25 November 1798 – Sunday – from Steventon

My dear Sister

I expected to have heard from you this morning, but no letter is come.  I shall not take the trouble of announcing to you any more of Mary’s children, if, instead of thanking me for the intelligence, you always sit down and write to James.  I am sure nobody can desire your letters so much as I do, and I don’t think anybody deserves them so well.  Having now relieved my heart of a great deal of malevolence, I will proceed to tell you that Mary continues quite well, and my mother tolerably so.  I saw the former on Friday, and though I had seen her comparatively hearty the Tuesday before, I was really amazed at the improvement which three days had made in her.  She looked well, her spirits were perfectly good, and she spoke much more vigorously than Elizabeth did when we left Godmersham.  I had only a glimpse at the child, who was asleep; but Miss Debary told me that his eyes were large, dark, and handsome.  She looks much as she used to do, is netting herself a gown in worsteds, and wears what Mrs Birch would call a pot hat.  A short and compendious history of Miss Debary!

I suppose you have heard from Henry himself that his affairs are happily settled.  We do not know who furnishes the qualification.  Mr Mowell would have readily given it, had not all his Oxfordshire property been engaged for a similar purpose to the Colonel.  Amusing enough! Our family affairs are rather deranged at present, for Nanny has kept her bed these three or four days, with a pain in her side and fever, and we are forced to have two charwomen, which is not very comfortable.  She is considerably better now, but it must still be some time, I suppose, before she is able to do anything.

You and Edward will be amused, I think, when you know that Nanny Littlewart dresses my hair.  The ball on Thursday was a very small one indeed, hardly so large as an Oxford smack.  There were but seven couples, and only twenty-seven people in the room.  The Overton Scotchman has been kind enough to rid me of some of my money, in exchange for six shifts and four pair of stockings.  The irish is not so fine as I should like it; but as I gave as much money for it as I intended, I have no reason to complain.  It cost me 3s. 6d. per yard.  It is rather finer, however, than our last, and not so harsh a cloth.

We have got ‘Fitz-Albini’, my father has bought it against my private wishes, for it does not quite satisfy my feelings that we should purchase the only one of Egerton’s works of which his family are ashamed.  That these scruples, however, do not at all interfere with my reading it, you will easily believe.  We have neither of us yet finished the first volume.  My father is disappointed–I am not, for I expected nothing better.  Never did any book carry more internal evidence of its author.  Every sentiment is completely Egerton’s.  There is very little story, and what there is told in a strange, unconnected way.  There are many characters introduced, apparently merely to be delineated.  We have not been able to recognise any of them hitherto, except Dr and Mrs Hey and Mr Oxenden, who is not very tenderly treated.

You must tell Edward that my father gives 25s, a piece to Seward for his last lot of sheep, and, in return for this news, my father wishes to receive some of Edward’s pigs.  We have got Boswell’s ‘Tour to the Hebrides’, and are to have his ‘Life of Johnson’; and, as some money will yet remain in Burdon’s hands, it is to be laid out in the purchase of Cowper’s works.  This should please Mr Clarke, could he know it.

By the bye, I have written to Mrs Birch among my other writings, and so I hope to have some account of all the people in that part of the world before long.  I have written to Mrs E. Leigh too, and Mrs Heathcote has been ill-natured enough to send me a letter of enquiry; so that altogether I am tolerably tired of letter-writing, and, unless I have anything new to tell you of my mother or Mary, I shall not write again for many days; perhaps a little repose may restore my regard for a pen.  Ask little Edward whether Bob Brown wears a great coat this cold weather.

[J.A.]

Miss Austen,
Godmersham Park

One Response to 25 November 1798 – Sunday – from Steventon

  1. Pingback: …Then came the dinner & Mr Haden who brought good Manners & clever conversation… Fancy the scene!–And what is to be fancied next?… There’s happiness! | QuinnTessence

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