I am not surprised my dear Cassandra, that you did not find my last Letter very full of Matter, & I wish this may not have the same deficiency;– but we are doing nothing ourselves to write about, & I am therefore quite dependent upon the Communications of our friends, or my own Wit.– This post brought me two interesting Letters, Yours, & one from Bookham, in answer to an enquiry of mine about your good Godmother, of whom we had lately received a very alarming account from Paragon. Miss Arnold was the Informant there, & she spoke of Mrs E.L.’s having been very dangerously ill, & attended by a Physician from Oxford.– Your Letter to Adlestrop may perhaps bring you information from the spot, but in case it should not, I must tell you that she is better, tho’ Dr Bourne cannot yet call her out of danger;– such was the case, last Wednesday– & Mrs Cooke’s having had no later account is a favourable sign.–I am to hear again from the latter next week, but not this, if everthing goes on well.– Her disorder is an Inflammation on the Lungs, arising from a severe Chill, taken in Church last Sunday three weeks;– her Mind, all pious Composure, as may be supposed.– George Cooke was there when her Illness began, his Brother has now taken his place. — Her age & feebleness considered, one’s fears cannot but preponderate–tho’ her amendment has already surpassed the expectation of the Physician, at the beginning.– I am sorry to add that Becky is laid up with a complaint of the same kind.–
I am very glad to have the time of your return at all fixed, we all rejoice in it, & it will not be later than I had expected. I dare not hope that Mary & Miss Curling may be detained at Portsmouth so long, or half so long — but it would be worth twopence to have it so.– The St Albans perhaps may soon be off to help bring home what may remain by this time of our poor Army, whose state seems dreadfully critical.– The Regency seems to have been heard of only here, my most political Correspondants make no mention of it. Unlucky, that I should have wasted so much reflection on the subject!–
I can now answer your question as to my Mother more at large, & likewise more at small– with equal perspicuity & minuteness, for the very day of our leaving Southampton is fixed– & if the knowledge is of no use to Edward, I am sure it will give him pleasure. Easter Monday, April 3d is the day; we are to sleep that night at Alton, & be with our friends at Bookham the next, if they are then at home;–there we remain till the following Monday, & on Tuesday April 11th, hope to be at Godmersham. If the Cookes are absent, we shall finish our Journey on ye 5th– These plans depend of course upon the weather, but I hope there will be no settled Cold to delay us materially.– To make you amends for being at Bookham, it is in contemplation to spend a few days at Barton Lodge in our way out of Kent.– The hint of such a visit is most affectionately welcomed by Mrs Birch, in one of her odd, pleasant Letters lately, in which she speaks of us with the usual distinguished kindness, declaring that she shall not be at all satisfied unless a very handsome present is made us immediately, from one Quarter.
Fanny’s not coming with you, is no more than we expected, & as we have not the hope of a Bed for her, & shall see her so soon afterwards at Gm we cannot wish it otherwise.– William will be quite recovered I trust by the time you receive this.– What a comfort his Cross-stitch must have been! Pray tell him that I should like to see his Work very much.– I hope our answers this morng have given satisfaction; we had great pleasure in Uncle Deedes’ packet– & pray let Marianne know, in private, that I think she is quite right to work a rug for Uncle John’s Coffee urn, & that I am sure it must give great pleasure to herself now, & to him when he receives it.–
The preference of Brag over Speculation does not greatly surprise me I beleive, because I feel the same myself; but it mortifies me deeply, because Speculation was under my patronage;–and after all, what is there so delightful in a pair-royal of Braggers? it is but three nines, or three Knaves, or a mixture of them.– When one comes to reason upon it, it cannot stand its’ ground against Speculation– of which I hope Edward is now convinced. Give my Love to him, if he is.–
The Letter from Paragon, before mentioned, was much like those which had preceded it, as to the felicity of its Writer.– They found their House so dirty & so damp, that they were obliged to be a week at an Inn.– John Binns had behaved most unhandsomely & engaged himself elsewhere.– They have a Man however, on the same footing, which my Aunt does not like, & she finds both him & the new Maidservant very, very inferior to Robert & Martha. — Whether they mean to have any other Domestics does not appear, nor whether they are to have a Carriage while they are in Bath.– The Holders are as usual, tho’ I beleive it is not very usual for them to be happy, which they now are at a great rate, in Hooper’s Marriage. The Irvines are not mentioned.– The American Lady improved as we went on–but still the same faults in part recurred.- We are now in Margiana, & like it very well indeed.– We are just going to set off for Northumberland to be shut up in Widdrington Tower, where there must be two or three sets of Victims already immured under a very fine Villain.–
[This letter is then continued on the next day, 11 January 1809]