9 December 1808 – Friday – from Castle Square

Many thanks my dear Cassandra, to you & Mr Deedes, for your joint & agreable composition, which took me by surprise this morning.  He has certainly great merit as a Writer, he does ample justice to his subject, & without being diffuse, is clear & correct;– & tho’ I do not mean to compare his Epistolary powers with yours, or to give him the same portion of my Gratitude, he certainly has a very pleasing way of winding up a whole, & speeding Truth into the World.– “But all this, as my dear Mrs Piozzi says, is flight & fancy & nonsense–for my Master has his great Casks to mind, & I have my little Children”– It is you however in this instance, that have the little Children– & I that have the great cask–, for we are brewing Spruce Beer again;– but my meaning really is, that I am extremely foolish in writing all this unnecessary stuff, when I have so many matters to write about, that my paper will hardly hold it all.  Little Matters they are to be sure, but highly important.–

In the first place, Miss Curling is actually at Portsmouth– which I was always in hopes would not happen.– I wish her no worse however than a long & happy abode there.  Here, she wd probably be dull, & I am sure wd be troublesome.– The Bracelets are in my possession, & everything I could wish them to be.  They came with Martha’s pelisse, which likewise gives great satisfaction.– Soon after I had closed my last letter to you, we were visited by Mrs Dickens & her Sisterinlaw Mrs Bertie, the wife of a lately made Admiral;– Mrs F.A. I beleive was their first object– but they put up with us very kindly, & Mrs D- finding in Miss Lloyd a friend of Mrs Dundas had another motive for the acquaintance.  She seems a really agreable Woman–that is, her manners are gentle & she knows a great many of our Connections in West Kent.– Mrs Bertie lives in the Polygon, & was out when we returned her visit–which are her two virtues.–

A larger circle of acquaintance & an increase of amusement is quite in character with our approaching removal.– Yes — I mean to go to as many Balls as possible, that I may have a good bargain.  Every body is very much concerned at our going away, & every body is acquainted with Chawton & speaks of it as a remarkably pretty village, & every body knows the House we describe– but nobody fixes on the right.– I am very much obliged to Mrs Knight for such a proof of the interest she takes in me– & she may depend upon it, that I will marry Mr Papillon, whatever may be his reluctance or my own.– I ower her much more than such a trifling sacrifice.–

Our Ball was rather more amusing than I expected, Martha liked it very much, & I did not gape till the last quarter of an hour.– It was past nine before we were sent for, & not twelve when we returned.– The room was tolerably full, & there were perhaps thirty couple of Dancers;– the melancholy part was to see so many dozen young Women standing by without partners, & each of them with two ugly naked shoulders!– It was the same room in which we danced 15 years ago!– I thought it all over — & inspite of the shame of being so much older, felt with thankfulness that I was quite as happy now as then.– We paid an additional shilling for our Tea, which we took as we chose in an adjoining, & very comfortable room.– There were only 4 dances, & it went to my heart that the Miss Lances (one of them too named Emma!) should have partners only for two.– You will not expect to hear that I was asked to dance–but I was–by the Gentleman whom we met that Sunday with Captn D’auvergne.  We have always kept up a Bowing acquaintance since, & being pleased with his black eyes, I spoke to him at the Ball, which brought on me this civility; but I do not know his name,– & he seems so little at home in the English Language that I beleive his black eyes may be the best of him.–Capt. D’Auvergne has got a Ship.–

Martha & I made use of the very favourable state of yesterday for walking, to pay our duty at Chiswell– we found Mrs Lance at home & alone, & sat out three other Ladies who soon came in.– We went by the Ferry, & returned by the Bridge, & were scarcely at all fatigued.–

Edward must have enjoyed the last two days;– You, I presume had a cool drive to Canterbury.  Kitty Foote came on Wednesday, & her Eveng visit began early enough for the last part, the apple pye of our dinner, for we never dine now till five.– Yesterday I, or rather You had a letter from Nanny Hilliard, the object of which is that she wd be very much obliged to us if we wd get Hannah a place.– I am sorry that I cannot assist her;– if you can, let me know, as I shall not answer the letter immediately.  Mr Sloper is married again, not much to Nanny’s, or anybody’s satisfaction;– the Lady was Governess to Sir Robert’s natural Children, & seems to have nothing to recommend her.– I do not find however that Nanny is likely to lose her place in consequence.– She says not a word of what service she wishes for Hannah, nor what Hannah can do– but a Nursery I suppose, or something of that kind, must be the Thing.–

Having now cleared away my smaller articles of news, I come to a communication of some weight– no less than that my Uncle & Aunt are going to allow James £100. a year.  We hear of it through Steventon;– Mary sent us the other day an extract from my Aunt’s letter on the subject– in which the Donation is made with the greatest kindness, & intended as a Compensation for his loss in the Conscientious refusal of Hampstead Living– £100. a year being all that he had at the time called its’ worth– as I find it was always intended at Steventon to divide the real Income with Kintbury.– Nothing can be more affectionate than my Aunt’s Language in making the present, & likewise in expressing her hope of their being much more together in future, than to her great regret, they have of late years been.–

My Expectations for my Mother do not rise with this Event.  We will allow a little more time however, before we fly out.– If not prevented by Parish Business, James comes to us on Monday.  The Mrs Hulberts & Miss Murden are their Guests at present, & likely to continue such till Christmas.– Anna comes home on ye 19th,– The Hundred a year begins next Ladyday.– I am glad you are to have Henry with you again; with him & the Boys, you cannot but have a chearful, & at times even a merry Christmas.– Martha is so. . . [two lines cut away at the bottom of page]

We want to be settled at Chawton in time for Henry to come to us for some Shooting, in October at least;– but a little earlier, & Edward may visit us after taking his boys back to Winchester;– suppose we name the 4th of Septr–will not that do?–

I have but one thing more to tell you.  Mrs Hill called on my Mother yesterday while we were gone to Chiswell — & in the course of the visit asked her whether she knew anything of a Clergyman’s family of the name of Alford who had resided in our part of Hampshire.– Mrs Hill had been applied to, as likely to give some information of them, on account of their probably vicinity to Dr Hill’s Living– by a Lady, or for a Lady, who had known Mrs & the two Miss Alfords in Bath, whither they had removed it seems from Hampshire– & who now wishes to convey to the Miss Alfords some work, or trimming, which she has been doing for them– but the Mother & Daughters have left Bath, & the Lady cannot learn where they are gone to.– While my Mother gave us the account, the probability of its being ourselves, occurred to us, and it had previously struck herself. . . [two lines cut away at the bottom of page — text continues below address panel] . . . likely — & even indispensably to be us, is that she mentioned Mr Hammond as now having the Living or Curacy, which the Father had had.– I cannot think our kind Lady can be– but I dare say we shall not like the work.–

[Upside down at top of p1]

Distribute the affecte Love of a Heart not so tired as the right hand belonging to it.– Yours Ever Sincerely     JA.

Miss Austen
Edw: Austen’s Esqr
Godmersham Park

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