AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Autograph letter signed ("J. Austen") to her sister Cassandra Austen, [Chawton, 4 September 1816].
1 1/8 pages, 4to (comprising pp.3 and 4 only, pp.1 and 2 no longer extant), closely written, address panel in Jane's hand, addressed to "Miss Austen," lacking first leaf and narrow strip of paper above top horizontal fold, affecting a few lines on both sides, place and date added in another hand on address panel, small hole from seal.
"...IT WILL BE A FIRSTRATE WORK, & IN A STYLE, I THINK, TO BE POPULAR...": AUSTEN'S FAMILY NEWS, A FEW MONTHS BEFORE HER DEATH
A portion of the letter is almost certain to have been excised by Cassandra, who is known to have censored many of her sister's letters after her death. It is replete with carefully observed family news: "...I know you heard from Edward [their brother] yesterday, Henry [another brother] wrote me by the same post, & so did Fanny. I had therefore 3 Letters at once which I thought well worth paying for! Yours was a treasure, so full of everything. But how very much Cheltenham is to be preferred in May! Henry does not write diffusly, but cheerfully; at present he wishes to come to us as soon as we can receive him, is decided for Orders &c. I have to him to say that after this week he cannot come too soon. I do not really expect him however immediately; they will hardly part with him at Gm yet. Fanny does not seem any better, or very little; she ventured to dine one day at Sandling & has suffered for it ever since. I collect from her that Mr. Seymour is either married or on the point of being married to Mrs. Scrane. She is not explicit, because imagining us to be informed. I am glad I did not know that you had no possibility of having a fire on Saturday, & so glad that you have your Pelisse! Your bedroom describes more comfortably than I could have supposed. We go on very well here, Edward is a great pleasure to me...The Alton 4 drank tea with us last night, & we were very pleasant; jeu de violon &c, all new to Sweney, and he entered into it very well. It was a renewal of former agreable evenings. We all (except my Mother) dine at Alton tomorrow, and perhaps may have some of the same sports again, but I do not think Mr. & Mrs. D will add much to out wit. Edward is writing a Novel. We have all heard what he has written, it is extremely clever; written with great ease & spirit; if he can carry it on in the same way, it will be a firstrate work, & in a style, I think, to be popular. Pray tell Mary how much I admire it, and tell Caroline that I think it is hardly fair upon her & myself, to have him take up the Novel Line...Your library will be a great resource. Three Guineas a week for such Lodgings! I am quite angry. Martha desires her love, & is sorry to tell you that she has got some Chilblains on her fingers. She never had them before. This is to go for a Letter. Yrs affecly..." Published in Letters, ed. D. Le Faye (1995), no.144.
Provenance: Cassandra Austen -- by descent to Mrs. Denis Mason Hurley (sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 12 December 1984, lot 723) -- Frederick R. Koch Foundation (sale, Christie's, 17 May 1991, lot 6) -- The present owner.