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- Letters of Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra Austen
- 1796. [THIS FILE]
- Letters to Fanny Knight 1814-1816
- Letters to Anna Austen Lefroy, 1814-1816
- Letters from Cassandra Austen to Fanny Knight, 1817
- Poetry, Backwards letter
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." [No -- that was Harris Bigg-Wither; Tom Lefroy did not then have a "position in life".] 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
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 Elizabeth 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. Elizabeth Lloyd married the Rev. Fulwar Craven Fowle, who
was the Vicar of Kintbury, near Newbury. Mr. Fowle was, I have always heard,
a good sportsman, 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 formerly 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 grandfather 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 Lewis 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.
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 Monday 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 inexpressible 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 perseverance. You say
nothing of the silk stockings; I flatter myself, therefore, that Charles
has not purchased any, as I cannot very well afford 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,
To Miss Austen,
Rev. Mr. Fowle's, Kintbury, Newbury.
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 to-morrow.
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 sixpence.
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,
The Rev. Mr. Fowle's, Kintbury, Newbury.
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.
Edward and Frank are both gone out to seek their fortunes;
the latter is to return soon and help us seek ours. The former
we shall never see again. We are to be at Astley's to-night,
which I am glad of. Edward has heard from Henry this morning.
He has not been at the races at all, unless his driving Miss
Pearson over to Rowling one day can be so called. We shall find
him there on Thursday.
I hope you are all alive after our melancholy parting yesterday,
and that you pursued your intended avocation with success.
God bless you! I must leave off, for we are going out.
Yours very affectionately,
Rowling: Thursday (September 1).
MY DEAREST CASSANDRA,
The letter which I have this moment received from you has diverted
me beyond moderation. I could die of laughter at it, as they
used to say at school. You are indeed the finest comic writer
of the present age.
Since I wrote last, we have been very near returning to Steventon
so early as next week. Such, for a day or two, was our dear brother
Henry's scheme, but at present matters are restored, not to what
they were, for my absence seems likely to be lengthened still farther.
I am sorry for it, but what can I do?
Henry leaves us to-morrow for Yarmouth, as he wishes very much
to consult his physician there, on whom he has great reliance. He is
better than he was when he first came, though still by no means well.
According to his present plan, he will not return here till about the 28rd,
and bring with him, if he can, leave of absence for three weeks,
as he wants very much to have some shooting at Godmersham,
whither Edward and Elizabeth are to remove very early in October.
If this scheme holds, I shall hardly be at Steventon before
the middle of that month; but if you cannot do without me,
I could return, I suppose, with Frank if he ever goes back.
He enjoys himself here very much, for he has just learnt to turn,
and is so delighted with the employment, that he is at it all day long.
I am sorry that you found such a conciseness in the strains of my
first letter. I must endeavour to make you amends for it, when we meet,
by some elaborate details, which I shall shortly begin composing.
I have had my new gown made up, and it really makes a very
superb surplice. I am sorry to say that my new coloured
gown is very much washed out, though I charged everybody
to take great care of it. I hope yours is so too.
Our men had but indifferent weather for their visit to Godmersham,
for it rained great part of the way there and all the way back.
They found Mrs. Knight remarkably well and in very good spirits.
It is imagined that she will shortly be married again.
I have taken little George once in my arms since I have been here,
which I thought very kind. I have told Fanny about the bead of
her necklace, and she wants very much to know where you found it.
To-morrow I shall be just like Camilla in Mr. Dubster's summer-house,
for my Lionel will have taken away the ladder by which I came here,
or at least by which I intended to get away, and here I must stay
till his return. My situation, however, is somewhat preferable
to hers, for I am very happy here, though I should be glad to get
home by the end of the month. I have no idea that Miss Pearson
will return with me.
What a fine fellow Charles is, to deceive us into writing
two letters to him at Cork! I admire his ingenuity extremely,
especially as he is so great a gainer by it.
Mr. and Mrs. Cage and Mr. and Mrs. Bridges dined with us yesterday.
Fanny seemed as glad to see me as anybody, and inquired
very much after you, whom she supposed to be making your
wedding-clothes. She is as handsome as ever, and somewhat fatter.
We had a very pleasant day, and some liqueurs in the evening.
Louisa's figure is very much improved; she is as stout again as she was.
Her face, from what I could see of it one evening, appeared not at
all altered. She and the gentlemen walked up here on Monday night --
she came in the morning with the Cages from Hythe.
Lady Hales, with her two youngest daughters, have been to see us.
Caroline is not grown at all coarser than she was, nor Harriet at all
more delicate. I am glad to hear so good an account of Mr. Charde,
and only fear that my long absence may occasion his relapse.
I practise every day as much as I can -- I wish it were more for his sake.
I have heard nothing of Mary Robinson since I have been
(here). I expect to be well scolded for daring to doubt,
whenever the subject is mentioned.
Frank has turned a very nice little butterchurn for Fanny.
I do not believe that any of the party were aware of the valuables
they had left behind; nor can I hear anything of Anna's gloves.
Indeed I have not inquired at all about them hitherto.
We are very busy making Edward's shirts, and I am proud to say that I am
the neatest worker of the party. They say that there are a prodigious
number of birds hereabouts this year, so that perhaps I may kill a few.
I am glad to hear so good an account of Mr. Limprey and J. Lovett.
I know nothing of my mother's handkerchief, but I dare say I shall
find it soon.
I am very affectionately yours,
Miss Austen, Steventon, Overton, Hants.
Rowling: Monday (September 5).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I shall be extremely anxious to hear the event of your ball,
and shall hope to receive so long and minute an account
of every particular that I shall be tired of reading it.
Let me know how many, besides their fourteen selves and Mr. and
Mrs. Wright, Michael will contrive to place about their coach,
and how many of the gentlemen, musicians, and waiters, he will have
persuaded to come in their shooting-jackets. I hope John Lovett's
accident will not prevent his attending the ball, as you will
otherwise be obliged to dance with Mr. Tincton the whole evening.
Let me know how J. Harwood deports himself without the Miss Biggs,
and which of the Marys will carry the day with my brother James.
We were at a ball on Saturday, I assure you. We dined at Goodnestone,
and in the evening danced two country-dances and the Boulangeries.
I opened the ball with Edward Bridges; the other couples were
Lewis Cage and Harriet, Frank and Louisa, Fanny and George.
Elizabeth played one country-dance, Lady Bridges the other, which she
made Henry dance with her, and Miss Finch played the Boulangeries.
In reading over the last three or four lines, I am aware of my having
expressed myself in so doubtful a manner that, if I did not tell
you to the contrary, you might imagine it was Lady Bridges who made
Henry dance with her at the same time that she was playing, which,
if not impossible, must appear a very improbable event to you.
But it was Elizabeth who danced. We supped there, and walked home
at night under the shade of two umbrellas.
To-day the Goodnestone party begins to disperse and spread
itself abroad. Mr. and Mrs. Cage and George repair to Hythe.
Lady Waltham, Miss Bridges, and Miss Mary Finch to Dover,
for the health of the two former. I have never seen Marianne at all.
On Thursday Mr. and Mrs. Bridges return to Danbury; Miss Harriet
Hales accompanies them to London on her way to Dorsetshire.
Farmer Claringbould died this morning, and I fancy Edward means to get
some of his farm, if he can cheat Sir Brook enough in the agreement.
We have just got some venison from Godmersham, which the two Mr. Harveys
are to dine on to-morrow, and on Friday or Saturday the Goodnestone
people are to finish their scraps. Henry went away on Friday,
as he purposed, without fayl. You will hear from him soon,
I imagine, as he talked of writing to Steventon shortly.
Mr. Richard Harvey is going to be married; but as it is a great secret,
and only known to half the neighbourhood, you must not mention it.
The lady's name is Musgrave.
I am in great distress. I cannot determine whether I shall give
Richis half a guinea or only five shillings when I go away.
Counsel me, amiable Miss Austen, and tell me which will be the most.
We walked Frank last night to Crixhall Ruff, and he appeared much edified.
Little Edward was breeched yesterday for good and all, and was
whipped into the bargain.
Pray remember me to everybody who does not inquire after me;
those who do, remember me without bidding. Give my love to Mary Harrison,
and tell her I wish, whenever she is attached to a young man,
some respectable Dr. Marchmont may keep them apart for five volumes.
. . . . . . .
Rowling: Thursday (September 15).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
We have been very gay since I wrote last; dining at Nackington,
returning by moonlight, and everything quite in style, not to mention
Mr. Claringbould's funeral which we saw go by on Sunday.
I believe I told you in a former letter that Edward had some idea
of taking the name of Clarmgbould; but that scheme is over,
though it would be a very eligible as well as a very pleasant plan,
would anyone advance him money enough to begin on. We rather
expected Mr. Milles to have done so on Tuesday; but to our great
surprise nothing was said on the subject, and unless it is in your
power to assist your brother with five or six hundred pounds,
he must entirely give up the idea.
At Nackington we met Lady Sondes' picture over the mantel-piece
in the dining-room, and the pictures of her three children in an
ante room, besides Mr. Scott, Miss Fletcher, Mr. Toke, Mr. J. Toke,
and the Archdeacon Lynch. Miss Fletcher and I were very thick,
but I am the thinnest of the two. She wore her purple muslin,
which is pretty enough, though it does not become her complexion.
There are two traits in her character which are pleasing --
namely, she admires Camilla, and drinks no cream in her tea.
If you should ever see Lucy, you may tell her that I scolded Miss
Fletcher for her negligence in writing, as she desired me to do,
but without being able to bring her to any proper sense of shame --
that Miss Fletcher says in her defence, that as everybody whom
Lucy knew when she was in Canterbury has now left it, she has
nothing at all to write to her about. By everybody, I suppose Miss
Fletcher means that a new set of officers have arrived there.
But this is a note of my own.
Mrs. Milles, Mr. John Toke, and in short everybody of any sensibility
inquired in tender strains after you, and I took an opportunity
of assuring Mr. J. T. that neither he nor his father need longer
keep themselves single for you.
We went in our two carriages to Nackington; but how we divided I shall
leave you to surmise, merely observing that, as Elizabeth and I were
without either hat or bonnet, it would not have been very convenient
for us to go in the chaise. We went by Bifrons, and I contemplated
with a melancholy pleasure the abode of him on whom I once fondly doated.
We dine to-day at Goodnestone, to meet my Aunt Fielding from Margate
and a Mr. Clayton, her professed admirer -- at least so I imagine.
Lady Bridges has received very good accounts of Marianne, who is
already certainly the better for her bathing.
So His Royal Highness Sir Thomas Williams has at length sailed;
the papers say "on a cruise." But I hope they are gone to Cork,
or I shall have written in vain. Give my love to Jane, as she
arrived at Steventon yesterday, I dare say.
I sent a message to Mr. Digweed from Edward in a letter to Mary Lloyd
which she ought to receive to-day; but as I know that the Harwoods are
not very exact as to their letters, I may as well repeat it to you.
Mr. Digweed is to be informed that illness has prevented Seward's
coming over to look at the repairs intended at the farm, but that
he will come as soon as he can. Mr. Digweed may also be informed,
if you think proper, that Mr. and Mrs. Milles are to dine here
to-morrow, and that Mrs. Joan Knatchbull is to be asked to meet them.
Mr. Richard Harvey's match is put off till he has got a better
Christian name, of which he has great hopes.
Mr. Children's two sons are both going to be married, John and George.
They are to have one wife between them, a Miss Holwell, who belongs
to the Black Hole at Calcutta. I depend on hearing from James very soon;
he promised me an account of the ball, and by this time he must
have collected his ideas enough after the fatigue of dancing
to give me one.
Edward and Fly went out yesterday very early in a couple
of shooting jackets, and came home like a couple of bad shots,
for they killed nothing at all. They are out again to-day, and are
not yet returned. Delightful sport! They are just come home,
Edward with his two brace, Frank with his two and a half.
What amiable young men!
Friday. -- Your letter and one from Henry are just come, and the contents of
both accord with my scheme more than I had dared expect. In one particular
I could wish it otherwise, for Henry is very indifferent indeed.
You must not expect us quite so early, however, as Wednesday, the 20th --
on that day se'nnight, according to our present plan, we may be with you.
Frank had never any idea of going away before Monday, the 26th.
I shall write to Miss Mason immediately and press her returning with us,
which Henry thinks very likely and particularly eligible.
Buy Mary Harrison's gown by all means. You shall have mine for ever
so much money, though, if I am tolerably rich when I get home,
I shall like it very much myself.
As to the mode of our travelling to town, I want to go in a
stage-coach, but Frank will not let me. As you are likely to have
the Williams and Lloyds with you next week, you would hardly find
room for us then. If anyone wants anything in town, they must send
their commissions to Frank, as I shall merely pass through it.
The tallow-chandler is Penlington, at the Crown and Beehive,
Charles Street, Covent Garden.
Miss Austen, Steventon, Overton, Hants.
Rowling: Sunday (September 18.)
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
This morning has been spent in doubt and deliberation, in forming
plans and removing difficulties, for it ushered in the day with an
event which I had not intended should take place so soon by a week.
Frank has received his appointment on board the "Captain John Gore,"
commanded by the "Triton," and will therefore be obliged to be in town
on Wednesday; and though I have every disposition in the world
to accompany him on that day, I cannot go on the uncertainty
of the Pearsons being at home, as I should not have a place to go
to in case they were from home.
I wrote to Miss P. on Friday, and hoped to receive an answer
from her this morning, which would have rendered everything smooth
and easy, and would have enabled us to leave this place to-morrow,
as Frank, on first receiving his appointment, intended to do.
He remains till Wednesday merely to accommodate me. I have written
to her again to-day, and desired her to answer it by return of post.
On Tuesday, therefore, I shall positively know whether they can
receive me on Wednesday. If they cannot, Edward has been so good
as to promise to take me to Greenwich on the Monday following,
which was the day before fixed on, if that suits them better.
If I have no answer at all on Tuesday, I must suppose Mary is not
at home, and must wait till I do hear, as, after having invited
her to go to Steventon with me, it will not quite do to go home
and say no more about it.
My father will be so good as to fetch home his prodigal daughter
from town, I hope, unless he wishes me to walk the hospitals,
enter at the Temple, or mount guard at St. James'. It will hardly
be in Frank's power to take me home -- nay, it certainly will not.
I shall write again as soon as I get to Greenwich.
What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual
state of inelegance.
If Miss Pearson should return with me, pray be careful not to expect
too much beauty. I will not pretend to say that on a first view
she quite answered the opinion I had formed of her. My mother,
I am sure, will be disappointed if she does not take great care.
From what I remember of her picture, it is no great resemblance.
I am very glad that the idea of returning with Frank occurred to me;
for as to Henry's coming into Kent again, the time of its taking place
is so very uncertain that I should be waiting for dead men's shoes.
I had once determined to go with Frank to-morrow and take my chance,
&c., but they dissuaded me from so rash a step, as I really think on
consideration it would have been; for if the Pearsons were not at home,
I should inevitably fall a sacrifice to the arts of some fat woman
who would make me drunk with small beer.
Mary is brought to bed of a boy -- both doing very well.
I shall leave you to guess what Mary I mean. Adieu, with best
love to all your agreeable inmates. Don't let the Lloyds go
on any account before I return, unless Miss P. is of the party.
How ill I have written! I begin to hate myself.
The "Triton" is a new 32 frigate just launch at Deptford.
Frank is much pleased with the prospect of having Captain Gore
under his command.
Miss Austen, Steventon, Overton, Hants.