3 January 1801 – Saturday – from Steventon

My dear Cassandra

As you have by this time received my last letter, it is fit that I should begin another; & I begin with the hope, which is at present uppermost in my mind, that you often wore a white gown in the morning, at the time of al the gay party’s being with you.  Our visit at Ash Park last Wednesday, went off in a come-ca way; we met Mr Lefroy & Tom Chute, played at cards & came home again.–

James & Mary dined here on the following day, & at night Henry set off in the Mail for London.–He was as agreable as ever during his visit, & has not lost anything in Miss Lloyd’s estimation.– Yesterday, we were quite alone, only our four selves;– but to day the scene is agreably varied by Mary’s driving Martha to Basingstoke, & Martha’s afterwards dining at Deane.–

My Mother looks forward with as much certainty as you can do, to our keeping two Maids–my father is the only one not in the secret.– We plan having a steady Cook, & a young giddy Housemaid, with a sedate, middle aged Man, who is to undertake the double office of Husband to the former & sweetheart to the latter.– No Children of course to be allowed on either side.–

You feel more for John Bond, than John Bond deserves;–I am sorry to lower his Character, but he is not ashamed to own himself, that he has no doubt at all of getting a good place, & that he had even an offer many years ago from a Farmer Paine of taking him into his Service whenever he might quit my father’s.–

There are three parts of Bath which we have thought of as likely to have Houses in them.–Westgate Buildings, Charles Street, & some of the short streets leading from Laura place or Pulteney St:– Westgate Buildings, tho’ quite in the lower part of the Town are not badly situated themselves; the street is broad, & has rather a good appearance.  Charles Street however I think is preferable; The Buildings are new, & it’s nearness to Kingsmead fields would be a pleasant circumstance.– Perhaps you may remember, or perhaps you may forget that Charles Street leads from the Queen Square Chapel to the two Green park-Streets.– The Houses in the Streets near Laura Place I should expect to be above our price.– Gay Street would be too high, except only the lower house on the left hand side as you ascend; towards that my Mother has no disinclination;–it used to be lower rented than any other house in the row, from some inferiority in the apartments.  But above all other’s, her wishes are at present fixed on the corner house in Chapel row, which opens into Prince’s Street.  Her knowledge of it however is confined only to the outside, & therefore she is equally uncertain of it’s being really desirable as of its being to be had.– In the meantime she assures you that she will do everything in her power to avoid Trim St altho’ you have not expressed the fearful presentiment of it, which was rather expected.–We know that Mrs Perrot will want to get us into Axford Buildings, but we all unite in particular dislike of that part of the Town, & therefore hope to escape.  Upon all these different situations, You & Edward may confer together, & your opinion of each will be expected with eagerness.–

As to our Pictures, the Battlepeice, Mr Nibbs, Sir Wm East, & all the old heterogenous, miscellany, manuscript, Scriptoral pieces dispersed over the House are to be given to James.–Your own Drawings will not cease to be your own–& the two paintings on Tin will be at your disposal.– My Mother says that the French agricultural Prints in the best bed-room were given by Edward to his two Sisters.  Do you or he know anything about it?–She has written to my Aunt & We are all impatient for the answer.–

I do not know how to give up the idea of our both going to Paragon in May;–Your going I consider as indispensably necessary, & I shall not like being left behind; there is no place here or hereabouts that I shall want to be staying at–& tho’ to be sure the keep of two will be more than of one, I will endeavour to make the difference less by disordering my Stomach with Bath bunns; & as to the trouble of accomodating us, whether there are one or two, it is much the same.– According to the first plan, my mother & our two selves are to travel down together; & my father follow us afterwards–in about a fortnight or three weeks.–We have promised to spend a couple of days at Ibthrop in our way.–We must all meet at Bath you know before we set out for the Sea, & everything considered I think the first plan as good as any.  My father & mother wisely aware of the difficulty of finding in all Bath such a bed as their own, have resolved on taking it with them;– All the beds indeed that we shall want are to be removed, viz:–besides theirs, our own two, the best for a spare one, & two for servants– and these necessary articles will probably be the only material ones that it [wou]ld answer to send down.– I do not think it will be worth while to remove any of our chests of Drawers.–We shall be able to get some of a much more commo[dious form] made of deal, & painted to look very neat; & I flatter myself that for little comforts of all kinds, our apartment will be one of the most complete things of the sort all over Bath– Bristol included.– We have thought at times of removing the side-board, or a pembroke table, or some other piece of furniture–but upon the whole it has ended in thinking that the trouble & risk of the removal would be more than the advantage of having them ata place, where everything may be purchased.  Pray send your opinion.–

Martha has as good as promised to come to us again in March.–Her spirits are better than they were.– I have now attained the true art of letter-writing, which we are always told, is to express on paper exactly what one would say to the same person by word of mouth; I have been talking to you almost as fast as I could the whole of this letter.–

Your Christmas Gaieties are really quite surprising; I think they would satisfy even Miss Walter herself.– I hope the ten shillings won by Miss Foote may make everything easy between her & her cousin Frederick.– So, Lady Bridges in the delicate language of Coulson Wallop is in for it!– I am very glad to hear of the Pearsons’ good fortune — It is a piece of promotion which I know they looked forward to as very desirable some years ago, on Capt: Lockyer’s illness.  It brings them a considerable increase of Income, & a better house.–

My Mother bargains for having no trouble at all in furnishing our house in Bath–& I have engaged for your willingly undertaking to do it all.– I get more & more reconciled to the idea of our removal.  We have lived long enough in this Neighbourhood, the Basingstoke Balls are certainly on the decline, there is something interesting in the bustle of going away, & the prospect of spending future summers by the Sea or in Wales is very delightful.– For a time we shall now possess many of the advantages which I have often thought of with Envy in the wives of Sailors or Soldiers.– It must not be generally known however that I a not sacrificing a great deal in quitting the Country–or I can expect to inspire no tenderness, no interest in those we leave behind.– The threatened Act of Parliament does not seem to give any alarm.–

[Upside down at top of page 1]

My father is doing all in his power to encrease his Income by raising his Tythes &c, & I do not despair of getting very nearly six hundred a year.–In what part of Bath do you mean to place your Bees?–We are afraid of the South Parade’s being too hot.

Yrs affec:ly   JA

[Note: there is a Postscript written on Monday, 5 January 1801 that will be posted on that date]

5 Responses to 3 January 1801 – Saturday – from Steventon

  1. Kate Warren says:

    I see echoes of Lizzy’s writing to Jane. Lovely letter though I was rather shocked at the idea of the man being husband to the cook and sweetheart to the giddy house maid. Though I’m not certain it wasn’t meant in jest.

    • TessQ says:

      LOL, Kate – I always love reading that line. To me, it is a perfect illustration of JA’s wicked humour. I do hope you’ll come back and read each of the letters (and postscripts) along with me — not only for the glimpses of everyday life that are priceless in casual ‘conversation’ between sisters — but also for these wonderful examples of wit, humour, irony and downright jests that often bring to mind a passage or conversation in one of her novels…

  2. laghalttle says:

    That is wonderful to read! I look forward to reading more. What a wonderful idea and great way to start of the year.
    Thank you for posting!

    • TessQ says:

      Thanks so much for joining me in this venture, laghaltte — please do come back for the whole journey! There will be a short postscript to this letter posted tomorrow, and then a gap of a day or so… but if you follow my blog, you can get notified of each letter posting. And once we get past the next few days, there are LOTS of them in January!!!

      It may be a little disjointed as we’ll be skipping around the years… but it will be a fun experiment. And after all… it’s Jane Austen!!! LOL

  3. Pingback: “Dear Cassandra” | QuinnTessence

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