[Letter from Jane Austen to her nephew, James Edward Austen – son of brother James]
My dear Edward
One reason for my writing to you now, is that I may have the pleasure of directing to you Esqre— I give you Joy of having left Winchester.– Now you may own, how miserable you were there; now, it will gradually all come out– your Crimes & your Miseries– how often you went up by the Mail to London & threw away Fifty Guineas at a Tavern, & how often you were on the point of hanging yourself– restrained only, as some illnatured aspersion pon poor old Winton has it, by the want of a Tree within some miles of the City.– Charles Knight & his companions passed through Chawton about 9 this morning; later than it used to be. Uncle Henry & I had a glimpse of his handsome face, looking all health & goodhumour.–
I wonder when you will come & see us. I know what I rather speculate upon, but I shall say nothing.– We think Uncle Henry in excellent Looks. Look at him this moment & think so too, if you have not done it before; & we have the great comfort of seeing decided improvement in Uncle Charles, both as to Health, Spirits & Appearance.– And they are each of them so agreable in their different ways, & harmonize so well, that their visit is thorough Enjoyment.– Uncle Henry writes very superior Sermons.– You & I must try to get hold of one or two, & put them into our Novels;– it would be a fine help to a volume; & we could make our Heroine read it aloud of a Sunday Evening, just as well as Isabella Wardour in the Antiquary, is made to read the History of the Hartz Demon in the ruins of St Ruth– tho’ I beleive, upon recollection, Lovell is the Reader.–
By the bye, my dear Edward, I am quite concerned for the loss your Mother mentions in her Letter; two Chapters & a half to be missing is monstrous! It is well that I have not been at Steventon lately, & therefore cannot be suspected of purloining them;– two strong twigs & a half towards a Nest of my own, would have been something.– I do not think however that any theft of that sort would be really very useful to me. What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited Sketches, full of Variety & Glow?– How could I possibly join them on to the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour?
You will hear from Uncle Henry how well Anna is. She seems perfectly recovered.– Ben was here on Saturday, to ask Uncle Charles & me to dine with them, as tomorrow, but I was forced to decline it, the walk is beyond my strength (though I am otherwise very well) & this is not a Season for Donkey Carriages; & as we do not like to spare Uncle Charles, he has declined it too.–
[To be continued on the following day, Tuesday 17th December]