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|Never speak ill......
Written by Caroline
(3/13/2003 6:57 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Henry's hagiography, penned by TimLee
Quite apart from the fact that Henry obviously did love his sister very much, and could hardly have been blamed for not exposing any of her defects to public gaze, this very loving and obviously sad obituary is, in fact, remarkably understated for its time. A memorial with any sort of permanancy whatsoever, either in print,or in marble, of this period, only ever speaks in the most positive of terms of the dead subject. When we did the group read of Tom Jones, we enjoyed the memorial to Capt Blifil, which damned him with faint praise in each line, yet still spoke only in positive terms- a masterpiece of doublespeak of the kind which Henry Austen must have been very much aware, and quite consciously avoided this biographical notice.
Incidentally, his wording on her memorial stone in Winchester Cathedral, is similarly eulogising, and contains not one mention of her as a writer. A story is told by the Cathedral guides that one of their number in the early days,not realising that she was an author, was absolutely baffled by the number of visitors who asked to see the grave of so nondescript a lady!
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