Monday, July 26, 2010

JA laughing

Katy's Jane Austen quotes have inspired me to post some of my favorites taken from JA's letters. In his essay, Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, W. Somerset Maugham said, "Jane Austen hardly ever wrote a letter that had not a smile or a laugh in it."

"Only think of Mrs. Holder being dead! Poor woman, she has done the only thing in the world she could possibly do to make one cease to abuse her."

"Mrs. Hall, of Sherborne, was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright. I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband."

"The death of Mrs. W.K. we had seen. I had no idea that anybody liked her, and therefore felt nothing for any survivor, but I am now feeling away on her husband's account, and think he had better marry Miss Sharpe."

"I respect Mrs. Chamberlayne for doing her hair well, but cannot feel a more tender sentiment. Miss Langley is like any other short girl with a broad nose and wide mouth, fashionable dress and exposed bosom. Admiral Stanhope is a gentlemanlike man, but then his legs are too short and his tail too long."

"There were few beauties, (at the ball) and such as there were, were not very handsome. Miss Iremonger did not look well and Mrs. Blunt was the only one much admired. She appeared exactly as she did in September, with the same broad face, diamond bandeau, white shoes, pink husband, and fat neck."

"Mrs. Richard Harvey is going to be married, but as it is a great secret, and only known to half the neighborhood, you must not mention it."

"Dr. Hall is in such deep mourning that either his mother, his wife, or himself must be dead."

"Wednesday. Another stupid party last night; perhaps if larger they might be less intolerable, but here there were only just enough to make one card table,with six people to look on and talk nonsense to each other..."

"There were two women (at the ball) standing without partners and each of them with two ugly naked shoulders!"

"We found only Mrs. Lance at home, and whether she boasts of any offspring besides a grand pianoforte did not appear...They live in a handsome style and are rich, and she seems to like to be rich; we gave her to understand that we were far from being so; she will soon feel therefore that we are not worth her acquaintance."

Her family, when comparing Jane to her sister, Cassandra, said that Cassandra had the merit of always having her temper under command, but Jane had the happiness of a temper that never required to be commanded.

There have been some complaints among readers of her letters that there wasn't more seriousness or more of the "Jane Austen, authoress" that we have come to admire. That she seemed unfeeling towards others or that she just spoke of things that we may find trivial.
In his essay, Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, W. Somerset Maugham says,

They (JA's letters) are very natural. Jane Austen never imagined that anyone but Cassandra would read them, and she told her exactly the sort of things she knew would interest her. She told her what people were wearing and how much she had paid for the flowered muslin she had bought, what acquaintances she had made, what old friends she had met and the gossip she had heard...People were more patient in those days; still one would've thought it a disappointment to receive a letter from a friend who gave you word pictures of mountains and monuments when you wanted to know whether he had come across anyone interesting, what parties he had been to and whether he had been able to get you the books or ties or handkerchiefs you had asked him to bring back.


Bess said...

I need to borrow your book of essays. Her letter recipients are by no means bored!

Lydia said...

How delightfully brusque.

Esther said...


Jennie said...

As always.