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Letters Relating to the Dedication of Emma

Shortly before Emma was to be published in 1815, Jane Austen made the acquaintance of James Stanier Clarke, librarian to the Prince of Wales. However ittle appreciated by the author, Clarke suggested that she dedicate her latest work to the Prince, a known fan of her writing. Such a suggestion was not to be ignored, and the following letters give a lively picture of the maneuvers required to make it happen. Unfortunately for Austen, Clarke’s helpful suggestions did not end there, as her humorous Plan of a Novel shows.

***

Wednesday 15 November 1815
Copy of my Letter to Mr Clarke, Nov: 15. 1815

Sir
I must take the liberty of asking You a question–Among the many flattering attentions which I recd from you at Carlton House, on Monday last, was the Information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future Work to HRH the P.R. without the necessity of any Solicitation on my part. Such at least, I beleived to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I intreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such a Permission is to be understood, & whether it is incumbent on my to shew my sense of the Honour, by inscribing the Work now in the Press, to H. R. H.–I shd be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or Ungrateful.–

I am &c–

***

From James Stanier Clarke
Thursday 16 November 1815
Carlton House Novr: 16th: 1815

Dear Madam
It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the Press to His Royal Highness: but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at any future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part. Your late Works, Madam, and in particular Mansfield park reflect the highest honour on your Genius & your Principles; in every new work your mind seems to increase its energy and powers of discrimination. The Regent has read & admired all your publications. Accept my sincere thanks for the pleasure your Volumes have given me: in the perusal of them I felt a great inclination to write to you & say so. And I also dear Madam wished to be allowed to ask you, to delineate in some future Work the Habits of Life and Character and enthusiasm of a Clergyman–who should pass his time between the metropolis & the Country–who should be something like Beatties Minstrel

Silent when glad, affectionate tho’ shy
And now his look was most demurely sad
& now he laughed aloud yet none knew why–

Neither Goldsmith–nor La Fontaine in his Tableau de Famille–have in my mind quite delineated an English Clergyman, at least of the present day–Fond of, & entirely engaged in Literature–no man’s Enemy but his own. Pray dear Madam think of these things.

Believe me at all times
With sincerity & respect
Your faithful & obliged Servant
J. S. Clarke
Librarian.

P.S. I am going for about three weeks to Mr Henry Streatfeilds, Childingstone Sevenoaks–but hope on my return to have the honour of seeing you again.

***

To John Murray
Monday 11 December 1815
Hans Place, Dec: 11th

Dear Sir
As I find that Emma is advertized for publication as early as Saturday next, I think it best to lose no time in settling all that remains to be settled on the subject, & adopt this method of doing so, as involving the smallest tax on your time.–

In the first place, I beg you to understand that I leave the terms on which the Trade should be supplied with the work, entirely to your Judgment, entreating you to be guided in every such arrangement by your own experience of what is most likely to clear off the Edition rapidly. I shall be satisfied with whatever you feel to be best.– The Title page must be, Emma, Dedicated by Permission to H. R. H. The Prince Regent.–And it is my particular wish that one Set should be completed & sent to H. R. H. two or three days before the Work is generally public–It should be sent under Cover to the Rev. J. S. Clarke, Librarian, Carleton House.–I shall subjoin a list of those persons, to whom I must trouble you to forward also a Set each, when the Work is out;–all unbound, with From the Authoress, in the first page.–

I return you, with very many Thanks, the Books you have so obligingly supplied me with.–I am very sensible to assure you of the attention you have paid to my Convenience & amusement.–I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I beleive, as I can make it.–

I am in Hans Place till the 16th.–From that day, inclusive, my direction will be, Chawton, Alton, Hants.

I remain dear Sir,
Yr faithful HumServt,
J. Austen

I wish you would have the goodness to send a line by the Bearer, stating the day on which the set will be ready for the Prince Regent.–

***

To John Murray
Monday 11 December 1815
Hans Place, December 11

Dear Sir
I am much obliged by yours, and very happy to feel everything arranged to our mutual satisfaction. As to my direction about the title page, it was arising from my ignorance only, and from my having never noticed the proper place for a dedication. I thank you for putting me right. Any deviation from what is usually done in such cases is the last right. Any deviation from what is usually done in such cases is the last thing I should wish for. I feel happy in having a friend to save me from the ill effect of my own blunder.

Your, dear Sir, &c,
J. Austen

***

To James Stanier Clarke
Monday 11 December 1815
Dec: 11

Dear Sir
My Emma is now so near publication that I feel it right to assure You of my not having forgotten your kind recommendation of an early Copy for Cn H.–& that I have Mr Murray’s promise of its being sent to HRH under cover to You, three days previous to the Work being really out.–

I must make use of this opportunity to thank you dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other Novels–I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their Merit.–

My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work shd not disgrace what was good in the others. But on this point I will do myself the justice to declare that whatever may be my wishes for its’ success, I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those Readers who have preferred MP. very inferior in good Sense. Such as it is however, I hope you will do me the favour of accepting a Copy. Mr M. will have directions for sending one. I am quite honoured by your thinking me capable of drawing such a Clergyman as you gave the sketch of in your note of Nov: 16. But I assure you I am not. The comic part of the Character I might be equal to, but not the Good, the Enthusiastic, the Literary. Such as Man’s Conversation must at times be on subjects of Science & Philosophy of which I know nothing–or at least be occasionally abundant in quotations & allusions which a Woman, who like me, knows only her Mother-toungue & has read very little in that, would be totally without the power of giving.–A Classical Education, or at any rate, a very extensive acquaintance with English Literature, Ancient & Modern, appears to me quite Indispensable for the person who wd do any justice to your Clergyman–And I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible Vanity, the most unlearned, & unformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress.

Beleive me, dear Sir,
Your obligd & faith Hum. Servt.
J. A.

***

From James Stanier Clarke
Thursday 21 December 1815
Carlton House Thursday, 1815

My dear Madam,
The Letter you were so obliging as to do me the Honour of sending, was forwarded to me in Kent, where in a Village, Chiddingstone near Sevenoaks, I had been hiding myself from all bustle and turmoil–and getting Spirits for a Winter Campaign–and Strength to stand the sharp knives which many a Shylock is wetting to cut more than a Pound of Flesh from my heart, on the appearance of James the Second.

On Monday I go to Lord Egremonts at Petworth–where your Praises have long been sounded as they out to be. I shall then look in on the Party at the Pavilion for a couple of nights–and return to preach at Park Street Chapel Green St. on the Thanksgiving Day.

You were very good to send me Emma–which I have in no respect deserved. It is gone to the Prince Regent. I have read only a few Pages which I much admired–there is so much nature–and excellent description of Character in every thing you describe.

Pray continue to write, & make all your friends send Sketches to help you–and Memoires pour servir–as the French term it. Do let us have an English Clergyman after your fancy–much novelty may be introduced–she dear Madam what good would be done if Tythes were taken away entirely, and describe him buying his own mother–as I did–because the High Priest of the Parish in which she died–did not pay her remains the respect he ought to do. I have never recovered the Shock. Carry your Clergyman to Sea as the Friend of some distinguished Naval Character about a Court–you can then bring foreward like Le Sage many interesting Scenes of Character & Interest.

But forgive me, I cannot write to you without wishing to elicit your Genius;–& I fear I cannot dot hat, without trespassing on your Patience and Good Nature. I have desired Mr. Murray to procure, if he can, two little Works I ventured to publish from being at Sea–Sermons which I wrote & preached on the Ocean–& the Edition which I published of Falconers Shipwreck.

Pray, dear Madam, remember, that besides My Cell at Carlton House, I have another which Dr Barne procured for me at No 37, Golden Square–where I often hide myself. There is a small Library there much at your Service–and if you can make the Cell render you any service as a sort of Half-way House, when you come to Town–I shall be most happy. There is a Maid Servant of mine always there.

I hope to have the honour of sending you James the 2d when it reaches a second Ed:–as some few Notes may possibly be then added.

Yours Dear Madam, very sincerely
J. S. Clarke.

***

From James Stanier Clarke
Wednesday 27 March 1816
Pavilion–March 27th 1816.

Dear Miss Austen,
I have to return to you the Thanks of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent for the handsome Copy you sent him of your last excellent Novel–pray dear Madam soon write again and again. Lord St Helens and many of the Nobility who have been staying here, paid you the just tribute of their Praise.
The Prince Regent has just left us for London; and having been pleased to appoint me Chaplain and private English Secretary to the Prince of Cobourg, I remain here with His Serene Highness & a select Party until the Marriage. Perhaps when you again appear in print you may chuse to dedicate your Volumes to Prince Leopold: any Historical Romance illustrative of the History of the august house of Cobourg, would just now be very interesting.

Believe me at all times
Dear Miss Austen
Your obliged friend
J. S. Clarke

***

To James Sanier Clarke
Monday 1 April 1816

My Dear Sir
I am honoured by the Prince’s thanks, & very much obliged to yourself for the kind manner on which You mention the Work. I have also to acknowledge a former letter, forwarded to me from Hans Place. I assure You I felt very grateful for the friendly Tenor of it, & hope my silence will have been considered as it was truly meant, to proceed only from an unwillingness to tax your Time with idle Thanks.–

Under every interesting circumstance which your own Talents & literary Labours have placed you in, or the favour of the Regent bestowed, you have my best wishes. You recent appointments I hope are a step to something still better. In my opinion, The service of a Court can hardly be too well paid, for immense must be the sacrifice of Time & Feeling required by it.

You are very, very kind in your hints as to the sort of Composition which might recommend me at present, & I am fully sensible that an Historical Romance, founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg might be much more to the purpose of Profit or Popularity, than such pictures of domestic Life in Country Villages as I deal in–but I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem.–I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first Chapter.–No–I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way; And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.–

I remain my dear Sir,
Your very much obliged & very sincere friend
J. Austen

***

Chawton near Alton April 1, 1816
To John Murray
Monday 1 April 1816

Dear Sir
I return to you the Quarterly Reveiw with many Thanks. The Authoress of Emma has no reason I think to complain of her treatment in it–except in the total omission of Mansfield Par.–I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reviewer of Emma, should consider it as unworthy of being noticed.–You will be pleased to hear that I have received the Prince’s Thanks for the handsome Copy I sent him of Emma. Whatever he may think of my share of the Work, Yours seems to have been quite right.–

In consequence of the late sad Event in Henrietta St–I must request that if you should at any time have anything to communicate by Letter, you will be so good as to write by the post, directing to me (Miss J. Austen) Chawton near Alton–and that for anything of a larger bulk, you will add to the same direction, by Collier’s Southampton Coach.–

I remain, dear Sir,
Yours very faithfully
J. Austen

***

Chawton April 1, 1816
From Henry Austen
20 or 21 October 1815

A Letter to Mr Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the Severe Relapse which threw him into such Danger.

Dear Sir
Severe Illness has confined me to my Bed ever since I received Yours of ye 15th–I cannot yet hold a pen, & employ an Amuensis.–The Politeness & Perspicuity of your Letter equally claim my earliest Exertion.–Your official opinion of the Merits of Emma, is very valuable & satisfactory.–Though I venture occasionally from your Critique, yet I assure you that the Quantum of your commendation rather exceeds than falls short of the Author’s expectation & my own.–The Terms you offer are so very inferior to what we had expected, that I am apprehensive of having made some great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation.–On the subject of the expense & profit of publishing, you must be much better informed than I am;–but Documents in my possession appear to prove that the Sum offered by you for the Copyright of Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park & Emma, is not equal to the Money which my Sister has actually cleared by one very moderate Edition of Mansfield Park–(You Yourself expressed astonishment that so small an Edit: of such a work should have been sent into the World) & still a smaller one of Sense & Sensibility.– …

***

To John Murray
Friday 3 November 1815
23, Hans Place, Friday Nov: 3d

Sir,
My Brother’s severe Illness has prevented his replying to Yours of Oct: 15, on the subject of the MS of Emma now in your hands–and as he is, though recovering, still in a state which we are fearful of harassing by Business & I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on my here, on any day after the present that may suit you best, at any hour in the Evening, or any in the Morning except from Eleven to One.–A short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing. My Brother begs his Compts & best Thanks for your polite attention in supplying him with a Copy of Waterloo.

I am Sir
Your Ob. Hum: Servt
Jane Austen

***

From the Countess of Morley
Wednesday 27 December 1815
Saltram 27th Decr

Madam–
I have been most anxiously waiting for an introduction to Emma, & am infinitely obliged to you for your kind recollection of me, which will procure me the pleasure of her acquaintance some days sooner than I shd otherwise have had it–I am already become intimate in the Woodhouse family, & feel that they will not amuse & interest me less than the Bennetts, Bertrams, Norriss & all their admirable predecessors–I can give them no higher praise–

I am
Madam
Yr much obliged
F. Morley–

***

To the Countess of Morley
Sunday 31 December 1815
Chawton Dec: 31

Madam
Accept my thanks for the honour of your note & for your kind disposition in favour of Emma. In my present state of doubt as to her reception in the World, it is particularly gratifying to receive so early an assurance of your Ladyship’s approbation. It encourages me to depend on the same share of general good opinion which Emma’s Predecessors have experienced, & to beleive that I have not yet–as almost every Writer of Fancy does sooner or later–overwritten myself.

I am Madam
Your Obliged & faithful Servt
J. Austen

***

To Anna Lefroy
Late 1815 or early 1816

My dear Anna
As I wish very much to see your Jemima*, I am sure you will like to see my Emma, & have therefore great pleasure in sending it for your perusal. Keep it as long as you chuse; it has been read by all here.–

*Jane’s first grand-niece whom she had been unable to visit following her birth in October 1815 due to bad weather.

 

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