Jane Austen

Deirdre Le Faye (ed.), Jane Austen's Letters (Fourth Edition)

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note79. To Cassandra Austen

  • Friday 29 January 1813
  • Chawton Friday Jany 29.

I hope you received my little parcel by J. Bond on Wednesday eveng, my dear Cassandra, & that you will be ready to hear from me again on Sunday, for I feel that I must write to you to day Your parcel is safely pg 210arrived & everything shall be delivered as it ought. Thank you for your note. As you had not heard from me at that time it was very good in you to write, but I shall not be so much your debtor soon.—I want to tell you that I have got my own darling Child1 from London;—on Wednesday I received one Copy, sent down by Falknor, with three lines from Henry to say that he had given another to Charles & sent a 3d by the Coach to Godmersham; just the two Sets which I was least eager for the disposal of. I wrote to him immediately to beg for my two other Sets, unless he would take the trouble of forwarding them at once to Steventon & Portsmouth—not having an idea of his leaving Town before to day;—by your account however he was gone before my Letter was written. The only evil is the delay, nothing more can be done till his return. Tell James & Mary so, with my Love.—For your sake I am as well pleased that it shd be so, as it might be unpleasant to you to be in the Neighbourhood at the first burst of the business.—The Advertisement is in our paper to day2 for the first time;—18s—He shall ask £1– 1– for my two next, & £1– 8– for my stupidest of all.3—I shall write to Frank, that he may not think himself neglected. Miss Benn dined with us on the very day of the Books coming, & in the eveng we set fairly at it & read half the 1st vol. to her—prefacing that having intelligence from Henry that such a work wd soon appear we had desired him to send it whenever it came out—& I beleive it passed with her unsuspected.—She was [p. 2] amused, poor soul! that she cd not help you know, with two such people4 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, & 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—& a "said he" or a "said she" would sometimes make the Dialogue more immediately clear—but "I do not write5 for such dull Elves"

"As have not a great deal of Ingenuity themselves."—The 2d vol.6 is shorter than I cd 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 lopt & cropt so successfully however that I imagine it must be rather shorter than S. & S. altogether.—Now I will try to write of something else;—it shall be a complete change of subject—Ordination.7 I am glad to find your enquiries have ended so well.—If you cd discover whether Northamptonshire is a Country of Hedgerows,8 I shd be glad again.—We admire your Charades9 excessively, but as yet have guessed only pg 211the 1st. The others seem very difficult. There is so much beauty in the Versification however, that the finding them out is but a secondary pleasure.—I grant you that this is a cold day, & am sorry to think how cold you will be through the process of your visit at Manydown. I hope you will wear your China Crape. Poor wretch! I can see you shivering away, with your miserable feeling feet.—What a vile Character Mr Digweed turns out, quite beyond anything & everything;10—instead of going to Steventon they are to have a Dinnerparty next tuesday!—I am sorry to say that I could not eat a Mincepie at Mr Papillon's; I was rather head-achey that day, & cd not venture on anything sweet except Jelly; but that was excellent.—There were no stewed pears, but Miss Benn had some almonds & raisins.—By the bye, she desired to be kindly remembered to you when I wrote last, & I forgot it.—Betsy11 sends her Duty to you & hopes you are well, & her Love to Miss Caroline & hopes she has got rid of her Cough. It was such a pleasure to her to think her Oranges were so well timed, that I dare say she was rather glad to hear of the Cough … [end of p. 2; second leaf of letter missing; postscript upside down at top of p. 1]

Since I wrote this Letter we have been visited by Mrs Digweed, her Sister & Miss Benn. I gave Mrs D. her little parcel, which she opened here & seemed much pleased with—& she desired me12 to make her best Thanks &c. to Miss Lloyd for it.—Martha may guess how full of wonder & gratitude she was.

  • [Miss Austen
  • Steventon]

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
Description. One leaf quarto, laid; watermark 1809; no seal or wafer; second leaf (pp. 3–4) missing.
Postmark. None.
Provenance. Bequeathed by CEA to CJA in 1845; descended to his granddaughters and sold by them probably in 1924; Frederick R. Lovering; Sotheby's, 3 May 1948; T. Edward Carpenter and bequeathed by him to the JAMT 1969.
Publication. Memoir (1st 131, 2nd 97 (extracts)); Life 260 (extracts); Chapman (1st & 2nd, from copy made by RAAL 1909); Lock; Modert F-236 and F-237.
Editor’s Note
1. own darling Child. JA's first copy of Pride and Prejudice.
Editor’s Note
2. our paper to day. There is no advertisement for the book in either the Hampshire Chronicle or the Hampshire Telegraph of 29 Jan. 1813, but it is mentioned in the Morning Chronicle of Thursday, 28 Jan., under the heading 'Books Published This Day'; presumably the London papers would reach Chawton the following day.
Editor’s Note
3. my stupidest of all. JA looks forward to a crescendo of price and stupidity. In the event she feared that Emma would be thought 'inferior in good sense' to Mansfield Park.
Editor’s Note
4. two such people. JA and her mother.
Editor’s Note
5. I do not write. Marmion, vi. 38:
  • I do not rhyme to that dull elf
  • Who cannot image to himself …
Editor’s Note
6. The second volume. The number of pages is: I. 307, II. 239, III. 323. This compares with S&S: I. 317, II. 278, III. 301; twenty-five more pages overall.
Editor’s Note
7. Ordination. Over-hasty reading of this letter in the past has led some critics to believe that JA was only just now deciding to compose Mansfield Park and that 'ordination' would be her theme for the novel. As her comments in Letter 78 make clear, she was in fact by this date already half-way through Mansfield Park. Her request to CEA for 'enquiries' was no doubt concerning the time necessary for the process of ordination—i.e. how long Edmund Bertram might be kept away from Mansfield Park for this purpose. CEA was then staying with James Austen, the cleric of the family, who would obviously be in the best position to provide the details of his own ordination in 1787.
Editor’s Note
8. Country of Hedgerows. RWC assumed this enquiry meant that JA thought of using in MP the device which she later used in Persuasion (the dialogue presumably would have been between Edmund and Mary overheard by Fanny) and that she did not do so because CEA told her there were no hedgerows in Northamptonshire. Professor Treitel points out to me that JA could equally well have been asking CEA to check that the reference to hedgerows which she had made already in vol. ii, ch. 4 was correct—where Fanny, sitting with Mary Crawford in Mrs. Grant's shrubbery, says: 'Three years ago, this was nothing but a rough hedgerow …'
Editor’s Note
9. your Charades. A collection of Charades &c written a hundred years ago by Jane Austen and her family was published privately by Spottiswoode & Co. in 1895. See Selwyn, Collected Poems and Verse of the Austen Family.
Editor’s Note
10. beyond anything & everything. Quoting Mrs H. Digweed's favourite expression.
Editor’s Note
11. Betsy. Maidservant at Chawton.
Editor’s Note
12. she desired me. 'she' inserted superscript.
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