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A Poem to Francis Austen on the Birth of his Son

Jane Austen was, by all accounts, a doting Aunt. This letter, written in verse form to her brother Francis Austen, celbrates the birth of his son on July 26, 1809.

My dearest Frank, I wish you joy

Of Mary’s safety with a boy,

Whose birth has given little pain,

Compared with that of Mary Jane.

May he a growing Blessing prove,

And well deserve his Parents Love!

Endow’d with Art’s & Nature’s Good,

Thy name possessing with thy Blood;

In him, in all his ways, may we

Another Francis William see! —

Thy infant days may he inherit,

Thy warmth, nay insolence of spirit; —

We would not with one fault dispense

To weaken the resemblance.

May he revive thy Nursery sin,

Peeping as daringly within,

(His curley Locks but just descried)

With, ‘Bet, my be not come to bide.’

Fearless of danger, braving pain,

And threatened very oft in vain,

Still may one Terror daunt his soul,

One needful engine of controul

Be found in this sublime array,

A neighbouring Donkey’s aweful Bray! —

So may his equal faults as Child

Produce Maturity as mild.

His saucy words & fiery ways

In early Childhood’s pettish days

In Manhood shew his Father’s mind,

Like him considerate & kind;

All Gentleness to those around,

And eager only not to wound.

Then like his Father too, he must,

To his own former struggles just,

Feel his Deserts with honest Glow,

And all his self-improvement know.

A native fault may thus give birth

To the best blessing, conscious worth. —

As for ourselves, we’re very well,

As unaffected prose will tell.

Cassandra’s pen will give our state

The many comforts that await

Our Chawton home — how much we find

Already in it, to our mind,

And how convinced that when complete,

It will all other Houses beat

That ever have been made or mended,

With rooms concise, or rooms distended.

You’ll find us very snug next year;

Perhaps with Charles & Fanny near

For now it often does delight us

To fancy them just over-right us.

J.A.

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