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|Do these words seem familiar to you?
Written by JulieW
(9/17/2006 9:04 a.m.)
With the proudest exultations of material tenderness the Excellent Parent has exclaimed that never were Children so good as hers. She feels the magnificence of your offer,and accepts half.
I shall therefore honour her demands for 50 pounds annually on your account. James had the day before yesterday communicated to me & Her his desire to be her Banker for the same annual assistance , & as long as I am An Agent shall do as he does,-If Edward does the least he ought, he will certainly insist on her receiving a £100 from him.
So you see, My Dear F., that with her own assured property,& Cassandra's both producing about £120 per Ann.- She will be very comfortalbe and as a smaller establishment will be as agreeable to them,as it cannot but be feasible, I really think that my Mother & Sisters will be to the full as rich as ever. They will suffer no personal deprivation , but will be able to pay occasional visits of health and pleasure to their friends
(Deirdre Le Fay:A Family Record, p 146)
The author of this letter was, of course Henry Austen replying to Frank who had offered £100 p.a. to be paid to his mother and sisters after Mr George Austen's death had left them in quite straightend circumstances, the income from his livings having "died" with him.
James Austen also wrote this passage, in a letter to Frank:
.. her future plans are not quite settled, but I believe her summers will be spent in the country amongst her relations and chiefly I trust among her children -the winters she will pass in comfortable lodgings in Bath.
It is just a satisfaction to know that her Circumstnaces will be easy, & that she will enjoy all those comforts which declining years and precarious health call for.
You will, I am sure, forgive Henry for not having entierly complied with your request for secrecy upon one very important subject in your letter..you would indeed have had a high gratification could you have witnessed the pleasure which our dear Mother experienced when your intention was comunicated to her...
(Deirdre Le Fay:A Family Record, p 147)
I make no comment but to throw these interesting passages into the mix for your consideration: note that though Mrs Austen and Cassandra had a little income, and are ackowledged in this regard in Henry's letter, JA had no income at all.
I do wonder if she felt at the mercy of other's whims and caprice, and this experience led her to write so scathing a piece of comedy as Fanny Dashwood's dialogue with John regarding the income of the Dashwood ladies in chapter 2 ?
Do but consider, my dear Mr. Dashwood, how excessively comfortable your mother-in-law and her daughters may live on the interest of seven thousand pounds, besides the thousand pounds belonging to each of the girls, which brings them in fifty pounds a-year a-piece, and, of course, they will pay their mother for their board out of it. Altogether, they will have five hundred a-year amongst them, and what on earth can four women want for more than that? They will live so cheap! Their housekeeping will be nothing at all. They will have no carriage, no horses, and hardly any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expences of any kind! Only conceive how comfortable they will be! Five hundred a-year! I am sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it; and as to your giving them more, it is quite absurd to think of it. They will be much more able to give you something
They certianly have a certain resonance of Henry's sentiments to me...
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