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- Letters of Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra Austen
- 1808. [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
THESE letters were written during a visit which Jane and her brother
James and his wife paid to Godmersham at this time. There is a graphic
description of the arrival of the two ladies and their reception by their
relations, and a pleasant account of the life at Godmersham, which Edward
Austen had greatly improved, inside and out, since his accession to the
property in 1798. "Bentigh" and "the Temple plantations" deserve a word
of notice. The former was once a ploughed field, but when my grandfather
first came to Godmersham he planted it with underwood, and made gravel
walks through it, planted an avenue of trees on each side of the principal
walk, and added it to the shrubberies. The family always walked through
it on their way to church, leaving the shrubberies by a little door in
the wall, at the end of the private grounds, which brought them out
just opposite the church. The same improving hand planted also a great
deal on the other (east) side of the river, where was a pretty sort of
summer-house called "The Temple," built by one of the preceding owners of
the place. The road at that time ran nearer to the house than the present
turnpike road; it formerly divided the river from the park, and the hill
called "the Canterbury Hill" was also planted by my grandfather, and is
the plantation to which reference is here made.
"Edward and Caroline" are James and Mary Austen's children -- the writer of
the "Memoir," who was now nearly ten years old, and his little sister.
The fortieth letter commences with an account of a visit to Canterbury,
wherein is a kindly mention of Mrs. Knight (Catherine Knatchbull) and
a criticism on Mr. Moore (Harriet Bridges' husband), who does not seem
to have been a favourite of Jane's, although she never varies in her
affectionate mention of his wife. Mrs. Knight seems to have been very
generously disposed towards other members of the Austen family besides
her husband's heir, for her "very agreeable present" is here gratefully
acknowledged, and both Cassandra and Jane stayed with her at different
times at the White Friars house.
"Buckwell" is an old-fashioned farmhouse, belonging to the Godmersham
property, and situate on the Ashford road, within an easy drive. The
"dragging" of the fish-pond does not seem to have tempted Jane, but it
is a kind of sport which has a peculiar fascination of its own, though
scarcely so great as that of "letting the water off" from a well-stocked
pond. There are few more delightful pastimes than this to school-boys
who have the good fortune to have pond-owning fathers; the patience
which has to be exercised whilst the water slowly drains away is amply
rewarded when the depth has become sufficiently reduced to allow of the
sight of the carp and tench splashing about in evident astonishment at
the extraordinary change which is taking place in their usually quiet
home. Then, when enough water has been drained off to allow it, how
gloriously exciting is the plunge into the mud, and the capture of the
fish in small landing nets, varied by the eager chase after the eels,
whose twistings and windings are enough to baffle the most experienced
holder of eel-tongs, and whose capture is the climax of the sport. This,
however, is not strictly germane to Jane Austen, whom I do not suspect of
having ever waded after eels in her life, and who upon the occasion of
the present less exciting amusement stayed quietly at home. In the same
letter the expression: "I initiated her into the mysteries of Inmanism"
requires explanation. Mrs. Inman was the aged widow of a former clergyman
at Godmersham, who lived at the park-keeper's house ("Old Hills"), and
it was one of the "treats" of the Godmersham children to walk up to her
with fruit after dessert. She was blind, and used to walk about the park
with a gold-headed walking-stick, and leaning on the arm of her faithful
servant Nanny Part. She died in September, 1815.
"John Bridges," who had grown "old and black," was Brook John, younger
brother of the reigning Sir Brook. Strange to say, he married the sister
of his eldest brother's second wife, Miss Hawley -- as Edward married the
sister of the first wife, Miss Foote -- a rare example of confidence in a
fraternal selection of a family from which to choose a partner for life.
John Bridges had the curacy of Moldash (which was attached to the living
of Godmersham), and lived some time with his sister and brother-in-law,
with whose children he was a great favourite. He hunted (which was a
common qualification with clergymen in those days), had delicate health,
and died in 1812, leaving no children. His widow afterwards married Mr.
Bramston, of Skreens, in Essex. She was the "Aunt Charlotte" of the
Godmersham family, and died in 1848.
The forty-first letter mentions "Mr. Knatchbull of Provender" as being
at the White Friars. This was my father, afterwards the Right Hon. Sir
Edward Knatchbull, who subsequently represented Kent from the death of
his father in 1819 to 1830, and East Kent from 1832 to 1845. At this time
he had been two years married to his first wife, Annabella-Christiana,
daughter of Sir John Honywood. Provender had been the property of the two
Hugessen co-heiresses, Mary (Lady Knatchbull) and Dorothy (Lady Banks),
wife of the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, and through this channel came
into my father's and, ultimately, into my possession. "Charles Graham,"
rector of Barham, and brother to my grandfather Sir E. Knatchbull's
second wife, was always intimate at Hatch, as was, in after years, his
only son, a most popular young man, who was unhappily drowned at Oxford
whilst an undergraduate of Trinity College in that University. The "Lady
Knatchbull" here mentioned was my grandfather's third wife, Mary Hawkins,
co-heiress of Nash Court, near Faversham. Curiously enough this property,
which was sold, has come back to a descendant of this lady, one of whose
daughters, Eleanor Knatchbull, married the fourth Lord Sondes, and the
late owner of Nash Court, Mr. Ladd, lately bequeathed it (subject to the
life interest of his wife) to one of the younger sons of the fifth Lord
(now the first Earl) Sondes -- his neighbour at Lees Court, which adjoins
The Knatchbulls who "returned into Somersetshire" were the branch of the
Hatch family already mentioned in the sixth division of letters.
The Lady Bridges mentioned in the forty-second letter was not the then
baronet's wife, Miss Foote, who had died two years before, but his mother,
"Fanny Fowler," who at this time was living at Goodnestone Farm at the
Godmersham: Wednesday (June 15).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you
first? At half after seven yesterday morning Henry saw us into our own
carriage, and we drove away from the Bath Hotel; which, by-the-bye, had
been found most uncomfortable quarters -- very dirty, very noisy, and very
ill-provided. James began his journey by the coach at five. Our first
eight miles were hot; Deptford Hill brought to my mind our hot journey
into Kent fourteen years ago; but after Blackheath we suffered nothing,
and as the day advanced it grew quite cool. At Dartford, which we reached
within the two hours and three-quarters, we went to the Bull, the same
inn at which we breakfasted in that said journey, and on the present
occasion had about the same bad butter.
At half-past ten we were again off, and, travelling on without any adventure
reached Sittingbourne by three. Daniel was watching for us at the door of
the George, and I was acknowledged very kindly by Mr. and Mrs. Marshall,
to the latter of whom I devoted my conversation, while Mary went out to
buy some gloves. A few minutes, of course, did for Sittingbourne; and so
off we drove, drove, drove, and by six o'clock were at Godmersham.
Our two brothers were walking before the house as we approached, as
natural as life. Fanny and Lizzy met us in the Hall with a great deal
of pleasant joy; we went for a few minutes into the breakfast parlour,
and then proceeded to our rooms. Mary has the Hall chamber. I am in the
Yellow room -- very literally -- for I am writing in it at this moment. It
seems odd to me to have such a great place all to myself, and to be at
Godmersham without you is also odd.
You are wished for, I assure you: Fanny, who came to me as soon as she
had seen her Aunt James to her room, and stayed while I dressed, was as
energetic as usual in her longings for you. She is grown both in height
and size since last year, but not immoderately, looks very well, and seems
as to conduct and manner just what she was and what one could wish her
Elizabeth, who was dressing when we arrived, came to me for a minute
attended by Marianne, Charles, and Louisa, and, you will not doubt, gave
me a very affectionate welcome. That I had received such from Edward
also I need not mention; but I do, you see, because it is a pleasure. I
never saw him look in better health, and Fanny says he is perfectly well.
I cannot praise Elizabeth's looks, but they are probably affected by a
cold. Her little namesake has gained in beauty in the last three years,
though not all that Marianne has lost. Charles is not quite so lovely as
he was. Louisa is much as I expected, and Cassandra I find handsomer than
I expected, though at present disguised by such a violent breaking-out
that she does not come down after dinner. She has charming eyes and a
nice open countenance, and seems likely to be very lovable. Her size is
I was agreeably surprised to find Louisa Bridges still here. She looks
remarkably well (legacies are very wholesome diet), and is just what she
always was. John is at Sandling. You may fancy our dinner party therefore;
Fanny, of course, belonging to it, and little Edward, for that day. He
was almost too happy, his happiness at least made him too talkative.
It has struck ten; I must go to breakfast.
Since breakfast I have had a tête-à-tête with Edward in his room; he wanted
to know James's plans and mine, and from what his own now are I think it
already nearly certain that I shall return when they do, though not with
them. Edward will be going about the same time to Alton, where he has
business with Mr. Trimmer, and where he means his son should join him; and
I shall probably be his companion to that place, and get on afterwards
somehow or other.
I should have preferred a rather longer stay here certainly, but there is no
prospect of any later conveyance for me, as he does not mean to accompany
Edward on his return to Winchester, from a very natural unwillingness
to leave Elizabeth at that time. I shall at any rate be glad not to be
obliged to be an incumbrance on those who have brought me here, for, as
James has no horse, I must feel in their carriage that I am taking his
place. We were rather crowded yesterday, though it does not become me to
say so, as I and my boa were of the party, and it is not to be supposed
but that a child of three years of age was fidgety.
I need scarcely beg you to keep all this to yourself, lest it should get
round by Anna's means. She is very kindly inquired after by her friends
here, who all regret her not coming with her father and mother.
I left Henry, I hope, free from his tiresome complaint, in other respects
well, and thinking with great pleasure of Cheltenham and Stoneleigh.
The brewery scheme is quite at an end: at a meeting of the subscribers
last week it was by general, and I believe very hearty, consent dissolved.
The country is very beautiful. I saw as much as ever to admire in my
Thursday. -- I am glad to find that Anna was pleased with going to Southampton,
and hope with all my heart that the visit may be satisfactory to everybody.
Tell her that she will hear in a few days from her mamma, who would have
written to her now but for this letter.
Yesterday passed quite à la Godmersham: the gentlemen rode about Edward's
farm, and returned in time to saunter along Bentigh with us; and after
dinner we visited the Temple Plantations, which, to be sure, is a Chevalier
Bayard of a plantation. James and Mary are much struck with the beauty of
the place. To-day the spirit of the thing is kept up by the two brothers
being gone to Canterbury in the chair.
I cannot discover, even through Fanny, that her mother is fatigued by her
attendance on the children. I have, of course, tendered my services, and
when Louisa is gone, who sometimes hears the little girls read, will try
to be accepted in her stead. She will not be here many days longer. The
Moores are partly expected to dine here to-morrow or Saturday.
I feel rather languid and solitary -- perhaps because I have a cold; but three
years ago we were more animated with you and Harriot and Miss Sharpe. We
shall improve, I dare say, as we go on.
I have not yet told you how the new carriage is liked -- very well, very
much indeed, except the lining, which does look rather shabby.
I hear a very bad account of Mrs. Whitefield; a very good one of Mrs.
Knight, who goes to Broadstairs next month. Miss Sharpe is going with
Miss Bailey to Tenby. The Widow Kennet succeeds to the post of laundress.
Would you believe it my trunk is come already; and, what completes the
wondrous happiness, nothing is damaged. I unpacked it all before I went to
bed last night, and when I went down to breakfast this morning presented
the rug, which was received most gratefully, and met with universal
admiration. My frock is also given, and kindly accepted.
Friday. -- I have received your letter, and I think it gives me nothing to
be sorry for but Mary's cold, which I hope is by this time better. Her
approbation of her child's hat makes me very happy. Mrs. J. A. bought
one at Gayleard's for Caroline, of the same shape, but brown and with a
I hope Huxham is a comfort to you; I am glad you are taking it. I shall
probably have an opportunity of giving Harriot your message tomorrow; she
does not come here, they have not a day to spare, but Louisa and I are
to go to her in the morning. I send your thanks to Eliza by this post in
a letter to Henry.
Lady Catherine is Lord Portmore's daughter. I have read Mr. Jefferson's
case to Edward, and he desires to have his name set down for a guinea and
his wife's for another; but does not wish for more than one copy of the
work. Your account of Anna gives me pleasure. Tell her, with my love, that
I like her for liking the quay. Mrs. J. A. seems rather surprised at the
Maitlands drinking tea with you, but that does not prevent my approving
it. I hope you had not a disagreeable evening with Miss Austen and her
niece. You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me.
I am now just returned from Eggerton; Louisa and I walked together and
found Miss Maria at home. Her sister we met on our way back. She had been
to pay her compliments to Mrs. Inman, whose chaise was seen to cross the
park while we were at dinner yesterday.
I told Sackree that you desired to be remembered to her, which pleased
her; and she sends her duty, and wishes you to know that she has been
into the great world. She went on to town after taking William to Eltham,
and, as well as myself, saw the ladies go to Court on the 4th. She had
the advantage indeed of me in being in the Palace.
Louisa is not so handsome as I expected, but she is not quite well. Edward
and Caroline seem very happy here; he has nice playfellows in Lizzy and
Charles. They and their attendant have the boys' attic. Anna will not be
surprised that the cutting off her hair is very much regretted by several
of the party in this house; I am tolerably reconciled to it by considering
that two or three years may restore it again.
You are very important with your Captain Bulmore and Hotel Master, and I
trust, if your trouble overbalances your dignity on the occasion, it will
be amply repaid by Mrs. Craven's approbation, and a pleasant scheme to
Mrs. Cooke has written to my brother James to invite him and his wife to
Bookham in their way back, which, as I learn through Edward's means, they
are not disinclined to accept, but that my being with them would render
it impracticable, the nature of the road affording no conveyance to
James. I shall therefore make them easy on that head as soon as I can.
I have a great deal of love to give from everybody.
Yours most affectionately,
My mother will be glad to be assured that the size of the rug does perfectly well. It is not to be used till winter.
Miss Austen, Castle Square, Southampton.
Godmersham: Thursday (June 20).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I will first talk of my visit to Canterbury, as Mr. J. A.'s letter to Anna
cannot have given you every particular of it which you are likely to
wish for. I had a most affectionate welcome from Harriot, and was happy
to see her looking almost as well as ever. She walked with me to call on
Mrs. Brydges, when Elizabeth and Louisa went to Mrs. Milles'. Mrs. B. was
dressing, and could not see us, and we proceeded to the White Friars,
where Mrs. B. was alone in her drawing room, as gentle, and kind, and
friendly as usual. She inquired after everybody, especially my mother
and yourself. We were with her a quarter of an hour before Elizabeth
and Louisa, hot from Mrs. Baskerville's shop, walked in; they were soon
followed by the carriage, and another five minutes brought Mr. Moore
himself, just returned from his morning ride.
Well, and what do I think of Mr. Moore? will not pretend in one meeting to
dislike him, whatever Mary may say, but I can honestly assure her that
I saw nothing in him to admire. His manners, as you have always said,
are gentleman-like, but by no means winning. He made one formal inquiry
I saw their little girl, and very small and very pretty she is. Her features
are as delicate as Mary Jane's, with nice dark eyes; and if she had Mary
Jane's fine colour she would be quite complete. Harriot's fondness for her
seems just what is amiable and natural, and not foolish. I saw Caroline
also, and thought her very plain.
Edward's plan for Hampshire does not vary; he only improves it with the
kind intention of taking me on to Southampton, and spending one whole day
with you; and, if it is found practicable, Edward, jun., will be added
to our party for that one day also, which is to be Sunday, the 10th of
July. I hope you may have beds for them. We are to begin our journey on
the 8th, and reach you late on the 9th.
This morning brought me a letter from Mrs. Knight, containing the usual
fee, and all the usual kindness. She asks me to spend a day or two with
her this week, to meet Mrs. C. Knatchbull, who, with her husband, comes
to the White Friars to-day, and I believe I shall go. I have consulted
Edward, and think it will be arranged for Mrs. J. A.'s going with me one
morning, my staying the night, and Edward's driving me home the next
evening. Her very agreeable present will make my circumstances quite
easy. I shall reserve half for my pelisse. I hope by this early return I
am sure of seeing Catherine and Alethea; and I propose that, either with
or without them, you and I and Martha shall have a snug fortnight while
my mother is at Steventon.
We go on very well here. Mary finds the children less troublesome than she
expected, and, independent of them, there is certainly not much to try
the patience or hurt the spirits at Godmersham. I initiated her yesterday
into the mysteries of Inman-ism. The poor old lady is as thin and cheerful
as ever, and very thankful for a new acquaintance. I had called on her
before with Elizabeth and Louisa.
I find John Bridges grown very old and black, but his manners are not
altered; he is very pleasing, and talks of Hampshire with great admiration.
Pray let Anna have the pleasure of knowing that she is remembered with
kindness, both by Mrs. Cooke and Miss Sharpe. Her manners must be very
much worsted by your description of them, but I hope they will improve
by this visit.
Mrs. Knight finished her letter with, "Give my best love to Cassandra when
you write to her." I shall like spending a day at the White Friars very
We breakfasted in the library this morning for the first time, and most
of the party have been complaining all day of the heat; but Louisa and I
feel alike as to weather, and are cool and comfortable.
Wednesday. -- The Moores came yesterday in their curricle, between one and
two o'clock, and immediately after the noonshine which succeeded their
arrival a party set off for Buckwell, to see the pond dragged -- Mr. Moore,
James, Edward, and James; Edward on horseback, John Bridges driving Mary
in his gig. The rest of us remained quietly and comfortably at home.
We had a very pleasant dinner, at the lower end of the table at least; the
merriment was chiefly between Edward, Louisa, Harriot, and myself. Mr.
Moore did not talk so much as I expected, and I understand from Fanny that
I did not see him at all as he is in general. Our being strangers made
him so much more silent and quiet. Had I had no reason for observing what
he said and did, I should scarcely have thought about him. His manners
to her want tenderness, and he was a little violent at last about the
impossibility of her going to Eastwell. I cannot see any unhappiness in
her, however, and as to kind-heartedness, &c., she is quite unaltered.
Mary was disappointed in her beauty, and thought him very disagreeable;
James admires her, and finds him conversable and pleasant.
I sent my answer by them to Mrs. Knight, my double acceptance of her note
and her invitation, which I wrote without much effort, for I was rich,
and the rich are always respectable, whatever be their style of writing.
I am to meet Harriot at dinner to-morrow. It is one of the audit days, and
Mr. M. dines with the Dean, who is just come to Canterbury. On Tuesday there
is to be a family meeting at Mrs. C. Milles's: Lady Bridges and Louisa
from Goodnestone, the Moores, and a party from this house -- Elizabeth,
John Bridges, and myself. It will give me pleasure to see Lady B.; she
is now quite well. Louisa goes home on Friday, and John with her, but he
returns the next day. These are our engagements; make the most of them.
Mr. Waller is dead, I see. I cannot grieve about it, nor, perhaps, can his
widow very much. Edward began cutting sanfoin on Saturday, and, I hope,
is likely to have favourable weather. The crop is good.
There has been a cold and sore-throat prevailing very much in this house
lately; the children have almost all been ill with it, and we were afraid
Lizzy was going to be very ill one day. She had specks and a great deal
of fever. It went off, however, and they are all pretty well now.
I want to hear of your gathering strawberries; we have had them three
times here. I suppose you have been obliged to have in some white wine,
and must visit the store closet a little oftener than when you were quite
One begins really to expect the St. Albans now, and I wish she may come
before Henry goes to Cheltenham, it will be so much more convenient to
him. He will be very glad if Frank can come to him in London, as his own
time is likely to be very precious, but does not depend on it. I shall
not forget Charles next week.
So much did I write before breakfast, and now, to my agreeable surprise, I
have to acknowledge another letter from you. I had not the least notion
of hearing before to-morrow, and heard of Russell's being about to pass
the windows without any anxiety. You are very amiable and very clever to
write such long letters; every page of yours has more lines than this, and
every line more words than the average of mine. I am quite ashamed; but
you have certainly more little events than we have. Mr. Lyford supplies
you with a great deal of interesting matter (matter intellectual, not
physical), but I have nothing to say of Mr. Scudamore.
And now, that is such a sad, stupid attempt at wit about matter that nobody
can smile at it, and I am quite out of heart. I am sick of myself and
my bad pens. I have no other complaint, however; my languor is entirely
Ought I to be very much pleased with "Marmion"? As yet I am not. James
reads it aloud in the evening -- the short evening, beginning at about 10,
and broken by supper.
Happy Mrs. Harrison and Miss Austen! You seem to be always calling on
them. I am glad your various civilities have turned out so well, and
most heartily wish you success and pleasure in your present engagement.
I shall think of you to-night as at Netley, and to-morrow too, that I
may be quite sure of being right, and therefore I guess you will not go
to Netley at all.
This is a sad story about Mrs. P. I should not have suspected such a thing.
She stayed the Sacrament, I remember, the last time that you and I did.
A hint of it, with initials, was in yesterday's "Courier," and Mr. Moore
guessed it to be Lord S., believing there was no other Viscount S. in the
peerage, and so it proved, Lord Viscount S. not being there.
Yes, I enjoy my apartment very much, and always spend two or three hours
in it after breakfast. The change from Brompton quarters to these is
material as to space. I catch myself going on to the hall chamber now and
Little Caroline looks very plain among her cousins; and though she is not
so headstrong or humoursome as they are, I do not think her at all more
engaging. Her brother is to go with us to Canterbury to-morrow, and Fanny
completes the party. I fancy Mrs. K. feels less interest in that branch of
the family than any other. I dare say she will do her duty, however, by
the boy. His Uncle Edward talks nonsense to him delightfully; more than
he can always understand. The two Morrises are come to dine and spend the
day with him.
Mary wishes my mother to buy whatever she thinks necessary for Anna's
shifts, and hopes to see her at Steventon soon after the 9th of July,
if that time is as convenient to my mother as any other. I have hardly
done justice to what she means on the subject, as her intention is that
my mother should come at whatever time she likes best. They will be at
home on the 9th.
I always come in for a morning visit from Crundale, and Mr. and Mrs. Filmer
have just given me my due. He and I talked away gaily of Southampton, the
Harrisons, Wallers, &c.
Fanny sends her best love to you all, and will write to Anna very soon.
Yours very affectionately,
I want some news from Paragon.
I am almost sorry that Rose Hill Cottage should be so near suiting us, as
it does not quite.
Miss Austen, Castle Square, Southampton.
 The doctor who attended the Godmersham family. He lived at Wye.
Godmersham: Sunday (June 26).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I am very much obliged to you for writing to me on Thursday, and very
glad that I owe the pleasure of hearing from you again so soon to such
an agreeable cause; but you will not be surprised, nor perhaps so angry
as I should be, to find that Frank's history has reached me before in a
letter from Henry. We are all very happy to hear of his health and safety;
he wants nothing but a good prize to be a perfect character.
This scheme to the island is an admirable thing for his wife; she will not
feel the delay of his return in such variety. How very kind of Mrs. Craven
to ask her! I think I quite understand the whole island arrangements, and
shall be very ready to perform my part in them. I hope my mother will go,
and I trust it is certain that there will be Martha's bed for Edward when
he brings me home. What can you do with Anna? for her bed will probably
be wanted for young Edward. His father writes to Dr. Goddard to-day to
ask leave, and we have the pupil's authority for thinking it will be granted.
I have been so kindly pressed to stay longer here, in consequence of an
offer of Henry's to take me back some time in September, that, not being
able to detail all my objections to such a plan, I have felt myself obliged
to give Edward and Elizabeth one private reason for my wishing to be at
home in July. They feel the strength of it and say no more, and one can
rely on their secrecy. After this I hope we shall not be disappointed of
our friend's visit; my honour as well as my affection will be concerned
Elizabeth has a very sweet scheme of our accompanying Edward into Kent
next Christmas. A legacy might make it very feasible -- a legacy is our
sovereign good. In the meanwhile, let me remember that I have now some
money to spare, and that I wish to have my name put down as a subscriber
to Mr. Jefferson's works. My last letter was closed before it occurred
to me how possible, how right, and how gratifying such a measure would be.
Your account of your visitors' good journey, voyage, and satisfaction in
everything gave me the greatest pleasure. They have nice weather for their
introduction to the island, and I hope, with such a disposition to be
pleased, their general enjoyment is as certain as it will be just. Anna's
being interested in the embarkation shows a taste that one values. Mary
Jane's delight in the water is quite ridiculous. Elizabeth supposes Mrs.
Hall will account for it by the child's knowledge of her father's being
Mrs. J. A. hopes, as I said in my last, to see my mother soon after her
return home, and will meet her at Winchester on any day she will appoint.
And now I believe I have made all the needful replies and communications,
and may disport myself as I can on my Canterbury visit.
It was a very agreeable visit. There was everything to make it so -- kindness,
conversation, variety, without care or cost. Mr. Knatchbull, from Provender,
was at the W. Friars when we arrived, and stayed dinner, which, with
Harriot, who came, as you may suppose, in a great hurry, ten minutes
after the time, made our number six. Mr. K. went away early; Mr. Moore
succeeded him, and we sat quietly working and talking till 10, when he
ordered his wife away, and we adjourned to the dressing-room to eat our
tart and jelly. Mr. M. was not unagreeable, though nothing seemed to go
right with him. He is a sensible man and tells a story well.
Mrs. C. Knatchbull and I breakfasted tête-à-tête the next day, for her
husband was gone to Mr. Toke's, and Mrs. Knight had a sad headache which
kept her in bed. She had had too much company the day before. After my
coming, which was not till past two, she had Mrs. Milles, of Nackington,
a Mrs. and Miss Gregory, and Charles Graham; and she told me it had been
so all the morning.
Very soon after breakfast on Friday, Mrs. C. K., who is just what we have
always seen her, went with me to Mrs. Brydges, and Mrs. Moore's, paid
some other visits while I remained with the latter, and we finished with
Mrs. C. Milles, who luckily was not at home, and whose new house is a
very convenient short cut from the Oaks to the W. Friars.
We found Mrs. Knight up and better; but early as it was -- only 12 o'clock -- we
had scarcely taken off our bonnets before company came -- Ly. Knatchbull
and her mother; and after them succeeded Mrs. White, Mrs. Hughes and
her two children, Mr. Moore, Harriot and Louisa, and John Bridges, with
such short intervals between any as to make it a matter of wonder to me
that Mrs. K. and I should ever have been ten minutes alone or have had
any leisure for comfortable talk, yet we had time to say a little of
everything. Edward came to dinner, and at 8 o'clock he and I got into the
chair, and the pleasures of my visit concluded with a delightful drive home.
Mrs. and Miss Brydges seemed very glad to see me. The poor old lady looks
much as she did three years ago, and was very particular in her inquiries
after my mother. And from her and from the Knatchbulls I have all manner
of kind compliments to give you both.
As Fanny writes to Anna by this post I had intended to keep my letter for
another day, but, recollecting that I must keep it two, I have resolved
rather to finish and send it now. The two letters will not interfere, I
dare say; on the contrary, they may throw light on each other.
Mary begins to fancy, because she has received no message on the subject,
that Anna does not mean to answer her letter, but it must be for the
pleasure of fancying it. I think Elizabeth better and looking better
than when we came.
Yesterday I introduced James to Mrs. Inman; in the evening John Bridges
returned from Goodnestone, and this morning, before we had left the breakfast
table, we had a visit from Mr. Whitfield, whose object, I imagine, was
principally to thank my eldest brother for his assistance. Poor man! he
has now a little intermission of his excessive solicitude on his wife's
account, as she is rather better. James does duty at Godmersham to-day.
The Knatchbulls had intended coming here next week, but the rent-day makes
it impossible for them to be received, and I do not think there will be any
spare time afterwards. They return into Somersetshire by way of Sussex
and Hants, and are to be at Fareham and, perhaps, may be in Southampton,
on which possibility I said all that I thought right, and, if they are
in the place, Mrs. K. has promised to call in Castle Square; it will be
about the end of July. She seems to have a prospect, however, of being
in that county again in the spring for a longer period, and will spend a
day with us if she is.
You and I need not tell each other how glad we shall be to receive attention
from, or pay it to anyone connected with, Mrs. Knight. I cannot help
regretting that now, when I feel enough her equal to relish her society,
I see so little of the latter.
The Milles of Nackington dine here on Friday, and perhaps the Hattons. It
is a compliment as much due to me as a call from the Filmers.
When you write to the island, Mary will be glad to have Mrs. Craven
informed, with her love, that she is now sure it will not be in her power
to visit Mrs. Craven during her stay there, but that if Mrs. Craven can
take Steventon in her way back it will be giving my brother and herself
great pleasure. She also congratulates her namesake on hearing from her
husband. That said namesake is rising in the world; she was thought
excessively improved in her late visit. Mrs. Knight thought her so
last year. Henry sends us the welcome information of his having had no
face-ache since I left them.
You are very kind in mentioning old Mrs. Williams so often. Poor creature!
I cannot help hoping that each letter may tell of her sufferings being
over. If she wants sugar I should like to supply her with it.
The Moores went yesterday to Goodnestone, but return to-morrow. After
Tuesday we shall see them no more, though Harriot is very earnest with
Edward to take Wrotham in his journey, but we shall be in too great a
hurry to get nearer to it than Wrotham Gate. He wishes to reach Guildford
on Friday night, that we may have a couple of hours to spare for Alton.
I shall be sorry to pass the door at Seale without calling, but it must
be so; and I shall be nearer to Bookham than I could wish in going from
Dorking to Guildford; but till I have a travelling purse of my own I must
submit to such things.
The Moores leave Canterbury on Friday, and go for a day or two to Sandling.
I really hope Harriot is altogether very happy, but she cannot feel quite
so much at her ease with her husband as the wives she has been used to.
Good-bye. I hope you have been long recovered from your worry on Thursday
morning, and that you do not much mind not going to the Newbury races.
I am withstanding those of Canterbury. Let that strengthen you.
Yours very sincerely,
Miss Austen, Castle Square, Southampton.
 I have no clue to this reason.
Godmersham: Thursday (June 30).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
I give you all joy of Frank's return, which happens in the true sailor way,
just after our being told not to expect him for some weeks. The wind has
been very much against him, but I suppose he must be in our neighbourhood
by this time. Fanny is in hourly expectation of him here. Mary's visit
in the island is probably shortened by this event. Make our kind love
and congratulations to her.
What cold disagreeable weather, ever since Sunday! I dare say you have fires
every day. My kerseymere spencer is quite the comfort of our evening walks.
Mary thanks Anna for her letter, and wishes her to buy enough of her new
coloured frock to make a shirt handkerchief. I am glad to hear of her
Aunt Maitland's kind present. We want you to send us Anna's height, that
we may know whether she is as tall as Fanny; and pray can you tell me of
any little thing that would be probably acceptable to Mrs. F. A.? I wish
to bring her something: has she a silver knife, or would you recommend
a brooch? I shall not spend more than half a guinea about it. Our
Tuesday's engagement went off very pleasantly; we called first on Mrs.
Knight, and found her very well; and at dinner had only the Milles' of
Nackington, in addition to Goodnestone and Godmersham, and Mrs. Moore.
Lady Bridges looked very well, and would have been very agreeable, I am
sure, had there been time enough for her to talk to me; but as it was,
she could only be kind and amiable, give one good-humoured smiles, and
make friendly inquiries. Her son Edward was also looking very well, and
with manners as unaltered as hers. In the evening came Mr. Moore, Mr.
Toke, Dr. and Mrs. Walsby, and others. One card-table was formed, the
rest of us sat and talked, and at half after nine we came away.
Yesterday my two brothers went to Canterbury, and J. Bridges left us for
London in his way to Cambridge, where he is to take his master's degree.
Edward and Caroline and their mamma have all had the Godmersham cold, the
former with sore-throat and fever, which his looks are still suffering
from. He is very happy here, however, but I believe the little girl will
be glad to go home; her cousins are too much for her. We are to have
Edward, I find, at Southampton, while his mother is in Berkshire for the
races, and are very likely to have his father too. If circumstances are
favourable, that will be a good time for our scheme to Beaulieu.
Lady E. Hatton called here a few mornings ago, her daughter Elizth. with
her, who says as little as ever, but holds up her head and smiles, and
is to be at the races. Annamaria was there with Mrs. Hope, but we are
to see her here to-morrow.
So much was written before breakfast; it is now half-past twelve, and,
having heard Lizzy read, I am moved down into the library for the sake
of fire, which agreeably surprised us when we assembled at ten, and here
in warm and happy solitude proceed to acknowledge this day's letter.
We give you credit for your spirited voyage, and are very glad it was
accomplished so pleasantly, and that Anna enjoyed it so much. I hope
you are not the worse for the fatigue; but to embark at four you must
have got up at three, and most likely had no sleep at all. Mary's not
choosing to be at home occasions a general small surprise. As to Martha,
she has not the least chance in the world of hearing from me again, and
I wonder at her impudence in proposing it. I assure you I am as tired
of writing long letters as you can be. What a pity that one should still
be so fond of receiving them!
Fanny Austen's match is quite news, and I am sorry she has behaved so
ill. There is some comfort to us in her misconduct, that we have not a
congratulatory letter to write.
James and Edward are gone to Sandling to-day -- a nice scheme for James,
as it will show him a new and fine country. Edward certainly excels in
doing the honours to his visitors, and providing for their amusement.
They come back this evening.
Elizabeth talks of going with her three girls to Wrotham while her husband
is in Hampshire; she is improved in looks since we first came, and,
excepting a cold, does not seem at all unwell. She is considered, indeed,
as more than usually active for her situation and size. I have tried to
give James pleasure by telling him of his daughter's taste, but if he
felt he did not express it. I rejoice in it very sincerely.
Henry talks, or rather writes, of going to the Downes, if the "St. Albans"
continues there, but I hope it will be settled otherwise. I had everybody's
congratulations on her arrival at Canterbury. It is pleasant to be among
people who know one's connections and care about them, and it amuses me
to hear John Bridges talk of "Frank." I have thought a little of writing
to the Downs, but I shall not, it is so very certain that he would be
somewhere else when my letter got there.
Mr. Tho. Leigh is again in town, or was very lately. Henry met with him
last Sunday in St. James's Church. He owned being come up unexpectedly
on business, which we of course think can be only one business, and he
came post from Adlestrop in one day, whichs if it could be doubted before,
convinces Henry that he will live or ever.
Mrs. Knight is kindly
anxious for our good, and thinks Mr. L. P.  must be desirous for his
family's sake to have everything settled. Indeed I do not know where we
are to get our legacy, but we will keep a sharp look-out. Lady B. was
all in prosperous black the other day.
A letter from Jenny Smalbone to her daughter brings intelligence which is
to be forwarded to my mother -- the calving of a cow at Steventon. I am
also to give her mamma's love to Anna, and say that as her papa talks of
writing her a letter of comfort she will not write, because she knows it
would certainly prevent his doing so.
When are calculations ever right? I could have sworn that Mary must have
heard of the "St. Albans'" return, and would have been wild to come home
or to be doing something. Nobody ever feels or acts, suffers or enjoys,
as one expects.
I do not at all regard Martha's disappointment in the island; she will
like it the better in the end. I cannot help thinking and re-thinking
of your going to the island so heroically. It puts me in mind of Mrs.
Hastings' voyage down the Ganges, and, if we had but a room to retire
into to eat our fruit, we would have a picture of it hung there.
Friday, July 1. -- The weather is mended, which I attribute to my writing
about it; and I am in hopes, as you make no complaint, though on the water
and at four in the morning, that it has not been so cold with you.
It will be two years to-morrow since we left Bath for Clifton, with what
happy feelings of escape!
This post has brought me a few lines from
the amiable Frank, but he gives us no hope of seeing him here. We are
not unlikely to have a peep at Henry, who, unless the "St. Albans" moves
quickly, will be going to the Downs, and who will not be able to be in
Kent without giving a day or two to Godmersham.
James has heard this morning from Mrs. Cooke, in reply to his offer of
taking Bookham in his way home, which is kindly accepted; and Edwd. has
had a less agreeable answer from Dr. Goddard, who actually refuses the
petition. Being once fool enough to make a rule of never letting a boy go
away an hour before the breaking-up hour, he is now fool enough to keep
it. We are all disappointed. His letter brings a double disappointment,
for he has no room for George this summer. My brothers returned last
night at ten, having spent a very agreeable day in the usual routine.
They found Mrs. D.  at home, and Mr. D. returned from business abroad
to dinner. James admires the place very much, and thinks the two eldest
girls handsome, but Mary's beauty has the preference. The number of
children struck him a good deal, for not only are their own eleven all
at home, but the three little Bridgeses are also with them.
James means to go once more to Canty. to see his friend Dr. Marlowe, who
is coming about this time. I shall hardly have another opportunity of
going there. In another week I shall be at home, and there, my having
been at Godmersham will seem like a dream, as my visit at Brompton seems
The orange wine will want our care soon. But in the meantime, for elegance
and ease and luxury, the Hattons and Milles' dine here to-day, and I shall
eat ice and drink French wine, and be above vulgar economy. Luckily the
pleasures of friendship, of unreserved conversation, of similarity of
taste and opinions, will make good amends for orange wine.
Little Edwd. is quite well again.
Yours affectionately, with love from all,
Miss Austen, Castle Square, Southampton.
 Leigh Perrot.