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|To be honest
Written by JulieW
(9/16/2007 12:08 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Westgate Buildings, penned by Line
JA was, of course, the product of a rather more robust age.And her correspondence was private. I'm sure she never imagined us and countless others poring all over it.
I recall that, in the first Group Read of the Letters, there was a ripple of shock extending throughout the board when some people relaised she was making an open reference to a very famous bawd, Mother Needhamin letter number 7 ;-)
This tendency to talk on racy subjects, and the Victroian's attitude of sqeamishness to wards it , may , of course, have prompted Fanny Knight to have mede this somewhat revisioniist comments about her aunts:
Yes, my love it is very true that Aunt Jane from various circumstances was not so refined as she ought to have been for her talent, & if she had lived 50 years later she would have been in many respects more suitable to our more refined tastes.
They were not rich, & the people around with whom they chiefly mixed, were not at all high bred, or in short anything more than mediocre & they [that is, the Austens] of course though superior in mental powers & cultivation were on the same level so far as refinement goes - but I think in later life their intercourse with Mrs Knight [who adopted Edward Austen]... improved them both & Aunt Jane was too clever not to put aside all possible signs of 'common-ness' (if such an expression is allowable) & teach herself to be more refined, at least in intercourse with people in general.
Both the Aunts (Cassandra & Jane) were brought up in the most complete ignorance of the World & its ways (I mean as to fashions &c) & if it had not been for Papa's marriage which brought them into Kent, & the kindness of Mrs Knight, who used often to have one or the other of the sisters staying with her, they would have been, tho' not less clever & agreeable in themselves, very much below par as to good society & its ways.
(See Margaret Wilson:Almost Another Sister Pages 110-111)
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