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|The trials of Miss Pearson.
Written by Julie W
(Friday, 16 January 2009, at 12:01 p.m.)
But I must tell you a story. Mary has for some time had notice from Mrs Dickson of the intended arrival of a certain Miss Fowler in this place;-Miss F. is an intimate friend of Mrs D. & a good deal known as such to Mary. On Thursday last she called here while we were out;-Mary found on our return her card with only her name on it, & she had left word that she call again.The particularity of this made us talk, & among other conjectures Frank said in joke "I dare say she is staying with the Pearsons." -The connection of the names struck Mary, & she immediately recollected Miss Fowler's having been very intimate with persons so called;-and upon putting everything together we have scarcely a doubt of her being actually staying with the only Family in the place whom we cannot visit. What a Contretems!-in the Language of France; What an unluckiness! in that of Mde Duval"-The Black Gentleman has certainly employed one of his menial imps to bring about this complete tho' trifling mischeif. -Miss F. has never called again, but we are in daily expectation of it.-Miss P. has of course given her a proper understanding of the Business;it is evident that Miss F. did not expect or wish to have the visit returned, & Frank is quite as much on his guard for his wife, as we cd desire for her sake, or our own. Letter 50
The fault for this social faux-pas lies at Henry Austen's door.
You may recall he was once engaged to a Miss Pearson.
And when living in Southampton, the Austens seems to have taken the deliberate decision not to socialise too much because of the limit their finances imposed upon them:
Our acquaintance increase too fast. He was recognised lately by Admiral Bertie, and a few days since arrived the Admiral and his daughter Catherine to wait upon us. There was nothing to like or dislike in either. To the Berries are to be added the Lances, with whose cards we have been endowed, and whose visit Frank and I returned yesterday. They live about a mile and three-quarters from S. to the right of the new road to Portsmouth, and I believe their house7 is one of those which are to be seen almost anywhere among the woods on the other side of the lichen. It is a handsome building, stands high, and in a very beautiful situation. We found only Mrs Lance at home, and whether she boasts any offspring besides a grand pianoforte did not appear. She was civil and chatty enough, and offered to introduce us to some acquaintance in Southampton, which we gratefully declined. I suppose they must be acting by the orders of Mr Lance of Netherton in this civility, as there seems no other reason for their coming near us. They will not come often, I dare say. They live in a handsome style and are rich, and she seemed to like to be rich, and we gave her to understand that we were far from being so; she will soon feel therefore that we are not worth her acquaintance. Letter 49.
What bad luck therefore to find that the one person they could safely visit-Miss Fowler-was a particular friend of Miss Pearson and thus their intimacy ended before it had properly begun . Miss Fowler, by only including Mary Austen's (nee Gibson) name on her calling card was deliberately snubbing the rest of the Austen family.......Le Faye considers that JA's letters disappear for a while at this point because JA had become depressed by their straightened circumstances and the unhelpful attitude of James and his wife.
Her letters to Cassandra at this time might have continued what Cassandra considered to be unhelpful expressions of depression and indignation, and therefor they were deliberately destroyed. If JA did become depressed and expressed herself in strong terms at this point in her life, I ,for one ,cannot blame her.......
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