23 January 1817 – Thursday – from Chawton

[Letter to her neice, Caroline]

My dear Caroline

I am always very much obliged to you for writing to me, & have now I beleive two or three Notes to thank you for; but whatever may be their Number, I mean to have this Letter accepted as a handsome return for all, for you see I have taken a complete, whole sheet of Paper, which is to entitle me to consider it as a very long Letter whether I write much or little.–  We were quite happy to see Edward, it was an unexpected pleasure, & he makes himself as agreable as ever, sitting in such a quiet comfortable way making his delightful little Sketches.– He is generally thought grown since he was here last, & rather Thinner, but in very good Looks.– We have used Anna as ill as we could, by not letting him leave us before tomorrow morning, but it is a Vile World, we are all for Self & I expected no better from any of us.– But though Better is not to be expected, Butter may, at least from Mrs Clement’s Cow, for she has sold her Calf.–

Edward will tell you of the Grand Evening Party he has come in for.  We were proud to have a young Man to accompany us, & he acquitted himself to admiration in every particular except selling his Deals at Vingt-un.– He read his two Chapters to us the first Evening.–both good–but especially the last in our opinion.  We think it has more of the Spirit & Entertainment of the early part of his Work, the first 3 or 4 Chapters, than some of the subsequent.– Mr Reeves is charming–& Mr Mountain– & Mr Fairfax– & all their day’s sport.– And the introduction of Emma Gordon is very amusing.– I certainly do altogether like this set of People better than those at Culvert Court.

Your Anne is dreadful.– But nothing offends me so much as the absurdity of not being able to pronounce the word Shift.  I could forgive her any follies in English, rather than the Mock Modesty of that french word.  She should not only place her Quilt in the Centre, but give its’ Latitude & Longitude, & measure its Dimensions by a Lunar Observation is she chose.– Cook & Sally seem very properly pleased by your remembrance, & desire their Duty & Thanks.  Sally has got a new red Cloak, which adds much to her happiness, in other respects she is unaltered, as civil & well meaning & talkative as ever.–

Only think of your lost Dormouse being brought back to you!– I was quite astonished.– No time is fixed for Cassy’s return, but March has always been her month hitherto for coming down.  Aunt Cass:- had a letter from her very lately, extremely well written in a large hand, but as you may suppose containing little beyond her hope of every bodys being well at Chawton, & Harriet & Fanny’s love.  Uncle Charles, I am sorry to say, has been suffering from Rheumatism, & now he has got a great eruption in his face & neck–which is to do him good however–but he has a sad turn for being unwell.– I feel myself getting stronger than I was half a year ago, & can so perfectly well walk to Alton, or back again, without the slightest fatigue that I hope to be able to do both when Summer comes.– I spent two or three days with your Uncle & Aunt lately, & though the Children are sometimes very noisy & not under such Order as they ought & easily might, I cannot help liking them & even loving them, which I hope may be not wholly inexcusable in their & [your affectionate Aunt,   J. Austen]

[Postscript upside down at top of p. 1]

The Piano Forte often talks of you;– in various keys, tunes & expressions I allow– but be it Lesson or Country dance, Sonata or Waltz, You are really its’ constant Theme.  I wish you cd come & see us, as easily as Edward can.

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