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- Letters of Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra Austen
- 1808, 1809 -- Part 1. [THIS FILE]
- 1808, 1809 -- Part 2
- 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 at a time when the first great misfortune
fell upon the Godmersham family, in the loss of the wife and mother so
tenderly loved by all. In the last week of September Elizabeth Austen
was confined with her youngest child, and on the 8th of October, after
eating a hearty dinner, she was suddenly seized with sickness, and expired
before the serious nature of her attack had been fully realised. The
first two letters of the series, written just before this event, are in
Jane's usual and cheerful spirit, and require no particular comment. The
third (No. 45) was Jane's first communication to her sister after the
melancholy news from Godmersham, and this and the two subsequent letters
are principally upon the same subject. The forty-eighth letter alludes
to the approaching marriage of Edward Bridges with Harriet Foote, the
sister of his brother Sir Brook's late wife. There are also allusions in
this letter to some matters connected with her own mother's (the Leigh)
family, which are of no public interest; nor is there anything in the
forty-ninth to which I need call attention. In the fiftieth Jane alludes
(as elsewhere in subsequent letters) to Lady Sondes' second marriage.
This lady was Mary Elizabeth, only daughter of Richard Milles, Esq., of
Elmham, Norfolk, who married, in 1785, Lewis Thomas, the second Lord
Sondes, who died in 1806, and she subsequently married General Sir Henry
Tucker Montresor, K.C.B., of Denne Hill. She died in 1818, leaving
several children by her first, but none by her second husband, who married
twice again, first Annetta, daughter of the Rev. Edward Cage, Rector of
Eastling, by whom he left a family, and lastly Miss Fairman, who survived
him many years, but had no children.
I do not know what "deed" Sir Brook Bridges was supposed to be "making
up his mind to" during the tête-à-tête to which allusion is made in the
letter, unless it was the deed of taking for his second wife Dorothy,
eldest daughter of Sir Henry Hawley, which he actually accomplished in
December of the next year. Probably, however, Jane was jokingly alluding
to the probability of his proposing to Cassandra herself. This is the
last letter of the year, for the next bears the date of January, 1809. It
alludes to the illness of Mrs. E. Leigh, who would seem by the context to
have been the mother of Mrs. Cooke, and, as George Cooke was "the Reverend
George Leigh Cooke," we may gather, without searching more closely the
family pedigree, that these were Jane's relations on the mother's side,
of whom she saw a good deal from time to time, after taking "Book-ham"
in her way to and from Steventon.
I have no record of the visit to Godmersham, to the prospect of which
allusion is made in this letter, and it is to be regretted that there
are no letters after January, 1809, for more than two years, though, of
course, many must have been written. These January letters do not contain
any other allusions which appear to require explanation, or regarding
which explanation would be of any general interest.
 Edward Bridges had the living of Lenham, his visits from which to
Godmersham are referred to in subsequent letters. He afterwards went to
Wingham, where he died, in 1825, leaving a large family.
 I find that the Rev. Mr. Cooke, Rector of Bookham, was one of Jane's
god-parents -- the others were Mrs. Jane Austen of Sevenoaks and Mrs.
Musgrave, born Jane Huggins, and wife of Dr James Musgrave, whose mother
was Catherine Perrot.
Castle Square: Saturday (October 1).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
Your letter this morning was quite unexpected, and it is well that it
brings such good news to counterbalance the disappointment to me of losing
my first sentence, which I had arranged full of proper hopes about your
journey, intending to commit them to paper to-day, and not looking for
certainty till to-morrow.
We are extremely glad to hear of the birth of the child, and trust everything
will proceed as well as it begins. His mamma has our best wishes, and
he our second best for health and comfort -- though I suppose, unless he
has our best too, we do nothing for her. We are glad it was all over
before your arrival, and I am most happy to find who the godmother is to
be. My mother was some time guessing the names.
Henry's present to you gives me great pleasure, and I shall watch the
weather for him at this time with redoubled interest.
We have had four brace of birds lately, in equal lots, from Shalden and
Our party at Mrs. Duer's produced the novelties of two old Mrs. Pollens and
Mrs. Heywood, with whom my mother made a quadrille table; and of Mrs.
Maitland and Caroline, and Mr. Booth without his sisters, at commerce.
I have got a husband for each of the Miss Maitlands; Colonel Powlett and
his brother have taken Argyle's inner house, and the consequence is so
natural that I have no ingenuity in planning it. If the brother should
luckily be a little sillier than the Colonel, what a treasure for Eliza!
Mr. Lyford called on Tuesday to say that he was disappointed of his son and
daughter's coming, and must go home himself the following morning; and
as I was determined that he should not lose every pleasure, I consulted
him on my complaint. He recommended cotton, moistened with oil of sweet
almonds, and it has done me good. I hope, therefore, to have nothing
more to do with Eliza's receipt than to feel obliged to her for giving
it, as I very sincerely do.
Mrs. Tilson's remembrance gratifies me, and I will use her patterns if I
can. [Omitted from Brabourne edition: "but poor woman! how can she honestly
be breeding again?"]
I have just finished a handkerchief for Mrs. James Austen, which I expect
her husband to give me an opportunity of sending to her ere long. Some
fine day in October will certainly bring him to us in the garden, between
three and four o'clock. She hears that Miss Bigg is to be married in a
fortnight. I wish it may be so.
About an hour and a-half after your toils on Wednesday ended, ours began.
At seven o'clock Mrs. Harrison, her two daughters and two visitors, with
Mr. Debary and his eldest sister, walked in.
A second pool of commerce, and all the longer by the addition of the two
girls, who during the first had one corner of the table and spillikens
to themselves, was the ruin of us; it completed the prosperity of Mr.
Debary, however, for he won them both.
Mr. Harrison came in late, and sat by the fire, for which I envied him,
as we had our usual luck of having a very cold evening. It rained when
our company came, but was dry again before they left us.
The Miss Ballards are said to be remarkably well-informed; their manners
are unaffected and pleasing, but they do not talk quite freely enough to
be agreeable, nor can I discover any right they had by taste or feeling
to go their late tour.
Miss Austen and her nephew are returned, but Mr. Choles is still absent.
"Still absent," say you. "I did not know that he was gone anywhere;"
neither did I know that Lady Bridges was at Godmersham at all, till I was
told of her being still there, which I take, therefore, to be the most
approved method of announcing arrivals and departures.
Mr. Choles is gone to drive a cow to Brentford, and his place is supplied
to us by a man who lives in the same sort of way by odd jobs, and among
other capabilities has that of working in a garden, which my mother will
not forget if we ever have another garden here. In general, however, she
thinks much more of Alton, and really expects to move there.
Mrs. Lyell's 130 guineas rent have made a great impression. To the purchase
of furniture, whether here or there, she is quite reconciled, and talks of
the trouble as the only evil. I depended upon Henry's liking the Alton
plan, and expect to hear of something perfectly unexceptionable there,
Our Yarmouth division seem to have got nice lodgings; and, with fish almost
for nothing and plenty of engagements and plenty of each other, must be
My mother has undertaken to cure six hams for Frank; at first it was a
distress, but now it is a pleasure. She desires me to say that she does
not doubt your making out the star pattern very well, as you have the
breakfast-room rug to look at.
We have got the second volume of "Espriella's Letters," and I read it aloud
by candle-light. The man describes well, but is horribly anti-English.
He deserves to be the foreigner he assumes.
Mr. Debary went away yesterday, and I, being gone with some partridges to
St. Maries, lost his parting visit.
I have heard to-day from Miss Sharpe, and find that she returns with Miss
B. to Hinckley, and will continue there at least till about Christmas,
when she thinks they may both travel southward. Miss B., however, is
probably to make only a temporary absence from Mr. Chessyre, and I should
not wonder if Miss Sharpe were to continue with her; unless anything more
eligible offer she certainly will. She describes Miss B as very anxious
that she should do so.
Sunday. -- I had not expected to hear from you again so soon, and am much
obliged to you for writing as you did; but now, as you must have a great
deal of the business upon your hands, do not trouble yourself with me
for the present; I shall consider silence as good news, and not expect
another letter from you till Friday or Saturday.
You must have had a great deal more rain than has fallen here; cold enough
it has been, but not wet, except for a few hours on Wednesday evening,
and I could have found nothing more plastic than dust to stick in; now,
indeed, we are likely to have a wet day, and, though Sunday, my mother
begins it without any ailment.
Your plants were taken in one very cold, blustering day, and placed in
the dining-room, and there was a frost the very same night. If we have
warm weather again they are to be put out of doors; if not, my mother
will have them conveyed to their winter quarters. I gather some currants
every now and then, when I want either fruit or employment.
Pray tell my little goddaughter that I am delighted to hear of her saying
her lesson so well.
You have used me ill: you have been writing to Martha without telling me
of it, and a letter which I sent her on Wednesday to give her information
of you must have been good for nothing. I do not know how to think that
something will not happen to prevent her returning by the 10th; and if
it does, I shall not much regard it on my own account, for I am now got
into such a way of being alone that I do not wish even for her.
The Marquis has put off being cured for an-other year; after waiting some
weeks in vain for the return of the vessel he had agreed for, he is gone
into Cornwall to order a vessel built for himself by a famous man in that
country, in which he means to go abroad a twelvemonth hence.
Everybody who comes to Southampton finds it either their duty or pleasure
to call upon us; yesterday we were visited by the eldest Miss Cotterel,
just arrived from Waltham. Adieu! With love to all,
We had two pheasants last night from Neatham. To-morrow evening is to be
given to the Maitlands. We are just asked to meet Mrs. Heywood and Mrs. Duer.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham, Kent.
Castle Square: Friday (October 7).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
Your letter on Tuesday gave us great pleasure, and we congratulate you all
upon Elizabeth's hitherto happy recovery; tomorrow, or Sunday, I hope to
hear of its advancing in the same style. We are also very glad to know
that you are so well yourself, and pray you to continue so.
I was rather surprised on Monday by the arrival of a letter for you, from
your Winchester correspondent, who seemed perfectly unsuspicious of your
being likely to be at Godmersham. I took complete possession of the letter
by reading, paying for, and answering it; and he will have the biscuits
to-day -- a very proper day for the purpose, though I did not think of it
at the time. I wish my brother joy of completing his thirtieth year, and
hope the day will be remembered better than it was six years ago.
The masons are now repairing the chimney, which they found in such a state
as to make it wonderful that it should have stood so long, and next to
impossible that another violent wind should not blow it down. We may,
therefore, thank you perhaps for saving us from being thumped with old
bricks. You are also to be thanked by Eliza's desire for your present
to her of dyed satin, which is made into a bonnet, and I fancy surprises
her by its good appearance.
My mother is preparing mourning for Mrs. E. K.; she has picked her old
silk pelisse to pieces, and means to have it dyed black for a gown -- a
very interesting scheme, though just now a little injured by finding that
it must be placed in Mr. Wren's hands, for Mr. Chambers is gone. As for
Mr. Floor, he is at present rather low in our estimation. How is your
blue gown? Mine is all to pieces. I think there must have been something
wrong in the dye, for in places it divided with a touch. There was four
shillings thrown away, to be added to my subjects of never-failing regret.
We found ourselves tricked into a thorough party at Mrs. Maitland's, a
quadrille and a commerce table, and music in the other room. There were
two pools at commerce, but I would not play more than one, for the stake
was three shillings, and I cannot afford to lose that twice in an evening.
The Miss M.'s were as civil and as silly as usual.
You know of course that Martha comes to-day, yesterday brought us notice
of it, and the spruce beer is brewed in consequence.
On Wednesday I had a letter from Yarmouth, to desire me to send Mary's
flannels and furs, &c.; and, as there was a packing case at hand, I could
do it without any trouble.
On Tuesday evening Southampton was in a good deal of alarm for about an
hour: a fire broke out soon after nine at Webb's, the pastry-cook, and
burnt for some time with great fury. I cannot learn exactly how it
originated; at the time it was said to be their bakehouse, but now I hear
it was in the back of their dwelling-house, and that one room was consumed.
The flames were considerable: they seemed about as near to us as those at
Lyme, and to reach higher. One could not but feel uncomfortable, and
I began to think of what I should do if it came to the worst; happily,
however, the night was perfectly still, the engines were immediately
in use, and before ten the fire was nearly extinguished, though it was
twelve before everything was considered safe, and a guard was kept the
whole night. Our friends the Duers were alarmed, but not out of their
good sense or benevolence.
I am afraid the Webbes have lost a great deal, more perhaps from ignorance
or plunder than the fire; they had a large stock of valuable china, and,
in order to save it, it was taken from the house and thrown down anywhere.
The adjoining house, a toyshop, was almost equally injured, and Hibbs,
whose house comes next, was so scared from his senses that he was giving
away all his goods, valuable laces, &c., to anybody who would take them.
The crowd in the High Street, I understand, was immense; Mrs. Harrison,
who was drinking tea with a lady at Millar's, could not leave at twelve
o'clock. Such are the prominent features of our fire. Thank God they
were not worse!
Saturday. -- Thank you for your letter, which found me at the breakfast table
with my two companions.
I am greatly pleased with your account of Fanny; I found her in the summer
just what you describe, almost another sister; and could not have supposed
that a niece would ever have been so much to me. She is quite after
one's own heart; give her my best love, and tell her that I always think
of her with pleasure.
I am much obliged to you for inquiring about my ear, and am happy to say
that Mr. Lyford's prescription has entirely cured me. I feel it a great
blessing to hear again.
Your gown shall be unpicked, but I do not remember its being settled so
Martha was here by half-past six, attended by Lyddy; they had some rain
at last, but a very good journey on the whole; and if looks and words
may be trusted Martha is very happy to be returned. We receive her with
Castle Square weather; it has blown a gale from the N.W. ever since she
came, and we feel ourselves in luck that the chimney was mended yesterday.
She brings several good things for the larder, which is now very rich; we
had a pheasant and hare the other day from the Mr. Grays of Alton. Is
this to entice us to Alton, or to keep us away? Henry had probably some
share in the two last baskets from that neighbourhood, but we have not
seen so much of his hand-writing, even as a direction to either.
Martha was an hour and half in Winchester, walking about with the three
boys and at the pastry cook's. She thought Edward grown, and speaks with
the same admiration as before of his manners; she saw in George a little
likeness to his Uncle Henry.
I am glad you are to see Harriot; give my love to her. I wish you may
be able to accept Lady Bridges' invitation, though I could not her son
Edward's; she is a nice woman and honours me by her remembrance.
Do you recollect whether the Manydown family sent about their wedding
cake? Mrs. Dundas has set her heart upon having a piece from her friend
Catherine, and Martha, who knows what importance she attaches to this
sort of thing, is anxious for the sake of both that there should not be
Our weather, I fancy, has been just like yours; we have had some very
delightful days, our 5th and 6th were what the 5th and 6th of October
should always be, but we have always wanted a fire within doors, at least
except for just the middle of the day.
Martha does not find the key which you left in my charge for her suit the
keyhole, and wants to know whether you think you can have mistaken it.
It should open the interior of her high drawers, but she is in no hurry
Sunday. -- It is cold enough now for us to prefer dining upstairs to dining
below without a fire, and being only three we manage it very well, and
to-day with two more we shall do just as well, I dare say. Miss Foote
and Miss Wethered are coming.
My mother is much pleased with Elizabeth's admiration of the rug; and pray
tell Elizabeth that the new mourning gown is to be made double only in
the body and sleeves.
Martha thanks you for your message, and desires you may be told, with her
best love, that your wishes are answered, and that she is full of peace
and comfort here. I do not think, however, that here she will remain
a great while; she does not herself expect that Mrs. Dundas will be
able to do with her long. She wishes to stay with us till Christmas, if
possible. Lyddy goes home to-morrow: she seems well, but does not mean
to to to service at present.
The Wallops are returned. Mr. John Harrison has paid his visit of duty
and is gone. We have got a new physician, a Dr. Percival, the son of a
famous Dr. Percival, of Manchester, who wrote moral tales for Edward to
give to me.
When you write again to Catherine, thank her on my part for her very kind
and welcome mark of friendship; I shall value such a brooch very much.
Good-bye, my dearest Cassandra.
Yours very affectionately, J. A.
Have you written to Mrs. E. Leigh? Martha will be glad to find Anne
in work at present, and I am as glad to have her so found. We must turn
our black pelisses into new, for velvet is to be very much worn this winter.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham, Kent.
Castle Square (October 13).
MY DEAREST CASSANDRA,
I have received your letter, and with most melancholy anxiety was it expected,
for the sad news reached us last night, but without any particulars. It
came in a short letter to Martha from her sister, begun at Steventon and
finished in Winchester.
We have felt -- we do feel -- for you all, as you will not need to be told:
for you, for Fanny, for Henry, for Lady Bridges, and for dearest Edward,
whose loss and whose sufferings seem to make those of every other person
nothing. God be praised that you can say what you do of him: that he has
a religious mind to bear him up, and a disposition that will gradually
lead him to comfort.
My dear, dear Fanny, I am so thankful that she has you with her! You will
be everything to her; you will give her all the consolation that human
aid can give. May the Almighty sustain you all, and keep you, my dearest
Cassandra, well; but for the present I dare say you are equal to everything.
You will know that the poor boys are at Steventon. Perhaps it is best for
them, as they will have more means of exercise and amusement there than
they could have with us, but I own myself disappointed by the arrangement.
I should have loved to have them with me at such a time. I shall write
to Edward by this post.
We shall, of course, hear from you again very soon, and as often as you can
write. We will write as you desire, and I shall add Bookham. Hamstall,
I suppose, you write to yourselves, as you do not mention it.
What a comfort that Mrs. Deedes is saved from present misery and alarm!
But it will fall heavy upon poor Harriot; and as for Lady B., but that
her fortitude does seem truly great, I should fear the effect of such a
blow, and so unlooked for. I long to hear more of you all. Of Henry's
anguish I think with grief and solicitude; but he will exert himself to
be of use and comfort.
With what true sympathy our feelings are shared by Martha you need not be
told; she is the friend and sister under every circumstance.
We need not enter into a panegyric on the departed, but it is sweet to
think of her great worth, of her solid principles, of her true devotion,
her excellence in every relation of life. It is also consolatory to
reflect on the shortness of the sufferings which led her from this world
to a better.
Farewell for the present, my dearest sister. Tell Edward that we feel for
him and pray for him.
I will write to Catherine.
Perhaps you can give me some directions about mourning.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham, Kent.
Castle Square: Saturday night (October 15).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
Your accounts make us as comfortable as we can
expect to be at such a time. Edward's loss is terrible, and must be felt
as such, and these are too early days indeed to think of moderation in
grief, either in him or his afflicted daughter, but soon we may hope that
our dear Fanny's sense of duty to that beloved father will rouse her to
exertion. For his sake, and as the most acceptable proof of love to the
spirit of her departed mother, she will try to be tranquil and resigned.
Does she feel you to be a comfort to her, or is she too much overpowered
for anything but solitude?
Your account of Lizzy is very interesting.
Poor child! One must hope the impression will be strong, and yet one's
heart aches for a dejected mind of eight years old.
I suppose you see
the corpse? How does it appear? We are anxious to be assured that Edward
will not attend the funeral, but when it comes to the point I think he must
feel it impossible.
Your parcel shall set off on Monday, and I hope
the shoes will fit; Martha and I both tried them on. I shall send you
such of your mourning as I think most likely to be useful, reserving for
myself your stockings and half the velvet, in which selfish arrangement
I know I am doing what you wish.
I am to be in bombazeen and crape,
according to what we are told is universal here, and which agrees with
Martha's previous observation. My mourning, however, will not impoverish
me, for by having my velvet pelisse fresh lined and made up, I am sure
I shall have no occasion this winter for anything new of that sort. I
take my cloak for the lining, and shall send yours on the chance of its
doing something of the same for you, though I believe your pelisse is
in better repair than mine. One Miss Baker makes my gown and the other
my bonnet, which is to be silk covered with crape.
I have written to
Edward Cooper, and hope he will not send one of his letters of cruel
comfort to my poor brother; and yesterday I wrote to Alethea Bigg, in
reply to a letter from her. She tells us in confidence that Catherine
is to be married on Tuesday se'nnight. Mr. Hill is expected at Manydown
in the course of the ensuing week.
We are desired by Mrs. Harrison
and Miss Austen to say everything proper for them to yourself and Edward
on this sad occasion, especially that nothing but a wish of not giving
additional trouble where so much is inevitable prevents their writing
themselves to express their concern. They seem truly to feel concern.
I am glad you can say what you do of Mrs. Knight and of Goodnestone in
general; it is a great relief to me to know that the shock did not make
any of them ill. But what a task was yours to announce it! Now I hope you
are not overpowered with letter-writing, as Henry and John can ease you
of many of your correspondents.
Was Mr. Scudmore in the house at the
time, was any application attempted, and is the seizure at all accounted
Sunday. -- As Edward's letter to his son is not come here, we know
that you must have been informed as early as Friday of the boys being at
Steventon, which I am glad of.
Upon your letter to Dr. Goddard's being
forwarded to them, Mary wrote to ask whether my mother wished to have her
grandsons sent to her. We decided on their remaining where they were,
which I hope my brother will approve of. I am sure he will do us the
justice of believing that in such a decision we sacrificed inclination
to what we thought best.
I shall write by the coach to-morrow to Mrs.
J. A., and to Edward, about their mourning, though this day's post will
probably bring directions to them on that subject from yourselves. I
shall certainly make use of the opportunity of addressing our nephew on
the most serious of all concerns, as I naturally did in my letter to him
before. The poor boys are, perhaps, more comfortable at Steventon than
they could be here, but you will understand my feelings with respect to
To-morrow will be a dreadful day for you all. Mr. Whitfield's will
be a severe duty. Glad shall I be to hear that it is over.
you are forever in our thoughts you will not doubt. I see your mournful
party in my mind's eye under every varying circumstance of the day; and
in the evening especially figure to myself its sad gloom: the efforts
to talk, the frequent summons to melancholy orders and cares, and poor
Edward, restless in misery, going from one room to another, and perhaps not
seldom upstairs, to see all that remains of his Elizabeth. Dearest Fanny
must now look upon herself as his prime source of comfort, his dearest
friend; as the being who is gradually to supply to him, to the extent
that is possible, what he has lost. This consideration will elevate and
Adieu. You cannot write too often, as I said before. We
are heartily rejoiced that the poor baby gives you no particular anxiety.
Kiss dear Lizzy for us. Tell Fanny that I shall write in a day or two
to Miss Sharpe.
My mother is not ill.
Yours most truly,
Tell Henry that a hamper of apples is gone to him from Kintbury, and that Mr. Fowle intended writing on Friday (supposing him in London) to beg that the charts, &c. may be consigned to the care of the Palmers. Mrs. Fowle has also written to Miss Palmer to beg she will send for them.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham, Kent.
 Mr. Whitfield was the Rector of Godmersham at this time, having come there in 1778.
Castle Square: Monday (October 24).
MY DEAR CASSANDRA,
Edward and George came to us soon after seven on Saturday, very well, but
very cold, having by choice travelled on the outside, and with no great
coat but what Mr. Wise, the coachman, good-naturedly spared them of his,
as they sat by his side. They were so much chilled when they arrived,
that I was afraid they must have taken cold; but it does not seem at all
the case; I never saw them looking better.
They behave extremely well in every respect, showing quite as much feeling
as one wishes to see, and on every occasion speaking of their father
with the liveliest affection. His letter was read over by each of them
yesterday, and with many tears; George sobbed aloud, Edward's tears do
not flow so easily; but as far as I can judge they are both very properly
impressed by what has happened. Miss Lloyd, who is a more impartial judge
than I can be, is exceedingly pleased with them.
George is almost a new acquaintance to me, and I find him in a different
way as engaging as Edward.
We do not want amusement: bilbocatch, at which George is indefatigable;
spillikins, paper ships, riddles, conundrums, and cards, with watching the
flow and ebb of the river, and now and then a stroll out, keep us well
employed; and we mean to avail ourselves of our kind papa's consideration,
by not returning to Winchester till quite the evening of Wednesday.
Mrs. J. A. had not time to get them more than one suit of clothes; their
others are making here, and though I do not believe Southampton is famous
for tailoring, I hope it will prove itself better than Basingstoke. Edward
has an old black coat, which will save his having a second new one; but
I find that black pantaloons are considered by them as necessary, and of
course one would not have them made uncomfortable by the want of what is
usual on such occasions.
Fanny's letter was received with great pleasure yesterday, and her brother
sends his thanks and will answer it soon. We all saw what she wrote, and
were very much pleased with it.
To-morrow I hope to hear from you, and to-morrow we must think of poor
Catherine. To-day Lady Bridges is the heroine of our thoughts, and glad
shall we be when we can fancy the meeting over. There will then be nothing
so very bad for Edward to undergo.
The "St. Albans," I find, sailed on the very day of my letters reaching
Yarmouth, so that we must not expect an answer at present; we scarcely
feel, however, to be in suspense, or only enough to keep our plans to
ourselves. We have been obliged to explain them to our young visitors,
in consequence of Fanny's letter, but we have not yet mentioned them to
Steventon. We are all quite familiarised to the idea ourselves; my mother
only wants Mrs. Seward to go out at Midsummer.
What sort of a kitchen garden is there? Mrs. J. A. expresses her fear
of our settling in Kent, and, till this proposal was made, we began to
look forward to it here; my mother was actually talking of a house at
Wye. It will be best, however, as it is.
Anne has just given her mistress warning; she is going to be married; I
wish she would stay her year.
On the subject of matrimony, I must notice a wedding in the Salisbury
paper, which has amused me very much, Dr. Phillot to Lady Frances St.
Lawrence. She wanted to have a husband I suppose, once in her life, and
he a Lady Frances.
I hope your sorrowing party were at church yesterday, and have no longer
that to dread. Martha was kept at home by a cold, but I went with my
two nephews, and I saw Edward was much affected by the sermon, which,
indeed, I could have supposed purposely addressed to the afflicted, if
the text had not naturally come in the course of Dr. Mant's observations
on the Litany: "All that are in danger, necessity, or tribulation," was
the subject of it. The weather did not allow us afterwards to get farther
than the quay, where George was very happy as long as we could stay,
flying about from one side to the other, and skipping on board a collier
In the evening we had the Psalms and Lessons, and a sermon at home, to which
they were very attentive; but you will not expect to hear that they did
not return to conundrums the moment it was over. Their aunt has written
pleasantly of them, which was more than I hoped.
While I write now, George is most industriously making and naming paper
ships, at which he afterwards shoots with horse-chestnuts brought from
Steventon on purpose; and Edward equally intent over the "Lake of Killarney,"
twisting himself about in one of our great chairs.
Tuesday. -- Your close-written letter makes me quite ashamed of my wide
lines; you have sent me a great deal of matter, most of it very welcome.
As to your lengthened stay, it is no more than I expected, and what must
be, but you cannot suppose I like it.
All that you say of Edward is truly comfortable; I began to fear that when
the bustle of the first week was over, his spirits might for a time be
more depressed; and perhaps one must still expect something of the kind.
If you escape a bilious attack, I shall wonder almost as much as rejoice.
I am glad you mentioned where Catherine goes to-day; it is a good plan,
but sensible people may generally be trusted to form such.
The day began cheerfully, but it is not likely to continue what it should,
for them or for us. We had a little water party yesterday; I and my
two nephews went from the Itchen Ferry up to Northam, where we landed,
looked into the 74, and walked home, and it was so much enjoyed that I had
intended to take them to Netley to-day; the tide is just right for our
going immediately after noonshine, but I am afraid there will be rain;
if we cannot get so far, however, we may perhaps go round from the ferry
to the quay.
I had not proposed doing more than cross the Itchen yesterday, but it
proved so pleasant, and so much to the satisfaction of all, that when we
reached the middle of the stream we agreed to be rowed up the river; both
the boys rowed great part of the way, and their questions and remarks,
as well as their enjoyment, were very amusing; George's inquiries were
endless, and his eagerness in everything reminds me often of his Uncle Henry.
Our evening was equally agreeable in its way: I introduced speculation,
and it was so much approved that we hardly knew how to leave off.
Your idea of an early dinner to-morrow is exactly what we propose, for,
after writing the first part of this letter, it came into my head that at
this time of year we have not summer evenings. We shall watch the light
to-day, that we may not give them a dark drive to-morrow.
They send their best love to papa and everybody, with George's thanks for
the letter brought by this post. Martha begs my brother may be assured
of her interest in everything relating to him and his family, and of her
sincerely partaking our pleasure in the receipt of every good account
Of Chawton I think I can have nothing more to say, but that everything
you say about it in the letter now before me will, I am sure, as soon as
I am able to read it to her, make my mother consider the plan with more
and more pleasure. We had formed the same views on H. Digweed's farm.
A very kind and feeling letter is arrived to-day from Kintbury. Mrs.
Fowle's sympathy and solicitude on such an occasion you will be able to do
justice to, and to express it as she wishes to my brother. Concerning
you, she says: "Cassandra will, I know, excuse my writing to her; it is
not to save myself but her that I omit so doing. Give my best, my kindest
love to her, and tell her I feel for her as I know she would for me on
the same occasion, and that I most sincerely hope her health will not suffer."
We have just had two hampers of apples from Kintbury, and the floor of our
little garret is almost covered. Love to all.
Yours very affectionately,
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham, Kent.
Castle Square: Sunday (November 21).
Your letter, my dear Cassandra, obliges me to write immediately, that you
may have the earliest notice of Frank's intending, if possible, to go to
Godmersham exactly at the time now fixed for your visit to Goodnestone.
He resolved, almost directly on the receipt of your former letter, to try
for an extension of his leave of absence, that he might be able to go
down to you for two days, but charged me not to give you any notice of
it, on account of the uncertainty of success. Now, however, I must give
it, and now perhaps he may be giving it himself; for I am just in the
hateful predicament of being obliged to write what I know will somehow
or other be of no use.
He meant to ask for five days more, and if they were granted, to go down
by Thursday night's mail, and spend Friday and Saturday with you; and
he considered his chance of succeeding by no means bad. I hope it will
take place as he planned, and that your arrangements with Goodnestone may
admit of suitable alteration.
Your news of Edward Bridges was quite news, for I have had no letter from
Wrotham. I wish him happy with all my heart, and hope his choice may turn
out according to his own expectations, and beyond those of his family;
and I dare say it will. Marriage is a great improver, and in a similar
situation Harriet may be as amiable as Eleanor. As to money, that will
come, you may be sure, because they cannot do without it. When you see
him again, pray give him our congratulations and best wishes. This match
will certainly set John and Lucy going.
There are six bedchambers at Chawton; Henry wrote to my mother the other
day, and luckily mentioned the number, which is just what we wanted to
be assured of. He speaks also of garrets for store places, one of which
she immediately planned fitting up for Edward's man-servant; and now
perhaps it must be for our own; for she is already quite reconciled to
our keeping one. The difficulty of doing without one had been thought
of before. His name shall be Robert, if you please.
Before I can tell you of it, you will have heard that Miss Sawbridge is
married. It took place, I believe, on Thursday. Mrs. Fowle has for some
time been in the secret, but the neighbourhood in general were quite
unsuspicious. Mr. Maxwell was tutor to the young Gregorys -- consequently,
they must be one of the happiest couples in the world, and either of them
worthy of envy, for she must be excessively in love, and he mounts from
nothing to a comfortable home. Martha has heard him very highly spoken
of. They continue for the present at Speen Hill.
I have a Southampton match to return for your Kentish one, Captain G.
Heathcote and Miss A. Lyell. I have it from Alethea, and like it, because
I had made it before.
Yes, the Stoneleigh business is concluded, but it was not till yesterday
that my mother was regularly informed of it, though the news had reached
us on Monday evening by way of Steventon. My aunt says as little as may
be on the subject by way of information, and nothing at all by way of
satisfaction. She reflects on Mr. T. Leigh's dilatoriness, and looks
about with great diligence and success for inconvenience and evil, among
which she ingeniously places the danger of her new housemaids catching cold
on the outside of the coach, when she goes down to Bath, for a carriage
makes her sick.
John Binns has been offered their place, but declines it; as she supposes,
because he will not wear a livery. Whatever be the cause, I like the effect.
In spite of all my mother's long and intimate knowledge of the writer, she
was not up to the expectation of such a letter as this; the discontentedness
of it shocked and surprised her -- but I see nothing in it out of nature,
though a sad nature.
She does not forget to wish for Chambers, you may be sure. No particulars
are given, not a word of arrears mentioned, though in her letter to James
they were in a general way spoken of. The amount of them is a matter
of conjecture, and to my mother a most interesting one; she cannot fix
any time for their beginning with any satisfaction to herself but Mrs.
Leigh's death, and Henry's two thousand pounds neither agrees with that
period nor any other. I did not like to own our previous information
of what was intended last July, and have therefore only said that if we
could see Henry we might hear many particulars, as I had understood that
some confidential conversation had passed between him and Mr. T. L. at
We have been as quiet as usual since Frank and Mary left us; Mr. Criswick
called on Martha that very morning on his way home again from Portsmouth,
and we have had no visitor since.
We called on the Miss Lyells one day, and heard a good account of Mr.
Heathcote's canvass, the success of which, of course, exceeds his
expectations. Alethea in her letter hopes for my interest, which I conclude
means Edwards's, and I take this opportunity, therefore, of requesting
that he will bring in Mr. Heathcote. Mr. Lane told us yesterday that
Mr. H. had behaved very handsomely, and waited on Mr. Thistlethwaite, to
say that if he (Mr. T.) would stand, he (Mr. H.) would not oppose him;
but Mr. T. declined it, acknowledging himself still smarting under the
payment of late electioneering costs.
The Mrs. Hulberts, we learn from Kintbury, come to Steventon this week,
and bring Mary Jane Fowle with them on her way to Mrs. Nunes; she returns
at Christmas with her brother.
Our brother we may perhaps see in the course of a few days, and we mean
to take the opportunity of his help to go one night to the play. Martha
ought to see the inside of the theatre once while she lives in Southampton,
and I think she will hardly wish to take a second view.
The furniture of Bellevue is to be sold to-morrow, and we shall take it
in our usual walk, if the weather be favourable.
How could you have a wet day on Thursday? With us it was a prince of
days, the most delightful we have had for weeks; soft, bright, with a
brisk wind from the southwest; everybody was out and talking of spring,
and Martha and I did not know how to turn back. On Friday evening we
had some very blowing weather -- from 6 to 9, I think we never heard it
worse, even here. And one night we had so much rain that it forced its
way again into the store closet, and though the evil was comparatively
slight and the mischief nothing, I had some employment the next day in
drying parcels, &c. I have now moved still more out of the way.
Martha sends her best love, and thanks you for admitting her to the
knowledge of the pros and cons about Harriet Foote; she has an interest
in all such matters. I am also to say that she wants to see you. Mary
Jane missed her papa and mama a good deal at first, but now does very
well without them. I am glad to hear of little John's being better; and
hope your accounts of Mrs. Knight will also improve. Adieu! remember
me affectionately to everybody, and believe me,
Ever yours, J. A.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen's, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham, Kent
[Go to second part of 1808, 1809 letters]