Each week I plan to post about the letters of Jane Austen – both her personal letters and the letters seen in her stories.    This week, I will start out with simply some quotes from her letters, as well as link to several other sites that will give us a glimpse into letter writing in her time.  

The wit of Miss Austen is incredible – I can guarantee that none of my 31 letters will contain a single percent’s worth of the humor that Jane’s do. 

“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.”  (1798)

“He seems a very harmless sort of young man, nothing to like or dislike in him — goes out shooting or hunting with the two others all the morning, and plays at whist and makes queer faces in the evening.”  (1813)

“At the bottom of Kingsdown Hill we met a gentleman in a buggy, who, on minute examination, turned out to be Dr. Hall — and Dr. Hall in such very deep mourning that either his mother, his wife, or himself must be dead.”  (1799)

“Unluckily however, I see nothing to be glad of, unless I make it a matter of Joy that Mrs. Wylmot has another son, & that Lord Lucan has taken a Mistress, both of which Events are of course joyful to the Actors.” [i.e. participants] (1809)

“Poor woman! how can she honestly be breeding again?”  (1808)

[On Mrs. Deede’s giving birth to another child:]
“I would recommend to her and Mr. D. the simple regimen of separate rooms.” (1817)

“You express so little anxiety about my being murdered under Ash Park Copse by Mrs. Hulbert’s servant, that I have a great mind not to tell you whether I was or not” (1799)

“I am sorry my mother has been suffering, and am afraid this exquisite weather is too good to agree with her. I enjoy it all over me, from top to toe, from right to left, longitudinally, perpendicularly, diagonally; and I cannot but selfishly hope we are to have it last till Christmas — nice, unwholesome, unseasonable, relaxing, close, muggy weather.” (1815)

“My Dearest Fanny (her niece)
You are inimitable, irresistible. You are the delight of my life. Such letters, such entertaining letters, as you have lately sent! such a description of your queer little heart! such a lovely display of what imagination does. You are worth your weight in gold, or even in the new silver coinage. I cannot express to you what I have felt in reading your history of yourself — how full of pity and concern, and admiration and amusement, I have been! You are the paragon of all that is silly and sensible, commonplace and eccentric, sad and lively, provoking and interesting. Who can keep pace with the fluctuations of your fancy, the capprizios of your taste, the contradictions of your feelings? You are so odd, and all the time so perfectly natural! — so peculiar in yourself, and yet so like everybody else!
It is very, very gratifying to me to know you so intimately. You can hardly think what a pleasure it is to me to have such thorough pictures of your heart. Oh, what a loss it will be when you are married! You are too agreeable in your single state — too agreeable as a niece. I shall hate you when your delicious play of mind is all settled down in conjugal and maternal affections.” (1817)

*Fold yourself some paper: Writing letters in Jane Austen’s time  Modern Versions

Advertisements