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´╗┐Title: Memoir of Jane Austen
Author: Austen-Leigh, James Edward, 1798-1874
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Jane Austen: Jane.jpg]

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THE MEMOIR of my AUNT, JANE AUSTEN, has been received with more favour
than I had ventured to expect.  The notices taken of it in the periodical
press, as well as letters addressed to me by many with whom I am not
personally acquainted, show that an unabated interest is still taken in
every particular that can be told about her.  I am thus encouraged not
only to offer a Second Edition of the Memoir, but also to enlarge it with
some additional matter which I might have scrupled to intrude on the
public if they had not thus seemed to call for it.  In the present
Edition, the narrative is somewhat enlarged, and a few more letters are
added; with a short specimen of her childish stories.  The cancelled
chapter of 'Persuasion' is given, in compliance with wishes both publicly
and privately expressed.  A fragment of a story entitled 'The Watsons' is
printed;  and extracts are given from a novel which she had begun a few
months before her death; but the chief addition is a short tale never
before published, called 'Lady Susan.' {0a}  I regret that the little
which I have been able to add could not appear in my First Edition; as
much of it was either unknown to me, or not at my command, when I first
published; and I hope that I may claim some indulgent allowance for the
difficulty of recovering little facts and feelings which had been merged
half a century deep in oblivion.

NOVEMBER 17, 1870.


Chapter I.    _Introductory Remarks--Birth of Jane Austen--Her Family
Connections--Their Influence on her Writings_

Chapter II.   _Description of Steventon--Life at Steventon--Changes of
Habits and Customs in the last Century_

Chapter III.  _Early Compositions--Friends at Ashe--A very Old
Letter--Lines on the Death of Mrs. Lefroy--Observations on Jane Austen's

Chapter IV.   _Removal from Steventon--Residence at Bath and at
Southampton--Settling at Chawton_

Chapter V.    _Description of Jane Austen's person, character, and

Chapter VI.   _Habits of Composition resumed after a long interval--First
publication--The interest taken by the Author in the success of her

Chapter VII.  _Seclusion from the literary world--Notice from the Prince
Regent--Correspondence with Mr. Clarke--Suggestions to alter her style of

Chapter VIII. _Slow growth of her fame--Ill success of first attempts at
publication--Two Reviews of her works contrasted_

Chapter IX.   _Opinions expressed by eminent persons--Opinions of others
of less eminence--Opinion of American readers_

Chapter X.    _Observations on the Novels_

Chapter XI.   _Declining health of Jane Austen--Elasticity of her
spirits--Her resignation and humility--Her death_

Chapter XII.  _The cancelled Chapter of 'Persuasion_'

Chapter XIII. _The last work_

Chapter XIV.  _Postscript_

   'He knew of no one but himself who was inclined to the work. This is
   no uncommon motive.  A man sees something to be done, knows of no one
   who will do it but himself, and so is driven to the enterprise.'

   HELPS' _Life of Columbus_, ch. i.


_Introductory Remarks--Birth of Jane Austen--Her Family Connections--Their
Influence on her Writings_.

More than half a century has passed away since I, the youngest of the
mourners, {1} attended the funeral of my dear aunt Jane in Winchester
Cathedral; and now, in my old age, I am asked whether my memory will
serve to rescue from oblivion any events of her life or any traits of her
character to satisfy the enquiries of a generation of readers who have
been born since she died.  Of events her life was singularly barren: few
changes and no great crisis ever broke the smooth current of its course.
Even her fame may be said to have been posthumous: it did not attain to
any vigorous life till she had ceased to exist.  Her talents did not
introduce her to the notice of other writers, or connect her with the
literary world, or in any degree pierce through the obscurity of her
domestic retirement.  I have therefore scarcely any materials for a
detailed life of my aunt; but I have a distinct recollection of her
person and character; and perhaps many may take an interest in a
delineation, if any such can be drawn, of that prolific mind whence
sprung the Dashwoods and Bennets, the Bertrams and Woodhouses, the
Thorpes and Musgroves, who have been admitted as familiar guests to the
firesides of so many families, and are known there as individually and
intimately as if they were living neighbours.  Many may care to know
whether the moral rectitude, the correct taste, and the warm affections
with which she invested her ideal characters, were really existing in the
native source whence those ideas flowed, and were actually exhibited by
her in the various relations of life.  I can indeed bear witness that
there was scarcely a charm in her most delightful characters that was not
a true reflection of her own sweet temper and loving heart.  I was young
when we lost her; but the impressions made on the young are deep, and
though in the course of fifty years I have forgotten much, I have not
forgotten that 'Aunt Jane' was the delight of all her nephews and nieces.
We did not think of her as being clever, still less as being famous; but
we valued her as one always kind, sympathising, and amusing.  To all this
I am a living witness, but whether I can sketch out such a faint outline
of this excellence as shall be perceptible to others may be reasonably
doubted.  Aided, however, by a few survivors {3} who knew her, I will not
refuse to make the attempt.  I am the more inclined to undertake the task
from a conviction that, however little I may have to tell, no one else is
left who could tell so much of her.

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, at the Parsonage House of
Steventon in Hampshire.  Her father, the Rev. George Austen, was of a
family long established in the neighbourhood of Tenterden and Sevenoaks
in Kent.  I believe that early in the seventeenth century they were
clothiers.  Hasted, in his history of Kent, says: 'The clothing business
was exercised by persons who possessed most of the landed property in the
Weald, insomuch that almost all the ancient families of these parts, now
of large estates and genteel rank in life, and some of them ennobled by
titles, are sprung from ancestors who have used this great staple
manufacture, now almost unknown here.'  In his list of these families
Hasted places the Austens, and he adds that these clothiers 'were usually
called the Gray Coats of Kent; and were a body so numerous and united
that at county elections whoever had their vote and interest was almost
certain of being elected.'  The family still retains a badge of this
origin; for their livery is of that peculiar mixture of light blue and
white called Kentish gray, which forms the facings of the Kentish

Mr. George Austen had lost both his parents before he was nine years old.
He inherited no property from them; but was happy in having a kind uncle,
Mr. Francis Austen, a successful lawyer at Tunbridge, the ancestor of the
Austens of Kippington, who, though he had children of his own, yet made
liberal provision for his orphan nephew.  The boy received a good
education at Tunbridge School, whence he obtained a scholarship, and
subsequently a fellowship, at St. John's College, Oxford.  In 1764 he
came into possession of the two adjoining Rectories of Deane and
Steventon in Hampshire; the former purchased for him by his generous
uncle Francis, the latter given by his cousin Mr. Knight.  This was no
very gross case of plurality, according to the ideas of that time, for
the two villages were little more than a mile apart, and their united
populations scarcely amounted to three hundred.  In the same year he
married Cassandra, youngest daughter of the Rev. Thomas Leigh, of the
family of Leighs of Warwickshire, who, having been a fellow of All Souls,
held the College living of Harpsden, near Henley-upon-Thames.  Mr. Thomas
Leigh was a younger brother of Dr. Theophilus Leigh, a personage well
known at Oxford in his day, and his day was not a short one, for he lived
to be ninety, and held the Mastership of Balliol College for above half a
century.  He was a man more famous for his sayings than his doings,
overflowing with puns and witticisms and sharp retorts; but his most
serious joke was his practical one of living much longer than had been
expected or intended.  He was a fellow of Corpus, and the story is that
the Balliol men, unable to agree in electing one of their own number to
the Mastership, chose him, partly under the idea that he was in weak
health and likely soon to cause another vacancy.  It was afterwards said
that his long incumbency had been a judgment on the Society for having
elected an _Out-College Man_. {5}  I imagine that the front of Balliol
towards Broad Street which has recently been pulled down must have been
built, or at least restored, while he was Master, for the Leigh arms were
placed under the cornice at the corner nearest to Trinity gates.  The
beautiful building lately erected has destroyed this record, and thus
'monuments themselves memorials need.'

His fame for witty and agreeable conversation extended beyond the bounds
of the University.  Mrs. Thrale, in a letter to Dr. Johnson, writes thus:
'Are you acquainted with Dr. Leigh, {6} the Master of Balliol College,
and are you not delighted with his gaiety of manners and youthful
vivacity, now that he is eighty-six years of age?  I never heard a more
perfect or excellent pun than his, when some one told him how, in a late
dispute among the Privy Councillors, the Lord Chancellor struck the table
with such violence that he split it.  "No, no, no," replied the Master;
"I can hardly persuade myself that he _split_ the _table_, though I
believe he _divided_ the _Board_."'

Some of his sayings of course survive in family tradition.  He was once
calling on a gentleman notorious for never opening a book, who took him
into a room overlooking the Bath Road, which was then a great
thoroughfare for travellers of every class, saying rather pompously,
'This, Doctor, I call my study.'  The Doctor, glancing his eye round the
room, in which no books were to be seen, replied, 'And very well named
too, sir, for you know Pope tells us, "The proper _study_ of mankind is
_Man_."'  When my father went to Oxford he was honoured with an
invitation to dine with this dignified cousin.  Being a raw
undergraduate, unaccustomed to the habits of the University, he was about
to take off his gown, as if it were a great coat, when the old man, then
considerably turned eighty, said, with a grim smile, 'Young man, you need
not strip: we are not going to fight.'  This humour remained in him so
strongly to the last that he might almost have supplied Pope with another
instance of 'the ruling passion strong in death,' for only three days
before he expired, being told that an old acquaintance was lately
married, having recovered from a long illness by eating eggs, and that
the wits said that he had been egged on to matrimony, he immediately
trumped the joke, saying, 'Then may the yoke sit easy on him.'  I do not
know from what common ancestor the Master of Balliol and his great-niece
Jane Austen, with some others of the family, may have derived the keen
sense of humour which they certainly possessed.

Mr. and Mrs. George Austen resided first at Deane, but removed in 1771 to
Steventon, which was their residence for about thirty years.  They
commenced their married life with the charge of a little child, a son of
the celebrated Warren Hastings, who had been committed to the care of Mr.
Austen before his marriage, probably through the influence of his sister,
Mrs. Hancock, whose husband at that time held some office under Hastings
in India.  Mr. Gleig, in his 'Life of Hastings,' says that his son
George, the offspring of his first marriage, was sent to England in 1761
for his education, but that he had never been able to ascertain to whom
this precious charge was entrusted, nor what became of him.  I am able to
state, from family tradition, that he died young, of what was then called
putrid sore throat; and that Mrs. Austen had become so much attached to
him that she always declared that his death had been as great a grief to
her as if he had been a child of her own.

About this time, the grandfather of Mary Russell Mitford, Dr. Russell,
was Rector of the adjoining parish of Ashe; so that the parents of two
popular female writers must have been intimately acquainted with each

As my subject carries me back about a hundred years, it will afford
occasions for observing many changes gradually effected in the manners
and habits of society, which I may think it worth while to mention.  They
may be little things, but time gives a certain importance even to
trifles, as it imparts a peculiar flavour to wine.  The most ordinary
articles of domestic life are looked on with some interest, if they are
brought to light after being long buried; and we feel a natural curiosity
to know what was done and said by our forefathers, even though it may be
nothing wiser or better than what we are daily doing or saying ourselves.
Some of this generation may be little aware how many conveniences, now
considered to be necessaries and matters of course, were unknown to their
grandfathers and grandmothers.  The lane between Deane and Steventon has
long been as smooth as the best turnpike road; but when the family
removed from the one residence to the other in 1771, it was a mere cart
track, so cut up by deep ruts as to be impassable for a light carriage.
Mrs. Austen, who was not then in strong health, performed the short
journey on a feather-bed, placed upon some soft articles of furniture in
the waggon which held their household goods.  In those days it was not
unusual to set men to work with shovel and pickaxe to fill up ruts and
holes in roads seldom used by carriages, on such special occasions as a
funeral or a wedding.  Ignorance and coarseness of language also were
still lingering even upon higher levels of society than might have been
expected to retain such mists.  About this time, a neighbouring squire, a
man of many acres, referred the following difficulty to Mr. Austen's
decision: 'You know all about these sort of things.  Do tell us.  Is
Paris in France, or France in Paris? for my wife has been disputing with
me about it.'  The same gentleman, narrating some conversation which he
had heard between the rector and his wife, represented the latter as
beginning her reply to her husband with a round oath; and when his
daughter called him to task, reminding him that Mrs. Austen never swore,
he replied, 'Now, Betty, why do you pull me up for nothing? that's
neither here nor there; you know very well that's only _my way of telling
the story_.'  Attention has lately been called by a celebrated writer to
the inferiority of the clergy to the laity of England two centuries ago.
The charge no doubt is true, if the rural clergy are to be compared with
that higher section of country gentlemen who went into parliament, and
mixed in London society, and took the lead in their several counties; but
it might be found less true if they were to be compared, as in all
fairness they ought to be, with that lower section with whom they usually
associated.  The smaller landed proprietors, who seldom went farther from
home than their county town, from the squire with his thousand acres to
the yeoman who cultivated his hereditary property of one or two hundred,
then formed a numerous class--each the aristocrat of his own parish; and
there was probably a greater difference in manners and refinement between
this class and that immediately above them than could now be found
between any two persons who rank as gentlemen.  For in the progress of
civilisation, though all orders may make some progress, yet it is most
perceptible in the lower.  It is a process of 'levelling up;' the rear
rank 'dressing up,' as it were, close to the front rank.  When Hamlet
mentions, as something which he had 'for _three years taken_ note of,'
that 'the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier,' it
was probably intended by Shakspeare as a satire on his own times; but it
expressed a principle which is working at all times in which society
makes any progress.  I believe that a century ago the improvement in most
country parishes began with the clergy; and that in those days a rector
who chanced to be a gentleman and a scholar found himself superior to his
chief parishioners in information and manners, and became a sort of
centre of refinement and politeness.

Mr. Austen was a remarkably good-looking man, both in his youth and his
old age.  During his year of office at Oxford he had been called the
'handsome Proctor;' and at Bath, when more than seventy years old, he
attracted observation by his fine features and abundance of snow-white
hair.  Being a good scholar he was able to prepare two of his sons for
the University, and to direct the studies of his other children, whether
sons or daughters, as well as to increase his income by taking pupils.

In Mrs. Austen also was to be found the germ of much of the ability which
was concentrated in Jane, but of which others of her children had a
share.  She united strong common sense with a lively imagination, and
often expressed herself, both in writing and in conversation, with
epigrammatic force and point.  She lived, like many of her family, to an
advanced age.  During the last years of her life she endured continual
pain, not only patiently but with characteristic cheerfulness.  She once
said to me, 'Ah, my dear, you find me just where you left me--on the
sofa.  I sometimes think that God Almighty must have forgotten me; but I
dare say He will come for me in His own good time.'  She died and was
buried at Chawton, January 1827, aged eighty-eight.

* * * * *

Her own family were so much, and the rest of the world so little, to Jane
Austen, that some brief mention of her brothers and sister is necessary
in order to give any idea of the objects which principally occupied her
thoughts and filled her heart, especially as some of them, from their
characters or professions in life, may be supposed to have had more or
less influence on her writings: though I feel some reluctance in bringing
before public notice persons and circumstances essentially private.

Her eldest brother James, my own father, had, when a very young man, at
St. John's College, Oxford, been the originator and chief supporter of a
periodical paper called 'The Loiterer,' written somewhat on the plan of
the 'Spectator' and its successors, but nearly confined to subjects
connected with the University.  In after life he used to speak very
slightingly of this early work, which he had the better right to do, as,
whatever may have been the degree of their merits, the best papers had
certainly been written by himself.  He was well read in English
literature, had a correct taste, and wrote readily and happily, both in
prose and verse.  He was more than ten years older than Jane, and had, I
believe, a large share in directing her reading and forming her taste.

Her second brother, Edward, had been a good deal separated from the rest
of the family, as he was early adopted by his cousin, Mr. Knight, of
Godmersham Park in Kent and Chawton House in Hampshire; and finally came
into possession both of the property and the name.  But though a good
deal separated in childhood, they were much together in after life, and
Jane gave a large share of her affections to him and his children.  Mr.
Knight was not only a very amiable man, kind and indulgent to all
connected with him, but possessed also a spirit of fun and liveliness,
which made him especially delightful to all young people.

Her third brother, Henry, had great conversational powers, and inherited
from his father an eager and sanguine disposition.  He was a very
entertaining companion, but had perhaps less steadiness of purpose,
certainly less success in life, than his brothers.  He became a clergyman
when middle-aged; and an allusion to his sermons will be found in one of
Jane's letters.  At one time he resided in London, and was useful in
transacting his sister's business with her publishers.

Her two youngest brothers, Francis and Charles, were sailors during that
glorious period of the British navy which comprises the close of the last
and the beginning of the present century, when it was impossible for an
officer to be almost always afloat, as these brothers were, without
seeing service which, in these days, would be considered distinguished.
Accordingly, they were continually engaged in actions of more or less
importance, and sometimes gained promotion by their success.  Both rose
to the rank of Admiral, and carried out their flags to distant stations.

Francis lived to attain the very summit of his profession, having died,
in his ninety-third year, G.C.B. and Senior Admiral of the Fleet, in
1865.  He possessed great firmness of character, with a strong sense of
duty, whether due from himself to others, or from others to himself.  He
was consequently a strict disciplinarian; but, as he was a very religious
man, it was remarked of him (for in those days, at least, it was
remarkable) that he maintained this discipline without ever uttering an
oath or permitting one in his presence.  On one occasion, when ashore in
a seaside town, he was spoken of as '_the_ officer who kneeled at
church;' a custom which now happily would not be thought peculiar.

Charles was generally serving in frigates or sloops; blockading harbours,
driving the ships of the enemy ashore, boarding gun-boats, and frequently
making small prizes.  At one time he was absent from England on such
services for seven years together.  In later life he commanded the
Bellerophon, at the bombardment of St. Jean d'Acre in 1840.  In 1850 he
went out in the Hastings, in command of the East India and China station,
but on the breaking out of the Burmese war he transferred his flag to a
steam sloop, for the purpose of getting up the shallow waters of the
Irrawaddy, on board of which he died of cholera in 1852, in the seventy-
fourth year of his age.  His sweet temper and affectionate disposition,
in which he resembled his sister Jane, had secured to him an unusual
portion of attachment, not only from his own family, but from all the
officers and common sailors who served under him.  One who was with him
at his death has left this record of him: 'Our good Admiral won the
hearts of all by his gentleness and kindness while he was struggling with
disease, and endeavouring to do his duty as Commander-in-chief of the
British naval forces in these waters.  His death was a great grief to the
whole fleet.  I know that I cried bitterly when I found he was dead.'  The
Order in Council of the Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie,
expresses 'admiration of the staunch high spirit which, notwithstanding
his age and previous sufferings, had led the Admiral to take his part in
the trying service which has closed his career.'

These two brothers have been dwelt on longer than the others because
their honourable career accounts for Jane Austen's partiality for the
Navy, as well as for the readiness and accuracy with which she wrote
about it.  She was always very careful not to meddle with matters which
she did not thoroughly understand.  She never touched upon politics, law,
or medicine, subjects which some novel writers have ventured on rather
too boldly, and have treated, perhaps, with more brilliancy than
accuracy.  But with ships and sailors she felt herself at home, or at
least could always trust to a brotherly critic to keep her right.  I
believe that no flaw has ever been found in her seamanship either in
'Mansfield Park' or in 'Persuasion.'

But dearest of all to the heart of Jane was her sister Cassandra, about
three years her senior.  Their sisterly affection for each other could
scarcely be exceeded.  Perhaps it began on Jane's side with the feeling
of deference natural to a loving child towards a kind elder sister.
Something of this feeling always remained; and even in the maturity of
her powers, and in the enjoyment of increasing success, she would still
speak of Cassandra as of one wiser and better than herself.  In
childhood, when the elder was sent to the school of a Mrs. Latournelle,
in the Forbury at Reading, the younger went with her, not because she was
thought old enough to profit much by the instruction there imparted, but
because she would have been miserable without her sister; her mother
observing that 'if Cassandra were going to have her head cut off, Jane
would insist on sharing her fate.'  This attachment was never interrupted
or weakened.  They lived in the same home, and shared the same bed-room,
till separated by death.  They were not exactly alike.  Cassandra's was
the colder and calmer disposition; she was always prudent and well
judging, but with less outward demonstration of feeling and less
sunniness of temper than Jane possessed.  It was remarked in her family
that 'Cassandra had the _merit_ of having her temper always under
command, but that Jane had the _happiness_ of a temper that never
required to be commanded.'  When 'Sense and Sensibility' came out, some
persons, who knew the family slightly, surmised that the two elder Miss
Dashwoods were intended by the author for her sister and herself; but
this could not be the case.  Cassandra's character might indeed represent
the '_sense_' of Elinor, but Jane's had little in common with the
'_sensibility_' of Marianne.  The young woman who, before the age of
twenty, could so clearly discern the failings of Marianne Dashwood, could
hardly have been subject to them herself.

This was the small circle, continually enlarged, however, by the
increasing families of four of her brothers, within which Jane Austen
found her wholesome pleasures, duties, and interests, and beyond which
she went very little into society during the last ten years of her life.
There was so much that was agreeable and attractive in this family party
that its members may be excused if they were inclined to live somewhat
too exclusively within it.  They might see in each other much to love and
esteem, and something to admire.  The family talk had abundance of spirit
and vivacity, and was never troubled by disagreements even in little
matters, for it was not their habit to dispute or argue with each other:
above all, there was strong family affection and firm union, never to be
broken but by death.  It cannot be doubted that all this had its
influence on the author in the construction of her stories, in which a
family party usually supplies the narrow stage, while the interest is
made to revolve round a few actors.

It will be seen also that though her circle of society was small, yet she
found in her neighbourhood persons of good taste and cultivated minds.
Her acquaintance, in fact, constituted the very class from which she took
her imaginary characters, ranging from the member of parliament, or large
landed proprietor, to the young curate or younger midshipman of equally
good family; and I think that the influence of these early associations
may be traced in her writings, especially in two particulars.  First,
that she is entirely free from the vulgarity, which is so offensive in
some novels, of dwelling on the outward appendages of wealth or rank, as
if they were things to which the writer was unaccustomed; and, secondly,
that she deals as little with very low as with very high stations in
life.  She does not go lower than the Miss Steeles, Mrs. Elton, and John
Thorpe, people of bad taste and underbred manners, such as are actually
found sometimes mingling with better society.  She has nothing resembling
the Brangtons, or Mr. Dubster and his friend Tom Hicks, with whom Madame
D'Arblay loved to season her stories, and to produce striking contrasts
to her well bred characters.

[Steventon Parsonage: Parsonage.jpg]


_Description of Steventon--Life at Steventon--Changes of Habits and
Customs in the last Century_.

As the first twenty-five years, more than half of the brief life of Jane
Austen, were spent in the parsonage of Steventon, some description of
that place ought to be given.  Steventon is a small rural village upon
the chalk hills of north Hants, situated in a winding valley about seven
miles from Basingstoke.  The South-Western railway crosses it by a short
embankment, and, as it curves round, presents a good view of it on the
left hand to those who are travelling down the line, about three miles
before entering the tunnel under Popham Beacon.  It may be known to some
sportsmen, as lying in one of the best portions of the Vine Hunt.  It is
certainly not a picturesque country; it presents no grand or extensive
views; but the features are small rather than plain.  The surface
continually swells and sinks, but the hills are not bold, nor the valleys
deep; and though it is sufficiently well clothed with woods and
hedgerows, yet the poverty of the soil in most places prevents the timber
from attaining a large size.  Still it has its beauties.  The lanes wind
along in a natural curve, continually fringed with irregular borders of
native turf, and lead to pleasant nooks and corners.  One who knew and
loved it well very happily expressed its quiet charms, when he wrote

   True taste is not fastidious, nor rejects,
   Because they may not come within the rule
   Of composition pure and picturesque,
   Unnumbered simple scenes which fill the leaves
   Of Nature's sketch book.

Of this somewhat tame country, Steventon, from the fall of the ground,
and the abundance of its timber, is certainly one of the prettiest spots;
yet one cannot be surprised that, when Jane's mother, a little before her
marriage, was shown the scenery of her future home, she should have
thought it unattractive, compared with the broad river, the rich valley,
and the noble hills which she had been accustomed to behold at her native
home near Henley-upon-Thames.

The house itself stood in a shallow valley, surrounded by sloping
meadows, well sprinkled with elm trees, at the end of a small village of
cottages, each well provided with a garden, scattered about prettily on
either side of the road.  It was sufficiently commodious to hold pupils
in addition to a growing family, and was in those times considered to be
above the average of parsonages; but the rooms were finished with less
elegance than would now be found in the most ordinary dwellings.  No
cornice marked the junction of wall and ceiling; while the beams which
supported the upper floors projected into the rooms below in all their
naked simplicity, covered only by a coat of paint or whitewash:
accordingly it has since been considered unworthy of being the Rectory
house of a family living, and about forty-five years ago it was pulled
down for the purpose of erecting a new house in a far better situation on
the opposite side of the valley.

North of the house, the road from Deane to Popham Lane ran at a
sufficient distance from the front to allow a carriage drive, through
turf and trees.  On the south side the ground rose gently, and was
occupied by one of those old-fashioned gardens in which vegetables and
flowers are combined, flanked and protected on the east by one of the
thatched mud walls common in that country, and overshadowed by fine elms.
Along the upper or southern side of this garden, ran a terrace of the
finest turf, which must have been in the writer's thoughts when she
described Catharine Morland's childish delight in 'rolling down the green
slope at the back of the house.'

But the chief beauty of Steventon consisted in its hedgerows.  A
hedgerow, in that country, does not mean a thin formal line of quickset,
but an irregular border of copse-wood and timber, often wide enough to
contain within it a winding footpath, or a rough cart track.  Under its
shelter the earliest primroses, anemones, and wild hyacinths were to be
found; sometimes, the first bird's-nest; and, now and then, the unwelcome
adder.  Two such hedgerows radiated, as it were, from the parsonage
garden.  One, a continuation of the turf terrace, proceeded westward,
forming the southern boundary of the home meadows; and was formed into a
rustic shrubbery, with occasional seats, entitled 'The Wood Walk.'  The
other ran straight up the hill, under the name of 'The Church Walk,'
because it led to the parish church, as well as to a fine old
manor-house, of Henry VIII.'s time, occupied by a family named Digweed,
who have for more than a century rented it, together with the chief farm
in the parish.  The church itself--I speak of it as it then was, before
the improvements made by the present rector--

         A little spireless fane,
   Just seen above the woody lane,

might have appeared mean and uninteresting to an ordinary observer; but
the adept in church architecture would have known that it must have stood
there some seven centuries, and would have found beauty in the very
narrow early English windows, as well as in the general proportions of
its little chancel; while its solitary position, far from the hum of the
village, and within sight of no habitation, except a glimpse of the gray
manor-house through its circling screen of sycamores, has in it something
solemn and appropriate to the last resting-place of the silent dead.
Sweet violets, both purple and white, grow in abundance beneath its south
wall.  One may imagine for how many centuries the ancestors of those
little flowers have occupied that undisturbed, sunny nook, and may think
how few living families can boast of as ancient a tenure of their land.
Large elms protrude their rough branches; old hawthorns shed their annual
blossoms over the graves; and the hollow yew-tree must be at least coeval
with the church.

[Steventon Manor House: ManorHouse.jpg]

But whatever may be the beauties or defects of the surrounding scenery,
this was the residence of Jane Austen for twenty-five years.  This was
the cradle of her genius.  These were the first objects which inspired
her young heart with a sense of the beauties of nature.  In strolls along
those wood-walks, thick-coming fancies rose in her mind, and gradually
assumed the forms in which they came forth to the world.  In that simple
church she brought them all into subjection to the piety which ruled her
in life, and supported her in death.

The home at Steventon must have been, for many years, a pleasant and
prosperous one.  The family was unbroken by death, and seldom visited by
sorrow.  Their situation had some peculiar advantages beyond those of
ordinary rectories.  Steventon was a family living.  Mr. Knight, the
patron, was also proprietor of nearly the whole parish.  He never resided
there, and consequently the rector and his children came to be regarded
in the neighbourhood as a kind of representatives of the family.  They
shared with the principal tenant the command of an excellent manor, and
enjoyed, in this reflected way, some of the consideration usually awarded
to landed proprietors.  They were not rich, but, aided by Mr. Austen's
powers of teaching, they had enough to afford a good education to their
sons and daughters, to mix in the best society of the neighbourhood, and
to exercise a liberal hospitality to their own relations and friends.  A
carriage and a pair of horses were kept.  This might imply a higher style
of living in our days than it did in theirs.  There were then no assessed
taxes.  The carriage, once bought, entailed little further expense; and
the horses probably, like Mr. Bennet's, were often employed on farm work.
Moreover, it should be remembered that a pair of horses in those days
were almost necessary, if ladies were to move about at all; for neither
the condition of the roads nor the style of carriage-building admitted of
any comfortable vehicle being drawn by a single horse.  When one looks at
the few specimens still remaining of coach-building in the last century,
it strikes one that the chief object of the builders must have been to
combine the greatest possible weight with the least possible amount of

The family lived in close intimacy with two cousins, Edward and Jane
Cooper, the children of Mrs. Austen's eldest sister, and Dr. Cooper, the
vicar of Sonning, near Reading.  The Coopers lived for some years at
Bath, which seems to have been much frequented in those days by clergymen
retiring from work.  I believe that Cassandra and Jane sometimes visited
them there, and that Jane thus acquired the intimate knowledge of the
topography and customs of Bath, which enabled her to write 'Northanger
Abbey' long before she resided there herself.  After the death of their
own parents, the two young Coopers paid long visits at Steventon.  Edward
Cooper did not live undistinguished.  When an undergraduate at Oxford, he
gained the prize for Latin hexameters on 'Hortus Anglicus' in 1791; and
in later life he was known by a work on prophecy, called 'The Crisis,'
and other religious publications, especially for several volumes of
Sermons, much preached in many pulpits in my youth.  Jane Cooper was
married from her uncle's house at Steventon, to Captain, afterwards Sir
Thomas Williams, under whom Charles Austen served in several ships.  She
was a dear friend of her namesake, but was fated to become a cause of
great sorrow to her, for a few years after the marriage she was suddenly
killed by an accident to her carriage.

There was another cousin closely associated with them at Steventon, who
must have introduced greater variety into the family circle.  This was
the daughter of Mr. Austen's only sister, Mrs. Hancock.  This cousin had
been educated in Paris, and married to a Count de Feuillade, of whom I
know little more than that he perished by the guillotine during the
French Revolution.  Perhaps his chief offence was his rank; but it was
said that the charge of 'incivism,' under which he suffered, rested on
the fact of his having laid down some arable land into pasture--a sure
sign of his intention to embarrass the Republican Government by producing
a famine!  His wife escaped through dangers and difficulties to England,
was received for some time into her uncle's family, and finally married
her cousin Henry Austen.  During the short peace of Amiens, she and her
second husband went to France, in the hope of recovering some of the
Count's property, and there narrowly escaped being included amongst the
_detenus_.  Orders had been given by Buonaparte's government to detain
all English travellers, but at the post-houses Mrs. Henry Austen gave the
necessary orders herself, and her French was so perfect that she passed
everywhere for a native, and her husband escaped under this protection.

She was a clever woman, and highly accomplished, after the French rather
than the English mode; and in those days, when intercourse with the
Continent was long interrupted by war, such an element in the society of
a country parsonage must have been a rare acquisition.  The sisters may
have been more indebted to this cousin than to Mrs. La Tournelle's
teaching for the considerable knowledge of French which they possessed.
She also took the principal parts in the private theatricals in which the
family several times indulged, having their summer theatre in the barn,
and their winter one within the narrow limits of the dining-room, where
the number of the audience must have been very limited.  On these
occasions, the prologues and epilogues were written by Jane's eldest
brother, and some of them are very vigorous and amusing.  Jane was only
twelve years old at the time of the earliest of these representations,
and not more than fifteen when the last took place.  She was, however, an
early observer, and it may be reasonably supposed that some of the
incidents and feelings which are so vividly painted in the Mansfield Park
theatricals are due to her recollections of these entertainments.

Some time before they left Steventon, one great affliction came upon the
family.  Cassandra was engaged to be married to a young clergyman.  He
had not sufficient private fortune to permit an immediate union; but the
engagement was not likely to be a hopeless or a protracted one, for he
had a prospect of early preferment from a nobleman with whom he was
connected both by birth and by personal friendship.  He accompanied this
friend to the West Indies, as chaplain to his regiment, and there died of
yellow fever, to the great concern of his friend and patron, who
afterwards declared that, if he had known of the engagement, he would not
have permitted him to go out to such a climate.  This little domestic
tragedy caused great and lasting grief to the principal sufferer, and
could not but cast a gloom over the whole party.  The sympathy of Jane
was probably, from her age, and her peculiar attachment to her sister,
the deepest of all.

Of Jane herself I know of no such definite tale of love to relate.  Her
reviewer in the 'Quarterly' of January 1821 observes, concerning the
attachment of Fanny Price to Edmund Bertram: 'The silence in which this
passion is cherished, the slender hopes and enjoyments by which it is
fed, the restlessness and jealousy with which it fills a mind naturally
active, contented, and unsuspicious, the manner in which it tinges every
event, and every reflection, are painted with a vividness and a detail of
which we can scarcely conceive any one but a female, and we should almost
add, a female writing from recollection, capable.'  This conjecture,
however probable, was wide of the mark.  The picture was drawn from the
intuitive perceptions of genius, not from personal experience.  In no
circumstance of her life was there any similarity between herself and her
heroine in 'Mansfield Park.'  She did not indeed pass through life
without being the object of warm affection.  In her youth she had
declined the addresses of a gentleman who had the recommendations of good
character, and connections, and position in life, of everything, in fact,
except the subtle power of touching her heart.  There is, however, one
passage of romance in her history with which I am imperfectly acquainted,
and to which I am unable to assign name, or date, or place, though I have
it on sufficient authority.  Many years after her death, some
circumstances induced her sister Cassandra to break through her habitual
reticence, and to speak of it.  She said that, while staying at some
seaside place, they became acquainted with a gentleman, whose charm of
person, mind, and manners was such that Cassandra thought him worthy to
possess and likely to win her sister's love.  When they parted, he
expressed his intention of soon seeing them again; and Cassandra felt no
doubt as to his motives.  But they never again met.  Within a short time
they heard of his sudden death.  I believe that, if Jane ever loved, it
was this unnamed gentleman; but the acquaintance had been short, and I am
unable to say whether her feelings were of such a nature as to affect her

Any description that I might attempt of the family life at Steventon,
which closed soon after I was born, could be little better than a fancy-
piece.  There is no doubt that if we could look into the households of
the clergy and the small gentry of that period, we should see some things
which would seem strange to us, and should miss many more to which we are
accustomed.  Every hundred years, and especially a century like the last,
marked by an extraordinary advance in wealth, luxury, and refinement of
taste, as well as in the mechanical arts which embellish our houses, must
produce a great change in their aspect.  These changes are always at
work; they are going on now, but so silently that we take no note of
them.  Men soon forget the small objects which they leave behind them as
they drift down the stream of life.  As Pope says--

   Nor does life's stream for observation stay;
   It hurries all too fast to mark their way.

Important inventions, such as the applications of steam, gas, and
electricity, may find their places in history; but not so the
alterations, great as they may be, which have taken place in the
appearance of our dining and drawing-rooms.  Who can now record the
degrees by which the custom prevalent in my youth of asking each other to
take wine together at dinner became obsolete?  Who will be able to fix,
twenty years hence, the date when our dinners began to be carved and
handed round by servants, instead of smoking before our eyes and noses on
the table?  To record such little matters would indeed be 'to chronicle
small beer.'  But, in a slight memoir like this, I may be allowed to note
some of those changes in social habits which give a colour to history,
but which the historian has the greatest difficulty in recovering.

At that time the dinner-table presented a far less splendid appearance
than it does now.  It was appropriated to solid food, rather than to
flowers, fruits, and decorations.  Nor was there much glitter of plate
upon it; for the early dinner hour rendered candlesticks unnecessary, and
silver forks had not come into general use: while the broad rounded end
of the knives indicated the substitute generally used instead of them.

The dinners too were more homely, though not less plentiful and savoury;
and the bill of fare in one house would not be so like that in another as
it is now, for family receipts were held in high estimation.  A
grandmother of culinary talent could bequeath to her descendant fame for
some particular dish, and might influence the family dinner for many

   Dos est magna parentium

One house would pride itself on its ham, another on its game-pie, and a
third on its superior furmity, or tansey-pudding.  Beer and home-made
wines, especially mead, were more largely consumed.  Vegetables were less
plentiful and less various.  Potatoes were used, but not so abundantly as
now; and there was an idea that they were to be eaten only with roast
meat.  They were novelties to a tenant's wife who was entertained at
Steventon Parsonage, certainly less than a hundred years ago; and when
Mrs. Austen advised her to plant them in her own garden, she replied,
'No, no; they are very well for you gentry, but they must be terribly
_costly to rear_.'

But a still greater difference would be found in the furniture of the
rooms, which would appear to us lamentably scanty.  There was a general
deficiency of carpeting in sitting-rooms, bed-rooms, and passages.  A
pianoforte, or rather a spinnet or harpsichord, was by no means a
necessary appendage.  It was to be found only where there was a decided
taste for music, not so common then as now, or in such great houses as
would probably contain a billiard-table.  There would often be but one
sofa in the house, and that a stiff, angular, uncomfortable article.
There were no deep easy-chairs, nor other appliances for lounging; for to
lie down, or even to lean back, was a luxury permitted only to old
persons or invalids.  It was said of a nobleman, a personal friend of
George III. and a model gentleman of his day, that he would have made the
tour of Europe without ever touching the back of his travelling carriage.
But perhaps we should be most struck with the total absence of those
elegant little articles which now embellish and encumber our drawing-room
tables.  We should miss the sliding bookcases and picture-stands, the
letter-weighing machines and envelope cases, the periodicals and
illustrated newspapers--above all, the countless swarm of photograph
books which now threaten to swallow up all space.  A small writing-desk,
with a smaller work-box, or netting-case, was all that each young lady
contributed to occupy the table; for the large family work-basket, though
often produced in the parlour, lived in the closet.

There must have been more dancing throughout the country in those days
than there is now: and it seems to have sprung up more spontaneously, as
if it were a natural production, with less fastidiousness as to the
quality of music, lights, and floor.  Many country towns had a monthly
ball throughout the winter, in some of which the same apartment served
for dancing and tea-room.  Dinner parties more frequently ended with an
extempore dance on the carpet, to the music of a harpsichord in the
house, or a fiddle from the village.  This was always supposed to be for
the entertainment of the young people, but many, who had little
pretension to youth, were very ready to join in it.  There can be no
doubt that Jane herself enjoyed dancing, for she attributes this taste to
her favourite heroines; in most of her works, a ball or a private dance
is mentioned, and made of importance.

Many things connected with the ball-rooms of those days have now passed
into oblivion.  The barbarous law which confined the lady to one partner
throughout the evening must indeed have been abolished before Jane went
to balls.  It must be observed, however, that this custom was in one
respect advantageous to the gentleman, inasmuch as it rendered his duties
more practicable.  He was bound to call upon his partner the next
morning, and it must have been convenient to have only one lady for whom
he was obliged

   To gallop all the country over,
   The last night's partner to behold,
   And humbly hope she caught no cold.

But the stately minuet still reigned supreme; and every regular ball
commenced with it.  It was a slow and solemn movement, expressive of
grace and dignity, rather than of merriment.  It abounded in formal bows
and courtesies, with measured paces, forwards, backwards and sideways,
and many complicated gyrations.  It was executed by one lady and
gentleman, amidst the admiration, or the criticism, of surrounding
spectators.  In its earlier and most palmy days, as when Sir Charles and
Lady Grandison delighted the company by dancing it at their own wedding,
the gentleman wore a dress sword, and the lady was armed with a fan of
nearly equal dimensions.  Addison observes that 'women are armed with
fans, as men with swords, and sometimes do more execution with them.'  The
graceful carriage of each weapon was considered a test of high breeding.
The clownish man was in danger of being tripped up by his sword getting
between his legs: the fan held clumsily looked more of a burden than an
ornament; while in the hands of an adept it could be made to speak a
language of its own. {35}  It was not everyone who felt qualified to make
this public exhibition, and I have been told that those ladies who
intended to dance minuets, used to distinguish themselves from others by
wearing a particular kind of lappet on their head-dress.  I have heard
also of another curious proof of the respect in which this dance was
held.  Gloves immaculately clean were considered requisite for its due
performance, while gloves a little soiled were thought good enough for a
country dance; and accordingly some prudent ladies provided themselves
with two pairs for their several purposes.  The minuet expired with the
last century: but long after it had ceased to be danced publicly it was
taught to boys and girls, in order to give them a graceful carriage.

Hornpipes, cotillons, and reels, were occasionally danced; but the chief
occupation of the evening was the interminable country dance, in which
all could join.  This dance presented a great show of enjoyment, but it
was not without its peculiar troubles.  The ladies and gentlemen were
ranged apart from each other in opposite rows, so that the facilities for
flirtation, or interesting intercourse, were not so great as might have
been desired by both parties.  Much heart-burning and discontent
sometimes arose as to _who_ should stand above _whom_, and especially as
to who was entitled to the high privilege of calling and leading off the
first dance: and no little indignation was felt at the lower end of the
room when any of the leading couples retired prematurely from their
duties, and did not condescend to dance up and down the whole set.  We
may rejoice that these causes of irritation no longer exist; and that if
such feelings as jealousy, rivalry, and discontent ever touch celestial
bosoms in the modern ball-room they must arise from different and more
recondite sources.

I am tempted to add a little about the difference of personal habits.  It
may be asserted as a general truth, that less was left to the charge and
discretion of servants, and more was done, or superintended, by the
masters and mistresses.  With regard to the mistresses, it is, I believe,
generally understood, that at the time to which I refer, a hundred years
ago, they took a personal part in the higher branches of cookery, as well
as in the concoction of home-made wines, and distilling of herbs for
domestic medicines, which are nearly allied to the same art.  Ladies did
not disdain to spin the thread of which the household linen was woven.
Some ladies liked to wash with their own hands their choice china after
breakfast or tea.  In one of my earliest child's books, a little girl,
the daughter of a gentleman, is taught by her mother to make her own bed
before leaving her chamber.  It was not so much that they had not
servants to do all these things for them, as that they took an interest
in such occupations.  And it must be borne in mind how many sources of
interest enjoyed by this generation were then closed, or very scantily
opened to ladies.  A very small minority of them cared much for
literature or science.  Music was not a very common, and drawing was a
still rarer, accomplishment; needlework, in some form or other, was their
chief sedentary employment.

But I doubt whether the rising generation are equally aware how much
gentlemen also did for themselves in those times, and whether some things
that I can mention will not be a surprise to them.  Two homely proverbs
were held in higher estimation in my early days than they are now--'The
master's eye makes the horse fat;' and, 'If you would be well served,
serve yourself.'  Some gentlemen took pleasure in being their own
gardeners, performing all the scientific, and some of the manual, work
themselves.  Well-dressed young men of my acquaintance, who had their
coat from a London tailor, would always brush their evening suit
themselves, rather than entrust it to the carelessness of a rough
servant, and to the risks of dirt and grease in the kitchen; for in those
days servants' halls were not common in the houses of the clergy and the
smaller country gentry.  It was quite natural that Catherine Morland
should have contrasted the magnificence of the offices at Northanger
Abbey with the few shapeless pantries in her father's parsonage.  A young
man who expected to have his things packed or unpacked for him by a
servant, when he travelled, would have been thought exceptionally fine,
or exceptionally lazy.  When my uncle undertook to teach me to shoot, his
first lesson was how to clean my own gun.  It was thought meritorious on
the evening of a hunting day, to turn out after dinner, lanthorn in hand,
and visit the stable, to ascertain that the horse had been well cared
for.  This was of the more importance, because, previous to the
introduction of clipping, about the year 1820, it was a difficult and
tedious work to make a long-coated hunter dry and comfortable, and was
often very imperfectly done.  Of course, such things were not practised
by those who had gamekeepers, and stud-grooms, and plenty of well-trained
servants; but they were practised by many who were unequivocally
gentlemen, and whose grandsons, occupying the same position in life, may
perhaps be astonished at being told that '_such things were_.'

I have drawn pictures for which my own experience, or what I heard from
others in my youth, have supplied the materials.  Of course, they cannot
be universally applicable.  Such details varied in various circles, and
were changed very gradually; nor can I pretend to tell how much of what I
have said is descriptive of the family life at Steventon in Jane Austen's
youth.  I am sure that the ladies there had nothing to do with the
mysteries of the stew-pot or the preserving-pan; but it is probable that
their way of life differed a little from ours, and would have appeared to
us more homely.  It may be that useful articles, which would not now be
produced in drawing-rooms, were hemmed, and marked, and darned in the old-
fashioned parlour.  But all this concerned only the outer life; there was
as much cultivation and refinement of mind as now, with probably more
studied courtesy and ceremony of manner to visitors; whilst certainly in
that family literary pursuits were not neglected.

I remember to have heard of only two little things different from modern
customs.  One was, that on hunting mornings the young men usually took
their hasty breakfast in the kitchen.  The early hour at which hounds
then met may account for this; and probably the custom began, if it did
not end, when they were boys; for they hunted at an early age, in a
scrambling sort of way, upon any pony or donkey that they could procure,
or, in default of such luxuries, on foot.  I have been told that Sir
Francis Austen, when seven years old, bought on his own account, it must
be supposed with his father's permission, a pony for a guinea and a half;
and after riding him with great success for two seasons, sold him for a
guinea more.  One may wonder how the child could have so much money, and
how the animal could have been obtained for so little.  The same
authority informs me that his first cloth suit was made from a scarlet
habit, which, according to the fashion of the times, had been his
mother's usual morning dress.  If all this is true, the future admiral of
the British Fleet must have cut a conspicuous figure in the
hunting-field.  The other peculiarity was that, when the roads were
dirty, the sisters took long walks in pattens.  This defence against wet
and dirt is now seldom seen.  The few that remain are banished from good
society, and employed only in menial work; but a hundred and fifty years
ago they were celebrated in poetry, and considered so clever a
contrivance that Gay, in his 'Trivia,' ascribes the invention to a god
stimulated by his passion for a mortal damsel, and derives the name
'Patten' from 'Patty.'

   The patten now supports each frugal dame,
   Which from the blue-eyed Patty takes the name.

But mortal damsels have long ago discarded the clumsy implement.  First
it dropped its iron ring and became a clog; afterwards it was fined down
into the pliant galoshe--lighter to wear and more effectual to protect--a
no less manifest instance of gradual improvement than Cowper indicates
when he traces through eighty lines of poetry his 'accomplished sofa'
back to the original three-legged stool.

As an illustration of the purposes which a patten was intended to serve,
I add the following epigram, written by Jane Austen's uncle, Mr. Leigh
Perrot, on reading in a newspaper the marriage of Captain Foote to Miss

   Through the rough paths of life, with a patten your guard,
      May you safely and pleasantly jog;
   May the knot never slip, nor the ring press too hard,
      Nor the _Foot_ find the _Patten_ a clog.

At the time when Jane Austen lived at Steventon, a work was carried on in
the neighbouring cottages which ought to be recorded, because it has long
ceased to exist.

Up to the beginning of the present century, poor women found profitable
employment in spinning flax or wool.  This was a better occupation for
them than straw plaiting, inasmuch as it was carried on at the family
hearth, and did not admit of gadding and gossiping about the village.  The
implement used was a long narrow machine of wood, raised on legs,
furnished at one end with a large wheel, and at the other with a spindle
on which the flax or wool was loosely wrapped, connected together by a
loop of string.  One hand turned the wheel, while the other formed the
thread.  The outstretched arms, the advanced foot, the sway of the whole
figure backwards and forwards, produced picturesque attitudes, and
displayed whatever of grace or beauty the work-woman might possess. {41}
Some ladies were fond of spinning, but they worked in a quieter manner,
sitting at a neat little machine of varnished wood, like Tunbridge ware,
generally turned by the foot, with a basin of water at hand to supply the
moisture required for forming the thread, which the cottager took by a
more direct and natural process from her own mouth.  I remember two such
elegant little wheels in our own family.

It may be observed that this hand-spinning is the most primitive of
female accomplishments, and can be traced back to the earliest times.
Ballad poetry and fairy tales are full of allusions to it.  The term
'spinster' still testifies to its having been the ordinary employment of
the English young woman.  It was the labour assigned to the ejected nuns
by the rough earl who said, 'Go spin, ye jades, go spin.'  It was the
employment at which Roman matrons and Grecian princesses presided amongst
their handmaids.  Heathen mythology celebrated it in the three Fates
spinning and measuring out the thread of human life.  Holy Scripture
honours it in those 'wise-hearted women' who 'did spin with their hands,
and brought that which they had spun' for the construction of the
Tabernacle in the wilderness: and an old English proverb carries it still
farther back to the time 'when Adam delved and Eve span.'  But, at last,
this time-honoured domestic manufacture is quite extinct amongst
us--crushed by the power of steam, overborne by a countless host of
spinning jennies, and I can only just remember some of its last struggles
for existence in the Steventon cottages.


_Early Compositions--Friends at Ashe--A very old Letter--Lines on the
Death of Mrs. Lefroy--Observations on Jane Austen's

I know little of Jane Austen's childhood.  Her mother followed a custom,
not unusual in those days, though it seems strange to us, of putting out
her babies to be nursed in a cottage in the village.  The infant was
daily visited by one or both of its parents, and frequently brought to
them at the parsonage, but the cottage was its home, and must have
remained so till it was old enough to run about and talk; for I know that
one of them, in after life, used to speak of his foster mother as
'Movie,' the name by which he had called her in his infancy.  It may be
that the contrast between the parsonage house and the best class of
cottages was not quite so extreme then as it would be now, that the one
was somewhat less luxurious, and the other less squalid.  It would
certainly seem from the results that it was a wholesome and invigorating
system, for the children were all strong and healthy.  Jane was probably
treated like the rest in this respect.  In childhood every available
opportunity of instruction was made use of.  According to the ideas of
the time, she was well educated, though not highly accomplished, and she
certainly enjoyed that important element of mental training, associating
at home with persons of cultivated intellect.  It cannot be doubted that
her early years were bright and happy, living, as she did, with indulgent
parents, in a cheerful home, not without agreeable variety of society.  To
these sources of enjoyment must be added the first stirrings of talent
within her, and the absorbing interest of original composition.  It is
impossible to say at how early an age she began to write.  There are copy
books extant containing tales some of which must have been composed while
she was a young girl, as they had amounted to a considerable number by
the time she was sixteen.  Her earliest stories are of a slight and
flimsy texture, and are generally intended to be nonsensical, but the
nonsense has much spirit in it.  They are usually preceded by a
dedication of mock solemnity to some one of her family.  It would seem
that the grandiloquent dedications prevalent in those days had not
escaped her youthful penetration.  Perhaps the most characteristic
feature in these early productions is that, however puerile the matter,
they are always composed in pure simple English, quite free from the over-
ornamented style which might be expected from so young a writer.  One of
her juvenile effusions is given, as a specimen of the kind of transitory
amusement which Jane was continually supplying to the family party.




SIR,--I humbly solicit your patronage to the following Comedy, which,
though an unfinished one, is, I flatter myself, as complete a _Mystery_
as any of its kind.

I am, Sir, your most humble Servant,



_Men_.                           _Women_.
Col. ELLIOTT.                  FANNY ELLIOTT.
OLD HUMBUG.                    Mrs. HUMBUG
YOUNG HUMBUG.                     _and_
Sir Edward Spangle              Daphne.


SCENE I.--_A Garden_.

_Enter_ CORYDON.

_Corydon_.  But hush: I am interrupted.  [_Exit_ CORYDON.

_Enter_ OLD HUMBUG _and his_ SON, _talking_.

_Old Hum_.  It is for that reason that I wish you to follow my advice.
Are you convinced of its propriety?

_Young Hum_.  I am, sir, and will certainly act in the manner you have
pointed out to me.

_Old Hum_.  Then let us return to the house.  [_Exeunt_.

SCENE II.--_A parlour in_ HUMBUG'S _house_.  MRS. HUMBUG _and_ FANNY
_discovered at work_.

_Mrs. Hum_.  You understand me, my love?

_Fanny_.  Perfectly, ma'am: pray continue your narration.

_Mrs. Hum_.  Alas! it is nearly concluded; for I have nothing more to say
on the subject.

_Fanny_.  Ah! here is Daphne.

_Enter_ DAPHNE.

_Daphne_.  My dear Mrs. Humbug, how d'ye do?  Oh! Fanny, it is all over.

_Fanny_.  Is it indeed!

_Mrs. Hum_.  I'm very sorry to hear it.

_Fanny_.  Then 'twas to no purpose that I--

_Daphne_.  None upon earth.

_Mrs. Hum_.  And what is to become of--?

_Daphne_.  Oh! 'tis all settled.  (_Whispers_ MRS. HUMBUG.)

_Fanny_.  And how is it determined?

_Daphne_.  I'll tell you.  (_Whispers_ FANNY.)

_Mrs. Hum_.  And is he to--?

_Daphne_.  I'll tell you all I know of the matter.  (_Whispers_ MRS.

_Fanny_.  Well, now I know everything about it, I'll go away.

_Mrs. Hum_. and _Daphne_.  And so will I.  [_Exeunt_.

SCENE III.--_The curtain rises, and discovers_ SIR EDWARD SPANGLE
_reclined in an elegant attitude on a sofa fast asleep_.


_Col. E_.  My daughter is not here, I see.  There lies Sir Edward.  Shall
I tell him the secret?  No, he'll certainly blab it.  But he's asleep,
and won't hear me;--so I'll e'en venture.  (_Goes up to_ SIR EDWARD,
_whispers him, and exit_.)



* * * * *

Her own mature opinion of the desirableness of such an early habit of
composition is given in the following words of a niece:--

'As I grew older, my aunt would talk to me more seriously of my reading
and my amusements.  I had taken early to writing verses and stories, and
I am sorry to think how I troubled her with reading them.  She was very
kind about it, and always had some praise to bestow, but at last she
warned me against spending too much time upon them.  She said--how well I
recollect it!--that she knew writing stories was a great amusement, and
_she_ thought a harmless one, though many people, she was aware, thought
otherwise; but that at my age it would be bad for me to be much taken up
with my own compositions.  Later still--it was after she had gone to
Winchester--she sent me a message to this effect, that if I would take
her advice I should cease writing till I was sixteen; that she had
herself often wished she had read more, and written less in the
corresponding years of her own life.'  As this niece was only twelve
years old at the time of her aunt's death, these words seem to imply that
the juvenile tales to which I have referred had, some of them at least,
been written in her childhood.

But between these childish effusions, and the composition of her living
works, there intervened another stage of her progress, during which she
produced some stories, not without merit, but which she never considered
worthy of publication.  During this preparatory period her mind seems to
have been working in a very different direction from that into which it
ultimately settled.  Instead of presenting faithful copies of nature,
these tales were generally burlesques, ridiculing the improbable events
and exaggerated sentiments which she had met with in sundry silly
romances.  Something of this fancy is to be found in 'Northanger Abbey,'
but she soon left it far behind in her subsequent course.  It would seem
as if she were first taking note of all the faults to be avoided, and
curiously considering how she ought _not_ to write before she attempted
to put forth her strength in the right direction.  The family have,
rightly, I think, declined to let these early works be published.  Mr.
Shortreed observed very pithily of Walter Scott's early rambles on the
borders, 'He was makin' himsell a' the time; but he didna ken, may be,
what he was about till years had passed.  At first he thought of little,
I dare say, but the queerness and the fun.'  And so, in a humbler way,
Jane Austen was 'makin' hersell,' little thinking of future fame, but
caring only for 'the queerness and the fun;' and it would be as unfair to
expose this preliminary process to the world, as it would be to display
all that goes on behind the curtain of the theatre before it is drawn up.

It was, however, at Steventon that the real foundations of her fame were
laid.  There some of her most successful writing was composed at such an
early age as to make it surprising that so young a woman could have
acquired the insight into character, and the nice observation of manners
which they display.  'Pride and Prejudice,' which some consider the most
brilliant of her novels, was the first finished, if not the first begun.
She began it in October 1796, before she was twenty-one years old, and
completed it in about ten months, in August 1797.  The title then
intended for it was 'First Impressions.'  'Sense and Sensibility' was
begun, in its present form, immediately after the completion of the
former, in November 1797 but something similar in story and character had
been written earlier under the title of 'Elinor and Marianne;' and if, as
is probable, a good deal of this earlier production was retained, it must
form the earliest specimen of her writing that has been given to the
world.  'Northanger Abbey,' though not prepared for the press till 1803,
was certainly first composed in 1798.

Amongst the most valuable neighbours of the Austens were Mr. and Mrs.
Lefroy and their family.  He was rector of the adjoining parish of Ashe;
she was sister to Sir Egerton Brydges, to whom we are indebted for the
earliest notice of Jane Austen that exists.  In his autobiography,
speaking of his visits at Ashe, he writes thus: 'The nearest neighbours
of the Lefroys were the Austens of Steventon.  I remember Jane Austen,
the novelist, as a little child.  She was very intimate with Mrs. Lefroy,
and much encouraged by her.  Her mother was a Miss Leigh, whose paternal
grandmother was sister to the first Duke of Chandos.  Mr. Austen was of a
Kentish family, of which several branches have been settled in the Weald
of Kent, and some are still remaining there.  When I knew Jane Austen, I
never suspected that she was an authoress; but my eyes told me that she
was fair and handsome, slight and elegant, but with cheeks a little too
full.'  One may wish that Sir Egerton had dwelt rather longer on the
subject of these memoirs, instead of being drawn away by his extreme love
for genealogies to her great-grandmother and ancestors.  That
great-grandmother however lives in the family records as Mary Brydges, a
daughter of Lord Chandos, married in Westminster Abbey to Theophilus
Leigh of Addlestrop in 1698.  When a girl she had received a curious
letter of advice and reproof, written by her mother from Constantinople.
Mary, or 'Poll,' was remaining in England with her grandmother, Lady
Bernard, who seems to have been wealthy and inclined to be too indulgent
to her granddaughter.  This letter is given.  Any such authentic
document, two hundred years old, dealing with domestic details, must
possess some interest.  This is remarkable, not only as a specimen of the
homely language in which ladies of rank then expressed themselves, but
from the sound sense which it contains.  Forms of expression vary, but
good sense and right principles are the same in the nineteenth that they
were in the seventeenth century.


   'Yr letters by Cousin Robbert Serle arrived here not before the 27th
   of Aprill, yett were they hartily wellcome to us, bringing ye joyful
   news which a great while we had longed for of my most dear Mother &
   all other relations & friends good health which I beseech God continue
   to you all, & as I observe in yrs to yr Sister Betty ye extraordinary
   kindness of (as I may truly say) the best Mothr & Gnd Mothr in the
   world in pinching herself to make you fine, so I cannot but admire her
   great good Housewifry in affording you so very plentifull an
   allowance, & yett to increase her Stock at the rate I find she hath
   done; & think I can never sufficiently mind you how very much it is yr
   duty on all occasions to pay her yr gratitude in all humble submission
   & obedience to all her commands soe long as you live.  I must tell you
   'tis to her bounty & care in ye greatest measure you are like to owe
   yr well living in this world, & as you cannot but be very sensible you
   are an extra-ordinary charge to her so it behoves you to take
   particular heed tht in ye whole course of yr life, you render her a
   proportionable comfort, especially since 'tis ye best way you can ever
   hope to make her such amends as God requires of yr hands.  but Poll!
   it grieves me a little yt I am forced to take notice of & reprove you
   for some vaine expressions in yr lettrs to yr Sister--you say
   concerning yr allowance "you aime to bring yr bread & cheese even" in
   this I do not discommend you, for a foule shame indeed it would be
   should you out run the Constable having soe liberall a provision made
   you for yr maintenance--but ye reason you give for yr resolution I
   cannot at all approve for you say "to spend more you can't" thats
   because you have it not to spend, otherwise it seems you would.  So yt
   'tis yr Grandmothrs discretion & not yours tht keeps you from
   extravagancy, which plainly appears in ye close of yr sentence, saying
   yt you think it simple covetousness to save out of yrs but 'tis my
   opinion if you lay all on yr back 'tis ten tymes a greater sin & shame
   thn to save some what out of soe large an allowance in yr purse to
   help you at a dead lift.  Child, we all know our beginning, but who
   knows his end?  Ye best use tht can be made of fair weathr is to
   provide against foule & 'tis great discretion & of noe small
   commendations for a young woman betymes to shew herself housewifly &
   frugal.  Yr Mother neither Maide nor wife ever yett bestowed forty
   pounds a yeare on herself & yett if you never fall undr a worse
   reputation in ye world thn she (I thank God for it) hath hitherto
   done, you need not repine at it, & you cannot be ignorant of ye
   difference tht was between my fortune & what you are to expect.  You
   ought likewise to consider tht you have seven brothers & sisters & you
   are all one man's children & therefore it is very unreasonable that
   one should expect to be preferred in finery soe much above all ye rest
   for 'tis impossible you should soe much mistake yr ffather's condition
   as to fancy he is able to allow every one of you forty pounds a yeare
   a piece, for such an allowance with the charge of their diett over and
   above will amount to at least five hundred pounds a yeare, a sum yr
   poor ffather can ill spare, besides doe but bethink yrself what a
   ridiculous sight it will be when yr grandmothr & you come to us to
   have noe less thn seven waiting gentlewomen in one house, for what
   reason can you give why every one of yr Sistrs should not have every
   one of ym a Maide as well as you, & though you may spare to pay yr
   maide's wages out of yr allowance yett you take no care of ye
   unnecessary charge you put yr ffathr to in yr increase of his family,
   whereas if it were not a piece of pride to have ye name of keeping yr
   maide she yt waits on yr good Grandmother might easily doe as formerly
   you know she hath done, all ye business you have for a maide unless as
   you grow oldr you grow a veryer Foole which God forbid!

   'Poll, you live in a place where you see great plenty & splendour but
   let not ye allurements of earthly pleasures tempt you to forget or
   neglect ye duty of a good Christian in dressing yr bettr part which is
   yr soule, as will best please God.  I am not against yr going decent &
   neate as becomes yr ffathers daughter but to clothe yrself rich & be
   running into every gaudy fashion can never become yr circumstances &
   instead of doing you creditt & getting you a good prefernt it is ye
   readiest way you can take to fright all sober men from ever thinking
   of matching thmselves with women that live above thyr fortune, & if
   this be a wise way of spending money judge you!  & besides, doe but
   reflect what an od sight it will be to a stranger that comes to our
   house to see yr Grandmothr yr Mothr & all yr Sisters in a plane dress
   & you only trickd up like a bartlemew-babby--you know what sort of
   people those are tht can't faire well but they must cry rost meate now
   what effect could you imagine yr writing in such a high straine to yr
   Sisters could have but either to provoke thm to envy you or murmur
   against us.  I must tell you neithr of yr Sisters have ever had twenty
   pounds a yeare allowance from us yett, & yett theyr dress hath not
   disparaged neithr thm nor us & without incurring ye censure of simple
   covetousness they will have some what to shew out of their saving that
   will doe thm creditt & I expect yt you tht are theyr elder Sister shd
   rather sett thm examples of ye like nature thn tempt thm from treading
   in ye steps of their good Grandmothr & poor Mothr.  This is not half
   what might be saide on this occasion but believing thee to be a very
   good natured dutyfull child I shd have thought it a great deal too
   much but yt having in my coming hither past through many most
   desperate dangers I cannot forbear thinking & preparing myself for all
   events, & therefore not knowing how it may please God to dispose of us
   I conclude it my duty to God & thee my dr child to lay this matter as
   home to thee as I could, assuring you my daily prayers are not nor
   shall not be wanting that God may give you grace always to remember to
   make a right use of this truly affectionate counsell of yr poor Mothr.
   & though I speak very plaine down-right english to you yett I would
   not have you doubt but that I love you as hartily as any child I have
   & if you serve God and take good courses I promise you my kindness to
   you shall be according to yr own hart's desire, for you may be certain
   I can aime at nothing in what I have now writ but yr real good which
   to promote shall be ye study & care day & night

   'Of my dear Poll
   'thy truly affectionate Mothr.

   'Pera of Galata, May ye 6th 1686.

   'P.S.--Thy ffathr & I send thee our blessing, & all thy brothrs &
   sistrs theyr service.  Our harty & affectionate service to my brothr &
   sistr Childe & all my dear cozens.  When you see my Lady Worster &
   cozen Howlands pray present thm my most humble service.'

This letter shows that the wealth acquired by trade was already
manifesting itself in contrast with the straitened circumstances of some
of the nobility.  Mary Brydges's 'poor ffather,' in whose household
economy was necessary, was the King of England's ambassador at
Constantinople; the grandmother, who lived in 'great plenty and
splendour,' was the widow of a Turkey merchant.  But then, as now, it
would seem, rank had the power of attracting and absorbing wealth.

At Ashe also Jane became acquainted with a member of the Lefroy family,
who was still living when I began these memoirs, a few months ago; the
Right Hon. Thomas Lefroy, late Chief Justice of Ireland.  One must look
back more than seventy years to reach the time when these two bright
young persons were, for a short time, intimately acquainted with each
other, and then separated on their several courses, never to meet again;
both destined to attain some distinction in their different ways, one to
survive the other for more than half a century, yet in his extreme old
age to remember and speak, as he sometimes did, of his former companion,
as one to be much admired, and not easily forgotten by those who had ever
known her.

Mrs. Lefroy herself was a remarkable person.  Her rare endowments of
goodness, talents, graceful person, and engaging manners, were sufficient
to secure her a prominent place in any society into which she was thrown;
while her enthusiastic eagerness of disposition rendered her especially
attractive to a clever and lively girl.  She was killed by a fall from
her horse on Jane's birthday, Dec.  16, 1804.  The following lines to her
memory were written by Jane four years afterwards, when she was thirty-
three years old.  They are given, not for their merits as poetry, but to
show how deep and lasting was the impression made by the elder friend on
the mind of the younger:--



   The day returns again, my natal day;
      What mix'd emotions in my mind arise!
   Beloved Friend; four years have passed away
      Since thou wert snatched for ever from our eyes.


   The day commemorative of my birth,
      Bestowing life, and light, and hope to me,
   Brings back the hour which was thy last on earth.
      O! bitter pang of torturing memory!


   Angelic woman! past my power to praise
      In language meet thy talents, temper, mind,
   Thy solid worth, thy captivating grace,
      Thou friend and ornament of human kind.


   But come, fond Fancy, thou indulgent power;
      Hope is desponding, chill, severe, to thee:
   Bless thou this little portion of an hour;
      Let me behold her as she used to be.


   I see her here with all her smiles benign,
      Her looks of eager love, her accents sweet,
   That voice and countenance almost divine,
      Expression, harmony, alike complete.


   Listen!  It is not sound alone, 'tis sense,
      'Tis genius, taste, and tenderness of soul:
   'Tis genuine warmth of heart without pretence,
      And purity of mind that crowns the whole.


   She speaks!  'Tis eloquence, that grace of tongue,
      So rare, so lovely, never misapplied
   By her, to palliate vice, or deck a wrong:
      She speaks and argues but on virtue's side.


   Hers is the energy of soul sincere;
      Her Christian spirit, ignorant to feign,
   Seeks but to comfort, heal, enlighten, cheer,
      Confer a pleasure or prevent a pain.


   Can aught enhance such goodness? yes, to me
      Her partial favour from my earliest years
   Consummates all: ah! give me but to see
      Her smile of love!  The vision disappears.


   'Tis past and gone.  We meet no more below,
      Short is the cheat of Fancy o'er the tomb.
   Oh! might I hope to equal bliss to go,
      To meet thee, angel, in thy future home.


   Fain would I feel an union with thy fate:
      Fain would I seek to draw an omen fair
   From this connection in our earthly date.
      Indulge the harmless weakness.  Reason, spare.

The loss of their first home is generally a great grief to young persons
of strong feeling and lively imagination; and Jane was exceedingly
unhappy when she was told that her father, now seventy years of age, had
determined to resign his duties to his eldest son, who was to be his
successor in the Rectory of Steventon, and to remove with his wife and
daughters to Bath.  Jane had been absent from home when this resolution
was taken; and, as her father was always rapid both in forming his
resolutions and in acting on them, she had little time to reconcile
herself to the change.

* * * * *

A wish has sometimes been expressed that some of Jane Austen's letters
should be published.  Some entire letters, and many extracts, will be
given in this memoir; but the reader must be warned not to expect too
much from them.  With regard to accuracy of language indeed every word of
them might be printed without correction.  The style is always clear, and
generally animated, while a vein of humour continually gleams through the
whole; but the materials may be thought inferior to the execution, for
they treat only of the details of domestic life.  There is in them no
notice of politics or public events; scarcely any discussions on
literature, or other subjects of general interest.  They may be said to
resemble the nest which some little bird builds of the materials nearest
at hand, of the twigs and mosses supplied by the tree in which it is
placed; curiously constructed out of the simplest matters.

Her letters have very seldom the date of the year, or the signature of
her christian name at full length; but it has been easy to ascertain
their dates, either from the post-mark, or from their contents.

* * * * *

The two following letters are the earliest that I have seen.  They were
both written in November 1800; before the family removed from Steventon.
Some of the same circumstances are referred to in both.

The first is to her sister Cassandra, who was then staying with their
brother Edward at Godmersham Park, Kent:--

   'Steventon, Saturday evening, Nov. 8th.


   'I thank you for so speedy a return to my two last, and particularly
   thank you for your anecdote of Charlotte Graham and her cousin,
   Harriet Bailey, which has very much amused both my mother and myself.
   If you can learn anything farther of that interesting affair, I hope
   you will mention it.  I have two messages; let me get rid of them, and
   then my paper will be my own.  Mary fully intended writing to you by
   Mr. Chute's frank, and only happened entirely to forget it, but will
   write soon; and my father wishes Edward to send him a memorandum of
   the price of the hops.  The tables are come, and give general
   contentment.  I had not expected that they would so perfectly suit the
   fancy of us all three, or that we should so well agree in the
   disposition of them; but nothing except their own surface can have
   been smoother.  The two ends put together form one constant table for
   everything, and the centre piece stands exceedingly well under the
   glass, and holds a great deal most commodiously, without looking
   awkwardly.  They are both covered with green baize, and send their
   best love.  The Pembroke has got its destination by the sideboard, and
   my mother has great delight in keeping her money and papers locked up.
   The little table which used to stand there has most conveniently taken
   itself off into the best bedroom; and we are now in want only of the
   chiffonniere, which is neither finished nor come.  So much for that
   subject; I now come to another, of a very different nature, as other
   subjects are very apt to be.  Earle Harwood has been again giving
   uneasiness to his family and talk to the neighbourhood; in the present
   instance, however, he is only unfortunate, and not in fault.

   'About ten days ago, in cocking a pistol in the guard-room at Marcau,
   he accidentally shot himself through the thigh.  Two young Scotch
   surgeons in the island were polite enough to propose taking off the
   thigh at once, but to that he would not consent; and accordingly in
   his wounded state was put on board a cutter and conveyed to Haslar
   Hospital, at Gosport, where the bullet was extracted, and where he now
   is, I hope, in a fair way of doing well.  The surgeon of the hospital
   wrote to the family on the occasion, and John Harwood went down to him
   immediately, attended by James, {62} whose object in going was to be
   the means of bringing back the earliest intelligence to Mr. and Mrs.
   Harwood, whose anxious sufferings, particularly those of the latter,
   have of course been dreadful.  They went down on Tuesday, and James
   came back the next day, bringing such favourable accounts as greatly
   to lessen the distress of the family at Deane, though it will probably
   be a long while before Mrs. Harwood can be quite at ease.  _One_ most
   material comfort, however, they have; the assurance of its being
   really an accidental wound, which is not only positively declared by
   Earle himself, but is likewise testified by the particular direction
   of the bullet.  Such a wound could not have been received in a duel.
   At present he is going on very well, but the surgeon will not declare
   him to be in no danger. {63}  Mr. Heathcote met with a genteel little
   accident the other day in hunting.  He got off to lead his horse over
   a hedge, or a house, or something, and his horse in his haste trod
   upon his leg, or rather ancle, I believe, and it is not certain
   whether the small bone is not broke.  Martha has accepted Mary's
   invitation for Lord Portsmouth's ball.  He has not yet sent out his
   own invitations, but _that_ does not signify; Martha comes, and a ball
   there is to be.  I think it will be too early in her mother's absence
   for me to return with her.

   '_Sunday Evening_.--We have had a dreadful storm of wind in the fore
   part of this day, which has done a great deal of mischief among our
   trees.  I was sitting alone in the dining-room when an odd kind of
   crash startled me--in a moment afterwards it was repeated.  I then
   went to the window, which I reached just in time to see the last of
   our two highly valued elms descend into the Sweep!!!!  The other,
   which had fallen, I suppose, in the first crash, and which was the
   nearest to the pond, taking a more easterly direction, sunk among our
   screen of chestnuts and firs, knocking down one spruce-fir, beating
   off the head of another, and stripping the two corner chestnuts of
   several branches in its fall.  This is not all.  One large elm out of
   the two on the left-hand side as you enter what I call the elm walk,
   was likewise blown down; the maple bearing the weathercock was broke
   in two, and what I regret more than all the rest is, that all the
   three elms which grew in Hall's meadow, and gave such ornament to it,
   are gone; two were blown down, and the other so much injured that it
   cannot stand.  I am happy to add, however, that no greater evil than
   the loss of trees has been the consequence of the storm in this place,
   or in our immediate neighbourhood.  We grieve, therefore, in some

   'I am yours ever,
   'J. A.'

The next letter, written four days later than the former, was addressed
to Miss Lloyd, an intimate friend, whose sister (my mother) was married
to Jane's eldest brother:--

   'Steventon, Wednesday evening, Nov. 12th.


   'I did not receive your note yesterday till after Charlotte had left
   Deane, or I would have sent my answer by her, instead of being the
   means, as I now must be, of lessening the elegance of your new dress
   for the Hurstbourne ball by the value of 3_d_.  You are very good in
   wishing to see me at Ibthorp so soon, and I am equally good in wishing
   to come to you.  I believe our merit in that respect is much upon a
   par, our self-denial mutually strong.  Having paid this tribute of
   praise to the virtue of both, I shall here have done with panegyric,
   and proceed to plain matter of fact.  In about a fortnight's time I
   hope to be with you.  I have two reasons for not being able to come
   before.  I wish so to arrange my visit as to spend some days with you
   after your mother's return.  In the 1st place, that I may have the
   pleasure of seeing her, and in the 2nd, that I may have a better
   chance of bringing you back with me.  Your promise in my favour was
   not quite absolute, but if your will is not perverse, you and I will
   do all in our power to overcome your scruples of conscience.  I hope
   we shall meet next week to talk all this over, till we have tired
   ourselves with the very idea of my visit before my visit begins.  Our
   invitations for the 19th are arrived, and very curiously are they
   worded. {65}  Mary mentioned to you yesterday poor Earle's unfortunate
   accident, I dare say.  He does not seem to be going on very well.  The
   two or three last posts have brought less and less favourable accounts
   of him.  John Harwood has gone to Gosport again to-day.  We have two
   families of friends now who are in a most anxious state; for though by
   a note from Catherine this morning there seems now to be a revival of
   hope at Manydown, its continuance may be too reasonably doubted.  Mr.
   Heathcote, {66a} however, who has broken the small bone of his leg, is
   so good as to be going on very well.  It would be really too much to
   have three people to care for.

   'You distress me cruelly by your request about books.  I cannot think
   of any to bring with me, nor have I any idea of our wanting them.  I
   come to you to be talked to, not to read or hear reading; I can do
   that at home; and indeed I am now laying in a stock of intelligence to
   pour out on you as my share of the conversation.  I am reading Henry's
   History of England, which I will repeat to you in any manner you may
   prefer, either in a loose, desultory, unconnected stream, or dividing
   my recital, as the historian divides it himself, into seven parts:--The
   Civil and Military: Religion: Constitution: Learning and Learned Men:
   Arts and Sciences: Commerce, Coins, and Shipping: and Manners.  So
   that for every evening in the week there will be a different subject.
   The Friday's lot--Commerce, Coins, and Shipping--you will find the
   least entertaining; but the next evening's portion will make amends.
   With such a provision on my part, if you will do yours by repeating
   the French Grammar, and Mrs. Stent {66b} will now and then ejaculate
   some wonder about the cocks and hens, what can we want?  Farewell for
   a short time.  We all unite in best love, and I am your very

   'J. A.'

The two next letters must have been written early in 1801, after the
removal from Steventon had been decided on, but before it had taken
place.  They refer to the two brothers who were at sea, and give some
idea of a kind of anxieties and uncertainties to which sisters are seldom
subject in these days of peace, steamers, and electric telegraphs.  At
that time ships were often windbound or becalmed, or driven wide of their
destination; and sometimes they had orders to alter their course for some
secret service; not to mention the chance of conflict with a vessel of
superior power--no improbable occurrence before the battle of Trafalgar.
Information about relatives on board men-of-war was scarce and scanty,
and often picked up by hearsay or chance means; and every scrap of
intelligence was proportionably valuable:--


   'I should not have thought it necessary to write to you so soon, but
   for the arrival of a letter from Charles to myself.  It was written
   last Saturday from off the Start, and conveyed to Popham Lane by
   Captain Boyle, on his way to Midgham.  He came from Lisbon in the
   "Endymion."  I will copy Charles's account of his conjectures about
   Frank: "He has not seen my brother lately, nor does he expect to find
   him arrived, as he met Captain Inglis at Rhodes, going up to take
   command of the 'Petrel,' as he was coming down; but supposes he will
   arrive in less than a fortnight from this time, in some ship which is
   expected to reach England about that time with dispatches from Sir
   Ralph Abercrombie."  The event must show what sort of a conjuror
   Captain Boyle is.  The "Endymion" has not been plagued with any more
   prizes.  Charles spent three pleasant days in Lisbon.

   'They were very well satisfied with their royal passenger, {68} whom
   they found jolly and affable, who talks of Lady Augusta as his wife,
   and seems much attached to her.

   'When this letter was written, the "Endymion" was becalmed, but
   Charles hoped to reach Portsmouth by Monday or Tuesday.  He received
   my letter, communicating our plans, before he left England; was much
   surprised, of course, but is quite reconciled to them, and means to
   come to Steventon once more while Steventon is ours.'

From a letter written later in the same year:--

   'Charles has received 30_l_. for his share of the privateer, and
   expects 10_l_. more; but of what avail is it to take prizes if he lays
   out the produce in presents to his sisters?  He has been buying gold
   chains and topaze crosses for us.  He must be well scolded.  The
   "Endymion" has already received orders for taking troops to Egypt,
   which I should not like at all if I did not trust to Charles being
   removed from her somehow or other before she sails.  He knows nothing
   of his own destination, he says, but desires me to write directly, as
   the "Endymion" will probably sail in three or four days.  He will
   receive my yesterday's letter, and I shall write again by this post to
   thank and reproach him.  We shall be unbearably fine.'


_Removal from Steventon--Residences at Bath and at Southampton--Settling
at Chawton_.

The family removed to Bath in the spring of 1801, where they resided
first at No. 4 Sydney Terrace, and afterwards in Green Park Buildings.  I
do not know whether they were at all attracted to Bath by the
circumstance that Mrs. Austen's only brother, Mr. Leigh Perrot, spent
part of every year there.  The name of Perrot, together with a small
estate at Northleigh in Oxfordshire, had been bequeathed to him by a
great uncle.  I must devote a few sentences to this very old and now
extinct branch of the Perrot family; for one of the last survivors, Jane
Perrot, married to a Walker, was Jane Austen's great grandmother, from
whom she derived her Christian name.  The Perrots were settled in
Pembrokeshire at least as early as the thirteenth century.  They were
probably some of the settlers whom the policy of our Plantagenet kings
placed in that county, which thence acquired the name of 'England beyond
Wales,' for the double purpose of keeping open a communication with
Ireland from Milford Haven, and of overawing the Welsh.  One of the
family seems to have carried out this latter purpose very vigorously; for
it is recorded of him that he slew _twenty-six men_ of Kemaes, a district
of Wales, and _one wolf_.  The manner in which the two kinds of game are
classed together, and the disproportion of numbers, are remarkable; but
probably at that time the wolves had been so closely killed down, that
_lupicide_ was become a more rare and distinguished exploit than
_homicide_.  The last of this family died about 1778, and their property
was divided between Leighs and Musgraves, the larger portion going to the
latter.  Mr. Leigh Perrot pulled down the mansion, and sold the estate to
the Duke of Marlborough, and the name of these Perrots is now to be found
only on some monuments in the church of Northleigh.

Mr. Leigh Perrot was also one of several cousins to whom a life interest
in the Stoneleigh property in Warwickshire was left, after the extinction
of the earlier Leigh peerage, but he compromised his claim to the
succession in his lifetime.  He married a niece of Sir Montague Cholmeley
of Lincolnshire.  He was a man of considerable natural power, with much
of the wit of his uncle, the Master of Balliol, and wrote clever epigrams
and riddles, some of which, though without his name, found their way into
print; but he lived a very retired life, dividing his time between Bath
and his place in Berkshire called Scarlets.  Jane's letters from Bath
make frequent mention of this uncle and aunt.

The unfinished story, now published under the title of 'The Watsons,'
must have been written during the author's residence in Bath.  In the
autumn of 1804 she spent some weeks at Lyme, and became acquainted with
the Cobb, which she afterwards made memorable for the fall of Louisa
Musgrove.  In February 1805, her father died at Bath, and was buried at
Walcot Church.  The widow and daughters went into lodgings for a few
months, and then removed to Southampton.  The only records that I can
find about her during those four years are the three following letters to
her sister; one from Lyme, the others from Bath.  They shew that she went
a good deal into society, in a quiet way, chiefly with ladies; and that
her eyes were always open to minute traits of character in those with
whom she associated:--

_Extract from a letter from Jane Austen to her Sister_.

   'Lyme, Friday, Sept. 14 (1804).

   'MY DEAR CASSANDRA,--I take the first sheet of fine striped paper to
   thank you for your letter from Weymouth, and express my hopes of your
   being at Ibthorp before this time.  I expect to hear that you reached
   it yesterday evening, being able to get as far as Blandford on
   Wednesday.  Your account of Weymouth contains nothing which strikes me
   so forcibly as there being no ice in the town.  For every other
   vexation I was in some measure prepared, and particularly for your
   disappointment in not seeing the Royal Family go on board on Tuesday,
   having already heard from Mr. Crawford that he had seen you in the
   very act of being too late.  But for there being no ice, what could
   prepare me!  You found my letter at Andover, I hope, yesterday, and
   have now for many hours been satisfied that your kind anxiety on my
   behalf was as much thrown away as kind anxiety usually is.  I continue
   quite well; in proof of which I have bathed again this morning.  It
   was absolutely necessary that I should have the little fever and
   indisposition which I had: it has been all the fashion this week in
   Lyme.  We are quite settled in our lodgings by this time, as you may
   suppose, and everything goes on in the usual order.  The servants
   behave very well, and make no difficulties, though nothing certainly
   can exceed the inconvenience of the offices, except the general
   dirtiness of the house and furniture, and all its inhabitants.  I
   endeavour, as far as I can, to supply your place, and be useful, and
   keep things in order.  I detect dirt in the water decanters, as fast
   as I can, and keep everything as it was under your administration . .
   . .  The ball last night was pleasant, but not full for Thursday.  My
   father staid contentedly till half-past nine (we went a little after
   eight), and then walked home with James and a lanthorn, though I
   believe the lanthorn was not lit, as the moon was up; but sometimes
   this lanthorn may be a great convenience to him.  My mother and I
   staid about an hour later.  Nobody asked me the two first dances; the
   two next I danced with Mr. Crawford, and had I chosen to stay longer
   might have danced with Mr. Granville, Mrs. Granville's son, whom my
   dear friend Miss A. introduced to me, or with a new odd-looking man
   who had been eyeing me for some time, and at last, without any
   introduction, asked me if I meant to dance again.  I think he must be
   Irish by his ease, and because I imagine him to belong to the honbl
   B.'s, who are son, and son's wife of an Irish viscount, bold queer-
   looking people, just fit to be quality at Lyme.  I called yesterday
   morning (ought it not in strict propriety to be termed
   yester-morning?) on Miss A. and was introduced to her father and
   mother.  Like other young ladies she is considerably genteeler than
   her parents.  Mrs. A. sat darning a pair of stockings the whole of my
   visit.  But do not mention this at home, lest a warning should act as
   an example.  We afterwards walked together for an hour on the Cobb;
   she is very converseable in a common way; I do not perceive wit or
   genius, but she has sense and some degree of taste, and her manners
   are very engaging.  She seems to like people rather too easily.

   'Yours affectly,
   'J. A.'

Letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra at Ibthorp, alluding to
the sudden death of Mrs. Lloyd at that place:--

   '25 Gay Street (Bath), Monday,

   April 8, 1805.

   'MY DEAR CASSANDRA,--Here is a day for you.  Did Bath or Ibthorp ever
   see such an 8th of April?  It is March and April together; the glare
   of the one and the warmth of the other.  We do nothing but walk about.
   As far as your means will admit, I hope you profit by such weather
   too.  I dare say you are already the better for change of place.  We
   were out again last night.  Miss Irvine invited us, when I met her in
   the Crescent, to drink tea with them, but I rather declined it, having
   no idea that my mother would be disposed for another evening visit
   there so soon; but when I gave her the message, I found her very well
   inclined to go; and accordingly, on leaving Chapel, we walked to
   Lansdown.  This morning we have been to see Miss Chamberlaine look hot
   on horseback.  Seven years and four months ago we went to the same
   riding-house to see Miss Lefroy's performance! {75a}  What a different
   set are we now moving in!  But seven years, I suppose, are enough to
   change every pore of one's skin and every feeling of one's mind.  We
   did not walk long in the Crescent yesterday.  It was hot and not
   crowded enough; so we went into the field, and passed close by S. T.
   and Miss S. {75b} again.  I have not yet seen her face, but neither
   her dress nor air have anything of the dash or stylishness which the
   Browns talked of; quite the contrary; indeed, her dress is not even
   smart, and her appearance very quiet.  Miss Irvine says she is never
   speaking a word.  Poor wretch; I am afraid she is _en penitence_.  Here
   has been that excellent Mrs. Coulthart calling, while my mother was
   out, and I was believed to be so.  I always respected her, as a good-
   hearted friendly woman.  And the Browns have been here; I find their
   affidavits on the table.  The "Ambuscade" reached Gibraltar on the 9th
   of March, and found all well; so say the papers.  We have had no
   letters from anybody, but we expect to hear from Edward to-morrow, and
   from you soon afterwards.  How happy they are at Godmersham now!  I
   shall be very glad of a letter from Ibthorp, that I may know how you
   all are, but particularly yourself.  This is nice weather for Mrs. J.
   Austen's going to Speen, and I hope she will have a pleasant visit
   there.  I expect a prodigious account of the christening dinner;
   perhaps it brought you at last into the company of Miss Dundas again.

   '_Tuesday_.--I received your letter last night, and wish it may be
   soon followed by another to say that all is over; but I cannot help
   thinking that nature will struggle again, and produce a revival.  Poor
   woman!  May her end be peaceful and easy as the exit we have
   witnessed!  And I dare say it will.  If there is no revival, suffering
   must be all over; even the consciousness of existence, I suppose, was
   gone when you wrote.  The nonsense I have been writing in this and in
   my last letter seems out of place at such a time, but I will not mind
   it; it will do you no harm, and nobody else will be attacked by it.  I
   am heartily glad that you can speak so comfortably of your own health
   and looks, though I can scarcely comprehend the latter being really
   approved.  Could travelling fifty miles produce such an immediate
   change?  You were looking very poorly here, and everybody seemed
   sensible of it.  Is there a charm in a hack postchaise?  But if there
   were, Mrs. Craven's carriage might have undone it all.  I am much
   obliged to you for the time and trouble you have bestowed on Mary's
   cap, and am glad it pleases her; but it will prove a useless gift at
   present, I suppose.  Will not she leave Ibthorp on her mother's death?
   As a companion you are all that Martha can be supposed to want, and in
   that light, under these circumstances, your visit will indeed have
   been well timed.

   '_Thursday_.--I was not able to go on yesterday; all my wit and
   leisure were bestowed on letters to Charles and Henry.  To the former
   I wrote in consequence of my mother's having seen in the papers that
   the "Urania" was waiting at Portsmouth for the convoy for Halifax.
   This is nice, as it is only three weeks ago that you wrote by the
   "Camilla."  I wrote to Henry because I had a letter from him in which
   he desired to hear from me very soon.  His to me was most affectionate
   and kind, as well as entertaining; there is no merit to him in _that_;
   he cannot help being amusing.  He offers to meet us on the sea coast,
   if the plan of which Edward gave him some hint takes place.  Will not
   this be making the execution of such a plan more desirable and
   delightful than ever?  He talks of the rambles we took together last
   summer with pleasing affection.

   'Yours ever,
   'J. A.'

_From the same to the same_.

   'Gay St. Sunday Evening,
   'April 21 (1805).

   MY DEAR CASSANDRA,--I am much obliged to you for writing to me again
   so soon; your letter yesterday was quite an unexpected pleasure.  Poor
   Mrs. Stent! it has been her lot to be always in the way; but we must
   be merciful, for perhaps in time we may come to be Mrs. Stents
   ourselves, unequal to anything, and unwelcome to everybody . . . .  My
   morning engagement was with the Cookes, and our party consisted of
   George and Mary, a Mr. L., Miss B., who had been with us at the
   concert, and the youngest Miss W.  Not Julia; we have done with her;
   she is very ill; but Mary.  Mary W.'s turn is actually come to be
   grown up, and have a fine complexion, and wear great square muslin
   shawls.  I have not expressly enumerated myself among the party, but
   there I was, and my cousin George was very kind, and talked sense to
   me every now and then, in the intervals of his more animated fooleries
   with Miss B., who is very young, and rather handsome, and whose
   gracious manners, ready wit, and solid remarks, put me somewhat in
   mind of my old acquaintance L. L.  There was a monstrous deal of
   stupid quizzing and common-place nonsense talked, but scarcely any
   wit; all that bordered on it or on sense came from my cousin George,
   whom altogether I like very well.  Mr. B. seems nothing more than a
   tall young man.  My evening engagement and walk was with Miss A., who
   had called on me the day before, and gently upbraided me in her turn
   with a change of manners to her since she had been in Bath, or at
   least of late.  Unlucky me! that my notice should be of such
   consequence, and my manners so bad!  She was so well disposed, and so
   reasonable, that I soon forgave her, and made this engagement with her
   in proof of it.  She is really an agreeable girl, so I think I may
   like her; and her great want of a companion at home, which may well
   make any tolerable acquaintance important to her, gives her another
   claim on my attention.  I shall endeavour as much as possible to keep
   my intimacies in their proper place, and prevent their clashing.  Among
   so many friends, it will be well if I do not get into a scrape; and
   now here is Miss Blashford come.  I should have gone distracted if the
   Bullers had staid . . . .  When I tell you I have been visiting a
   countess this morning, you will immediately, with great justice, but
   no truth, guess it to be Lady Roden.  No: it is Lady Leven, the mother
   of Lord Balgonie.  On receiving a message from Lord and Lady Leven
   through the Mackays, declaring their intention of waiting on us, we
   thought it right to go to them.  I hope we have not done too much, but
   the friends and admirers of Charles must be attended to.  They seem
   very reasonable, good sort of people, very civil, and full of his
   praise. {80}  We were shewn at first into an empty drawing-room, and
   presently in came his lordship, not knowing who we were, to apologise
   for the servant's mistake, and to say himself what was untrue, that
   Lady Leven was not within.  He is a tall gentlemanlike looking man,
   with spectacles, and rather deaf.  After sitting with him ten minutes
   we walked away; but Lady Leven coming out of the dining parlour as we
   passed the door, we were obliged to attend her back to it, and pay our
   visit over again.  She is a stout woman, with a very handsome face.  By
   this means we had the pleasure of hearing Charles's praises twice
   over.  They think themselves excessively obliged to him, and estimate
   him so highly as to wish Lord Balgonie, when he is quite recovered, to
   go out to him.  There is a pretty little Lady Marianne of the party,
   to be shaken hands with, and asked if she remembered Mr. Austen: . . .

   'I shall write to Charles by the next packet, unless you tell me in
   the meantime of your intending to do it.

   'Believe me, if you chuse,
   'Yr affte Sister.'

Jane did not estimate too highly the 'Cousin George' mentioned in the
foregoing letter; who might easily have been superior in sense and wit to
the rest of the party.  He was the Rev. George Leigh Cooke, long known
and respected at Oxford, where he held important offices, and had the
privilege of helping to form the minds of men more eminent than himself.
As Tutor in Corpus Christi College, he became instructor to some of the
most distinguished undergraduates of that time: amongst others to Dr.
Arnold, the Rev. John Keble, and Sir John Coleridge.  The latter has
mentioned him in terms of affectionate regard, both in his Memoir of
Keble, and in a letter which appears in Dean Stanley's 'Life of Arnold.'
Mr. Cooke was also an impressive preacher of earnest awakening sermons.  I
remember to have heard it observed by some of my undergraduate friends
that, after all, there was more good to be got from George Cooke's plain
sermons than from much of the more laboured oratory of the University
pulpit.  He was frequently Examiner in the schools, and occupied the
chair of the Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, from 1810 to 1853.

Before the end of 1805, the little family party removed to Southampton.
They resided in a commodious old-fashioned house in a corner of Castle

I have no letters of my aunt, nor any other record of her, during her
four years' residence at Southampton; and though I now began to know,
and, what was the same thing, to love her myself, yet my observations
were only those of a young boy, and were not capable of penetrating her
character, or estimating her powers.  I have, however, a lively
recollection of some local circumstances at Southampton, and as they
refer chiefly to things which have been long ago swept away, I will
record them.  My grandmother's house had a pleasant garden, bounded on
one side by the old city walls; the top of this wall was sufficiently
wide to afford a pleasant walk, with an extensive view, easily accessible
to ladies by steps.  This must have been a part of the identical walls
which witnessed the embarkation of Henry V. before the battle of
Agincourt, and the detection of the conspiracy of Cambridge, Scroop, and
Grey, which Shakspeare has made so picturesque; when, according to the
chorus in Henry V., the citizens saw

   The well-appointed King at Hampton Pier
   Embark his royalty.

Among the records of the town of Southampton, they have a minute and
authentic account, drawn up at that time, of the encampment of Henry V.
near the town, before his embarkment for France.  It is remarkable that
the place where the army was encamped, then a low level plain, is now
entirely covered by the sea, and is called Westport. {83}  At that time
Castle Square was occupied by a fantastic edifice, too large for the
space in which it stood, though too small to accord well with its
castellated style, erected by the second Marquis of Lansdowne,
half-brother to the well-known statesman, who succeeded him in the title.
The Marchioness had a light phaeton, drawn by six, and sometimes by eight
little ponies, each pair decreasing in size, and becoming lighter in
colour, through all the grades of dark brown, light brown, bay, and
chestnut, as it was placed farther away from the carriage.  The two
leading pairs were managed by two boyish postilions, the two pairs
nearest to the carriage were driven in hand.  It was a delight to me to
look down from the window and see this fairy equipage put together; for
the premises of this castle were so contracted that the whole process
went on in the little space that remained of the open square.  Like other
fairy works, however, it all proved evanescent.  Not only carriage and
ponies, but castle itself, soon vanished away, 'like the baseless fabric
of a vision.'  On the death of the Marquis in 1809, the castle was pulled
down.  Few probably remember its existence; and any one who might visit
the place now would wonder how it ever could have stood there.

In 1809 Mr. Knight was able to offer his mother the choice of two houses
on his property; one near his usual residence at Godmersham Park in Kent;
the other near Chawton House, his occasional residence in Hampshire.  The
latter was chosen; and in that year the mother and daughters, together
with Miss Lloyd, a near connection who lived with them, settled
themselves at Chawton Cottage.

Chawton may be called the _second_, as well as the _last_ home of Jane
Austen; for during the temporary residences of the party at Bath and
Southampton she was only a sojourner in a strange land; but here she
found a real home amongst her own people.  It so happened that during her
residence at Chawton circumstances brought several of her brothers and
their families within easy distance of the house.  Chawton must also be
considered the place most closely connected with her career as a writer;
for there it was that, in the maturity of her mind, she either wrote or
rearranged, and prepared for publication the books by which she has
become known to the world.  This was the home where, after a few years,
while still in the prime of life, she began to droop and wither away, and
which she left only in the last stage of her illness, yielding to the
persuasion of friends hoping against hope.

[Chawton Church: ChawtonChurch.jpg]

This house stood in the village of Chawton, about a mile from Alton, on
the right hand side, just where the road to Winchester branches off from
that to Gosport.  It was so close to the road that the front door opened
upon it; while a very narrow enclosure, paled in on each side, protected
the building from danger of collision with any runaway vehicle.  I
believe it had been originally built for an inn, for which purpose it was
certainly well situated.  Afterwards it had been occupied by Mr. Knight's
steward; but by some additions to the house, and some judicious planting
and skreening, it was made a pleasant and commodious abode.  Mr. Knight
was experienced and adroit at such arrangements, and this was a labour of
love to him.  A good-sized entrance and two sitting-rooms made the length
of the house, all intended originally to look upon the road, but the
large drawing-room window was blocked up and turned into a book-case, and
another opened at the side which gave to view only turf and trees, as a
high wooden fence and hornbeam hedge shut out the Winchester road, which
skirted the whole length of the little domain.  Trees were planted each
side to form a shrubbery walk, carried round the enclosure, which gave a
sufficient space for ladies' exercise.  There was a pleasant irregular
mixture of hedgerow, and gravel walk, and orchard, and long grass for
mowing, arising from two or three little enclosures having been thrown
together.  The house itself was quite as good as the generality of
parsonage-houses then were, and much in the same style; and was capable
of receiving other members of the family as frequent visitors.  It was
sufficiently well furnished; everything inside and out was kept in good
repair, and it was altogether a comfortable and ladylike establishment,
though the means which supported it were not large.

I give this description because some interest is generally taken in the
residence of a popular writer.  Cowper's unattractive house in the street
of Olney has been pointed out to visitors, and has even attained the
honour of an engraving in Southey's edition of his works: but I cannot
recommend any admirer of Jane Austen to undertake a pilgrimage to this
spot.  The building indeed still stands, but it has lost all that gave it
its character.  After the death of Mrs. Cassandra Austen, in 1845, it was
divided into tenements for labourers, and the grounds reverted to
ordinary uses.


_Description of Jane Austen's person, character, and tastes_.

As my memoir has now reached the period when I saw a great deal of my
aunt, and was old enough to understand something of her value, I will
here attempt a description of her person, mind, and habits.  In person
she was very attractive; her figure was rather tall and slender, her step
light and firm, and her whole appearance expressive of health and
animation.  In complexion she was a clear brunette with a rich colour;
she had full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and well formed,
bright hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close round her
face.  If not so regularly handsome as her sister, yet her countenance
had a peculiar charm of its own to the eyes of most beholders.  At the
time of which I am now writing, she never was seen, either morning or
evening, without a cap; I believe that she and her sister were generally
thought to have taken to the garb of middle age earlier than their years
or their looks required; and that, though remarkably neat in their dress
as in all their ways, they were scarcely sufficiently regardful of the
fashionable, or the becoming.

She was not highly accomplished according to the present standard.  Her
sister drew well, and it is from a drawing of hers that the likeness
prefixed to this volume has been taken.  Jane herself was fond of music,
and had a sweet voice, both in singing and in conversation; in her youth
she had received some instruction on the pianoforte; and at Chawton she
practised daily, chiefly before breakfast.  I believe she did so partly
that she might not disturb the rest of the party who were less fond of
music.  In the evening she would sometimes sing, to her own
accompaniment, some simple old songs, the words and airs of which, now
never heard, still linger in my memory.

She read French with facility, and knew something of Italian.  In those
days German was no more thought of than Hindostanee, as part of a lady's
education.  In history she followed the old guides--Goldsmith, Hume, and
Robertson.  Critical enquiry into the usually received statements of the
old historians was scarcely begun.  The history of the early kings of
Rome had not yet been dissolved into legend.  Historic characters lay
before the reader's eyes in broad light or shade, not much broken up by
details.  The virtues of King Henry VIII. were yet undiscovered, nor had
much light been thrown on the inconsistencies of Queen Elizabeth; the one
was held to be an unmitigated tyrant, and an embodied Blue Beard; the
other a perfect model of wisdom and policy.  Jane, when a girl, had
strong political opinions, especially about the affairs of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries.  She was a vehement defender of Charles I. and
his grandmother Mary; but I think it was rather from an impulse of
feeling than from any enquiry into the evidences by which they must be
condemned or acquitted.  As she grew up, the politics of the day occupied
very little of her attention, but she probably shared the feeling of
moderate Toryism which prevailed in her family.  She was well acquainted
with the old periodicals from the 'Spectator' downwards.  Her knowledge
of Richardson's works was such as no one is likely again to acquire, now
that the multitude and the merits of our light literature have called off
the attention of readers from that great master.  Every circumstance
narrated in Sir Charles Grandison, all that was ever said or done in the
cedar parlour, was familiar to her; and the wedding days of Lady L. and
Lady G. were as well remembered as if they had been living friends.
Amongst her favourite writers, Johnson in prose, Crabbe in verse, and
Cowper in both, stood high.  It is well that the native good taste of
herself and of those with whom she lived, saved her from the snare into
which a sister novelist had fallen, of imitating the grandiloquent style
of Johnson.  She thoroughly enjoyed Crabbe; perhaps on account of a
certain resemblance to herself in minute and highly finished detail; and
would sometimes say, in jest, that, if she ever married at all, she could
fancy being Mrs. Crabbe; looking on the author quite as an abstract idea,
and ignorant and regardless what manner of man he might be.  Scott's
poetry gave her great pleasure; she did not live to make much
acquaintance with his novels.  Only three of them were published before
her death; but it will be seen by the following extract from one of her
letters, that she was quite prepared to admit the merits of 'Waverley';
and it is remarkable that, living, as she did, far apart from the gossip
of the literary world, she should even then have spoken so confidently of
his being the author of it:--

   'Walter Scott has no business to write novels; especially good ones.
   It is not fair.  He has fame and profit enough as a poet, and ought
   not to be taking the bread out of other people's mouths.  I do not
   mean to like "Waverley," if I can help it, but I fear I must.  I am
   quite determined, however, not to be pleased with Mrs. ---'s, should I
   ever meet with it, which I hope I may not.  I think I can be stout
   against anything written by her.  I have made up my mind to like no
   novels really, but Miss Edgeworth's, E.'s, and my own.'

It was not, however, what she _knew_, but what she _was_, that
distinguished her from others.  I cannot better describe the fascination
which she exercised over children than by quoting the words of two of her
nieces.  One says:--

   'As a very little girl I was always creeping up to aunt Jane, and
   following her whenever I could, in the house and out of it.  I might
   not have remembered this but for the recollection of my mother's
   telling me privately, that I must not be troublesome to my aunt.  Her
   first charm to children was great sweetness of manner.  She seemed to
   love you, and you loved her in return.  This, as well as I can now
   recollect, was what I felt in my early days, before I was old enough
   to be amused by her cleverness.  But soon came the delight of her
   playful talk.  She could make everything amusing to a child.  Then, as
   I got older, when cousins came to share the entertainment, she would
   tell us the most delightful stories, chiefly of Fairyland, and her
   fairies had all characters of their own.  The tale was invented, I am
   sure, at the moment, and was continued for two or three days, if
   occasion served.'

Again: 'When staying at Chawton, with two of her other nieces, we often
had amusements in which my aunt was very helpful.  She was the one to
whom we always looked for help.  She would furnish us with what we wanted
from her wardrobe; and she would be the entertaining visitor in our make-
believe house.  She amused us in various ways.  Once, I remember, in
giving a conversation as between myself and my two cousins, supposing we
were all grown up, the day after a ball.'

Very similar is the testimony of another niece:--'Aunt Jane was the
general favourite with children; her ways with them being so playful, and
her long circumstantial stories so delightful.  These were continued from
time to time, and were begged for on all possible and impossible
occasions; woven, as she proceeded, out of nothing but her own happy
talent for invention.  Ah! if but one of them could be recovered!  And
again, as I grew older, when the original seventeen years between our
ages seemed to shrink to seven, or to nothing, it comes back to me now
how strangely I missed her.  It had become so much a habit with me to put
by things in my mind with a reference to her, and to say to myself, I
shall keep this for aunt Jane.'

A nephew of hers used to observe that his visits to Chawton, after the
death of his aunt Jane, were always a disappointment to him.  From old
associations he could not help expecting to be particularly happy in that
house; and never till he got there could he realise to himself how all
its peculiar charm was gone.  It was not only that the chief light in the
house was quenched, but that the loss of it had cast a shade over the
spirits of the survivors.  Enough has been said to show her love for
children, and her wonderful power of entertaining them; but her friends
of all ages felt her enlivening influence.  Her unusually quick sense of
the ridiculous led her to play with all the common-places of everyday
life, whether as regarded persons or things; but she never played with
its serious duties or responsibilities, nor did she ever turn individuals
into ridicule.  With all her neighbours in the village she vas on
friendly, though not on intimate, terms.  She took a kindly interest in
all their proceedings, and liked to hear about them.  They often served
for her amusement; but it was her own nonsense that gave zest to the
gossip.  She was as far as possible from being censorious or satirical.
She never abused them or _quizzed_ them--_that_ was the word of the day;
an ugly word, now obsolete; and the ugly practice which it expressed is
much less prevalent now than it was then.  The laugh which she
occasionally raised was by imagining for her neighbours, as she was
equally ready to imagine for her friends or herself, impossible
contingencies, or by relating in prose or verse some trifling anecdote
coloured to her own fancy, or in writing a fictitious history of what
they were supposed to have said or done, which could deceive nobody.

The following specimens may be given of the liveliness of mind which
imparted an agreeable flavour both to her correspondence and her


   At Eastbourne Mr. Gell, From being perfectly well,
   Became dreadfully ill, For love of Miss Gill.
   So he said, with some sighs, I'm the slave of your _iis_;
   Oh, restore, if you please, By accepting my _ees_.


   Maria, good-humoured, and handsome, and tall,
      For a husband was at her last stake;
   And having in vain danced at many a ball,
      Is now happy to _jump at a Wake_.

   'We were all at the play last night to see Miss O'Neil in Isabella.  I
   do not think she was quite equal to my expectation.  I fancy I want
   something more than can be.  Acting seldom satisfies me.  I took two
   pockethandkerchiefs, but had very little occasion for either.  She is
   an elegant creature, however, and hugs Mr. Young delightfully.'

   'So, Miss B. is actually married, but I have never seen it in the
   papers; and one may as well be single if the wedding is not to be in

Once, too, she took it into her head to write the following mock
panegyric on a young friend, who really was clever and handsome:--


   In measured verse I'll now rehearse
      The charms of lovely Anna:
   And, first, her mind is unconfined
      Like any vast savannah.


   Ontario's lake may fitly speak
      Her fancy's ample bound:
   Its circuit may, on strict survey
      Five hundred miles be found.


   Her wit descends on foes and friends
      Like famed Niagara's Fall;
   And travellers gaze in wild amaze,
      And listen, one and all.


   Her judgment sound, thick, black, profound,
      Like transatlantic groves,
   Dispenses aid, and friendly shade
      To all that in it roves.


   If thus her mind to be defined
      America exhausts,
   And all that's grand in that great land
      In similes it costs--


   Oh how can I her person try
      To image and portray?
   How paint the face, the form how trace
      In which those virtues lay?


   Another world must be unfurled,
      Another language known,
   Ere tongue or sound can publish round
      Her charms of flesh and bone.

I believe that all this nonsense was nearly extempore, and that the fancy
of drawing the images from America arose at the moment from the obvious
rhyme which presented itself in the first stanza.

The following extracts are from letters addressed to a niece who was at
that time amusing herself by attempting a novel, probably never finished,
certainly never published, and of which I know nothing but what these
extracts tell.  They show the good-natured sympathy and encouragement
which the aunt, then herself occupied in writing 'Emma,' could give to
the less matured powers of the niece.  They bring out incidentally some
of her opinions concerning compositions of that kind:--


   'Chawton, Aug. 10, 1814.

   'Your aunt C. does not like desultory novels, and is rather fearful
   that yours will be too much so; that there will be too frequent a
   change from one set of people to another, and that circumstances will
   be sometimes introduced, of apparent consequence, which will lead to
   nothing.  It will not be so great an objection to me.  I allow much
   more latitude than she does, and think nature and spirit cover many
   sins of a wandering story.  And people in general do not care much
   about it, for your comfort . . .'

   'Sept. 9.

   'You are now collecting your people delightfully, getting them exactly
   into such a spot as is the delight of my life.  Three or four families
   in a country village is the very thing to work on; and I hope you will
   write a great deal more, and make full use of them while they are so
   very favourably arranged.'

   'Sept. 28.

   'Devereux Forrester being ruined by his vanity is very good: but I
   wish you would not let him plunge into a "vortex of dissipation."  I
   do not object to the thing, but I cannot bear the expression: it is
   such thorough novel slang; and so old that I dare say Adam met with it
   in the first novel that he opened.'

   'Hans Place (Nov. 1814).

   'I have been very far from finding your book an evil, I assure you.  I
   read it immediately, and with great pleasure.  Indeed, I do think you
   get on very fast.  I wish other people of my acquaintance could
   compose as rapidly.  Julian's history was quite a surprise to me.  You
   had not very long known it yourself, I suspect; but I have no
   objection to make to the circumstance; it is very well told, and his
   having been in love with the aunt gives Cecilia an additional interest
   with him.  I like the idea; a very proper compliment to an aunt!  I
   rather imagine, indeed, that nieces are seldom chosen but in
   compliment to some aunt or other.  I dare say your husband was in love
   with me once, and would never have thought of you if he had not
   supposed me dead of a scarlet fever.'

Jane Austen was successful in everything that she attempted with her
fingers.  None of us could throw spilikins in so perfect a circle, or
take them off with so steady a hand.  Her performances with cup and ball
were marvellous.  The one used at Chawton was an easy one, and she has
been known to catch it on the point above an hundred times in succession,
till her hand was weary.  She sometimes found a resource in that simple
game, when unable, from weakness in her eyes, to read or write long
together.  A specimen of her clear strong handwriting is here given.
Happy would the compositors for the press be if they had always so
legible a manuscript to work from.  But the writing was not the only part
of her letters which showed superior handiwork.  In those days there was
an art in folding and sealing.  No adhesive envelopes made all easy.  Some
people's letters always looked loose and untidy; but her paper was sure
to take the right folds, and her sealing-wax to drop into the right
place.  Her needlework both plain and ornamental was excellent, and might
almost have put a sewing machine to shame.  She was considered especially
great in satin stitch.  She spent much time in these occupations, and
some of her merriest talk was over clothes which she and her companions
were making, sometimes for themselves, and sometimes for the poor.  There
still remains a curious specimen of her needlework made for a sister-in-
law, my mother.  In a very small bag is deposited a little rolled up
housewife, furnished with minikin needles and fine thread.  In the
housewife is a tiny pocket, and in the pocket is enclosed a slip of
paper, on which, written as with a crow quill, are these lines:--

   This little bag, I hope, will prove
      To be not vainly made;
   For should you thread and needles want,
      It will afford you aid.

   And, as we are about to part,
      'T will serve another end:
   For, when you look upon this bag,
      You'll recollect your friend.

It is the kind of article that some benevolent fairy might be supposed to
give as a reward to a diligent little girl.  The whole is of flowered
silk, and having been never used and carefully preserved, it is as fresh
and bright as when it was first made seventy years ago; and shows that
the same hand which painted so exquisitely with the pen could work as
delicately with the needle.

I have collected some of the bright qualities which shone, as it were, on
the surface of Jane Austen's character, and attracted most notice; but
underneath them there lay the strong foundations of sound sense and
judgment, rectitude of principle, and delicacy of feeling, qualifying her
equally to advise, assist, or amuse.  She was, in fact, as ready to
comfort the unhappy, or to nurse the sick, as she was to laugh and jest
with the lighthearted.  Two of her nieces were grown up, and one of them
was married, before she was taken away from them.  As their minds became
more matured, they were admitted into closer intimacy with her, and
learned more of her graver thoughts; they know what a sympathising friend
and judicious adviser they found her to be in many little difficulties
and doubts of early womanhood.

I do not venture to speak of her religious principles: that is a subject
on which she herself was more inclined to _think_ and _act_ than to
_talk_, and I shall imitate her reserve; satisfied to have shown how much
of Christian love and humility abounded in her heart, without presuming
to lay bare the roots whence those graces grew.  Some little insight,
however, into these deeper recesses of the heart must be given, when we
come to speak of her death.


_Habits of Composition resumed after a long interval--First
publication--The interest taken by the Author in the success of her

It may seem extraordinary that Jane Austen should have written so little
during the years that elapsed between leaving Steventon and settling at
Chawton; especially when this cessation from work is contrasted with her
literary activity both before and after that period.  It might rather
have been expected that fresh scenes and new acquaintance would have
called forth her powers; while the quiet life which the family led both
at Bath and Southampton must have afforded abundant leisure for
composition; but so it was that nothing which I know of, certainly
nothing which the public have seen, was completed in either of those
places.  I can only state the fact, without assigning any cause for it;
but as soon as she was fixed in her second home, she resumed the habits
of composition which had been formed in her first, and continued them to
the end of her life.  The first year of her residence at Chawton seems to
have been devoted to revising and preparing for the press 'Sense and
Sensibility,' and 'Pride and Prejudice'; but between February 1811 and
August 1816, she began and completed 'Mansfield Park,' 'Emma,' and
'Persuasion,' so that the last five years of her life produced the same
number of novels with those which had been written in her early youth.
How she was able to effect all this is surprising, for she had no
separate study to retire to, and most of the work must have been done in
the general sitting-room, subject to all kinds of casual interruptions.
She was careful that her occupation should not be suspected by servants,
or visitors, or any persons beyond her own family party.  She wrote upon
small sheets of paper which could easily be put away, or covered with a
piece of blotting paper.  There was, between the front door and the
offices, a swing door which creaked when it was opened; but she objected
to having this little inconvenience remedied, because it gave her notice
when anyone was coming.  She was not, however, troubled with companions
like her own Mrs. Allen in 'Northanger Abbey,' whose 'vacancy of mind and
incapacity for thinking were such that, as she never talked a great deal,
so she could never be entirely silent; and therefore, while she sat at
work, if she lost her needle, or broke her thread, or saw a speck of dirt
on her gown, she must observe it, whether there were any one at leisure
to answer her or not.'  In that well occupied female party there must
have been many precious hours of silence during which the pen was busy at
the little mahogany writing-desk, {102} while Fanny Price, or Emma
Woodhouse, or Anne Elliott was growing into beauty and interest.  I have
no doubt that I, and my sisters and cousins, in our visits to Chawton,
frequently disturbed this mystic process, without having any idea of the
mischief that we were doing; certainly we never should have guessed it by
any signs of impatience or irritability in the writer.

As so much had been previously prepared, when once she began to publish,
her works came out in quick succession.  'Sense and Sensibility' was
published in 1811, 'Pride and Prejudice' at the beginning of 1813,
'Mansfield Park' in 1814, 'Emma' early in 1816; 'Northanger Abbey' and
'Persuasion' did not appear till after her death, in 1818.  It will be
shown farther on why 'Northanger Abbey,' though amongst the first
written, was one of the last published.  Her first three novels were
published by Egerton, her last three by Murray.  The profits of the four
which had been printed before her death had not at that time amounted to
seven hundred pounds.

I have no record of the publication of 'Sense and Sensibility,' nor of
the author's feelings at this her first appearance before the public; but
the following extracts from three letters to her sister give a lively
picture of the interest with which she watched the reception of 'Pride
and Prejudice,' and show the carefulness with which she corrected her
compositions, and rejected much that had been written:--

   Chawton, Friday, January 29 (1813).

   'I hope you received my little parcel by J. Bond on Wednesday evening,
   my dear Cassandra, and that you will be ready to hear from me again on
   Sunday, for I feel that I must write to you to-day.  I want to tell
   you that I have got my own darling child from London.  On Wednesday I
   received one copy sent down by Falkener, with three lines from Henry
   to say that he had given another to Charles and sent a third by the
   coach to Godmersham . . . .  The advertisement is in our paper to-day
   for the first time: 18_s_.  He shall ask 1_l_. 1_s_. for my two next,
   and 1_l_. 8_s_. for my stupidest of all.  Miss B. dined with us on the
   very day of the book's coming, and in the evening we fairly set at it,
   and read half the first vol. to her, prefacing that, having
   intelligence from Henry that such a work would soon appear, we had
   desired him to send it whenever it came out, and I believe it passed
   with her unsuspected.  She was amused, poor soul!  _That_ she could
   not help, you know, with two such people to lead the way, but she
   really does seem to admire Elizabeth.  I must confess that I think her
   as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be
   able to tolerate those who do not like _her_ at least I do not know.
   There are a few typical errors; and a "said he," or a "said she,"
   would sometimes make the dialogue more immediately clear; but "I do
   not write for such dull elves" as have not a great deal of ingenuity
   themselves.  The second volume is shorter than I could wish, but the
   difference is not so much in reality as in look, there being a larger
   proportion of narrative in that part.  I have lop't and crop't so
   successfully, however, that I imagine it must be rather shorter than
   "Sense and Sensibility" altogether.  Now I will try and write of
   something else.'

   Chawton, Thursday, February 4 (1813).

   'MY DEAR CASSANDRA,--Your letter was truly welcome, and I am much
   obliged to you for all your praise; it came at a right time, for I had
   had some fits of disgust.  Our second evening's reading to Miss B. had
   not pleased me so well, but I believe something must be attributed to
   my mother's too rapid way of getting on: though she perfectly
   understands the characters herself, she cannot speak as they ought.
   Upon the whole, however, I am quite vain enough and well satisfied
   enough.  The work is rather too light, and bright, and sparkling; it
   wants shade; it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long
   chapter of sense, if it could be had; if not, of solemn specious
   nonsense, about something unconnected with the story; an essay on
   writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or the history of Buonaparte, or
   something that would form a contrast, and bring the reader with
   increased delight to the playfulness and epigrammatism of the general
   style . . . .  The greatest blunder in the printing that I have met
   with is in page 220, v. 3, where two speeches are made into one.  There
   might as well be no suppers at Longbourn; but I suppose it was the
   remains of Mrs. Bennett's old Meryton habits.'

The following letter seems to have been written soon after the last two:
in February 1813:--

   'This will be a quick return for yours, my dear Cassandra; I doubt its
   having much else to recommend it; but there is no saying; it may turn
   out to be a very long and delightful letter.  I am exceedingly pleased
   that you can say what you do, after having gone through the whole
   work, and Fanny's praise is very gratifying.  My hopes were tolerably
   strong of _her_, but nothing like a certainty.  Her liking Darcy and
   Elizabeth is enough.  She might hate all the others, if she would.  I
   have her opinion under her own hand this morning, but your transcript
   of it, which I read first, was not, and is not, the less acceptable.
   To _me_ it is of course all praise, but the more exact truth which she
   sends you is good enough . . . .  Our party on Wednesday was not
   unagreeable, though we wanted a master of the house less anxious and
   fidgety, and more conversable.  Upon Mrs. ---'s mentioning that she
   had sent the rejected addresses to Mrs. H., I began talking to her a
   little about them, and expressed my hope of their having amused her.
   Her answer was, "Oh dear yes, very much, very droll indeed, the
   opening of the house, and the striking up of the fiddles!"  What she
   meant, poor woman, who shall say?  I sought no farther.  As soon as a
   whist party was formed, and a round table threatened, I made my mother
   an excuse and came away, leaving just as many for _their_ round table
   as there were at Mrs. Grant's. {107}  I wish they might be as
   agreeable a set.  My mother is very well, and finds great amusement in
   glove-knitting, and at present wants no other work.  We quite run over
   with books.  She has got Sir John Carr's "Travels in Spain," and I am
   reading a Society octavo, an "Essay on the Military Police and
   Institutions of the British Empire," by Capt. Pasley of the Engineers,
   a book which I protested against at first, but which upon trial I find
   delightfully written and highly entertaining.  I am as much in love
   with the author as I ever was with Clarkson or Buchanan, or even the
   two Mr. Smiths of the city.  The first soldier I ever sighed for; but
   he does write with extraordinary force and spirit.  Yesterday,
   moreover, brought us "Mrs. Grant's Letters," with Mr. White's
   compliments; but I have disposed of them, compliments and all, to Miss
   P., and amongst so many readers or retainers of books as we have in
   Chawton, I dare say there will be no difficulty in getting rid of them
   for another fortnight, if necessary.  I have disposed of Mrs. Grant
   for the second fortnight to Mrs. ---.  It can make no difference to
   _her_ which of the twenty-six fortnights in the year the 3 vols. lie
   on her table.  I have been applied to for information as to the oath
   taken in former times of Bell, Book, and Candle, but have none to
   give.  Perhaps you may be able to learn something of its origin where
   you now are.  Ladies who read those enormous great stupid thick quarto
   volumes which one always sees in the breakfast parlour there must be
   acquainted with everything in the world.  I detest a quarto.  Capt.
   Pasley's book is too good for their society.  They will not understand
   a man who condenses his thoughts into an octavo.  I have learned from
   Sir J. Carr that there is no Government House at Gibraltar.  I must
   alter it to the Commissioner's.'

The following letter belongs to the same year, but treats of a different
subject.  It describes a journey from Chawton to London, in her brother's
curricle, and shows how much could be seen and enjoyed in course of a
long summer's day by leisurely travelling amongst scenery which the
traveller in an express train now rushes through in little more than an
hour, but scarcely sees at all:--

   'Sloane Street, Thursday, May 20 (1813).


   'Before I say anything else, I claim a paper full of halfpence on the
   drawing-room mantel-piece; I put them there myself, and forgot to
   bring them with me.  I cannot say that I have yet been in any distress
   for money, but I chuse to have my due, as well as the Devil.  How
   lucky we were in our weather yesterday!  This wet morning makes one
   more sensible of it.  We had no rain of any consequence.  The head of
   the curricle was put half up three or four times, but our share of the
   showers was very trifling, though they seemed to be heavy all round
   us, when we were on the Hog's-back, and I fancied it might then be
   raining so hard at Chawton as to make you feel for us much more than
   we deserved.  Three hours and a quarter took us to Guildford, where we
   staid barely two hours, and had only just time enough for all we had
   to do there; that is, eating a long and comfortable breakfast,
   watching the carriages, paying Mr. Harrington, and taking a little
   stroll afterwards.  From some views which that stroll gave us, I think
   most highly of the situation of Guildford.  We wanted all our brothers
   and sisters to be standing with us in the bowling-green, and looking
   towards Horsham.  I was very lucky in my gloves--got them at the first
   shop I went to, though I went into it rather because it was near than
   because it looked at all like a glove shop, and gave only four
   shillings for them; after which everybody at Chawton will be hoping
   and predicting that they cannot be good for anything, and their worth
   certainly remains to be proved; but I think they look very well.  We
   left Guildford at twenty minutes before twelve (I hope somebody cares
   for these minutiae), and were at Esher in about two hours more.  I was
   very much pleased with the country in general.  Between Guildford and
   Ripley I thought it particularly pretty, also about Painshill; and
   from a Mr. Spicer's grounds at Esher, which we walked into before
   dinner, the views were beautiful.  I cannot say what we did not see,
   but I should think there could not be a wood, or a meadow, or palace,
   or remarkable spot in England that was not spread out before us on one
   side or other.  Claremont is going to be sold: a Mr. Ellis has it now.
   It is a house that seems never to have prospered.  After dinner we
   walked forward to be overtaken at the coachman's time, and before he
   did overtake us we were very near Kingston.  I fancy it was about half-
   past six when we reached this house--a twelve hours' business, and the
   horses did not appear more than reasonably tired.  I was very tired
   too, and glad to get to bed early, but am quite well to-day.  I am
   very snug in the front drawing-room all to myself, and would not say
   "thank you" for any company but you.  The quietness of it does me
   good.  I have contrived to pay my two visits, though the weather made
   me a great while about it, and left me only a few minutes to sit with
   Charlotte Craven. {110}  She looks very well, and her hair is done up
   with an elegance to do credit to any education.  Her manners are as
   unaffected and pleasing as ever.  She had heard from her mother to-
   day.  Mrs. Craven spends another fortnight at Chilton.  I saw nobody
   but Charlotte, which pleased me best.  I was shewn upstairs into a
   drawing-room, where she came to me, and the appearance of the room, so
   totally unschool-like, amused me very much; it was full of modern

   'Yours very affectly.,
   'J. A.'

The next letter, written in the following year, contains an account of
another journey to London, with her brother Henry, and reading with him
the manuscript of 'Mansfield Park':--

   'Henrietta Street, Wednesday, March 2 (1814).


   'You were wrong in thinking of us at Guildford last night: we were at
   Cobham.  On reaching G. we found that John and the horses were gone
   on.  We therefore did no more than we had done at Farnham--sit in the
   carriage while fresh horses were put in, and proceeded directly to
   Cobham, which we reached by seven, and about eight were sitting down
   to a very nice roast fowl, &c.  We had altogether a very good journey,
   and everything at Cobham was comfortable.  I could not pay Mr.
   Harrington!  That was the only alas! of the business.  I shall
   therefore return his bill, and my mother's 2_l_., that you may try
   your luck.  We did not begin reading till Bentley Green.  Henry's
   approbation is hitherto even equal to my wishes.  He says it is
   different from the other two, but does not appear to think it at all
   inferior.  He has only married Mrs. R.  I am afraid he has gone
   through the most entertaining part.  He took to Lady B. and Mrs. N.
   most kindly, and gives great praise to the drawing of the characters.
   He understands them all, likes Fanny, and, I think, foresees how it
   will all be.  I finished the "Heroine" last night, and was very much
   amused by it.  I wonder James did not like it better.  It diverted me
   exceedingly.  We went to bed at ten.  I was very tired, but slept to a
   miracle, and am lovely to-day, and at present Henry seems to have no
   complaint.  We left Cobham at half-past eight, stopped to bait and
   breakfast at Kingston, and were in this house considerably before two.
   Nice smiling Mr. Barlowe met us at the door and, in reply to enquiries
   after news, said that peace was generally expected.  I have taken
   possession of my bedroom, unpacked my bandbox, sent Miss P.'s two
   letters to the twopenny post, been visited by Md. B., and am now
   writing by myself at the new table in the front room.  It is snowing.
   We had some snowstorms yesterday, and a smart frost at night, which
   gave us a hard road from Cobham to Kingston; but as it was then
   getting dirty and heavy, Henry had a pair of leaders put on to the
   bottom of Sloane St.  His own horses, therefore, cannot have had hard
   work.  I watched for _veils_ as we drove through the streets, and had
   the pleasure of seeing several upon vulgar heads.  And now, how do you
   all do?--you in particular, after the worry of yesterday and the day
   before.  I hope Martha had a pleasant visit again, and that you and my
   mother could eat your beef-pudding.  Depend upon my thinking of the
   chimney-sweeper as soon as I wake to-morrow.  Places are secured at
   Drury Lane for Saturday, but so great is the rage for seeing Kean that
   only a third and fourth row could be got; as it is in a front box,
   however, I hope we shall do pretty well--Shylock, a good play for
   Fanny--she cannot be much affected, I think.  Mrs. Perigord has just
   been here.  She tells me that we owe her master for the silk-dyeing.
   My poor old muslin has never been dyed yet.  It has been promised to
   be done several times.  What wicked people dyers are.  They begin with
   dipping their own souls in scarlet sin.  It is evening.  We have drank
   tea, and I have torn through the third vol. of the "Heroine."  I do
   not think it falls off.  It is a delightful burlesque, particularly on
   the Radcliffe style.  Henry is going on with "Mansfield Park."  He
   admires H.  Crawford: I mean properly, as a clever, pleasant man.  I
   tell you all the good I can, as I know how much you will enjoy it.  We
   hear that Mr. Kean is more admired than ever.  There are no good
   places to be got in Drury Lane for the next fortnight, but Henry means
   to secure some for Saturday fortnight, when you are reckoned upon.
   Give my love to little Cass.  I hope she found my bed comfortable last
   night.  I have seen nobody in London yet with such a long chin as Dr.
   Syntax, nor anybody quite so large as Gogmagolicus.

   'Yours affly.,
   'J. AUSTEN.'


_Seclusion from the literary world--Notice from the Prince
Regent--Correspondence with Mr. Clarke--Suggestions to alter her style of

Jane Austen lived in entire seclusion from the literary world: neither by
correspondence, nor by personal intercourse was she known to any
contemporary authors.  It is probable that she never was in company with
any person whose talents or whose celebrity equalled her own; so that her
powers never could have been sharpened by collision with superior
intellects, nor her imagination aided by their casual suggestions.
Whatever she produced was a genuine home-made article.  Even during the
last two or three years of her life, when her works were rising in the
estimation of the public, they did not enlarge the circle of her
acquaintance.  Few of her readers knew even her name, and none knew more
of her than her name.  I doubt whether it would be possible to mention
any other author of note, whose personal obscurity was so complete.  I
can think of none like her, but of many to contrast with her in that
respect.  Fanny Burney, afterwards Madame D'Arblay, was at an early age
petted by Dr. Johnson, and introduced to the wits and scholars of the day
at the tables of Mrs. Thrale and Sir Joshua Reynolds.  Anna Seward, in
her self-constituted shrine at Lichfield, would have been miserable, had
she not trusted that the eyes of all lovers of poetry were devoutly fixed
on her.  Joanna Baillie and Maria Edgeworth were indeed far from courting
publicity; they loved the privacy of their own families, one with her
brother and sister in their Hampstead villa, the other in her more
distant retreat in Ireland; but fame pursued them, and they were the
favourite correspondents of Sir Walter Scott.  Crabbe, who was usually
buried in a country parish, yet sometimes visited London, and dined at
Holland House, and was received as a fellow-poet by Campbell, Moore, and
Rogers; and on one memorable occasion he was Scott's guest at Edinburgh,
and gazed with wondering eyes on the incongruous pageantry with which
George IV. was entertained in that city.  Even those great writers who
hid themselves amongst lakes and mountains associated with each other;
and though little seen by the world were so much in its thoughts that a
new term, 'Lakers,' was coined to designate them.  The chief part of
Charlotte Bronte's life was spent in a wild solitude compared with which
Steventon and Chawton might be considered to be in the gay world; and yet
she attained to personal distinction which never fell to Jane's lot.  When
she visited her kind publisher in London, literary men and women were
invited purposely to meet her: Thackeray bestowed upon her the honour of
his notice; and once in Willis's Rooms, {117} she had to walk shy and
trembling through an avenue of lords and ladies, drawn up for the purpose
of gazing at the author of 'Jane Eyre.'  Miss Mitford, too, lived quietly
in 'Our Village,' devoting her time and talents to the benefit of a
father scarcely worthy of her; but she did not live there unknown.  Her
tragedies gave her a name in London.  She numbered Milman and Talfourd
amongst her correspondents; and her works were a passport to the society
of many who would not otherwise have sought her.  Hundreds admired Miss
Mitford on account of her writings for one who ever connected the idea of
Miss Austen with the press.  A few years ago, a gentleman visiting
Winchester Cathedral desired to be shown Miss Austen's grave.  The
verger, as he pointed it out, asked, 'Pray, sir, can you tell me whether
there was anything particular about that lady; so many people want to
know where she was buried?'  During her life the ignorance of the verger
was shared by most people; few knew that 'there was anything particular
about that lady.'

It was not till towards the close of her life, when the last of the works
that she saw published was in the press, that she received the only mark
of distinction ever bestowed upon her; and that was remarkable for the
high quarter whence it emanated rather than for any actual increase of
fame that it conferred.  It happened thus.  In the autumn of 1815 she
nursed her brother Henry through a dangerous fever and slow convalescence
at his house in Hans Place.  He was attended by one of the Prince
Regent's physicians.  All attempts to keep her name secret had at this
time ceased, and though it had never appeared on a title-page, all who
cared to know might easily learn it: and the friendly physician was aware
that his patient's nurse was the author of 'Pride and Prejudice.'
Accordingly he informed her one day that the Prince was a great admirer
of her novels; that he read them often, and kept a set in every one of
his residences; that he himself therefore had thought it right to inform
his Royal Highness that Miss Austen was staying in London, and that the
Prince had desired Mr. Clarke, the librarian of Carlton House, to wait
upon her.  The next day Mr. Clarke made his appearance, and invited her
to Carlton House, saying that he had the Prince's instructions to show
her the library and other apartments, and to pay her every possible
attention.  The invitation was of course accepted, and during the visit
to Carlton House Mr. Clarke declared himself commissioned to say that if
Miss Austen had any other novel forthcoming she was at liberty to
dedicate it to the Prince.  Accordingly such a dedication was immediately
prefixed to 'Emma,' which was at that time in the press.

Mr. Clarke was the brother of Dr. Clarke, the traveller and mineralogist,
whose life has been written by Bishop Otter.  Jane found in him not only
a very courteous gentleman, but also a warm admirer of her talents;
though it will be seen by his letters that he did not clearly apprehend
the limits of her powers, or the proper field for their exercise.  The
following correspondence took place between them.

Feeling some apprehension lest she should make a mistake in acting on the
verbal permission which she had received from the Prince, Jane addressed
the following letter to Mr. Clarke:--

   'Nov. 15, 1815.

   'SIR,--I must take the liberty of asking you a question.  Among the
   many flattering attentions which I received from you at Carlton House
   on Monday last was the information of my being at liberty to dedicate
   any future work to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, without the
   necessity of any solicitation on my part.  Such, at least, I believed
   to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what
   was intended, I entreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such
   a permission is to be understood, and whether it is incumbent on me to
   show my sense of the honour, by inscribing the work now in the press
   to His Royal Highness; I should be equally concerned to appear either
   presumptuous or ungrateful.'

The following gracious answer was returned by Mr. Clarke, together with a
suggestion which must have been received with some surprise:--

   'Carlton House, Nov. 16, 1815.

   'DEAR MADAM,--It is certainly not _incumbent_ on you to dedicate your
   work now in the press to His Royal Highness; but if you wish to do the
   Regent that honour either now or at any future period I am happy to
   send you that permission, which need not require any more trouble or
   solicitation on your part.

   'Your late works, Madam, and in particular "Mansfield Park," reflect
   the highest honour on your genius and your principles.  In every new
   work your mind seems to increase its energy and power of
   discrimination.  The Regent has read and admired all your

   'Accept my best thanks for the pleasure your volumes have given me.  In
   the perusal of them I felt a great inclination to write and say so.
   And I also, dear Madam, wished to be allowed to ask you to delineate
   in some future work the habits of life, and character, and enthusiasm
   of a clergyman, who should pass his time between the metropolis and
   the country, who should be something like Beattie's Minstrel--

   Silent when glad, affectionate tho' shy,
      And in his looks was most demurely sad;
   And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew why.

   Neither Goldsmith, nor La Fontaine in his "Tableau de Famille," have
   in my mind quite delineated an English clergyman, at least of the
   present day, fond of and entirely engaged in literature, no man's
   enemy but his own.  Pray, dear Madam, think of these things.

   'Believe me at all times with sincerity
   and respect, your faithful and obliged servant,
   'J. S. CLARKE, Librarian.'

The following letter, written in reply, will show how unequal the author
of 'Pride and Prejudice' felt herself to delineating an enthusiastic
clergyman of the present day, who should resemble Beattie's Minstrel:--

   'Dec. 11.

   'DEAR SIR,--My "Emma" is now so near publication that I feel it right
   to assure you of my not having forgotten your kind recommendation of
   an early copy for Carlton House, and that I have Mr. Murray's promise
   of its being sent to His Royal Highness, under cover to you, three
   days previous to the work being really out.  I must make use of this
   opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high praise you
   bestow on my other novels.  I am too vain to wish to convince you that
   you have praised them beyond their merits.  My greatest anxiety at
   present is that this fourth work should not disgrace what was good in
   the others.  But on this point I will do myself the justice to declare
   that, whatever may be my wishes for its success, I am strongly haunted
   with the idea that to those readers who have preferred "Pride and
   Prejudice" it will appear inferior in wit, and to those who have
   preferred "Mansfield Park" inferior in good sense.  Such as it is,
   however, I hope you will do me the favour of accepting a copy.  Mr.
   Murray will have directions for sending one.  I am quite honoured by
   your thinking me capable of drawing such a clergyman as you gave the
   sketch of in your note of Nov. 16th.  But I assure you I am _not_.  The
   comic part of the character I might be equal to, but not the good, the
   enthusiastic, the literary.  Such a man's conversation must at times
   be on subjects of science and philosophy, of which I know nothing; or
   at least be occasionally abundant in quotations and allusions which a
   woman who, like me, knows only her own mother tongue, and has read
   little in that, would be totally without the power of giving.  A
   classical education, or at any rate a very extensive acquaintance with
   English literature, ancient and modern, appears to me quite
   indispensable for the person who would do any justice to your
   clergyman; and I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible
   vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be
   an authoress.

   'Believe me, dear Sir,
   'Your obliged and faithful humbl Sert.
   'JANE AUSTEN.' {122}

Mr. Clarke, however, was not to be discouraged from proposing another
subject.  He had recently been appointed chaplain and private English
secretary to Prince Leopold, who was then about to be united to the
Princess Charlotte; and when he again wrote to express the gracious
thanks of the Prince Regent for the copy of 'Emma' which had been
presented, he suggests that 'an historical romance illustrative of the
august House of Cobourg would just now be very interesting,' and might
very properly be dedicated to Prince Leopold.  This was much as if Sir
William Ross had been set to paint a great battle-piece; and it is
amusing to see with what grave civility she declined a proposal which
must have struck her as ludicrous, in the following letter:--

   'MY DEAR SIR,--I am honoured by the Prince's thanks and very much
   obliged to yourself for the kind manner in which you mention the work.
   I have also to acknowledge a former letter forwarded to me from Hans
   Place.  I assure you I felt very grateful for the friendly tenor of
   it, and hope my silence will have been considered, as it was truly
   meant, to proceed only from an unwillingness to tax your time with
   idle thanks.  Under every interesting circumstance which your own
   talents and literary labours have placed you in, or the favour of the
   Regent bestowed, you have my best wishes.  Your recent appointments I
   hope are a step to something still better.  In my opinion, the service
   of a court can hardly be too well paid, for immense must be the
   sacrifice of time and feeling required by it.

   'You are very kind in your hints as to the sort of composition which
   might recommend me at present, and I am fully sensible that an
   historical romance, founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg, might be
   much more to the purpose of profit or popularity than such pictures of
   domestic life in country villages as I deal in.  But I could no more
   write a romance than an epic poem.  I could not sit seriously down to
   write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life;
   and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into
   laughing at myself or at other people, I am sure I should be hung
   before I had finished the first chapter.  No, I must keep to my own
   style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in
   that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.

   'I remain, my dear Sir,

   'Your very much obliged, and sincere friend,
   'J. AUSTEN.

   'Chawton, near Alton, April 1, 1816.'

Mr. Clarke should have recollected the warning of the wise man, 'Force
not the course of the river.'  If you divert it from the channel in which
nature taught it to flow, and force it into one arbitrarily cut by
yourself, you will lose its grace and beauty.

   But when his free course is not hindered,
   He makes sweet music with the enamelled stones,
   Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
   He overtaketh in his pilgrimage:
   And so by many winding nooks he strays
   With willing sport.

All writers of fiction, who have genius strong enough to work out a
course of their own, resist every attempt to interfere with its
direction.  No two writers could be more unlike each other than Jane
Austen and Charlotte Bronte; so much so that the latter was unable to
understand why the former was admired, and confessed that she herself
'should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their
elegant but confined houses;' but each writer equally resisted
interference with her own natural style of composition.  Miss Bronte, in
reply to a friendly critic, who had warned her against being too
melodramatic, and had ventured to propose Miss Austen's works to her as a
study, writes thus:--

   'Whenever I _do_ write another book, I think I will have nothing of
   what you call "melodrama."  I _think_ so, but I am not sure.  I
   _think_, too, I will endeavour to follow the counsel which shines out
   of Miss Austen's "mild eyes," to finish more, and be more subdued; but
   neither am I sure of that.  When authors write best, or, at least,
   when they write most fluently, an influence seems to waken in them
   which becomes their master--which will have its way--putting out of
   view all behests but its own, dictating certain words, and insisting
   on their being used, whether vehement or measured in their nature, new
   moulding characters, giving unthought of turns to incidents, rejecting
   carefully elaborated old ideas, and suddenly creating and adopting new
   ones.  Is it not so?  And should we try to counteract this influence?
   Can we indeed counteract it?' {126}

The playful raillery with which the one parries an attack on her liberty,
and the vehement eloquence of the other in pleading the same cause and
maintaining the independence of genius, are very characteristic of the
minds of the respective writers.

The suggestions which Jane received as to the sort of story that she
ought to write were, however, an amusement to her, though they were not
likely to prove useful; and she has left amongst her papers one entitled,
'Plan of a novel according to hints from various quarters.'  The names of
some of those advisers are written on the margin of the manuscript
opposite to their respective suggestions.

   'Heroine to be the daughter of a clergyman, who after having lived
   much in the world had retired from it, and settled on a curacy with a
   very small fortune of his own.  The most excellent man that can be
   imagined, perfect in character, temper, and manner, without the
   smallest drawback or peculiarity to prevent his being the most
   delightful companion to his daughter from one year's end to the other.
   Heroine faultless in character, beautiful in person, and possessing
   every possible accomplishment.  Book to open with father and daughter
   conversing in long speeches, elegant language, and a tone of high
   serious sentiment.  The father induced, at his daughter's earnest
   request, to relate to her the past events of his life.  Narrative to
   reach through the greater part of the first volume; as besides all the
   circumstances of his attachment to her mother, and their marriage, it
   will comprehend his going to sea as chaplain to a distinguished naval
   character about the court; and his going afterwards to court himself,
   which involved him in many interesting situations, concluding with his
   opinion of the benefits of tithes being done away with . . . .  From
   this outset the story will proceed, and contain a striking variety of
   adventures.  Father an exemplary parish priest, and devoted to
   literature; but heroine and father never above a fortnight in one
   place: he being driven from his curacy by the vile arts of some
   totally unprincipled and heartless young man, desperately in love with
   the heroine, and pursuing her with unrelenting passion.  No sooner
   settled in one country of Europe, than they are compelled to quit it,
   and retire to another, always making new acquaintance, and always
   obliged to leave them.  This will of course exhibit a wide variety of
   character.  The scene will be for ever shifting from one set of people
   to another, but there will be no mixture, all the good will be
   unexceptionable in every respect.  There will be no foibles or
   weaknesses but with the wicked, who will be completely depraved and
   infamous, hardly a resemblance of humanity left in them.  Early in her
   career, the heroine must meet with the hero: all perfection, of
   course, and only prevented from paying his addresses to her by some
   excess of refinement.  Wherever she goes, somebody falls in love with
   her, and she receives repeated offers of marriage, which she refers
   wholly to her father, exceedingly angry that he should not be the
   first applied to.  Often carried away by the anti-hero, but rescued
   either by her father or the hero.  Often reduced to support herself
   and her father by her talents, and work for her bread; continually
   cheated, and defrauded of her hire; worn down to a skeleton, and now
   and then starved to death.  At last, hunted out of civilised society,
   denied the poor shelter of the humblest cottage, they are compelled to
   retreat into Kamtschatka, where the poor father quite worn down,
   finding his end approaching, throws himself on the ground, and after
   four or five hours of tender advice and parental admonition to his
   miserable child, expires in a fine burst of literary enthusiasm,
   intermingled with invectives against the holders of tithes.  Heroine
   inconsolable for some time, but afterwards crawls back towards her
   former country, having at least twenty narrow escapes of falling into
   the hands of anti-hero; and at last, in the very nick of time, turning
   a corner to avoid him, runs into the arms of the hero himself, who,
   having just shaken off the scruples which fettered him before, was at
   the very moment setting off in pursuit of her.  The tenderest and
   completest _eclaircissement_ takes place, and they are happily united.
   Throughout the whole work heroine to be in the most elegant society,
   and living in high style.'

Since the first publication of this memoir, Mr. Murray of Albemarle
Street has very kindly sent to me copies of the following letters, which
his father received from Jane Austen, when engaged in the publication of
'Emma.'  The increasing cordiality of the letters shows that the author
felt that her interests were duly cared for, and was glad to find herself
in the hands of a publisher whom she could consider as a friend.

Her brother had addressed to Mr. Murray a strong complaint of the
tardiness of a printer:--

   '23 Hans Place, Thursday, November 23 (1815).

   'SIR,--My brother's note last Monday has been so fruitless, that I am
   afraid there can be but little chance of my writing to any good
   effect; but yet I am so very much disappointed and vexed by the delays
   of the printers, that I cannot help begging to know whether there is
   no hope of their being quickened.  Instead of the work being ready by
   the end of the present month, it will hardly, at the rate we now
   proceed, be finished by the end of the next; and as I expect to leave
   London early in December, it is of consequence that no more time
   should be lost.  Is it likely that the printers will be influenced to
   greater dispatch and punctuality by knowing that the work is to be
   dedicated, by permission, to the Prince Regent?  If you can make that
   circumstance operate, I shall be very glad.  My brother returns
   "Waterloo" with many thanks for the loan of it.  We have heard much of
   Scott's account of Paris. {130}  If it be not incompatible with other
   arrangements, would you favour us with it, supposing you have any set
   already opened?  You may depend upon its being in careful hands.

   'I remain, Sir, your obt. humble Set.
   'J. AUSTEN.'

   'Hans Place, December 11 (1815).

   'DEAR SIR,--As I find that "Emma" is advertised for publication as
   early as Saturday next, I think it best to lose no time in settling
   all that remains to be settled on the subject, and adopt this method
   as involving the smallest tax on your time.

   'In the first place, I beg you to understand that I leave the terms on
   which the trade should be supplied with the work entirely to your
   judgment, entreating you to be guided in every such arrangement by
   your own experience of what is most likely to clear off the edition
   rapidly.  I shall be satisfied with whatever you feel to be best.  The
   title-page must be "Emma, dedicated by permission to H.R.H. the Prince
   Regent."  And it is my particular wish that one set should be
   completed and sent to H.R.H. two or three days before the work is
   generally public.  It should be sent under cover to the Rev. J. S.
   Clarke, Librarian, Carlton House.  I shall subjoin a list of those
   persons to whom I must trouble you to forward also a set each, when
   the work is out; all unbound, with "From the Authoress" in the first

   'I return you, with very many thanks, the books you have so obligingly
   supplied me with.  I am very sensible, I assure you, of the attention
   you have paid to my convenience and amusement.  I return also
   "Mansfield Park," as ready for a second edition, I believe, as I can
   make it.  I am in Hans Place till the 16th.  From that day inclusive,
   my direction will be Chawton, Alton, Hants.

   'I remain, dear Sir,

   'Yr faithful humb. Servt.
   'J. AUSTEN.

   'I wish you would have the goodness to send a line by the bearer,
   stating _the day_ on which the set will be ready for the Prince

   'Hans Place, December 11 (1815).

   'DEAR SIR,--I am much obliged by yours, and very happy to feel
   everything arranged to our mutual satisfaction.  As to my direction
   about the title-page, it was arising from my ignorance only, and from
   my having never noticed the proper place for a dedication.  I thank
   you for putting me right.  Any deviation from what is usually done in
   such cases is the last thing I should wish for.  I feel happy in
   having a friend to save me from the ill effect of my own blunder.

   'Yours, dear Sir, &c.
   'J. AUSTEN.'

   'Chawton, April 1, 1816.

   'DEAR SIR,--I return you the "Quarterly Review" with many thanks.  The
   Authoress of "Emma" has no reason, I think, to complain of her
   treatment in it, except in the total omission of "Mansfield Park."  I
   cannot but be sorry that so clever a man as the Reviewer of "Emma"
   should consider it as unworthy of being noticed.  You will be pleased
   to hear that I have received the Prince's thanks for the _handsome_
   copy I sent him of "Emma."  Whatever he may think of _my_ share of the
   work, yours seems to have been quite right.

   'In consequence of the late event in Henrietta Street, I must request
   that if you should at any time have anything to communicate by letter,
   you will be so good as to write by the post, directing to me (Miss J.
   Austen), Chawton, near Alton; and that for anything of a larger bulk,
   you will add to the same direction, by _Collier's Southampton coach_.

   'I remain, dear Sir,

   'Yours very faithfully,
   'J. AUSTEN.'

About the same time the following letters passed between the Countess of
Morley and the writer of 'Emma.'  I do not know whether they were
personally acquainted with each other, nor in what this interchange of
civilities originated:--

   _The Countess of Morley to Miss J. Austen_.

   'Saltram, December 27 (1815).

   'MADAM,--I have been most anxiously waiting for an introduction to
   "Emma," and am infinitely obliged to you for your kind recollection of
   me, which will procure me the pleasure of her acquaintance some days
   sooner than I should otherwise have had it.  I am already become
   intimate with the Woodhouse family, and feel that they will not amuse
   and interest me less than the Bennetts, Bertrams, Norrises, and all
   their admirable predecessors.  I can give them no higher praise.

   'I am, Madam, your much obliged
   'F. MORLEY.'

   _Miss J. Austen to the Countess of Morley_.

   'MADAM,--Accept my thanks for the honour of your note, and for your
   kind disposition in favour of "Emma."  In my present state of doubt as
   to her reception in the world, it is particularly gratifying to me to
   receive so early an assurance of your Ladyship's approbation.  It
   encourages me to depend on the same share of general good opinion
   which "Emma's" predecessors have experienced, and to believe that I
   have not yet, as almost every writer of fancy does sooner or later,
   overwritten myself.

   'I am, Madam,

   'Your obliged and faithful Servt.
   'J. AUSTEN.'

   'December 31, 1815.'


_Slow growth of her fame--Ill success of first attempts at
publication--Two Reviews of her works contrasted_.

Seldom has any literary reputation been of such slow growth as that of
Jane Austen.  Readers of the present day know the rank that is generally
assigned to her.  They have been told by Archbishop Whately, in his
review of her works, and by Lord Macaulay, in his review of Madame
D'Arblay's, the reason why the highest place is to be awarded to Jane
Austen, as a truthful drawer of character, and why she is to be classed
with those who have approached nearest, in that respect, to the great
master Shakspeare.  They see her safely placed, by such authorities, in
her niche, not indeed amongst the highest orders of genius, but in one
confessedly her own, in our British temple of literary fame; and it may
be difficult to make them believe how coldly her works were at first
received, and how few readers had any appreciation of their peculiar
merits.  Sometimes a friend or neighbour, who chanced to know of our
connection with the author, would condescend to speak with moderate
approbation of 'Sense and Sensibility,' or 'Pride and Prejudice'; but if
they had known that we, in our secret thoughts, classed her with Madame
D'Arblay or Miss Edgeworth, or even with some other novel writers of the
day whose names are now scarcely remembered, they would have considered
it an amusing instance of family conceit.  To the multitude her works
appeared tame and commonplace, {136a} poor in colouring, and sadly
deficient in incident and interest.  It is true that we were sometimes
cheered by hearing that a different verdict had been pronounced by more
competent judges: we were told how some great statesman or distinguished
poet held these works in high estimation; we had the satisfaction of
believing that they were most admired by the best judges, and comforted
ourselves with Horace's 'satis est Equitem mihi plaudere.'  So much was
this the case, that one of the ablest men of my acquaintance {136b} said,
in that kind of jest which has much earnest in it, that he had
established it in his own mind, as a new test of ability, whether people
_could_ or _could not_ appreciate Miss Austen's merits.

But though such golden opinions were now and then gathered in, yet the
wide field of public taste yielded no adequate return either in praise or
profit.  Her reward was not to be the quick return of the cornfield, but
the slow growth of the tree which is to endure to another generation.  Her
first attempts at publication were very discouraging.  In November, 1797,
her father wrote the following letter to Mr. Cadell:--

   'Sir,--I have in my possession a manuscript novel, comprising 3 vols.,
   about the length of Miss Burney's "Evelina."  As I am well aware of
   what consequence it is that a work of this sort shd make its first
   appearance under a respectable name, I apply to you.  I shall be much
   obliged therefore if you will inform me whether you choose to be
   concerned in it, what will be the expense of publishing it at the
   author's risk, and what you will venture to advance for the property
   of it, if on perusal it is approved of.  Should you give any
   encouragement, I will send you the work.

   'I am, Sir, your humble Servant,
   'Steventon, near Overton, Hants,
   '1st Nov. 1797.'

This proposal was declined by return of post!  The work thus summarily
rejected must have been 'Pride and Prejudice.'

The fate of 'Northanger Abbey' was still more humiliating.  It was sold,
in 1803, to a publisher in Bath, for ten pounds, but it found so little
favour in his eyes, that he chose to abide by his first loss rather than
risk farther expense by publishing such a work.  It seems to have lain
for many years unnoticed in his drawers; somewhat as the first chapters
of 'Waverley' lurked forgotten amongst the old fishing-tackle in Scott's
cabinet.  Tilneys, Thorpes, and Morlands consigned apparently to eternal
oblivion!  But when four novels of steadily increasing success had given
the writer some confidence in herself, she wished to recover the
copyright of this early work.  One of her brothers undertook the
negotiation.  He found the purchaser very willing to receive back his
money, and to resign all claim to the copyright.  When the bargain was
concluded and the money paid, but not till then, the negotiator had the
satisfaction of informing him that the work which had been so lightly
esteemed was by the author of 'Pride and Prejudice.'  I do not think that
she was herself much mortified by the want of early success.  She wrote
for her own amusement.  Money, though acceptable, was not necessary for
the moderate expenses of her quiet home.  Above all, she was blessed with
a cheerful contented disposition, and an humble mind; and so lowly did
she esteem her own claims, that when she received 150_l_. from the sale
of 'Sense and Sensibility,' she considered it a prodigious recompense for
that which had cost her nothing.  It cannot be supposed, however, that
she was altogether insensible to the superiority of her own workmanship
over that of some contemporaries who were then enjoying a brief
popularity.  Indeed a few touches in the following extracts from two of
her letters show that she was as quicksighted to absurdities in
composition as to those in living persons.

   'Mr. C.'s opinion is gone down in my list; but as my paper relates
   only to "Mansfield Park," I may fortunately excuse myself from
   entering Mr. D's.  I will redeem my credit with him by writing a close
   imitation of "Self-Control," as soon as I can.  I will improve upon
   it.  My heroine shall not only be wafted down an American river in a
   boat by herself.  She shall cross the Atlantic in the same way; and
   never stop till she reaches Gravesend.'

   'We have got "Rosanne" in our Society, and find it much as you
   describe it; very good and clever, but tedious.  Mrs. Hawkins' great
   excellence is on serious subjects.  There are some very delightful
   conversations and reflections on religion: but on lighter topics I
   think she falls into many absurdities; and, as to love, her heroine
   has very comical feelings.  There are a thousand improbabilities in
   the story.  Do you remember the two Miss Ormsdens introduced just at
   last?  Very flat and unnatural.  Madelle. Cossart is rather my

Two notices of her works appeared in the 'Quarterly Review.'  One in
October 1815, and another, more than three years after her death, in
January 1821.  The latter article is known to have been from the pen of
Whately, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin. {140}  They differ much from
each other in the degree of praise which they award, and I think also it
may be said, in the ability with which they are written.  The first
bestows some approval, but the other expresses the warmest admiration.
One can scarcely be satisfied with the critical acumen of the former
writer, who, in treating of 'Sense and Sensibility,' takes no notice
whatever of the vigour with which many of the characters are drawn, but
declares that 'the interest and _merit_ of the piece depends _altogether_
upon the behaviour of the elder sister!'  Nor is he fair when, in 'Pride
and Prejudice,' he represents Elizabeth's change of sentiments towards
Darcy as caused by the sight of his house and grounds.  But the chief
discrepancy between the two reviewers is to be found in their
appreciation of the commonplace and silly characters to be found in these
novels.  On this point the difference almost amounts to a contradiction,
such as one sometimes sees drawn up in parallel columns, when it is
desired to convict some writer or some statesman of inconsistency.  The
Reviewer, in 1815, says: 'The faults of these works arise from the minute
detail which the author's plan comprehends.  Characters of folly or
simplicity, such as those of old Woodhouse and Miss Bates, are ridiculous
when first presented, but if too often brought forward, or too long dwelt
on, their prosing is apt to become as tiresome in fiction as in real
society.'  The Reviewer, in 1821, on the contrary, singles out the fools
as especial instances of the writer's abilities, and declares that in
this respect she shows a regard to character hardly exceeded by
Shakspeare himself.  These are his words: 'Like him (Shakspeare) she
shows as admirable a discrimination in the character of fools as of
people of sense; a merit which is far from common.  To invent indeed a
conversation full of wisdom or of wit requires that the writer should
himself possess ability; but the converse does not hold good, it is no
fool that can describe fools well; and many who have succeeded pretty
well in painting superior characters have failed in giving individuality
to those weaker ones which it is necessary to introduce in order to give
a faithful representation of real life: they exhibit to us mere folly in
the abstract, forgetting that to the eye of the skilful naturalist the
insects on a leaf present as wide differences as exist between the lion
and the elephant.  Slender, and Shallow, and Aguecheek, as Shakspeare has
painted them, though equally fools, resemble one another no more than
Richard, and Macbeth, and Julius Caesar; and Miss Austen's {142} Mrs.
Bennet, Mr. Rushworth, and Miss Bates are no more alike than her Darcy,
Knightley, and Edmund Bertram.  Some have complained indeed of finding
her fools too much like nature, and consequently tiresome.  There is no
disputing about tastes; all we can say is, that such critics must
(whatever deference they may outwardly pay to received opinions) find the
"Merry Wives of Windsor" and "Twelfth Night" very tiresome; and that
those who look with pleasure at Wilkie's pictures, or those of the Dutch
school, must admit that excellence of imitation may confer attraction on
that which would be insipid or disagreeable in the reality.  Her
minuteness of detail has also been found fault with; but even where it
produces, at the time, a degree of tediousness, we know not whether that
can justly be reckoned a blemish, which is absolutely essential to a very
high excellence.  Now it is absolutely impossible, without this, to
produce that thorough acquaintance with the characters which is necessary
to make the reader heartily interested in them.  Let any one cut out from
the "Iliad" or from Shakspeare's plays everything (we are far from saying
that either might not lose some parts with advantage, but let him reject
everything) which is absolutely devoid of importance and interest _in_
_itself_; and he will find that what is left will have lost more than
half its charms.  We are convinced that some writers have diminished the
effect of their works by being scrupulous to admit nothing into them
which had not some absolute and independent merit.  They have acted like
those who strip off the leaves of a fruit tree, as being of themselves
good for nothing, with the view of securing more nourishment to the
fruit, which in fact cannot attain its full maturity and flavour without

The world, I think, has endorsed the opinion of the later writer; but it
would not be fair to set down the discrepancy between the two entirely to
the discredit of the former.  The fact is that, in the course of the
intervening five years, these works had been read and reread by many
leaders in the literary world.  The public taste was forming itself all
this time, and 'grew by what it fed on.'  These novels belong to a class
which gain rather than lose by frequent perusals, and it is probable that
each Reviewer represented fairly enough the prevailing opinions of
readers in the year when each wrote.

Since that time, the testimonies in favour of Jane Austen's works have
been continual and almost unanimous.  They are frequently referred to as
models; nor have they lost their first distinction of being especially
acceptable to minds of the highest order.  I shall indulge myself by
collecting into the next chapter instances of the homage paid to her by
such persons.


_Opinions expressed by eminent persons--Opinions of others of less
eminence--Opinion of American readers_.

Into this list of the admirers of my Aunt's works, I admit those only
whose eminence will be universally acknowledged.  No doubt the number
might have been increased.

Southey, in a letter to Sir Egerton Brydges, says: 'You mention Miss
Austen.  Her novels are more true to nature, and have, for my sympathies,
passages of finer feeling than any others of this age.  She was a person
of whom I have heard so well and think so highly, that I regret not
having had an opportunity of testifying to her the respect which I felt
for her.'

It may be observed that Southey had probably heard from his own family
connections of the charm of her private character.  A friend of hers, the
daughter of Mr. Bigge Wither, of Manydown Park near Basingstoke, was
married to Southey's uncle, the Rev. Herbert Hill, who had been useful to
his nephew in many ways, and especially in supplying him with the means
of attaining his extensive knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese
literature.  Mr. Hill had been Chaplain to the British Factory at Lisbon,
where Southey visited him and had the use of a library in those languages
which his uncle had collected.  Southey himself continually mentions his
uncle Hill in terms of respect and gratitude.

S. T. Coleridge would sometimes burst out into high encomiums of Miss
Austen's novels as being, 'in their way, perfectly genuine and individual

I remember Miss Mitford's saying to me: 'I would almost cut off one of my
hands, if it would enable me to write like your aunt with the other.'

The biographer of Sir J. Mackintosh says: 'Something recalled to his mind
the traits of character which are so delicately touched in Miss Austen's
novels . . .  He said that there was genius in sketching out that new
kind of novel . . .  He was vexed for the credit of the "Edinburgh
Review" that it had left her unnoticed .{145} . .  The "Quarterly" had
done her more justice . . .  It was impossible for a foreigner to
understand fully the merit of her works.  Madame de Stael, to whom he had
recommended one of her novels, found no interest in it; and in her note
to him in reply said it was "vulgaire": and yet, he said, nothing could
be more true than what he wrote in answer: "There is no book which that
word would so little suit." . . .  Every village could furnish matter for
a novel to Miss Austen.  She did not need the common materials for a
novel, strong emotions, or strong incidents.' {146}

It was not, however, quite impossible for a foreigner to appreciate these
works; for Mons. Guizot writes thus: 'I am a great novel reader, but I
seldom read German or French novels.  The characters are too artificial.
My delight is to read English novels, particularly those written by
women.  "C'est toute une ecole de morale."  Miss Austen, Miss Ferrier,
&c., form a school which in the excellence and profusion of its
productions resembles the cloud of dramatic poets of the great Athenian

In the 'Keepsake' of 1825 the following lines appeared, written by Lord
Morpeth, afterwards seventh Earl of Carlisle, and Lord-Lieutenant of
Ireland, accompanying an illustration of a lady reading a novel.

   Beats thy quick pulse o'er Inchbald's thrilling leaf,
   Brunton's high moral, Opie's deep wrought grief?
   Has the mild chaperon claimed thy yielding heart,
   Carroll's dark page, Trevelyan's gentle art?
   Or is it thou, all perfect Austen?  Here
   Let one poor wreath adorn thy early bier,
   That scarce allowed thy modest youth to claim
   Its living portion of thy certain fame!
   Oh! Mrs. Bennet!  Mrs. Norris too!
   While memory survives we'll dream of you.
   And Mr. Woodhouse, whose abstemious lip
   Must thin, but not too thin, his gruel sip.
   Miss Bates, our idol, though the village bore;
   And Mrs. Elton, ardent to explore.
   While the clear style flows on without pretence,
   With unstained purity, and unmatched sense:
   Or, if a sister e'er approached the throne,
   She called the rich 'inheritance' her own.

The admiration felt by Lord Macaulay would probably have taken a very
practical form, if his life had been prolonged.  I have the authority of
his sister, Lady Trevelyan, for stating that he had intended to undertake
the task upon which I have ventured.  He purposed to write a memoir of
Miss Austen, with criticisms on her works, to prefix it to a new edition
of her novels, and from the proceeds of the sale to erect a monument to
her memory in Winchester Cathedral.  Oh! that such an idea had been
realised!  That portion of the plan in which Lord Macaulay's success
would have been most certain might have been almost sufficient for his
object.  A memoir written by him would have been a monument.

I am kindly permitted by Sir Henry Holland to give the following
quotation from his printed but unpublished recollections of his past

   'I have the picture still before me of Lord Holland lying on his bed,
   when attacked with gout, his admirable sister, Miss Fox, beside him
   reading aloud, as she always did on these occasions, some one of Miss
   Austen's novels, of which he was never wearied.  I well recollect the
   time when these charming novels, almost unique in their style of
   humour, burst suddenly on the world.  It was sad that their writer did
   not live to witness the growth of her fame.'

My brother-in-law, Sir Denis Le Marchant, has supplied me with the
following anecdotes from his own recollections:--

   'When I was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr. Whewell, then
   a Fellow and afterwards Master of the College, often spoke to me with
   admiration of Miss Austen's novels.  On one occasion I said that I had
   found "Persuasion" rather dull.  He quite fired up in defence of it,
   insisting that it was the most beautiful of her works.  This
   accomplished philosopher was deeply versed in works of fiction.  I
   recollect his writing to me from Caernarvon, where he had the charge
   of some pupils, that he was weary of _his_ stay, for he had read the
   circulating library twice through.

   'During a visit I paid to Lord Lansdowne, at Bowood, in 1846, one of
   Miss Austen's novels became the subject of conversation and of praise,
   especially from Lord Lansdowne, who observed that one of the
   circumstances of his life which he looked back upon with vexation was
   that Miss Austen should once have been living some weeks in his
   neighbourhood without his knowing it.

   'I have heard Sydney Smith, more than once, dwell with eloquence on
   the merits of Miss Austen's novels.  He told me he should have enjoyed
   giving her the pleasure of reading her praises in the "Edinburgh
   Review."  "Fanny Price" was one of his prime favourites.'

I close this list of testimonies, this long 'Catena Patrum,' with the
remarkable words of Sir Walter Scott, taken from his diary for March 14,
1826: {149}  'Read again, for the third time at least, Miss Austen's
finely written novel of "Pride and Prejudice."  That young lady had a
talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of
ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with.  The
big Bow-Wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite
touch which renders ordinary common-place things and characters
interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is denied
to me.  What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!'  The well-worn
condition of Scott's own copy of these works attests that they were much
read in his family.  When I visited Abbotsford, a few years after Scott's
death, I was permitted, as an unusual favour, to take one of these
volumes in my hands.  One cannot suppress the wish that she had lived to
know what such men thought of her powers, and how gladly they would have
cultivated a personal acquaintance with her.  I do not think that it
would at all have impaired the modest simplicity of her character; or
that we should have lost our own dear 'Aunt Jane' in the blaze of
literary fame.

It may be amusing to contrast with these testimonies from the great, the
opinions expressed by other readers of more ordinary intellect.  The
author herself has left a list of criticisms which it had been her
amusement to collect, through means of her friends.  This list contains
much of warm-hearted sympathising praise, interspersed with some opinions
which may be considered surprising.

One lady could say nothing better of 'Mansfield Park,' than that it was
'a mere novel.'

Another owned that she thought 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Pride and
Prejudice' downright nonsense; but expected to like 'Mansfield Park'
better, and having finished the first volume, hoped that she had got
through the worst.

Another did not like 'Mansfield Park.'  Nothing interesting in the
characters.  Language poor.

One gentleman read the first and last chapters of 'Emma,' but did not
look at the rest because he had been told that it was not interesting.

The opinions of another gentleman about 'Emma' were so bad that they
could not be reported to the author.

'Quot homines, tot sententiae.'

Thirty-five years after her death there came also a voice of praise from
across the Atlantic.  In 1852 the following letter was received by her
brother Sir Francis Austen:--

   'Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

   6th Jan. 1852.

   'Since high critical authority has pronounced the delineations of
   character in the works of Jane Austen second only to those of
   Shakspeare, transatlantic admiration appears superfluous; yet it may
   not be uninteresting to her family to receive an assurance that the
   influence of her genius is extensively recognised in the American
   Republic, even by the highest judicial authorities.  The late Mr.
   Chief Justice Marshall, of the supreme Court of the United States, and
   his associate Mr. Justice Story, highly estimated and admired Miss
   Austen, and to them we owe our introduction to her society.  For many
   years her talents have brightened our daily path, and her name and
   those of her characters are familiar to us as "household words."  We
   have long wished to express to some of her family the sentiments of
   gratitude and affection she has inspired, and request more information
   relative to her life than is given in the brief memoir prefixed to her

   'Having accidentally heard that a brother of Jane Austen held a high
   rank in the British Navy, we have obtained his address from our friend
   Admiral Wormley, now resident in Boston, and we trust this expression
   of our feeling will be received by her relations with the kindness and
   urbanity characteristic of Admirals of _her creation_.  Sir Francis
   Austen, or one of his family, would confer a great favour by complying
   with our request.  The autograph of his sister, or a few lines in her
   handwriting, would be placed among our chief treasures.

   'The family who delight in the companionship of Jane Austen, and who
   present this petition, are of English origin.  Their ancestor held a
   high rank among the first emigrants to New England, and his name and
   character have been ably represented by his descendants in various
   public stations of trust and responsibility to the present time in the
   colony and state of Massachusetts.  A letter addressed to Miss
   Quincey, care of the Honble Josiah Quincey, Boston, Massachusetts,
   would reach its destination.'

Sir Francis Austen returned a suitable reply to this application; and
sent a long letter of his sister's, which, no doubt, still occupies the
place of honour promised by the Quincey family.


_Observations on the Novels_.

It is not the object of these memoirs to attempt a criticism on Jane
Austen's novels.  Those particulars only have been noticed which could be
illustrated by the circumstances of her own life; but I now desire to
offer a few observations on them, and especially on one point, on which
my age renders me a competent witness--the fidelity with which they
represent the opinions and manners of the class of society in which the
author lived early in this century.  They do this the more faithfully on
account of the very deficiency with which they have been sometimes
charged--namely, that they make no attempt to raise the standard of human
life, but merely represent it as it was.  They certainly were not written
to support any theory or inculcate any particular moral, except indeed
the great moral which is to be equally gathered from an observation of
the course of actual life--namely, the superiority of high over low
principles, and of greatness over littleness of mind.  These writings are
like photographs, in which no feature is softened; no ideal expression is
introduced, all is the unadorned reflection of the natural object; and
the value of such a faithful likeness must increase as time gradually
works more and more changes in the face of society itself.  A remarkable
instance of this is to be found in her portraiture of the clergy.  She
was the daughter and the sister of clergymen, who certainly were not low
specimens of their order: and she has chosen three of her heroes from
that profession; but no one in these days can think that either Edmund
Bertram or Henry Tilney had adequate ideas of the duties of a parish
minister.  Such, however, were the opinions and practice then prevalent
among respectable and conscientious clergymen before their minds had been
stirred, first by the Evangelical, and afterwards by the High Church
movement which this century has witnessed.  The country may be
congratulated which, on looking back to such a fixed landmark, can find
that it has been advancing instead of receding from it.

The long interval that elapsed between the completion of 'Northanger
Abbey' in 1798, and the commencement of 'Mansfield Park' in 1811, may
sufficiently account for any difference of style which may be perceived
between her three earlier and her three later productions.  If the former
showed quite as much originality and genius, they may perhaps be thought
to have less of the faultless finish and high polish which distinguish
the latter.  The characters of the John Dashwoods, Mr. Collins, and the
Thorpes stand out from the canvas with a vigour and originality which
cannot be surpassed; but I think that in her last three works are to be
found a greater refinement of taste, a more nice sense of propriety, and
a deeper insight into the delicate anatomy of the human heart, marking
the difference between the brilliant girl and the mature woman.  Far from
being one of those who have over-written themselves, it may be affirmed
that her fame would have stood on a narrower and less firm basis, if she
had not lived to resume her pen at Chawton.

Some persons have surmised that she took her characters from individuals
with whom she had been acquainted.  They were so life-like that it was
assumed that they must once have lived, and have been transferred bodily,
as it were, into her pages.  But surely such a supposition betrays an
ignorance of the high prerogative of genius to create out of its own
resources imaginary characters, who shall be true to nature and
consistent in themselves.  Perhaps, however, the distinction between
keeping true to nature and servilely copying any one specimen of it is
not always clearly apprehended.  It is indeed true, both of the writer
and of the painter, that he can use only such lineaments as exist, and as
he has observed to exist, in living objects; otherwise he would produce
monsters instead of human beings; but in both it is the office of high
art to mould these features into new combinations, and to place them in
the attitudes, and impart to them the expressions which may suit the
purposes of the artist; so that they are nature, but not exactly the same
nature which had come before his eyes; just as honey can be obtained only
from the natural flowers which the bee has sucked; yet it is not a
reproduction of the odour or flavour of any particular flower, but
becomes something different when it has gone through the process of
transformation which that little insect is able to effect.  Hence, in the
case of painters, arises the superiority of original compositions over
portrait painting.  Reynolds was exercising a higher faculty when he
designed Comedy and Tragedy contending for Garrick, than when he merely
took a likeness of that actor.  The same difference exists in writings
between the original conceptions of Shakspeare and some other creative
geniuses, and such full-length likenesses of individual persons, 'The
Talking Gentleman' for instance, as are admirably drawn by Miss Mitford.
Jane Austen's powers, whatever may be the degree in which she possessed
them, were certainly of that higher order.  She did not copy individuals,
but she invested her own creations with individuality of character.  A
reviewer in the 'Quarterly' speaks of an acquaintance who, ever since the
publication of 'Pride and Prejudice,' had been called by his friends Mr.
Bennet, but the author did not know him.  Her own relations never
recognised any individual in her characters; and I can call to mind
several of her acquaintance whose peculiarities were very tempting and
easy to be caricatured of whom there are no traces in her pages.  She
herself, when questioned on the subject by a friend, expressed a dread of
what she called such an 'invasion of social proprieties.'  She said that
she thought it quite fair to note peculiarities and weaknesses, but that
it was her desire to create, not to reproduce; 'besides,' she added, 'I
am too proud of my gentlemen to admit that they were only Mr. A. or
Colonel B.'  She did not, however, suppose that her imaginary characters
were of a higher order than are to be found in nature; for she said, when
speaking of two of her great favourites, Edmund Bertram and Mr.
Knightley: 'They are very far from being what I know English gentlemen
often are.'

She certainly took a kind of parental interest in the beings whom she had
created, and did not dismiss them from her thoughts when she had finished
her last chapter.  We have seen, in one of her letters, her personal
affection for Darcy and Elizabeth; and when sending a copy of 'Emma' to a
friend whose daughter had been lately born, she wrote thus: 'I trust you
will be as glad to see my "Emma," as I shall be to see your Jemima.'  She
was very fond of Emma, but did not reckon on her being a general
favourite; for, when commencing that work, she said, 'I am going to take
a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.'  She would, if asked,
tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of some of
her people.  In this traditionary way we learned that Miss Steele never
succeeded in catching the Doctor; that Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily
married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary obtained nothing higher
than one of her uncle Philip's clerks, and was content to be considered a
star in the society of Meriton; that the 'considerable sum' given by Mrs.
Norris to William Price was one pound; that Mr. Woodhouse survived his
daughter's marriage, and kept her and Mr. Knightley from settling at
Donwell, about two years; and that the letters placed by Frank Churchill
before Jane Fairfax, which she swept away unread, contained the word
'pardon.'  Of the good people in 'Northanger Abbey' and 'Persuasion' we
know nothing more than what is written: for before those works were
published their author had been taken away from us, and all such amusing
communications had ceased for ever.


_Declining health of Jane Austen--Elasticity of her spirits--Her
resignation and humility--Her death_.

Early in the year 1816 some family troubles disturbed the usually
tranquil course of Jane Austen's life; and it is probable that the inward
malady, which was to prove ultimately fatal, was already felt by her; for
some distant friends, {159} whom she visited in the spring of that year,
thought that her health was somewhat impaired, and observed that she went
about her old haunts, and recalled old recollections connected with them
in a particular manner, as if she did not expect ever to see them again.
It is not surprising that, under these circumstances, some of her letters
were of a graver tone than had been customary with her, and expressed
resignation rather than cheerfulness.  In reference to these troubles in
a letter to her brother Charles, after mentioning that she had been laid
up with an attack of bilious fever, she says: 'I live up stairs for the
present and am coddled.  I am the only one of the party who has been so
silly, but a weak body must excuse weak nerves.'  And again, to another
correspondent: 'But I am getting too near complaint; it has been the
appointment of God, however secondary causes may have operated.'  But the
elasticity of her spirits soon recovered their tone.  It was in the
latter half of that year that she addressed the two following lively
letters to a nephew, one while he was at Winchester School, the other
soon after he had left it:--

   'Chawton, July 9, 1816.

   'MY DEAR E.--Many thanks.  A thank for every line, and as many to Mr.
   W. Digweed for coming.  We have been wanting very much to hear of your
   mother, and are happy to find she continues to mend, but her illness
   must have been a very serious one indeed.  When she is really
   recovered, she ought to try change of air, and come over to us.  Tell
   your father that I am very much obliged to him for his share of your
   letter, and most sincerely join in the hope of her being eventually
   much the better for her present discipline.  She has the comfort
   moreover of being confined in such weather as gives one little
   temptation to be out.  It is really too bad, and has been too bad for
   a long time, much worse than any one can bear, and I begin to think it
   will never be fine again.  This is a _finesse_ of mine, for I have
   often observed that if one writes about the weather, it is generally
   completely changed before the letter is read.  I wish it may prove so
   now, and that when Mr. W. Digweed reaches Steventon to-morrow, he may
   find you have had a long series of hot dry weather.  We are a small
   party at present, only grandmamma, Mary Jane, and myself.  Yalden's
   coach cleared off the rest yesterday.  I am glad you recollected to
   mention your being come home. {161a}  My heart began to sink within me
   when I had got so far through your letter without its being mentioned.
   I was dreadfully afraid that you might be detained at Winchester by
   severe illness, confined to your bed perhaps, and quite unable to hold
   a pen, and only dating from Steventon in order, with a mistaken sort
   of tenderness, to deceive me.  But now I have no doubt of your being
   at home.  I am sure you would not say it so seriously unless it
   actually were so.  We saw a countless number of post-chaises full of
   boys pass by yesterday morning {161b}--full of future heroes,
   legislators, fools, and villains.  You have never thanked me for my
   last letter, which went by the cheese.  I cannot bear not to be
   thanked.  You will not pay us a visit yet of course; we must not think
   of it.  Your mother must get well first, and you must go to Oxford and
   _not_ be elected; after that a little change of scene may be good for
   you, and your physicians I hope will order you to the sea, or to a
   house by the side of a very considerable pond. {161c}  Oh! it rains
   again.  It beats against the window.  Mary Jane and I have been wet
   through once already to-day; we set off in the donkey-carriage for
   Farringdon, as I wanted to see the improvement Mr. Woolls is making,
   but we were obliged to turn back before we got there, but not soon
   enough to avoid a pelter all the way home.  We met Mr. Woolls.  I
   talked of its being bad weather for the hay, and he returned me the
   comfort of its being much worse for the wheat.  We hear that Mrs. S.
   does not quit Tangier: why and wherefore?  Do you know that our
   Browning is gone?  You must prepare for a William when you come, a
   good-looking lad, civil and quiet, and seeming likely to do.  Good
   bye.  I am sure Mr. W. D. {162} will be astonished at my writing so
   much, for the paper is so thin that he will be able to count the lines
   if not to read them.

   Yours affecly,

In the next letter will be found her description of her own style of
composition, which has already appeared in the notice prefixed to
'Northanger Abbey' and 'Persuasion':--

   'Chawton, Monday, Dec. 16th (1816).

   'MY DEAR E.,--One reason for my writing to you now is, that I may have
   the pleasure of directing to you Esqre.  I give you joy of having left
   Winchester.  Now you may own how miserable you were there; now it will
   gradually all come out, your crimes and your miseries--how often you
   went up by the Mail to London and threw away fifty guineas at a
   tavern, and how often you were on the point of hanging yourself,
   restrained only, as some ill-natured aspersion upon poor old Winton
   has it, by the want of a tree within some miles of the city.  Charles
   Knight and his companions passed through Chawton about 9 this morning;
   later than it used to be.  Uncle Henry and I had a glimpse of his
   handsome face, looking all health and good humour.  I wonder when you
   will come and see us.  I know what I rather speculate upon, but shall
   say nothing.  We think uncle Henry in excellent looks.  Look at him
   this moment, and think so too, if you have not done it before; and we
   have the great comfort of seeing decided improvement in uncle Charles,
   both as to health, spirits, and appearance.  And they are each of them
   so agreeable in their different way, and harmonise so well, that their
   visit is thorough enjoyment.  Uncle Henry writes very superior
   sermons.  You and I must try to get hold of one or two, and put them
   into our novels: it would be a fine help to a volume; and we could
   make our heroine read it aloud on a Sunday evening, just as well as
   Isabella Wardour, in the "Antiquary," is made to read the "History of
   the Hartz Demon" in the ruins of St. Ruth, though I believe, on
   recollection, Lovell is the reader.  By the bye, my dear E., I am
   quite concerned for the loss your mother mentions in her letter.  Two
   chapters and a half to be missing is monstrous!  It is well that _I_
   have not been at Steventon lately, and therefore cannot be suspected
   of purloining them: two strong twigs and a half towards a nest of my
   own would have been something.  I do not think, however, that any
   theft of that sort would be really very useful to me.  What should I
   do with your strong, manly, vigorous sketches, full of variety and
   glow?  How could I possibly join them on to the little bit (two inches
   wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces
   little effect after much labour?

   'You will hear from uncle Henry how well Anna is.  She seems perfectly
   recovered.  Ben was here on Saturday, to ask uncle Charles and me to
   dine with them, as to-morrow, but I was forced to decline it, the walk
   is beyond my strength (though I am otherwise very well), and this is
   not a season for donkey-carriages; and as we do not like to spare
   uncle Charles, he has declined it too.

   _Tuesday_.  Ah, ah! Mr. E.  I doubt your seeing uncle Henry at
   Steventon to-day.  The weather will prevent your expecting him, I
   think.  Tell your father, with aunt Cass's love and mine, that the
   pickled cucumbers are extremely good, and tell him also--"tell him
   what you will."  No, don't tell him what you will, but tell him that
   grandmamma begs him to make Joseph Hall pay his rent, if he can.

    'You must not be tired of reading the word _uncle_, for I have not
   done with it.  Uncle Charles thanks your mother for her letter; it was
   a great pleasure to him to know that the parcel was received and gave
   so much satisfaction, and he begs her to be so good as to give three
   shillings for him to Dame Staples, which shall be allowed for in the
   payment of her debt here.

   'Adieu, Amiable!  I hope Caroline behaves well to you.

   Yours affecly,
   'J. AUSTEN.'

I cannot tell how soon she was aware of the serious nature of her malady.
By God's mercy it was not attended with much suffering; so that she was
able to tell her friends as in the foregoing letter, and perhaps
sometimes to persuade herself that, excepting want of strength, she was
'otherwise very well;' but the progress of the disease became more and
more manifest as the year advanced.  The usual walk was at first
shortened, and then discontinued; and air was sought in a
donkey-carriage.  Gradually, too, her habits of activity within the house
ceased, and she was obliged to lie down much.  The sitting-room contained
only one sofa, which was frequently occupied by her mother, who was more
than seventy years old.  Jane would never use it, even in her mother's
absence; but she contrived a sort of couch for herself with two or three
chairs, and was pleased to say that this arrangement was more comfortable
to her than a real sofa.  Her reasons for this might have been left to be
guessed, but for the importunities of a little niece, which obliged her
to explain that if she herself had shown any inclination to use the sofa,
her mother might have scrupled being on it so much as was good for her.

It is certain, however, that the mind did not share in this decay of the
bodily strength.  'Persuasion' was not finished before the middle of
August in that year; and the manner in which it was then completed
affords proof that neither the critical nor the creative powers of the
author were at all impaired.  The book had been brought to an end in
July; and the re-engagement of the hero and heroine effected in a totally
different manner in a scene laid at Admiral Croft's lodgings.  But her
performance did not satisfy her.  She thought it tame and flat, and was
desirous of producing something better.  This weighed upon her mind, the
more so probably on account of the weak state of her health; so that one
night she retired to rest in very low spirits.  But such depression was
little in accordance with her nature, and was soon shaken off.  The next
morning she awoke to more cheerful views and brighter inspirations: the
sense of power revived; and imagination resumed its course.  She
cancelled the condemned chapter, and wrote two others, entirely
different, in its stead.  The result is that we possess the visit of the
Musgrove party to Bath; the crowded and animated scenes at the White Hart
Hotel; and the charming conversation between Capt. Harville and Anne
Elliot, overheard by Capt. Wentworth, by which the two faithful lovers
were at last led to understand each other's feelings.  The tenth and
eleventh chapters of 'Persuasion' then, rather than the actual winding-up
of the story, contain the latest of her printed compositions, her last
contribution to the entertainment of the public.  Perhaps it may be
thought that she has seldom written anything more brilliant; and that,
independent of the original manner in which the _denouement_ is brought
about, the pictures of Charles Musgrove's good-natured boyishness and of
his wife's jealous selfishness would have been incomplete without these
finishing strokes.  The cancelled chapter exists in manuscript.  It is
certainly inferior to the two which were substituted for it: but it was
such as some writers and some readers might have been contented with; and
it contained touches which scarcely any other hand could have given, the
suppression of which may be almost a matter of regret. {167}

The following letter was addressed to her friend Miss Bigg, then staying
at Streatham with her sister, the wife of the Reverend Herbert Hill,
uncle of Robert Southey.  It appears to have been written three days
before she began her last work, which will be noticed in another chapter;
and shows that she was not at that time aware of the serious nature of
her malady:--

   'Chawton, January 24, 1817.

   'MY DEAR ALETHEA,--I think it time there should be a little writing
   between us, though I believe the epistolary debt is on _your_ side,
   and I hope this will find all the Streatham party well, neither
   carried away by the flood, nor rheumatic through the damps.  Such mild
   weather is, you know, delightful to _us_, and though we have a great
   many ponds, and a fine running stream through the meadows on the other
   side of the road, it is nothing but what beautifies us and does to
   talk of.  _I_ have certainly gained strength through the winter and am
   not far from being well; and I think I understand my own case now so
   much better than I did, as to be able by care to keep off any serious
   return of illness.  I am convinced that _bile_ is at the bottom of all
   I have suffered, which makes it easy to know how to treat myself.  You
   will be glad to hear thus much of me, I am sure.  We have just had a
   few days' visit from Edward, who brought us a good account of his
   father, and the very circumstance of his coming at all, of his
   father's being able to spare him, is itself a good account.  He grows
   still, and still improves in appearance, at least in the estimation of
   his aunts, who love him better and better, as they see the sweet
   temper and warm affections of the boy confirmed in the young man: I
   tried hard to persuade him that he must have some message for William,
   {169a} but in vain. . . .  This is not a time of year for
   donkey-carriages, and our donkeys are necessarily having so long a run
   of luxurious idleness that I suppose we shall find they have forgotten
   much of their education when we use them again.  We do not use two at
   once however; don't imagine such excesses. . .  Our own new clergyman
   {169b} is expected here very soon, perhaps in time to assist Mr.
   Papillon on Sunday.  I shall be very glad when the first hearing is
   over.  It will be a nervous hour for our pew, though we hear that he
   acquits himself with as much ease and collectedness, as if he had been
   used to it all his life.  We have no chance we know of seeing you
   between Streatham and Winchester: you go the other road and are
   engaged to two or three houses; if there should be any change,
   however, you know how welcome you would be. . . .  We have been
   reading the "Poet's Pilgrimage to Waterloo," and generally with much
   approbation.  Nothing will please all the world, you know; but parts
   of it suit me better than much that he has written before.  The
   opening--_the proem_ I believe he calls it--is very beautiful.  Poor
   man! one cannot but grieve for the loss of the son so fondly
   described.  Has he at all recovered it?  What do Mr. and Mrs. Hill
   know about his present state?

   'Yours affly,
   'J. AUSTEN.

   'The real object of this letter is to ask you for a receipt, but I
   thought it genteel not to let it appear early.  We remember some
   excellent orange wine at Manydown, made from Seville oranges, entirely
   or chiefly.  I should be very much obliged to you for the receipt, if
   you can command it within a few weeks.'

On the day before, January 23rd, she had written to her niece in the same
hopeful tone: 'I feel myself getting stronger than I was, and can so
perfectly walk _to_ Alton, _or_ back again without fatigue, that I hope
to be able to do _both_ when summer comes.'

Alas! summer came to her only on her deathbed.  March 17th is the last
date to be found in the manuscript on which she was engaged; and as the
watch of the drowned man indicates the time of his death, so does this
final date seem to fix the period when her mind could no longer pursue
its accustomed course.

And here I cannot do better than quote the words of the niece to whose
private records of her aunt's life and character I have been so often

   'I do not know how early the alarming symptoms of her malady came on.
   It was in the following March that I had the first idea of her being
   seriously ill.  It had been settled that about the end of that month,
   or the beginning of April, I should spend a few days at Chawton, in
   the absence of my father and mother, who were just then engaged with
   Mrs. Leigh Perrot in arranging her late husband's affairs; but Aunt
   Jane became too ill to have me in the house, and so I went instead to
   my sister Mrs. Lefroy at Wyards'.  The next day we walked over to
   Chawton to make enquiries after our aunt.  She was then keeping her
   room, but said she would see us, and we went up to her.  She was in
   her dressing gown, and was sitting quite like an invalid in an arm-
   chair, but she got up and kindly greeted us, and then, pointing to
   seats which had been arranged for us by the fire, she said, "There is
   a chair for the married lady, and a little stool for you, Caroline."
   {171}  It is strange, but those trifling words were the last of hers
   that I can remember, for I retain no recollection of what was said by
   anyone in the conversation that ensued.  I was struck by the
   alteration in herself.  She was very pale, her voice was weak and low,
   and there was about her a general appearance of debility and
   suffering; but I have been told that she never had much acute pain.
   She was not equal to the exertion of talking to us, and our visit to
   the sick room was a very short one, Aunt Cassandra soon taking us
   away.  I do not suppose we stayed a quarter of an hour; and I never
   saw Aunt Jane again.'

In May 1817 she was persuaded to remove to Winchester, for the sake of
medical advice from Mr. Lyford.  The Lyfords have, for some generations,
maintained a high character in Winchester for medical skill, and the Mr.
Lyford of that day was a man of more than provincial reputation, in whom
great London practitioners expressed confidence.  Mr. Lyford spoke
encouragingly.  It was not, of course, his business to extinguish hope in
his patient, but I believe that he had, from the first, very little
expectation of a permanent cure.  All that was gained by the removal from
home was the satisfaction of having done the best that could be done,
together with such alleviations of suffering as superior medical skill
could afford.

Jane and her sister Cassandra took lodgings in College Street.  They had
two kind friends living in the Close, Mrs. Heathcote and Miss Bigg, the
mother and aunt of the present Sir Wm. Heathcote of Hursley, between
whose family and ours a close friendship has existed for several
generations.  These friends did all that they could to promote the
comfort of the sisters, during that sad sojourn in Winchester, both by
their society, and by supplying those little conveniences in which a
lodging-house was likely to be deficient.  It was shortly after settling
in these lodgings that she wrote to a nephew the following characteristic
letter, no longer, alas in her former strong, clear hand.

   'Mrs. David's, College St., Winton,
   'Tuesday, May 27th.

   'There is no better way, my dearest E., of thanking you for your
   affectionate concern for me during my illness than by telling you
   myself, as soon as possible, that I continue to get better.  I will
   not boast of my handwriting; neither that nor my face have yet
   recovered their proper beauty, but in other respects I gain strength
   very fast.  I am now out of bed from 9 in the morning to 10 at night:
   upon the sofa, it is true, but I eat my meals with aunt Cassandra in a
   rational way, and can employ myself, and walk from one room to
   another.  Mr. Lyford says he will cure me, and if he fails, I shall
   draw up a memorial and lay it before the Dean and Chapter, and have no
   doubt of redress from that pious, learned, and disinterested body.  Our
   lodgings are very comfortable.  We have a neat little drawing-room
   with a bow window overlooking Dr. Gabell's garden. {173}  Thanks to
   the kindness of your father and mother in sending me their carriage,
   my journey hither on Saturday was performed with very little fatigue,
   and had it been a fine day, I think I should have felt none; but it
   distressed me to see uncle Henry and Wm. Knight, who kindly attended
   us on horseback, riding in the rain almost the whole way.  We expect a
   visit from them to-morrow, and hope they will stay the night; and on
   Thursday, which is a confirmation and a holiday, we are to get Charles
   out to breakfast.  We have had but one visit from _him_, poor fellow,
   as he is in sick-room, but he hopes to be out to-night.  We see Mrs.
   Heathcote every day, and William is to call upon us soon.  God bless
   you, my dear E.  If ever you are ill, may you be as tenderly nursed as
   I have been.  May the same blessed alleviations of anxious,
   sympathising friends be yours: and may you possess, as I dare say you
   will, the greatest blessing of all in the consciousness of not being
   unworthy of their love.  _I_ could not feel this.

   'Your very affecte Aunt,
   'J. A.'

The following extract from a letter which has been before printed,
written soon after the former, breathes the same spirit of humility and

   'I will only say further that my dearest sister, my tender, watchful,
   indefatigable nurse, has not been made ill by her exertions.  As to
   what I owe her, and the anxious affection of all my beloved family on
   this occasion, I can only cry over it, and pray God to bless them more
   and more.'

Throughout her illness she was nursed by her sister, often assisted by
her sister-in-law, my mother.  Both were with her when she died.  Two of
her brothers, who were clergymen, lived near enough to Winchester to be
in frequent attendance, and to administer the services suitable for a
Christian's death-bed.  While she used the language of hope to her
correspondents, she was fully aware of her danger, though not appalled by
it.  It is true that there was much to attach her to life.  She was happy
in her family; she was just beginning to feel confidence in her own
success; and, no doubt, the exercise of her great talents was an
enjoyment in itself.  We may well believe that she would gladly have
lived longer; but she was enabled without dismay or complaint to prepare
for death.  She was a humble, believing Christian.  Her life had been
passed in the performance of home duties, and the cultivation of domestic
affections, without any self-seeking or craving after applause.  She had
always sought, as it were by instinct, to promote the happiness of all
who came within her influence, and doubtless she had her reward in the
peace of mind which was granted her in her last days.  Her sweetness of
temper never failed.  She was ever considerate and grateful to those who
attended on her.  At times, when she felt rather better, her playfulness
of spirit revived, and she amused them even in their sadness.  Once, when
she thought herself near her end, she said what she imagined might be her
last words to those around her, and particularly thanked her sister-in-
law for being with her, saying: 'You have always been a kind sister to
me, Mary.'  When the end at last came, she sank rapidly, and on being
asked by her attendants whether there was anything that she wanted, her
reply was, '_Nothing but death_.'  These were her last words.  In
quietness and peace she breathed her last on the morning of July 18,

On the 24th of that month she was buried in Winchester Cathedral, near
the centre of the north aisle, almost opposite to the beautiful chantry
tomb of William of Wykeham.  A large slab of black marble in the pavement
marks the place.  Her own family only attended the funeral.  Her sister
returned to her desolated home, there to devote herself, for ten years,
to the care of her aged mother; and to live much on the memory of her
lost sister, till called many years later to rejoin her.  Her brothers
went back sorrowing to their several homes.  They were very fond and very
proud of her.  They were attached to her by her talents, her virtues, and
her engaging manners; and each loved afterwards to fancy a resemblance in
some niece or daughter of his own to the dear sister Jane, whose perfect
equal they yet never expected to see.


_The Cancelled Chapter (Chap. X.) of 'Persuasion_.'

With all this knowledge of Mr. Elliot and this authority to impart it,
Anne left Westgate Buildings, her mind deeply busy in revolving what she
had heard, feeling, thinking, recalling, and foreseeing everything,
shocked at Mr. Elliot, sighing over future Kellynch, and pained for Lady
Russell, whose confidence in him had been entire.  The embarrassment
which must be felt from this hour in his presence!  How to behave to him?
How to get rid of him?  What to do by any of the party at home?  Where to
be blind?  Where to be active?  It was altogether a confusion of images
and doubts--a perplexity, an agitation which she could not see the end
of.  And she was in Gay Street, and still so much engrossed that she
started on being addressed by Admiral Croft, as if he were a person
unlikely to be met there.  It was within a few steps of his own door.

'You are going to call upon my wife,' said he.  'She will be very glad to
see you.'

Anne denied it.

'No! she really had not time, she was in her way home;' but while she
spoke the Admiral had stepped back and knocked at the door, calling out,

'Yes, yes; do go in; she is all alone; go in and rest yourself.'

Anne felt so little disposed at this time to be in company of any sort,
that it vexed her to be thus constrained, but she was obliged to stop.

'Since you are so very kind,' said she, 'I will just ask Mrs. Croft how
she does, but I really cannot stay five minutes.  You are sure she is
quite alone?'

The possibility of Captain Wentworth had occurred; and most fearfully
anxious was she to be assured--either that he was within, or that he was
not--_which_ might have been a question.

'Oh yes! quite alone, nobody but her mantua-maker with her, and they have
been shut up together this half-hour, so it must be over soon.'

'Her mantua-maker!  Then I am sure my calling now would be most
inconvenient.  Indeed you must allow me to leave my card and be so good
as to explain it afterwards to Mrs. Croft.'

'No, no, not at all--not at all--she will be very happy to see you.  Mind,
I will not swear that she has not something particular to say to you, but
that will all come out in the right place.  I give no hints.  Why, Miss
Elliot, we begin to hear strange things of you (smiling in her face).  But
you have not much the look of it, as grave as a little judge!'

Anne blushed.

'Aye, aye, that will do now, it is all right.  I thought we were not

She was left to guess at the direction of his suspicions; the first wild
idea had been of some disclosure from his brother-in-law, but she was
ashamed the next moment, and felt how far more probable it was that he
should be meaning Mr. Elliot.  The door was opened, and the man evidently
beginning to _deny_ his mistress, when the sight of his master stopped
him.  The Admiral enjoyed the joke exceedingly.  Anne thought his triumph
over Stephen rather too long.  At last, however, he was able to invite
her up stairs, and stepping before her said, 'I will just go up with you
myself and show you in.  I cannot stay, because I must go to the Post-
Office, but if you will only sit down for five minutes I am sure Sophy
will come, and you will find nobody to disturb you--there is nobody but
Frederick here,' opening the door as he spoke.  Such a person to be
passed over as nobody to _her_!  After being allowed to feel quite
secure, indifferent, at her ease, to have it burst on her that she was to
be the next moment in the same room with him!  No time for recollection!
for planning behaviour or regulating manners!  There was time only to
turn pale before she had passed through the door, and met the astonished
eyes of Captain Wentworth, who was sitting by the fire, pretending to
read, and prepared for no greater surprise than the Admiral's hasty

Equally unexpected was the meeting on each side.  There was nothing to be
done, however, but to stifle feelings, and to be quietly polite, and the
Admiral was too much on the alert to leave any troublesome pause.  He
repeated again what he had said before about his wife and everybody,
insisted on Anne's sitting down and being perfectly comfortable--was
sorry he must leave her himself, but was sure Mrs. Croft would be down
very soon, and would go upstairs and give her notice directly.  Anne
_was_ sitting down, but now she arose, again to entreat him not to
interrupt Mrs. Croft and re-urge the wish of going away and calling
another time.  But the Admiral would not hear of it; and if she did not
return to the charge with unconquerable perseverance, or did not with a
more passive determination walk quietly out of the room (as certainly she
might have done), may she not be pardoned?  If she _had_ no horror of a
few minutes' tete-a-tete with Captain Wentworth, may she not be pardoned
for not wishing to give him the idea that she had?  She reseated herself,
and the Admiral took leave, but on reaching the door, said--

'Frederick, a word with _you_ if you please.'

Captain Wentworth went to him, and instantly, before they were well out
of the room, the Admiral continued--

'As I am going to leave you together, it is but fair I should give you
something to talk of; and so, if you please--'

Here the door was very firmly closed, she could guess by which of the
two--and she lost entirely what immediately followed, but it was
impossible for her not to distinguish parts of the rest, for the Admiral,
on the strength of the door's being shut, was speaking without any
management of voice, though she could hear his companion trying to check
him.  She could not doubt their being speaking of her.  She heard her own
name and Kellynch repeatedly.  She was very much disturbed.  She knew not
what to do, or what to expect, and among other agonies felt the
possibility of Captain Wentworth's not returning into the room at all,
which, after her consenting to stay, would have been--too bad for
language.  They seemed to be talking of the Admiral's lease of Kellynch.
She heard him say something of the lease being signed--or not
signed--_that_ was not likely to be a very agitating subject, but then

'I hate to be at an uncertainty.  I must know at once.  Sophy thinks the

Then in a lower tone Captain Wentworth seemed remonstrating, wanting to
be excused, wanting to put something off.

'Phoo, phoo,' answered the Admiral, 'now is the time; if you will not
speak, I will stop and speak myself.'

'Very well, sir, very well, sir,' followed with some impatience from his
companion, opening the door as he spoke--

'You will then, you promise you will?' replied the Admiral in all the
power of his natural voice, unbroken even by one thin door.

'Yes, sir, yes.'  And the Admiral was hastily left, the door was closed,
and the moment arrived in which Anne was alone with Captain Wentworth.

She could not attempt to see how he looked, but he walked immediately to
a window as if irresolute and embarrassed, and for about the space of
five seconds she repented what she had done--censured it as unwise,
blushed over it as indelicate.  She longed to be able to speak of the
weather or the concert, but could only compass the relief of taking a
newspaper in her hand.  The distressing pause was over, however; he
turned round in half a minute, and coming towards the table where she
sat, said in a voice of effort and constraint--

'You must have heard too much already, Madam, to be in any doubt of my
having promised Admiral Croft to speak to you on a particular subject,
and this conviction determines me to do so, however repugnant to my--to
all my sense of propriety to be taking so great a liberty!  You will
acquit me of impertinence I trust, by considering me as speaking only for
another, and speaking by necessity; and the Admiral is a man who can
never be thought impertinent by one who knows him as you do.  His
intentions are always the kindest and the best, and you will perceive he
is actuated by none other in the application which I am now, with--with
very peculiar feelings--obliged to make.'  He stopped, but merely to
recover breath, not seeming to expect any answer.  Anne listened as if
her life depended on the issue of his speech.  He proceeded with a forced

'The Admiral, Madam, was this morning confidently informed that you
were--upon my soul, I am quite at a loss, ashamed (breathing and speaking
quickly)--the awkwardness of _giving_ information of this kind to one of
the parties--you can be at no loss to understand me.  It was very
confidently said that Mr. Elliot--that everything was settled in the
family for a union between Mr. Elliot and yourself.  It was added that
you were to live at Kellynch--that Kellynch was to be given up.  This the
Admiral knew could not be correct.  But it occurred to him that it might
be the _wish_ of the parties.  And my commission from him, Madam, is to
say, that if the family wish is such, his lease of Kellynch shall be
cancelled, and he and my sister will provide themselves with another
home, without imagining themselves to be doing anything which under
similar circumstances would not be done for _them_.  This is all, Madam.
A very few words in reply from you will be sufficient.  That _I_ should
be the person commissioned on this subject is extraordinary! and believe
me, Madam, it is no less painful.  A very few words, however, will put an
end to the awkwardness and distress we may _both_ be feeling.'

Anne spoke a word or two, but they were unintelligible; and before she
could command herself, he added, 'If you will only tell me that the
Admiral may address a line to Sir Walter, it will be enough.  Pronounce
only the words, _he may_, and I shall immediately follow him with your

'No, Sir,' said Anne; 'there is no message.  You are misin--the Admiral
is misinformed.  I do justice to the kindness of his intentions, but he
is quite mistaken.  There is no truth in any such report.'

He was a moment silent.  She turned her eyes towards him for the first
time since his re-entering the room.  His colour was varying, and he was
looking at her with all the power and keenness which she believed no
other eyes than his possessed.

'No truth in any such report?' he repeated.  'No truth in any _part_ of


He had been standing by a chair, enjoying the relief of leaning on it, or
of playing with it.  He now sat down, drew it a little nearer to her, and
looked with an expression which had something more than penetration in
it--something softer.  Her countenance did not discourage.  It was a
silent but a very powerful dialogue; on his supplication, on hers
acceptance.  Still a little nearer, and a hand taken and pressed; and
'Anne, my own dear Anne!' bursting forth in all the fulness of exquisite
feeling,--and all suspense and indecision were over.  They were
re-united.  They were restored to all that had been lost. They were
carried back to the past with only an increase of attachment and
confidence, and only such a flutter of present delight as made them
little fit for the interruption of Mrs. Croft when she joined them not
long afterwards.  _She_, probably, in the observations of the next ten
minutes saw something to suspect; and though it was hardly possible for a
woman of her description to wish the mantua-maker had imprisoned her
longer, she might be very likely wishing for some excuse to run about the
house, some storm to break the windows above, or a summons to the
Admiral's shoemaker below.  Fortune favoured them all, however, in
another way, in a gentle, steady rain, just happily set in as the Admiral
returned and Anne rose to go.  She was earnestly invited to stay dinner.
A note was despatched to Camden Place, and she staid--staid till ten at
night; and during that time the husband and wife, either by the wife's
contrivance, or by simply going on in their usual way, were frequently
out of the room together--gone upstairs to hear a noise, or downstairs to
settle their accounts, or upon the landing to trim the lamp.  And these
precious moments were turned to so good an account that all the most
anxious feelings of the past were gone through.  Before they parted at
night, Anne had the felicity of being assured that in the first place (so
far from being altered for the worse), she had gained inexpressibly in
personal loveliness; and that as to character, hers was now fixed on his
mind as _perfection_ itself, maintaining the just medium of fortitude and
gentleness--that he had never ceased to love and prefer her, though it
had been only at Uppercross that he had learnt to do her justice, and
only at Lyme that he had begun to understand his own feelings; that at
Lyme he had received lessons of more than one kind--the passing
admiration of Mr. Elliot had at least _roused_ him, and the scene on the
Cobb, and at Captain Harville's, had fixed her superiority.  In his
preceding attempts to attach himself to Louisa Musgrove (the attempts of
anger and pique), he protested that he had continually felt the
impossibility of really caring for Louisa, though till _that day_, till
the leisure for reflection which followed it, he had not understood the
perfect excellence of the mind with which Louisa's could so ill bear
comparison; or the perfect, the unrivalled hold it possessed over his
own.  There he had learnt to distinguish between the steadiness of
principle and the obstinacy of self-will, between the darings of
heedlessness and the resolution of a collected mind; there he had seen
everything to exalt in his estimation the woman he had lost, and there
had begun to deplore the pride, the folly, the madness of resentment,
which had kept him from trying to regain her when thrown in his way.  From
that period to the present had his penance been the most severe.  He had
no sooner been free from the horror and remorse attending the first few
days of Louisa's accident, no sooner had begun to feel himself alive
again, than he had begun to feel himself, though alive, not at liberty.

He found that he was considered by his friend Harville an engaged man.
The Harvilles entertained not a doubt of a mutual attachment between him
and Louisa; and though this to a degree was contradicted instantly, it
yet made him feel that perhaps by _her_ family, by everybody, by
_herself_ even, the same idea might be held, and that he was not _free_
in honour, though if such were to be the conclusion, too free alas! in
heart.  He had never thought justly on this subject before, and he had
not sufficiently considered that his excessive intimacy at Uppercross
must have its danger of ill consequence in many ways; and that while
trying whether he could attach himself to either of the girls, he might
be exciting unpleasant reports if not raising unrequited regard.

He found too late that he had entangled himself, and that precisely as he
became thoroughly satisfied of his not _caring_ for Louisa at all, he
must regard himself as bound to her if her feelings for him were what the
Harvilles supposed.  It determined him to leave Lyme, and await her
perfect recovery elsewhere.  He would gladly weaken by any _fair_ means
whatever sentiment or speculations concerning them might exist; and he
went therefore into Shropshire, meaning after a while to return to the
Crofts at Kellynch, and act as he found requisite.

He had remained in Shropshire, lamenting the blindness of his own pride
and the blunders of his own calculations, till at once released from
Louisa by the astonishing felicity of her engagement with Benwick.

Bath--Bath had instantly followed in _thought_, and not long after in
_fact_.  To Bath--to arrive with hope, to be torn by jealousy at the
first sight of Mr. Elliot; to experience all the changes of each at the
concert; to be miserable by the morning's circumstantial report, to be
now more happy than language could express, or any heart but his own be
capable of.

He was very eager and very delightful in the description of what he had
felt at the concert; the evening seemed to have been made up of exquisite
moments.  The moment of her stepping forward in the octagon room to speak
to him, the moment of Mr. Elliot's appearing and tearing her away, and
one or two subsequent moments, marked by returning hope or increasing
despondency, were dwelt on with energy.

'To see you,' cried he, 'in the midst of those who could not be my well-
wishers; to see your cousin close by you, conversing and smiling, and
feel all the horrible eligibilities and proprieties of the match!  To
consider it as the certain wish of every being who could hope to
influence you!  Even if your own feelings were reluctant or indifferent,
to consider what powerful support would be his!  Was it not enough to
make the fool of me which I appeared?  How could I look on without agony?
Was not the very sight of the friend who sat behind you; was not the
recollection of what had been, the knowledge of her influence, the
indelible, immovable impression of what persuasion had once done--was it
not all against me?'

'You should have distinguished,' replied Anne.  'You should not have
suspected me now; the case so different, and my age so different.  If I
was wrong in yielding to persuasion once, remember it was to persuasion
exerted on the side of safety, not of risk.  When I yielded, I thought it
was to duty; but no duty could be called in aid here.  In marrying a man
indifferent to me, all risk would have been incurred, and all duty

'Perhaps I ought to have reasoned thus,' he replied; 'but I could not.  I
could not derive benefit from the late knowledge I had acquired of your
character.  I could not bring it into play; it was overwhelmed, buried,
lost in those earlier feelings which I had been smarting under year after
year.  I could think of you only as one who had yielded, who had given me
up, who had been influenced by anyone rather than by me.  I saw you with
the very person who had guided you in that year of misery.  I had no
reason to believe her of less authority now.  The force of habit was to
be added.'

'I should have thought,' said Anne, 'that my manner to yourself might
have spared you much or all of this.'

'No, no!  Your manner might be only the ease which your engagement to
another man would give.  I left you in this belief; and yet--I was
determined to see you again.  My spirits rallied with the morning, and I
felt that I had still a motive for remaining here.  The Admiral's news,
indeed, was a revulsion; since that moment I have been divided what to
do, and had it been confirmed, this would have been my last day in Bath.'

There was time for all this to pass, with such interruptions only as
enhanced the charm of the communication, and Bath could hardly contain
any other two beings at once so rationally and so rapturously happy as
during that evening occupied the sofa of Mrs. Croft's drawing-room in Gay

Captain Wentworth had taken care to meet the Admiral as he returned into
the house, to satisfy him as to Mr. Elliot and Kellynch; and the delicacy
of the Admiral's good-nature kept him from saying another word on the
subject to Anne.  He was quite concerned lest he might have been giving
her pain by touching on a tender part--who could say?  She might be
liking her cousin better than he liked her; and, upon recollection, if
they had been to marry at all, why should they have waited so long?  When
the evening closed, it is probable that the Admiral received some new
ideas from his wife, whose particularly friendly manner in parting with
her gave Anne the gratifying persuasion of her seeing and approving.  It
had been such a day to Anne; the hours which had passed since her leaving
Camden Place had done so much!  She was almost bewildered--almost too
happy in looking back.  It was necessary to sit up half the night, and
lie awake the remainder, to comprehend with composure her present state,
and pay for the overplus of bliss by headache and fatigue.

* * * * *

Then follows Chapter XI., _i.e_. XII. in the published book and at the
end is written--

_Finis_, _July_ 18, 1816.


_The Last Work_.

Jane Austen was taken from us: how much unexhausted talent perished with
her, how largely she might yet have contributed to the entertainment of
her readers, if her life had been prolonged, cannot be known; but it is
certain that the mine at which she had so long laboured was not worked
out, and that she was still diligently employed in collecting fresh
materials from it.  'Persuasion' had been finished in August 1816; some
time was probably given to correcting it for the press; but on the 27th
of the following January, according to the date on her own manuscript,
she began a new novel, and worked at it up to the 17th of March.  The
chief part of this manuscript is written in her usual firm and neat hand,
but some of the latter pages seem to have been first traced in pencil,
probably when she was too weak to sit long at her desk, and written over
in ink afterwards.  The quantity produced does not indicate any decline
of power or industry, for in those seven weeks twelve chapters had been
completed.  It is more difficult to judge of the quality of a work so
little advanced.  It had received no name; there was scarcely any
indication what the course of the story was to be, nor was any heroine
yet perceptible, who, like Fanny Price, or Anne Elliot, might draw round
her the sympathies of the reader.  Such an unfinished fragment cannot be
presented to the public; but I am persuaded that some of Jane Austen's
admirers will be glad to learn something about the latest creations which
were forming themselves in her mind; and therefore, as some of the
principal characters were already sketched in with a vigorous hand, I
will try to give an idea of them, illustrated by extracts from the work.

The scene is laid at Sanditon, a village on the Sussex coast, just
struggling into notoriety as a bathing-place, under the patronage of the
two principal proprietors of the parish, Mr. Parker and Lady Denham.

Mr. Parker was an amiable man, with more enthusiasm than judgment, whose
somewhat shallow mind overflowed with the one idea of the prosperity of
Sanditon, together with a jealous contempt of the rival village of
Brinshore, where a similar attempt was going on.  To the regret of his
much-enduring wife, he had left his family mansion, with all its
ancestral comforts of gardens, shrubberies, and shelter, situated in a
valley some miles inland, and had built a new residence--a Trafalgar
House--on the bare brow of the hill overlooking Sanditon and the sea,
exposed to every wind that blows; but he will confess to no discomforts,
nor suffer his family to feel any from the change.  The following extract
brings him before the reader, mounted on his hobby:--

'He wanted to secure the promise of a visit, and to get as many of the
family as his own house would hold to follow him to Sanditon as soon as
possible; and, healthy as all the Heywoods undeniably were, he foresaw
that every one of them would be benefitted by the sea.  He held it indeed
as certain that no person, however upheld for the present by fortuitous
aids of exercise and spirit in a semblance of health, could be really in
a state of secure and permanent health without spending at least six
weeks by the sea every year.  The sea air and sea-bathing together were
nearly infallible; one or other of them being a match for every disorder
of the stomach, the lungs, or the blood.  They were anti-spasmodic, anti-
pulmonary, anti-bilious, and anti-rheumatic.  Nobody could catch cold by
the sea; nobody wanted appetite by the sea; nobody wanted spirits; nobody
wanted strength.  They were healing, softening, relaxing, fortifying, and
bracing, seemingly just as was wanted; sometimes one, sometimes the
other.  If the sea breeze failed, the sea-bath was the certain
corrective; and when bathing disagreed, the sea breeze was evidently
designed by nature for the cure.  His eloquence, however, could not
prevail.  Mr. and Mrs. Heywood never left home. . . .  The maintenance,
education, and fitting out of fourteen children demanded a very quiet,
settled, careful course of life; and obliged them to be stationary and
healthy at Willingden.  What prudence had at first enjoined was now
rendered pleasant by habit.  They never left home, and they had a
gratification in saying so.'

Lady Denham's was a very different character.  She was a rich vulgar
widow, with a sharp but narrow mind, who cared for the prosperity of
Sanditon only so far as it might increase the value of her own property.
She is thus described:--

'Lady Denham had been a rich Miss Brereton, born to wealth, but not to
education.  Her first husband had been a Mr. Hollis, a man of
considerable property in the country, of which a large share of the
parish of Sanditon, with manor and mansion-house, formed a part.  He had
been an elderly man when she married him; her own age about thirty.  Her
motives for such a match could be little understood at the distance of
forty years, but she had so well nursed and pleased Mr. Hollis that at
his death he left her everything--all his estates, and all at her
disposal.  After a widowhood of some years she had been induced to marry
again.  The late Sir Harry Denham, of Denham Park, in the neighbourhood
of Sanditon, succeeded in removing her and her large income to his own
domains; but he could not succeed in the views of permanently enriching
his family which were attributed to him.  She had been too wary to put
anything out of her own power, and when, on Sir Harry's death, she
returned again to her own house at Sanditon, she was said to have made
this boast, "that though she had _got_ nothing but her title from the
family, yet she had _given_ nothing for it."  For the title it was to be
supposed that she married.

'Lady Denham was indeed a great lady, beyond the common wants of society;
for she had many thousands a year to bequeath, and three distinct sets of
people to be courted by:--her own relations, who might very reasonably
wish for her original thirty thousand pounds among them; the legal heirs
of Mr. Hollis, who might hope to be more indebted to _her_ sense of
justice than he had allowed them to be to _his_; and those members of the
Denham family for whom her second husband had hoped to make a good
bargain.  By all these, or by branches of them, she had, no doubt, been
long and still continued to be well attacked; and of these three
divisions Mr. Parker did not hesitate to say that Mr. Hollis's kindred
were the least in favour, and Sir Harry Denham's the most. The former, he
believed, had done themselves irremediable harm by expressions of very
unwise resentment at the time of Mr. Hollis's death: the latter, to the
advantage of being the remnant of a connection which she certainly
valued, joined those of having been known to her from their childhood,
and of being always at hand to pursue their interests by seasonable
attentions.  But another claimant was now to be taken into account: a
young female relation whom Lady Denham had been induced to receive into
her family.  After having always protested against any such addition, and
often enjoyed the repeated defeat she had given to every attempt of her
own relations to introduce 'this young lady, or that young lady,' as a
companion at Sanditon House, she had brought back with her from London
last Michaelmas a Miss Clara Brereton, who bid fair to vie in favour with
Sir Edward Denham, and to secure for herself and her family that share of
the accumulated property which they had certainly the best right to

Lady Denham's character comes out in a conversation which takes place at
Mr. Parker's tea-table.

'The conversation turned entirely upon Sanditon, its present number of
visitants, and the chances of a good season.  It was evident that Lady
Denham had more anxiety, more fears of loss than her coadjutor.  She
wanted to have the place fill faster, and seemed to have many harassing
apprehensions of the lodgings being in some instances underlet.  To a
report that a large boarding-school was expected she replies, 'Ah, well,
no harm in that.  They will stay their six weeks, and out of such a
number who knows but some may be consumptive, and want asses' milk; and I
have two milch asses at this very time.  But perhaps the little Misses
may hurt the furniture.  I hope they will have a good sharp governess to
look after them.'  But she wholly disapproved of Mr. Parker's wish to
secure the residence of a medical man amongst them.  'Why, what should we
do with a doctor here?  It would only be encouraging our servants and the
poor to fancy themselves ill, if there was a doctor at hand.  Oh, pray
let us have none of that tribe at Sanditon: we go on very well as we are.
There is the sea, and the downs, and my milch asses: and I have told Mrs.
Whitby that if anybody enquires for a chamber horse, they may be supplied
at a fair rate (poor Mr. Hollis's chamber horse, as good as new); and
what can people want more?  I have lived seventy good years in the world,
and never took physic, except twice: and never saw the face of a doctor
in all my life on my own account; and I really believe if my poor dear
Sir Harry had never seen one neither, he would have been alive now.  Ten
fees, one after another, did the men take who sent him out of the world.
I beseech you, Mr. Parker, no doctors here.'

This lady's character comes out more strongly in a conversation with Mr.
Parker's guest, Miss Charlotte Heywood.  Sir Edward Denham with his
sister Esther and Clara Brereton have just left them.

'Charlotte accepted an invitation from Lady Denham to remain with her on
the terrace, when the others adjourned to the library.  Lady Denham, like
a true great lady, talked, and talked only of her own concerns, and
Charlotte listened.  Taking hold of Charlotte's arm with the ease of one
who felt that any notice from her was a favour, and communicative from
the same sense of importance, or from a natural love of talking, she
immediately said in a tone of great satisfaction, and with a look of arch

'Miss Esther wants me to invite her and her brother to spend a week with
me at Sanditon House, as I did last summer, but I shan't.  She has been
trying to get round me every way with her praise of this and her praise
of that; but I saw what she was about.  I saw through it all.  I am not
very easily taken in, my dear.'

Charlotte could think of nothing more harmless to be said than the simple
enquiry of, 'Sir Edward and Miss Denham?'

'Yes, my dear; _my young folks_, as I call them, sometimes: for I take
them very much by the hand, and had them with me last summer, about this
time, for a week--from Monday to Monday--and very delighted and thankful
they were.  For they are very good young people, my dear.  I would not
have you think that I only notice them for poor dear Sir Harry's sake.
No, no; they are very deserving themselves, or, trust me, they would not
be so much in my company.  I am not the woman to help anybody blindfold.
I always take care to know what I am about, and who I have to deal with
before I stir a finger.  I do not think I was ever overreached in my
life; and that is a good deal for a woman to say that has been twice
married.  Poor dear Sir Harry (between ourselves) thought at first to
have got more, but (with a bit of a sigh) he is gone, and we must not
find fault with the dead.  Nobody could live happier together than us:
and he was a very honourable man, quite the gentleman, of ancient family;
and when he died I gave Sir Edward his gold watch.'

This was said with a look at her companion which implied its right to
produce a great impression; and seeing no rapturous astonishment in
Charlotte's countenance, she added quickly,

'He did not bequeath it to his nephew, my dear; it was no bequest; it was
not in the will.  He only told me, and _that_ but _once_, that he should
wish his nephew to have his watch; but it need not have been binding, if
I had not chose it.'

'Very kind indeed, very handsome!' said Charlotte, absolutely forced to
affect admiration.

'Yes, my dear; and it is not the only kind thing I have done by him.  I
have been a very liberal friend to Sir Edward; and, poor young man, he
needs it bad enough.  For, though I am only the dowager, my dear, and he
is the heir, things do not stand between us in the way they usually do
between those two parties.  Not a shilling do I receive from the Denham
estate.  Sir Edward has no payments to make _me_.  _He_ don't stand
uppermost, believe me; it is _I_ that help _him_.'

'Indeed! he is a very fine young man, and particularly elegant in his

This was said chiefly for the sake of saying something; but Charlotte
directly saw that it was laying her open to suspicion, by Lady Denham's
giving a shrewd glance at her, and replying,

'Yes, yes; he's very well to look at; and it is to be hoped that somebody
of large fortune will think so; for Sir Edward _must_ marry for money.  He
and I often talk that matter over.  A handsome young man like him will go
smirking and smiling about, and paying girls compliments, but he knows he
_must_ marry for money.  And Sir Edward is a very steady young man, in
the main, and has got very good notions.'

'Sir Edward Denham,' said Charlotte, 'with such personal advantages, may
be almost sure of getting a woman of fortune, if he chooses it.'

This glorious sentiment seemed quite to remove suspicion.

'Aye, my dear, that is very sensibly said; and if we could but get a
young heiress to Sanditon!  But heiresses are monstrous scarce!  I do not
think we have had an heiress here, nor even a _Co_., since Sanditon has
been a public place.  Families come after families, but, as far as I can
learn, it is not one in a hundred of them that have any real property,
landed or funded.  An income, perhaps, but no property.  Clergymen, may
be, or lawyers from town, or half-pay officers, or widows with only a
jointure; and what good can such people do to anybody?  Except just as
they take our empty houses, and (between ourselves) I think they are
great fools for not staying at home.  Now, if we could get a young
heiress to be sent here for her health, and, as soon as she got well,
have her fall in love with Sir Edward!  And Miss Esther must marry
somebody of fortune, too.  She must get a rich husband.  Ah! young ladies
that have no money are very much to be pitied.'  After a short pause: 'If
Miss Esther thinks to talk me into inviting them to come and stay at
Sanditon House, she will find herself mistaken.  Matters are altered with
me since last summer, you know: I have Miss Clara with me now, which
makes a great difference.  I should not choose to have my two housemaid's
time taken up all the morning in dusting out bedrooms.  They have Miss
Clara's room to put to rights, as well as mine, every day.  If they had
hard work, they would want higher wages.'

Charlotte's feelings were divided between amusement and indignation.  She
kept her countenance, and kept a civil silence; but without attempting to
listen any longer, and only conscious that Lady Denham was still talking
in the same way, allowed her own thoughts to form themselves into such
meditation as this:--'She is thoroughly mean; I had no expectation of
anything so bad.  Mr. Parker spoke too mildly of her.  He is too kind-
hearted to see clearly, and their very connection misleads him.  He has
persuaded her to engage in the same speculation, and because they have so
far the same object in view, he fancies that she feels like him in other
things; but she is very, very mean.  I can see no good in her.  Poor Miss
Brereton!  And it makes everybody mean about her.  This poor Sir Edward
and his sister! how far nature meant them to be respectable I cannot
tell; but they are obliged to be mean in their servility to her; and I am
mean, too, in giving her my attention with the appearance of coinciding
with her.  Thus it is when rich people are sordid.'

Mr. Parker has two unmarried sisters of singular character.  They live
together; Diana, the younger, always takes the lead, and the elder
follows in the same track.  It is their pleasure to fancy themselves
invalids to a degree and in a manner never experienced by others; but,
from a state of exquisite pain and utter prostration, Diana Parker can
always rise to be officious in the concerns of all her acquaintance, and
to make incredible exertions where they are not wanted.

It would seem that they must be always either very busy for the good of
others, or else extremely ill themselves.  Some natural delicacy of
constitution, in fact, with an unfortunate turn for medicine, especially
quack medicine, had given them an early tendency at various times to
various disorders.  The rest of their suffering was from their own fancy,
the love of distinction, and the love of the wonderful.  They had
charitable hearts and many amiable feelings; but a spirit of restless
activity, and the glory of doing more than anybody else, had a share in
every exertion of benevolence, and there was vanity in all they did, as
well as in all they endured.

These peculiarities come out in the following letter of Diana Parker to
her brother:--

   'MY DEAR TOM,--We were much grieved at your accident, and if you had
   not described yourself as having fallen into such very good hands, I
   should have been with you at all hazards the day after receipt of your
   letter, though it found me suffering under a more severe attack than
   usual of my old grievance, spasmodic bile, and hardly able to crawl
   from my bed to the sofa.  But how were you treated?  Send me more
   particulars in your next.  If indeed a simple sprain, as you
   denominate it, nothing would have been so judicious as
   friction--friction by the hand alone, supposing it could be applied
   _immediately_.  Two years ago I happened to be calling on Mrs.
   Sheldon, when her coachman sprained his foot, as he was cleaning the
   carriage, and could hardly limp into the house; but by the immediate
   use of friction alone, steadily persevered in (I rubbed his ancle with
   my own hands for four hours without intermission), he was well in
   three days. . . .  Pray never run into peril again in looking for an
   apothecary on our account; for had you the most experienced man in his
   line settled at Sanditon, it would be no recommendation to us.  We
   have entirely done with the whole medical tribe.  We have consulted
   physician after physician in vain, till we are quite convinced that
   they can do nothing for us, and that we must trust to our knowledge of
   our own wretched constitutions for any relief; but if you think it
   advisable for the interests of the _place_ to get a medical man there,
   I will undertake the commission with pleasure, and have no doubt of
   succeeding.  I could soon put the necessary irons in the fire.  As for
   getting to Sanditon myself, it is an impossibility.  I grieve to say
   that I cannot attempt it, but my feelings tell me too plainly that in
   my present state the sea-air would probably be the death of me; and in
   truth I doubt whether Susan's nerves would be equal to the effort.  She
   has been suffering much from headache, and six leeches a day, for ten
   days together, relieved her so little that we thought it right to
   change our measures; and being convinced on examination that much of
   the evil lay in her gums, I persuaded her to attack the disorder
   there.  She has accordingly had three teeth drawn, and is decidedly
   better; but her nerves are a good deal deranged, she can only speak in
   a whisper, and fainted away this morning on poor Arthur's trying to
   suppress a cough.'

Within a week of the date of this letter, in spite of the impossibility
of moving, and of the fatal effects to be apprehended from the sea-air,
Diana Parker was at Sanditon with her sister.  She had flattered herself
that by her own indefatigable exertions, and by setting at work the
agency of many friends, she had induced two large families to take houses
at Sanditon.  It was to expedite these politic views that she came; and
though she met with some disappointment of her expectation, yet she did
not suffer in health.

Such were some of the _dramatis personae_, ready dressed and prepared for
their parts.  They are at least original and unlike any that the author
had produced before.  The success of the piece must have depended on the
skill with which these parts might be played; but few will be inclined to
distrust the skill of one who had so often succeeded.  If the author had
lived to complete her work, it is probable that these personages might
have grown into as mature an individuality of character, and have taken
as permanent a place amongst our familiar acquaintance, as Mr. Bennet, or
John Thorp, Mary Musgrove, or Aunt Norris herself.



When first I was asked to put together a memoir of my aunt, I saw reasons
for declining the attempt.  It was not only that, having passed the three
score years and ten usually allotted to man's strength, and being
unaccustomed to write for publication, I might well distrust my ability
to complete the work, but that I also knew the extreme scantiness of the
materials out of which it must be constructed.  The grave closed over my
aunt fifty-two years ago; and during that long period no idea of writing
her life had been entertained by any of her family.  Her nearest
relatives, far from making provision for such a purpose, had actually
destroyed many of the letters and papers by which it might have been
facilitated.  They were influenced, I believe, partly by an extreme
dislike to publishing private details, and partly by never having assumed
that the world would take so strong and abiding an interest in her works
as to claim her name as public property.  It was therefore necessary for
me to draw upon recollections rather than on written documents for my
materials; while the subject itself supplied me with nothing striking or
prominent with which to arrest the attention of the reader.  It has been
said that the happiest individuals, like nations during their happiest
periods, have no history.  In the case of my aunt, it was not only that
her course of life was unvaried, but that her own disposition was
remarkably calm and even.  There was in her nothing eccentric or angular;
no ruggedness of temper; no singularity of manner; none of the morbid
sensibility or exaggeration of feeling, which not unfrequently
accompanies great talents, to be worked up into a picture.  Hers was a
mind well balanced on a basis of good sense, sweetened by an affectionate
heart, and regulated by fixed principles; so that she was to be
distinguished from many other amiable and sensible women only by that
peculiar genius which shines out clearly enough in her works, but of
which a biographer can make little use.  The motive which at last induced
me to make the attempt is exactly expressed in the passage prefixed to
these pages.  I thought that I saw something to be done: knew of no one
who could do it but myself, and so was driven to the enterprise.  I am
glad that I have been able to finish my work.  As a family record it can
scarcely fail to be interesting to those relatives who must ever set a
high value on their connection with Jane Austen, and to them I especially
dedicate it; but as I have been asked to do so, I also submit it to the
censure of the public, with all its faults both of deficiency and
redundancy.  I know that its value in their eyes must depend, not on any
merits of its own, but on the degree of estimation in which my aunt's
works may still be held; and indeed I shall esteem it one of the
strongest testimonies ever borne to her talents, if for her sake an
interest can be taken in so poor a sketch as I have been able to draw.

Sept. 7, 1869.

_Postscript printed at the end of the first edition; omitted from the

Since these pages were in type, I have read with astonishment the strange
misrepresentation of my aunt's manners given by Miss Mitford in a letter
which appears in her lately-published Life, vol. i. p. 305.  Miss Mitford
does not profess to have known Jane Austen herself, but to report what
had been told her by her mother.  Having stated that her mother '_before
her marriage_' was well acquainted with Jane Austen and her family, she
writes thus:--'Mamma says that she was _then_ the prettiest, silliest,
most affected, husband-hunting butterfly she ever remembers.'  The editor
of Miss Mitford's Life very properly observes in a note how different
this description is from 'every other account of Jane Austen from
whatever quarter.'  Certainly it is so totally at variance with the
modest simplicity of character which I have attributed to my aunt, that
if it could be supposed to have a semblance of truth, it must be equally
injurious to her memory and to my trustworthiness as her biographer.
Fortunately I am not driven to put my authority in competition with that
of Miss Mitford, nor to ask which ought to be considered the better
witness in this case; because I am able to prove by a reference to dates
that Miss Mitford must have been under a mistake, and that her mother
could not possibly have known what she was supposed to have reported;
inasmuch as Jane Austen, at the time referred to, was a little girl.

Mrs. Mitford was the daughter of Dr. Russell, Rector of Ashe, a parish
adjoining Steventon, so that the families of Austen and Russell must at
that time have been known to each other.  But the date assigned by Miss
Mitford for the termination of the acquaintance is the time of her
mother's marriage.  This took place in October 1785, when Jane, who had
been born in December 1775, was not quite ten years old.  In point of
fact, however, Miss Russell's opportunities of observing Jane Austen must
have come to an end still earlier: for upon Dr. Russell's death, in
January 1783, his widow and daughter removed from the neighbourhood, so
that all intercourse between the families ceased when Jane was little
more than seven years old.

All persons who undertake to narrate from hearsay things which are
supposed to have taken place before they were born are liable to error,
and are apt to call in imagination to the aid of memory: and hence it
arises that many a fancy piece has been substituted for genuine history.

I do not care to correct the inaccurate account of Jane Austen's manners
in after life: because Miss Mitford candidly expresses a doubt whether
she had not been misinformed on that point.

_Nov_. 17, 1869.


{0a}  _The Watsons_ and _Lady Susan_ are not included in this reprint.

{1}  I went to represent my father, who was too unwell to attend himself,
and thus I was the only one of my generation present.

{3}  My chief assistants have been my sisters, Mrs. B. Lefroy and Miss
Austen, whose recollections of our aunt are, on some points, more vivid
than my own.  I have not only been indebted to their memory for facts,
but have sometimes used their words.  Indeed some passages towards the
end of the work were entirely written by the latter.

I have also to thank some of my cousins, and especially the daughters of
Admiral Charles Austen, for the use of letters and papers which had
passed into their hands, without which this Memoir, scanty as it is,
could not have been written.

{5}  There seems to have been some doubt as to the validity of this
election; for Hearne says that it was referred to the Visitor, who
confirmed it.  (Hearne's _Diaries_, v.2.)

{6}  Mrs. Thrale writes Dr. _Lee_, but there can be no doubt of the
identity of person.

{31}  The celebrated Beau Brummel, who was so intimate with George IV. as
to be able to quarrel with him, was born in 1771.  It is reported that
when he was questioned about his parents, he replied that it was long
since he had heard of them, but that he imagined the worthy couple must
have cut their own throats by that time, because when he last saw them
they were eating peas with their knives.  Yet Brummel's father had
probably lived in good society; and was certainly able to put his son
into a fashionable regiment, and to leave him 30,000 pounds. {31a}  Raikes
believes that he had been Secretary to Lord North.  Thackeray's idea that
he had been a footman cannot stand against the authority of Raikes, who
was intimate with the son.

{31a}  Raikes's Memoirs, vol. ii p. 207.

{35}  See 'Spectator,' No. 102, on the Fan Exercise.  Old gentlemen who
had survived the fashion of wearing swords were known to regret the
disuse of that custom, because it put an end to one way of distinguishing
those who had, from those who had not, been used to good society.  To
wear the sword easily was an art which, like swimming and skating,
required to be learned in youth.  Children could practise it early with
their toy swords adapted to their size.

{41}  Mrs. Gaskell, in her tale of 'Sylvia's Lovers,' declares that this
hand-spinning rivalled harp-playing in its gracefulness.

{62}  James, the writer's eldest brother.

{63}  The limb was saved.

{65}  The invitation, the ball dress, and some other things in this and
the preceding letter refer to a ball annually given at Hurstbourne Park,
on the anniversary of the Earl of Portsmouth's marriage with his first
wife.  He was the Lord Portsmouth whose eccentricities afterwards became
notorious, and the invitations, as well as other arrangements about these
balls, were of a peculiar character.

{66a}  The father of Sir William Heathcote, of Hursley, who was married
to a daughter of Mr. Bigg Wither, of Manydown, and lived in the

{66b}  A very dull old lady, then residing with Mrs. Lloyd.

{68}  The Duke of Sussex, son of George III., married, without royal
consent, to the Lady Augusta Murray.

{75a}  Here is evidence that Jane Austen was acquainted with Bath before
it became her residence in 1801.  See p.[25].

{75b}  A gentleman and lady lately engaged to be married.

{80}  It seems that Charles Austen, then first lieutenant of the
'Endymion,' had had an opportunity of shewing attention and kindness to
some of Lord Leven's family.

{83}  See Wharton's note to Johnson and Steevens' Shakspeare.

{102}  This mahogany desk, which has done good service to the public, is
now in the possession of my sister, Miss Austen.

{107}  At this time, February 1813, 'Mansfield Park' was nearly finished.

{110}  The present Lady Pollen, of Redenham, near Andover, then at a
school in London.

{117}  See Mrs. Gaskell's 'Life of Miss Bronte,' vol. ii. p. 215.

{122}  It was her pleasure to boast of greater ignorance than she had any
just claim to.  She knew more than her mother tongue, for she knew a good
deal of French and a little of Italian.

{126}  Mrs. Gaskell's 'Life of Miss Bronte,' vol. ii. p. 53.

{130}  This must have been 'Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk.'

{136a}  A greater genius than my aunt shared with her the imputation of
being _commonplace_.  Lockhart, speaking of the low estimation in which
Scott's conversational powers were held in the literary and scientific
society of Edinburgh, says: 'I think the epithet most in vogue concerning
it was "commonplace."'  He adds, however, that one of the most eminent of
that society was of a different opinion, who, when some glib youth
chanced to echo in his hearing the consolatory tenet of local mediocrity,
answered quietly, "I have the misfortune to think differently from you--in
my humble opinion Walter Scott's sense is a still more wonderful thing
than his genius."--Lockhart's _Life of Scott_, vol. iv. chap. v.

{136b}  The late Mr. R. H. Cheney.

{140}  Lockhart had supposed that this article had been written by Scott,
because it exactly accorded with the opinions which Scott had often been
heard to express, but he learned afterwards that it had been written by
Whately; and Lockhart, who became the Editor of the Quarterly, must have
had the means of knowing the truth.  (See Lockhart's _Life of Sir Walter
Scott_, vol. v. p. 158.)  I remember that, at the time when the review
came out, it was reported in Oxford that Whately had written the article
at the request of the lady whom he afterwards married.

{142} In transcribing this passage I have taken the liberty so far to
correct it as to spell her name properly with an 'e.'

{145} Incidentally she had received high praise in Lord Macaulay's Review
of Madame D'Arblay's Works in the 'Edinburgh.'

{146} _Life of Sir J. Mackintosh_, vol. ii. p. 472.

{149} Lockhart's _Life of Scott_, vol. vi. chap. vii.

{159} The Fowles, of Kintbury, in Berkshire.

{161a}  It seems that her young correspondent, after dating from his
home, had been so superfluous as to state in his letter that he was
returned home, and thus to have drawn on himself this banter.

{161b}  The road by which many Winchester boys returned home ran close to
Chawton Cottage.

{161c}  There was, though it exists no longer, a pond close to Chawton
Cottage, at the junction of the Winchester and Gosport roads.

{162}  Mr. Digweed, who conveyed the letters to and from Chawton, was the
gentleman named in page[22], as renting the old manor-house and the large
farm at Steventon.

{167}  This cancelled chapter is now printed, in compliance with the
requests addressed to me from several quarters.

{169a}  Miss Bigg's nephew, the present Sir William Heathcote, of

{169b}  Her brother Henry, who had been ordained late in life.

{171}  The writer was at that time under twelve years old.

{173}  It was the corner house in College Street, at the entrance to

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