9 September 1814 – Friday – from Chawton

[Letter to Jane Austen’s niece, Anna Austen]

My dear Anna

We have been very much amused by your 3 books, but I have a good many criticisms to make– more than you will like.  We are not satisfied with Mrs F.’s settling herself as Tenant & near Neighbour to such a Man as Sir T.H without having some other inducement to go there; she ought to have some friend living thereabouts to tempt her.  A woman, going with two girls just growing up, into a Neighbourhood where she know nobody but one Man, of not very good character, is an awkwardness which so prudent a woman as Mrs F would not be likely to fall into.  Remember, she is very prudent;– you must not let her act inconsistently.– Give her a friend, & let that friend be invited to meet her at the Priory, & we shall have no objection to her dining there as she does; but otherwise, a woman in her situation would hardly go there, before she had been visited by other Families.–

I like the scene itself, the Miss Lesleys, Lady Anne, & the Music, very much.– Lesley is a noble name.– Sir T.H. you always do very well; I have only taken the liberty of expunging one phrase of his, which would not be allowable.  “Bless my Heart” — It is too familiar and inelegant.  Your G.M. is more disturbed at Mrs F.’s not returning the Egertons visit sooner, than anything else.  They ought to have called at the Parsonage before Sunday.–

You describe a sweet place, but your descriptions are often more minute than will be liked.  You give too many particulars of right hand & left.–

Mrs. F. is not careful enough of Susan’s health;– Susan ought not to be walking out so soon after Heavy rains, taking long walks in the dirt.  An anxious Mother would not suffer it.– I like your Susan very much indeed, she is a sweet Creature, her playfulness of fancy is very delightful.  I like her as she is now exceedingly, but I am not so well satisfied with her behaviour to George R.  At first she seemed all over attachment & feeling, & afterwards to have none at all; she is so extremely composed at the Ball, & so well-satisfied apparently with Mr Morgan, he seems to have changed her Character.–

You are now collecting your People delightfully, getting them exactly into such a spot as is the delight of my life;– 3 or 4 Families in a Country Village is the very thing to work on — & I hope you will write a great deal more, & make full use of them while they are so very favourably arranged.  You are but now coming to the heart & beauty of your book; till the heroine grows up, the fun must be imperfect– but I expect a great deal of entertainment from the next 3 or 4 books, & I hope you will not resent these remarks by sending me no more.–

We like the Egertons very well, we see no Blue Pantaloons, or Cocks & Hens;– there is nothing to enchant one certainly in Mr L.L. — but we make no objection to him, & his inclination to like Susan is pleasing.– The Sister is a good contrast– but the name of Rachael is as much as I can bear.– They are not so much like the Papillons as I expected.

Your last Chapter is very entertaining– the conversation on Genius &c. Mr St J.- & Susan both talk in character & very well.– In some former parts, Cecilia is perhaps a little too solemn & good, but upon the whole, her disposition is very well opposed to Susan’s– her want of Imagination is very natural.– I wish you could make Mrs F. talk more, but she must be difficult to manage & make entertaining, because there is so much good common sence & propriety about her that nothing can be very broad.  Her Economy & her Ambition must not be staring.– The Papers left by Mrs Fisher is very good.– Of course, one guesses something.– I hope when you have written a great deal more you will be equal to scratching out some of the past.– The scene with Mrs Mellish, I should condemn; it is prosy & nothing to the purpose– & indeed, the more you can find in your heart to curtail between Dawlish & Newton Priors, the better I think it will be.– One does not care for girls till they are grown up.– Your Aunt C. quite enters into the exquisiteness of that name.  Newton Priors is really a Nonpareil.– Milton wd have given his eyes to have thought of it.– Is not the Cottage taken from Tollard Royal?–

[To be continued briefly the following week, Sunday 18th September]

One Response to 9 September 1814 – Friday – from Chawton

  1. Pingback: I have a good many criticisms to make– more than you will like… | QuinnTessence

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