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Jane Austen letter to her sister

1811

Jane Austen letter

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  • Intro

    This is an extract from a letter written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra on 25 April 1811. In it, she details the events of a party held at the house of her sister-in-law in London. She paints a vivid picture of the occasion, describing the flowers, the music and the heat of the drawing room; listing the numerous male guests; and questioning the reliability of ‘Captain S.’ who had consumed too much alcohol.  She makes a number of sharp observations, for instance she writes that ‘Miss M. seems very happy, but has not beauty enough to figure in London.’ This evocative account, in which Austen so powerfully portrays the minutia of everyday life, will be recognisable to anyone familiar with the settings of her novels.

     

    Shelfmark: Add. MS 36535, ff.7v–8.

  • Transcript

    Jane Austen letter to her sister

    Original text:

     

    [Including everybody we were 66 - which was considerably more than Eliza had expected, quite enough to fill] the Back Draw'g room, leave a few to be scattered about in the other, in the passage. - The Music was extremely good. It opened (tell Fanny) with "Prike pe Parp pin praise pof Prapela" - of the other Glees I remember, "In Peace Love tunes", "Rosabelle", "The red cross Knight", "Poor Insect." Between the Songs were Lessons on the Harp, or Harp Piano Forte together - the Harp Player was Wiepart, whose name seems famous, tho' new to me. - There was one female singer, a short Miss Davis all in blue, bringing up for the Public Line, whose voice was said to be very fine indeed; all the Performers gave great satisfaction by doing what they were paid for, giving themselves no airs. - No Amateur could be persuaded to do anything. - The House was not clear till after 12. - If you wish to hear more of it, you must put your questions, but I seem rather to have exhausted than spared the subject. - This said Capt. Simpson told us, on the authority of some other Captn just arrived from Halifax, that Charles was bringing the Cleopatra home, that she was probably by this time in the Channel - but as Capt. S. was certainly in liquor, we must not quite depend on it. - It must give one a sort of expectation however, will prevent my writing to him any more. - I would rather he shd not reach England till I am at home, the Steventon party gone. My Mother Martha both write with great satisfaction of Anna's behaviour. She is quite an Anna with variations - but she cannot have reached her last, for that is always the most flourishng shewey - she is at about her 3d or 4th which are generally simple pretty. - Your Lilacs are in leaf, ours are in bloom. - The Horse chesnuts are quite out, the Elms almost. - I had a pleasant walk in Kensington Gs on Sunday with Henry, Mr Smith Mr Tilson - everything was fresh beautiful. - We did go to the play after all on Saturday, we went to the Lyceum, saw the Hypocrite, an old play taken from Moliere's Tartuffe, were well entertained. Dowton Mathews were the good actors. Mrs Edwin was the Heroine - her performance is just what it used to be. - I have no chance of seeing Mrs Siddons. - She did act on Monday, but as Henry was told by the Boxkeeper that he did not think she would, the places, all thought of it, were given up. I should particularly have liked seeing her in Constance, could swear at her with little effort for disappointing me. - Henry has been to the Watercolour Exhibition, which open'd on Monday, is to meet us there again some morng.- If Eliza cannot go - (she has a cold at present) Miss Beaty will be invited to be my companion. - Henry leaves Town [on Sunday afternoon - but he means to write soon himself to Edward - will tell his own plans]

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