous and loving imagination, the villain of the piece. For the domestic novel, this would occasionally, if not often, be expected to figure as the accomplished vamp—though, in fact, never appearing thus in a true Jane Austen novel. This may well have been the origin of Lady Susan; but for us it remains one more valued example of her art, to which her genius has not given the final polish in thought, phrase, or construction that she invariably demanded from herself before offering anything to the world.

Lady Susan, The Watsons, and the Cancelled Chapter of 'Persuasion' were first printed in the second edition (1871) of