The subscription list to Frances Burney’s Camilla says P. D. Garside, is “arguably the most famous in literary history, certainly in the history of the novel” (175). As Peter Sabor explains, it affords a new window onto the different strata of eighteenth-century British society, and an indication of the celebrated author’s place in an intricate social and political network (“Tax” 309).1 It may also afford a new window onto the intricate social and political network of ardent Burney fan Miss J. Austen, Steventon, for to judge from the names of people to whom and about whom she wrote in her letters, here highlighted in bold, she could have urged her family, friends, and acquaintances to subscribe.
Burney’s subscription scheme
To ensure that the sale of Camilla “becomes almost instantly as quick as general,” Burney announced an early form of crowd-sourcing in the Morning Chronicle for 7 July 1795: “PROPOSALS for printing by Subscription a NEW WORK, in Four Volumes, 12 mo. By the AUTHOR of EVELINA and CECILIA: to be delivered on or before the 1st day of July, 1796. The Subscriptions will be one Guinea; to be paid at the time of Subscribing” (Bloom and Bloom xviii). Soon afterwards, on 24 and 25 July 1795, Burney was soliciting her friend and neighbor at Bookham, Mrs. Frederica [Augusta] Lock for the promised “addition of subscribers to that which so warmly interests me” (Journals 3:145), and fretting to Mrs. Georgiana Waddington on 19 November 1795 that the “List is already singularly respectable, but I much question whether, ultimately, it will be numerous” (Journals 3:151). She was right to be worried, for as Pat Rogers argues of Pope, mounting a subscription was “an exceedingly tricky and uncertain business, even for a distinguished author at the height of his fame” (“Pope” 225).
J. A. Downie explains, however, that many authors, and particularly women, chose subscription publishing over selling the copyright outright to the publisher, wishing simply to generate whatever income they could. Camilla would ultimately attract 1058 subscribers, including Jane Austen, whose father, says family tradition, bought the copy for her (Sabor, “Tax” 312 n10). This was the first occasion in her lifetime that her name appeared in print. The second was in 1808, when she subscribed to the Reverend Thomas Jefferson’s Two Sermons, on the Reasonableness and Salutary Effects of Fearing God. The third occurred in 1813, when she is listed as donating a guinea to help found a branch of the Society for the Promoting of Christian Knowledge in Alton, near Chawton (Harris). Garside also suggests that “Austen, Miss, Steventon, near Overton,” a subscriber to Mary Sherwood’s novel The Traditions (1795), could be the future novelist (178).
Sabor reports that Burney appointed her friends the Hon. Mrs. [Frances] Boscawen, Mrs. [Frances Anne] Crewe, and Miss Amelia Lock, the daughter of her beloved neighbors at Great Bookham, to act as “bookkeepers.” Their task was to solicit subscriptions from well-born patrons, keep the lists, deliver receipts to those who had paid their guineas, and record the names of those who had merely promised to do so. In the “Advertisement” to Camilla, Burney formally thanked the trio, “pouring forth her thanks to the many Friends whose kind zeal has forwarded this present undertaking.” Among those “whom she knows not how to resist selecting and gratifying herself by naming” were Boscawen’s titled daughter Her Grace [Elizabeth], Duchess of Beaufort, Mrs. Lock, and Mrs. Crewe, daughter of Right Honourable Fulke Greville, Chamberlain to his Majesty. Mrs. Crewe, whose mother was Irish, invited subscriptions from Ireland.2 An early patron of Dr. Burney, Mrs. Crewe was a Whig hostess famed for her talents, intelligence, and beauty. She was also an experienced fundraiser, having formed a ladies’ committee to solicit support for Fanny Burney’s pamphlet, Brief Reflections relative to the Emigrant Clergy in 1793 (ODNB).
Others busily spreading the word on Burney’s behalf included Her Grace the Dowager Duchess of Leinster; Mrs. Waddington; Miss [Charlotte] Cambridge, daughter of the Rev. R[ichard] O[wen] Cambridge, Prebendary of Ely. He was father to the Reverend George Owen Cambridge, Burney’s unforthcoming suitor at Court (although Burney believed that their attraction was mutual, he never managed to propose); William Seward, Esq., “anecdotist” friend to Johnson and the Thrales; Woman of the Bedchamber Ariana Egerton; accomplished Greek scholar the Rev. Mr. T[homas] Twining (Hill 67 and n); and Warren Hastings, Esq. Thanks largely to their efforts, and to what Isobel Grundy calls “female networking” in “three interlocking spheres of influence—social, intellectual and bluestocking” (156)—the final list contained 1058 people, some of whom bought multiple sets. Burney, says Sabor, made the record-breaking sum of £1000 from subscriptions and another £1000 in copyright money (“Tax” 305-06). But publishing fiction by subscription became a rarity by the end of the century, and though Austen subscribed, she never tried it herself (Garside 177, 185). She may also have realised, as Lockwood argues, that “the author unsupported by rank or influence simply lost the battle for subscribers,” and Jane Austen enjoyed the support of neither.
Jane Austen and Fanny Burney
It is generally assumed that Jane Austen never met Fanny Burney or communicated personally with her. But fellow subscriber Mrs. [Cassandra] Cooke, Bookham, could have been a direct source of information about the celebrated author, for from 1768 onwards, this first cousin, namesake, and almost exact contemporary of Jane’s mother Mrs. Cassandra Austen had lived with her husband, the Rev. Mr. [Samuel] Cooke, [Great] Bookham, in Surrey. They saw Fanny Burney often, for their vicarage was literally across the road from The Hermitage, home to Burney and General d’Arblay, who resided at Bookham from 1793 until 1797, when they moved to Camilla Cottage in nearby West Humble. Mrs. Cooke, for instance, could have urged her father the Reverend Dr. [Edmund] Isham, Warden of All Souls College, Oxford to subscribe. As Austen writes on 23-24 September 1813, “Poor Dr Isham is obliged to admire P. & P—& to send me word that he is sure he shall not like Mde Darblay’s new Novel [The Wanderer] half so well.—Mrs C[ooke] invented it all of course” (see Le Faye, Letters 538).
Mrs. Cooke became a close friend of the d’Arblay family, including Fanny’s beloved sister Susanna, and on 11 April 1795, just as Burney was seeking subscribers, the Reverend Samuel baptized their son Alexander (Journals 5:15-16 and n2). The friendship with Burney excited Mrs. Cooke, who was an aspiring novelist herself. As Le Faye observes, she “no doubt passed on information to Steventon concerning these new and interesting parishioners” (Le Faye, Letters 508-10, 515).3
As Austen’s letter of 8-9 January 1801 suggests, Mrs. Cooke kept in frequent touch with her cousin Mrs. Cassandra Austen and her sister Mrs. [Mary] Leigh, Adlestrop. Their correspondence has not, however, survived. The Cookes’ daughter Mary, confidante to her second cousin Jane, could also have sent news of Burney, as could Austen’s first cousin, Eliza de Feuillide, born 1761, daughter of George Austen’s sister Philadelphia: Eliza corresponded with her friend Lady Sophia Burrel[l], of Dorking, near Bookham, and visited her there from 1786. Lady Sophia’s father was friend to de Feuillide’s friend Warren Hastings, Esq., governor-general of Bengal, whom the Burneys supported when he was impeached for corruption, then acquitted in 1795. Hastings, who had known the Leighs since boyhood, sent his little son George to the Reverend George Austen to be fostered and educated, but in 1764, the lad unfortunately died. Hastings then stood godfather to Eliza, later de Feuillide, the daughter of Tysoe Saul Hancock, his friend and business partner in India, and of Mr. George Austen’s sister, Philadelphia (Le Faye, Letters 486, 534). Cassandra Austen’s aunt and godmother Mrs. [Miss Elizabeth] Leigh, Adlestrop (Le Faye, Letters 549), likewise knew Hastings well.
Encouraged by Le Faye’s suggestion that the Cookes canvassed their connections to obtain subscribers (Family Record 98), and believing that Mrs. Cooke sent Austen information about Burney, I suggest that Jane Austen likewise canvassed her own connections. The likelihood that Burney did not know most of the subscribers known to Austen supports that idea, for they range from Jane and Cassandra’s dancing partners in little country towns to an assortment of friends, neighbors, and relatives, the daughter-in-law of a London upholsterer, a brewer’s daughter, the wife of a cheese-factor, a sheriff’s widow, old India hands, and a clutch of curates and vicars scattered around Hampshire and Kent.
I was startled to realize, however, just how many subscribers could have been members or acquaintances of the Cooke/Austen extended family. Mrs. Cooke, a friend to Burney every bit as kind and zealous as those singled out for thanks by the literary lioness, might well have appointed herself an unofficial bookkeeper. So might Elizabeth Leigh and Jane Austen. As Garside argues, the young Jane would have depended on her father for the guinea fee, but “the initial impulse to subscribe could well have come from her maternal relations.” Subscriptions “could gather pace as information passed by way of neighbors and family connections through the grid of gentry society.” Thus through “her own subscription, and news of others as they gathered pace, she might even have felt herself in a small way implicated in the creation of Camilla” (175-76). Although Garside and Sabor spot numerous names associated with Austen, I believe that more might plausibly be added.
Mrs. Cooke and Mrs. Leigh knew just as much as Burney’s posh friends about her anxieties, for as early as 13 May 1795, after Burney reported that “Our excellent neighbours” the Cookes are delighted by the acquittal of Warren Hastings, for they “know him & are overjoyed” (Journals 3:108), she continues on 21 July 1795 that Mrs. Cooke “came in with me from Church on Sunday morning, to read me a paragraph of a letter from Mrs. [Mary] Leigh of oxfordshire [sic], her sister.” After “much civility about the new work [Camilla], & its author,” she offers exciting news:
Mr. Hastings I saw just now; I told him what was going forward, he gave a great jump,—& exclaimed “Well then, now I can serve her, thank God! & I will!—I will write to Anderson to engage Scotland,—& I will attack the East Indies myself!”
But Burney writes despondently, “Yet with all this encouragement, if the Public does not come forth, Friends alone, with the utmost efforts & zeal, can only amount to a few Hundreds. We are anxious about the Advertisements appearing in the news papers [sic]” (Journals 3:144).
Did the young unknown Jane Austen, like Mrs. Cooke and Mrs. Leigh, seize the chance to act as patron for the novelist she so warmly admired? Did she too set about canvassing people she knew in Hampshire and elsewhere? Did she ask her brothers Frances, Charles, and Henry to round up their naval and business contacts, and urge Edward to spread the word among their acquaintances in Kent? And did she urge her father the Reverend George Austen to approach his clerical colleagues?
Given her devotion to Burney, I suspect she did, for as Sabor points out, two months after subscribing to Camilla, Austen began writing Northanger Abbey, with its three allusions to Burney’s novel and its extravagant panegyric to Cecilia (1782) and Camilla, published on 28 June 1796. She has read through Burney’s new novel by 5 September 1796, when she sends love to Mary Harrison in Overton, Hampshire, wishing that “whenever she is attached to a young Man, some respectable Dr Marchmont may keep them apart for five Volumes” (Le Faye, Letters 357 n14). On 15-16 September 1796, she approves of two pleasing traits in Miss [Cecilia] Fletcher’s character: “she admires Camilla, & drinks no cream in her Tea” (Le Faye, Letters 523). If Austen had worked as hard as I think she did to assist the publication, no wonder that she retrieved her own copy from the book sale as she left Steventon reluctantly for Bath. It remained in the family until given to the Bodleian Library in Oxford (Sabor, “Tax” 300).
Sabor explains the subscription procedure, and identifies many subscribers from Burney’s literary, Court, and personal circles. She herself arranged the names alphabetically in descending order of rank. Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York and His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, George III’s brother, headed up a distinguished list that included dukes, duchesses, other nobility, members of the royal court, and politicians; publishers, printers, and booksellers; literary and theatrical luminaries; a variety of famous public figures; and fifteen French nobles in exile near Great Bookham, their names tacked on discreetly at the end to avoid offence.
For names mentioned by Austen or otherwise connected with her, I draw extensively on Deirdre Le Faye’s invaluable editions of her Letters and de Feuillide’s. But given both the radical mutilation of Austen’s correspondence, and the tantalizing fact that her letters only begin on 9-10 January 1796, five months after Camilla was published, I include subscribers possibly known to her as well as probably. I sometimes assume also that references later than 1796 imply familiarity from an earlier date. My argument is necessarily speculative, for only 161 Austen letters survive of the more than 7500 letters I reckon she wrote. The rest were lost, discarded by recipients, or destroyed by Cassandra in the interests of propriety and privacy.
Further connections may remain to be discovered, but the names identified here suggest that from late 1795 to early 1796, Jane Austen, Mrs. Cooke, Mrs. Leigh, and Eliza de Feuillide could have set about signing up subscribers whom Burney and her more up-market friends did not or could not know. At a time when, as Janice Farrar Thaddeus notes, “a long subscription list showed that you knew all the best people, those with money, position, and power” (130), the young daughter of a country parson, two wives of country parsons, and the widow of a French count lately guillotined in Paris were probably too obscure for Burney to acknowledge in public, even if she knew they had acted on her behalf. My putative Austen list is by no means as glittering as the Burney one, but it would have swelled the numbers, and helped Camilla appear.
Sometimes the lists overlap, especially in Bookham and surrounds, where subscribers known to Burney as well as Mrs. Cooke and/or Jane Austen include de Feuillide’s poetical friend Lady Sophia Burrel[l] (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 161-62), and Mrs. Lawrel[l], a neighbor of the Cookes after Lord Howard sold the manor of Great Bookham to James Laurell in 1801. By 8-9 January 1801, however, their neighbor Mrs. Cooke reports that she is about to re-marry, this time to Mr. Hinchman, “a rich East Indian.” Le Faye identifies him as perhaps Mr. Thomas Henchman, explaining how Austen, ever the punster, pretends he is a Mr. John Hinx-, Hinch-, or Henchman of Gloucestershire, a maternal cousin of Mary Lloyd: “I hope Mary will be satisfied with this proof of her cousin’s Existence & Welfare, & cease to torment herself with the idea of his bones being bleaching in the Sun on Wantage Downs” (Le Faye, Letters 374 n5, 544). Burney’s dear friends, the art connoisseurs and patrons William Lock, Esq., Norbury Park, near Bookham, and Mrs. [Frederica Augusta] Lock proved especially generous subscribers. Their daughter Amelia would marry wealthy John Angerstein, elected MP in 1796, whose relatives Miss Angerstein and father J[ohn] J[ulius] Angerstein likewise added their names.
As writer Dr. John Moore, MD, attended the Lock family at Norbury, he was known to Burney and her circle as well as to the Cookes. He was also the father of General Sir John Moore who died at Corunna, of whom Austen writes on 24 January 1809, “This is greivous news from Spain.—It is well that Dr Moore was spared the knowledge of such a Son’s death,” and on 30 January 1809, “I am sorry to find that Sir J. Moore has a Mother living, but tho’ a very Heroick son, he might not be a very necessary one to her happiness.” As she adds, “I wish Sir John had united something of the Christian with the Hero in his death.—Thank Heaven! we have had no one to care for particularly among the Troops—no one in fact nearer to us than Sir John himself” (Le Faye, Letters 556-57). James Moore, Esq., also contributed, as did Sir Lucas Pepys, Bart., physician to the king, and his wife [Jane Elizabeth], Countess of Rothes, who had taken a house at Juniper Hill, with grounds stretching down to Mickleham Church (Hill 252). Other neighbors included subscriber the Reverend Mr. Pollen, Little Bookham, and on 1-2 October 1808, Austen met up with two “old Mrs Pollens” in Bath.
Susanna Burney’s feckless husband Major Phillips bought a copy, just as their marriage was falling apart.4 So did subscribers Mrs. Rogers, Mickleham, near the home of d’Arblays in Great Bookham, and Samuel Rogers, Esq., together with Lady Talbot, widow of Sir Charles Henry Talbot, of Mickleham. De Feuillide, now Mrs. Henry Austen, explains on 29 October 1799 that she has been staying at Dorking for six months, “and a recluse the greatest part of that time,” but since “Lady Burrell, Lady Talbot and one or more neighbours having politely sought me and shewn me such civilities as an utter stranger had no right to expect, I have not found it possible to persevere in my plan of shunning all society” (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 157).
As for the French refugees at nearby Juniper Hall, the Cookes encountered subscriber Monsieur le Comte de Narbonne on 11 April 1795, at least, when the vicar baptized Alexander d’Arblay, with Narbonne as godfather. Narbonne’s mother was Dame d’Honneur to the daughter of Louis XV, while he himself was a pupil of the Dauphin, former Ministre de la Guerre, friend of the Locks and the d’Arblays, and resident of nearby Juniper Hall. The Cookes might also have met the fourteen other illustrious émigrés who subscribed to Camilla (see Hill), but perhaps they only observed their dangerous liaisons from afar.
The well-known bookseller Thomas Payne, Mewsgate, whose daughter entered in 1785 into an unhappy marriage with Burney’s brother James, had joined with Thomas Cadell to publish Cecilia and Camilla (Hemlow 281-82; Clark). Miss Maria Payne and Mr. Payn[e], Oxford also subscribed. The Paynes were related to the Austens through their common Hampson ancestry, but richer. Austen writes on 8-9 January 1801 for instance of George Payne, a maternal cousin, “Why he died, or of what complaint, or to what Noblemen he bequeathed his four daughters in marriage we have not heard.” Mr. Payne served as Ambassador to the Emperor of Morocco in 1784, and was an old friend to Warren Hastings. His eldest daughter Maria, whom Austen calls “faithful” on 30 November-1 December 1800, was a long-time companion to Mrs. Marian Hastings (Le Faye, Letters 561). On 30 April 1811, Austen talks of “our cousin Miss [Maria] Payne,” who was “persuaded to stay dinner.—She told us a great deal about her friend Lady Cath. Brecknell, who is most happily married—& Mr Brecknell is very religious, & has got black Whiskers.” Jane had written just as mockingly about Payne family connections when she asked Cassandra on 24 January 1809, “The Portsmouth paper gave a melancholy history of a poor Mad Woman, escaped from Confinement, who said her Husband & Daughter of the Name of Payne lived at Ashford in Kent. Do You own them?”
The families were so close that Lady Bertram’s pug in Mansfield Park may be an in-joke about the affection lavished on pugs by Miss Payne and Eliza de Feuillide (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 129, 135, 144).5 In another linkage, Fanny Burney’s sister Charlotte Ann had married Clement Francis, secretary in India to Hastings (Hemlow 193), godfather to Austen’s cousin Eliza de Feuillide. Thus the families of the Austens, the Cookes, de Feuillide, the Paynes, Warren Hastings, and the Burneys connect in multiple intricate ways. If Jane Austen did indeed act as an additional, unofficial bookkeeper for Fanny Burney, the social, literary, and political networks of these two writers intersected even more than we knew.
The clusters from Hampshire, Austen’s home county, and from Kent, home to her brother Edward, are particularly striking. Subscriber Miss J. Austen, Steventon, lived in Hampshire from her birth on 16 December 1775 until 1801, dancing with young men from local families, visiting family and friends, and getting to know the inhabitants of nearby towns. In 1783, she briefly attended school in Southampton until Mrs. Jane Cooper’s death from typhoid resulted in her being sent home to Steventon. Her brother Frank, his wife Mary Austen, and their family later lived in Castle Square, Southampton, where Mrs. Austen, Cassandra, and Jane joined them for long periods before settling in Chawton in July 1809.
Local subscribers whom Austen might have approached include Lieutenant Mr. Bailey, of the Royal Marines, perhaps from the Bailey family of Dummer, five miles from Basingstoke. On 18-19 December 1798, he visited Deane with his friend Earle Harwood, from the squirearchical family of Deane House, next to the church where George Austen was rector (Le Faye, Letters 494, 533-34). Mrs. Bolton and Mrs. Bolton, Bridport, Dorset, were likely connections of Thomas Orde, Lord Bolton, of Hackwood Park, Basingstoke, Hampshire, who in 1795 had added the name of his wealthy, illegitimate wife to his own. Charles Powlett, grandson of the third duke of Bolton, was brought up at the ducal home and held livings in Hampshire and Kent. Though the Austen family knew Powlett’s relatives the Lefroys and the Lyfords extremely well, none of them subscribed (Le Faye, Letters 498-99, 565-66). George Blount, Esq., may be related to James, whose wife Austen satirizes on 20 November 1800 for appearing with “the same broad face, diamond bandeau, white shoes, pink husband, & fat neck” as she had in September (Le Faye, Letters 498).
Subscriber T. B. Bramston, Esq., was presumably a relative of Wither Bramston, who in 1783 had married Mary Chute of the Vyne, of Sherborne St. John, Hampshire, near Steventon. They lived at Oakley Hall, four miles from Basingstoke (Le Faye, Letters 499-500, 507). The Chutes and the Austens were their close friends, but Jane was more discriminating. On 8-9 January 1799, she visited the “very civil, kind & noisy” Mrs. Bramston in her “little moveable apartment,” and on 25-27 October 1800, when “we have been obliged to take advantage of the delightful weather ourselves by going to see almost all our Neighbours,” Jane tells Cassandra about visiting Oakley Hall, where she “eat some sandwiches all over mustard, admired Mr Bramston’s Porter and Mrs Bramston’s Transparencies,” and (Mrs. Norris-like) “gained a promise from the latter of two roots of hearts-ease, one all yellow & the other all purple, for you.” Mrs. Chute then “walked down from Oakley Hall attended by Mrs Augusta Bramston,” Mrs. Wither Bramston’s unmarried sister-in-law: “They had meant to come on to Steventon afterwards, but we knew a trick worth two of that.—If I had thought of it in time, I would have said something civil to her about Edward’s never having had any serious idea of calling on Mr [Tom] Chute while he was in Hampshire; but unluckily it did not occur to me.”
Like Mr. Collins boasting of Lady Catherine’s palatial home at Rosings, where “the chimney-piece alone had cost eight hundred pounds” (PP 75), or the “charming Augusta Hawkins” praising the morning-room and staircase at Hartfield for being similar to those at Maple Grove (E 181), Augusta Bramston tries to enhance her own importance by speaking familiarly of Sandlings, the grand home of William Deedes of Hythe, Kent. By marrying Sophia Bridges, second daughter of Sir Brook Bridges III, Deedes had become a brother-in-law of Edward Austen Knight (Le Faye, Letters 515, 615):
In talking of Mr Deedes’s new house, Mrs Bramston told us one circumstance, which, that we should be ignorant of it before must makes Edward’s conscience fly into his face; she told us that one of the sitting rooms at Sandling, an oval room with a Bow at one end, has the very remarkable & singular feature of a fireplace with a window, the centre window of the Bow, exactly over the mantelpeice. (25-27 October 1800)
On 1 November 1800, Mrs. Bramston has sent a “very civil note of invitation” to a ball, as have Mrs. Harwood and Mary Lloyd together: “I might likewise have gone with Mrs Lefroy, & therefore with three methods of going, I must have been more at the Ball than anybody else.” On 20-21 November 1800, she writes with rising irritation, “Mrs Bramston talked a great deal of nonsense, which Mr Bramston & Mr Clark seemed almost equally to enjoy.”
On 14-16 January 1801, Mrs. Bramston visits to say she is very sorry to lose their Steventon neighbors, and on 21-22 May 1801 Austen writes bitterly from Bath about the family’s books being sold for the benefit of James Austen, her brother and the family heir: “The whole World is in a conspiracy to enrich one part of the family at the expense of another.—Ten shillings for Dodsley’s Poems however pleases me to the quick, & I do not care how often I sell them for as much. When Mrs Bramston has read them through I will sell them again”—presumably she has bought the volume. And on 24 January 1813, after some further provocation, she bursts out, “Mrs Bramstone is the sort of Woman I detest.”
After Mansfield Park was published in 1814, Austen records the obtuse opinions of the Bramstons with a straight face: Mrs. Wither Bramston was “much pleased with it; particularly with the character of Fanny, as being so very natural. Thought Lady Bertram like herself.” She preferred it “to either of the others—but imagined that might be her want of Taste—as she does not understand Wit.” Augusta Bramston was no better, for she “owned that she thought S & S.—and P. & P. downright nonsense, but expected to like M P. better, & having finished the 1st vol.—flattered herself she had got through the worst” (MW 433).
In 1793, subscriber Mrs. [Elizabeth] Chute married William John Chute, MP for Hampshire and Master of the Vine foxhounds, near Steventon (Le Faye, Letters 507). Austen speaks of the Chute family from 1796, when on 14-15 January, she tells Cassandra that William Chute has called, adding, “I wonder what he means by being so civil. There is a report that Tom is going to be married to a Litchfield lass.” Austen dances with him on 1 November 1800, plays cards with him at Ashe Park on 31 December 1800, and dines with him at Deane on 8-9 January 1801, but declines attending a celebration of the James Austens’ wedding anniversary where he would be present. On 21-23 April 1805, she notes that Tom, now the Reverend Thomas Vere Chute, has fallen from his horse, “but I am waiting to know how it happened before I begin pitying him, as I cannot help suspecting it was in consequence of his taking orders; very likely as he was going to do Duty or returning from it.” By 7-8 January 1807, Tom Chute is going to settle in Norfolk, and he died unmarried.
The Hon. Miss Craven belonged to the junior line of a family familiar to Austen. In 1763, Charles Craven’s daughter Jane married the Reverend Thomas Fowle II, whose family Austen knew particularly well. Their son Tom, Cassandra’s fiancé, had been a pupil of Mr. George Austen at Steventon, along with Fulwar Craven Fowle and (probably) his brothers William and Charles Fowle, Esq. (Le Faye, Letters 524-26). Since Fulwar Craven married Eliza Lloyd (Le Faye, Letters 511-13), the sister of Austen’s dear friends Mary and Martha, the Austens and the Fowles were naturally on affectionate terms. Subscriber the Rev. Mr. J. Fowle may be another relative.
Austen remarks affectionately on 9-10 January 1796 of Tom Fowle, about to depart on his fateful voyage with his kinsman Lord Craven, “What a funny name Tom has got for his vessel! But he has no taste in names, as we well know, and I dare say he christened it himself.” The name she finds funny may be Ponsborne (Le Faye, Letters 354, 525). On 14-15 January 1796, Cassandra, who had probably become engaged in late 1792, is visiting Tom’s grandfather the Reverend Thomas Fowle the elder and Mrs. Thomas Fowle, and Austen is very glad to hear from Mary that they “are pleased with you. I hope you will continue to give satisfaction.” And she adds,
How impertinent you are to write to me about Tom, as if I had not opportunities of hearing from him myself. The last letter that I received from him was dated on friday the 8th, and he told me that if the wind should be favourable on Sunday, which it proved to be, they were to sail from Falmouth on that Day. By this time therefore they are at Barbadoes I suppose.
But in 1797, Tom would die of fever in San Domingo.
At a ball on 9-10 January 1796, Austen is disappointed at not meeting Tom’s brother Charles, “as I had previously heard of his being invited,” and writes as though he were friendly enough to shop for her in Manydown: “You say nothing of the silk stockings; I flatter myself, therefore, that Charles has not purchased any, as I cannot very well afford to pay for them; all my money is spent in buying white gloves and pink persian”—a thin plain silk fabric, often used for petticoats or dress-linings (Le Faye, Letters 353). On 8 January 1799, Austen is “not to wear my white sattin cap tonight after all; I am to wear a Mamalouc cap instead, which Charles Fowle sent to Mary [Lloyd], & which she lends me.” The cap, worn to celebrate Nelson’s victory at the Nile on 1 August 1798, “is all the fashion now, worn at the Opera, & by Lady Mildmays at Hackwood Balls.” Generous Charles Fowle married Honoria Newbury in 1799 (Le Faye, Letters 366 n3, 525).
Austen was keenly concerned with the pregnancy of Eliza Lloyd, now married to Fulwar Craven Fowle. Writing on 1-2 December 1798, she reports, “No news from Kintbury yet. Eliza sports with our impatience. She was very well last Thursday.” On 23 January 1799, James Austen duly christened Elizabeth-Caroline, daughter of Fulwar Craven Fowle and Eliza Lloyd, and on 21-22 January 1801, Austen says that the two-year-old Caroline “is improved in her person; I think her now really a pretty Child. She is still very shy, & does not talk much.” But her mother Elizabeth “is thinner than when we saw her last, & not in very good looks. . . . She cuts her hair too short over her forehead, & does not wear her cap far enough upon her head.” But “in spite of these many disadvantages,” Austen “can still admire her beauty.” After Tom’s death, Cassandra remained close to the Fowle family, staying for instance at “the Rev:d F.C. Fowle’s” on 21-27 May 1801.
Eliza Fowle is on “the most friendly terms” with Lord Craven, writes Austen on 21-22 January 1801. Like her brother Charles, she was generous, giving Austen on 2 June 1799 “a hat, & it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty stile of hat too.” It was something like Eliza’s, “only instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon.” After Edward’s wife Elizabeth Bridges died suddenly in 1808, “a very kind and feeling letter” arrived from Eliza, as Jane tells Cassandra on 24-25 October:
Mrs Fowle’s sympathy and solicitude on such an occasion you will be able to do justice to, and to express it as she wishes to my brother. Concerning you, she says, “Cassandra will, I know, excuse my writing to her; it is not to save myself but her that I omit so doing. Give my best, my kindest love to her, and tell her I feel for her as I know she would for me on the same occasion, and that I most sincerely hope her health will not suffer.”
Kind Eliza sent two hampers of apples, “and the floor of our little garret is almost covered.”
Eliza Fowle stayed in close touch with Austen when she was living in Castle Square, Southampton. On 20 November 1808, for instance, Austen sends Cassandra news from Eliza that Miss Sawbridge is married: “Mrs Fowle has for some time been in the secret, but the Neighbourhood in general were quite unsuspicious.” The new husband Mr. Maxwell “was Tutor to the young Gregorys—consequently they must be one of the happiest Couple in the World, & either of them worthy of Envy—for she must be excessively in love, & he mounts from nothing, to a comfortable Home.” Writing from Godmersham on 26 June 1808, Austen had talked of a Mrs. and Miss Gregory visiting Mrs. Knight. Le Faye suggests they were related to the Reverend Francis Gregory, Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, and perhaps therefore also to subscriber Mr. Gregory, Brighton (Le Faye, Letters 529).
Austen seems to have been less enamored of Eliza’s husband, the Reverend Fulwar Craven Fowle. At Steventon on 21-22 January 1801, she writes scornfully, “We played at Vingt-un, which as Fulwar was unsuccessful, gave him an opportunity of exposing himself as usual.” On 6-7 November 1813, Fulwar is selling his estates at Fyfield, and on 24 November 1815, there arrived “a most friendly Letter from Mr Fowle, with a brace of Pheasants. I did not know before that Henry had written to him a few days ago, to ask for them. We shall live upon Pheasants; no bad Life!”
Austen mentions his sons Fulwar William and Tom on 21-22 January 1801, and on 21-23 April 1805 she writes of “the attentive, affectionate feelings of Fulwar-William—who by the bye is actually fourteen—what are we to do?” Like his brothers, he attended Winchester school, and on 7-9 October 1808, she sends a charming snapshot of his aunt Martha, who was “an hour & half in Winchester, walking about with the three boys & at the Pastrycook’s.” She keeps Cassandra informed as to his whereabouts, reporting on 20 November 1808 that he will return at Christmas with his sister Mary Jane; a letter of 29-30 November 1812 suggests that Austen corresponded with her. On 17-18 January 1809, she writes from Southampton, “When William returns to Winchester Mary Jane is to go to Mrs Nunes [mistress of her boarding school in Overton] for a month, & then to Steventon for a fortnight, & it seems likely that she & her Aunt Martha may travel into Berkshire together.” On 29-30 November 1812, Austen frets to Martha, “Your nephew William’s state seems very alarming.” Mary Jane, she said, “writes of him as very uneasy; I hope his Father & Mother are so too.” But William would live long, and sire eleven children (Le Faye, Letters 524-25, 558).
Lady Cope, Bramshill-house, Hampshire, was the wife of the Reverend Sir Richard Cope, rector of Eversley, Hampshire: Austen mentions his death in a letter of 8-9 February 1807 (Le Faye, Letters 511). On 20-21 November 1800, she writes of subscriber Mr. J[ohn Crosse] Crooke, Rotherham, who from 1789 leased the estate he bought at Kempshott Park, near Worthing, Hampshire, to the Prince of Wales (Le Faye, Letters 514). James Austen hunted there with the Prince on 7 and 24 February 1791, and again on 4, 18, and 20 March 1793 (Le Faye, Chronology 132-33, 154). Mrs. [Mary] Dickens, who in 1785 married Colonel Richard Mark Dickens of the 34th Regiment, was the sister of George Hoar, Worting, and Twyford Lodge, Hampshire. Thomas Dickens, Esq., is presumably a relative. In 1788, Rear-Admiral Thomas Bertie, brother of George Hoar and Mrs. Dickens, had taken his wife’s name of Bertie, and on 7-8 January 1807 and 9 December 1808, Austen would talk of Mrs. Bertie and Mrs. Dickens (Le Faye, Letters 496-97, 516, 536-37). As to the family of the Right Hon. Lady Catherine Douglas, Austen would write on 29 May 1811, “Col. Orde has married our cousin, Margt Beckford, the Marchss of Douglas’s sister.” But I cannot see how she was a “cousin.”
Margaret Maria Elizabeth Beckford was disowned by her extremely wealthy father, author and hedonist William Beckford of Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire, for eloping with Lieutenant James Orde after her younger sister Susan married her cousin Alexander Hamilton, Marquess of Douglas in 1810.6 On 24-26 December 1798, Austen reports dancing with James Orde’s brother William. She also speaks of Margaret’s aunt Maria Beckford, sister-in-law and hostess to John Charles Middleton of Chawton, who in 1795, the year Camilla was published, was renting Chawton Great House. On 18-20 April 1811, incessant rain in London thwarts her plan to visit Miss Beckford; on 25 April 1811, she meets up with her, again in London; and on 4 February 1813, Miss Beckford and Maria Middleton visit her in Chawton, “And I can tell the Miss Williamses that Miss Beckford has no intention of inviting them to Chawton.” On 29 November 1814, she tells Anna Lefroy, “I have been just sending a very good account of you to Miss Beckford, with a description of your Dress for Susan and Maria [Middleton].” Both the Dickens and the Orde families were friends to Burney as well as to Austen.
On 8-11 April 1805, Austen mentions the children of either the Right Hon. Mary Duncan, Burney’s friend (Hemlow 250), or those of the Reverend Dr. John Duncan, rector in 1788 of South Warnborough, Hampshire (Le Faye, Letters 518). Subscribers Mrs. Fendall, Matson, Glos., and Mrs. Fendall were perhaps the wife and the mother of William Fendall of Matson, Glos., barrister of the Inner Temple. In 1801, he married Mrs. Jane Lyford of Basingstoke and Winchester. Mrs. Fendall had presumably died, as had the Reverend John Lyford, and Austen writes on 8-9 January, “Mrs John Lyford is so much pleased with the state of widowhood as to be going to put in for being a widow again;—she is to marry a Mr Fendall, a banker in Gloucester, a man of very good fortune, but considerably older than herself & with three little children” (Le Faye, Letters 521, 552). Mrs. Fitzhugh was married to rich MP William Fitzhugh, Southampton, a trading partner with David Lance, whose brother William was rector of Faccombe, Hampshire, from 1792. “No doubt the Austens had met him through the Lloyd connection,” says Le Faye. On 27-28 December 1808, Austen tells of talking with William Fitzhugh’s deaf brother Valentine “a little with my fingers, which was funny enough.—I recommended him to read [Mme de Staël’s] Corinna” (Le Faye, Letters 523, 542).
Subscribers Lady Grant and William Grant, Esq. may be relatives of Sarah Grant, of Ibsley, Hampshire, married in 1780 to Sir Alexander Grant of Dalvey, 7th baronet, of Malshangar House near Worting, Hampshire (Le Faye, Letters 529). The late Mrs. Gray, of Colchester was perhaps Ruth Tinsley, mother of Frederick and Charles Henry, who in 1800 moved to Alton to take up their father’s trade of cheese-factor. Mrs. Gray could then be the wife of their brother Edward William, who in 1806-15 would join Henry Austen in a banking partnership in Alton (Le Faye, Letters 529). On 7-9 October 1808, Austen writes from Southampton to tell Cassandra that “we had a pheasant & hare the other day from the Mr Grays of Alton. Is this to entice us to Alton, or to keep us away?” Cassandra and Jane often sent each other letters “By favour of Mr [Edward] Gray,” for instance on 9 February 1813, and Frederick Gray attended a meeting at Alton where she subscribed to the SPCK (Harris).
Mr. Harrison, Greenwich may belong to the Harrison family of Alton and Southampton. As Austen explains on 26 February 1817, “there is a Line of Connection with the [Motley] family through the Prowtings & Harrisons of Southampton.” In 1789, John Butler Harrison II had married Elizabeth Matilda Austen at Chawton. Their daughter, also called Elizabeth Matilda, was Austen’s god-daughter, and in 1812 would marry her cousin the Reverend William Austen (Le Faye, Letters 532-33). Or perhaps Mr. Harrison is related to Mary Harrison, sister of the Reverend William Harrison of Overton, three miles from Steventon (Le Faye, Letters 532, 613). On 5 September 1796, she wishes for “some respectable Dr Marchmont” to keep Mary and any young man she is attached to “apart for five Volumes”—as in Camilla. Austen suggests on 5 September 1796 that Mary Harrison is competing with Mary Lloyd over James Austen, writing, “Let me know . . . which of the Marys will carry the day with my Brother James.” And on 15-16 September 1796, she writes, “Buy Mary Harrisons Gown by all means. You shall have mine for ever so much money, tho’ if I am tolerably rich when I get home, I shall like it very much myself.” Some family misunderstanding seems subsequently to have occurred, for Austen writes to Cassandra on 26-27 May 1801 hoping that Martha Lloyd will exert for Mrs. Craven “those kind offices in favour of the Young Man, from which you were both with-held in the case of the Harrison family by the mistaken tenderness of one part of ours.”
After Mary’s marriage to Philip Poore, Austen laughs on 30 November-1 December 1800 at her own propensity for gossip, telling Cassandra that she believes Mary to be “very big; but I am by no means certain;—she is either very big, or not at all big, I forgot to be accurate in my observation at the time, & tho’ my thoughts are now more about me on the subject, the power of exercising them to any effect is much diminished.” She reports that the two youngest boys only were at home, and that she “mounted the highly-extolled Staircase & went into the elegant Drawing room, which I fancy is now Mrs Harrison’s apartment.” As she concludes triumphantly, “[I]n short [I] did everything that extraordinary Abilities can be supposed to compass in so short a space of time.”
On 20-22 June 1808, Austen exclaims to Cassandra about Mrs. John Butler Harrison II, “Happy Mrs Harrison & Miss Austen!—You seem to be always calling on them.” On 1-2 October 1808, Mrs. Harrison and her two daughters, Mary Hooker Butler and Elizabeth Matilda Harrison, Jane’s god-daughter and future wife of the Reverend William Austen (Le Faye, Letters 485), walk in on her in Southampton “at seven o’clock.” As she writes to Cassandra, “About an hour & half after your toils [Elizabeth Austen’s labor] on Wednesday ended, ours began;—. . . our Labour was not a great deal shorter than poor Elizabeth’s, for it was past eleven before we were delivered.” That was because a “second pool of Commerce, & all the longer by the addition of the two girls, who during the first had one corner of the Table & Spillikins to themselves, was the ruin of us;—it completed the prosperity of Mr Debary, however, for he won them both.” Their brother Mr. John Butler Harrison III “came in late, & sat by the fire—for which I envied him, as we had our usual luck of having a very cold Eveng.”
On 7-9 October 1808, Austen reports that a fire in Southampton caused an immense crowd to gather so that Mrs. Harrison, “who was drinking tea with a Lady at Millar’s, could not leave it [till] twelve o’clock.” On 7-9 October 1808, her son John Butler Harrison III “has paid his visit of duty & is gone,” but on 24 January 1809, at a Southampton ball, he “was deputed by Capt. Smith, being himself absent, to ask me to dance.” On 15-16 October 1808, Austen records verbatim their awkward response to the death of Elizabeth Austen on 10 October: “We are desired by Mrs Harrison and Miss Austen to say everything proper for them to Yourself & Edward on this sad occasion—especially that nothing but a wish of not giving additional trouble where so much is inevitable, prevents their writing themselves to express their Concern.” But then her tone changes: “They seem truely to feel concern” (Le Faye, Letters 487, 532).
Or perhaps Mr. Harrison, Greenwich belonged to yet another family of Harrisons, for on 3 November 1813, Austen writes, “I am to meet Mrs Harrison,” Madam Lefroy’s sister and Ben Lefroy’s aunt, at Goodnestone, “& we are to talk about Ben and Anna [Austen].” Feeling dragooned into joining the discussion, she threatens to behave badly: “‘My dear Mrs Harrison, I shall say, I am afraid the young Man has some of your Family Madness—& though there often appears something of Madness in Anna too, I think she inherits more of it from her Mother’s family than from ours.’” That, she declares, “is what I shall say—& I think she will find it difficult to answer me.” But Austen manages to restrain herself, and after a concert on 6-7 November 1813, “Mrs Harrison & I found each other out & had a a [sic] very comfortable little complimentary friendly Chat. She is a sweet Woman, still quite a sweet Woman in herself, & so like her Sister!—I could almost have thought I was speaking to Mrs Lefroy.” She introduces Austen to her daughter, “whom I think pretty, but most dutifully inferior to La Mere Beauté” (Mme. de Sevigné). On 5-8 March 1814, Fanny Knight had seen “a good deal of the Harrisons” in Bath, and in 1814, Ben would marry Anna (Le Faye, Letters 426-27, 546).
Mrs. Iremonger could be Miss Elizabeth Iremonger, younger daughter of Joshua Iremonger of Wherwell Priory near Andover, Hampshire. On 20-21 November 1800, Austen remarks that “she did not look well” (Le Faye, Letters 538). Subscriber Mrs. Jackson may be Sarah, daughter of Thomas Papillon, a distant connection of the Knights of Chawton. In 1791, she had married Henry Jackson of 9 Sloane Terrace, Chelsea (Le Faye, Letters, 560-61). On 17-18 October 1815, Austen reports that “Mr Jackson is fond of eating & does not much like Mr or Miss P[apillon].” On 6 June 1811, Austen praises Elizabeth Papillon as “looking handsomer than ever,” and on 24 January 1813 has received “Mrs Grant’s Letters, with Mr White’s Compts.” As she adds, “I have disposed of them, Compts & all, for the first fortnight to Miss Papillon—& among so many readers or retainers of Books as we have in Chawton, I dare say there will be no difficulty in getting rid of them for another fortnight if necessary.” The day before, “Miss Papillon & I walked together. . . . She invited herself pleasantly to be my companion, when I went to propose to her the indulgence of accommodating us about the Letters from the Mountains.” As she comments, “I had a very agreable walk; if she had not, more shame for her, for I was quite as entertaining as she was.”
Mrs. Anne MacVicar Grant’s Letters from the Mountains: Being the Real Correspondence of a Lady, Between the Years 1773 and 1807, were published in 1813 by Longman, Hurst, Rees & Brown. John White, nephew of the Reverend Gilbert White, the celebrated author of The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789), lived at his uncle’s property three-and-a-half miles south of Chawton (Le Faye, Letters 586). On 31 May 1811, Anna Austen’s friend Harriet Benn procured her an invitation “to spend the day with the John Whites,” and Anna “engages to send . . . a particular account of the Selbourn [sic] day,” but Miss Benn, “who was on the [Selborne] Common with the Prowtings,” merely reports on 6 June 1811 “that she was very much admired by the Gentlemen in general.” And on 8-9 September 1816, Edward and Ben Lefroy call in to Chawton, Edward being “in his way to Selborne” from France. The young Gilbert White was tutored in Basingstoke, nine miles northeast of Steventon, then attended there the Holy Ghost grammar school, a charity school that may have been funded by the SPCK. On 13 September 1813, Austen donated a guinea to the Society (Harris).
By 24 January 1813, Austen notes that Miss Benn has dined twice with the Papillons, and on 6-7 November 1813, remarks sardonically, “There is some chance of a good Ball next Week, as far as Females go,” including the Miss Papillons. On 9-18 September 1814, Austen expresses surprise to Anna Austen that the Egertons, characters in her niece’s novel, “are not so much like the Papillons as I expected.” On 24 January 1813, she jokes that she is in love with “the two Mr Smiths of the city,” Horace and James Smith, authors of the popular Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum, written by and published by John Miller in Edinburgh in 1812 (ODNB). Though purporting to print rejected entries for a competition to write an inaugural ode for the rebuilt Drury Lane theater, they themselves actually composed its clever parodies. Austen reports that now the Papillons have got “the Book & like it very much; their neice Eleanor has recommended it most warmly to them.—She looks like a rejected Addresser.” The Miss Sibleys, she says, want to set up a “Book Society in their side of the Country, like ours,” but what is their list of books to Captain Pasley’s military history “& the rejected Addresses?”
Sarah’s brother the Reverend John Rawstorn Papillon, vicar of Tonbridge, Kent 1791-1804 and rector of Chawton 1801-37, owned and signed a first edition of Sense and Sensibility. On 9 December 1808, hearing that Mrs. Knight was concocting a match between her and Mr. Papillon, Austen thanks her for her interest: “She may depend upon it, that I will marry Mr. Papillon, whatever may be his reluctance or my own.—I owe her much more than such a trifling sacrifice.” On 24 January 1813, she watches him narrowly: “I could see nothing very promising between Mr P[apillon] and Miss P[atience] T[erry],” for she “placed herself on one side of him at first, but Miss Benn obliged her to move up higher.” As if scripting a comedy, she notes, “She had an empty plate, & even asked him to give her some Mutton without being attended to for some time.—There might be Design in this, to be sure, on his side;—he might think an empty Stomach the most favourable for Love.”
By 8-9 September 1816, Austen has had enough of the Papillons. The Great House at Chawton, she says,
is to be cleared of the Papillons Servants in a day or two;—they themselves have been hurried off into Essex to take possession—not of a large Estate left them by an Uncle—but to scrape together all they can I suppose of the effects of a Mrs Rawstorn a rich old friend & cousin, suddenly deceased, to whom they are joint Executors.
Writing to Fanny Knight as late as 16-17 December 1816, she repeats the family joke that John Rawstorn will marry her: “I am happy to tell you that Mr Papillon will soon make his offer, probably next Monday, as he returns on Saturday.—His intention can be no longer doubtful in the smallest degree, as he has secured the refusal of the House which Mrs Baverstock at present occupies in Chawton & is to vacate soon, which is of course intended for Mrs [Miss] Elizth Papillon.” On 24 January 1817, Austen reports that Mr. Papillon has a new clergyman, and on 23-25 March 1817, she is in no hurry to see the Papillons, who “came back on friday night, but I have not seen them yet, as I do not venture to Church. I cannot hear however, but that they are [the] same Mr P. & his sister they used to be.” John Rawstorn never married, nor did his sister Elizabeth, who lived with him in Chawton as his hostess (Le Faye, Letters 560-61).
Subscriber Mrs. [Catherine] Knight, Godmersham Park, was the daughter of the Reverend Dr. Wadham Knatchbull, fourth son of Sir Edward, 4th baronet, Chancellor and Prebendary of Durham, Dean of Canterbury, and rector of Chilham, Kent. In 1779, she married Thomas Knight II of Godmersham, and in 1793, the couple adopted Austen’s brother Edward (Le Faye, Chronology family tree 13). Several families of Knights had lived in Hampshire since the mid-sixteenth century, with connections to Chawton, Steventon, and Godmersham, and Austen knew many of that name. At first, she was prickly about Edward’s rich and powerful new mother. Thomas Knight had died in 1794 (Le Faye, Letters 541-42), and on 1 September 1796, Austen hears that Mrs. Knight is “remarkably well and in very good spirits. It is imagined that she will shortly be married again.” But she wasn’t. On 8-9 January 1799, she writes, “Mrs Knights giving up the Godermersham Estate to Edward was no such prodigious act of Generosity after all it seems, for she has reserved herself an income out of it still;—this ought to be known, that her conduct may not be over-rated.” Mrs. Knight’s annuity amounted to £2000 (Le Faye, Letters 366). On 21-22 January 1801, Austen declares herself “happy to hear of Mrs Knight’s amendment, whatever might be her complaint,” adding wickedly, “I cannot think so ill of her however inspite of your insinuations as to suspect her of having lain-in.” On 24 August 1805, Mrs. Knight is “cheerful but weak,” and on 30 August Austen writes sarcastically to Cassandra of “Mrs Knight’s beauty and Miss Milles’s judicious remarks.”
But on 7-8 January 1807, she is surprised and pleased that Cassandra’s visit to Mrs. Knight has been a success: “I consider it as a very just and honourable distinction of you, and not less to the credit of Mrs Knight.” Jane has “no doubt of your spending your time with her most pleasantly in quiet and rational conversation, and am so far from thinking her expectations of you will be deceived, that my only fear is of your being so agreeable, so much to her taste, as to make her wish to keep you with her for ever.” If so, she concludes, “we must remove to Canterbury, which I should not like so well as Southampton.” Alluding to the Stoneleigh inheritance, she writes, “You will have a great deal of unreserved discourse with Mrs K., I dare say, upon this subject, as well as upon many other of our family matters. Abuse everybody but me.”
On 20-22 June 1808, she writes from Godmersham about first meeting Mrs. Knight, “as gentle & kind & friendly as usual.—She enquired after every body, especially my Mother & yourself.” Mrs. Knight was generous as well as gentle, for Austen has received a letter from her “containing the usual Fee, & and all the usual Kindness. . . . Her very agreable present will make my circumstances quite easy. I shall reserve half for my Pelisse.” Nokes reports that the present was £10 (188), the same as that given by Lady Bertram to William Price (MP 305). Austen plans to accept Mrs. Knight’s invitation to stay and meet her sister-in-law Frances, Mrs. Charles Knatchbull, reporting that Mrs. Knight “finishes her letter with ‘Give my best love to Cassandra when you write to her.’” She sends a “double acceptance of her note & her invitation, which I wrote without much effort; for I was rich—& the Rich are always respectable, whatever be their stile of writing.”
Little Caroline Austen, James’s daughter, seems very like Fanny Price at Mansfield when Austen observes that the child “looks very plain among her Cousins, & tho’ she is not so headstrong or humoursome as they are, I do not think her at all more engaging.” She fancies that Mrs. Knight “feels less interest in that branch of the family than any other. I dare say she will do her duty however, by the Boy,” James Edward Austen (Le Faye, Letters 486). On 26 June 1808, a surfeit of visitors has given Mrs. Knight a headache, and so many new ones arrive “at such short intervals” that Austen wonders how “Mrs K[night] & I should ever have been ten minutes alone, or have had any leisure for comfortable Talk.—Yet we had time to say a little of Everything.” She expects Mrs. Knight to visit Southampton: “You & I need not tell each other how glad we shall be to receive attention from, or pay it to anyone connected with Mrs Knight,” adding revealingly, “I cannot help regretting that now, when I feel enough her equal to relish her society, I see so little of the latter.”
When the Stoneleigh inheritance was in doubt, Austen tells Cassandra on 30 June-1 July 1808 that Mrs. Knight is “kindly anxious for our Good,” and after the death of Elizabeth Bridges, is relieved on 15-16 October 1808 to hear about Mrs. Knight and the Goodnestone family in general that “the Shock did not make any of them ill.” On 25 April 1811, Mrs. Knight “regrets in the most flattering manner that she must wait till May” for Sense and Sensibility: “I am much gratified by Mrs K.s interest in it; & 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.” Austen thinks that “she will like my Elinor, but cannot build on any thing else.” And on 25 April 1811, after recommending that Mrs. Knight leave off tea to help her sleep, she feels “sincere pleasure” to hear of her “having had a tolerable night at last—but upon this occasion I wish she had another name, for the two Nights jingle very much.” Although their relationship has improved, she still resists Mrs. Knight, for on 31 May 1811, she has written to her, “& most sincerely do I hope it will not be in vain. I cannot endure the idea of her giving away her [spinning] wheel, & have told her no more than the truth, in saying that I could never use it with comfort.” She has “a great mind to add that if she persisted in giving it, I would spin nothing with it but a Rope to hang myself—but I was afraid of making it appear a less serious matter of feeling than it really is.” Mrs. Knight died on 14 October 1812, and Austen reports on 29-30 November 1812 that she left £20 to the parish. On 25 September 1813, she calls her “dear Mrs Knight.”
Subscriber Mrs. Richard Lee may be the mother of Richard, who in 1801 married Elizabeth Prowting, of Chawton. Miss Lee might then be Richard’s sister (Le Faye, Letters 544, 566-67). Miss Jane Lodge, Blockenham [sic], was the daughter of Mr. John Lodge of Great Blakenham near Ipswich, Suffolk. In 1799, she married Edward’s friend the Reverend John Lyford, of Basingstoke and Winchester, probably the grandson of Giles Lyford, four times mayor of Basingstoke (Le Faye, Letters 551). On 9-10 January 1796, Austen “entirely escaped John Lyford” at a dance: “I was forced to fight hard for it, however.”
Miss May could have been the daughter of brewers Charles or Thomas May of Basingstoke, who were prominent in local affairs during Austen’s time. On 1-2 December 1798, Austen reports that her father had “applied to Mr May for an alehouse for Robert [their manservant], at his request.” Thomas, who was eleven times mayor of Basingstoke, joined George Austen in donating to the SPCK (Le Faye, Letters 554-55; Harris). Subscriber Mrs. Nibbs was the wife or widow of James Austen’s godfather James Langford Nibbs of Antigua and later Devonshire. On 3-5 January 1801, as the family was leaving Steventon, Austen is distressed that his portrait, together with other pictures, “& all the old heterogenous, miscellany, manuscript, Scriptoral peices dispersed over the House to are to be given to James.” Their son George, vicar from 1791 of Cutcombe with Luxborough, Somerset, had been one of the Reverend George Austen’s pupils (Le Faye, Letters 558). Mrs. Ord[e] was perhaps Jean Powlett, wife of Thomas and illegitimate daughter of Charles, 5th Duke of Bolton, Hampshire. He and his brother William Orde, Austen’s dancing partner mentioned 24-26 December 1798, became connected to the Beckfords through their brother James Orde. Austen reports on the marriage on 29 May 1811: “The Papers say that her Father disinherits her, but I think too well of an Orde, to suppose that she has not a handsome Independance of her own” (Le Faye, Letters 559).
Austen knew the family of Rev. Matthew Pugh, for she announces on 8-9 January 1799 that Mr. Arnold Ludlow of Andover has married Miss Pugh of Andover (Le Faye, Letters 567). Subscribers Mrs. Shipley and Miss Louise Shipley may be the mother and the sister of Conway Shipley of Twyford House, Hampshire. In 1808, the captain was killed in action (Le Faye, Letters 573). In 1793, Elizabeth, daughter of Joshua Smith, Esq. MP, of Stoke Park, Wiltshire, had married William John Chute of The Vyne, whose family were friends of the Austens (Le Faye, Letters 574). Subscribers the Reverend William Johnston[e] Temple, St. Glavius [Gluvias, Cornwall], Mrs. Temple, and R[obert] G. Temple, Esq., were the parents and the brother of Ann, who in November 1796 married the Reverend Charles Powlett, rector of Winslade, Hampshire 1789-1794 (Le Faye, Letters 565, 577). On 14-15 January 1796, Austen avoids the kiss of “C. Powlett”; on 18-19 December 1798 she first attends his dance, then reports that his new wife was “discovered to be everything that the Neighbourhood could wish her, silly & cross as well as extravagant”; and on 8-9 January 1801, she remarks memorably that Mrs. Powlett was “at once expensively & nakedly dress’d.” Francis Austen, who knew Anna’s brother, Captain Frank Temple, stayed with the Powletts in 1797, and on 24-26 December 1798, Jane dances with one of the Temples, though “not the horrid one of all.”
Reverend H. Waller was possibly a relative of Richard Waller, of Bevis Hill, Southampton. In 1793, a Mrs. Waller called on Mrs. Chute at The Vyne (Le Faye, Letters 583), and on 20-22 June 1808, Austen “talked away gaily of Southampton, the Harrisons Wallers, &c.” Subscribers Mrs. Warren, Lieutenant-Colonel [Richard] Warren, Charles Warren, Esq., Henry Warren, Esq., and Miss [Mary-Jane] Warren belonged to the family of Lieutenant-Colonel Warren of Houghton, Hampshire. When Austen speaks familiarly of “Warren,” Richard’s cousin and her own dancing partner at a Steventon ball on 9-10 and 14-15 January 1796, she probably means John Willing Warren, who in about 1785, was another of George Austen’s pupils before graduating from Oxford. Joking that she means to “confine myself in future to Mr Tom Lefroy, for whom I donot care sixpence,” the young Jane adds a “last & indubitable proof of Warren’s indifference to me, that he actually drew that Gentleman’s picture for me, & delivered it to me without a Sigh.” The Reverend Thomas Alston Warren, also a graduate of Oxford, may have contributed to James Austen’s periodical The Loiterer, published 1789-90 (Le Faye, Letters 584-85). On 20-21 November 1800, she caricatures the Colonel and his wife:
Mrs Warren, I was constrained to think a very fine young woman, which I much regret. She has got rid of some part of her child, & danced away with great activity, looking by no means very large.—Her husband is ugly enough; uglier even than his cousin John, but he does not look so very old.
Semi-anonymous subscriber —— Watkins, Esq. could be Charles Kerneys Watkins, son of the Reverend George Watkins, vicar of Odiham and rector of East Tisted, Hampshire, while Mrs. Watkins might be either his widow or the wife of their older son the Reverend George Nowell Watkins, curate of Odiham in 1793. On 9-10 January 1796, Austen meets “two Mr Watkins” at the same Steventon ball (Le Faye, Letters 585). Mrs. Wright may be the wife of the Reverend Robert Wright, who in 1797 became curate of Dummer, home of the Austens’ good friends Thomas Terry and his family (Le Faye, Letters 577, 589).
The Knight family of Chawton, Steventon, and Godmersham, Kent, were distant relatives of the Austens. After 1783, when Thomas Knight of Godmersham adopted Edward Austen, she often visited her brother in Kent. Subscribers she may have known or known about in the neighborhood include Miss Mary Bell, governess at Wrotham to the children of the Reverend George Moore, Prebendary of Canterbury in 1795 and rector of Brasted 1795-1800, and perhaps a poor relation of his sister-in-law Mrs. Robert Moore, née Bell. On 13 March 1817, Austen draws a comparison with “Miss S.,” who has “never stooped to recommend herself to the Master of the family by Flattery, as Miss Bell did.” John Bell, Esq., and Mr. Bell may be relations (Le Faye, Letters 496, 556). Mrs. Blair could be one of the Canterbury friends of the Oxendens of Deane Park, Wingham, and Broome House, Kent (Le Faye, Letters 498, 560). On 27 August 1805, Austen mentions subscriber Lady Forbes, wife of Major-General Sir William Forbes, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Coldstream Foot Guards, two battalions of which were then on garrison duty in Kent. —— Forbes, Esq. could be their son (Le Faye, Letters 524).
Mrs. Charles Graham, of Garthmore was the wife of Charles Clarke Graham, son of Colonel John Graham of St. Lawrence, near Canterbury. In 1785, John Graham’s sister Frances married Sir Edward Knatchbull, 8th baronet, with whose family the Austens shared a common ancestor. In 1779, Sir Edward’s sister Catherine married Thomas Knight II of Godmersham, and in 1783, they would adopt Jane’s brother Edward.
John Graham’s sister Mary was subscriber Miss Graham, of Garthmore, who married Sir Henry Oxenden in 1795 (Le Faye, Letters 529, 540-1), just as subscriptions were being called for. On 8-9 November 1800, Austen thanks Cassandra for “your anecdote of Charlotte Graham & her cousin Harri[e]t Bailey, which has very much amused both my Mother & myself,” adding mysteriously, “If you can learn anything farther of that interesting affair I hope you will mention it.” Charlotte was wife to the Reverend Charles Cage (Le Faye, Letters 529), whose brother Lewis was brother-in-law to Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight (Le Faye, Letters 504). In the letter of 1 September 1796 where Austen compares herself to Camilla, she reports dining with the Lewis Cages at Edward’s home at Rowling, and on 5 September she was dancing in company with Lewis. Of Mrs. Cage, she remarks on 24-26 December 1798, “I love her however inspite of all her Nonsense.” But in 1816, she may have felt less loving about her daughter Fanny, who complained of Mansfield Park that she ”did not much like it—not to be compared to P. & P.—nothing interesting in the Characters—Language poor.—Characters natural & well supported—Improved as it went on” (MW 432).
G. Gipps, Esq. may be the future Reverend Henry, who in 1812 married Emma Maria Plumptre, daughter of John Plumptre of Fredville, Kent. Austen knew the Plumptres well, and on 6-7 November 1813 calls Mary Plumptre “good Enthusiastic Soul!” (Le Faye, Letters 528, 563). Burney knew Lady Mary Hales (Hemlow 97), but subscriber Lady Hales could equally be the widow of Sir Thomas Pym Hales, 4th baronet of Bekesbourne, Kent, who had died in 1773. In 1795, her daughter Jane married the Reverend Brook Henry Bridges, from the Bridges family, baronets of Goodnestone Park, Goodnestone-next-Wingham. In 1791, Elizabeth Bridges married Jane’s brother Edward Austen, of Godmersham (Le Faye, Letters 500-01). When Lady Hales and her two youngest daughters visit on 1 September 1796, Austen remarks that “Caroline is not grown at all coarser than she was, nor Harriet at all more delicate,” and on 5 September 1796 Mrs. Bridges plays a country dance as Austen opens a ball at Steventon with Edward Bridges. On 20-22 February 1807, she records the accusation of Lady Bridges, Eleanor Foote, first wife of Sir Brooke Bridges, 4th baronet, that the thirty-two-year-old, unmarried Harriet was pursuing her spouse: “Lady B[ridges] must have been a shameless woman if she named H[arriet] Hales as within her Husband’s reach.” She exposes an ugly reality for women with her comment that it “is a peice of impertinence indeed in a Woman to pretend [i.e., claim] to fix on anyone, as if she supposed it cd be only ask & have.—A Widower with 3 children has no right to look higher than his daughter’s Governess.” She then excuses herself: “I am forced to be abusive for want of subject, having really nothing to say” (Le Faye, Letters 530).
Mrs. Hamilton may be a friend of the Reverend Sir John Fagg, 6th baronet, of Mystole, near Canterbury, and rector of Chartham, Kent (Le Faye, Letters 530). On 14 October 1813, Austen calls her “old Mrs Hamilton of Canterbury.” Subscriber Thomas Hammond, Esq., may belong to the Hammond family of St. Alban’s Court, near Wingham, Kent. On 9 December 1808, Austen writes of the Reverend Arthur Addeley Hammond, son of Arthur Hammond of Southampton and curate of Deane 1806-15 (Le Faye, Letters 384), “having the Living or Curacy, which the Father had had.” Although she complains from Southampton on 17 January 1809, that “that silly Mr Hammond is actually to give his Ball—on friday,” she reports more cheerfully on 24 January 1809, “We had a very full & agreable account of Mr Hammond’s Ball, from Anna [Austen] last night; the same fluent pen has sent similar information I know into Kent” (Le Faye, Letters 531).
Austen also met frequently with the Hammond family when she stayed at Godmersham. Writing from Goodnestone Farm on 30 August 1805, she mocks local anxiety that impending troop movements would interfere with the partridge season and invite poaching, reporting that the senior “Mr Hammond, under the influence of daughters and an expected ball, declares he will do nothing.” On 6 November 1813, she attends a concert at Godmersham, and “the Hammonds were there, Wm [Osmond] Hammond the only young Man of renown.” Of the other siblings, she writes, “Miss [Elizabeth] looked very handsome, but I prefer her little, smiling, flirting Sister Julia.” She reports tartly on 23 August 1814 that Fanny Knight’s friend “Mary Oxenden, instead of dieing, is going to marry Wm Hammond,” but by 13 March 1817, poor Mary Hammond is “growing old by confinements & nursing.” In the same letter, she dismisses his brother Maximilian and his wife-to-be as “people whom I cannot care for, in themselves, but I enter into their situation & am glad they are so happy” (Le Faye, Letters 531).
The Reverend Dr. [Thomas] Hey was rector of Wickhambreux and vicar of Eastchurch, both in Kent, and Prebendary of Rochester (Le Faye, Letters 535). On 25 November 1798, Austen identifies characters as Dr. and Mrs. Hey in Arthur Fitz Albini, by Samuel-Egerton Brydges, calling it “the only one of Egerton’s works of which his family are ashamed.” Subscriber Lady [Mary Anne] Honywood was the daughter of the Reverend Sir William Henry Cooper, and wife to Sir John Honywood, 5th baronet, MP for Canterbury, of Evington, near Godmersham. In 1808, Sir John’s sister Annabella Christina became the first wife of Sir Edward Knatchbull, 9th baronet (Le Faye, Letters 537). On 5 November 1813, Lady Honywood made a “regular morng visit” to the Knights at Godmersham. Though Austen “did not sit near enough to be a perfect Judge,” she “thought her extremely pretty & her manners have all the recommendations of Ease & goodhumour & unaffectedness;—& going about with 4 Horses, & nicely dressed herself—she is altogether a perfect sort of Woman.” On 14-16 January 1801, Jane teases Cassandra for dancing four dances at Chilham, Kent with J. P. Kemble, Esq., who apparently served in the militia: “Desirable however as the latter circumstance was I cannot help wondering at it’s taking place;—Why did you dance four dances with so stupid a Man?—why not rather dance two of them with some elegant brother-officer who was struck with your appearance as soon as you entered the room?” (Le Faye, Letters 540).
Given their ability to pay, subscribers Mrs. Mill[e]s and Miss Mill[e]s were probably the wife and a relation of Richard Milles MP of Nackington, near Godmersham, rather than the indigent widow and the daughter of his uncle, Charles (Le Faye, Letters 555). On 15 September 1796, a rather shocked Austen tells Cassandra that her brother Edward was trying to cheat Sir Brooke Bridges out of some of his farm by changing his name to that of “Claringbould,” its recently deceased owner, if Mr. Milles MP would advance him five or six hundred pounds. But he didn’t (Le Faye, Letters 555). On 14-15 January 1801, Austen speaks of Mrs. Milles as passing on a false rumor about Mrs. Rice’s son, and on 26 June 1808, says that Mrs. Knight “had a sad headache which kept her in bed,” caused by “too much company the day before,” including Mrs. Milles of Nackington. Mr. and Mrs. Milles are to dine at Godmersham, as they did on 28 June, and again on 1 July, when Austen rejoices that “in the meantime for Elegance & Ease & Luxury—; the Hattons’ & Milles’ dine here today—& I shall eat Ice & drink French wine, & be above Vulgar Economy.” But in an implicit critique of the company at Godmersham, she looks forward to returning home, where “Luckily the pleasures of Friendship, of unreserved Conversation, of similarity of Taste & Opinions, will make good amends for Orange Wine” (Le Faye, Letters 575).
The widowed Mrs. Charles Milles and her daughter Molly surely inspired Mrs. and Miss Bates in Emma. Austen saw the Milles women often but reluctantly. On 30 August 1805, she had already written satirically of “Miss Milles’s judicious remarks,” like Emma mocking Miss Bates for admitting that she is “‘sure to say three dull things as soon as ever I open my mouth.’” Emma cannot resist: “‘Ah! ma’am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, but you will be limited as to number—only three at once’” (370). On 22 June 1808, Austen anticipates a family meeting at the home of Mrs. C. Milles, and on 26 June, as she and Mrs. Knight are out visiting, “we finished with Mrs C. Milles, who luckily was not at home.” Emma Woodhouse thinks likewise:
They were just approaching the house where lived Mrs. and Miss Bates. She determined to call upon them and seek safety in numbers. There was always sufficient reason for such an attention; Mrs. and Miss Bates loved to be called on, and she knew she was considered by the very few who presumed ever to see imperfection in her, and rather negligent in that respect, and as not contributing what she ought to the stock of their scanty comforts.
She had had many a hint from Mr. Knightley and some from her own heart, as to her deficiency—but none were equal to counteract the persuasion of its being very disagreeable,—a waste of time—tiresome women—and all the horror of . . . falling in with the second rate and third rate of Highbury, who were calling on them for ever, and therefore she seldom went near them. (155)
On 6 June 1811, Austen reports that Harriot Moore’s account of “poor Mrs C. Milles’s continued perplexity” has diverted her “very much,” like Emma explaining why she insulted Miss Bates: “‘I know there is not a better creature in the world; but you must allow, that what is good and what is ridiculous are most unfortunately blended in her’” (375). But “‘For shame, Emma!’” says Mrs. Weston. “‘Do not mimic her. You divert me against my conscience’” (225). On 20-23 September 1813, Jane Austen and Fanny Knight fail again to see Mrs. Charles Milles and her daughter. On 11 October, however, Austen is “quite greived to hear” that Mrs. Milles was “obliged to leave Canty some months ago on account of her debts & is nobody knows where.—What an unprosperous Family!” Then on 26 October 1813, just before she starts to write Emma on 21 January 1814 (MW opp. 242), Austen finds them at Canterbury.
Austen’s subsequent unwillingness to visit the Milles women sounds uncannily like Emma’s resistance to visiting the Bateses, as she ponders the possibility, “without seeming very rude, of making her escape from Jane Fairfax’s letter” (158):
Our cheif Business was to call on Mrs Milles, & we had indeed so little else to do that we were obliged to saunter about anywhere & go backwards & forwards as much as possible to make out the Time & keep ourselves from having two hours to sit with the good Lady. . . . Miss Milles was queer as usual & provided us with plenty to laugh at. She undertook in three words to give us the history of Mrs Scudamore’s reconciliation, & then talked on about it for half an hour, using such odd expressions & so foolishly minute that I could hardly keep my countenance.—The death of Wyndham Knatchbull’s son will rather supersede the Scudamores. I told her that he was to be buried at Hatch.—She had heard, with military Honours at Portsmouth.—We may guess how that point will be discussed, evening after evening.
How like this is to Miss Bates’s gossipy minuteness, which Emma—and the reader—ignore at their peril. Likewise, on 11-12 October 1813, when Austen declares that “I like the Mother, 1st because she reminds me of Mrs Birch & 2dly because she is chearful & grateful for what she is at the age of 90 & upwards,” she tucks the detail away for Miss Bates’s cheerful gratitude at the ball: “‘Everything so good!’” (322).
Four years later, however, on 13 March 1817, when Austen herself is ailing, she writes to Fanny Knight, “Poor Mrs C. Milles, that she should die on a wrong day at last, after being about it for so long!” The funeral prevented the Goodnestone party from meeting with Fanny, and she hopes that like Miss Bates’s declaring that “‘It is such a happiness when good people get together—and they always do’” (175), Mrs. Milles’s “friendly, obliging, social Spirit, which delighted in drawing People together, was not conscious of the division & disappointment she was occasioning.” In the same letter, Austen is “sorry & surprised that you speak of her as having little to leave, & must feel for Miss Milles, though she is Molly, if a material loss of Income is to attend her other loss.” She flippantly advises Fanny Knight that “Single Women have a dreadful propensity for being poor—which is one very strong argument in favour of Matrimony,” then encourages her very seriously to believe that “the right Man will come at last,” and “you will feel you never really loved before.”
Here Austen applies to Fanny her debate about women and money in Emma, whose heroine declares boldly that she will not be “‘a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public!’” As she maintains, “‘A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable, old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls.’” But “‘a single woman of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else.’” Although a very narrow income “‘has a tendency to contract the mind, and sour the temper,’” Miss Bates has not become “‘illiberal and cross.’” She is only, says Emma loftily, “‘too good natured and too silly to suit me’” (85). But as though Austen rebukes her younger, more thoughtless self, Mr. Knightley reminds Emma that Miss Bates is “‘poor; she has sunk from the comforts she was born to; and, if she live to old age, must probably sink more. Her situation should secure your compassion. It was badly done, indeed!’” (375). Thus Emma’s recognition that she has been brutal and cruel to Miss Bates (376) stands as Jane Austen’s public apology to Mrs. Milles and Miss Milles of Canterbury, relatives of subscribers Mrs. Milles and Miss Milles of Nackington.
Mrs. Morton may have been the wife or the sister to Martha Lloyd’s friend Mr. Morton, perhaps of Harrogate (Le Faye, Letters 558), mentioned on 29-30 November 1812 as a supplier of Christmas turkies: “If you do not return in time to send the Turkey yourself, we must trouble you for Mr Morton’s direction again, as we should be quite as much at a loss as ever. It becomes now a sort of vanity in us not to know Mr Morton’s direction with any certainty” (Le Faye, Letters 558). The Lloyds of Enborne, Deane, and Ibthorpe enjoyed strong links with the Austen family and their friends, for, as detailed above, in 1788, Eliza Lloyd had married her cousin the Reverend Fulwar Craven Fowle, George Austen’s pupil and brother of Cassandra’s fiancé Tom. Then in 1797, Mary Lloyd married James Austen as his second wife, and in 1828, Martha Lloyd married Frank Austen, also as his second wife (Le Faye, Letters 551).
Subscriber Mrs. Rice may have belonged to the Rice family of Bramling near Canterbury (Le Faye, Letters 567). Austen knew them at least from 24-25 December 1798, when she dances with her spendthrift son Henry. On 20-21 November 1800, she reports that “Rice & Lucy [Lefroy] made love” (i.e., flirted), and she jokes on 26-27 May 1801 that “Mr Rice & Lucy are to be married, one on the 9th & the other on the 10th of July”—Jemima Lucy was the daughter of Austen’s great friend and mentor “Madam Lefroy,” née Brydges, who died in a riding accident (Le Faye, Letters 545). When James Austen took over his father’s parish at Deane, he eventually appointed Henry as his curate, after his “perverse and narrow-minded” mother, Mrs. Rice, relented, as Austen reports on 25 January 1801. And on 27 August 1805, Austen writes from Goodnestone Farm, home of the Bridges, about “Captain Woodford” of the Coldstream Guards, perhaps the son of subscriber Colonel [A.G.] Woodford (Le Faye, Letters 589).
Jane Austen made her first visit to Bath in 1799, but her family had connections with the town ever since George Austen and Cassandra Leigh married there on 26 April 1764. In 1801, Mr. Austen abruptly removed the family from Steventon to Bath, where they stayed until 1806. Among the Bath subscribers whom Jane knew later, at least, may have been Mrs. Bowen, the wife of an apothecary (Le Faye, Letters 499). J. Dowdeswell, Esq., and Miss Dowdeswell were presumably relatives of “Mrs.” Dorothy Dowdeswell of Westwell, Oxon, the cousin of Mrs. Anne Foley of 17 Marlborough Buildings, Bath. On 17 May 1799, as Austen is walking in the Paragon, she meets “Mrs Foley & Mrs Dowdeswell with her yellow shawl airing out” (Le Faye, Letters 518, 523).
Subscriber Lady [Julia Annabella] Shuckburg[h] Evelyn was the daughter of James Evelyn of Felbridge, Surrey, and wife to Sir George Augustus William Shuckburgh, 6th baronet and mathematician. As with the crux of Burney’s Camilla, it was a condition of his wife’s inheritance that Sir George take his wife’s name, becoming known in 1794 as Shuckburgh Evelyn two years before the publication of Camilla (ODNB).
The Austens knew other Evelyns. On 19 June 1796, Edward has bought a pair of coach horses recommended by his friend Mr. John Evelyn of 23 Marlborough Buildings in Bath (Le Faye, Letters 521), “& if the judgement of a Yahoo can ever be depended on, I suppose it may now, for I beleive Mr Evelyn has all his life thought more of Horses than of anything else.” Perhaps like John Thorpe buying his curricle (NA 46-47), he has paid too much: “Their Colour is black & their size not large—their price sixty Guineas, of which the Chair Mare was taken as fifteen—but this of course is to be a secret.” And on 11 June 1799, Austen writes that her brother Edward has renewed his acquaintance with John Evelyn’s cousin “Mr [Alex:] Evelyn, who lives in the Queen’s parade & was invited to a family dinner, which I believe at first Eliz[abeth Austen] was rather sorry at his accepting,” but Mrs. Evelyn then “called on us & her manners were so pleasing that we liked the idea of going very much.—The Biggs would call her a nice Woman.” But due to Mr. Evelyn’s indisposition, the dinner is called off until 19 June, when she calls it “very quiet & uneventful; pleasant enough.” Colonel Alex Hume had changed his name to Evelyn after he married in 1782 Frances Evelyn, daughter of subscriber William [Glanvill] Evelyn, sheriff of Kent and MP for Hythe (Le Faye, Letters 521).
On 12-13 May 1801, Austen talks with William Evelyn at a “shockingly & inhumanly thin” ball at the upper Assembly rooms in Bath. In spite of being married, he seems to have paid some attention to her, for she writes on 26-27 May 1801, “There is now something like an engagement between us & the Phaeton, which to confess my frailty I have a great desire to go out in;—whether it will come to anything must remain with him.” Believing that Mr. Evelyn was “very harmless,” for “people do not seem afraid of him here, and he gets Groundsel for his birds & all that,” she goes for an “Airing in the very bewitching Phaeton & four” to “the top of Kingsdown—& had a very pleasant drive.” In London on 24 May 1813, she would similarly find the “solitary elegance” of driving about in Henry’s open carriage “very pleasant.” On 6-7 November 1813, she reports on “poor Mr Evelyn’s death.”
Mrs. [Philippa Eliot] Holder of Bathford and 16 St. James Square, Bath, was the widow of William Thorpe Holder, High Sheriff of Dorset in 1768 (Le Faye, Letters 537). On 21-22 May 1801, Mrs. and Miss Margaret Dehany Holder visited Jane and Mrs. Austen in Bath, asking to fix an evening for drinking tea, “but my Mother’s still remaining cold allows her to decline everything of the kind.” Jane complains to Cassandra, “It is the fashion to think them both very detestable, but they are so civil, & their gowns look so white & so nice (which by the bye my Aunt [Leigh-Perrot] thinks an absurd pretension in this place) that I cannot utterly abhor them, especially as Miss Holder owns that she has no taste for Music.” On the evening of 25 May, she defiantly drinks tea with the Holders, then while Mrs. Lillingston of 10 Rivers Street (Le Faye, Letters 551) engages Mrs. Holder in conversation, she adjourns with Miss Holder to the inner drawing-room to “look over Prints & talk pathetically. She is very unreserved & very fond of talking of her deceased brother [William Philip] & Sister [Philippa Harbin], whose memories she cherishes with an Enthusiasm which tho’ perhaps a little affected, is not unpleasing.” As she warns Cassandra, “She has an idea of your being remarkably lively; therefore get ready the proper selection of adverbs, & due scraps of Italian & French.”
On 20-21 November 1800, Austen dances at Steventon with Mrs. Holder’s son John Hooper, mocking him as a “very prodigious” partner, though not “the best of my little stock.” On 10-11 January 1809, she reports that “The Holders are as usual, altho’ I beleive it is not very usual for them to be happy, which they now are at a great rate, in Hooper’s Marriage.” John Hooper married the short-lived Elizabeth Hewitt, of whom Austen writes on 14-15 October 1813, “Only think of Mrs Holder’s being dead!—Poor woman, she has done the only thing in the World she could possibly do, to make one cease to abuse her.” She had died in 1810, leaving one daughter, and the widower married again. As Austen comments, “Lucky for the little girl!—An Anne Ekins can hardly be so unfit for the care of a Child as a Mrs Holder” (Le Faye, Letters 520, 537, 564; Nokes 226).
Austen also knew Mrs. Holder’s brother-in-law James, the tenant of Ashe Park, two miles from Steventon (Le Faye, Letters 564). On 18-19 December 1798, she calls him a lively neighbor; on 8-9 January 1799, she is about to dine in company with him; and on 8-9 November 1800, rain drives her and Mary Lloyd to Ashe Park to “dine tete a tete” with Mr. Holder: “We had a very quiet evening, I beleive Mary found it dull, but I thought it very pleasant.” In a poignant allusion to her own cramped circumstances, she writes, “To sit in idleness over a good fire in a well-proportioned room is a luxurious sensation.—Sometimes we talked & sometimes we were quite silent; I said two or three amusing things, & Mr Holder made a few infamous puns.” On 8-9 January 1801, as the family are leaving Steventon, she reports that Mr. Holder would have Cheesedown farm for the remainder of her father’s lease, and on 14-16 January he is “shut up for an hour with my father & James in a most aweful manner.” On 21-22 January 1801, she plays “Vingt-un” with “the two Mr Holders,” James and his nephew John Hooper, and on 25 January 1801, she turns a minor misadventure into a mock-Gothic anecdote:
Your unfortunate sister was betrayed last Thursday into a situation of the utmost cruelty. I arrived at Ashe Park before the Party from Deane, and was shut up in the drawing-room with Mr Holder alone for ten minutes. I had some thought of insisting on the housekeeper or Mary Corbett being sent for, and nothing could prevail on me to move two steps from the door, on the lock of which I kept one hand constantly fixed. We met nobody but ourselves, played at vingt-un again, and were very cross.
And on 3-6 July 1813, she makes a characteristic pun on his name: “We had some fine dry weather,” which “was very acceptable to the Holders of Hay & the Masters of Meadows”—presumably a fellow-farmer. Thus Austen’s connections with subscriber Mrs. Holder and her family spanned fifteen years.
On 12-13 May 1801, exasperated by a “stupid party,” Austen satirizes Miss [Flora] Langley, the niece of Lady Fust, and only child of Sir John Fust’s sister Flora, who had married George Langley, Captain of Marines (Le Faye, Letters 543), saying she was “like any other short girl with a broad nose & wide mouth, fashionable dress, & exposed bosom.” And on 19 June 1799, subscriber Dr. Milman, the “sensible, intelligent” physician of Bath (Thicknesse 9:59), attends on Edward Austen for “his present little feverish indisposition” (Le Faye, Letters 555).
On 14 September 1804 at Lyme Regis, Austen writes of “Mr Crawford” as an old acquaintance when he tells her of Cassandra’s “disappointment in not seeing the Royal Family go on board on tuesday” at Weymouth, for “he had seen you in the very act of being too late.” The Duke of Gloucester had been visiting his brother the King and his family, but Austen’s flippancy suggests she thought missing the royal embarkation no great loss. The night before, she danced twice with Mr. Crawford, who could be subscriber John Crawford, Esq., related to Mrs. Crawford, Miss Crawford, Miss Crawford, Greenwich, and Miss Louisa Crawford (Le Faye, Letters 380, 513).
Austen family connections
Burney had known Jeremiah Crutchley, Esq. Sunning-hill, Berkshire, very well (Chisholm 79), and Austen remarks on 2 September 1814 that the now widowed Mrs. Crutchley was Henry’s “favourite” (Le Faye, Letters 514). Mrs. Cure may be the wife of Capel, son of London upholsterer George Cure, who about 1730 married Elizabeth Hampson, and in 1735 Catherine Payne (Le Faye, Letters 514). At Sloane Street, London, and “quite surrounded by acquaintance,” including Mr. Cure, Austen declares on 25 April 1811 that she had “quite as much upon my hands as I could do.” Both the Hampsons and the Paynes were connected to the Austens.
Subscriber Mrs. Freeman, Henley Park could be a connection by marriage of Jane Austen on the Hampson side, because by virtue of their common ancestor in Sir George Hampson, 4th baronet, the Hampsons, Paynes, and Freemans were all cousins in some degree of the Steventon Austens and the Kentish Walters (Le Faye, Letters 526, 531). Mrs. Cassandra Austen came from Harpsden, a small village near Henley-on-Thames (Le Faye, Family Record 7). De Feuillide, who was a long-time friend of Miss Payne, also knew Mr. Hampson, and saw him several times before 21 April 1788. In the same letter, she also talks of calling on Mrs. Freeman, and says on both 22 August 1788 and 7 November 1796 that she sees “Mrs. J. Freeman very frequently” in London (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 85, 90, 129). In 1779, George Austen asked his cousin John Cope Freeman to become godfather to Cassandra Austen (Le Faye, Letters 526), and on 9 February 1813, Austen writes to her sister, “If Mrs Freeman is anywhere above ground give my best Compts to her.”
Lady [Frances Thorpe] Heathcote was the wife of Sir William, 3rd baronet of Hursley Park, Hampshire. Subscriber John Heathcote, Esq., could be a relative, while the Heathcotes’ son the Reverend William, rector of Worting, Hampshire, and Prebendary of Winchester, married Austen’s particular friend Elizabeth Bigg, sister of Harris Bigg-Wither, the suitor she had spurned (Le Faye, Letters 497, 534-35). On finding Mrs. Heathcote and Mrs. Chute at the Harwoods’ on 25-27 October 1800, she jokes, “Heathcote & Chute for ever”—an election cry for Sir Thomas Heathcote, 4th baronet. At Alethea Bigg’s request, Austen asks Cassandra to ask Edward on 20 November 1808 to “bring in Mr Heathcote,” who duly became MP for Hampshire. In the same letter, she says that she likes his brother Captain Gilbert Heathcote’s match with Anne Lyell, “because I had made it before.” But it was Elizabeth Heathcote she loved best.
Austen kept close tabs on the Heathcote family. Along with the third baronet’s children “Mr [William] and Miss [Harriet] Heathcote,” she attends “an excellent ball” on 9-10 January 1796, observing that “Miss Heathcote is pretty, but not near so handsome as I expected.” As for William, he “began with Elizabeth [Bigg], and afterwards danced with her again; but they do not know how to be particular. I flatter myself, however, that they will profit by the three successive lessons that I have given them.” Those lessons must have worked, for William and Elizabeth married on 11 January 1798 (Le Faye, Letters 534).
Austen plans another ball with them on 8-9 January 1799, and yet another that proves “very poor” after the Heathcotes rush to Winchester on 21-23 January 1799 on account of Mr. Wither’s illness, “a fine thing for conversation at the ball.” On 8-9 November 1800, she reports that William “met with a genteel little accident the other day in hunting; he got off to lead his horse over a hedge . . . or a something, & his horse in his haste trod upon his leg, or rather ancle I beleive, & it is not certain whether the small bone is not broke.” But by 12-13 November 1800, when Austen is already concerned about two friends, William is “so good as to be doing very well. It would really be too much to have three people to care for!” (Le Faye, Letters 497, 534-35).
From the home of their neighbors at Deane, the Harwoods, Austen reports on 25-27 October 1800 that Elizabeth Heathcote “took a long ride yesterday morning with Mrs Harwood into Lord Carnarvon’s Park & fainted away in the evening.” On 14-15 January 1801, Mrs. Heathcote is among a “party of fine Ladies issuing from a well-known commodious green Vehicle, their Heads full of Bantam-Cocks & Galinies” (hens), all eager to buy up Mrs. Austen’s poultry before she leaves Steventon (Le Faye, Letters 375). By 26-27 May 1801, Elizabeth has had a little boy, and “I wish her well to wear it out.” But her husband William died young in 1802, and on 27-28 December 1808, the widow is planning a “Child’s Ball” at Manydown for her son William. On 9 February 1813, Austen is plotting for her friend to marry her old suitor the Reverend John Harwood VII: “If Mrs Heathcote does not marry & comfort him now, I shall think she is a Maria [Bertram] & has no heart.” (Austen would finish Mansfield Park “soon after June 1813,” says Cassandra [MW opp. 242].) But Mr. Harwood’s unlucky legacy of debt put paid to the marriage (Le Faye, Letters 533). Faithful friends Mrs. Heathcote, Alethea Bigg, and Henry Austen are going to visit Mrs. Austen, Cassandra, and Martha Lloyd while Jane is at Godmersham for two months, as she tells brother Francis on 25 September 1813, and on Tuesday, 12 October she approves of their staying till Friday: “I cd not have settled it better myself.”
The Austens and the Biggs remained close, and on 6-7 November 1813, Jane rejoices at Mrs. Heathcote, Catherine Bigg, and Alethea Bigg “going about together in Henry’s carriage [in London], seeing sights!” On 13 March 1816, she welcomes the unexpected arrival in a post-chaise of Mrs. Heathcote and Miss Bigg, and her letter of 22 May 1817, one of the last written by this “very genteel, portable sort of an Invalid,” expresses gratitude that “our kind friend Mrs Heathcote who resides in W[inchester]” has engaged comfortable lodgings for them there. With typical brio, she adds, “Mrs Heathcote will be a great comfort, but we shall not have Miss Bigg, she being frisked off like half England, into Switzerland.” She tells James Edward Austen on 27 May 1817 that “we see Mrs Heathcote every day, & William is to call upon us soon. . . . [M]ay the same Blessed alleviations of anxious, simpathizing friends be Yours.”
Mrs. George Austen, the Leighs of Adlestrop, the Cookes, and the Coopers had a common ancestor in Theophilus Leigh (Le Faye, Letters 548). The Cholmeleys, baronets of Easton Hall, Lincolnshire, were also closely connected to the Austens, for in 1764 Jane Cholmeley’s marriage to James Leigh-Parrot, cousin to Mrs. Cassandra Cooke and Mrs. Cassandra Austen, had joined the two families. In 1751, James, grandson of Theophilus Leigh, added “Perrot” to his name in order to inherit the estate of his maternal great-uncle Thomas Perrot. The ties remained strong, for in 1805, Francis Lucius Austen, son of an earlier Francis, married Mrs. Leigh-Perrot’s kinswoman Penelope Cholmeley (Le Faye, Letters 485, 489, 506, 548-49; Le Faye, Family Record, family tree 5, 7). Subscriber Mrs. Cholmeley might therefore be a relative. So might Mrs. Cooper, for in 1768, Mrs. Austen’s sister Jane Leigh married the Reverend Dr. Edward Cooper, and in 1793, Caroline Isabella Lybbe Powys married Mrs. Austen’s nephew, the Reverend Edward Cooper, jr. On 14-15 January 1796 Austen tells Cassandra that the Coopers have arrived and are “in good health,” and on 23 January 1799 foretells that in fifteen years’ time the Miss Coopers will be “presented to us, fine, jolly, handsome, ignorant girls” (Le Faye, Letters 510-11).
In 1755, the Right Hon. Lady Caroline Leigh, née Brydges, daughter of the Leighs’ grand relation the second Duke of Chandos, married her cousin James Leigh, whose cousin Cassandra Leigh, Jane Austen’s mother, was also cousin to the Reverend Mr. T[homas] Leigh, Adlestrop, and therefore related to his wife Mrs. T. [Mary] Leigh and his sister Mrs. [Miss] E[lizabeth] Leigh. Austen mentions as well Mrs. [James Henry] Leigh, née Julia Judith Twisleton, cousin and wife to his nephew James Henry, on 12-13 May 1801. In 1762, cousins Mary Leigh and Thomas Leigh married each other, and in 1806, Thomas Leigh inherited the family estate at Stoneleigh Abbey (Le Faye, Family Record, family tree 5). Elizabeth Leigh, Cassandra Austen’s godmother, lived with her brother at Adlestrop. The Austens and the Leighs were therefore particularly close (Le Faye, Letters 548-50).
On 30 June-1 July 1808, Austen reports that Mr. Thomas Leigh is “again in town,” and has “owned being come up unexpectedly on Business—which we of course think can be only one business—& he came post from Adlestrop in one day—which if it cd be doubted before—convinces Henry that he will live for ever.” Though in his seventies, the Reverend Thomas was galvanized by the prospect of inheriting Stoneleigh Abbey (Nokes 304). On 20 November 1808, Austen reports that “the Stoneleigh Business is concluded,” but “My Aunt,” presumably Mrs. Leigh-Perrot, “reflects on Mr T. Leigh’s dilatoriness.” On 5-6 July 1813, she writes that the “respectable, worthy, agreeable Mr Tho. Leigh . . . has just closed a good life at the age of 79, & must have died the possessor of one of the finest Estates in England & of more worthless Nephews and Neices than any other private Man in the united Kingdoms.”
Elizabeth Leigh and Austen swapped domestic news with each other for many years, as shown by references to correspondence swirling around the family. Austen writes to her on 25 November 1798; passes on news on 21-23 January 1799 that Elizabeth has organized a living for Edward Cooper, then sends more news on 20-21 November 1800 about a removal and a marriage to “a young Man under age—without the Knowledge of either family”; fears for her health on 10-11 January 1809; rejoices on 24 January 1809 that she, “good Woman, is I hope destined for some further placid enjoyment of her own Excellence in this World, for her recovery advances exceedingly well”; and confirms on 30 January that she is “so much recovered as to get into the Dressing-room every day.” After Thomas Leigh died, she reports on 5-6 July 1813 that the family is very anxious to know where “his excellent Sister will find a home for the remainder of her days.” The Leigh women clearly competed to be first in purveying news, for when Austen receives a letter from Elizabeth on 24 September 1813 with what she call “Scrapings from dear E[lizabeth] L[eigh]” via Mrs. Cooke about their relation the Reverend Dr. Thomas-James Twistleton taking over the family livings of Broadwell and Adlestrop, she asks Cassandra that she “make it known to my Mother as if this were the first time of Mrs Cooke’s mentioning it to me.” Then on 21 April 1816, Jane reports to Cassandra “the death of that excellent woman Mrs Elizth Leigh.” As she comments, “We all feel that we have lost a most valued old freind, but the death of a person at her advanced age, so fit to die, & by her own feelings so ready to die, is not to be regretted.”
Subscriber Mrs. E. Long may be the mother of Richard-Godolphin Long of Rood (or Rowde) Ashton, Wiltshire, husband of Florentina Wrey (Le Faye, Letters 551, 589). On 29 May 1811, Austen for some reason calls their younger daughter Miss [Flora] Long her “cousin.” The Countess of Moira was married to Lord Francis Rawdon Moira, who owed Henry Austen £6000 and never paid it back (Le Faye, Letters 556). Austen writes bitterly on 20-22 February 1807, “Frank’s going into Kent depends of course upon his being unemployed, but as the 1st Lord after promising Ld Moira that Capt. A[usten] should have the first good Frigate that was vacant, has since given away two or three fine ones, he has no particular reason to expect an appointment now.”7 Mr. Spencer, Henry Austen’s generous friend in London (Le Faye, Letters 575) may be subscriber —— Spencer, Esq. On 15-16 September 1813, he invites Henry and Jane into his private box at the theatre, which “made it much more pleasant. The Box is directly on the Stage. One is infinitely less fatigued than in the common way.” And on 2-3 March 1814, she is to “call upon Miss Spencer: Funny me!” But snow on 7 March puts off the visit until 9 March, when they are to dine at Mr. Spencer’s.
Eliza de Feuillide
Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza de Feuillide, daughter of George Austen’s sister Philadelphia Walter (Le Faye, Letters 486), could have called upon friends from her Indian days to subscribe. They include Edward Baber, Esq. of Kassimbazaar, a friend of her father, Tysoe Saul Hancock, and joint executor with Warren Hastings of Hancock’s will (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 38, 51). When in July 1786 Eliza met up in London with other friends from her youth, the wealthy Sir William and Lady Sophia Burrell, they had just acquired The Deepdene, a fine estate on the outskirts of Dorking, near Bookham. Eliza probably first visited them in October 1786. She also communicated with her friend by letter, for instance in 1796, the year Camilla was published, when she confided that James Austen was courting her (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 73-74, 130). In 1797, however, she would marry his brother Henry.
Subscriber Sir William Farquhar was doctor to de Feuillide and her ailing son, Hastings. After being created baronet on 1 March 1796, this fashionable London physician became a medical attendant to the Prince of Wales (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 125, 127-28, 131, 134, 145, 147). Family members Lady Farquhar, Miss Farquhar, and Miss Ann Farquhar also subscribed. —— Hinchcliffe, Esq., Mrs. Hinchcliffe, —— Hinchcliffe, Esq., and Mrs. Hinchcliffe were presumably relatives of those “virtuous spinsters” known to de Feuillide, the Misses Hinchcliffe, sisters of the Reverend Dr. Hinchcliffe, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1768 to 1788, and Bishop of Peterborough from 1769 to 1794. Writing from Paris on 7 May 1784, Eliza asks her cousin Philadelphia Walter to send any letters “to the care of Miss Hinchcliffe Woodstock Street Hanover Square London. This Lady is an intimate friend of Mamma’s has frequent opportunities of sending to France [sic] & will not fail of forwarding your Letter to me” (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 41, 62). And little George Vansittart, son of Henry Vansittart, Governor of Bengal (1759-64), had been de Feuillide’s playmate in Calcutta. In 1812, N[icholas] Vansittart, Esq., his youngest brother, became Chancellor of the Exchequer and first Baron Bexley (Le Faye, Outlandish Cousin 18, 39; ODNB).
So did Jane Austen appoint herself an unofficial bookkeeper for Camilla? Years later, on 15-17 June 1808, she would certainly behave like one when she talked brother Edward and his wife into paying twice for one copy of Mr. Jefferson’s sermons: “I have read Mr Jefferson’s case to Edward, and he desires to have his name set down for a guinea and his wife’s for another; but does not wish for more than one copy of the work.” Even though Kathryn Sutherland points out that subscribing was “an expensive option” for someone of Austen’s limited wealth, she too would contribute her guinea, writing on 26 June 1808, “let me remember that I have now some money to spare, & that I wish to have my name put down as a subscriber to Mr Jefferson’s works.” As she explains to Cassandra, “My last Letter was closed before it occurred to me how possible, how right, & how gratifying such a measure wd be.”
In contrast, says Sutherland, “it is tempting to see her earlier subscription [to Camilla] in a different light,” because “by 1796 she was a novelist, with drafts of ‘Elinor and Marianne’ and ‘First Impressions’ well in hand (works later transformed into Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice)” (114). As a subscriber to the novel, Austen’s name “circulates in print in 1796 not just in appreciative association with that of ‘F. d’Arblay’ (as Burney signs herself in her ‘Dedication’) and ‘The Author of Evelina and Cecilia’ (as she is styled on the title page), but in the same list as Miss Edgeworth and Mrs. Hannah More” (Sutherland 114)—together, of course, with many other illustrious public figures. Sutherland argues that in this distinguished company, her self-inscription looks like “a secret pledge to her own art, anticipatory of the letter her father would write to Thomas Cadell, Camilla’s publisher” in 1797, offering “a manuscript novel . . . about the length of Miss Burney’s ‘Evelina’” (114). If so, she suggests to me, Austen’s insertion of herself into novel production might mark her shift from apprenticeship to authorial confidence.
If Jane Austen did indeed solicit support for Fanny Burney’s Camilla, those letters have not survived. But since Mrs. Cooke and Mrs. Leigh had probably told her about Burney’s fears for the subscription scheme, it seems plausible that she and her relations urged others to enlarge the list, and for good reason. As Garside argues, when Camilla was widely advertised and manifestly received as a subscription novel, Austen “could not have gained firmer assurances of a new status being claimed for fiction, nor a more palpable demonstration of the existence of a ‘respectable’ audience willing to consume it” than a list containing 1058 subscribers, 275 of them titled, and 48 members of the clergy (175). Just as significantly, I believe, Jane Austen’s subscription to Camilla declares her devotion to Fanny Burney, with whose novels she would converse frequently and profitably for the rest of her creative life.
1. Bander suggests that Austen could have found several names for her novels in the Camilla subscription list. For the complete list, see the GoogleBooks Camilla. For further details about the names on the list, see Sabor, “Tax,” and Subscription List.
2. For the bookkeepers, see Bloom and Bloom xvii; Sabor, “Tax” 304-5; Pink 60-61. I am grateful to Shef Rogers and Keith Maslen for advice about publishing by subscription.
3. Others who note the Cooke connection include Clark; Rogers, “Sposi in Surrey”; Harman 270; and Byrne 82-85.
4. See “Susanna Elizabeth Phillips (née Burney) (1755-1800)” at the Burney Centre’s website.
5. In an intriguing argument, Howard-Smith links Lady Bertram’s pugs to actual pugs perhaps known to Austen, as well as to discourses about women, class, and slavery.
6. See “Margaret Beckford, later Margaret Orde,” Huntington Library catalogue on-line.
7. See Bennett, “Lord Moira and the Austens,” for the family’s entanglement with Henry’s noble debtor.
Austen, Jane. The Works of Jane Austen. Ed. R.W. Chapman. Oxford: OUP, 1933-69.
_____. Jane Austen’s Letters. Ed. Deirdre Le Faye. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1997.
Bander, Elaine. “A Possible Source for Jane Austen’s Names.” Notes & Queries 29.227 (June 1982): 206.
Bennett, Stuart. “Lord Moira and the Austens.” Persuasions 35 (2013): 129-52.
Bloom, Edward A., and Lillian D. Bloom, eds. Introduction. Camilla, or a Picture of Youth. Ed. Edward A. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom. Oxford: OUP, 1972. ix-xxx.
Burney, Frances. Camilla, or a Picture of Youth. Ed. Edward A. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom. Oxford: OUP, 1972.
_____. The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame d’Arblay). Vol. 3, Great Bookham 1793-1897. Ed. Joyce Hemlow, with Patricia Boutilier and Althea Douglas. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1973.
_____. The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame d’Arblay). Vol. 5, West Humble and Paris 1801-1803. Ed. Joyce Hemlow with George G. Falle, Althea Douglas, and Jill A. Bourdais de Charbonnière. Oxford: Clarendon, 1975.
Byrne, Paula. The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things. London: Harper, 2013.
Chisholm, Kate. Fanny Burney: Her Life 1752-1840. London: Chatto, 1998.
Clark, Lorna J. “Jane Austen and Sarah Harriet Burney.” Persuasions 17 (1995): 16-25.
Downie, J. A. “Printing for the Author in the Long Eighteenth Century.” British Literature and Print Culture. Ed. Sandro Jung. Woodbridge, UK: Brewer, 2013. 58-77.
Garside, P. D. “Jane Austen and Subscription Fiction.” British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 10 (1987): 175-88.
Grundy, Isobel. “Women and Print Readers, Writers and the Market.” Cambridge History of the Book in Britain. Vol. 5, 1695-1830. Ed. Michael F. Suarez, S.J., and Michael L. Turner. Cambridge: CUP, 2004. 146-62.
Harman, Claire. Fanny Burney: A Biography. London: Harper, 2000.
Harris, Jocelyn. “Jane Austen and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.” Persuasions 34 (2012): 134-39.
Hemlow, Joyce. The History of Fanny Burney. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1958.
Hill, Constance. Juniper Hall: A Rendezvous of Certain Illustrious Personages during the French Revolution including Alexandre d’Arblay and Fanny Burney. London: Lane, 1904.
Howard-Smith, Stephanie. “‘Hearty Fow Children’: The Penryns, Pugs, and Mansfield Park.” Persuasions 35 (2013): 191-99.
Le Faye, Deirdre. A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family. Cambridge: CUP 2006.
_____. Jane Austen: A Family Record. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2004.
_____. Jane Austen’s “Outlandish Cousin”: The Life and Letters of Eliza de Feuillide. London: British Library, 2002.
Le Faye, Deirdre, ed. Jane Austen’s Letters. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1997.
Lockwood, Thomas. “Subscription Hunters and their Prey.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 34:1 (2001): 121-35.
“Margaret Beckford, later Margaret Orde.” The Huntington Library. http://emuseum.huntington.org/view/people/asitem/items$0040null:3322/0?t:state:flow=67046ef5-9618-4c87-8b4e-8d562f495aab
Nokes, David. Jane Austen: A Life. New York: Farrar, 1997.
ODNB: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Web.
Pink, Emma E. “Frances Burney’s Camilla: ‘To Print My Grand Work . . . by Subscription.’” Eighteenth-Century Studies 40:1 (2006): 51-68.
Rogers, Pat. “Pope and His Subscribers.” Essays on Pope. Cambridge: CUP, 1993. 190-227.
_____. “Sposi in Surrey: Links between Jane Austen and Fanny Burney.” Times Literary Supplement 23 Aug. 1996: 14-15.
Sabor, Peter. “‘A Kind of Tax on the Public’: The Subscription List to Frances Burney’s Camilla.” New Windows on a Woman’s World: Essays for Jocelyn Harris. 2 vols. Ed. Colin Gibson and Lisa Marr. Dunedin: U of Otago, 2005. 1:299-315.
_____. The Subscription List to Frances Burney’s Camilla. Montreal: Burney Centre, 2003.
“Susanna Elizabeth Phillips (née Burney) (1755-1800).” Burney Biographies. The Burney Centre at McGill University. http://burneycentre.mcgill.ca/bio_susanna.html.
Sutherland, Kathryn. “Jane Austen’s Dealings with John Murray and his Firm.” Review of English Studies 64.263 (Feb. 2013): 105-26.
Thaddeus, Janice Farrar. Frances Burney: A Literary Life. Houndmills: Macmillan, 2000.
Thicknesse, Philip. The Valetudinarians Bath Guide: Or, the Means of Obtaining Long Life and Health. London and Bath, 1780.
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