Welcome to All Things Austen in April!
Again we visit our beloved Jane on Sloane St. in Knightsbridge as she updates her sister Cassandra on the latest company, trips to the theatre, and other diversions she’s had while staying with her brother.
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Thursday (April 25).
My dearest Cassandra,
I can return the compliment by thanking you for the unexpected pleasure of your letter yesterday, and as I like unexpected pleasure, it made me very happy; and, indeed, you need not apologise for your letter in any respect, for it is all very fine, but not too fine, I hope, to be written again, or something like it.
I think Edward will not suffer much longer from heat; by the look of things this morning I suspect the weather is rising into the balsamic north-east. It has been hot here, as you may suppose, since it was so hot with you, but I have not suffered from it at all, nor felt it in such a degree as to make me imagine it would be anything in the country. Everybody has talked of the heat, but I set it all down to London.
I give you joy of our new nephew, and hope if he ever comes to be hanged it will not be till we are too old to care about it. It is a great comfort to have it so safely and speedily over. The Miss Curlings must be hard worked in writing so many letters, but the novelty of it may recommend it to them; mine was from Miss Eliza, and she says that my brother may arrive to-day.
No, indeed, I am never too busy to think of S. and S. I can no more forget it than a mother can forget her sucking child; and I am much obliged to you for your inquiries. I have had two sheets to correct, but the last only brings us to Willoughby’s first appearance. Mrs. K. regrets in the most flattering manner that she must wait till May, but I have scarcely a hope of its being out in June. Henry does not neglect it; he has hurried the printer, and says he will see him again to-day. It will not stand still during his absence, it will be sent to Eliza.
The Incomes remain as they were, but I will get them altered if I can. I am very much gratified by Mrs. K’s interest in it; and whatever may be the event of it as to my credit with her, sincerely wish her curiosity could be satisfied sooner than is now probable. I think she will like my Elinor, but cannot build on anything else.
Our party went off extremely well. There were many solicitudes, alarms, and vexations, beforehand, of course, but at last everything was quite right. The rooms were dressed up with flowers, &c., and looked very pretty. A glass for the mantlepiece was lent by the man who is making their own. Mr. Egerton and Mr. Walter came at half-past five, and the festivities began with a pair of very fine soals.
Yes, Mr. Walter—for he postponed his leaving London on purpose—which did not give much pleasure at the time, any more than the circumstance from which it rose—his calling on Sunday and being asked by Henry to take the family dinner on that day, which he did; but it is all smoothed over now, and she likes him very well.
At half-past seven arrived the musicians in two hackney coaches, and by eight the lordly company began to appear. Among the earliest were George and Mary Cooke, and I spent the greater part of the evening very pleasantly with them. The drawing-room being soon hotter than we liked, we placed ourselves in the connecting passage, which was comparatively cool, and gave us all the advantage of the music at a pleasant distance, as well as that of the first view of every new comer.
I was quite surrounded by acquaintances, especially gentlemen; and what with Mr. Hampson, Mr. Seymour, Mr. W. Knatchbull, Mr. Guillemarde, Mr. Cure, a Captain Simpson, brother to the Captain Simpson, besides Mr. Walter and Mr. Egerton, in addition to the Cookes, and Miss Beckford, and Miss Middleton, I had quite as much upon my hands as I could do.
Poor Miss B. has been suffering again from her old complaint, and looks thinner than ever. She certainly goes to Cheltenham the beginning of June. We were all delight and cordiality of course. Miss M. seems very happy, but has not beauty enough to figure in London.
Including everybody we were sixty-six — which was considerably more than Eliza had expected, and quite enough to fill the back drawing-room and leave a few to be scattered about in the other and in the passage.
The music was extremely good. It opened (tell Fanny) with “Poike de Parp pirs praise pof Prapela”; and of the other glees I remember, “In peace love tunes,” “Rosabelle,” “The Red Cross Knight,” and “Poor Insect.” Between the songs were lessons on the harp, or harp and pianoforte together; and the harp-player was Wiepart, whose name seems famous, though 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; and all the performers gave great satisfaction by doing what they were paid for, and giving themselves no airs. No amateur could be persuaded to do anything.
The house was not clear till after twelve. 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 Captain Simpson told us, on the authority of some other Captain just arrived from Halifax, that Charles was bringing the “Cleopatra” home, and that she was probably by this time in the Channel; but, as Captain S. was certainly in liquor, we must not quite depend on it. It must give one a sort of expectation, however, and will prevent my writing to him any more. I would rather he should not reach England till I am at home, and the Steventon party gone.
My mother and 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 flourishing and showy; she is at about her third or fourth, which are generally simple and pretty.
Your lilacs are in leaf, ours are in bloom. The horse-chestnuts are quite out, and the elms almost. I had a pleasant walk in Kensington Gardens on Sunday with Henry, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Tilson; everything was fresh and beautiful.
We did go to the play after all on Saturday. We went to the Lyceum, and saw the “Hypocrite,” an old play taken from Molière’s “Tartuffe,” and were well entertained. Dowton and Mathews were the good actors; Mrs. Edwin was the heroine, and 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 plans, and all thought of it, were given up. I should particularly have liked seeing her in “Constance,” and could swear at her with little effort for disappointing me.
Henry has been to the Water-Colour Exhibition, which opened on Monday, and is to meet us there again some morning. If Eliza cannot go (and 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, and will tell his own plans.
The tea is this moment setting out.
Do not have your coloured muslin unless you really want it, because I am afraid I could not send it to the coach without giving trouble here.
Eliza caught her cold on Sunday in our way to the D’Entraigues. The horses actually gibbed on this side of Hyde Park Gate: a load of fresh gravel made it a formidable hill to them, and they refused the collar; I believe there was a sore shoulder to irritate. Eliza was frightened and we got out, and were detained in the evening air several minutes. The cold is in her chest, but she takes care of herself, and I hope it may not last long.
This engagement prevented Mr. Walter’s staying late—he had his coffee and went away. Eliza enjoyed her evening very much, and means to cultivate the acquaintance; and I see nothing to dislike in them but their taking quantities of snuff. Monsieur, the old Count, is a very fine-looking man, with quiet manners, good enough for an Englishman, and, I believe, is a man of great information and taste. He has some fine paintings, which delighted Henry as much as the son’s music gratified Eliza; and among them a miniature of Philip V. of Spain, Louis XIV.’s grandson, which exactly suited my capacity. Count Julien’s performance is very wonderful.
We met only Mrs. Latouche and Miss East, and we are just now engaged to spend next Sunday evening at Mrs. L.’s, and to meet the D’Entraigues, but M. le Comte must do without Henry. If he would but speak English, I would take to him.
Have you ever mentioned the leaving off tea to Mrs. K.? Eliza has just spoken of it again. The benefit she has found from it in sleeping has been very great.
I shall write soon to Catherine to fix my day, which will be Thursday. We have no engagement but for Sunday. Eliza’s cold makes quiet advisable. Her party is mentioned in this morning’s paper. I am sorry to hear of poor Fanny’s state. From that quarter, I suppose, is to be the alloy of her happiness. I will have no more to say. Yours affectionately,
Give my love particularly to my goddaughter.
Source: Lord Bradbourne’s compilation of letters. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42078/42078-h/42078-h.htm