One who knew and loved it well very happily expressed its quiet charms, when he wrote. The house itself 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. It was sufficiently commodious to hold pupils in addition to a growing family, and was in those times considered to be above the average of parsonages; but the rooms were finished with less elegance than would now be found in the most ordinary dwellings.
No cornice marked the junction of wall and ceiling; while the p. 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 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. 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. Two such hedgerows radiated, as it were, from the parsonage garden. The church itself—I speak of it as it then was, before the improvements made by the present rector—. A little spireless fane, Just seen above the woody lane,.
Sweet violets, both purple and white, grow in abundance beneath its south wall. 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-five 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 those wood-walks, thick-coming fancies rose in 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. The home at Steventon must have been, for many years, a pleasant and prosperous one. The family was unbroken by death, and seldom visited by sorrow.
Their situation had some peculiar advantages beyond those of ordinary rectories. Steventon was a family living. Knight, the patron, was also proprietor of nearly the whole parish. He never resided there, and consequently the rector and his children came to be regarded in the neighbourhood as a kind of representatives of the family. They shared with the principal tenant the command p.
They were not rich, but, aided by Mr. A carriage and a pair of horses were kept. This might imply a higher style of living in our days than it did in theirs. There were then no assessed taxes. The carriage, once bought, entailed little further expense; and the horses probably, like Mr. Moreover, it should be remembered that a pair of horses in those days were almost necessary, if ladies were to move about at all; for neither the condition of the roads nor the style of carriage-building admitted of any comfortable vehicle being drawn by a single horse.
When one looks at the few specimens still remaining of coach-building in the last century, it strikes one that the chief object of the builders must have been to combine the greatest possible weight with the least possible amount of accommodation. The family lived in close intimacy with two cousins, Edward and Jane Cooper, the children of Mrs.
Cooper, the vicar of Sonning, near Reading. The Coopers lived for some years at Bath, which seems to have been p. After the death of their own parents, the two young Coopers paid long visits at Steventon. Edward Cooper did not live undistinguished. She was a dear friend of her namesake, but was fated to become a cause of great sorrow to her, for a few years after the marriage she was suddenly killed by an accident to her carriage. There was another cousin closely associated with them at Steventon, who must have introduced greater variety into the family circle.
This was the daughter of Mr. This cousin had been educated in Paris, and married to a Count de Feuillade, of whom I know little more than that he perished by the guillotine during the p. Henry Austen gave the necessary orders herself, and her French was so perfect that she passed everywhere for a native, and her husband escaped under this protection. She was a clever woman, and highly accomplished, after the French rather than the English mode; and in those days, when intercourse with the Continent was long interrupted by war, such an element in the society of a country parsonage must have been a rare acquisition.
The sisters may have been more indebted to this cousin than to Mrs. She also took the principal parts in the private theatricals in which the family several times indulged, having their summer p. Jane was only twelve years old at the time of the earliest of these representations, and not more than fifteen when the last took place. She was, however, an early observer, and it may be reasonably supposed that some of the incidents and feelings which are so vividly painted in the Mansfield Park theatricals are due to her recollections of these entertainments.
Some time before they left Steventon, one great affliction came upon the family. Cassandra was engaged to be married to a young clergyman. He had not sufficient private fortune to permit an immediate union; but the engagement was not likely to be a hopeless or a protracted one, for he had a prospect of early preferment from a nobleman with whom he was connected both by birth and by personal friendship.
He accompanied this friend to the West Indies, as chaplain to his regiment, and there died of yellow fever, to the great concern of his friend and patron, who afterwards declared that, if he had known of the engagement, he would not have permitted him to go out to such a climate. This little domestic tragedy caused great and lasting grief to the principal sufferer, and could not but cast a gloom over the whole party.
The sympathy of p. Of Jane herself I know of no such definite tale of love to relate. The picture was drawn from the intuitive perceptions of genius, not from personal experience. In her youth she had declined the addresses of a gentleman who had the recommendations of good character, and connections, and position in life, of everything, in fact, except the subtle power of touching her heart.
There is, however, one passage of romance in her history with which I am imperfectly acquainted, and to which I am unable to assign name, or date, or place, though I have it on sufficient authority. When they parted, he expressed his intention of soon seeing them again; and Cassandra felt no doubt as to his motives. But they never again met.
Within a short time they heard of his sudden death. I believe that, if Jane ever loved, it was this unnamed gentleman; but the acquaintance had been short, and I am unable to say whether her feelings were of such a nature as to affect her happiness. Any description that I might attempt of the family life at Steventon, which closed soon after I was born, could be little better than a fancy-piece. There is no doubt that if we could look into the households of the clergy and the small gentry of that period, we should see some things which would seem strange to us, and should miss many more to which we are accustomed.
Every hundred years, and especially a century like the last, marked by an extraordinary advance in wealth, luxury, and refinement of taste, as well as in the mechanical arts which embellish our houses, must produce a great change in their aspect. These changes are always at work; they are going on now, but so silently that we take no p.
Men soon forget the small objects which they leave behind them as they drift down the stream of life. As Pope says—. Important inventions, such as the applications of steam, gas, and electricity, may find their places in history; but not so the alterations, great as they may be, which have taken place in the appearance of our dining and drawing-rooms.
Who can now record the degrees by which the custom prevalent in my youth of asking each other to take wine together at dinner became obsolete? Who will be able to fix, twenty years hence, the date when our dinners began to be carved and handed round by servants, instead of smoking before our eyes and noses on the table?
At that time the dinner-table presented a far less splendid appearance than it does now. It was appropriated to solid food, rather than to flowers, fruits, and decorations. Nor was there much glitter of plate upon it; for the early dinner hour rendered candlesticks unnecessary, and silver forks had not come into general use: while the broad rounded p. The dinners too were more homely, though not less plentiful and savoury; and the bill of fare in one house would not be so like that in another as it is now, for family receipts were held in high estimation.
A grandmother of culinary talent could bequeath to her descendant fame for some particular dish, and might influence the family dinner for many generations. One house would pride itself on its ham, another on its game-pie, and a third on its superior furmity, or tansey-pudding. Beer and home-made wines, especially mead, were more largely consumed.
Vegetables were less plentiful and less various. Potatoes were used, but not so abundantly as now; and there was an idea that they were to be eaten only with roast meat. They were novelties to a p. But a still greater difference would be found in the furniture of the rooms, which would appear to us lamentably scanty. There was a general deficiency of carpeting in sitting-rooms, bed-rooms, and passages. A pianoforte, or rather a spinnet or harpsichord, was by no means a necessary appendage.
It was to be found only where there was a decided taste for music, not so common then as now, or in such great houses as would probably contain a billiard-table. There would often be but one sofa in the house, and that a stiff, angular, uncomfortable article. There were no deep easy-chairs, nor other appliances for lounging; for to lie down, or even to lean back, was a luxury permitted only to old persons or invalids.
It was said of a nobleman, a personal friend of George III. But perhaps we should be most struck with the total absence of those elegant little articles which now embellish and encumber our drawing-room tables. We should miss the sliding bookcases and picture-stands, the letter-weighing machines and envelope cases, the p. A small writing-desk, with a smaller work-box, or netting-case, was all that each young lady contributed to occupy the table; for the large family work-basket, though often produced in the parlour, lived in the closet.
There must have been more dancing throughout the country in those days than there is now: and it seems to have sprung up more spontaneously, as if it were a natural production, with less fastidiousness as to the quality of music, lights, and floor. Many country towns had a monthly ball throughout the winter, in some of which the same apartment served for dancing and tea-room. Dinner parties more frequently ended with an extempore dance on the carpet, to the music of a harpsichord in the house, or a fiddle from the village.
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This was always supposed to be for the entertainment of the young people, but many, who had little pretension to youth, were very ready to join in it. There can be no doubt that Jane herself enjoyed dancing, for she attributes this taste to her favourite heroines; in most of her works, a ball or a private dance is mentioned, and made of importance. Many things connected with the ball-rooms of those days have now passed into oblivion.
The barbarous law which confined the lady to one partner throughout the evening must indeed have been abolished before Jane went to balls. It must p. He was bound to call upon his partner the next morning, and it must have been convenient to have only one lady for whom he was obliged.
But the stately minuet still reigned supreme; and every regular ball commenced with it. It was a slow and solemn movement, expressive of grace and dignity, rather than of merriment. It abounded in formal bows and courtesies, with measured paces, forwards, backwards and sideways, and many complicated gyrations. It was executed by one lady and gentleman, amidst the admiration, or the criticism, of surrounding spectators.
In its earlier and most palmy days, as when Sir Charles and Lady Grandison delighted the company by dancing it at their own wedding, the gentleman wore a dress sword, and the lady was armed with a fan of nearly equal dimensions. The clownish man was in danger of being tripped up by his sword getting between his legs: the fan held clumsily looked more of a burden than an ornament; while in the hands of an adept p. I have heard also of another curious proof of the respect in which this dance was held.
Gloves immaculately clean were considered requisite for its due performance, while gloves a little soiled were thought good enough for a country dance; and accordingly some prudent ladies provided themselves with two pairs for their several purposes. The minuet expired with the last century: but long after it had ceased to be danced publicly it was taught to boys and girls, in order to give them a graceful carriage. Hornpipes, cotillons, and reels, were occasionally danced; but the chief occupation of the evening was the interminable country dance, in which all could join.
This dance presented a great show of enjoyment, but it was not without its peculiar troubles.
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The ladies and gentlemen were ranged apart from each other in opposite rows, so that the p. Much heart-burning and discontent sometimes arose as to who should stand above whom , and especially as to who was entitled to the high privilege of calling and leading off the first dance: and no little indignation was felt at the lower end of the room when any of the leading couples retired prematurely from their duties, and did not condescend to dance up and down the whole set.
We may rejoice that these causes of irritation no longer exist; and that if such feelings as jealousy, rivalry, and discontent ever touch celestial bosoms in the modern ball-room they must arise from different and more recondite sources. I am tempted to add a little about the difference of personal habits. It may be asserted as a general truth, that less was left to the charge and discretion of servants, and more was done, or superintended, by the masters and mistresses. With regard to the mistresses, it is, I believe, generally understood, that at the time to which I refer, a hundred years ago, they took a personal part in the higher branches of cookery, as well as in the concoction of home-made wines, and distilling of herbs for domestic medicines, which are nearly allied to the same art.
Ladies did not disdain to spin the thread of which the household linen was woven. Some ladies liked to wash with their own hands their choice china after breakfast or tea. It was not so much that they had not servants to do all these things for them, as that they took an interest in such occupations. And it must be borne in mind how many sources of interest enjoyed by this generation were then closed, or very scantily opened to ladies. A very small minority of them cared much for literature or science.
Music was not a very common, and drawing was a still rarer, accomplishment; needlework, in some form or other, was their chief sedentary employment. But I doubt whether the rising generation are equally aware how much gentlemen also did for themselves in those times, and whether some things that I can mention will not be a surprise to them. A young man who expected to have his things packed or unpacked for him by a servant, when he travelled, would have been thought exceptionally fine, or exceptionally lazy.
When my uncle undertook to teach me to shoot, his first lesson was how to clean my own gun. It was thought meritorious on the evening of a hunting day, to turn out after dinner, lanthorn in hand, and visit the stable, to ascertain that the horse had been well cared for. This was of the more importance, because, previous to the introduction of clipping, about the year , it was a difficult and tedious work to make a long-coated hunter dry and comfortable, and was often very imperfectly done. I have drawn pictures for which my own experience, or what I heard from others in my youth, have supplied the materials.
Of course, they cannot be universally applicable. Such details varied in various circles, and were changed very gradually; p. I am sure that the ladies there had nothing to do with the mysteries of the stew-pot or the preserving-pan; but it is probable that their way of life differed a little from ours, and would have appeared to us more homely. It may be that useful articles, which would not now be produced in drawing-rooms, were hemmed, and marked, and darned in the old-fashioned parlour.
But all this concerned only the outer life; there was as much cultivation and refinement of mind as now, with probably more studied courtesy and ceremony of manner to visitors; whilst certainly in that family literary pursuits were not neglected. I remember to have heard of only two little things different from modern customs.
One was, that on hunting mornings the young men usually took their hasty breakfast in the kitchen. The early hour at which hounds then met may account for this; and probably the custom began, if it did not end, when they were boys; for they hunted at 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.
One p. If all this is true, the future admiral of the British Fleet must have cut a conspicuous figure in the hunting-field. The other peculiarity was that, when the roads were dirty, the sisters took long walks in pattens. This defence against wet and dirt is now seldom seen. But mortal damsels have long ago discarded the clumsy implement.
As an illustration of the purposes which a patten was intended to serve, I add the following epigram, p. At the time when Jane Austen lived at Steventon, a work was carried on in the neighbouring cottages which ought to be recorded, because it has long ceased to exist. Up to the beginning of the present century, poor women found profitable employment in spinning flax or wool. This was a better occupation for them than straw plaiting, inasmuch as it was carried on at the family hearth, and did not admit of gadding and gossiping about the village.
The implement used was a long narrow machine of wood, raised on legs, furnished at one end with a large wheel, and at the other with a spindle on which the flax or wool was loosely wrapped, connected together by a loop of string. One hand turned the wheel, while the other formed the thread. The outstretched arms, the advanced foot, the sway of the whole figure backwards and forwards, produced picturesque attitudes, and displayed whatever of grace or beauty the work-woman might possess. I remember two such elegant little wheels in our own family. It may be observed that this hand-spinning is the most primitive of female accomplishments, and can be traced back to the earliest times.
Ballad poetry and fairy tales are full of allusions to it. Heathen mythology celebrated it in the three Fates spinning and measuring out the thread of human life. Her mother followed a custom, not unusual in those days, though it seems strange to us, of putting out her babies to be nursed in a cottage in the village. It may be that the contrast between the parsonage house and the best class of cottages was not quite so extreme then as it would be now, that the one was somewhat less luxurious, and the other less squalid. It would certainly seem from the results that it was a wholesome and invigorating system, for the children were all strong and healthy.
Jane was probably treated like the rest in this respect. In childhood every available opportunity of instruction was made use of. According to the ideas of the time, she was well educated, though not highly p. It cannot be doubted that her early years were bright and happy, living, as she did, with indulgent parents, in a cheerful home, not without agreeable variety of society.
To these sources of enjoyment must be added the first stirrings of talent within her, and the absorbing interest of original composition. It is impossible to say at how early an age she began to write. There are copy books extant containing tales some of which must have been composed while she was a young girl, as they had amounted to a considerable number by the time she was sixteen. Her earliest stories are of a slight and flimsy texture, and are generally intended to be nonsensical, but the nonsense has much spirit in it.
They are usually preceded by a dedication of mock solemnity to some one of her family. It would seem that the grandiloquent dedications prevalent in those days had not escaped her youthful penetration. Perhaps the most characteristic feature in these early productions is that, however puerile the matter, they are always composed in pure simple English, quite free from the over-ornamented style which might be expected from so young a writer. One of her juvenile effusions is given, as a specimen of the kind of transitory amusement which Jane was continually supplying to the family party.
Sir ,—I humbly solicit your patronage to the following Comedy, which, though an unfinished one, is, I flatter myself, as complete a Mystery as any of its kind. But hush: I am interrupted. Enter Old Humbug and his Son , talking. Old Hum. It is for that reason that I wish you to follow my advice. Are you convinced of its propriety? Young Hum. I am, sir, and will certainly act in the manner you have pointed out to me. Humbug and Fanny discovered at work. Whispers Mrs. Whispers Fanny. Humbug and Fanny. My daughter is not here, I see.
There lies Sir Edward. Shall I tell him the secret? Her own mature opinion of the desirableness of such an early habit of composition is given in the following words of a niece:—. I had taken early to writing verses and stories, and I am sorry to think how I troubled her with reading them. She was very kind about it, and always had some praise to bestow, but at last she warned me against spending too much time upon them. She said—how well I recollect it! Later still—it was after she had gone to Winchester—she sent me a message to this effect, that if I would take her advice I should cease writing till I was sixteen; that she had herself often wished she had read more, and written less in the corresponding years of her own life.
But between these childish effusions, and the composition of her living works, there intervened another stage of her progress, during which she produced some stories, not without merit, but which she never considered worthy of publication. During this preparatory period her mind seems to have been working in a very different direction from that into which it ultimately settled. Instead of presenting faithful copies of nature, these tales were generally burlesques, ridiculing the improbable events and exaggerated sentiments which she had met with in sundry silly romances.
It would seem as if she were first taking note of all the faults to be avoided, and curiously considering how she ought not to write before she attempted to put forth her strength in the right direction. The family have, rightly, I think, declined to let these early works be published. At first he thought of little, I dare say, but the queerness and the fun. It was, however, at Steventon that the real foundations of her fame were laid. There some of her most successful writing was composed at such an early age as to make it surprising that so young a woman could have acquired the insight into character, and the nice observation of manners which they display.
She began it in October , before she was twenty-one years old, and completed it in about ten months, in August Amongst the most valuable neighbours of the Austens were Mr. Lefroy and their family. He was rector of the adjoining parish of Ashe; she p. I remember Jane Austen, the novelist, as a little child. She was very intimate with Mrs. Lefroy, and much encouraged by her. Her mother was a Miss Leigh, whose paternal grandmother was sister to the first Duke of Chandos.
Austen was of a Kentish family, of which several branches have been settled in the Weald of Kent, and some are still remaining there. When I knew Jane Austen, I never suspected that she was an authoress; but my eyes told me that she was fair and handsome, slight and elegant, but with cheeks a little too full. That great-grandmother however lives in the family records as Mary Brydges, a daughter of Lord Chandos, married in Westminster Abbey to Theophilus Leigh of Addlestrop in When a girl she had received a curious letter of advice and reproof, written by her mother from Constantinople.
This letter is given. Any such authentic document, p. This is remarkable, not only as a specimen of the homely language in which ladies of rank then expressed themselves, but from the sound sense which it contains. Forms of expression vary, but good sense and right principles are the same in the nineteenth that they were in the seventeenth century.
Child, we all know our beginning, but who knows his end? Y r Mother neither Maide nor wife ever yett bestowed forty p. This letter shows that the wealth acquired by trade was already manifesting itself in contrast with the straitened circumstances of some of the nobility. But then, as now, it would seem, rank had the power of attracting and absorbing wealth. At Ashe also Jane became acquainted with a member of the Lefroy family, who was still living when I began these memoirs, a few months ago; the Right Hon. Thomas Lefroy, late Chief Justice of Ireland.
One must look back more than seventy years to reach the time when these two bright young persons were, for a short time, intimately acquainted with each other, and then separated on their several courses, never to meet again; both destined to attain some distinction in their different ways, one to survive the other for more than half a century, yet in his extreme old age to remember and speak, as he sometimes did, of his former companion, as one to be much admired, and not easily forgotten by those who had ever known her.
Lefroy herself was a remarkable person. Her p. The following lines to her memory were written by Jane four years afterwards, when she was thirty-three years old. They are given, not for their merits as poetry, but to show how deep and lasting was the impression made by the elder friend on the mind of the younger:—.
Angelic woman! She speaks! Can aught enhance such goodness? The vision disappears. Indulge the harmless weakness. Reason, spare. The loss of their first home is generally a great grief to young persons of strong feeling and lively imagination; and Jane was exceedingly unhappy when she was told that her father, now seventy years of age, had determined to resign his duties to his eldest son, who was to be his successor in the Rectory of Steventon, and to remove with his wife and daughters to Bath.
Jane had been absent from home when this resolution was taken; and, as her father was always rapid both in forming his resolutions and in acting on them, she had little time to reconcile herself to the change. Some entire letters, and many extracts, will be given in this memoir; but the reader must be warned not to expect too much from them. With regard to accuracy of language indeed every word of them might be printed without correction.
The style p. There is in them no notice of politics or public events; scarcely any discussions on literature, or other subjects of general interest. They may be said to resemble the nest which some little bird builds of the materials nearest at hand, of the twigs and mosses supplied by the tree in which it is placed; curiously constructed out of the simplest matters.
Her letters have very seldom the date of the year, or the signature of her christian name at full length; but it has been easy to ascertain their dates, either from the post-mark, or from their contents. The two following letters are the earliest that I have seen. They were both written in November ; before the family removed from Steventon. Some of the same circumstances are referred to in both. The first is to her sister Cassandra, who was then staying with their brother Edward at Godmersham Park, Kent:—. If you can learn anything farther of that interesting affair, I hope you will mention it.
I have two messages; let me get rid of them, and then my paper will be my own. Mary fully intended writing to you by Mr. The tables are come, and give general contentment. I had not expected that they would so perfectly suit the fancy of us all three, or that we should so well agree in the disposition of them; but nothing except their own surface can have been smoother.
The two ends put together form one constant table for everything, and the centre piece stands exceedingly well under the glass, and holds a great deal most commodiously, without looking awkwardly. They are both covered with green baize, and send their best love. The Pembroke has got its destination by the sideboard, and my mother has great delight in keeping her money and papers locked up.
The little table which used to stand there has most conveniently taken itself off into the best bedroom; and we are now in want only of the chiffonniere, which is neither finished nor come. So much for that subject; I now come to another, of a very different nature, as other subjects are very apt to be. Earle Harwood has been again giving uneasiness to his family and talk to the p. Two young Scotch surgeons in the island were polite enough to propose taking off the thigh at once, but to that he would not consent; and accordingly in his wounded state was put on board a cutter and conveyed to Haslar Hospital, at Gosport, where the bullet was extracted, and where he now is, I hope, in a fair way of doing well.
Harwood, whose anxious sufferings, particularly those of the latter, have of course been dreadful. They went down on Tuesday, and James came back the next day, bringing such favourable accounts as greatly to lessen the distress of the family at Deane, though it will probably be a long while before Mrs. Harwood can be quite at ease. One most material comfort, however, they have; the assurance of its being really an accidental wound, which is not only positively declared by Earle himself, but is likewise testified by the particular direction of the bullet. Such a wound could not have been received in a duel.
At present he is going on very well, but p. Heathcote met with a genteel little accident the other day in hunting. He got off to lead his horse over a hedge, or a house, or something, and his horse in his haste trod upon his leg, or rather ancle, I believe, and it is not certain whether the small bone is not broke. He has not yet sent out his own invitations, but that does not signify; Martha comes, and a ball there is to be. I was sitting alone in the dining-room when an odd kind of crash startled me—in a moment afterwards it was repeated.
I then went to the window, which I reached just in time to see the last of our two highly valued elms descend into the Sweep!!!! The other, which had fallen, I suppose, in the first crash, and which was the nearest to the pond, taking a more easterly direction, sunk among our screen of chestnuts and firs, knocking down one spruce-fir, beating off the head of another, and stripping the two corner chestnuts of several branches in its fall. This is not all. One large elm out of the two on the left-hand side as you enter what I call the elm walk, was likewise blown p.
I am happy to add, however, that no greater evil than the loss of trees has been the consequence of the storm in this place, or in our immediate neighbourhood. We grieve, therefore, in some comfort. You are very good in wishing to see me at Ibthorp so soon, and I am equally good in wishing to come to you.
I believe our merit in that respect is much upon a par, our self-denial mutually strong. Having paid this tribute of praise to the virtue of both, I p. I have two reasons for not being able to come before. In the 1st place, that I may have the pleasure of seeing her, and in the 2nd, that I may have a better chance of bringing you back with me. Your promise in my favour was not quite absolute, but if your will is not perverse, you and I will do all in our power to overcome your scruples of conscience.
I hope we shall meet next week to talk all this over, till we have tired ourselves with the very idea of my visit before my visit begins. Our invitations for the 19th are arrived, and very curiously are they worded. He does not seem to be going on very well. The two or three last posts have brought less and less favourable accounts of him. John Harwood has gone to Gosport again to-day. We have two families of friends now who are in a most anxious state; for though by a note from Catherine this morning there seems now to be a revival of hope at Manydown, its continuance may p.
It would be really too much to have three people to care for. I cannot think of any to bring with me, nor have I any idea of our wanting them. I come to you to be talked to, not to read or hear reading; I can do that at home; and indeed I am now laying in a stock of intelligence to pour out on you as my share of the conversation. So that for every evening in the week there will be a different subject.
With such a provision on my part, if you will do yours by repeating the French Grammar, and Mrs.
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Farewell for a short time. We all unite in best love, and I am your very affectionate. The two next letters must have been written early in , after the removal from Steventon had been decided on, but before it had taken place. They refer to the two brothers who were at sea, and give some idea of a kind of anxieties and uncertainties to which sisters are seldom subject in these days of peace, steamers, and electric telegraphs.
At that time ships were often windbound or becalmed, or driven wide of their destination; and sometimes they had orders to alter their course for some secret service; not to mention the chance of conflict with a vessel of superior power—no improbable occurrence before the battle of Trafalgar. Information about relatives on board men-of-war was scarce and scanty, and often picked up by hearsay or chance means; and every scrap of intelligence was proportionably valuable:—. Charles spent three pleasant days in Lisbon. He received my letter, communicating our plans, before he left England; was much surprised, of course, but is quite reconciled to them, and means to come to Steventon once more while Steventon is ours.
He has been buying gold chains and topaze crosses for us. He must be well scolded. We shall be unbearably fine. The family removed to Bath in the spring of , where they resided first at No. I do not know whether they were at all attracted to Bath by the circumstance that Mrs.
Leigh Perrot, spent part of every year there. The name of Perrot, together with a small estate at Northleigh in Oxfordshire, had been bequeathed to him by a great uncle. The Perrots were settled in Pembrokeshire at least as early as the thirteenth century. One of the family seems to have carried out this latter p.
The manner in which the two kinds of game are classed together, and the disproportion of numbers, are remarkable; but probably at that time the wolves had been so closely killed down, that lupicide was become a more rare and distinguished exploit than homicide. The last of this family died about , and their property was divided between Leighs and Musgraves, the larger portion going to the latter.
Leigh Perrot pulled down the mansion, and sold the estate to the Duke of Marlborough, and the name of these Perrots is now to be found only on some monuments in the church of Northleigh. Leigh Perrot was also one of several cousins to whom a life interest in the Stoneleigh property in Warwickshire was left, after the extinction of the earlier Leigh peerage, but he compromised his claim to the succession in his lifetime. He married a niece of Sir Montague Cholmeley of Lincolnshire.
He was a man of considerable natural power, with much of the wit of his uncle, the Master of Balliol, and wrote clever epigrams and riddles, some of which, though without his name, found their way into print; but he lived a very retired life, dividing his time between Bath and his place in Berkshire called Scarlets.
The unfinished story, now published under the p. In the autumn of she spent some weeks at Lyme, and became acquainted with the Cobb, which she afterwards made memorable for the fall of Louisa Musgrove. In February , her father died at Bath, and was buried at Walcot Church. The widow and daughters went into lodgings for a few months, and then removed to Southampton. The only records that I can find about her during those four years are the three following letters to her sister; one from Lyme, the others from Bath.
They shew that she went a good deal into society, in a quiet way, chiefly with ladies; and that her eyes were always open to minute traits of character in those with whom she associated:—. I expect to hear that you reached it yesterday evening, being able to get as far as Blandford on Wednesday. Your account of Weymouth contains nothing which strikes me so forcibly as there being no ice in the town. For every other vexation I was in some measure prepared, and particularly for your disappointment in not seeing p.
Crawford that he had seen you in the very act of being too late. But for there being no ice, what could prepare me! You found my letter at Andover, I hope, yesterday, and have now for many hours been satisfied that your kind anxiety on my behalf was as much thrown away as kind anxiety usually is. I continue quite well; in proof of which I have bathed again this morning. It was absolutely necessary that I should have the little fever and indisposition which I had: it has been all the fashion this week in Lyme.
We are quite settled in our lodgings by this time, as you may suppose, and everything goes on in the usual order. The servants behave very well, and make no difficulties, though nothing certainly can exceed the inconvenience of the offices, except the general dirtiness of the house and furniture, and all its inhabitants.
I endeavour, as far as I can, to supply your place, and be useful, and keep things in order. I detect dirt in the water decanters, as fast as I can, and keep everything as it was under your administration. The ball last night was pleasant, but not full for Thursday. My father staid contentedly till half-past nine we went a little after eight , and then walked home with James and a lanthorn, though I believe the lanthorn was not lit, as the moon was up; but sometimes this lanthorn may be a great convenience to him.
My mother and I staid about an hour later. Nobody asked me the p. Crawford, and had I chosen to stay longer might have danced with Mr. Granville, Mrs. I think he must be Irish by his ease, and because I imagine him to belong to the hon bl B. I called yesterday morning ought it not in strict propriety to be termed yester-morning? Like other young ladies she is considerably genteeler than her parents. But do not mention this at home, lest a warning should act as an example. We afterwards walked together for an hour on the Cobb; she is very converseable in a common way; I do not perceive wit or genius, but she has sense and some degree of taste, and her manners are very engaging.
She seems to like people rather too easily. Lloyd at that place:—. Did Bath or Ibthorp ever see such an 8th of April? It is March and April together; the glare of the one and the warmth of the other. We do nothing but walk about. As far as your means will admit, I hope you profit by such weather too. I dare say you are already the better for change of place.
We were out again last night. Miss Irvine invited us, when I met her in the Crescent, to drink tea with them, but I rather declined it, having no idea that my mother would be disposed for another evening visit there so soon; but when I gave her the message, I found her very well inclined to go; and accordingly, on leaving Chapel, we walked to Lansdown. This morning we have been to see Miss Chamberlaine look hot on horseback.
We did not walk long in the Crescent yesterday. It was hot and not crowded enough; so we went into the field, and passed close by S. I have not yet seen her face, but neither her dress nor air have anything of the dash or p. Miss Irvine says she is never speaking a word.
Here has been that excellent Mrs. Coulthart calling, while my mother was out, and I was believed to be so. I always respected her, as a good-hearted friendly woman. And the Browns have been here; I find their affidavits on the table. We have had no letters from anybody, but we expect to hear from Edward to-morrow, and from you soon afterwards.
How happy they are at Godmersham now! I shall be very glad of a letter from Ibthorp, that I may know how you all are, but particularly yourself. This is nice weather for Mrs. I expect a prodigious account of the christening dinner; perhaps it brought you at last into the company of Miss Dundas again. Poor woman! May her end be peaceful and easy as the exit we have witnessed! And I dare say it will.
If there is no revival, suffering must be all over; even the consciousness of existence, I suppose, was gone p. The nonsense I have been writing in this and in my last letter seems out of place at such a time, but I will not mind it; it will do you no harm, and nobody else will be attacked by it. I am heartily glad that you can speak so comfortably of your own health and looks, though I can scarcely comprehend the latter being really approved.
Could travelling fifty miles produce such an immediate change? You were looking very poorly here, and everybody seemed sensible of it. Is there a charm in a hack postchaise? But if there were, Mrs. As a companion you are all that Martha can be supposed to want, and in that light, under these circumstances, your visit will indeed have been well timed.
His to me was most affectionate and kind, as well as p. He offers to meet us on the sea coast, if the plan of which Edward gave him some hint takes place. Will not this be making the execution of such a plan more desirable and delightful than ever? He talks of the rambles we took together last summer with pleasing affection.
My dear Cassandra ,—I am much obliged to you for writing to me again so soon; your letter yesterday was quite an unexpected pleasure. Poor Mrs. Stents ourselves, unequal to anything, and unwelcome to everybody. My morning engagement was with the Cookes, and our party consisted of George and Mary, a Mr. Not Julia; we have done with her; she is very ill; but Mary. Mary W. I have not expressly enumerated myself among the party, but there I was, and my cousin George was very kind, and talked sense to me every now and p. There was a monstrous deal of stupid quizzing and common-place nonsense talked, but scarcely any wit; all that bordered on it or on sense came from my cousin George, whom altogether I like very well.
My evening engagement and walk was with Miss A. Unlucky me! She was so well disposed, and so reasonable, that I soon forgave her, and made this engagement with her in proof of it. She is really an agreeable girl, so I think I may like her; and her great want of a companion at home, which may well make any tolerable acquaintance important to her, gives her another claim on my attention.
I shall endeavour as much as possible to keep my intimacies in their proper place, and prevent their clashing. Among so many friends, it will be well if I do not get into a scrape; and now here is Miss Blashford come. I should have gone distracted if the Bullers had staid. When I tell you I have been visiting a countess this morning, you will immediately, with great justice, but no p. No: it is Lady Leven, the mother of Lord Balgonie. On receiving a message from Lord and Lady Leven through the Mackays, declaring their intention of waiting on us, we thought it right to go to them.
I hope we have not done too much, but the friends and admirers of Charles must be attended to. They seem very reasonable, good sort of people, very civil, and full of his praise. He is a tall gentlemanlike looking man, with spectacles, and rather deaf. After sitting with him ten minutes we walked away; but Lady Leven coming out of the dining parlour as we passed the door, we were obliged to attend her back to it, and pay our visit over again.
She is a stout woman, with a very handsome face. They think themselves excessively obliged to him, and estimate him so highly as to wish Lord Balgonie, when he is quite recovered, to go out to him. There is a pretty little Lady Marianne of the party, to be shaken hands with, and asked if she remembered Mr. He was the Rev.
George Leigh Cooke, long known and respected at Oxford, where he held important offices, and had the privilege of helping to form the minds of men more eminent than himself. As Tutor in Corpus Christi College, he became instructor to some of the most distinguished undergraduates of that time: amongst others to Dr.
Arnold, the Rev. John Keble, and Sir John Coleridge. Cooke was also an impressive preacher of earnest awakening sermons. He was frequently Examiner in the schools, and occupied the chair of the Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, from to They resided in a commodious old-fashioned house in a corner of Castle Square. I have, however, a lively recollection of some local circumstances at Southampton, and as they refer chiefly to things which have been long ago swept away, I will record them.
This must have been a part of the identical walls which witnessed the embarkation of Henry V. Among the records of the town of Southampton, they have a minute and authentic account, drawn p. It is remarkable that the place where the army was encamped, then a low level plain, is now entirely covered by the sea, and is called Westport. The Marchioness had a light phaeton, drawn by six, and sometimes by eight little ponies, each pair decreasing in size, and becoming lighter in colour, through all the grades of dark brown, light brown, bay, and chestnut, as it was placed farther away from the carriage.
The two leading pairs were managed by two boyish postilions, the two pairs nearest to the carriage were driven in hand.
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It was a delight to me to look down from the window and see this fairy equipage put together; for the premises of this castle were so contracted that the whole process went on in the little space that remained of the open square. Like other fairy works, however, it all proved evanescent. Few probably remember its existence; and any one who might p. In Mr. Knight was able to offer his mother the choice of two houses on his property; one near his usual residence at Godmersham Park in Kent; the other near Chawton House, his occasional residence in Hampshire.
The latter was chosen; and in that year the mother and daughters, together with Miss Lloyd, a near connection who lived with them, settled themselves at Chawton Cottage. Chawton may be called the second , as well as the last home of Jane Austen; for during the temporary residences of the party at Bath and Southampton she was only a sojourner in a strange land; but here she found a real home amongst her own people.
It so happened that during her residence at Chawton circumstances brought several of her brothers and their families within easy distance of the house. Chawton must also be considered the place most closely connected with her career as a writer; for there it was that, in the maturity of her mind, she either wrote or rearranged, and prepared for publication the books by which she has become known to the world.
This was the home where, after a few years, while still in the prime of life, she began to droop and wither away, and which she left only in the last stage of her illness, yielding to the persuasion of friends hoping against hope. This house stood in the village of Chawton, about a mile from Alton, on the right hand side, just where p. It was so close to the road that the front door opened upon it; while a very narrow enclosure, paled in on each side, protected the building from danger of collision with any runaway vehicle. I believe it had been originally built for an inn, for which purpose it was certainly well situated.
Afterwards it had been occupied by Mr. Knight was experienced and adroit at such arrangements, and this was a labour of love to him. A good-sized entrance and two sitting-rooms made the length of the house, all intended originally to look upon the road, but the large drawing-room window was blocked up and turned into a book-case, and another opened at the side which gave to view only turf and trees, as a high wooden fence and hornbeam hedge shut out the Winchester road, which skirted the whole length of the little domain.
There was a pleasant irregular mixture of hedgerow, and gravel walk, and orchard, and long grass for mowing, arising from two or three little enclosures having been thrown together. The house itself was quite as good as the generality of parsonage-houses then were, and much in the same style; and was capable of receiving other members p.
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It was sufficiently well furnished; everything inside and out was kept in good repair, and it was altogether a comfortable and ladylike establishment, though the means which supported it were not large. I give this description because some interest is generally taken in the residence of a popular writer. The building indeed still stands, but it has lost all that gave it its character. In July of , the nature of unmanned missions was transformed again, as Mars Pathfinder landed on that planet and deployed a small robotic rover, Sojourner. The Hubble Space Telescope, freed of its focusing woes, is sending back pictures of cosmic phenomena that stagger the imaginations of astronomers as well as the rest of us.
But those unmanned missions, for all their scientific productivity, have largely failed to capture the enthusiasm of the public or of Congress. There are powerful forces in NASA, the aerospace industry and the rest of the Government that view these science missions as interesting but lacking in the old "right stuff" of astronauts flying in space. Glenn's final flight is sure to evoke memories and could produce the bittersweet reminder for NASA that its best days are behind it, and probably will remain that way for a long time to come.
Of course, that is not all NASA's fault. Early on, the nation's civilian space agency was a victim of its own success and the shifting of national priorities. NASA fulfilled its original mandate: this prodigy of the cold war promised us the Moon, and delivered. In those early days, all eyes were focused on NASA. The agency was created by Congress, largely through the legislative prowess of Lyndon B. James R. Killian, the White House science adviser at the time, once recalled that Sputnik "created a crisis of confidence that swept the country like a windblown forest fire. Headline writers dubbed Vanguard the "Stayputnik.
After that, President Dwight D. Eisenhower unleashed the Army rocket team led by Dr. Wernher von Braun, which succeeded in putting into orbit the first American space satellite, Explorer 1, on Jan. The race picked up speed after John F. Kennedy became President in When the Russians leapt ahead by launching the first man into orbit, Yuri A. Gagarin, on April 12, , the Kennedy Administration came up with an ambitious promise: to leapfrog the Russians with a mission to the Moon.
On May 25, President Kennedy threw down the gauntlet in an address to Congress. Thus began the Apollo Project, and NASA's golden decade, one of inspired mobilization, trial and testing, of tragedy and eventual triumph. At the peak, NASA had 36, employees and a legion of contract workers in universities and factories across the nation. All in all, the agency gained a reputation for innovation in management and technology, seeming to stand above all other Government establishments.
The agency overcame its darkest early moment, in January of , when three astronauts died in a fire inside their Apollo spacecraft on the pad. That tragedy only increased the resolve to press on with the task of reaching the Moon. Soon the mighty Saturn 5 rockets were thundering into the sky. And on July 20, , Neil A. Armstrong, followed by Buzz Aldrin, planted the first human boot prints on the powdery Sea of Tranquillity.
In the euphoria of the moment, when the age-old symbol of the unattainable had been reached, people allowed themselves to ascribe transcendental significance to the historic event. This was sure to be the true opening of far-ranging human space travel. The species was no longer confined to its native planet. In sobering retrospect, it is impossible be so sure of the lasting meaning of the first lunar landing.
And it may be decades, or even longer, before anyone establishes lunar bases or sets out for Mars. Observers of the space endeavor offer answers. After the initial lunar landings, Americans considered this particular battle in the cold war to have been won and turned their attention to new concerns and enthusiasms. Also, as successful as Apollo was in meeting its immediate objective, the project's limitations became apparent.
It was hugely expensive. It required unstinting effort and a commitment not easily sustained once the goal was achieved. Alex Roland, a Duke University historian of technology. Indeed, historians suggest that Apollo was the product of special circumstances not likely to recur any time soon, if ever. It was a national response to a clear challenge by an adversary.
It was undertaken in the flush of postwar prosperity and sweeping, patriotic optimism. Within two decades, however, these conditions were undermined by the war in Vietnam, economic slumps, political assassinations, urban riots and rampant crime. Where NASA could be faulted in the immediate post-Apollo period was in its failure to recognize that conditions had thoroughly changed and that the appetite for grand space adventures had faded.
While President Richard M. Nixon declared Apollo 11 to be the greatest event since the Creation, his administration seemed to feel that NASA's expulsion from its scientific Garden of Eden was the next logical step. The agency was forced to scrap its plans for large space stations and manned missions to Mars, possibly as early as the 's.
The only major proposal to survive was the space shuttle, reusable vehicles for manned space travel, and even they had to be built to scaled-down specifications that rendered them less efficient. Beginning with launchings in , the shuttles revived the program of astronaut flights, but just going into orbit never again captured public imagination and the shuttles failed to live up to expectations for making space travel much more routine and economical. Pressure to maintain unrealistic launching schedules was held to be a contributing factor in the January, , Challenger explosion, in which a crew of seven, including a schoolteacher, perished shortly after liftoff.