Self-deprecatory comments by Jane Austen on her own epistolary handwriting, as compared with Cassandra's

The varieties of handwriting were farther talked of, and the usual observations made.
"I have heard it asserted," said John Knightley, "that the same sort of handwriting often prevails in a family; and where the same master teaches, it is natural enough. But for that reason, I should imagine the likeness must be chiefly confined to the females, for boys have very little teaching after an early age, and scramble into any hand they can get. Isabella and Emma, I think, do write very much alike. I have not always known their writing apart."
"Yes," said his brother hesitatingly, "there is a likeness. I know what you mean -- but Emma's hand is the strongest."
-- Emma
"Two lines more prized had never fallen from the pen of the most distinguished author -- never more completely blessed the researches of the fondest biographer. The enthusiasm of a woman's love is even beyond the biographer's. To her, the handwriting itself, independent of anything it may convey, is a blessedness. Never were such characters cut by any other human being as Edmund's commonest handwriting gave!"
-- Mansfield Park

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At the time, letters were charged according to the number of sheets of paper, so the smaller you could make your writing, the more you could fit in. (To see a sample of her handwriting, look at the image of a letter to her brother Frank in the form of a poem, congratulating him on the birth of a son, and looking forward to the Austen women's move to Chawton, though the the process of scanning this in may not have done full justice to her handwriting.)

Other miscellaneous epistolary quotes

[Footnote by Jane Austen's grand-nephew Lord Brabourne:] "I cannot pass this paragraph over without remarking that it is hardly possible to imagine anything neater or prettier than Jane's own hand. Most of her letters are beautifully written, and the MS. of her Lady Susan remarkably so."

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