This short piece from Jane Austen's Juvenilia is fun to read because it's much less decorous and restrained than Jane Austen's later published novels -- though since she wrote it in her early teens, it's not surprising if it's a little rough and unsophisticated. As in others of her Juvenilia (such as Frederic & Elfrida and Love and Freindship), she parodies some of the literature and literary conventions of her day -- but much of the humor can fortunately still be appreciated without having read the specific 18th-century novels she satirizes.
JACK & ALICE
Is respectfully inscribed to Francis William Austen Esq.
CHAPTER THE FIRST
MR. JOHNSON was once upon a time about 53; in a twelve-month afterwards he was 54, which so much delighted him that he was determined to celebrate his next Birthday by giving a Masquerade to his Children & Freinds. Accordingly on the Day he attained his 55th year, tickets were dispatched to all his Neighbours to that purpose. His acquaintance indeed in that part of the World were not very numerous, as they consisted only of Lady Williams, Mr. & Mrs. Jones, Charles Adams & the 3 Miss Simpsons, who composed the neighbourhood of Pammydiddle & formed the Masquerade.
Before I proceed to give an account of the Evening, it will be proper to describe to my reader the persons and Characters of the party introduced to his acquaintance.
Mr. & Mrs. Jones were both rather tall & very passionate, but were in other respects good tempered, wellbehaved People. Charles Adams was an amiable, accomplished, & bewitching young Man; of so dazzling a Beauty that none but Eagles could look him in the Face.
Miss Simpson was pleasing in her person, in her Manners, & in her Disposition; an unbounded ambition was her only fault. Her second sister Sukey was Envious, Spitefull, & Malicious. Her person was short, fat & disagreable. Cecilia (the youngest) was perfectly handsome, but too affected to be pleasing.
In Lady Williams every virtue met. She was a widow with a handsome Jointure & the remains of a very handsome face. Tho' Benevolent & Candid, she was Generous & sincere; Tho' Pious & Good, she was Religious & amiable, & Tho Elegant & Agreable, she was Polished & Entertaining.
The Johnsons were a family of Love, & though a little addicted to the Bottle & the Dice, had many good Qualities.
Such was the party assembled in the elegant Drawing Room of Johnson Court, amongst which the pleasing figure of a Sultana was the most remarkable of the female Masks. Of the Males, a Mask representing the Sun was the most universally admired. The Beams that darted from his Eyes were like those of that glorious Luminary, tho' infinitely superior. So strong were they that no one dared venture within half a mile of them; he had therefore the best part of the Room to himself, its size not amounting to more than 3 quarters of a mile in length & half a one in breadth. The Gentleman at last finding the feirceness of his beams to be very inconvenient to the concourse, by obliging them to croud together in one corner of the room, half shut his eyes, by which means the Company discovered him to be Charles Adams in his plain green Coat, without any mask at all.
When their astonishment was a little subsided, their attention was attracted by 2 Dominos who advanced in a horrible Passion; they were both very tall, but seemed in other respects to have many good qualities. "These" said the witty Charles, "these are Mr. & Mrs. Jones." and so indeed they were.
No one could imagine who was the Sultana! Till at length, on her addressing a beautifull Flora who was reclining in a studied attitude on a couch, with "Oh Cecilia, I wish I was really what I pretend to be", she was discovered by the never failing genius of Charles Adams to be the elegant but ambitious Caroline Simpson, & the person to whom she addressed herself, he rightly imagined to be her lovely but affected sister Cecilia.
The Company now advanced to a Gaming Table where sat 3 Dominos (each with a bottle in their hand) deeply engaged; but a female in the character of Virtue fled with hasty footsteps from the shocking scene, whilst a little fat woman, representing Envy, sat alternately on the foreheads of the 3 Gamesters. Charles Adams was still as bright as ever; he soon discovered the party at play to be the 3 Johnsons, Envy to be Sukey Simpson & Virtue to be Lady Williams.
The Masks were then all removed & the Company retired to another room, to partake of an elegant & well managed Entertainment, after which, the Bottle being pretty briskly pushed about by the 3 Johnsons, the whole party (not excepting even Virtue) were carried home, Dead Drunk.
CHAPTER THE SECOND
FOR three months did the Masquerade afford ample subject for conversation to the inhabitants of Pammydiddle; but no character at it was so fully expatiated on as Charles Adams. The singularity of his appearance, the beams which darted from his eyes, the brightness of his Wit, & the whole tout ensemble of his person had subdued the hearts of so many of the young Ladies, that of the six present at the Masquerade but five had returned uncaptivated. Alice Johnson was the unhappy sixth whose heart had not been able to withstand the power of his Charms. But as it may appear strange to my Readers, that so much worth & Excellence as he possessed should have conquered only hers, it will be necessary to inform them that the Miss Simpsons were defended from his Power by Ambition, Envy, & Self-admiration.
Every wish of Caroline was centered in a titled Husband; whilst in Sukey such superior excellence could only raise her Envy not her Love, & Cecilia was too tenderly attached to herself to be pleased with any one besides. As for Lady Williams and Mrs. Jones, the former of them was too sensible to fall in love with one so much her Junior, and the latter, tho' very tall & very passionate, was too fond of her Husband to think of such a thing.
Yet in spite of every endeavour on the part of Miss Johnson to discover any attachment to her in him, the cold & indifferent heart of Charles Adams still, to all appearance, preserved its native freedom; polite to all but partial to none, he still remained the lovely, the lively, but insensible Charles Adams.
One evening, Alice finding herself somewhat heated by wine (no very uncommon case) determined to seek a relief for her disordered Head & Love-sick Heart in the Conversation of the intelligent Lady Williams.
She found her Ladyship at home, as was in general the Case, for she was not fond of going out, & like the great Sir Charles Grandison scorned to deny herself when at Home, as she looked on that fashionable method of shutting out disagreable Visitors, as little less than downright Bigamy.
In spite of the wine she had been drinking, poor Alice was uncommonly out of spirits; she could think of nothing but Charles Adams, she could talk of nothing but him, & in short spoke so openly that Lady Williams soon discovered the unreturned affection she bore him, which excited her Pity & Compassion so strongly that she addressed her in the following Manner.
"I perceive but too plainly, my dear Miss Johnson, that your Heart has not been able to withstand the fascinating Charms of this young Man & I pity you sincerely. Is it a first Love?"
"I am still more greived to hear that; I am myself a sad example of the Miseries in general attendant on a first Love & I am determined for the future to avoid the like Misfortune. I wish it may not be too late for you to do the same; if it is not, endeavour, my dear Girl, to secure yourself from so great a Danger. A second attachment is seldom attended with any serious consequences; against that therefore I have nothing to say. Preserve yourself from a first Love & you need not fear a second."
"You mentioned, Madam, something of your having yourself been a sufferer by the misfortune you are so good as to wish me to avoid. Will you favour me with your Life & Adventures?"
"Willingly, my Love."
CHAPTER THE THIRD
"MY Father was a gentleman of considerable Fortune in Berkshire; myself & a few more his only Children. I was but six years old when I had the misfortune of losing my Mother, & being at that time young & Tender, my father, instead of sending me to School, procured an able handed Governess to superintend my Education at Home. My Brothers were placed at Schools suitable to their Ages & my Sisters, being all younger than myself, remained still under the Care of their Nurse.
Miss Dickins was an excellent Governess. She instructed me in the Paths of Virtue; under her tuition I daily became more amiable, & might perhaps by this time have nearly attained perfection, had not my worthy Preceptoress been torn from my arms, e'er I had attained my seventeenth year. I never shall forget her last words. ``My dear Kitty'' she said, ``Good night t'ye.'' I never saw her afterwards", continued Lady Williams, wiping her eyes, "She eloped with the Butler the same night."
"I was invited the following year by a distant relation of my Father's to spend the Winter with her in town. Mrs. Watkins was a Lady of Fashion, Family, & fortune; she was in general esteemed a pretty Woman, but I never thought her very handsome, for my part. She had too high a forehead, Her eyes were too small, & she had too much colour."
"How can that be?" interrupted Miss Johnson, reddening with anger; "Do you think that any one can have too much colour?"
"But can a face, my Lady, have too red a look?"
"Certainly, my dear Miss Johnson, & I'll tell you why. When a face has too red a look it does not appear to so much advantage as it would were it paler."
"Pray Ma'am, proceed in your story."
"Well, as I said before, I was invited by this Lady to spend some weeks with her in town. Many Gentlemen thought her Handsome, but in my opinion, Her forehead was too high, her eyes too small, & she had too much colour."
"In that, Madam, as I said before, your Ladyship must have been mistaken. Mrs. Watkins could not have too much colour, since no one can have too much."
"Excuse me, my Love, if I do not agree with you in that particular. Let me explain myself clearly; my idea of the case is this. When a Woman has too great a proportion of red in her Cheeks, she must have too much colour."
"What, my Love, not if they have too much colour?"
Miss Johnson was now out of all patience, the more so, perhaps, as Lady Williams still remained so inflexibly cool. It must be remembered, however, that her Ladyship had in one respect by far the advantage of Alice; I mean in not being drunk, for heated with wine & raised by Passion, she could have little command of her Temper.
The Dispute at length grew so hot on the part of Alice that, "From Words she almost came to Blows", When Mr. Johnson luckily entered, & with some difficulty forced her away from Lady Williams, Mrs. Watkins, & her red cheeks.
CHAPTER THE FOURTH
MY Readers may perhaps imagine that after such a fracas, no intimacy could longer subsist between the Johnsons and Lady Williams, but in that they are mistaken; for her Ladyship was too sensible to be angry at a conduct which she could not help perceiving to be the natural consequence of inebriety, & Alice had too sincere a respect for Lady Williams, & too great a relish for her Claret, not to make every concession in her power.
A few days after their reconciliation, Lady Williams called on Miss Johnson to propose a walk in a Citron Grove which led from her Ladyship's pigstye to Charles Adams's Horsepond. Alice was too sensible of Lady Williams's kindness in proposing such a walk, & too much pleased with the prospect of seeing at the end of it a Horsepond of Charles's, not to accept it with visible delight. They had not proceeded far before she was roused from the reflection of the happiness she was going to enjoy, by Lady Williams's thus addressing her.
"I have as yet forborn, my dear Alice, to continue the narrative of my Life, from an unwillingness of recalling to your Memory a scene which (since it reflects on you rather disgrace than credit) had better be forgot than remembered."
Alice had already begun to colour up, & was beginning to speak, when her Ladyship, perceiving her displeasure, continued thus.
"I am afraid, my dear Girl, that I have offended you by what I have just said; I assure you I do not mean to distress you by a retrospection of what cannot now be helped; considering all things, I do not think you so much to blame as many People do; for when a person is in Liquor, there is no answering for what they may do."
"Madam, this is not to be borne; I insist --"
"My dear Girl, don't vex yourself about the matter; I assure you I have entirely forgiven every thing respecting it; indeed I was not angry at the time, because as I saw all along, you were nearly dead drunk. I knew you could not help saying the strange things you did. But I see I distress you; so I will change the subject & desire it may never again be mentioned; remember it is all forgot -- I will now pursue my story; but I must insist upon not giving you any description of Mrs. Watkins; it would only be reviving old stories & as you never saw her, it can be nothing to you, if her forehead was too high, her eyes were too small, or if she had too much colour."
"Again! Lady Williams: this is too much" --
So provoked was poor Alice at this renewal of the old story, that I know not what might have been the consequence of it, had not their attention been engaged by another object. A lovely young Woman lying apparently in great pain beneath a Citron-tree, was an object too interesting not to attract their notice. Forgetting their own dispute, they both with simpathizing tenderness advanced towards her & accosted her in these terms.
"You seem, fair Nymph, to be labouring under some misfortune which we shall be happy to releive, if you will inform us what it is. Will you favour us with your Life & adventures?"
"Willingly, Ladies, if you will be so kind as to be seated." They took their places & she thus began.
CHAPTER THE FIFTH
"I AM a native of North Wales & my Father is one of the most capital Taylors in it. Having a numerous family, he was easily prevailed on by a sister of my Mother's, who is a widow in good circumstances & keeps an alehouse in the next Village to ours, to let her take me & breed me up at her own expence. Accordingly, I have lived with her for the last 8 years of my Life, during which time she provided me with some of the first rate Masters, who taught me all the accomplishments requisite for one of my sex and rank. Under their instructions I learned Dancing, Music, Drawing & various Languages, by which means I became more accomplished than any other Taylor's Daughter in Wales. Never was there a happier creature than I was, till within the last half year -- but I should have told you before that the principal Estate in our Neighbourhood belongs to Charles Adams, the owner of the brick House, you see yonder."
"Charles Adams!" exclaimed the astonished Alice; "are you acquainted with Charles Adams?"
"To my sorrow, madam, I am. He came about half a year ago to receive the rents of the Estate I have just mentioned. At that time I first saw him; as you seem, ma'am, acquainted with him, I need not describe to you how charming he is. I could not resist his attractions --"
"Ah! who can," said Alice with a deep sigh.
"My aunt, being in terms of the greatest intimacy with his cook, determined, at my request, to try whether she could discover, by means of her freind, if there were any chance of his returning my affection. For this purpose she went one evening to drink tea with Mrs. Susan, who in the course of Conversation mentioned the goodness of her Place & the Goodness of her Master; upon which my Aunt began pumping her with so much dexterity that in a short time Susan owned, that she did not think her Master would ever marry, ``for'' (said she) ``he has often & often declared to me that his wife, whoever she might be, must possess Youth, Beauty, Birth, Wit, Merit, & Money. I have many a time'' (she continued) ``endeavoured to reason him out of his resolution & to convince him of the improbability of his ever meeting with such a Lady; but my arguments have had no effect, & he continues as firm in his determination as ever.'' You may imagine, Ladies, my distress on hearing this; for I was fearfull that tho' possessed of Youth, Beauty, Wit & Merit, & tho' the probable Heiress of my Aunt's House & business, he might think me deficient in Rank, & in being so, unworthy of his hand."
"However I was determined to make a bold push & therefore wrote him a very kind letter, offering him with great tenderness my hand & heart. To this I received an angry & peremptory refusal, but thinking it might be rather the effect of his modesty than any thing else, I pressed him again on the subject. But he never answered any more of my Letters & very soon afterwards left the Country. As soon as I heard of his departure, I wrote to him here, informing him that I should shortly do myself the honour of waiting on him at Pammydiddle, to which I received no answer; therefore, choosing to take Silence for Consent, I left Wales, unknown to my Aunt, & arrived here after a tedious Journey this Morning. On enquiring for his House, I was directed thro' this Wood, to the one you there see. With a heart elated by the expected happiness of beholding him, I entered it, & had proceeded thus far in my progress thro' it, when I found myself suddenly seized by the leg & on examining the cause of it, found that I was caught in one of the steel traps so common in gentlemen's grounds."
"Ah! cried Lady Williams, how fortunate we are to meet with you; since we might otherwise perhaps have shared the like misfortune --"
"It is indeed happy for you, Ladies, that I should have been a short time before you. I screamed, as you may easily imagine, till the woods resounded again & till one of the inhuman Wretch's servants came to my assistance & released me from my dreadfull prison, but not before one of my legs was entirely broken."
CHAPTER THE SIXTH
AT this melancholy recital, the fair eyes of Lady Williams were suffused in tears & Alice could not help exclaiming,
"Oh! cruel Charles, to wound the hearts & legs of all the fair."
Lady Williams now interposed, & observed that the young Lady's leg ought to be set without farther delay. After examining the fracture, therefore, she immediately began & performed the operation with great skill, which was the more wonderfull on account of her having never performed such a one before. Lucy then arose from the ground, & finding that she could walk with the greatest ease, accompanied them to Lady Williams's House at her Ladyship's particular request.
The perfect form, the beautifull face, & elegant manners of Lucy so won on the affections of Alice, that when they parted, which was not till after Supper, she assured her that except her Father, Brother, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins & other relations, Lady Williams, Charles Adams, & a few dozen more of particular freinds, she loved her better than almost any other person in the world.
Such a flattering assurance of her regard would justly have given much pleasure to the object of it, had she not plainly perceived that the amiable Alice had partaken too freely of Lady Williams's claret.
Her Ladyship (whose discernment was great) read in the intelligent countenance of Lucy her thoughts on the subject, & as soon as Miss Johnson had taken her leave, thus addressed her.
"When you are more intimately acquainted with my Alice, you will not be surprised, Lucy, to see the dear Creature drink a little too much; for such things happen every day. She has many rare & charming qualities, but Sobriety is not one of them. The whole Family are indeed a sad drunken set. I am sorry to say too that I never knew three such thorough Gamesters as they are, more particularly Alice. But she is a charming girl. I fancy not one of the sweetest tempers in the world; to be sure I have seen her in such passions! However, she is a sweet young Woman. I am sure you'll like her. I scarcely know any one so amiable. -- Oh! that you could but have seen her the other Evening! How she raved! & on such a trifle too! She is indeed a most pleasing Girl! I shall always love her!"
"She appears, by your ladyship's account, to have many good qualities", replied Lucy. "Oh! a thousand," answered Lady Williams; "tho' I am very partial to her, and perhaps am blinded, by my affection, to her real defects."
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH
THE next morning brought the three Miss Simpsons to wait on Lady Williams, who received them with the utmost politeness & introduced to their acquaintance Lucy, with whom the eldest was so much pleased that at parting she declared her sole ambition was to have her accompany them the next morning to Bath, whither they were going for some weeks.
"Lucy," said Lady Williams, "is quite at her own disposal & if she chooses to accept so kind an invitation, I hope she will not hesitate from any motives of delicacy on my account. I know not indeed how I shall ever be able to part with her. She never was at Bath & I should think that it would be a most agreable Jaunt to her. Speak, my Love," continued she, turning to Lucy, "what say you to accompanying these Ladies? I shall be miserable without you -- t'will be a most pleasant tour to you -- I hope you'll go; if you do I am sure t'will be the Death of me -- pray be persuaded" --
Lucy begged leave to decline the honour of accompanying them, with many expressions of gratitude for the extream politeness of Miss Simpson in inviting her. Miss Simpson appeared much disappointed by her refusal. Lady Williams insisted on her going -- declared that she would never forgive her if she did not, and that she should never survive it if she did, & in short, used such persuasive arguments that it was at length resolved she was to go. The Miss Simpsons called for her at ten o'clock the next morning & Lady Williams had soon the satisfaction of receiving from her young freind the pleasing intelligence of their safe arrival in Bath.
It may now be proper to return to the Hero of this Novel, the brother of Alice, of whom I beleive I have scarcely ever had occasion to speak; which may perhaps be partly oweing to his unfortunate propensity to Liquor, which so compleatly deprived him of the use of those faculties Nature had endowed him with, that he never did anything worth mentioning. His Death happened a short time after Lucy's departure & was the natural Consequence of this pernicious practice. By his decease, his sister became the sole inheritress of a very large fortune, which as it gave her fresh Hopes of rendering herself acceptable as a wife to Charles Adams, could not fail of being most pleasing to her -- & as the effect was Joyfull, the Cause could scarcely be lamented.
Finding the violence of her attachment to him daily augment, she at length disclosed it to her Father & desired him to propose a union between them to Charles. Her father consented & set out one morning to open the affair to the young Man. Mr. Johnson being a man of few words, his part was soon performed & the answer he received was as follows --
"Sir, I may perhaps be expected to appear pleased at & gratefull for the offer you have made me: but let me tell you that I consider it as an affront. I look upon myself to be, Sir, a perfect Beauty -- where would you see a finer figure or a more charming face. Then, sir, I imagine my Manners & Address to be of the most polished kind; there is a certain elegance, a peculiar sweetness in them that I never saw equalled & cannot describe. -- Partiality aside, I am certainly more accomplished in every Language, every Science, every Art and every thing than any other person in Europe. My temper is even, my virtues innumerable, my self unparalelled. Since such, Sir, is my character, what do you mean by wishing me to marry your Daughter? Let me give you a short sketch of yourself & of her. I look upon you, Sir, to be a very good sort of Man in the main; a drunken old Dog to be sure, but that's nothing to me. Your daughter sir, is neither sufficiently beautifull, sufficiently amiable, sufficiently witty, nor sufficiently rich for me. -- I expect nothing more in my wife than my wife will find in me -- Perfection. These, sir, are my sentiments & I honour myself for having such. One freind I have, & glory in having but one. -- She is at present preparing my Dinner, but if you choose to see her, she shall come & she will inform you that these have ever been my sentiments."
Mr. Johnson was satisfied: & expressing himself to be much obliged to Mr. Adams for the characters he had favoured him with of himself & his Daughter, took his leave.
The unfortunate Alice, on receiving from her father the sad account of the ill success his visit had been attended with, could scarcely support the disappointment -- She flew to her Bottle & it was soon forgot.
CHAPTER THE EIGHTH
WHILE these affairs were transacting at Pammydiddle, Lucy was conquering every Heart at Bath. A fortnight's residence there had nearly effaced from her remembrance the captivating form of Charles -- The recollection of what her Heart had formerly suffered by his charms & her Leg by his trap, enabled her to forget him with tolerable Ease, which was what she determined to do; & for that purpose dedicated five minutes in every day to the employment of driving him from her remembrance.
Her second Letter to Lady Williams contained the pleasing intelligence of her having accomplished her undertaking to her entire satisfaction; she mentioned in it also an offer of marriage she had received from the Duke of ----, an elderly Man of noble fortune whose ill health was the chief inducement of his Journey to Bath.
Lady Williams sent her her opinion on the subject in the following Manner.
CHAPTER THE NINTH
WHAT might have been the effect of her Ladyship's advice, had it ever been received by Lucy, is uncertain, as it reached Bath a few Hours after she had breathed her last. She fell a sacrifice to the Envy & Malice of Sukey, who jealous of her superior charms, took her by poison from an admiring World at the age of seventeen.
Thus fell the amiable & lovely Lucy, whose Life had been marked by no crime, and stained by no blemish but her imprudent departure from her Aunt's, & whose death was sincerely lamented by every one who knew her. Among the most afflicted of her freinds were Lady Williams, Miss Johnson & the Duke; the 2 first of whom had a most sincere regard for her, more particularly Alice, who had spent a whole evening in her company & had never thought of her since. His Grace's affliction may likewise be easily accounted for, since he lost one for whom he had experienced, during the last ten days, a tender affection & sincere regard. He mourned her loss with unshaken constancy for the next fortnight, at the end of which time, he gratified the ambition of Caroline Simpson by raising her to the rank of a Dutchess. Thus was she at length rendered compleatly happy in the gratification of her favourite passion. Her sister, the perfidious Sukey, was likewise shortly after exalted in a manner she truly deserved, & by her actions appeared to have always desired. Her barbarous Murder was discovered, & in spite of every interceding freind she was speedily raised to the Gallows. -- The beautifull but affected Cecilia was too sensible of her own superior charms, not to imagine that if Caroline could engage a Duke, she might without censure aspire to the affections of some Prince -- & knowing that those of her native Country were cheifly engaged, she left England & I have since heard is at present the favourite Sultana of the great Mogul. --
In the mean time, the inhabitants of Pammydiddle were in a state of the greatest astonishment & Wonder, a report being circulated of the intended marriage of Charles Adams. The Lady's name was still a secret. Mr. & Mrs. Jones imagined it to be Miss Johnson; but she knew better; all her fears were centered in his Cook, when to the astonishment of every one, he was publicly united to Lady Williams --
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