Letters of Jane Austen -- Brabourne Edition
Poetry, Backwards letter

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[See also an 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.]

[Poetry, Backwards letter]

Enclosed in one of the Letters of 1807.
Verses to rhyme with "Rose."


This morning I woke from a quiet repose,
I first rubb'd my eyes, and I next blew my nose;
With my stockings and shoes I then covered my toes,
And proceeded to put on the rest of my clothes.
This was finished in less than an hour, I suppose.
I employ'd myself next in repairing my hose.
'Twas a work of necessity not what I chose;
Of my sock I'd much rather have knit twenty rows.
My work being done, I look'd through the windows,
And with pleasure beheld all the bucks and the does,
The cows and the bullocks, the wethers and ewes.
To the library each morning the family goes,
So I went with the rest though I felt rather froze.
My flesh is much warmer, my blood freer flows,
When I work in the garden with rakes and with hoes.
And now I believe I must come to a close,
For I find I grow stupid e'en while I compose.
If I write any longer my verse will be prose.


Love, they say, is like a rose;
I'm sure 'tis like the wind that blows,
For not a human creature knows
How it comes or where it goes.
It is the cause of many woes:
It swells the eyes and reds the nose,
And very often changes those
Who once were friends to bitter foes.
But let us now the scene transpose
And think no more of tears and throes.
Why may we not as well suppose
A smiling face the urchin shows?
And when with joy the bosom glows,
And when the heart has full repose,
'Tis mutual love the gift bestows.


Happy the lab'rer in his Sunday clothes!
In light-drab coat, smart waistcoat, well-darn'd hose,
And hat upon his head, to church he goes;
As oft with conscious pride, he downward throws
A glance upon the ample cabbage rose
Which, stuck in button-hole, regales his nose,
He envies not the gaiest London beaux.
In church he takes his seat among the rows,
Pays to the place the reverence he owes,
Likes best the prayers whose meaning least he knows.
Lists to the sermon in a softening doze,
And rouses joyous at the welcome close.


Never before did I quarrel with a rose,
Till now, that I am told some lines to compose,
Of which I have little idea, God knows;
But since that the task is assigned me by those
To whom love, affection, and gratitude owes
A ready compliance, I feign would dispose
And call to befriend me the muse who bestows
The gift of poetry both on friends and foes.
My warmest acknowledgments are due to those
Who watched near my bed and soothed me to repose,
Who pitied my sufferings and shared in my woes,
And, by their simpathy, relieved my sorrows.
May I as long as the blood in my veins flows
Feel the warmth of love which now in my breast glows,
And may I sink into a refreshing doze
When I lie my head on my welcome pillows.

In Jane Austen's hand-writing, enclosed in the same Letter of 1807.


Of a Ministry pitiful, angry, mean,
A gallant commander the victim is seen.
For promptitude, vigour, success, does he stand
Condemn'd to receive a severe reprimand!
To his foes I could wish a resemblance in fate:
That they, too, may suffer themselves, soon or late,
The injustice they warrant. But vain is my spite,
They cannot so suffer who never do right.


Cambrick! With grateful blessings would I pay
The pleasure given me in sweet employ.
Long may'st thou serve my friend without decay,
And have no tears to wipe but tears of joy.


Cambrick! thou'st been to me a good,
And I would bless thee if I could.
Go, serve thy mistress with delight,
Be small in compass, soft and white;
Enjoy thy fortune, honour'd much
To bear her name and feel her touch;
And that thy worth may last for years,
Slight be her colds, and few her tears.

I insert here a letter of Jane Austen's written backwards, addressed to her niece "Cassy," daughter of Captain Charles Austen (afterwards Admiral), when a little girl.



I hsiw uoy a yppah wen raey. Ruoy xis snisuoc emac ereh yadretsey, dna dah hcae a eceip of ekac. Siht si elttil Yssac's yadhtrib, dna ehs si eerht sraey dlo. Knarf sah nugeb gninrael Nital. Ew deef eht Nibor yreve gninrom. Yllas netfo seriuqne retfa uoy. Yllas Mahneb sah tog a wen neerg nwog. Teirrah Thgink semoc yreve yad ot daer ot Tnua Ardnassac. Doog eyb, ym raed Yssac.

Tnua Ardnassac sdnes reh tseb evol, dna os ew od lla.

Ruoy etanoitceffa Tnua, ENAJ NETSUA.

Notwahc: Naj. 8.

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