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- Letters of Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra Austen
- 1811. [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 three of these are from Sloane Street, where Jane was at this time
visiting her brother Henry and his wife Eliza, to whom frequent reference
is made. They are lively letters, and she seems to have enjoyed herself
thoroughly, and to have had plenty of amusement of one sort and another.
"The D'Entraigues and Comte Julien" were doubtless friends of "Eliza,"
whose first husband had been a Frenchman; the Cookes and Tilsons I have
already mentioned, and nobody else in the fifty-fifth letter seems to
require special attention. The fifty-sixth contains some interesting
allusions to "S. and S." ("Sense and Sensibility"), from which I gather
that some of her home critics had thought that she put the incomes of
her heroes and heroines either too low or too high. It may be remarked
that, as she told us in another letter that Elizabeth was her favourite
character in "Pride and Prejudice," so, with regard to the novel now
under discussion, she has most reliance on a favourable reception for its
heroine Elinor. Then comes an amusing description of her sister-in-law's
musical party, where the drawing-room becoming too hot (an example
constantly followed with fidelity by modern drawing-rooms under similar
circumstances), Jane stood in the passage surrounded by gentlemen (just as
other Janes have frequently done), and no doubt contributed greatly to the
pleasure of the evening. I cannot pretend to interpret the message sent
to "Fanny" respecting the "first glee," which is written in a "gibberish"
probably only understood by the sender and receiver of the same. We must
therefore be satisfied with knowing that "the music was extremely good,"
that the professionals, who were paid for it, sang very well, and the
amateurs, who were not paid for it, would not sing at all. The Play was
a favourite amusement of Jane's; she seems to have gone to one or more
every time she was in London. One is sorry to gather from this letter
that Eliza caught cold from getting out of her carriage into the night air
when the horses "actually gibbed," and one wonders what "that quarter"
was from which Aunt Jane supposed that "the alloy of Fanny's happiness"
would come; but, having no clue to the mystery, one can do no more than
wonder. From the fifty-seventh letter we gather that Mr. W. K. (Wyndham
Knatchbull) thought Jane "a pleasant-looking young woman," and we have
another "gibberish" message to Fanny, and in a reference to a lady who
is "most happily married" to a gentleman who "is very religious and has
got black whiskers," one detects a touch of that peculiar humour which
so often amuses us in the novels.
The fifty-eighth letter imparts the interesting intelligence of a cousin's
marriage, which I find duly authenticated by "Burke's Landed Gentry,"
which chronicles the fact that General Orde's first wife was Margaret
Maria Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Wm. Beckford, Esq., of Fonthill,
Wilts, and that they were married in 1811, her sister "Susan Euphemia"
having married the tenth Duke of Hamilton (then Marquis of Douglas) in
1810; but how these ladies were cousins to Jane Austen I cannot make out,
and am not disposed to stop and inquire. "Poor John Bridges!" probably
refers to his state of health. He married Charlotte Hawley in 1810, and
died in 1812, and having lived much at Godmersham, it was natural that
"our own dear brother" (Mr. Knight) should be affected by his illness
and early death. Mrs. Harding, who came from Dummer (a little village
five miles from Basingstoke) to Chawton with the Terrys, was Dionysia,
daughter of Sir Bouchier Wrey, wife of Richard Harding, Esq., of Upcott,
and sister to Mrs. Nicholas Toke, of Godinton, whom she had therefore
a perfect right to resemble if she pleased, but it seems that she did
not. We learn from this letter that Jane had "uncomfortable feelings" in
thunderstorms, that several clerical changes in the neighbourhood were
impending, and that Mr. Prowting had opened a gravel-pit, but there
is nothing in these circumstances which seems to call for remark. The
fifty-ninth letter opens with a project for a visit from Miss Sharpe, and
the rest of it is filled with various details which may be left to speak
for themselves. The sixtieth refers to difficulties relating to the
proposed Sharpe visit, but tells of a "very pleasant" one made to Chawton
by Henry Austen and Mr. Tilson, and informs us, writing on Thursday, June
6, that they "began peas on Sunday" exactly two days before the orthodox
time, which from King George the Third's accession until his death was
always held to be "the good King's Birthday" -- namely, June 4 -- so that the
loyal inmates of Chawton Cottage should have restrained their appetites
until the Tuesday. There is not much more in this letter, and then we
have unfortunately another gap of nearly two letterless years, there being
none in my collection from June 6, 1811, until May 24, 1813.
 The Prowtings were a family who had lived on their own property in
Chawton for some 200 years, and a descendant still lives there.
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.
The badness of the weather disconcerted an excellent plan of mine -- that of
calling on Miss Beckford again; but from the middle of the day it rained
incessantly. Mary and I, after disposing of her father and mother, went
to the Liverpool Museum and the British Gallery, and I had some amusement
at each, though my preference for men and women always inclines me to
attend more to the company than the sight.
Mrs. Cooke regrets very much that she did not see you when you called; it
was owing to a blunder among the servants, for she did not know of our
visit till we were gone. She seems tolerably well, but the nervous part
of her complaint, I fear, increases, and makes her more and more unwilling
to part with Mary.
I have proposed to the latter that she should go to Chawton with me, on the
supposition of my travelling the Guilford road, and she, I do believe,
would be glad to do it, but perhaps it may be impossible; unless a brother
can be at home at that time, it certainly must. George comes to them to-day.
I did not see Theo. till late on Tuesday; he was gone to Ilford, but he
came back in time to show his usual nothing-meaning, harmless, heartless
civility. Henry, who had been confined the whole day to the bank, took
me in his way home, and, after putting life and wit into the party for a
quarter of an hour, put himself and his sister into a hackney coach.
I bless my stars that I have done with Tuesday. But, alas! Wednesday was
likewise a day of great doings, for Manon and I took our walk to Grafton
House, and I have a good deal to say on that subject.
I am sorry to tell you that I am getting very extravagant, and spending
all my money, and, what is worse for you, I have been spending yours too;
for in a linendraper's shop to which I went for checked muslin, and for
which I was obliged to give seven shillings a yard, I was tempted by a
pretty-coloured muslin, and bought ten yards of it on the chance of your
liking it; but, at the same time, if it should not suit you, you must not
think yourself at all obliged to take it; it is only 3s. 6d. per yard,
and I should not in the least mind keeping the whole. In texture it is
just what we prefer, but its resemblance to green crewels, I must own,
is not great, for the pattern is a small red spot. And now I believe I
have done all my commissions except Wedgwood.
I liked my walk very much; it was shorter than I had expected, and the
weather was delightful. We set off immediately after breakfast, and must
have reached Grafton House by half-past 11; but when we entered the shop
the whole counter was thronged, and we waited full half an hour before
we could be attended to. When we were served, however, I was very well
satisfied with my purchases -- my bugle trimming at 2s. 4d. and three pair
silk stockings for a little less than 12s. a pair.
In my way back who should I meet but Mr. Moore, just come from Beckenham.
I believe he would have passed me if I had not made him stop, but we were
delighted to meet. I soon found, however, that he had nothing new to tell
me, and then I let him go.
Miss Burton has made me a very pretty little bonnet, and now nothing can
satisfy me but I must have a straw hat, of the riding-hat shape, like
Mrs. Tilson's; and a young woman in this neighbourhood is actually making
me one. I am really very shocking, but it will not be dear at a Guinea.
Our pelisses are 17s. each; she charges only 8s. for the making, but the
buttons seem expensive -- I might have said, for the fact is plain enough.
We drank tea again yesterday with the Tilsons, and met the Smiths. I find
all these little parties very pleasant. I like Mrs. S.; Miss Beaty is
good-humour itself, and does not seem much besides. We spend to-morrow
evening with them, and are to meet the Coln. and Mrs. Cantelo Smith you
have been used to hear of, and, if she is in good humour, are likely to
have excellent singing.
To-night I might have been at the play; Henry had kindly planned our going
together to the Lyceum, but I have a cold which I should not like to make
worse before Saturday, so I stay within all this day.
Eliza is walking out by herself. She has plenty of business on her hands
just now, for the day of the party is settled, and drawing near. Above
80 people are invited for next Tuesday evening, and there is to be some
very good music -- five professionals, three of them glee singers, besides
amateurs. Fanny will listen to this. One of the hirelings is a Capital
on the harp, from which I expect great pleasure. The foundation of the
party was a dinner to Henry Egerton and Henry Walter, but the latter
leaves town the day before. I am sorry, as I wished her prejudice to be
done away, but should have been more sorry if there had been no invitation.
I am a wretch, to be so occupied with all these things as to seem to have
no thoughts to give to people and circumstances which really supply a far
more lasting interest -- the society in which you are; but I do think of you
all, I assure you, and want to know all about everybody, and especially
about your visit to the W. Friars; "mais le moyen" not to be occupied by
one's own concerns?
Saturday. -- Frank is superseded in the "Caledonia." Henry brought us this
news yesterday from Mr. Daysh, and he heard at the same time that Charles
may be in England in the course of a month. Sir Edward Pollen succeeds
Lord Gambier in his command, and some captain of his succeeds Frank; and
I believe the order is already gone out. Henry means to inquire farther
to-day. He wrote to Mary on the occasion. This is something to think
of. Henry is convinced that he will have the offer of something else,
but does not think it will be at all incumbent on him to accept it; and
then follows, what will he do? and where will he live?
I hope to hear from you to-day. How are you as to health, strength, looks,
&c.? I had a very comfortable account from Chawton yesterday.
If the weather permits, Eliza and I walk into London this morning. She is
in want of chimney lights for Tuesday, and I of an ounce of darning cotton.
She has resolved not to venture to the play to-night. The D'Entraigues
and Comte Julien cannot come to the party, which was at first a grief,
but she has since supplied herself so well with performers that it is of
no consequence; their not coming has produced our going to them to-morrow
evening, which I like the idea of. It will be amusing to see the ways
of a French circle.
I wrote to Mrs. Hill a few days ago, and have received a most kind and
satisfactory answer. Any time the first week in May exactly suits her,
and therefore I consider my going as tolerably fixed. I shall leave
Sloane Street on the 1st or 2nd, and be ready for James on the 9th, and,
if his plan alters, I can take care of myself. I have explained my views
here, and everything is smooth and pleasant; and Eliza talks kindly of
conveying me to Streatham.
We met the Tilsons yesterday evening, but the singing Smiths sent an excuse,
which put our Mrs. Smith out of humour.
We are come back, after a good dose of walking and coaching, and I have
the pleasure of your letter. I wish I had James's verses, but they were
left at Chawton. When I return thither, if Mrs. K. will give me leave,
I will send them to her.
Our first object to-day was Henrietta St., to consult with Henry in consequence
of a very unlucky change of the play for this very night -- "Hamlet" instead
of "King John" -- and we are to go on Monday to "Macbeth" instead; but it
is a disappointment to us both.
Love to all.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham, Kent.
Sloane St.: Thursday (April 25).
MY DEAREST CASSANDRA,
I can return the compliment by thanking you for the unexpected pleasure
of your letter yesterday, and as I like unexpected pleasure, it made me
very happy; and, indeed, you need not apologise for your letter in any
respect, for it is all very fine, but not too fine, I hope, to be written
again, or something like it.
I think Edward will not suffer much longer from heat; by the look of things
this morning I suspect the weather is rising into the balsamic north-east.
It has been hot here, as you may suppose, since it was so hot with you,
but I have not suffered from it at all, nor felt it in such a degree as
to make me imagine it would be anything in the country. Everybody has
talked of the heat, but I set it all down to London.
I give you joy of our new nephew, and hope if he ever comes to be hanged it
will not be till we are too old to care about it. It is a great comfort
to have it so safely and speedily over. The Miss Curlings must be hard
worked in writing so many letters, but the novelty of it may recommend
it to them; mine was from Miss Eliza, and she says that my brother may
No, indeed, I am never too busy to think of S. and S. I can no more forget
it than a mother can forget her sucking child; and I am much obliged to
you for your inquiries. I have had two sheets to correct, but the last
only brings us to Willoughby's first appearance. Mrs. K. regrets in the
most flattering manner that she must wait till May, but I have scarcely a
hope of its being out in June. Henry does not neglect it; he has hurried
the printer, and says he will see him again to-day. It will not stand
still during his absence, it will be sent to Eliza.
The Incomes remain as they were, but I will get them altered if I can. I
am very much gratified by Mrs. K's interest in it; and whatever may be
the event of it as to my credit with her, sincerely wish her curiosity
could be satisfied sooner than is now probable. I think she will like
my Elinor, but cannot build on anything else.
Our party went off extremely well. There were many solicitudes, alarms,
and vexations, beforehand, of course, but at last everything was quite
right. The rooms were dressed up with flowers, &c., and looked very
pretty. A glass for the mantlepiece was lent by the man who is making
their own. Mr. Egerton and Mr. Walter came at half-past five, and the
festivities began with a pair of very fine soals.
Yes, Mr. Walter -- for he postponed his leaving London on purpose -- which did
not give much pleasure at the time, any more than the circumstance from
which it rose -- his calling on Sunday and being asked by Henry to take
the family dinner on that day, which he did; but it is all smoothed over
now, and she likes him very well.
At half-past seven arrived the musicians in two hackney coaches, and by
eight the lordly company began to appear. Among the earliest were George
and Mary Cooke, and I spent the greater part of the evening very pleasantly
with them. The drawing-room being soon hotter than we liked, we placed
ourselves in the connecting passage, which was comparatively cool, and
gave us all the advantage of the music at a pleasant distance, as well
as that of the first view of every new comer.
I was quite surrounded by acquaintances, especially gentlemen; and what
with Mr. Hampson, Mr. Seymour, Mr. W. Knatchbull, Mr. Guillemarde, Mr.
Cure, a Captain Simpson, brother to the Captain Simpson, besides Mr.
Walter and Mr. Egerton, in addition to the Cookes, and Miss Beckford, and
Miss Middleton, I had quite as much upon my hands as I could do.
Poor Miss B. has been suffering again from her old complaint, and looks
thinner than ever. She certainly goes to Cheltenham the beginning of
June. We were all delight and cordiality of course. Miss M. seems very
happy, but has not beauty enough to figure in London.
Including everybody we were sixty-six -- which was considerably more than
Eliza had expected, and quite enough to fill the back drawing-room and
leave a few to be scattered about in the other and in the passage.
The music was extremely good. It opened (tell Fanny) with "Poike de Parp
pirs praise pof Prapela"; and of the other glees I remember, "In peace love
tunes," "Rosabelle," "The Red Cross Knight," and "Poor Insect." Between
the songs were lessons on the harp, or harp and pianoforte together; and
the harp-player was Wiepart, whose name seems famous, though new to me.
There was one female singer, a short Miss Davis, all in blue, bringing
up for the public line, whose voice was said to be very fine indeed; and
all the performers gave great satisfaction by doing what they were paid
for, and giving themselves no airs. No amateur could be persuaded to do
The house was not clear till after twelve. If you wish to hear more of
it, you must put your questions, but I seem rather to have exhausted than
spared the subject.
This said Captain Simpson told us, on the authority of some other Captain
just arrived from Halifax, that Charles was bringing the "Cleopatra" home,
and that she was probably by this time in the Channel; but, as Captain S.
was certainly in liquor, we must not quite depend on it. It must give
one a sort of expectation, however, and will prevent my writing to him
any more. I would rather he should not reach England till I am at home,
and the Steventon party gone.
My mother and Martha both write with great satisfaction of Anna's behaviour.
She is quite an Anna with variations, but she cannot have reached her
last, for that is always the most flourishing and showy; she is at about
her third or fourth, which are generally simple and pretty.
Your lilacs are in leaf, ours are in bloom. The horse-chestnuts are quite
out, and the elms almost. I had a pleasant walk in Kensington Gardens on
Sunday with Henry, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Tilson; everything was fresh and
We did go to the play after all on Saturday. We went to the Lyceum, and
saw the "Hypocrite," an old play taken from Molière's "Tartuffe," and were
well entertained. Dowton and Mathews were the good actors; Mrs. Edwin
was the heroine, and her performance is just what it used to be. I have
no chance of seeing Mrs. Siddons; she did act on Monday, but, as Henry
was told by the boxkeeper that he did not think she would, the plans,
and all thought of it, were given up. I should particularly have liked
seeing her in "Constance," and could swear at her with little effort for
Henry has been to the Water-Colour Exhibition, which opened on Monday, and
is to meet us there again some morning. If Eliza cannot go (and she has
a cold at present) Miss Beaty will be invited to be my companion. Henry
leaves town on Sunday afternoon, but he means to write soon himself to
Edward, and will tell his own plans.
The tea is this moment setting out.
Do not have your coloured muslin unless you really want it, because I am
afraid I could not send it to the coach without giving trouble here.
Eliza caught her cold on Sunday in our way to the D'Entraigues. The horses
actually gibbed on this side of Hyde Park Gate: a load of fresh gravel
made it a formidable hill to them, and they refused the collar; I believe
there was a sore shoulder to irritate. Eliza was frightened and we got
out, and were detained in the evening air several minutes. The cold is
in her chest, but she takes care of herself, and I hope it may not last
This engagement prevented Mr. Walter's staying late -- he had his coffee and
went away. Eliza enjoyed her evening very much, and means to cultivate
the acquaintance; and I see nothing to dislike in them but their taking
quantities of snuff. Monsieur, the old Count, is a very fine-looking man,
with quiet manners, good enough for an Englishman, and, I believe, is a
man of great information and taste. He has some fine paintings, which
delighted Henry as much as the son's music gratified Eliza; and among them
a miniature of Philip V. of Spain, Louis XIV.'s grandson, which exactly
suited my capacity. Count Julien's performance is very wonderful.
We met only Mrs. Latouche and Miss East, and we are just now engaged to
spend next Sunday evening at Mrs. L.'s, and to meet the D'Entraigues,
but M. le Comte must do without Henry. If he would but speak English, I
would take to him.
Have you ever mentioned the leaving off tea to Mrs. K.? Eliza has just
spoken of it again. The benefit she has found from it in sleeping has
been very great.
I shall write soon to Catherine to fix my day, which will be Thursday. We
have no engagement but for Sunday. Eliza's cold makes quiet advisable.
Her party is mentioned in this morning's paper. I am sorry to hear of
poor Fanny's state. From that quarter, I suppose, is to be the alloy of
her happiness. I will have no more to say. Yours affectionately,
Give my love particularly to my goddaughter.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham.
Sloane St.: Tuesday.
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I had sent off my letter yesterday before yours came, which I was sorry
for; but as Eliza has been so good as to get me a frank, your questions
shall be answered without much further expense to you.
The best direction to Henry at Oxford will be The Blue Boar, Cornmarket.
I do not mean to provide another trimming for my pelisse, for I am determined
to spend no more money; so I shall wear it as it is, longer than I ought,
and then -- I do not know.
My head-dress was a bugle-band like the border to my gown, and a flower of
Mrs. Tilson's. I depended upon hearing something of the evening from Mr. W.
K., and am very well satisfied with his notice of me -- "A pleasing-looking
young woman" -- that must do; one cannot pretend to anything better now;
thankful to have it continued a few years longer!
It gives me sincere pleasure to hear of Mrs. Knight's having had a tolerable
night at last, but upon this occasion I wish she had another name, for
the two nights jingle very much.
We have tried to get "Self-control," but in vain. I should like to know
what her estimate is, but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel
too clever, and of finding my own story and my own people all forestalled.
Eliza has just received a few lines from Henry to assure her of the good
conduct of his mare. He slept at Uxbridge on Sunday, and wrote from
We were not claimed by Hans Place yesterday, but are to dine there to-day.
Mr. Tilson called in the evening, but otherwise we were quite alone all
day; and, after having been out a great deal, the change was very pleasant.
I like your opinion of Miss Atten much better than I expected, and have
now hopes of her staying a whole twelvemonth. By this time I suppose she
is hard at it, governing away. Poor creature! I pity her, though they
are my nieces.
Oh! yes, I remember Miss Emma Plumbtree's local consequence perfectly.
I am in a dilemma, for want of an Emma,
Escaped from the lips of Henry Gipps.
But, really, I was never much more put to it than in continuing an answer
to Fanny's former message. What is there to be said on the subject? Pery
pell, or pare pey? or po; or at the most, Pi, pope, pey, pike, pit.
I congratulate Edward on the Weald of Kent Canal Bill being put off till
another Session, as I have just had the pleasure of reading. There is
always something to be hoped from delay.
Between Session and Session
The first Prepossession
May rouse up the Nation,
And the villainous Bill
May be forced to lie still.
Against wicked men's will
There is poetry for Edward and his daughter. I am afraid I shall not have
any for you.
I forgot to tell you in my last that our cousin, Miss Payne, called in on
Saturday, and was persuaded to stay dinner. She told us a great deal
about her friend Lady Cath. Brecknell, who is most happily married, and
Mr. Brecknell is very religious, and has got black whiskers.
I am glad to think that Edward has a tolerable day for his drive to
Goodnestone, and very glad to hear of his kind promise of bringing you
to town. I hope everything will arrange itself favourably. The 16th is
now to be Mrs. Dundas's day.
I mean, if I can, to wait for your return before I have my new gown made
up, from a notion of their making up to more advantage together; and,
as I find the muslin is not so wide as it used to be, some contrivance
may be necessary. I expect the skirt to require one-half breadth cut in
gores, besides two whole breadths.
Eliza has not yet quite resolved on inviting Anna, but I think she will.
Yours very affectionately, JANE.
Chawton: Wednesday (May 29).
It was a mistake of mine, my dear Cassandra, to talk of a tenth child at
Hamstall. I had forgot there were but eight already.
Your inquiry after my uncle and aunt were most happily timed, for the very
same post brought an account of them. They are again at Gloucester House
enjoying fresh air, which they seem to have felt the want of in Bath, and
are tolerably well, but not more than tolerable. My aunt does not enter
into particulars, but she does not write in spirits, and we imagine that
she has never entirely got the better of her disorder in the winter. Mrs.
Walby takes her out airing in her barouche, which gives her a headache -- a
comfortable proof, I suppose, of the uselessness of the new carriage when
they have got it.
You certainly must have heard before I can tell you that Col. Orde has
married our cousin, Margt. Beckford, the Marchess. of Douglas's sister.
The papers say that her father disinherits her, but I think too well of
an Orde to suppose that she has not a handsome independence of her own.
The chicken are all alive and fit for the table, but we save them for
something grand. Some of the flower seeds are coming up very well, but
your mignonette makes a wretched appearance. Miss Benn has been equally
unlucky as to hers. She has seed from four different people, and none of
it comes up. Our young piony at the foot of the fir-tree has just blown
and looks very handsome, and the whole of the shrubbery border will soon
be very gay with pinks and sweet-williams, in addition to the columbines
already in bloom.
The syringas, too, are coming out. We are likely to have a great crop of
Orleans plumbs, but not many greengages -- on the standard scarcely any,
three or four dozen, perhaps, against the wall. I believe I told you
differently when I first came home, but I can now judge better than I
I have had a medley and satisfactory letter
this morning from the husband and wife at Cowes; and, in consequence of
what is related of their plans, we have been talking over the possibility
of inviting them here in their way from Steventon, which is what one
should wish to do, and is, I daresay, what they expect; but, supposing
Martha to be at home, it does not seem a very easy thing to accommodate
so large a party. My mother offers to give up her room to Frank and Mary,
but there will then be only the best for two maids and three children.
They go to Steventon about the 22nd, and I guess -- for it is quite a
guess -- will stay there from a fortnight to three weeks.
I must not venture to press Miss Sharpe's coming at present; we may hardly
be at liberty before August.
Poor John Bridges! we are very sorry for his situation and for the distress
of the family. Lady B. is in one way severely tried. And our own dear
brother suffers a great deal, I dare say, on the occasion.
I have not much to say of ourselves. Anna is nursing a cold caught in the
arbour at Faringdon, that she may be able to keep her engagement to
Maria M. this evening, when I suppose she will make it worse. She did
not return from Faringdon till Sunday, when H. B. walked home with her,
and drank tea here. She was with the Prowtings almost all Monday. She
went to learn to make feather trimmings of Miss Anna, and they kept her
to dinner, which was rather lucky, as we were called upon to meet Mrs.
and Miss Terry the same evening at the Digweeds; and, though Anna was of
course invited too, I think it always safest to keep her away from the
family lest she should be doing too little or too much.
Mrs. Terry, Mary, and Robert, with my aunt Harding and her daughter, came
from Dummer for a day and a night -- all very agreeable and very much
delighted with the new house and with Chawton in general.
We sat upstairs and had thunder and lightning as usual. I never knew such
a spring for thunderstorms as it has been. Thank God! we have had no bad
ones here. I thought myself in luck to have my uncomfortable feelings
shared by the mistress of the house, as that procured blinds and candles.
It had been excessively hot the whole day. Mrs. Harding is a good-looking
woman, but not much like Mrs. Toke, inasmuch as she is very brown and
has scarcely any teeth; she seems to have some of Mrs. Toke's civility.
Miss H. is an elegant, pleasing, pretty-looking girl, about nineteen, I
suppose, or nineteen and a half, or nineteen and a quarter, with flowers
in her head and music at her finger ends. She plays very well indeed. I
have seldom heard anybody with more pleasure. They were at Godington four
or five years ago. My cousin, Flora Long, was there last year.
My name is Diana. How does Fanny like it? What a change in the weather!
We have a fire again now.
Harriet Benn sleeps at the Great House to-night and spends to-morrow with
us; and the plan is that we should all walk with her to drink tea at
Faringdon, for her mother is now recovered, but the state of the weather
is not very promising at present.
Miss Benn has been returned to her cottage since the beginning of last week,
and has now just got another girl; she comes from Alton. For many days
Miss B. had nobody with her but her niece Elizabeth, who was delighted
to be her visitor and her maid. They both dined here on Saturday while
Anna was at Faringdon; and last night an accidental meeting and a sudden
impulse produced Miss Benn and Maria Middleton at our tea-table.
If you have not heard it is very fit you should, that Mr. Harrison has had
the living of Fareham given him by the Bishop, and is going to reside
there; and now it is said that Mr. Peach (beautiful wiseacre) wants to
have the curacy of Overton, and, if he does leave Wootton, James Digweed
wishes to go there. Fare you well,
The chimneys at the Great House are done. Mr. Prowting has opened a gravel
pit, very conveniently for my mother, just at the mouth of the approach to
his house; but it looks a little as if he meant to catch all his company.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,
Chawton: Friday (May 31).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I have a magnificent project. The Cookes have put off their visit to us;
they are not well enough to leave home at present, and we have no chance
of seeing them till I do not know when -- probably never, in this house.
This circumstances has made me think the present time would be favourable
for Miss Sharpe's coming to us; it seems a more disengaged period with
us than we are likely to have later in the summer. If Frank and Mary do
come, it can hardly be before the middle of July, which will be allowing
a reasonable length of visit for Miss Sharpe, supposing she begins it
when you return; and if you and Martha do not dislike the plan, and she
can avail herself of it, the opportunity of her being conveyed hither
will be excellent.
I shall write to Martha by this post, and if neither you nor she make any
objection to my proposal, I shall make the invitation directly, and as
there is no time to lose, you must write by return of post if you have
any reason for not wishing it done. It was her intention, I believe, to
go first to Mrs. Lloyd, but such a means of getting here may influence
We have had a thunder-storm again this morning. Your letter came to comfort
me for it.
I have taken your hint, slight as it was, and have written to Mrs. Knight,
and most sincerely do I hope it will not be in vain. I cannot endure the
idea of her giving away her own wheel, and have told her no more than the
truth, in saying that I could never use it with comfort. I had a great
mind to add that, if she persisted in giving it, I would spin nothing
with it but a rope to hang myself, but I was afraid of making it appear
less serious matter of feeling than it really is.
I am glad you are so well yourself, and wish everybody else were equally
so. I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid
they are not alive. We shall have pease soon. I mean to have them with a
couple of ducks from Wood Barn, and Maria Middleton, towards the end of
From Monday to Wednesday Anna is to be engaged at Faringdon, in order
that she may come in for the gaieties of Tuesday (the 4th), on Selbourne
Common, where there are to be volunteers and felicities of all kinds.
Harriet B. is invited to spend the day with the John Whites, and her
father and mother have very kindly undertaken to get Anna invited also.
Harriot and Eliza dined here yesterday, and we walked back with them to
tea. Not my mother -- she has a cold which affects her in the usual way,
and was not equal to the walk. She is better this morning, and I hope
will soon physick away the worst part of it. It has not confined her; she
has got out every day that the weather has allowed her.
Poor Anna is also suffering from her cold, which is worse to-day, but as
she has no sore throat I hope it may spend itself by Tuesday. She had
a delightful evening with the Miss Middletons -- syllabub, tea, coffee,
singing, dancing, a hot supper, eleven o'clock, everything that can be
imagined agreeable. She desires her best love to Fanny, and will answer
her letter before she leaves Chawton, and engages to send her a particular
account of the Selbourne day.
We cannot agree as to which is the eldest of the two Miss Plumbtrees; send
us word. Have you remembered to collect pieces for the patchwork? We are
now at a stand-still. I got up here to look for the old map, and can now
tell you that it shall be sent to-morrow; it was among the great parcel
in the dining-room. As to my debt of 3s. 6d. to Edward, I must trouble
you to pay it when you settle with him for your boots.
We began our China tea three days ago, and I find it very good. My
companions know nothing of the matter. As to Fanny and her twelve pounds
in a twelvemonth, she may talk till she is as black in the face as her
own tea, but I cannot believe her -- more likely twelve pounds to a quarter.
I have a message to you from Mrs. Cooke. The substance of it is that she
hopes you will take Bookham in your way home and stay there as long as you
can, and that when you must leave them they will convey you to Guildford.
You may be sure that it is very kindly worded, and that there is no want
of attendant compliments to my brother and his family.
I am very sorry for Mary, but I have some comfort in there being two curates
now lodging in Bookham, besides their own Mr. Waineford from Dorking, so
that I think she must fall in love with one or the other.
How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that
one cares for none of them!
I return to my letter-writing from calling on Miss Harriot Webb, who is
short and not quite straight, and cannot pronounce an R any better than
her sisters; but she has dark hair, a complexion to suit, and, I think,
has the pleasantest countenance and manner of the three -- the most natural.
She appears very well pleased with her new home, and they are all reading
with delight Mrs. H. More's recent publication.
You cannot imagine -- it is not in human nature to imagine -- what a nice
walk we have round the orchard. The row of beech look very well indeed,
and so does the young quickset hedge in the garden. I hear to-day that
an apricot has been detected on one of the trees. My mother is perfectly
convinced now that she shall not be overpowered by her cleftwood, and I
believe would rather have more than less.
Strange to tell, Mr. Prowting was not at Miss Lee's wedding, but his
daughters had some cake, and Anna had her share of it.
I continue to like our old cook quite as well as ever, and, but that I am
afraid to write in her praise, I could say that she seems just the servant
for us. Her cookery is at least tolerable; her pastry is the only deficiency.
God bless you, and I hope June will find you well, and bring us together.
I hope you understand that I do not expect you to write on Sunday if you
like my plan. I shall consider silence as consent.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham.
Chawton: Thursday (June 6).
By this time, my dearest Cassandra, you know Martha's plans. I was rather
disappointed, I confess, to find that she could not leave town till after
ye 24th, as I had hoped to see you here the week before. The delay,
however, is not great, and everything seems generally arranging itself
for your return very comfortably.
I found Henry perfectly pre-disposed to bring you to London if agreeable
to yourself; he has not fixed his day for going into Kent, but he must
be back again before ye 20th. You may, therefore, think with something
like certainty of the close of your Godmersham visit, and will have, I
suppose, about a week for Sloane Street. He travels in his gig, and should
the weather be tolerable I think you must have a delightful journey.
I have given up all idea of Miss Sharpe's travelling with you and Martha,
for though you are both all compliance with my scheme, yet as you knock off
a week from the end of her visit, Martha rather more from the beginning,
the thing is out of the question.
I have written to her to say that after the middle of July we shall be
happy to receive her, and I have added a welcome if she could make her
way hither directly, but I do not expect that she will. I have also sent
our invitation to Cowes.
We are very sorry for the disappointment you have all had in Lady B.'s
illness; but a division of the proposed party is with you by this time,
and I hope may have brought you a better account of the rest.
Give my love and thanks to Harriot, who has written me charming things of
your looks, and diverted me very much by poor Mrs. C. Milles's continued
I had a few lines from Henry on Tuesday to prepare us for himself and his
friend, and by the time that I had made the sumptuous provision of a
neck of mutton on the occasion, they drove into the court; but lest you
should not immediately recollect in how many hours a neck of mutton may
be certainly procured, I add that they came a little after twelve, both
tall and well, and in their different degrees agreeable.
It was a visit of only twenty-four hours, but very pleasant while it
lasted. Mr. Tilson took a sketch of the Great House before dinner, and
after dinner we all three walked to Chawton Park, meaning to go into
it, but it was too dirty, and we were obliged to keep on the outside. Mr.
Tilson admired the trees very much, but grieved that they should not be
turned into money.
My mother's cold is better, and I believe she only wants dry weather to
be very well. It was a great distress to her that Anna should be absent
during her uncle's visit, a distress which I could not share. She does not
return from Faringdon till this evening, and I doubt not has had plenty
of the miscellaneous, unsettled sort of happiness which seems to suit her
best. We hear from Miss Benn, who was on the Common with the Prowtings,
that she was very much admired by the gentlemen in general.
I like your new bonnets exceedingly; yours is a shape which always looks
well, and I think Fanny's particularly becoming to her.
On Monday I had the pleasure of receiving, unpacking, and approving our
Wedgwood ware. It all came very safely, and upon the whole is a good
match, though I think they might have allowed us rather larger leaves,
especially in such a year of fine foliage as this. One is apt to suppose
that the woods about Birmingham must be blighted. There was no bill with
the goods, but that shall not screen them from being paid. I mean to ask
Martha to settle the account. It will be quite in her way, for she is
just now sending my mother a breakfast set from the same place.
I hope it will come by the waggon to-morrow; it is certainly what we want,
and I long to know what it is like, and as I am sure Martha has great
pleasure in making the present, I will not have any regret. We have
considerable dealings with the waggons at present: a hamper of port and
brandy from Southampton is now in the kitchen.
Your answer about the Miss Plumbtrees proves you as fine a Daniel as ever
Portia was; for I maintained Emma to be the eldest.
We began pease on Sunday, but our gatherings are very small, not at
all like the gathering in the "Lady of the Lake." Yesterday I had the
agreeable surprise of finding several scarlet strawberries quite ripe;
had you been at home, this would have been a pleasure lost. There are
more gooseberries and fewer currants than I thought at first. We must buy
currants for our wine.
The Digweeds are gone down to see the Stephen Terrys at Southampton, and
catch the King's birthday at Portsmouth. Miss Papillon called on us
yesterday, looking handsomer than ever. Maria Middleton and Miss Benn dine
We are not to enclose any more letters to Abingdon Street, as perhaps
Martha has told you,
I had just left off writing and put on my things for walking to Alton,
when Anna and her friend Harriot called in their way thither, so we went
together. Their business was to provide mourning against the King's
death, and my mother has had a bombasin bought for her. I am not sorry to
be back again, for the young ladies had a great deal to do, and without
much method in doing it.
Anna does not come home till to-morrow morning. She has written I find to
Fanny, but there does not seem to be a great deal to relate of Tuesday.
I had hoped there might be dancing.
Mrs. Budd died on Sunday evening. I saw her two days before her death,
and thought it must happen soon. She suffered much from weakness and
restlessness almost to the last. Poor little Harriot seems truly grieved.
You have never mentioned Harry; how is he?
With love to you all,
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham.
 A large beech wood extending for a long distance upon a hill about a
mile from Chawton: the trees are magnificent.