8 February 1807 – Sunday – from Southampton

My dear Cassandra

My expectation of having nothing to say to you after the conclusion of my last, seems nearer Truth than I thought it would be, for I feel to have but little.  I need not therefore be above acknowledging the receipt of yours this morng, or of replying to every part of it which is capable of an answer; & you may accordingly prepare for my ringing the Changes of the Glads & Sorrys for the rest of the page.– Unluckily however I see nothing to be glad of, unless I make it a matter of Joy that Mrs Wylmot has another son & that Ld Lucan has taken a Mistress, both of which Events are of course joyful to the Actors;– but to be sorry I find many occasions, the first is that your return is to be delayed, & whether I ever get beyond the first is doubtful.  It is no use to lament.–I never heard that even Queen Mary’s Lamentation did her any good, & I could not therefore expect benefit from mine.–

We are all sorry, & now that subject is exhausted.  I heard from Martha yesterday; she spends this week with the Harwoods, goes afterwards with James & Mary for a few days to see Peter Debary & two of his sisters at Eversley–the Living of which he has gained on the death of Sir R. Cope–& means to be here on ye 24th, which will be Tuesday fortnight.  I shall be truely glad if she can keep to her day, but dare not depend on it;– & am so apprehensive of farther detention that if nothing else occurs to create it, I cannot help thinking she will marry Peter Debary.–

It vexed me that I could not get any fish for Kintbury while their family was large; but so it was, & till last Tuesday I could procure none.  I then sent them four pair of small Soals, & should be glad to be certain of their arriving in good time, but I have heard nothing about them since, & had rather hear nothing than Evil.– They cost six shillings, & as they travelled in a Basket which came from Kintbury a few days before with Poultry &c, I insist upon treating you with the Booking whatever it may be, You are only Eighteen pence in my debt.–

Mrs E. Leigh did not make the slightest allusion to my Uncle’s Business as I remember telling you at the time, but you shall hear it as often as you like.  My Mother wrote to her a week ago.– Martha’s rug is just finished, & looks well, tho’ not quite so well as I had hoped.  I see no fault in the Border, but the Middle is dingy.– My Mother desires me to say that she will knit one for you, as soon as you return to chuse the colours & pattern.

I am sorry I have affronted you on the subject of Mr Moore, but I do not mean ever to like him; & as to pitying a young woman merely because she cannot live in two places at the same time, I shall not attempt it, even for Harriot.– You see I have a spirit, as well as yourself.–

Frank & Mary cannot at all approve of your not being at home in time to help them in their finishing purchases, & desire me to say that, if you are not, they shall be as spiteful as possible & chuse everything in the stile most likely to vex you, Knives that will not cut, glasses that will not hold, a sofa without a seat, & a Bookcase without shelves.– Our Garden is putting in order, by a Man who bears a remarkably good Character, has a very fine complexion & asks something less than the first.  The Shrubs which border the gravel walk he says are only sweetbriar & roses, & the latter of an indifferent sort;– we mean to get a few of a better kind therefore, & at my own particular desire he procures us some Syringas. I could not do without a Syringa, for the sake of Cowper’s Line.– We talk also of a Laburnam.– The Border under the Terrace Wall, is clearing away to receive Currants & Gooseberry Bushes, & a spot is found very proper for Raspberries.–

The alterations & improvements within doors too advance very properly, & the Offices will be made very convenient indeed.– Our Dressing-Table is constructing on the spot, out of a large Kitchen Table belonging to the House, for doing which we have the permission of Mr Husket Lord Lansdown’s Painter,–domestic Painter I shd call him, for he lives in the Castle– Domestic Chaplains have given way to this more necessary office, & I suppose whenever the Walls want no touching up, he is employed about my Lady’s face.–

The morning was so wet that I was afraid we should not be able to see our little Visitor, but Frank who alone could go to Church called for her after Service, & she is now talking away at my side & examining the Treasures of my Writing-desk drawer;–very happy I beleive;– not at all shy of course.– Her name is Catherine & her Sister’s Caroline.– She is something like her Brother, & as short for her age, but not so well-looking.– What is become of all the Shyness in the World?– Moral as well as Natural Diseases disappear in the progress of time, & new ones take their place.– Shyness & the Sweating Sickness have given way to Confidence & Paralytic complaints.–

I am sorry to hear of Mrs Whitfield’s encreasing Illness, & of poor Marianne Bridges’s having suffered so much;—these are some of my sorrows, & that Mrs Deedes is to have another Child I suppose I may lament.–The death of Mrs W.K. we had seen;– I had no idea that anybody liked her, & therefore felt nothing for any Survivor, but I am now feeling away on her Husband’s account, and think he had better marry Miss Sharpe.–

I have this instant made my present, & have the pleasure of seeing it smiled over with genuine satisfaction.  I am sure I may on this occasion call Kitty Foote, as Hastings did H. Egerton, my “very valuable Friend.”–

Eveng.– Our little visitor has just left us, & left us highly pleased with her;– she is a nice, natural, openhearted, affectionate girl, with all the ready civility which one sees in the best children of the present day;– so unlike anything that I was myself at her age, that I am often all astonishment & shame.– Half her time here was spent at Spillikins; which I consider as a very valuable part of our Household furniture, & as not the least important Benefaction from the family of Knight to that of Austen.–

But I must tell you a story.  Mary has for some time had notice from Mrs Dickson of the intended arrival of a certain Miss Fowler in this place;–Miss F. is an intimate friend of Mrs D. & a good deal known as such to Mary.– On Thursday last she called here while we were out;–Mary found on our return her card with only her name on it, & she had left word that she wd call again.– The particularity of this made us talk, & among other conjectures Frank said in joke “I dare say she is staying with the Pearsons.”– The connection of the names struck Mary, & she immediately recollected Miss Fowler’s having been very intimate with persons so called;–and upon putting everything together we have scarcely a doubt of her being actually staying with the only Family in the place whom we cannot visit.– What a Contretems!–in the Language of France; What an unluckiness! in that of Mde Duval– The Black Gentleman has certainly employed one of his menial imps to bring about this complete tho’ trifling mischeif.– Miss F. has never called again, but we are in daily expectation of it.– Miss P. has of course given her a proper understanding of the Business;–it is evident that Miss F. did not expect or wish to have the visit returned, & Frank is quite as much on his guard for his wife, as we cd desire for her sake, or our own.–

We shall rejoice in being so near Winchester when Edward belongs to it, & can never have our spare bed filled more to our satisfaction than by him.  Does he leave Eltham at Easter?–We are reading Clarentine, & are surprised to find how foolish it is.  I remember liking it much less on a 2d reading than at the 1st & it does not bear a 3d at all.  It is full of unnatural conduct & forced difficulties, without striking merit of any kind.–

Miss Harrison is going into Devonshire to attend Mrs Dusautoy as usual.– Miss Jackson is married to young Mr Gunthorpe, & is to be very unhappy.  He swears, drinks, is cross, jealous, selfish & Brutal;–the match makes her family miserable, & has occasioned his being disinherited.– The Browns are added to our list of acquaintance; He commands the Sea Fencibles here under Sir Tho. & was introduced at his own desire by the latter when we saw him last week.– As yet the Gentlemen only have visited, as Mrs B. is ill, but she is a nice looking woman & wears one of the prettiest Straw Bonnets in the place.–

[this letter will be continued the next day, Monday, 9 February 1813]

One Response to 8 February 1807 – Sunday – from Southampton

  1. Pingback: Prepare for my ringing the Changes of the Glads & Sorrys | QuinnTessence

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