[Letter written to James Stanier Clarke, Librarian to the Prince Regent on 15th November. Also included is his reply the following day]
I must take the liberty of asking You a question– Among the many flattering attentions which I recd from you at Carlton House, on Monday last, was the Information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future Work to HRH the P.R. without the necessity of any Solicitation on my part. Such at least, I beleived to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I intreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such a Permission is to be understood, & whether it is incumbent on me to shew my sense of the Honour, by inscribing the Work now in the Press, to H.R.H.– I shd be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or Ungrateful.–
I am &c–
[Following is James Stanier Clarke’s response to Jane Austen, written on 16th November]
It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the Press to His Royal Highness: but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at any future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part.
Your late Works, Madam, and in particular Mansfield Park reflect the highest honour on your Genius & your Principles; in every new work your mind seems to increase its energy and powers of discrimination. The Regent has read & admired all your publications.
Accept my sincere thanks for the pleasure your Volumes have given me: in the perusal of them I felt a great inclination to write & say so. And I also dear Madam wished to be allowed to ask you, to delineate in some future Work the Habits of Life and Character and enthusiasm of a Clergyman– who should pass his time between the metropolis & the Country– who should be something like Beatties Minstrel
Silent when glad, affectionate tho’ shy
And now his look was most demurely sad.
& now he laughed aloud yet none knew why–
Neither Goldsmith — nor La Fontaine in his Tableau de Famille — have in my mind quite delineated an English Clergyman, at least of the present day – Fond of, & entirely engaged in Literature — no man’s Enemy but his own. Pray dear Madam think of these things.
Believe me at all times
With sincerity & respect
Your faithful & obliged Servant
P.S. I am going for about three weeks to Mr Henry Streatfeilds, Chiddingstone Sevenoaks — but hope on my return to have the honour of seeing you again.