Editor’s Note153. To Fanny Knight
- Thursday 13 March 1817
- Chawton, Thursday March 13.
As to making any adequate return for such a Letter as yours my dearest Fanny, it is absolutely impossible; if I were to labour at it all the rest of my Life & live to the age of Methusalah, I could never accomplish anything so long & so perfect; but I cannot let William go without a few Lines of acknowledgement & reply. I have pretty well done with Mr Wildman. By your description he cannot be in love with you, however he may try at it, & I could not wish the match unless there were a great deal of Love on his side. I do not know what to do about Jemima Branfill. What does her dancing away with so much pg 347spirit, mean?—that she does not care for him, or only wishes to appear not to care for him?—Who can understand a young Lady?—Poor Mrs C. Milles, that she should die on a wrong day at last, after being about it so long!—It was unlucky that the Goodnestone Party could not meet you, & I hope her friendly, obliging, social Spirit, which delighted in drawing People together, was not conscious of the division & disappointment she was occasioning. [p. 2] I am sorry & surprised that you speak of her as having little to leave, & must feel for Miss Milles, though she is Molly, if a material loss of Income is to attend her other loss.—Single Women have a dreadful propensity for being poor—which is one very strong argument in favour of Matrimony, but I need not dwell on such arguments with you, pretty Dear, you do not want inclination.—Well, I shall say, as I have often said before, Donot be in a hurry; depend upon it, the right Man will come at last; you will in the course of the next two or three years, meet with somebody more generally unexceptionable than anyone you have yet known, who will love you as warmly as ever He did, & who will so completely attach you, that you will feel you never really loved before.—And then, by not beginning the business of Mothering quite so early in life, you will be young in Constitution, spirits, figure & countenance, while Mrs Wm Hammond1 is growing old by confinements & nursing. Do none of the Plumptres ever come to Balls now?—You have never mentioned them as being at any?—And what do you hear of the Gipps?—or of Fanny & her Husband?2—Mrs F.A. is to be confined the middle of April, & is by no means remarkably Large for her.—Aunt Cassandra walked to Wyards yesterday with [p. 3] Mrs Digweed. Anna has had a bad cold, looks pale, & we fear something else.3—She has just weaned Julia.—How soon, the difference of temper in Children appears!—Jemima has a very irritable bad Temper (her Mother says so)—and Julia a very sweet one, always pleased & happy.—I hope as Anna is so early sensible of its' defects, that she will give Jemima's disposition the early & steady attention it must require.—I have also heard lately from your Aunt Harriot,4 & cannot understand their plans in parting with Miss S– whom she seems very much to value, now that Harriot & Eleanor are both of an age for a Governess to be so useful to; especially as when Caroline was sent to School some years, Miss Bell was still retained, though the others were then mere Nursery Children.—They have some good reason I dare say, though I cannot penetrate it, & till I know what it is I shall invent a pg 348bad one, and amuse myself with accounting for the difference of measures by supposing Miss S. to be a superior sort of Woman, who has never stooped to recommend herself to the Master of the family by Flattery, as Miss Bell did.—I will answer your kind questions more than you expect.—Miss Catherine is put upon the Shelve for the present, and I do not know that she will ever come out; but I have a something ready for Publication, which may perhaps appear about a twelvemonth hence. It is short, about the length of Catherine.—This is for yourself alone. Neither Mr Salusbury nor Mr Wildman are to know of it.
[p. 4] I am got tolerably well again, quite equal to walking about & enjoying the Air; & by sitting down & resting a good while between my Walks, I get exercise enough.—I have a scheme however for accomplishing more, as the weather grows springlike. I mean to take to riding the Donkey. It will be more independant & less troublesome than the use of the Carriage, & I shall be able to go about with At Cassandra in her walks to Alton & Wyards.—
I hope you will think Wm looking well. He was bilious the other day, & Aunt Cass: supplied him with a Dose at his own request, which seemed to have good effect.—I was sure you would have approved it.—Wm & I are the best of friends. I love him very much.—Everything is so natural about him, his affections, his Manners & his Drollery.—He entertains & interests us extremely.—Max: Hammond & A. M. Shaw are people whom I cannot care for, in themselves, but I enter into their situation & am glad they are so happy.—If I were the Duchess of Richmond, I should be very miserable about my son's choice. What can be expected from a Paget, born & brought up in the centre of conjugal Infidelity & Divorces?—I will not be interested about Lady Caroline. I abhor all the race of Pagets.5—Our fears increase for poor little Harriet; the latest account is that Sir Ev: Home is confirmed in his opinion of there being Water on the brain.—I hope Heaven in its mercy will take her soon. Her poor Father will be quite worn out by his feelings for her.—He cannot spare Cassy at present, she is an occupation & a comfort to him.
[p. 5] Adeiu my dearest Fanny.—Nothing could be more delicious than your Letter; & the assurance of your feeling releived by writing it, made the pleasure perfect.—But how could it possibly be any new pg 349idea to you, that you have a great deal of Imagination?—You are all over Imagination.—The most astonishing part of your Character is, that with so much Imagination, so much flight of Mind, such unbounded Fancies, you should have such excellent Judgement in what you do!— Religious Principle I fancy must explain it.—Well, good bye & God bless you.
- Yrs very affecly
- J. Austen
- [Miss Knig]ht
- [Godmers]ham Park