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- Letters of Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra Austen
- 1805. [THIS FILE]
- Letters to Fanny Knight 1814-1816
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THE thirty-third letter begins with an account of a visit
to Eastwell Park, where lived George Hatton and his wife,
Lady Elizabeth (née Murray). The two boys, George and Daniel,
to whom reference is made, were the late Earl of Winchilsea
(ninth earl, who succeeded his cousin in 1826), and his brother,
who subsequently married Lady Louisa Greville (daughter of the Earl
of Warwick), and was Rector of Great Weldon, Northamptonshire,
and Chaplain to the Queen. Lady Gordon and Miss Anne Finch were
the sisters of the owner of Eastwell Park, the former of whom married
Sir Jenison William Gordon, K. C. B., and the latter died unmarried.
Goodnestone Farm, to which the first letter was written, and from
which Jane afterwards writes, is a comfortable house very near
the great house, which has generally been inhabited as a dower house
or by some younger member of the Bridges family, to whom it belongs.
"Harriot" means Harriet Bridges, as this was the year before she
married Mr. Moore. It will be noticed that Jane always has
a good word for her when she speaks of her, which, considering
the freedom of her general remarks upon her acquaintance,
is a high testimony to character, which was doubtless deserved.
It must be admitted that my beloved great-aunt was a careless speller.
She invariably spells "niece" "neice" in these letters, and in
that now before me she spells Lady Bridges' name "Brydges" twice,
which I note to remark that the Goodnestone family spell their name
with an "i," the Wootton family with a "y," which makes a difference,
though I cannot describe it in the same terms as Mr. Justice Haliburton
(Sam Slick) once used to me in the House of Commons, when, having occasion
to write his name, I asked him if I should spell it with one "l" or two.
"Sir," he replied, "on no account with more than one; there is an `l'
of a difference." The Knatchbulls who are mentioned as having
stayed at Godmersham at this time were Captain Charles Knatchbull,
R. N., son of Wadham Knatchbull, Chancellor and Prebendary of Durham,
who had married his cousin Frances, only daughter and heiress
of Major Norton Knatchbull (youngest son of the fourth Hatch
baronet), of Babington, Somersetshire, which place Captain Charles
now possessed in right of his wife.
The Duke of Gloucester, whose death put off the Deal ball,
was the brother of King George the Third, who died in his 62d year.
At the time of his death he commanded a regiment of Guards,
and was Warden and Keeper of the New Forest, Ranger of Windsor Forest
and of Hampton Court Park, and Chancellor of Dublin University.
The Marianne mentioned in the thirty-fifth letter as being strikingly
like "Catherine Bigg" was a younger daughter of Sir Brook and Lady Bridges
(Fanny Fowler), who was an invalid and died unmarried in 1811.
Godmersham Park: Saturday (August 24).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
How do you do; and how is Harriot's cold? I hope you are at this
time sitting down to answer these questions.
Our visit to Eastwell was very agreeable; I found Ly. Gordon's
manners as pleasing as they had been described, and saw
nothing to dislike in Sir Janison, excepting once or twice a sort
of sneer at Mrs. Anne Finch. He was just getting into talk with
Elizabeth as the carriage was ordered, but during the first part
of the visit he said very little.
Your going with Harriot was highly approved of by everyone,
and only too much applauded as an act of virtue on your part.
I said all I could to lessen your merit. The Mrs. Finches were
afraid you would find Goodnestone very dull; I wished when I
heard them say so that they could have heard Mr. E. Bridges'
solicitude on the subject, and have known all the amusements
that were planned to prevent it.
They were very civil to me, as they always are; fortune was
also very civil to me in placing Mr. E. Hatton by me at dinner.
I have discovered that Lady Elizabeth, for a woman of her age
and situation, has astonishingly little to say for herself, and that
Miss Hatton has not much more. Her eloquence lies in her fingers;
they were most fluently harmonious.
George is a fine boy, and well behaved, but Daniel chiefly delighted me;
the good humour of his countenance is quite bewitching.
After tea we had a cribbage-table, and he and I won two rubbers
of his brother and Mrs. Mary. Mr. Brett was the only person there,
besides our two families.
It was considerably past eleven before we were at home,
and I was so tired as to feel no envy of those who were at
Ly. Yates' ball. My good wishes for its being a pleasant one were,
I hope, successful.
Yesterday was a very quiet day with us; my noisiest efforts were writing
to Frank, and playing at battledore and shuttlecock with William;
he and I have practised together two mornings, and improve a little;
we have frequently kept it up three times, and once or twice six.
The two Edwards went to Canterbury in the chaise, and found Mrs. Knight,
as you found her, I suppose, the day before, cheerful but weak.
Fanny was met walking with Miss Sharp and Miss Milles, the happiest
being in the world; she sent a private message to her mamma
implying as much. "Tell mamma that I am quite Palmerstone!"
If little Lizzy used the same language she would, I dare say,
send the same message from Goodnestone.
In the evening we took a quiet walk round the farm, with George
and Henry to animate us by their races and merriment.
Little Edward is by no means better, and his papa and mamma
have determined to consult Dr. Wilmot. Unless he recovers his
strength beyond what is now probable, his brothers will return
to school without him, and he will be of the party to Worthing.
If sea-bathing should be recommended he will be left there with us,
but this is not thought likely to happen.
I have been used very ill this morning: I have received a letter
from Frank which I ought to have had when Elizabeth and Henry
had theirs, and which in its way from Albany to Godmersham
has been to Dover and Steventon. It was finished on ye 16th,
and tells what theirs told before as to his present situation;
he is in a great hurry to be married, and I have encouraged him
in it, in the letter which ought to have been an answer to his.
He must think it very strange that I do not acknowledge the receipt
of his, when I speak of those of the same date to Eliz. and Henry;
and to add to my injuries, I forgot to number mine on the outside.
I have found your white mittens; they were folded up within my
clean nightcap, and send their duty to you.
Elizabeth has this moment proposed a scheme which will be very
much for my pleasure if equally convenient to the other party;
it is that when you return on Monday, I should take your place at
Goodnestone for a few days. Harriot cannot be insincere, let her
try for it ever so much, and therefore I defy her to accept this
self-invitation of mine, unless it be really what perfectly suits her.
As there is no time for an answer, I shall go in the carriage
on Monday, and can return with you, if my going on to Goodnestone
is at all inconvenient.
The Knatchbulls come on Wednesday to dinner, and stay only till
Friday morning at the latest. Frank's letter to me is the only one
that you or I have received since Thursday.
Mr. Hall walked off this morning to Ospringe, with no inconsiderable booty.
He charged Elizabeth 5s. for every time of dressing her hair, and 5s.
for every lesson to Sace, allowing nothing for the pleasures of his visit
here, for meat, drink, and lodging, the benefit of country air, and the
charms of Mrs. Salkeld's and Mrs. Sace's society. Towards me he was
as considerate as I had hoped for from my relationship to you, charging
me only 2s. 6d. for cutting my hair, though it was as thoroughly dressed
after being cut for Eastwell as it had been for the Ashford assembly. He
certainly respects either our youth or our poverty.
My writing to you to-day prevents Elizabeth writing to Harriot,
for which evil I implore the latter's pardon. Give my best love
to her, and kind remembrance to her brothers.
Yours very affectionately,
You are desired to bring back with you Henry's picture of Rowling
for the Misses Finches.
As I find, on looking into my affairs, that instead of being
very rich I am likely to be very poor, I cannot afford more than
ten shillings for Sackree; but as we are to meet in Canterbury I
need not have mentioned this. It is as well, however, to prepare
you for the sight of a sister sunk in poverty, that it may not
overcome your spirits.
Elizabeth hopes you will not be later here on Monday than five
o'clock, on Lizzy's account.
We have heard nothing from Henry since he went. Daniel told us
that he went from Ospringe in one of the coaches.
Miss Austen, Goodnestone Farm, Wingham.
 The Godmersham housekeeper and
Goodnestone Farm: Tuesday (August 27).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
We had a very pleasant drive from Canterbury, and reached this
place about half-past four, which seemed to bid fair for a punctual
dinner at five; but scenes of great agitation awaited us, and there
was much to be endured and done before we could sit down to table.
Harriot found a letter from Louisa Hatton, desiring to know
if she and her brothers were to be at the ball at Deal on Friday,
and saying that the Eastwell family had some idea of going to it,
and were to make use of Rowling if they did; and while I was dressing
she came to me with another letter in her hand, in great perplexity.
It was from Captain Woodford, containing a message from Lady Forbes,
which he had intended to deliver in person, but had been
prevented from doing.
The offer of a ticket for this grand ball, with an invitation to come
to her house at Dover before and after it, was Lady Forbes' message.
Harriot was at first very little inclined, or rather totally disinclined,
to profit by her ladyship's attention; but at length, after many debates,
she was persuaded by me and herself together to accept the ticket.
The offer of dressing and sleeping at Dover she determined on
Marianne's account to decline, and her plan is to be conveyed
by Lady Elizabeth Hatton.
I hope their going is by this time certain, and will be soon known
to be so. I think Miss H. would not have written such a letter
if she had not been all but sure of it, and a little more.
I am anxious on the subject, from the fear of being in the way if they
do not come to give Harriot a conveyance. I proposed and pressed
being sent home on Thursday, to prevent the possibility of being
in the wrong place, but Harriot would not hear of it.
There is no chance of tickets for the Mr. Bridgeses, as no gentlemen
but of the garrison are invited.
With a civil note to be fabricated to Lady F., and an answer written to
Miss H., you will easily believe that we could not begin dinner till six.
We were agreeably surprised by Edward Bridges' company to it.
He had been, strange to tell, too late for the cricket match,
too late at least to play himself, and, not being asked to dine
with the players, came home. It is impossible to do justice
to the hospitality of his attentions towards me; he made a point
of ordering toasted cheese for supper entirely on my account.
We had a very agreeable evening, and here I am before breakfast
writing to you, having got up between six and seven; Lady Brydges'
room must be good for early rising.
Mr. Sankey was here last night, and found his patient better,
but I have heard from a maid-servant that she has had but
an indifferent night.
Tell Elizabeth that I did not give her letter to Harriot till we
were in the carriage, when she received it with great delight,
and could read it in comfort.
As you have been here so lately, I need not particularly describe
the house or style of living, in which all seems for use and comfort;
nor need I be diffuse on the state of Lady Brydges' bookcase and
corner-shelves upstairs. What a treat to my mother to arrange them!
Harriot is constrained to give up all hope of seeing Edward here to
fetch me, as I soon recollected that Mr. and Mrs. Charles Knatchbull's
being at Godmersham on Thursday must put it out of the question.
Had I waited till after breakfast, the chief of all this
might have been spared. The Duke of Gloucester's death sets
my heart at ease, though it will cause some dozens to ache.
Harriot's is not among the number of the last; she is very well
pleased to be spared the trouble of preparation. She joins me
in best love to you all, and will write to Elizabeth soon.
I shall be very glad to hear from you, that we may know how you all are,
especially the two Edwards.
I have asked Sophie if she has anything to say to Lizzy in acknowledgment
of the little bird, and her message is that, with her love,
she is very glad Lizzy sent it. She volunteers, moreover, her love
to little Marianne, with the promise of bringing her a doll
the next time she goes to Godmersham.
John is just come from Ramsgate, and brings a good account of
the people there. He and his brother, you know, dine at Nackington;
we are to dine at four, that we may walk afterwards.
As it is now two, and Harriot has letters to write, we shall probably
not get out before.
Three o'clock. -- Harriot is just come from Marianne, and thinks
her upon the whole better. The sickness has not returned,
and a headache is at present her chief complaint, which Henry
attributes to the sickness.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham.
Goodnestone Farm: Friday (August 30).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I have determined on staying here till Monday. Not that there
is any occasion for it on Marianne's account, as she is now almost
as well as usual, but Harriot is so kind in her wishes for my company
that I could not resolve on leaving her to-morrow, especially as I
have no reason to give for its necessity. It would be inconvenient
to me to stay with her longer than the beginning of next week,
on account of my clothes, and therefore I trust it will suit Edward
to fetch or send for me on Monday, or Tuesday if Monday should be wet.
Harriot has this moment desired me to propose his coming hither
on Monday, and taking me back the next day.
The purport of Elizabeth's letter makes me anxious to hear more
of what we are to do and not to do, and I hope you will be able
to write me your own plans and opinions to-morrow. The journey
to London is a point of the first expediency, and I am glad it is
resolved on, though it seems likely to injure our Worthing scheme.
I expect that we are to be at Sandling, while they are in town.
It gives us great pleasure to hear of little Edward's being better,
and we imagine, from his mamma's expressions, that he is expected
to be well enough to return to school with his brothers.
Marianne was equal to seeing me two days ago; we sat with her
for a couple of hours before dinner, and the same yesterday,
when she was evidently better, more equal to conversation, and more
cheerful than during our first visit. She received me very kindly,
and expressed her egret in not having been able to see you.
She is, of course, altered since we saw her in October, 1794.
Eleven years could not pass away even in health without making
some change, but in her case it is wonderful that the change
should be so little. I have not seen her to advantage, as I
understand she has frequently a nice colour, and her complexion
has not yet recovered from the effects of her late illness.
Her face is grown longer and thinner, and her features more marked,
and the likeness which I remember to have always seen between her
and Catherine Bigg is stronger than ever, and so striking is the voice
and manner of speaking that I seem to be really hearing Catherine,
and once or twice have been on the point of calling Harriot "Alethea."
She is very pleasant, cheerful, and interested in everything about her,
and at the same time shows a thoughtful, considerate, and decided
turn of mind.
Edward Bridges dined at home yesterday; the day before he was at
St. Albans; to-day he goes to Broome, and to-morrow to Mr. Hallett's,
which latter engagement has had some weight in my resolution of not
leaving Harriot till Monday.
We have walked to Rowling on each of the two last days after dinner,
and very great was my pleasure in going over the house and grounds.
We have also found time to visit all the principal walks of this place,
except the walk round the top of the park, which we shall
accomplish probably to-day.
Next week seems likely to be an unpleasant one to this family on
the matter of game. The evil intentions of the Guards are certain,
and the gentlemen of the neighbourhood seem unwilling to come forward
in any decided or early support of their rights. Edward Bridges
has been trying to arouse their spirits, but without success.
Mr. Hammond, under the influence of daughters and an expected ball,
declares he will do nothing.
Harriot hopes my brother will not mortify her by resisting all
her plans and refusing all her invitations; she has never yet
been successful with him in any, but she trusts he will now
make her all the amends in his power by coming on Monday.
She thanks Elizabeth for her letter, and you may be sure is not less
solicitous than myself for her going to town.
Pray say everything kind for us to Miss Sharpe, who could not regret
the shortness of our meeting in Canterbury more than we did.
I hope she returned to Godmersham as much pleased with Mrs. Knight's
beauty and Miss Milles' judicious remarks as those ladies respectively
were with hers. You must send me word that you have heard
from Miss Irvine.
I had almost forgot to thank you for your letter. I am glad you
recommended "Gisborne," for having begun, I am pleased with it,
and I had quite determined not to read it.
I suppose everybody will be black for the D. of G. Must we buy lace,
or will ribbon do?
We shall not be at Worthing so soon as we have been used to talk of,
shall we? This will be no evil to us, and we are sure of my mother
and Martha being happy together. Do not forget to write to Charles.
As I am to return so soon, we shall not send the pincushions.
Yours affectionately, J. A.
You continue, I suppose, taking hartshorn, and I hope with good effect.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham.