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- Letters of Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra Austen
- 1798, 1799. [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 next division of letters comprises those written in 1798
and in January, 1799. The first is written from Dartford,
evidently the first stage of a journey home to Steventon
from Godmersham, where Mr. and Mrs. George Austen had been visiting
their son Edward in his new abode, probably for the first time,
since he could not have been settled there for more than a year;
and there is a graphic account of the loss and recovery of Jane's
writing and dressing boxes, which appear to have had a narrow escape
from a voyage to the West Indies. From this and the following letters,
it would seem that Mrs. Austen was in delicate health, and apparently
thought herself worse than was really the case. At any rate,
she rallied from the attack of which she complained at this time,
and lived happily on until 1827, when she died at the ripe age of
eighty-eight, having survived her husband twenty-two and her daughter
Jane ten years. The other nine letters are all written from Steventon,
and record the details of the everyday life in Jane Austen's home.
She manages the household for her mother, visits the poor,
enjoys such society as the neighbourhood affords, and fills her
letters with such gossip about things and people as would be likely
to interest her sister. Most of the people to whom she alludes will
be identified by reference to the introductory chapters of this book,
and of others there is nothing more to be said than that they
were country neighbours of various stations in life, to whom
attaches no particular interest as far as Jane Austen is concerned.
The Digweeds were brothers who occupied a fine old Elizabethan
manor-house and a large farm in Steventon, which belonged to the Knight
family until Mr. E. Knight (son of E. Austen) sold it to the Duke
of Wellington, and the late Duke sold it in 1874 to Mr. Harris.
An attempt to restore it failed, and eventually a new house was
built some fifty yards from the old one; but, although the latter
was turned into stables, its appearance in front at least was
not injured, and there is a charming view of it across the lawn
from the drawing-room of the new house. Previous to its sale
to the present owner, the Digweed family had occupied the manor
house for more than 150 years, but not being Irish tenants,
I suppose they got no compensation for "disturbance."
"John Bond" was Mr. Austen's "factotum" in his farming operations.
There is an anecdote extant relating to this worthy which may
as well be told here: Mr. Austen used to join Mr. Digweed
in buying twenty or thirty sheep, and that all might be fair,
it was their custom to open the pen, and the first half of
the sheep which ran out were counted as belonging to the rector.
Going down to the fold on one occasion after this process had been
gone through, Mr. Austen remarked one sheep among his lot larger
and finer than the rest. "Well, John," he observed to Bond,
who was with him, "I think we have had the best of the luck with
Mr. Digweed today, in getting that sheep." "Maybe not so much
in the luck as you think, sir," responded the faithful John.
"I see'd her the moment I come in, and set eyes on the sheep,
so when we opened the pen I just giv'd her a `huck' with my stick,
and out a run."
There is an allusion in the sixteenth letter to "First Impressions" --
her original name for the work afterwards published as "Pride
and Prejudice" -- which shows that, as regards this book at least,
her having written it was not secret from her family.
It is singular that it should have remained so long unpublished,
but at all events this proves that it was no hasty production,
but one which had been well considered, and submitted to
the judgment of others long before it was given to the public.
Jane changed the name of another novel also between composition
and publication, "Sense and Sensibility" having been at first entitled
"Elinor and Marianne."
In the same letter there is an observation about "Mrs. Knight's giving
up the Godmersham estate to Edward being no such prodigious act
of generosity after all," which was certainly not intended seriously,
or if so, was written under a very imperfect knowledge of the facts.
I have seen the letters which passed upon the occasion.
The first is from Mrs. Knight, offering to give up the property
in the kindest and most generous terms, and this when she was not
much above forty years of age, and much attached to the place.
Then comes my grandfather's answer, deprecating the idea of her making
such a sacrifice, and saying that he and his wife were already
well enough off through Mrs. Knight's kindness, and could not endure
that she should leave for their sakes a home which she loved so much.
Mrs. Knight replies that it was through her great affection for my
grandfather that her late husband had adopted him, that she loved
him as if he was her own son, that his letter had strengthened
her in her resolution to give up the property to him, and that she
considered there were duties attaching to the possession of landed
property which could not be discharged by a woman so well as by a man.
She reminds him how that the poor had always been liberally treated
by the Godmersham family, and expresses her happiness at feeling
that he will do his duty in this and other respects, and that she shall
spend the rest of her days near enough to see much of him and his wife.
I am quite sure that my grandfather was most gratefully fond
of Mrs. Knight, and considered her conduct, as indeed it was,
an act of affectionate generosity.
"Bull and George," Dartford:
Wednesday (October 24)
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
You have already heard from Daniel, I conclude, in what
excellent time we reached and quitted Sittingbourne, and how
very well my mother bore her journey thither. I am now able
to send you a continuation of the same good account of her.
She was very little fatigued on her arrival at this place, has been
refreshed by a comfortable dinner, and now seems quite stout.
It wanted five minutes of twelve when we left Sittingbourne,
from whence we had a famous pair of horses, which took us to
Rochester in an hour and a quarter; the postboy seemed determined
to show my mother that Kentish drivers were not always tedious,
and really drove as fast as Cax.
Our next stage was not quite so expeditiously performed;
the road was heavy and our horses very indifferent. However, we were
in such good time, and my mother bore her journey so well,
that expedition was of little importance to us; and as it was,
we were very little more than two hours and a half coming hither,
and it was scarcely past four when we stopped at the inn.
My mother took some of her bitters at Ospringe, and some more
at Rochester, and she ate some bread several times.
We have got apartments up two pair of stairs, as we could not be
otherwise accommodated with a sitting-room and bed-chambers on
the same floor, which we wished to be. We have one double-bedded
and one single-bedded room; in the former my mother and I are to sleep.
I shall leave you to guess who is to occupy the other.
We sate down to dinner a little after five, and had some beefsteaks
and a boiled fowl, but no oyster sauce.
I should have begun my letter soon after our arrival but for a little
adventure which prevented me. After we had been here a quarter
of an hour it was discovered that my writing and dressing boxes
had been by accident put into a chaise which was just packing
off as we came in, and were driven away towards Gravesend
in their way to the West Indies. No part of my property could
have been such a prize before, for in my writing-box was all
my worldly wealth, £7, and my dear Harry's deputation.
Mr. Nottley immediately despatched a man and horse after the chaise,
and in half an hour's time I had the pleasure of being as rich as ever;
they were got about two or three miles off.
My day's journey has been pleasanter in every respect than I expected.
I have been very little crowded and by no means unhappy.
Your watchfulness with regard to the weather on our accounts
was very kind and very effectual. We had one heavy shower on
leaving Sittingbourne, but afterwards the clouds cleared away,
and we had a very bright chrystal afternoon.
My father is now reading the "Midnight Bell," which he has got from
the library, and mother sitting by the fire. Our route to-morrow
is not determined. We have none of us much inclination for London,
and if Mr. Nottley will give us leave, I think we shall go to Staines
through Croydon and Kingston, which will be much pleasanter than
any other way; but he is decidedly for Clapham and Battersea.
God bless you all!
I flatter myself that itty Dordy will not forget me at least under a week.
Kiss him for me.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,
Steventon: Saturday (October 27)
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
Your letter was a most agreeable surprise to me to-day, and I have
taken a long sheet of paper to show my gratitude.
We arrived here yesterday between four and five, but I cannot send
you quite so triumphant an account of our last day's journey as of
the first and second. Soon after I had finished my letter from Staines,
my mother began to suffer from the exercise or fatigue of travelling,
and she was a good deal indisposed. She had not a very good night
at Staines, but bore her journey better than I had expected,
and at Basingstoke, where we stopped more than half an hour,
received much comfort from a mess of broth and the sight of Mr. Lyford,
who recommended her to take twelve drops of laudanum when she went
to bed as a composer, which she accordingly did.
James called on us just as we were going to tea, and my mother
was well enough to talk very cheerfully to him before she went
to bed. James seems to have taken to his old trick of coming
to Steventon in spite of Mary's reproaches, for he was here
before breakfast and is now paying us a second visit.
They were to have dined here to-day, but the weather is too bad.
I have had the pleasure of hearing that Martha is with them.
James fetched her from Ibthorp on Thursday, and she will stay
with them till she removes to Kintbury.
We met with no adventures at all in our journey yesterday,
except that our trunk had once nearly slipped off, and we were
obliged to stop at Hartley to have our wheels greased.
Whilst my mother and Mr. Lyford were together I went to Mrs. Ryder's
and bought what I intended to buy, but not in much perfection.
There were no narrow braces for children and scarcely any notting silk;
but Miss Wood, as usual, is going to town very soon, and will
lay in a fresh stock. I gave 2s. 3d. a yard for my flannel,
and I fancy it is not very good, but it is so disgraceful and
contemptible an article in itself that its being comparatively good
or bad is of little importance. I bought some Japan ink likewise,
and next week shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you
know my principal hopes of happiness depend.
I am very grand indeed; I had the dignity of dropping out my mother's
laudanum last night. I carry about the keys of the wine and closet,
and twice since I began this letter have had orders to give in
the kitchen. Our dinner was very good yesterday, and the chicken
boiled perfectly tender; therefore I shall not be obliged to dismiss
Nanny on that account.
Almost everything was unpacked and put away last night.
Nanny chose to do it, and I was not sorry to be busy.
I have unpacked the gloves and placed yours in your drawer.
Their colour is light and pretty, and I believe exactly what
we fixed on.
Your letter was chaperoned here by one from Mrs. Cooke, in which
she says that "Battleridge" is not to come out before January,
and she is so little satisfied with Cawthorn's dilatoriness that she
never means to employ him again.
Mrs. Hall, of Sherborne, was brought to bed yesterday of a
dead child, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright.
I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband.
There has been a great deal of rain here for this last fortnight,
much more than in Kent, and indeed we found the roads all the way
from Staines most disgracefully dirty. Steventon lane has its full
share of it, and I don't know when I shall be able to get to Deane.
I hear that Martha is in better looks and spirits than she has
enjoyed for a long time, and I flatter myself she will now be able
to jest openly about Mr. W.
The spectacles which Molly found are my mother's, the scissors
my father's. We are very glad to hear such a good account of
your patients, little and great. My dear itty Dordy's remembrance
of me is very pleasing to me -- foolishly pleasing, because I know it
will be over so soon. My attachment to him will be more durable.
I shall think with tenderness and delight on his beautiful and smiling
countenance and interesting manner until a few years have turned
him into an ungovernable, ungracious fellow.
The books from Winton are all unpacked and put away; the binding
has compressed them most conveniently, and there is now very
good room in the bookcase for all that we wish to have there.
I believe the servants were very glad to see us. Nanny was, I am sure.
She confesses that it was very dull, and yet she had her child with
her till last Sunday. I understand that there are some grapes left,
but I believe not many; they must be gathered as soon as possible,
or this rain will entirely rot them.
I am quite angry with myself for not writing closer; why is my alphabet
so much more sprawly than yours? Dame Tilbury's daughter has lain in.
Shall I give her any of your baby clothes? The laceman was here only
a few days ago. How unfortunate for both of us that he came so soon!
Dame Bushell washes for us only one week more, as Sukey has got a place.
John Steevens' wife undertakes our purification. She does not look
as if anything she touched would ever be clean, but who knows?
We do not seem likely to have any other maidservant at present,
but Dame Staples will supply the place of one. Mary has hired a young
girl from Ashe who has never been out to service to be her scrub,
but James fears her not being strong enough for the place.
Earle Harwood has been to Deane lately, as I think Mary wrote us word,
and his family then told him that they would receive his wife,
if she continued to behave well for another year. He was very grateful,
as well he might, their behaviour throughout the whole affair has been
particularly kind. Earle and his wife live in the most private manner
imaginable at Portsmouth, without keeping a servant of any kind.
What a prodigious innate love of virtue she must have, to marry
under such circumstances!
It is now Saturday evening, but I wrote the chief of this in the morning.
My mother has not been down at all to-day; the laudanum made
her sleep a good deal, and upon the whole I think she is better.
My father and I dined by ourselves. How strange! He and John Bond
are now very happy together for I have just heard the heavy step
of the latter along the passage.
James Digweed called to-day, and I gave him his brother's deputation.
Charles Harwood, too, has just called to ask how we are,
in his way from Dummer, whither he has been conveying Miss Garrett,
who is going to return to her former residence in Kent.
I will leave off, or I shall not have room to add a word to-morrow.
Sunday. -- My mother has had a very good night, and feels
much better to-day.
I have received my Aunt's letter, and thank you for your scrap.
I will write to Charles soon. Pray give Fanny and Edward a kiss
from me, and ask George if he has got a new song for me.
'Tis really very kind of my Aunt to ask us to Bath again;
a kindness that deserves a better return than to profit by it.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,
Saturday, November 17, 1798.
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
If you paid any attention to the conclusion of my last letter,
you will be satisfied, before you receive this, that my mother has
had no relapse, and that Miss Debary comes. The former continues
to recover, and though she does not gain strength very rapidly,
my expectations are humble enough not to outstride her improvements.
She was able to sit up nearly eight hours yesterday, and to-day I
hope we shall do as much. . .
So much for my patient -- now for myself.
Mrs. Lefroy did come last Wednesday, and the Harwoods came likewise,
but very considerately paid their visit before Mrs. Lefroy's arrival,
with whom, in spite of interruptions both from my father and James,
I was enough alone to hear all that was interesting, which you
will easily credit when I tell you that of her nephew she said
nothing at all, and of her friend very little. She did not once
mention the name of the former to me, and I was too proud to make
any inquiries; but on my father's afterwards asking where he was,
I learnt that he was gone back to London in his way to Ireland,
where he is called to the Bar and means to practise.
She showed me a letter which she had received from her friend
a few weeks ago (in answer to one written by her to recommend
a nephew of Mrs. Russell to his notice at Cambridge), towards
the end of which was a sentence to this effect: "I am very sorry
to hear of Mrs. Austen's illness. It would give me particular
pleasure to have an opportunity of improving my acquaintance with
that family -- with a hope of creating to myself a nearer interest.
But at present I cannot indulge any expectation of it."
This is rational enough; there is less love and more sense in it
than sometimes appeared before, and I am very well satisfied.
It will all go on exceedingly well, and decline away in a very
reasonable manner. There seems no likelihood of his coming
into Hampshire this Christmas, and it is therefore most probable
that our indifference will soon be mutual, unless his regard,
which appeared to spring from knowing nothing of me at first,
is best supported by never seeing me.
Mrs. Lefroy made no remarks in the letter, nor did she indeed say
anything about him as relative to me. Perhaps she thinks she has
said too much already. She saw a great deal of the Mapletons
while she was in Bath. Christian is still in a very bad state
of health, consumptive, and not likely to recover.
Mrs. Portman is not much admired in Dorsetshire; the good-natured world,
as usual, extolled her beauty so highly, that all the neighbourhood
have had the pleasure of being disappointed.
My mother desires me to tell you that I am a very good housekeeper,
which I have no reluctance in doing, because I really think it
my peculiar excellence, and for this reason -- I always take care
to provide such things as please my own appetite, which I consider
as the chief merit in housekeeping. I have had some ragout veal,
and I mean to have some haricot mutton to-morrow. We are to kill
a pig soon.
There is to be a ball at Basingstoke next Thursday.
Our assemblies have very kindly declined ever since we laid down
the carriage, so that dis-convenience and dis-inclination to go
have kept pace together.
My father's affection for Miss Cuthbert is as lively as ever,
and he begs that you will not neglect to send him intelligence
of her or her brother, whenever you have any to send.
I am likewise to tell you that one of his Leicestershire sheep,
sold to the butcher last week, weighed 27 lb. and 1/4 per quarter.
I went to Deane with my father two days ago to see Mary, who is
still plagued with the rheumatism, which she would be very glad
to get rid of, and still more glad to get rid of her child, of whom
she is heartily tired. Her nurse is comes and has no particular
charm either of person or manner; but as all the Hurstbourne world
pronounce her to be the best nurse that ever was, Mary expects
her attachment to increase.
What fine weather this is! Not very becoming perhaps early in
the morning, but very pleasant out of doors at noon, and very wholesome --
at least everybody fancies so, and imagination is everything.
To Edward, however, I really think dry weather of importance.
I have not taken to fires yet.
I believe I never told you that Mrs. Coulthard and Anne,
late of Manydown, are both dead, and both died in childbed.
We have not regaled Mary with this news. Harry St. John is in Orders,
has done duty at Ashe, and performs very well.
I am very fond of experimental housekeeping, such as having an ox-cheek
now and then, I shall have one next week, and I mean to have some
little dumplings put into it, that I may fancy myself at Godmersham.
I hope George was pleased with my designs. Perhaps they would
have suited him as well had they been less elaborately finished;
but an artist cannot do anything slovenly. I suppose baby
grows and improves.
Sunday. -- I have just received a note from James to say that Mary was
brought to bed last night, at eleven o'clock, of a fine little boy,
and that everything is going on very well. My mother had desired
to know nothing of it before it should be all over, and we were clever
enough to prevent her having any suspicion of it, though Jenny,
who had been left here by her mistress, was sent for home. . . .
I called yesterday on Betty Londe, who inquired particularly after you,
and said she seemed to miss you very much, because you used to call
in upon her very often. This was an oblique reproach at me,
which I am sorry to have merited, and from which I will profit.
I shall send George another picture when I write next, which I suppose
will be soon, on Mary's account. My mother continues well.
Miss Austen, Godmersham.
Steventon: Sunday (November 25).
MY DEAR SISTER,
I expected to have heard from you this morning, but no letter is come.
I shall not take the trouble of announcing to you any more of
Mary's children, if, instead of thanking me for the intelligence,
you always sit down and write to James. I am sure nobody can desire
your letters so much as I do, and I don't think anybody deserves
them so well.
Having now relieved my heart of a great deal of malevolence,
I will proceed to tell you that Mary continues quite well,
and my mother tolerably so. I saw the former on Friday, and though
I had seen her comparatively hearty the Tuesday before, I was really
amazed at the improvement which three days had made in her.
She looked well, her spirits were perfectly good, and she spoke
much more vigorously than Elizabeth did when we left Godmersham.
I had only a glimpse at the child, who was asleep; but Miss
Debary told me that his eyes were large, dark, and handsome.
She looks much as she used to do, is netting herself a gown
in worsteds, and wears what Mrs. Birch would call a pot hat.
A short and compendious history of Miss Debary!
I suppose you have heard from Henry himself that his affairs are
happily settled. We do not know who furnishes the qualification.
Mr. Mowell would have readily given it, had not all his Oxfordshire
property been engaged for a similar purpose to the Colonel.
Our family affairs are rather deranged at present, for Nanny has kept
her bed these three or four days, with a pain in her side and fever,
and we are forced to have two charwomen, which is not very comfortable.
She is considerably better now, but it must still be some time, I suppose,
before she is able to do anything. You and Edward will be amused,
I think, when you know that Nanny Littlewart dresses my hair.
The ball on Thursday was a very small one indeed, hardly so large
as an Oxford smack. There were but seven couples, and only twenty-seven
people in the room.
The Overton Scotchman has been kind enough to rid me of some of
my money, in exchange for six shifts and four pair of stockings.
The Irish is not so fine as I should like it; but as I gave
as much money for it as I intended, I have no reason to complain.
It cost me 3s. 6d. per yard. It is rather finer, however, than our last,
and not so harsh a cloth.
We have got "Fitz-Albini"; my father has bought it against my
private wishes, for it does not quite satisfy my feelings that we
should purchase the only one of Egerton's works of which his
family are ashamed. That these scruples, however, do not at
all interfere with my reading it, you will easily believe.
We have neither of us yet finished the first volume.
My father is disappointed -- I am not, for I expected nothing better.
Never did any book carry more internal evidence of its author.
Every sentiment is completely Egerton's. There is very little story,
and what there is is told in a strange, unconnected way.
There are many characters introduced, apparently merely to be delineated.
We have not been able to recognise any of them hitherto, except Dr. and
Mrs. Hey and Mr. Oxenden, who is not very tenderly treated.
You must tell Edward that my father gives 25s. apiece to Seward
for his last lot of sheep, and, in return for this news, my father
wishes to receive some of Edward's pigs.
We have got Boswell's "Tour to the Hebrides," and are to have his "Life
of Johnson"; and, as some money will yet remain in Burdon's hands,
it is to be laid out in the purchase of Cowper's works.
This would please Mr. Clarke, could he know it.
By the bye, I have written to Mrs. Birch among my other writings,
and so I hope to have some account of all the people in that part
of the world before long. I have written to Mrs. E. Leigh,
too, and Mrs. Heathcote has been ill-natured enough to send me
a letter of inquiry; so that altogether I am tolerably tired
of letter-writing, and, unless I have anything new to tell you
of my mother or Mary, I shall not write again for many days;
perhaps a little repose may restore my regard for a pen.
Ask little Edward whether Bob Brown wears a great coat this cold either.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park.
Steventon: December 1.
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I am so good as to write to you again thus speedily, to let you know
that I have just heard from Frank. He was at Cadiz, alive and well,
on October 19, and had then very lately received a letter from you,
written as long ago as when the "London" was at St. Helen's.
But his raly latest intelligence of us was in one from me
of September 1, which I sent soon after we got to Godmersham.
He had written a packet full for his dearest friends in England,
early in October, to go by the "Excellent"; but the "Excellent"
was not sailed, nor likely to sail, when he despatched this to me.
It comprehended letters for both of us, for Lord Spencer, Mr. Daysh,
and the East India Directors. Lord St. Vincent had left the fleet
when he wrote, and was gone to Gibraltar, it was said to superintend
the fitting out of a private expedition from thence against
some of the enemies' ports; Minorca or Malta were conjectured
to be the objects.
Frank writes in good spirits, but says that our correspondence
cannot be so easily carried on in future as it has been,
as the communication between Cadiz and Lisbon is less frequent
than formerly. You and my mother, therefore, must not alarm
yourselves at the long intervals that may divide his letters.
I address this advice to you two as being the most tender-hearted
of the family.
My mother made her entrée into the dressing-room through crowds of admiring
spectators yesterday afternoon, and we all drank tea together for the.
first time these five weeks. She has had a tolerable night,
and bids fair for a continuance in the same brilliant course of action
to-day. . . .
Mr. Lyford was here yesterday; he came while we were at dinner,
and partook of our elegant entertainment. I was not ashamed at asking
him to sit down to table, for we had some pease-soup, a sparerib,
and a pudding. He wants my mother to look yellow and to throw
out a rash, but she will do neither.
I was at Deane yesterday morning. Mary was very well, but does
not gain bodily strength very fast. When I saw her so stout on
the third and sixth days, I expected to have seen her as well as ever
by the end of a fortnight.
James went to Ibthorp yesterday to see his mother and child.
Letty is with Mary at present, of course exceedingly happy,
and in raptures with the child. Mary does not manage matters in such
a way as to make me want to lay in myself. She is not tidy enough
in her appearance; she has no dressing-gown to sit up in; her curtains
are all too thin, and things are not in that comfort and style about
her which are necessary to make such a situation an enviable one.
Elizabeth was really a pretty object with her nice clean cap
put on so tidily and her dress so uniformly white and orderly.
We live entirely in the dressing-room now, which I like very much;
I always feel so much more elegant in it than in the parlour.
No news from Kintbury yet. Eliza sports with our impatience.
She was very well last Thursday. Who is Miss Maria Montresor going
to marry, and what is to become of Miss Mulcaster?
I find great comfort in my stuff gown, but I hope you do not wear
yours too often. I have made myself two or three caps to wear
of evenings since I came home, and they save me a world of torment
as to hair-dressing, which at present gives me no trouble beyond
washing and brushing, for my long hair is always plaited up out
of sight, and my short hair curls well enough to want no papering.
I have had it cut lately by Mr. Butler.
There is no reason to suppose that Miss Morgan is dead after all.
Mr. Lyford gratified us very much yesterday by his praises of my
father's mutton, which they all think the finest that was ever ate.
John Bond begins to find himself grow old, which John Bonds ought
not to do, and unequal to much hard work; a man is therefore
hired to supply his place as to labour, and John himself
is to have the care of the sheep. There are not more people
engaged than before, I believe; only men instead of boys.
I fancy so at least, but you know my stupidity as to such matters.
Lizzie Bond is just apprenticed to Miss Small, so we may hope to see
her able to spoil gowns in a few years.
My father has applied to Mr. May for an alehouse for Robert,
at his request, and to Mr. Deane, of Winchester, likewise.
This was my mother's idea, who thought he would be proud to oblige
a relation of Edward in return for Edward's accepting his money.
He sent a very civil answer indeed, but has no house vacant at present.
May expects to have an empty one soon at Farnham, so perhaps
Nanny may have the honour of drawing ale for the Bishop.
I shall write to Frank to-morrow.
Charles Powlett gave a dance on Thursday, to the great disturbance
of all his neighbours, of course, who, you know, take a most lively
interest in the state of his finances, and live in hopes of his
being soon ruined.
We are very much disposed to like our new maid; she knows nothing
of a diary, to be sure, which, in our family, is rather against her,
but she is to be taught it all. In short, we have felt the
inconvenience of being without a maid so long, that we are determined
to like her, and she will find it a hard matter to displease us.
As yet, she seems to cook very well, is uncommonly stout, and says
she can work well at her needle.
Sunday. -- My father is glad to hear so good an account of Edward's pigs,
and desires he may be told, as encouragement to his taste
for them, that Lord Bolton is particularly curious in his pigs,
has had pigstyes of a most elegant construction built for them,
and visits them every morning as soon as he rises.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,
Steventon: Tuesday (December 18).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
Your letter came quite as soon as I expected, and so your letters
will always do, because I have made it a rule not to expect them
till they come, in which I think I consult the ease of us both.
It is a great satisfaction to us to hear that your business is
in a way to be settled, and so settled as to give you as little
inconvenience as possible. You are very welcome to my father's
name and to his services if they are ever required in it.
I shall keep my ten pounds too, to wrap myself up in next winter.
I took the liberty a few days ago of asking your black velvet
bonnet to lend me its cawl, which it very readily did, and by
which I have been enabled to give a considerable improvement
of dignity to cap, which was before too nidgetty to please me.
I shall wear it on Thursday, but I hope you will not be offended
with me for following your advice as to its ornaments only in part.
I still venture to retain the narrow silver round it, put twice
round without any bow, and instead of the black military
feather shall put in the coquelicot one as being smarter,
and besides coquelicot is to be all the fashion this winter.
After the ball I shall probably make it entirely black.
I am sorry that our dear Charles begins to feel the dignity
of ill-usage. My father will write to Admiral Gambier.
He must have already received so much satisfaction from his
acquaintance and patronage of rank, that he will be delighted,
I dare say, to have another of the family introduced to him.
I think it would be very right in Charles to address Sir
Thomas on the occasion, though I cannot approve of your scheme
of writing to him (which you communicated to me a few nights ago)
to request him to come home and convey you to Steventon.
To do you justice, however, you had some doubts of the propriety
of such a measure yourself.
I am very much obliged to my dear little George for his message --
for his love at least; his duty, I suppose, was only in consequence
of some hint of my favourable intentions towards him from his father
or mother. I am sincerely rejoiced, however, that I ever was born,
since it has been the means of procuring him a dish of tea.
Give my best love to him.
This morning has been made very gay to us by visits from our two
lively neighbours, Mr. Holder and Mr. John Harwood.
I have received a very civil note from Mrs. Martin, requesting my name
as a subscriber to her library which opens January 14, and my name,
or rather yours, is accordingly given. My mother finds the money.
May subscribes too, which I am glad of, but hardly expected.
As an inducement to subscribe, Mrs. Martin tells me that her collection
is not to consist only of novels, but of every kind of literature,
&c. She might have spared this pretension to our family, who are great
novel-readers and not ashamed of being so; but it was necessary,
I suppose, to the self-consequence of half her subscribers.
I hope and imagine that Edward Taylor is to inherit all Sir Edward
Dering's fortune as well as all his own father's. I took care
to tell Mrs. Lefroy of your calling on her mother, and she seemed
pleased with it.
I enjoyed the hard black frosts of last week very much,
and one day while they lasted walked to Deane by myself.
I do not know that I ever did such a thing in my life before.
Charles Powlett has been very ill, but is getting well again.
His wife is discovered to be everything that the neighbourhood
could wish her, silly and cross as well as extravagant.
Earle Harwood and his friend Mr. Bailey came to Deane yesterday,
but are not to stay above a day or two. Earle has got the appointment
to a prison-ship at Portsmouth, which he has been for some time
desirous of having, and he and his wife are to live on board
for the future.
We dine now at half-past three, and have done dinner, I suppose,
before you begin. We drink tea at half-past six. I am afraid you
will despise us. My father reads Cowper to us in the morning,
to which I listen when I can. How do you spend your evenings?
I guess that Elizabeth works, that you read to her, and that Edward
goes to sleep. My mother continues hearty; her appetite and nights
are very good, but she sometimes complains of an asthma, a dropsy,
water in her chest, and a liver disorder.
The third Miss Irish Lefroy is going to be married to a
Mr. Courteney, but whether James or Charles I do not know.
Miss Lyford is gone into Suffolk with her brother and Miss Lodge.
Everybody is now very busy in making up an income for the two latter.
Miss Lodge has only 800l. of her own, and it is not supposed
that her father can give her much; therefore the good offices
of the neighbourhood will be highly acceptable. John Lyford means
to take pupils.
James Digweed has had a very ugly cut -- how could it happen?
It happened by a young horse which he had lately purchased,
and which he was trying to back into its stable; the animal kicked
him down with his forefeet, and kicked a great hole in his head;
he scrambled away as soon as he could, but was stunned for a time,
and suffered a good deal of pain afterwards. Yesterday he got
upon the horse again, and, for fear of something worse, was forced
to throw himself off.
Wednesday. -- I have changed my mind, and changed the trimmings
of my cap this morning; they are now such as you suggested.
I felt as if I should not prosper if I strayed from your directions,
and I think it makes me look more like Lady Conyngham now
than it did before, which is all that one lives for now.
I believe I shall make my new gown like my robe, but the back
of the latter is all in a piece with the tail, and will seven yards
enable me to copy it in that respect?
Mary went to church on Sunday, and had the weather
been smiling, we should have seen her here before this time.
Perhaps I may stay at Manydown as long as Monday, but not longer.
Martha sends me word that she is too busy to write to me now,
and but for your letter I should have supposed her deep in
the study of medicine preparatory to their removal from Ibthorp.
The letter to Gambier goes to-day.
I expect a very stupid ball; there will be nobody worth dancing with,
and nobody worth talking to but Catherine, for I believe Mrs. Lefroy
will not be there. Lucy is to go with Mrs. Russell.
People get so horridly poor and economical in this
part of the world that I have no patience with them.
Kent is the only place for happiness; everybody is rich there.
I must do similar justice, however, to the Windsor neighbourhood.
I have been forced to let James and Miss Debary have two sheets
of your drawing-paper, but they shan't have any more; there are not
above three or four left, besides one of a smaller and richer sort.
Perhaps you may want some more if you come through town in your return,
or rather buy some more, for your wanting it will not depend on
your coming through town, I imagine.
I have just heard from Martha and Frank: his letter was written
on November 12. All well and nothing particular.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park, Faversham.
Steventon: Monday night (December 24).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I have got some pleasant news for you which I am eager to communicate,
and therefore begin my letter sooner, though I shall not send it sooner
Admiral Gambier, in reply to my father's application,
writes as follows: -- "As it is usual to keep young officers in
small vessels, it being most proper on account of their inexperience,
and it being also a situation where they are more in the way of learning
their duty, your son has been continued in the `Scorpion'; but I
have mentioned to the Board of Admiralty his wish to be in a frigate,
and when a proper opportunity offers and it is judged that he has
taken his turn in a small ship, I hope he will be removed.
With regard to your son now in the `London' I am glad I can give you
the assurance that his promotion is likely to take place very soon,
as Lord Spencer has been so good as to say he would include him
in an arrangement that he proposes making in a short time relative
to some promotions in that quarter."
There! I may now finish my letter and go and hang myself, for I
am sure I can neither write nor do anything which will not appear
insipid to you after this. Now I really think he will soon be made,
and only wish we could communicate our foreknowledge of the event
to him whom it principally concerns. My father has written to Daysh
to desire that he will inform us, if he can, when the commission
is sent. Your chief wish is now ready to be accomplished;
and could Lord Spencer give happiness to Martha at the same time,
what a joyful heart he would make of yours!
I have sent the same extract of the sweets of Gambier to Charles,
who, poor fellow, though he sinks into nothing but an humble
attendant on the hero of the piece, will, I hope, be contented
with the prospect held out to him. By what the Admiral says,
it appears as if he had been designedly kept in the "Scorpion."
But I will not torment myself with conjectures and suppositions;
facts shall satisfy me.
Frank had not heard from any of us for ten weeks when he wrote to me on
November 12 in consequence of Lord St. Vincent being removed to Gibraltar.
When his commission is sent, however, it will not be so long on
its road as our letters, because all the Government despatches are
forwarded by land to his lordship from Lisbon with great regularity.
I returned from Manydown this morning, and found my mother
certainly in no respect worse than when I left her.
She does not like the cold weather, but that we cannot help.
I spent my time very quietly and very pleasantly with Catherine.
Miss Blackford is agreeable enough. I do not want people to be
very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.
I found only Catherine and her when I got to Manydown on Thursday.
We dined together and went together to Worting to seek the protection
of Mrs. Clarke, with whom were Lady Mildmay, her eldest son,
and a Mr. and Mrs. Hoare.
Our ball was very thin, but by no means unpleasant. There were
thirty-one people, and only eleven ladies out of the number,
and but five single women in the room. Of the gentlemen present
you may have some idea from the list of my partners -- Mr. Wood,
G. Lefroy, Rice, a Mr. Butcher (belonging to the Temples, a sailor
and not of the 11th Light Dragoons), Mr. Temple (not the horrid one
of all), Mr. Wm. Orde (cousin to the Kingsclere man), Mr. John Harwood,
and Mr. Calland, who appeared as usual with his hat in his hand,
and stood every now and then behind Catherine and me to be talked to
and abused for not dancing. We teased him, however, into it at last.
I was very glad to see him again after so long a separation,
and he was altogether rather the genius and flirt of the evening.
He inquired after you.
There were twenty dances, and I danced them all, and without any fatigue.
I was glad to find myself capable of dancing so much, and with so much
satisfaction as I did; from my slender enjoyment of the Ashford balls
(as assemblies for dancing) I had not thought myself equal to it,
but in cold weather and with few couples I fancy I could
just as well dance for a week together as for half an hour.
My black cap was openly admired by Mrs. Lefroy, and secretly I
imagine by everybody else in the room.
Tuesday. -- I thank you for your long letter, which I will endeavour
to deserve by writing the rest of this as closely as possible.
I am full of joy at much of your information; that you should have
been to a ball, and have danced at it, and supped with the Prince,
and that you should meditate the purchase of a new muslin gown,
are delightful circumstances. I am determined to buy a handsome one
whenever I can, and I am so tired and ashamed of half my present stock,
that I even blush at the sight of the wardrobe which contains them.
But I will not be much longer libelled by the possession
of my coarse spot; I shall turn it into a petticoat very soon.
I wish you a merry Christmas, but no compliments of the season.
Poor Edward! It is very hard that he, who has everything else
in the world that he can wish for, should not have good health too.
But I hope with the assistance of stomach complaints, faintnesses,
and sicknesses, he will soon be restored to that blessing likewise.
If his nervous complaint proceeded from a suppression of something
that ought to be thrown out, which does not seem unlikely,
the first of these disorders may really be a remedy, and I sincerely
wish it may, for I know no one more deserving of happiness without
alloy than Edward is.
I cannot determine what to do about my new gown; I wish such things
were to be bought ready-made. I have some hopes of meeting Martha
at the christening at Deane next Tuesday, and shall see what she
can do for me. I want to have something suggested which will give
me no trouble of thought or direction.
Again I return to my joy that you danced at Ashford, and that you supped
with the Prince. I can perfectly comprehend Mrs. Cage's distress
and perplexity. She has all those kind of foolish and incomprehensible
feelings which would make her fancy herself uncomfortable in such
a party. I love her, however, in spite of all her nonsense.
Pray give "t'other Miss Austen's" compliments to Edward Bridges
when you see him again.
I insist upon your persevering in your intention of buying
a new gown; I am sure you must want one, and as you will have 5l.
due in a week's, time, I am certain you may afford it very well,
and if you think you cannot, I will give you the body-lining.
Of my charities to the poor since I came home you shall have
a faithful account. I have given a pair of worsted stockings
to Mary Hutchins, Dame Kew, Mary Steevens, and Dame Staples;
a shift to Hannah Staples, and a shawl to Betty Dawkins;
amounting in all to about half a guinea. But I have no reason
to suppose that the Battys would accept of anything, because I
have not made them the offer.
I am glad to hear such a good account of Harriet Bridges;
she goes on now as young ladies of seventeen ought to do,
admired and admiring, in a much more rational way than her
three elder sisters, who had so little of that kind of youth.
I dare say she fancies Major Elkington as agreeable as Warren,
and if she can think so, it is very well.
I was to have dined at Keane to-day, but the weather is so cold
that I am not sorry to be kept at home by the appearance of snow.
We are to have company to dinner on Friday: the three Digweeds
and James. We shall be a nice silent party, I suppose. Seize upon
the scissors as soon as you possibly can on the receipt of this.
I only fear your being too late to secure the prize.
The Lords of the Admiralty will have enough of our applications
at present, for I hear from Charles that he has written to Lord
Spencer himself to be removed. I am afraid his Serene Highness
will be in a passion, and order some of our heads to be cut off.
My mother wants to know whether Edward has ever made the hen-house
which they planned together. I am rejoiced to hear from Martha
that they certainly continue at Ibthorp, and I have just heard
that I am sure of meeting Martha at the christening.
You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate
seldom to treat people so well as they deserve. . . . God bless you!
Wednesday. -- The snow came to nothing yesterday, so I did go to Deane,
and returned home at nine o'clock at night in the little carriage,
and without being very cold.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,
Steventon: Friday (December 28).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
Frank is made. He was yesterday raised to the rank of Commander,
and appointed to the "Petterel" sloop, now at Gibraltar.
A letter from Daysh has just announced this, and as it is confirmed
by a very friendly one from Mr. Mathew to the same effect,
transcribing one from Admiral Gambier to the General, we have no
reason to suspect the truth of it.
As soon as you have cried a little for joy, you may go on,
and learn farther that the India House have taken Captain Austen's
petition into consideration -- this comes from Daysh -- and likewise
that Lieutenant Charles John Austen is removed to the "Tamar" frigate --
this comes from the Admiral. We cannot find out where the "Tamar" is,
but I hope we shall now see Charles here at all events.
This letter is to be dedicated entirely to good news.
If you will send my father an account of your washing and
letter expenses, &c., he will send you a draft for the amount
of it, as well as for your next quarter, and for Edward's rent.
If you don't buy a muslin gown now on the strength of this money
and Frank's promotion, I shall never forgive you.
Mrs. Lefroy has just sent me word that Lady Dorchester meant
to invite me to her ball on January 8, which, though an humble
blessing compared with what the last page records, I do not consider
as any calamity.
I cannot write any more now, but I have written enough to make you
very happy, and therefore may safely conclude.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park.
Steventon: Tuesday (January 8).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
You must read your letters over five times in future before you send them,
and then, perhaps, you may find them as entertaining as I do.
I laughed at several parts of the one which I am now answering.
Charles is not come yet, but he must come this morning, or he shall
never know what I will do to him. The ball at Kempshott is
this evening, and I have got him an invitation, though I have not
been so considerate as to get him a partner. But the cases are
different between him and Eliza Bailey, for he is not in a dying way,
and may therefore be equal to getting a partner for himself.
I believe I told you that Monday was to be the ball night, for which,
and for all other errors into which I may ever have led you,
I humbly ask your pardon.
Elizabeth is very cruel about my writing music, and, as a punishment
for her, I should insist upon always writing out all hers for her
in future, if I were not punishing myself at the same time.
I am tolerably glad to hear that Edward's income is so good a one --
as glad as I can be at anybody's being rich except you and me --
and I am thoroughly rejoiced to hear of his present to you.
I am not to wear my white satin cap to-night. after all;
I am to wear a mamalone cap instead, which Charles Fowle sent
to Mary, and which she lends me. It is all the fashion now;
worn at the opera, and by Lady Mildmays at Hackwood balls.
I hate describing such things, and I dare say you will be able
to guess what it is like. I have got over the dreadful epocha of mantua-making much better
than I expected. My gown is made very much like my blue one,
which you always told me sat very well, with only these variations:
the sleeves are short, the wrap fuller, the apron comes over it,
and a band of the same completes the whole.
I assure you that I dread the idea of going to Brighton as much
as you do, but I am not without hopes that something may happen
to prevent it.
F---- has lost his election at B----, and perhaps they may not be
able to see company for some time. They talk of going to Bath too,
in the spring, and perhaps they may be overturned in their way down,
and all laid up for the summer.
Wednesday. -- I have had a cold and weakness in one of my eyes for some days,
which makes writing neither very pleasant nor very profitable,
and which will probably prevent my finishing this letter myself.
My mother has undertaken to do it for me, and I shall leave
the Kempshott ball for her.
You express so little anxiety about my being murdered under Ash
Park Copse by Mrs. Hulbert's servant, that I have a great mind
not to tell you whether I was or not, and shall only say that I did
not return home that night or the next, as Martha kindly made room
for me in her bed, which was the shut-up one in the new nursery.
Nurse and the child slept upon the floor, and there we all were
in some confusion and great comfort. The bed did exceedingly
well for us, both to lie awake in and talk till two o'clock, and to
sleep in the rest of the night. I love Martha better than ever,
and I mean to go and see her, if I can, when she gets home.
We all dined at the Harwoods' on Thursday, and the party broke up
the next morning.
This complaint in my eye has been a sad bore to me, for I
have not been able to read or work in any comfort since Friday,
but one advantage will be derived from it, for I shall be such
a proficient in music by the time I have got rid of my cold,
that I shall be perfectly qualified in that science at least
to take Mr. Roope's office at Eastwell next summer; and I am sure
of Elizabeth's recommendation, be it only on Harriet's account.
Of my talent in drawing I have given specimens in my letters to you,
and I have nothing to do but to invent a few hard names for the stars.
Mary grows rather more reasonable about her child's beauty,
and says that she does not think him really handsome; but I suspect
her moderation to be something like that of W----- W-----'s mamma.
Perhaps Mary has told you that they are going to enter more into
dinner parties; the Biggs and Mr. Holder dine there to-morrow, and I
am to meet them. I shall sleep there. Catherine has the honour
of giving her name to a set, which will be composed of two Withers,
two Heathcotes, a Blackford, and no Bigg except herself.
She congratulated me last night on Frank's promotion, as if she
really felt the joy she talked of.
My sweet little George! I am delighted to hear that he has such
an inventive genius as to face-making. I admired his yellow wafer
very much, and hope he will choose the wafer for your next letter.
I wore my green shoes last night, and took my white fan with me;
I am very glad he never threw it into the river.
Mrs. Knight giving up the Godmersham estate to Edward was
no such prodigious act of generosity after all, it seems,
for she has reserved herself an income out of it still;
this ought to be known, that her conduct may not be overrated.
I rather think Edward shows the most magnanimity of the two,
in accepting her resignation with such incumbrances.
The more I write, the better my eye gets, so I shall at least keep
on till it is quite well, before I give up my pen to my mother.
Mrs. Bramston's little movable apartment was tolerably filled last
night by herself, Mrs. H. Blackstone, her two daughters, and me.
I do not like the Miss Blackstones; indeed, I was always
determined not to like them, so there is the less merit in it.
Mrs. Bramston was very civil, kind, and noisy. I spent a very
pleasant evening, chiefly among the Manydown party. There was
the same kind of supper as last year, and the same want of chairs.
There were more dancers than the room could conveniently hold,
which is enough to constitute a good ball at any time.
I do not think I was very much in request. People were rather
apt not to ask me till they could not help it; one's consequence,
you know, varies so much at times without any particular reason.
There was one gentleman, an officer of the Cheshire, a very good-looking
young man, who, I was told, wanted very much to be introduced to me,
but as he did not want it quite enough to take much trouble
in effecting it, we never could bring it about.
I danced with Mr. John Wood again, twice with a Mr. South,
a lad from Winchester, who, I suppose, is as far from being related
to the bishop of that diocese as it is possible to be, with G. Lefroy,
and J. Harwood, who, I think, takes to me rather more than he used to do.
One of my gayest actions was sitting down two dances in preference
to having Lord Bolton's eldest son for my partner, who danced too
ill to be endured. The Miss Charterises were there, and played
the parts of the Miss Edens with great spirit. Charles never came.
Naughty Charles! I suppose he could not get superseded in time.
Miss Debary has replaced your two sheets of drawing-paper with
two of superior size and quality; so I do not grudge her having
taken them at all now. Mr. Ludlow and Miss Pugh of Andover
are lately married, and so is Mrs. Skeete of Basingstoke,
and Mr. French, chemist, of Reading.
I do not wonder at your wanting to read "First Impressions"
again, so seldom as you have gone through it, and that so long ago.
I am much obliged to you for meaning to leave my old petticoat behind you.
I have long secretly wished it might be done, but had not courage
to make the request.
Pray mention the name of Maria Montresor's lover when you write next.
My mother wants to know it, and I have not courage to look back
into your letters to find it out.
I shall not be able to send this till to-morrow, and you will be
disappointed on Friday; I am very sorry for it, but I cannot help it.
The partnership between Jeffereys, Toomer, and Legge is dissolved;
the two latter are melted away into nothing, and it is to be hoped
that Jeffereys will soon break, for the sake of a few heroines whose
money he may have. I wish you joy of your birthday twenty times over.
I shall be able to send this to the post to-day which exalts
me to the utmost pinnacle of human felicity, and makes me bask
in the sunshine of prosperity, or gives me any other sensation
of pleasure in studied language which you may prefer.
Do not be angry with me for not filling my sheet, and believe
me yours affectionately,
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,
Steventon: Monday (January 21)
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I will endeavour to make this letter more worthy your acceptance
than my last, which was so shabby a one that I think Mr. Marshall
could never charge you with the postage. My eyes have been
very indifferent since it was written, but are now getting better
once more; keeping them so many hours open on Thursday night,
as well as the dust of the ball-room, injured them a good deal.
I use them as little as I can, but you know, and Elizabeth knows,
and everybody who ever had weak eyes knows, how delightful it
is to hurt them by employment, against the advice and entreaty
of all one's friends.
Charles leaves us to-night. The "Tamar" is in the Downs,
and Mr. Daysh advises him to join her there directly, as there
is no chance of her going to the westward. Charles does not
approve of this at all, and will not be much grieved if he should
be too late for her before she sails, as he may then hope to get
into a better station. He attempted to go to town last night,
and got as far on his road thither as Dean Gate; but both the coaches
were full, and we had the pleasure of seeing him back again.
He will call on Daysh to-morrow to know whether the "Tamar" has
sailed or not, and if she is still at the Downs he will proceed
in one of the night coaches to Deal. I want to go with him,
that I may explain the country to him properly between Canterbury
and Rowling, but the unpleasantness of returning by myself deters me.
I should like to go as far as Ospringe with him very much indeed,
that I might surprise you at Godmersham.
Martha writes me word that Charles was very much admired at Kintbury,
and Mrs. Lefroy never saw anyone so much improved in her life,
and thinks him handsomer than Henry. He appears to far more advantage
here than he did at Godmersham, not surrounded by strangers and
neither oppressed by a pain in his face or powder in his hair.
James christened Elizabeth Caroline on Saturday morning,
and then came home. Mary, Anna, and Edward have left us of course;
before the second went I took down her answer to her cousin Fanny.
Yesterday came a letter to my mother from Edward Cooper to announce,
not the birth of a child, but of a living; for Mrs. Leigh has begged
his acceptance of the Rectory of Hamstall-Ridware in Staffordshire,
vacant by Mr. Johnson's death. We collect from his letter
that he means to reside there, in which he shows his wisdom.
Staffordshire is a good way off; so we shall see nothing
more of them till, some fifteen years hence, the Miss Coopers
are presented to us, fine, jolly, handsome, ignorant girls.
The living is valued at 140l. a year, but perhaps it may be improvable.
How will they be able to convey the furniture of the dressing-room
so far in safety?
Our first cousins seem all dropping off very fast. One is incorporated
into the family, another dies, and a third goes into Staffordshire.
We can learn nothing of the disposal of the other living.
I have not the smallest notion of Fulwar's having it.
Lord Craven has probably other connections and more intimate ones,
in that line, than he now has with the Kintbury family.
Our ball on Thursday was a very poor one, only eight couple and but
twenty-three people in the room; but it was not the ball's fault,
for we were deprived of two or three families by the sudden illness
of Mr. Wither, who was seized that morning at Winchester with a return
of his former alarming complaint. An express was sent off from
thence to the family; Catherine and Miss Blackford were dining with
Mrs. Russell. Poor Catherine's distress must have been very great.
She was prevailed on to wait till the Heathcotes could come from Wintney,
and then with those two and Harris proceeded directly to Winchester.
In such a disorder his danger, I suppose, must always be great;
but from this attack he is now rapidly recovering, and will be well
enough to return to Manydown, I fancy, in a few days.
It was a fine thing for conversation at the ball. But it deprived us
not only of the Biggs, but of Mrs. Russell too, and of the Boltons
and John Harwood, who were dining there likewise, and of Mr. Lane,
who kept away as related to the family. Poor man! -- I mean Mr. Wither --
his life is so useful, his character so respectable and worthy,
that I really believe there was a good deal of sincerity in the general
concern expressed on his account.
Our ball was chiefly made up of Jervoises and Terrys,
the former of whom were apt to be vulgar, the latter to be noisy.
I had an odd set of partners: Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Street, Col. Jervoise,
James Digweed, J. Lyford, and Mr. Biggs, a friend of the latter.
I had a very pleasant evening, however, though you will probably find
out that there was no particular reason for it; but I do not think it
worth while to wait for enjoyment until there is some real opportunity
for it. Mary behaved very well, and was not at all fidgetty.
For the history of her adventures at the ball I refer you
to Anna's letter.
When you come home you will have some shirts to make up for Charles.
Mrs. Davies frightened him into buying a piece of Irish when we
were in Basingstoke. Mr. Daysh supposes that Captain Austen's
commission has reached him by this time.
Tuesday. -- Your letter has pleased and amused me very much.
Your essay on happy fortnights is highly ingenious, and the talobert
skin made me laugh a good deal. Whenever I fall into misfortune,
how many jokes it ought to furnish to my acquaintance in general,
or I shall die dreadfully in their debt for entertainment.
It began to occur to me before you mentioned it that I had been
somewhat silent as to my mother's health for some time, but I
thought you could have no difficulty in divining its exact state --
you, who have guessed so much stranger things. She is tolerably well --
better upon the whole than she was some weeks ago. She would tell
you herself that she has a very dreadful cold in her head at present;
but I have not much compassion for colds in the head without fever
or sore throat.
Our own particular little brother got a place in the coach last night,
and is now, I suppose, in town. I have no objection at all
to your buying our gowns there, as your imagination has pictured
to you exactly such a one as is necessary to make me happy.
You quite abash me by your progress in notting, for I am still
without silk. You must get me some in town or in Canterbury;
it should be finer than yours.
I thought Edward would not approve of Charles being a crop,
and rather wished you to conceal it from him at present,
lest it might fall on his spirits and retard his recovery.
My father furnishes him with a pig from Cheesedown; it is already
killed and cut up, but it is not to weigh more than nine stone;
the season is too far advanced to get him a larger one.
My mother means to pay herself for the salt and the trouble of
ordering it to be cured by the sparibs, the souse, and the lard.
We have had one dead lamb.
I congratulate you on Mr. E. Hatton's good fortune. I suppose
the marriage will now follow out of hand. Give my compliments
to Miss Finch.
What time in March may we expect your return in? I begin to be
very tired of answering people's questions on that subject, and,
independent of that, I shall be very glad to see you at home again,
and then if we can get Martha and shirk . . . who will be so
happy as we?
I think of going to Ibthorp in about a fortnight. My eyes are
pretty well, I thank you, if you please.
Wednesday, 23rd. -- I wish my dear Fanny many returns of this day,
and that she may on every return enjoy as much pleasure as she
is now receiving from her doll's-beds.
I have just heard from Charles, who is by this time at Deal.
He is to be Second Lieutenant, which pleases him very well.
The "Endymion" is come into the Downs, which pleases him likewise.
He expects to be ordered to Sheerness shortly, as the "Tamar" has
never been refitted.
My father and mother made the same match for you last night,
and are very much pleased with it. He is a beauty of my mother's.
Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,