[Letter written to Jane Austen’s brother Francis Austen]
My dearest Frank
The 11th of this month brought me your letter & I assure you I thought it very well worth its 2s/3d.– I am very much obliged to you for filling me so long a sheet a [sic] of paper, you are a good one to traffic with in that way, You pay most liberally;– my Letter was a scratch of a note compared with yours– & then you write so even, so clear both in style & Penmanship, so much to the point & give so much real intelligence that it is enough to kill one.–
I am sorry Sweden is so poor & my riddle so bad.– The idea of a fashionable Bathing place in Mecklenburg!– How can people pretend to be fashionable or to bathe out of England!– Rostock Market makes one’s mouth water, our cheapest Butcher’s meat is double the price of theirs;– nothing under 9d all this Summer, & I beleive upon recollection nothing under 10d.– Bread has sunk & likely to sink more, which we hope may make Meat sink too. But I have no occasion to think of the price of Bread or of Meat where I am now;– let me shake off vulgar cares & conform to the happy Indifference of East Kent wealth.–
I wonder whether You & the King of Sweden know that I was to come to Gm with my Br. Yes, I suppose you have recd due notice of it by some means or other. I have not been here these 4 years, so I am sure the event deserves to be talked of before & behind as well as in the middle.– We left Chawton on ye 14th,– spent two entire days in Town & arrived here on ye 17th.– My Br, Fanny, Lizzy, Marianne & I composed this division of the Family, & filled his Carriage, inside & out.– Two post-chaises under the escort of George conveyed eight more across the Country, the Chair brought two, two others came on horseback & the rest by the Coach — & so by one means or another we all are removed.– It puts me in mind of the account of St Paul’s Shipwreck, where all are said by different means to reach the Shore in safety.
I left my Mother, Cassandra & Martha well, & have had good accounts of them since. At present they are quite alone, but they are going to be visited by Mrs Heathcote & Miss Bigg — & to have a few days of Henry’s company likewise.– I expect to be here about two months. Edward is to be in Hampshire again in November & will take me back.– I shall be sorry to be in Kent so long without seeing Mary, but am afraid it must be so. She has very kindly invited me to Deal, but is aware of the great improbability of my being able to get there.– It would be a great pleasure to me to see Mary Jane again too, as well as her Brothers, new & old.–
Charles & his family I do hope to see; they are coming here for a week in October.– We were accommodated in Henrietta St— Henry was so good as to find room for his 3 neices & myself in his House. Edward slept at an Hotel in the next Street.– No 10 is made very comfortable with Cleaning, & Painting & the Sloane St furniture. The front room upstairs is an excellent Dining & common sitting parlour– & the smaller one behind will sufficiently answer his purpose as a Drawg room.– He has no intention of giving large parties of any kind.– His plans are all for the comfort of his Friends & himself.– Mde Bigeon & her Daughter have a Lodging in his neighbourhood & come to him as often as he likes or as they like. Mde B. always markets for him as she used to do; & upon our being in the House, was constantly there to do the work.– She is wonderfully recovered from the severity of her Asthmatic complaint.–
Of our three evengs in Town one was spent at the Lyceum & another at Covent Garden;– the Clandestine Marriage was the most respectable of the performances, the rest were Sing-song & trumpery, but did very well for Lizzy & Marianne, who were indeed delighted;– but I wanted better acting.– There was no Actor worthy naming.– I beleive the Theatres are thought at a low ebb at present.–
Henry has probably sent you his own account of his visit in Scotland. I wish he had had more time & could have gone farther north, & deviated to the Lakes in his way back, but what he was able to do seems to have afforded him great Enjoyment & he met with Scenes of higher Beauty in Roxburghshire than I had supposed the South of Scotland possessed.– Our nephew’s gratification was less keen than our Brother’s.– Edward is no Enthusiast in the beauties of Nature. His Enthusiasm is for the Sports of the field only.– He is a very promising & pleasing young Man however upon the whole, behaves with great propriety to his Father & great kindness to his Brothers & Sisters– & we must forgive his thinking more of Growse & Partridges than Lakes & Mountains. He & George are out every morng either shooting or with the Harriers. They are both good Shots.–
Just at present I am Mistress & Miss & altogether here, Fanny being gone to Goodnestone for a day or two, to attend the famous Fair, which makes its yearly distribution of gold paper & coloured persian through all the Family connections.– In this House there is a constant succession of small events, somebody is always going or coming; this morng we had Edwd Bridges unexpectedly to breakfast with us, in his way from Ramsgate where is his wife, to Lenham where is his Church– & tomorrow he dines & sleeps here on his return.– They have been all the summer at Ramsgate, for her health, she is a poor Honey – the sort of woman who gives me the idea of being determined never to be well — & who likes her spasms & nervousness & the consequence they give her, better than anything else.– This is an illnatured sentiment to send all over the Baltic!–
The Mr Knatchbulls, dear Mrs Knights Brothers dined here the other day. They came from the Friars, which is still on their hands.– The Elder made many enquiries after you.– Mr Sherer is quite a new Mr Sherer to me; I heard him for the first time last Sunday, & he gave us an excellent Sermon — a little too eager sometimes in his delivery, but that is to me a better extreme than the want of animation, especially when it evidently comes from the heart as in him. The Clerk is as much like you as ever, I am always glad to see him on that account.– But the Sherers are going away. He has a bad Curate at Westwell, whom he can eject only by residing there himself. He goes nominally for three years, & a Mr Paget is to have the Curacy of Gm— a married Man, with a very musical wife, which I hope may make her a desirable acquaintance to Fanny.–
I thank you very warmly for your kind consent to my application & the kind hint which followed it.– I was previously aware of what I shd be laying myself open to– but the truth is that the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret now — & that I beleive whenever the 3d appears, I shall not even attempt to tell Lies about it.– I shall rather try to make all the Money than all the Mystery I can of it.– People shall pay for their Knowledge if I can make them.– Henry heard P. & P. warmly praised in Scotland, by Lady Robt Kerr & another Lady;– & what does he do in the warmth of his Brotherly vanity & Love, but immediately tell them who wrote it!– A Thing once set going in that way — one knows how it spreads! — and he, dear Creature, has set it going so much more than once. I know it is all done from affection & partiality – but at the same time, let me here again express to you & Mary my sense of the superior kindness which you have shewn on the occasion, in doing what I wished.– I am trying to harden myself.– After all, what a trifle it is in all its Bearings, to the really important points of one’s existence even in this World! —
I take it for granted that Mary has told you of Anna’s engagement to Ben Lefroy. It came upon us without much preparation;– at the same time, there was that about her which kept us in a constant preparation for something.– We are anxious to have it go on well, there being quite as much in his favour as the Chances are likely to give her in any Matrimonial connection. I beleive he is sensible, certainly very religious, well connected & with some Independance.– There is an unfortunate dissimularity of Taste between them in one respect which gives us some apprehensions, he hates company & she is very fond of it;– This, with some queerness of Temper on his side & much unsteadiness on hers, is untoward.
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I hope Edward’s family-visit to Chawton will be yearly, he certainly means it now, but we must not expect it to exceed two months in future.– I do not think however, that he found five too long this Summer.– He was very happy there.– The new Paint improves this House much, & we find no evil from the smell.
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Poor Mr Trimmer is lately dead, a sad loss to his Family, & occasioning some anxiety to our Brother;– for the present he continues his Affairs in the Son’s hands; a matter of great consequence to them — I hope he will have no reason to remove his Business. I remain
Your very affecte Sister
[Postscript crossing p2]
There is to be a 2d Edition of S.&S. Egerton advises it.