Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters

A Family Record

Chapter II



Steventon is a small village tucked away among the Hampshire Downs, about seven miles south of Basingstoke. It is now looked down upon at close quarters by the South-Western Railway, but, at the time of which we are writing, it was almost equidistant from two main roads: one running from Basingstoke to Andover, which would be joined at Deane Gate, the other from Basingstoke to Winchester, joined at Popham Lane. Communication with London was maintained--at any rate, in 1800--by two coaches that ran each night through Deane Gate. It does not appear, however, to have been by any means certain that an unexpected traveller would get a place in either of them.[13]

The surrounding country is certainly not picturesque; it presents no grand or extensive views: the features, however, being small rather than plain.[14] It is, in fact, an undulating district whose hills have no marked character, and the poverty of whose soil prevents the timber from attaining a great size. We need not therefore be surprised to hear that when Cassandra Leigh saw the place for the first time, just before her marriage, she should think it very inferior to the valley of the Thames at Henley. Yet the neighbourhood had its beauties of rustic lanes and hidden nooks; and Steventon, from the fall of the ground and the abundance of its timber, was one of the prettiest spots in it. The Rectory had been of the most miserable description, but George Austen improved it until it became a tolerably roomy and convenient habitation. It stood 'in a shallow valley, surrounded by sloping meadows, well sprinkled with elm-trees, at the end of a small village of cottages, each well provided with a garden, scattered about prettily on either side of the road. . . . North of the house, the road from Deane to Popham Lane ran at a sufficient distance from the front to allow a carriage drive, through turf and trees. On the south side, the ground rose gently and was occupied by one of those old-fashioned[15] gardens in which vegetables and flowers are combined, flanked and protected on the east by one of the thatched mud walls common in that country, and overshadowed by fine elms. Along the upper or southern side of the garden ran a terrace of the finest turf, which must have been in the writer's thoughts when she described Catherine Morland's childish delight in "rolling down the green slope at the back of the house."

'But the chief beauty of Steventon consisted in its hedgerows. A hedgerow in that country does not mean a thin formal line of quickset, but an irregular border of copse-wood and timber, often wide enough to contain within it a winding footpath, or a rough cart-track. Under its shelter the earliest primroses, anemones, and wild hyacinths were to be found; sometimes the first bird's nest; and, now and then, the unwelcome adder. Two such hedgerows radiated, as it were, from the parsonage garden. One, a continuation of the turf terrace, proceeded westward, forming the southern boundary of the home meadows; and was formed into a rustic shrubbery, with occasional seats, entitled "The Wood Walk." The other ran straight up the hill, under the name of "The Church Walk," because it led to the parish church, as well as to a fine old manor-house of Henry VIII's time, occupied by a family named Digweed, who for more than a century rented it, together with the chief farm in the parish.'

The usefulness of a hedgerow as a place where a heroine might remain unseen and overhear what was not intended to reach her ears must have impressed itself early on the mind of our author; and readers of Persuasion will remember the scene in the fields near Uppercross where Anne hears a conversation about herself carried on by Captain Wentworth and Louisa Musgrove. The writer had possibly intended to introduce a similar scene into Mansfield Park, for, in a letter to her sister, of January 29, 1813, when turning from Pride and Prejudice to a new subject, she says: 'If you could discover whether Northamptonshire is a country of hedgerows I should be glad again.' Presumably, her question was answered in the negative, and her scrupulous desire for accuracy did not allow of her making use of the intended device.

Steventon Church 'might have appeared mean and uninteresting to an ordinary observer; but the adept in church architecture would have known that it must have stood there some seven centuries, and would have found beauty in the very narrow Early English windows, as well as in the general proportions of its little chancel; while its solitary position, far from the hum of the village, and within sight of no habitation, except a glimpse of the grey manor-house through its circling green of sycamores, has in it something solemn and appropriate to the last resting-place of the silent dead. Sweet violets, both purple and white, grow in abundance beneath its south wall. One may imagine for how many centuries the ancestors of those little flowers have occupied that undisturbed sunny nook, and may think how few living families can boast of as ancient a tenure of their land. Large elms protrude their rough branches; old hawthorns shed their annual blossoms over the graves; and the hollow yew-tree must be at least coeval with the church. But whatever may be the beauties or defects of the surrounding scenery, this was the residence of Jane Austen for twenty-four years. This was the cradle of her genius. These were the first objects which inspired her young heart with a sense of the beauties of nature. In strolls along these wood-walks, thick-coming fancies rose to her mind, and gradually assumed the forms in which they came forth to the world. In that simple church she brought them all into subjection to the piety which ruled her in life and supported her in death.'

To this description of the surroundings of the home, given by the author of the Memoir, whose own home it was through childhood and boyhood, we may add a few sentences respecting its interior as it appeared to his sister, Mrs. Lefroy. She speaks of her grandfather's study looking cheerfully into the sunny garden, 'his own exclusive property, safe from the bustle of all household cares,' and adds:

'The dining-or common sitting-room looked to the front and was lighted by two casement windows. On the same side the front door opened into a smaller parlour, and visitors, who were few and rare, were not a bit the less welcome to my grandmother because they found her sitting there busily engaged with her needle,[16] making and mending. In later times--but not probably until my two aunts had completed their short course at Mrs. Latournelle's at Reading Abbey, and were living at home--a sitting-room was made upstairs: "the dressing-room," as they were pleased to call it, perhaps because it opened into a smaller chamber in which my two aunts slept. I remember the common-looking carpet with its chocolate ground, and painted press with shelves above for books, and Jane's piano, and an oval looking-glass that hung between the windows; but the charm of the room with its scanty furniture and cheaply painted walls must have been, for those old enough to understand it, the flow of native wit, with all the fun and nonsense of a large and clever family.' Such was the room in which the first versions of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were composed.

We have anticipated somewhat in describing the Rectory as it appeared after George Austen's reforms, and when his children were growing up in it. As it appeared to him and his wife on their arrival, it must have left much to be desired.

The young couple who now entered upon a home which was to be theirs for thirty-seven years had many excellent and attractive qualities. George Austen's handsome, placid, dignified features were an index to his mind. Serene in temper, devoted to his religion and his family, a good father and a good scholar, he deserved the love and respect which every evidence that we have shows him to have gained from his family and his neighbours. His wife's was a somewhat more positive nature: shrewd and acute, high-minded and determined, with a strong sense of humour, and with an energy capable of triumphing over years of indifferent health, she was ardently attached to her children, and perhaps somewhat proud of her ancestors. We are told that she was very particular about the shape of people's noses, having a very aristocratic one herself; but we ought perhaps to add that she admitted she had never been a beauty, at all events in comparison with her own elder sister.

If one may divide qualities which often overlap, one would be inclined to surmise that Jane Austen inherited from her father her serenity of mind, the refinement of her intellect, and her delicate appreciation of style, while her mother supplied the acute observation of character, and the wit and humour, for which she was equally distinguished.

Steventon was not the only preferment in the neighbourhood that George Austen was to hold. His kind uncle Francis, who had helped him in his schooling, was anxious to do something more for him. He would have liked, it is said, to have put him into the comfortable living of West Wickham in Kent, which was in the gift of his wife; but he considered that another nephew, the son of a brother older than George's father, had a prior claim. Francis, however, did the best thing he could by buying the next presentations of two parishes near Steventon--namely, Ashe and Deane--that his nephew might have whichever fell vacant first.

The chances of an early vacancy at Ashe, where Dr. Russell--the grandfather of Mary Russell Mitford--had been established since 1729, must have seemed the greater; but fate decided otherwise. Dr. Russell lived till 1783, and it was Deane that first fell vacant, in 1773.

The writer of the Memoir, who was under the impression that George Austen became Rector of both Steventon and Deane in 1764, states that the Austens began their married life in the parsonage at Deane, and did not move to Steventon till 1771, seven years later. This cannot be quite correct, because we have letters of George Austen dated from Steventon in 1770; nor is it quite easy to understand why Mr. Austen should have lived in some one else's Rectory in preference to his own, unless we conceive that the Rector of Deane was non-resident, and that George Austen did duty at Deane and rented the parsonage while his own was under repair. It seems impossible now to unravel this skein. The story of the move to Steventon, in 1771, is connected with a statement that the road was then a mere cart-track, so cut up by deep ruts as to be impassable for a light carriage, and that Mrs. Austen (who was not then in good health) performed the short journey on a feather-bed, placed upon some soft articles of furniture in the waggon which held their household goods. This story is too circumstantial to be without foundation, nor is there any reason to doubt the badness of a country lane; but the particular family-flitting referred to must be left uncertain.

George Austen was thirty-three years old when he settled down at his Hampshire living. His wife was some eight years younger. Their means were not large, but George was able to supplement his income both by farming and by taking pupils. Life too was simpler in those days; and we read of Mrs. Austen being without a new gown for two years, and spending much of the time in a red riding-habit, which even then had not finished its usefulness, for it was cut up some years later into a suit for one of her boys. Her time, indeed, was soon busily employed; her eldest boy, James, was born on February 13, 1765; the second, George, on August 26, 1766; and the third, Edward, on October 7, 1767. The Austens followed what was a common custom in those days--namely, that of putting out their children to nurse. An honest woman in Deane had charge of them all in turn, and we are told that one or both of their parents visited them every day.

The only excitements to vary the tranquil life at Steventon were occasional visits to or from their near relations. Cassandra's brother was now living on his property called Scarlets, at Hare Hatch, in the parish of Wargrave, and was thus within a day's journey from Steventon. He had married a Miss Cholmeley, of Easton in Lincolnshire, but they had no children. Cassandra's only sister, Jane (the beauty of the family), was married at the end of 1768 to Dr. Cooper, Rector of Whaddon, near Bath. Edward Cooper was the son of Gislingham Cooper, a banker in the Strand, by Ann Whitelock, heiress of Phyllis Court and Henley Manor. Dr. and Mrs. Cooper divided their time between his house at Southcote, near Reading, and Bath--from which latter place no doubt he could keep an eye on his neighbouring parish. The Coopers had two children, Edward and Jane. They and the Austens were on very intimate terms, and it is probable that Jane Austen's early knowledge of Bath was to a great extent owing to the visits paid to them in that place. Another family with whom the Austens were on cousinly terms were the Cookes. Samuel Cooke, Rector of Little Bookham in Surrey and godfather to Jane, had married a daughter of the Master of Balliol (Theophilus Leigh), and their three children, Theophilus, Mary, and George, belonged, like the Coopers, to an inner circle of relations on both sides (Leigh Perrots, Coopers, Cookes, Walters, and Hancocks), who made up--in addition to the outer-circle of country neighbours--the world in which the Austens moved.

A few letters addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Walter (extracts from which we shall venture to quote) will give the best idea of the happy, peaceful life passed at Steventon Rectory during these early years. On July 8, 1770, George writes from Steventon of his wife's journey to London to be present at the birth of her sister's child, and adds:--

[17] . . . My James . . . and his brother are both well, and what will surprise you, bear their mother's absence with great philosophy, as I doubt not they would mine, and turn all their little affections towards those who were about them and good to them; this may not be a pleasing reflection to a fond parent, but is certainly wisely designed by Providence for the happiness of the child.

A month or so later Cassandra is back again, and writing:--

I was not so happy as to see my nephew Weaver[18]--suppose he was hurried in time, as I think everyone is in town; 'tis a sad place, I would not live in it on any account, one has not time to do one's duty either to God or man. . . . What luck we shall have with those sort of cows I can't say. My little Alderney one turns out tolerably well, and makes more butter than we use, and I have just bought another of the same sort, but as her calf is but just gone, cannot say what she will be good for yet.

December 9, 1770.--My poor little George is come to see me to-day, he seems pretty well, tho' he had a fit lately; it was near a twelve-month since he had one before, so was in hopes they had left him, but must not flatter myself so now.

In June 1771, the Austens' fourth child, Henry, was born, and Mrs. Austen writes on November 8, 1772:--

My little boy is come home from nurse, and a fine, stout little fellow he is, and can run anywhere, so now I have all four at home, and some time in January I expect a fifth, so you see it will not be in my power to take any journeys for one while. . . . I believe my sister Hancock will be so good as to come and nurse me again.

Unfortunately, poor little George never recovered sufficiently to take his place in the family, and we hear no more of him, though he lived on as late as 1827.

The fifth child, Cassandra, was born in January 1773, and on June 6, 1773, Mrs. Austen writes:--

We will not give up the hopes of seeing you both (and as many of your young people as you can conveniently bring) at Steventon before the summer is over. Mr. Austen wants to show his brother his lands and his cattle and many other matters; and I want to show you my Henry and my Cassy, who are both reckoned fine children. Jemmy and Neddy are very happy in a new playfellow, Lord Lymington, whom Mr. Austen has lately taken the charge of; he is between five and six years old, very backward of his age, but good-tempered and orderly. He is the eldest son of Lord Portsmouth, who lives about ten miles from hence. . . . I have got a nice dairy fitted up, and am now worth a bull and six cows, and you would laugh to see them; for they are not much bigger than Jack-asses--and here I have got duckies and ducks and chickens for Phyllis's amusement. In short you must come, and, like Hezekiah, I will show you all my riches.

December 12, 1773.--I thank God we are all quite well and my little girl is almost ready to run away. Our new pupil, Master Vanderstegen, has been with us about a month, he is near fourteen years old, and is very good tempered and well disposed. Lord Lymington has left us, his mamma began to be alarmed at the hesitation in his speech, which certainly grew worse, and is going to take him to London in hopes a Mr. Angier (who undertakes to cure that disorder) may be of service to him.

A sixth child, Francis William, was born in April 1774.

August 20, 1775.--We are all, I thank God, in good health, and I am more nimble and active than I was last time, expect to be confined some time in November. My last boy is very stout, and has run alone these two months, and is not yet sixteen months old. My little girl talks all day long, and in my opinion is a very entertaining companion. Henry has been in breeches some months, and thinks himself near as good a man as his brother Neddy. Indeed no one would judge by their looks that there was above three years and a half difference in their ages, one is so little and the other so great. Master Van. is got very well again, and has been with us again these three months; he is gone home this morning for a few holidays.

The new infant, however, did not appear quite so soon as was expected, and the last letter of the series is written by George Austen on December 17, 1775.

Steventon: December 17, 1775.

DEAR SISTER,--You have doubtless been for some time in expectation of hearing from Hampshire, and perhaps wondered a little we were in our old age grown such bad reckoners, but so it was, for Cassy certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago; however, last night the time came, and without a great deal of warning, everything was soon happily over. We have now another girl, a present plaything for her sister Cassy, and a future companion. She is to be Jenny, and seems to me as if she would be as like Harry as Cassy is to Neddy. Your sister, thank God, is pure well after it.

George Austen's prediction was fully justified. Never were sisters more to each other than Cassandra and Jane; while in a particularly affectionate family there seems to have been a special link between Cassandra and Edward on the one hand, and between Jane and Henry on the other.

Jane's godparents were Mrs. Musgrave (a connexion of her mother's), Mrs. Francis Austen (another Jane), wife of George's kind uncle, and Samuel Cooke, Rector of Little Bookham. We may suppose that, like the rest of her family, she spent a considerable part of the first eighteen months of her existence at the good woman's at Deane.

We have, indeed, but little information about the household at Steventon for the next few years. Another child--the last--Charles, was born in June 1779. There must, as the children grew older, have been a bright and lively family party to fill the Rectory, all the more so because the boys were educated at home instead of being sent to any school. One of George Austen's sons has described him as being 'not only a profound scholar, but possessed of a most exquisite taste in every species of literature'; and, even if we allow for some filial exaggeration, there can be no doubt that it was a home where good teaching--in every sense of the word--good taste, and a general love of reading prevailed. To balance this characteristic the Austen nature possessed yet another--spread over many members of the family--namely, an enthusiastic love of sport. The boys hunted from an early age, in a scrambling sort of way, upon any pony or donkey that they could procure, or, in default of such luxuries, on foot; perhaps beginning the day with an early breakfast in the kitchen. A wonderful story is told, on good authority, of a piece of amateur horse-dealing accomplished by the youngest son but one, Francis, at the mature age of seven: how he bought on his own account (it must be supposed with his father's permission) a pony for £1 11s. 6d.; hunted it, jumping everything that the pony could get its nose over; and at the end of two years sold it again for £2 12s. 6d. It was a bright chestnut, and he called it 'Squirrel'; though his elder brothers, to plague him, called it 'Scug.' This was the boy for whose benefit his mother converted into a jacket and trousers the scarlet riding-habit which played so important a part in her early married life. If he mounted 'Squirrel' in this costume, the future Admiral of the Fleet was hunting 'in pink' with a vengeance, and must have contributed not a little to the gaiety of the field.

It is evident that part of the good training at Steventon consisted in making the boys, while quite young, manly, active, and self-reliant. When the time came for their leaving home they would not be found unprepared.

Mr. Austen found it a pleasant task to educate his own sons with his other pupils, and thereby to dispense with the cost of public schools. We get a glimpse of him as a teacher in a letter of his son Henry, written many years later to Warren Hastings. Henry, by the way, made use of a style that one is thankful Jane did not adopt.

Suffer me to say that among the earliest lessons of my infancy I was taught by precept and example to love and venerate your name. I cannot remember the time when I did not associate with your character the idea of everything great, amiable, and good. Your benevolence was a theme on which my young attention hung with truer worship than courtiers ever pay the throne. Your works of taste, both of the pencil and the pen, were continually offered to my notice as objects of imitation and spurs to exertion. I shall never forget the delight which I experienced when, on producing a translation of a well-known Ode of Horace to my father's criticism, he favoured me with a perusal of your manuscript, and as a high mark of commendation said that he was sure Mr. Hastings would have been pleased with the perusal of my humble essay.

There is also a pleasant picture of home life at Steventon drawn for us in the History of the Leigh Family, in which the writer speaks of Cassandra, 'wife of the truly respectable Mr. Austen,' and adds: 'With his sons (all promising to make figures in life), Mr. Austen educates a few youths of chosen friends and acquaintances. When among this liberal society, the simplicity, hospitality, and taste which commonly prevail in affluent families among the delightful valleys of Switzerland ever recur to my memory.'

But though it might be an easy thing to educate his sons at home, it was another matter to teach his daughters, and, according to a family tradition, Cassandra and Jane were dispatched at a very early age to spend a year at Oxford with Mrs. Cawley, a sister of Dr. Cooper--a fact which makes it likely that their cousin, Jane Cooper, was also of the party. Mrs. Cawley was the widow of a Principal of Brasenose College, and is said to have been a stiff-mannered person. She moved presently to Southampton, and there also had the three girls under her charge. At the latter place Cassandra and Jane Austen were attacked by a putrid fever. Mrs. Cawley would not write word of this to Steventon, but Jane Cooper thought it right to do so, upon which Mrs. Austen and Mrs. Cooper set off at once for Southampton and took their daughters away. Jane Austen was very ill and nearly died. Worse befell poor Mrs. Cooper, who took the infection and died at Bath whither she had returned. As Mrs. Cooper died in October 1783, this fixes the date roughly when the sisters went to Oxford and Southampton. Jane would have been full young to profit from the instruction of masters at Oxford (she can hardly have been seven years old when she went there), and it must have been more for the sake of her being with Cassandra than for any other reason that she was sent.

On the same principle, she went to school at Reading soon after the Southampton experience. 'Not,' we are told, 'because she was thought old enough to profit much by the instruction there imparted, but because she would have been miserable without her sister'; her mother, in fact, observing that 'if Cassandra were going to have her head cut off, Jane would insist on sharing her fate.'

The school chosen was a famous one in its day--namely, the Abbey School in the Forbury at Reading, kept by a Mrs. Latournelle, an Englishwoman married to a Frenchman. Miss Butt, afterwards Mrs. Sherwood, who went to the same school in 1790, says in her Autobiography[19] that Mrs. Latournelle never could speak a word of French; indeed, she describes her as 'a person of the old school, a stout woman, hardly under seventy, but very active, although she had a cork leg. . . . She was only fit for giving out clothes for the wash, and mending them, making tea, ordering dinner, and in fact doing the work of a housekeeper.'

But in Mrs. Sherwood's time she had a capable assistant in Madame St. Quentin, an Englishwoman, married to the son of a nobleman in Alsace, who in troubled times had been glad to accept the position of French teacher at Reading Grammar School under Dr. Valpy. Mrs. Sherwood says that the St. Quentins so entirely raised the credit of the seminary that when she went there it contained above sixty pupils. The history of the school did not end with Reading, for the St. Quentins afterwards removed to 22 Hans Place, where they had under their charge Mary Russell Mitford. Still later, after the fall of Napoleon, the St. Quentins moved to Paris, together with Miss Rowden, who had long been the mainstay of the school. It was while the school was here that it received Fanny Kemble among its pupils.[20]

Mrs. Sherwood tells us that the school-house at Reading, 'or rather the abbey itself, was exceedingly interesting, . . . the ancient building . . . consisted of a gateway with rooms above, and on each side of it a vast staircase, of which the balustrades had originally been gilt. . . . The best part of the house was encompassed by a beautiful, old-fashioned garden, where the young ladies were allowed to wander under tall trees in hot summer evenings.'

Discipline was not severe, for the same lady informs us: 'The liberty which the first class had was so great that if we attended our tutor in his study for an hour or two every morning . . . no human being ever took the trouble to inquire where else we spent the rest of the day between our meals. Thus, whether we gossiped in one turret or another, whether we lounged about the garden, or out of the window above the gateway, no one so much as said "Where have you been, mademoiselle?"'

After reading this we are no longer surprised to be told that Cassandra and Jane, together with their cousin, Jane Cooper, were allowed to accept an invitation to dine at an inn with their respective brothers, Edward Austen and Edward Cooper, and some of their young friends.

School life does not appear to have left any very deep impression on Jane Austen.[21] Probably she went at too youthful an age, and her stay was too short. At any rate, none of the heroines of her novels, except Anne Elliot,[22] are sent to school, though it is likely enough, as several writers have pointed out, that her Reading experiences suggested Mrs. Goddard's school in Emma.

Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a school--not of a seminary, or an establishment, or anything which professed, in long sentences of refined nonsense, to combine liberal acquirements with elegant morality upon new principles and new systems--and where young ladies for enormous pay might be screwed out of health and into vanity, but a real, honest, old-fashioned boarding-school, where a reasonable quantity of accomplishments were sold at a reasonable price, and where girls might be sent to be out of the way, and scramble themselves into a little education, without any danger of coming back prodigies. Mrs. Goddard's school was in high repute. . . . She had an ample house and garden, gave the children plenty of wholesome food, let them run about a great deal in the summer, and in winter dressed their chilblains with her own hands. It was no wonder that a train of twenty young couples now walked after her to church. She was a plain, motherly kind of woman.
Jane herself finished her schooling at the early age of nine. The rest of her education was completed at home. Probably her father taught her in his leisure hours, and James, when he was at home, gave her many useful hints. Father, mother, and eldest brother were all fully capable of helping her, and perhaps even Cassandra did her share. But for the most part her culture must have been self-culture, such as she herself imagined in the case of Elizabeth Bennet. Later on, the French of Reading Abbey school was corrected and fortified by the lessons of her cousin Eliza. On the whole, she grew up with a good stock of such accomplishments as might be expected of a girl bred in one of the more intellectual of the clerical houses of that day. She read French easily, and knew a little of Italian; and she was well read in the English literature of the eighteenth century. As a child, she had strong political opinions, especially on the affairs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She was a vehement defender of Charles I and his grandmother, Mary, and did not disdain to make annotations in this sense (which still exist) on the margin of her Goldsmith's History. As she grew up, the party politics of the day seem to have occupied very little of her attention, but she probably shared the feeling of moderate Toryism which prevailed in her family. Politics in their larger aspect--revolution and war--were of course very real at that date to every patriotic citizen, and came home with especial force to the Austens, whose cousin's husband perished by the guillotine,[23] and whose brothers were constantly fighting on the sea. In her last published sentence at the end of Persuasion the author tells us how her Anne Elliot 'gloried' in being the wife of a sailor; and no doubt she had a similar feeling with regard to her two naval brothers. But there was then no daily authentic intelligence of events as they occurred. Newspapers were a luxury of the rich in those days, and it need excite no surprise to find that the events are very seldom mentioned in Jane's surviving letters.[24]

We can be in no doubt as to her fervent, and rather exclusive, love for her own country. Writing to an old friend, within a few months of her own death, she says: 'I hope your letters from abroad are satisfactory. They would not be satisfactory to me, I confess, unless they breathed a strong spirit of regret for not being in England.'

Of her favourite authors and favourite pursuits, we will speak later.


[13] Charles Austen failed to do so in January 1799. See p. 124.

[14] The description of Steventon is taken, almost entirely, from the Memoir, pp. 18-22.

[15] This was written nearly half a century ago, before the revival of mixed gardens.

[16] Her daughters seem to have looked upon this publicity of useful needlework with some suspicion. See letter from Lyme, September 14, 1804 (p. 179).

[17] These letters, hitherto unpublished, are inserted by the kind permission of Mr. J. G. Nicholson of Castlefield House, Sturton by Scawby, Lincolnshire.

[18] Son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter.

[19] Life and Times of Mrs. Sherwood, edited by F. J. Harvey Darton, p. 124.

[20] Records of a Girlhood, vol. i. p. 99. By Frances Ann Kemble. London, 1878.

[21] There are, we think, but two references to school in her surviving correspondence--namely, in a letter to Cassandra, dated September 1, 1796, where she remarks of her sister's letter: 'I could die of laughter at it, as they used to say at school'; and in another, dated May 20, 1813, where she describes a room at a school as being 'totally unschool-like.'

[22] In the same novel, Persuasion, Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove have brought back 'the usual stock of accomplishments' from a school at Exeter.

[23] See next chapter.

[24] It was no uncommon occurrence for the richer folk to hand on their newspaper to their neighbours. Thus we find the Austens, while at Steventon, apparently getting theirs from Mr. Holder at Ashe (p. 148); and, later, getting Mr. Pinckard's paper at Lyme (p. 180). Much in the same way Sir John Middleton in Sense and Sensibility would not be denied the satisfaction of sending the Dashwoods his newspaper every day.