Posted on

Catherine Anne Hubback (1818 -1877)

“Now that you are become an Aunt, you are a person of some consequence & must excite great Interest whatever you do. I have always maintained the importance of Aunts as much as possible…”
Jane Austen to her niece, Caroline Austen
October 30, 1815

Catherine Anne Hubback

Catherine Anne Hubback (nee AUSTEN) was the daughter of Sir Francis William Austen (1774 -1865), Admiral of the Fleet, and niece of  author Jane Austen (1775 -1817)

Catherine Anne Hubback was the eighth child and fourth daughter off the eleven children born to Sir Francis Austen and his first wife, Mary Gibson. Catherine never knew her “Aunt Jane” as she died the year before Catherine Anne was born, but she grew knowing her celebrated  aunt’s work through her Aunt Cassandra, Jane Austen’s sister who was a frequent visitor

Catherine met John Hubback (1811 -1885) , a barrister from a North country mercantile family at her father’s house, Portsdown Lodge, near Portsmouth. They were married in 1842 and had four children. The eldest, Mary, lived only long enough to be christened in 1843. They then had three sons, John Henry (1844 -1939), Edward Thomas (1846 -1924), and Charles Austen (1847 – 1924), perpetuating the great literary family name.  The couple lived at Malvern, then Wales, and later Birkenhead.  In 1847  John Hubback suffered a complete mental breakdown brought on by intense overwork and was committed to Brislington House Asylum in 1850 where he was to spend the rest of his life until his death in 1885. Catherine returned to her father’s house and to distract herself from perpetual anxiety, and in the hope of earning money to support herself and  three children, she started writing. In 1850 she published a version of Jane Austen’s  unfinished novel of 1803 -05, “The Watsons” , as “The Younger Sister”.  Catherine dedicated the novel to the memory of Jane Austen and wrote “ Though too young to have known her personally, was from early childhood taught to esteem her virtues and admire her talents”

Over the next thirteen years, nine more novels were published and Catherine Anne Hubback became a minor  novelist, much admired by “middle class young ladies”, among them the grandmother of American novelist Henry James. In the mid Victorian era some perverse judgements were made. “The Rival Suitors”, published in 1857 was called by one reviewer, “The best of all Mrs Hubback’s novels, and one which proves her to be nearly allied by genius as she is by blood to the first of English female novelists, Miss Austen”. Catherine clearly capitalised on her relationship with the famous aunt she never knew. She wrote to her son, John in 1871, “ I mean in future to have my name printed as Mrs C. Austen Hubback and make believe the A stands for that. I have written it at length so nobody knows and Austen is a good nom de plume”.

Catherine Hubback was a most ardent, spirited, and imaginative woman, “vivid”, was how her son John described her. In 1871 aged 53, she followed John to America where he had emigrated and become a prosperous grain merchant.

Catherine Anne Hubback died aged 59 on 25th February 1877 at Gainsville, Virginia at the home of her third son, Charley, who had also emigrated to the USA.

John Hubback died aged 74 at Brislington House Asylum on 24th February 1885 and is buried in St Luke’s Churchyard, Brislington, His gravestone in front of the West door reads:





Jonathan Rowe wrote this piece as part of a talk on “Brislington’s Literary Associations” which was recently given for the Brislington Conservation & History Society in conjunction with an exhibition, currently showing at Wick Road Library in Brislington. One of our Society members is the grandmother of two of Jane Austen great nieces ( X 6!) descended from Edward Knight.

The Duchess of Cambridge is Jane Austen’s 11th cousin, six times removed!

Posted on

The Life and Crimes of Jane Leigh-Perrot

“Bath is a charming place, sir; there are so many good shops here. We are sadly off in the country. . . . Now, here one can step out of doors, and get a thing in five minutes.”
Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen’s first entrance into Bath was facilitated by a visit to her Uncle and Aunt, James and Jane Leigh-Perrot. Wealthy and childless, Uncle James was the older brother of Cassandra Leigh Austen, Jane Austen’s mother. In a turn of events, not unlike what would later happen to Austen’s own brother, Uncle James inherited a fortune from another childless relative. Upon inheriting the Northleigh Estate (which was promptly demolished and sold) James added the surname of his late Uncle Perrot to his last name, becoming James Leigh-Perrot. He then went on to build a new home in Berkshire, which he named “Scarlets”.

For many years the Leigh-Perrots were quite happy spending their summers at Scarlets and their winters in Bath. From their home at Number One, the Paragon, they were able to enjoy society, take the waters, and offer their nieces from Steventon a chance at seeing something of the world. Surely young Catherine Morland’s visit to Bath in Northanger Abbey is taken from Jane Austen’s own first visit there in 1797.

Soon after that visit, an incident took place which would cast a pall over the Leigh-Perrots stay in the City and bring Aunt Jane into the annals of history. In August, 1799, Mrs Leigh-Perrot had stopped in at a linen drapers to purchase a length of black lace. Upon leaving, she was accosted by the owner of the shop who asked to inspect her package. At that point it was discovered that a card of white lace, worth twenty shillings (£1), was also included in the packet. Mrs Leigh-Perrot insisted that it was a mistake by a clerk who had accidently wrapped the white lace along with the black. The owner called it shoplifting.

Mrs Leigh-Perrot forcefully denied the claim and continued home. A few days later, she was arrested for theft and help for an additional eight months in jail until the March Assizes would be held. Due to her station as a gentlewoman, she was not lodged in the public gaol, but instead, lived with the jailer and his family, thoug in relative filth, while awaiting trial. Her ever devoted husband stayed by her side, regardless of the “Vulgarity, Dirt, Noise from morning till night…Cleanliness has ever been his greatest delight, and yet he sees the greasy toast laid by the dirty children on his knees, and feels the small Beer trickle down his Sleeves on its way across the table unmoved.” No doubt Jane Austen was relieved when her aunt turned down Mrs Austen’s offer of allowing her daughters to travel to the Ilchester gaol to keep her company.

The crime which Mrs Leigh-Perrot was charged with, was no small thing. At that time, theft of any item worth five shillings or more was punishable by hanging or, as was more likely in her case, deportation to Australia for 14 years. The trial took place on March 29, 1800. Fortunately for the Austen-Leighs, the jury took only a few minutes to return with a “not guilty” verdict and the matter was soon hushed up.

Most essays that have been written about the matter since, have been by Austen family members and it is usually said the male in the shop at the time sought to blackmail Mrs Leigh-Perrot. As in most cases, the evidence is complicated, and the arguments on both sides have to be paid attention to.

In The Trial of Jane’s Aunt, Albert Borowitz argues a careful examination of what happened at the trial suggests that the woman was probably guilty and that the jury came in with a “not guilty” verdict because one, she was a wealthy gentleman’s wife, and two, the punishment for the crime was so severe.

The case is still known and the details available for anyone who wants to study it because the individual arraigned for grand larceny was Jane Austen’s aunt, Mrs Jane Leigh-Perrot. With very little and discreet commentary, Sir Frank MacKinnon reprinted all the original documents having to do with the case in a 4 volume set of books containing documents and essays and letters pertaining to Jane Austen. Borowitz and MacKinnon agree the case created a local furor of sorts because the woman was wealthy and a known personality in Bath.

The actual evidence is somewhat damning. The day Mrs Leigh-Perrot left the shop with the lace stuffed awkwardly into a package made up for her by the a clerk, Mr Filby, another woman, Miss Gregory, the shop’s owner, accosted and accused her, and then went right to the magistrates and demanded she be arrested.

Miss Gregory and Mr Filby (with whom she was having an affair) went for three days in a row to ask that Mrs Leigh-Perrot be arrested and the crime admitted to. It is true that a week later the man made the mistake of trying to blackmail Mr Leigh-Perrot (he had been getting nowhere with the magistrates as yet), but if you read his letter it seems to be reaction, an afterthought. However, it was used as evidence against him but in a mild way: the four defense attorneys (that’s four) who defended Mrs Leigh-Perrot never accused the man of blackmail but argued he had by mistake put the white lace into the package.

Borowitz provides a detailed drawing to show where the man was standing, where Mrs Leigh-Perrot was standing, and reprints testimony to suggest the man could not have mistaken a white lace hanging on one side of a shop with black lace lying on a counter on the other.

Two people were brought into court to say that this man had put extra things in their packages, but both incidents happened after Mrs Leigh-Perrot was arraigned (so there is suspicion that they were currying favor with the Leigh-Perrots and their connections). The judge told the jury to ignore one of them (as not worthy evidence) and the other did buy the same colour lace as the one she said the man put into her package.

Then there was an attempt to blacken the character of the shopkeeper. It was shown the attorneys for the shopkeeper and people who helped the couple in the shop were respectable citizens who had been involved in philanthropic activities. So another “countercharge” that the milliner and her boyfriend were unsavoury types was at least not thought to be so at the time. In any case it was irrelevant to whether Mrs Leigh-Perrot stole the lace. The judge pointed this out.

Finally, the two letters which Mrs Leigh-Perrot and her husband produced which accused this man of having a bad character are said by Borowitz to be suspicious, to be in the same handwriting and have the same phrases in them.

The above is a summary of answers to most of what has been said on behalf of the idea that Mrs Leigh-Perrot was utterly innocent and framed by bad people.

Now for the evidence Jane’s Aunt Jane did it. This is usually not brought up by the many who want to argue she didn’t. One of the employees in the shop persistently testified that she saw Mrs Leigh-Perrot do it — under some sharp barrages from Mrs Leigh-Perrot’s lawyer. This is long and convincing. And of course the others said she did it, and she had the lace on her. The sketch by Borowitz shows how easily she could have done it and just as she was accused of doing it.

There was an attempt on the part of Mrs Leigh-Perrot’s lawyers to get the arraignment squashed but the man and milliner in the shop were able to stop this partly because shopkeepers in Bath were influential. Shopkeepers saw a not-guilty verdict as against their interests. Not to have arraigned her would allow the already privileged “company” (wealthy visitors and people who were society) a kind of “carte blanche”.

Mrs Leigh-Perrot’s lawyers wrote a statement for her in which she basically appealed to the jury to suppose that a woman as wealthy as she would have no reason to steal such a piece of lace. While she read it, her lawyers wept. Mr Leigh-Perrot paid something like £2000 for a row of character witnesses to appear to tell the jury what a respectable pious wealthy woman Mrs Leigh-Perrot was.

Then the judge gave a very even-handed summing up until he reached the last part of his speech, at which point he emphasized the woman’s wealth & character as described by her witnesses. Was it “probable or reasonable for her to steal this lace?”, was the question implied.

At the time there was no such illness as kleptomania. This is a modern concept: illnesses are in the eyes of beholders and tell as much about the society that perceives them as the symptoms.

It took the jury less than 15 minutes to come back with a verdict of not guilty.

One of the interesting aspects of the documents is that afterwards neither side openly talked about the disjunction between this crime and the punishment. It was insinuated she got off because of who she was. It may be that this idea of the disjunction of the crime and punishment was mentioned in the newspapers but I haven’t read them and the essays about the case don’t quote anyone in the period saying this. It was apparently not in the interest of Mrs Leigh-Perrot’s side to explicitly appeal to the jury’s sense that the punishment was too harsh for the crime.

It seems to be only today that people writing about the case emphasize that she got off whether she was guilty or not because the punishment was overdone and in such cases juries were loathe to convict. Borowitz and the couple of people who have read his essay suggest that if you look carefully you could say that though it’s probable the woman stole the lace, there is some doubt.

This is very different from the Austen family and Janeites who talk about the utter innocence of the woman and bad-mouth the man.

It’s interesting to note she had been to the shop the day before ‘cheapening the lace’, in other words giving these shopkeepers a hard time and it’s possible they had learnt to dislike her intensely — (she was, I think, one of the originals for Austen’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mrs Norris). Since there is reasonable doubt, given the harsh punishment, and her status, the jury would not convict.

Afterwards in private letters (and I suppose to her friends), Mrs Leigh-Perrot complained bitterly about the judge’s behavior during the trial and about how no one attempted to arraign the man who had accused her of perjury. She keeps wishing on him bankruptcy, imprisonment, or death. There was no attempt during the trial to accuse this man of perjury. The accusation was that he had simply been negligent, made a mistake.

Mr Yates had staid to see the destruction of every theatrical preparation at Mansfield, the removal of everything appertaining to the play: he left the house in all the soberness of its general character; and Sir Thomas hoped, in seeing him out of it, to be rid of the worst object connected with the scheme, and the last that must be inevitably reminding him of its existence.

Mrs Norris contrived to remove one article from his sight that might have distressed him.

The curtain, over which she had presided with such talent and such success, went off with her to her cottage, where she happened to be particularly in want of green baize.
Mansfield Park

Those who have read the material about this woman know that a number of years later a similar incident happened: in some gardening shop, she is said to have tried to hide a plant and take it out of the shop; a young girl saw and stopped her on the spot; the shopkeeper got very angry, but the young girl’s father hauled the girl away because he didn’t want trouble. One of Mrs Leigh-Perrot’s lawyers later said the woman was known as a smoocher, someone who would and did steal small things. (Here’s that concept of spunging, so popular in Mansfield Park. Is it possible that Aunt Leigh-Perrot was a type for Aunt Norris?)

“What else have you been spunging?” said Maria, half-pleased that Sotherton should be so complimented.

“Spunging, my dear! It is nothing but four of those beautiful pheasants’ eggs, which Mrs Whitaker would quite force upon me: she would not take a denial.
Mansfield Park

As to the idea that she was so wealthy, she would not steal, this falls down on experience of other cases. Wealthy women do shoplift. The genteel shoplifter is still a problem. In New York City some years ago a woman who had been Miss America in 1946, Bess Myerson, and was very wealthy at the time, was caught shoplifting about $10 worth of goods; the case made headlines for something of the same reasons Mrs L-P’s case did — except Bess Myerson admitted to the theft. Of course she didn’t need to fear hanging or transportation. It is said Mr L-P made firm arrangements to go to Australia with his wife in case she was found guilty. He seriously believed she might have been found guilty and spent enormous amounts on her behalf. Another reason Mrs L-P was declared not guilty was the same operation of money we see in courts today when the wealthy are arrested and get good lawyers who can take the time and spend the money to get evidence on their client’s behalf.

I tell this story because one, it is usually not told fairly, and two, it’s interesting. Many of the details are known, the documents are available. One can make a full drawing of what happened; the characters of those involved are known. The man and milliner were living together — which didn’t help them in court, though the man spoke frankly and without shame about this. I have probably not told the story clearly enough here but anyone who is interested in the behavior of juries when someone commits a theft of a small item with severe legel punishment, ought to look into this one.

The documents are in a Grand Larceny being the Trial of Jane Leigh Perrot, Aunt of Jane Austen reprinted in Jane Austen Family History 4 vols (Routledge, Thoemmes Press, 1995). Albert Borowitz’s fine essay has been reprinted a couple of times, but is easiest to find in A Gallery of Sinister Perspectives (Kent State University Press, 1982).

After the trial, the Leigh-Perrots continued to reside in Bath and were delighted when the Austen’s joined them in 1801. They remained in touch and reappear on the scene during the disposal of the Stoneleigh Abbey estate. More on this and further information about the Leigh-Perrots can be found in The People in Jane Austen’s life: The Leigh-Perrots. Upon the death of Mrs. Leigh-Perrot in 1836, Scarlets and the majority of her fortune was left to Jane Austen’s own nephew, who then took on the name of his Aunt and Uncle becoming James Edward Austen Leigh. JEAL, as he is often called, was the first to write a biography of his famous Aunt, Jane Austen.


Ellen Moody, a Lecturer in English at George Mason University, has compiled the most accurate calendars for Jane Austen’s work, to date. She has created timelines for each of the six novels and the three unfinished novel fragments. She is currently working on a book, The Austen Movies. Visit her website for further Austen related articles.

Posted on

Frederic and Elfrida

To Miss Lloyd


As a small testimony of the gratitude I feel for your late generosity to me in finishing my muslin Cloak, I beg leave to offer you this little production of your sincere Freind


Chapter the First

THE Uncle of Elfrida was the Father of Frederic; in other words, they were first cousins by the Father’s side.

Being both born in one day & both brought up at one school, it was not wonderfull that they should look on each other with something more than bare politeness. They loved with mutual sincerity, but were both determined not to transgress the rules of Propriety by owning their attachment, either to the object beloved, or to any one else.

They were exceedingly handsome and so much alike, that it was not every one who knew them apart. Nay, even their most intimate freinds had nothing to distinguish them by, but the shape of the face, the colour of the Eye, the length of the Nose, & the difference of the complexion.

Elfrida had an intimate freind to whom, being on a visit to an Aunt, she wrote the following Letter.

To Miss Drummond

Dear Charlotte
I should be obliged to you, if you would buy me, during your stay with Mrs. Williamson, a new & fashionable Bonnet, to suit the complexion of your
E. FalknorR

Charlotte, whose character was a willingness to oblige every one, when she returned into the Country, brought her Freind the wished-for Bonnet, & so ended this little adventure, much to the satisfaction of all parties.

On her return to Crankhumdunberry (of which sweet village her father was Rector), Charlotte was received with the greatest Joy by Frederic & Elfrida, who, after pressing her alternately to their Bosoms, proposed to her to take a walk in a Grove of Poplars which led from the Parsonage to a verdant Lawn enamelled with a variety of variegated flowers & watered by a purling Stream, brought from the Valley of Tempé by a passage under ground.

In this Grove they had scarcely remained above 9 hours, when they were suddenly agreably surprized by hearing a most delightfull voice warble the following stanza.

That Damon was in love with me
I once thought & beleiv’d
But now that he is not I see,
I fear I was deceiv’d.

No sooner were the lines finished than they beheld by a turning in the Grove 2 elegant young women leaning on each other’s arm, who immediately on perceiving them, took a different path & disappeared from their sight.

Chapter the Second

As Elfrida & her companions had seen enough of them to know that they were neither the 2 Miss Greens, nor Mrs. Jackson and her Daughter, they could not help expressing their surprise at their appearance; till at length recollecting, that a new family had lately taken a House not far from the Grove, they hastened home, determined to lose no no time in forming an acquaintance with 2 such amiable & worthy Girls, of which family they rightly imagined them to be a part.

Agreable to such a determination, they went that very evening to pay their respects to Mrs. Fitzroy & her two Daughters. On being shewn into an elegant dressing room, ornamented with festoons of artificial flowers, they were struck with the engaging Exterior & beautifull outside of Jezalinda, the eldest of the young Ladies; but e’er they had been many minutes seated, the Wit & Charms which shone resplendent in the conversation of the amiable Rebecca enchanted them so much, that they all with one accord jumped up and exclaimed:

“Lovely & too charming Fair one, notwithstanding your forbidding Squint, your greazy tresses & your swelling Back, which are more frightfull than imagination can paint or pen describe, I cannot refrain from expressing my raptures, at the engaging Qualities of your Mind, which so amply atone for the Horror with which your first appearance must ever inspire the unwary visitor.”

“Your sentiments so nobly expressed on the different excellencies of Indian & English Muslins, & the judicious preference you give the former, have excited in me an admiration of which I can alone give an adequate idea, by assuring you it is nearly equal to what I feel for myself.”

Then making a profound Curtesy to the amiable & abashed Rebecca, they left the room & hurried home.

From this period, the intimacy between the Families of Fitzroy, Drummond, and Falknor daily increased, till at length it grew to such a pitch, that they did not scruple to kick one another out of the window on the slightest provocation.

During this happy state of Harmony, the eldest Miss Fitzroy ran off with the Coachman & the amiable Rebecca was asked in marriage by Captain Roger of Buckinghamshire.

Mrs. Fitzroy did not approve of the match on account of the tender years of the young couple, Rebecca being but 36 & Captain Roger little more than 63. To remedy this objection, it was agreed that they should wait a little while till they were a good deal older.

Chapter the Third

IN the mean time, the parents of Frederic proposed to those of Elfrida an union between them, which being accepted with pleasure, the wedding cloathes were bought & nothing remained to be settled but the naming of the Day.

As to the lovely Charlotte, being importuned with eagerness to pay another visit to her Aunt, she determined to accept the invitation & in consequence of it walked to Mrs. Fitzroy’s to take leave of the amiable Rebecca, whom she found surrounded by Patches, Powder, Pomatum, & Paint, with which she was vainly endeavouring to remedy the natural plainness of her face.

“I am come, my amiable Rebecca, to take my leave of you for the fortnight I am destined to spend with my aunt. Beleive me, this separation is painfull to me, but it is as necessary as the labour which now engages you.”

“Why to tell you the truth, my Love,” replied Rebecca, “I have lately taken it into my head to think (perhaps with little reason) that my complexion is by no means equal to the rest of my face & have therefore taken, as you see, to white & red paint which I would scorn to use on any other occasion, as I hate art.”

Charlotte, who perfectly understood the meaning of her freind’s speech, was too good-temper’d & obliging to refuse her what she knew she wished, — a compliment; & they parted the best freinds in the world.

With a heavy heart & streaming Eyes did she ascend the lovely vehicle which bore her from her freinds & home; but greived as she was, she little thought in what a strange & different manner she should return to it.

On her entrance into the city of London, which was the place of Mrs. Williamson’s abode, the postilion, whose stupidity was amazing, declared & declared even without the least shame or Compunction, that having never been informed, he was totally ignorant of what part of the Town he was to drive to.

Charlotte, whose nature we have before intimated was an earnest desire to oblige every one, with the greatest Condescension & Good humour informed him that he was to drive to Portland Place, which he accordingly did & Charlotte soon found herself in the arms of a fond Aunt.

Scarcely were they seated as usual, in the most affectionate manner in one chair, than the Door suddenly opened & an aged gentleman with a sallow face & old pink Coat, partly by intention & partly thro’ weakness was at the feet of the lovely Charlotte, declaring his attachment to her & beseeching her pity in the most moving manner.

Not being able to resolve to make any one miserable, she consented to become his wife; where upon the Gentleman left the room & all was quiet.

Their quiet however continued but a short time, for on a second opening of the door a young & Handsome Gentleman with a new blue coat entered & intreated from the lovely Charlotte, permission to pay to her his addresses.

There was a something in the appearance of the second Stranger, that influenced Charlotte in his favour, to the full as much as the appearance of the first: she could not account for it, but so it was.

Having therefore, agreable to that & the natural turn of her mind to make every one happy, promised to become his Wife the next morning, he took his leave & the two Ladies sat down to Supper on a young Leveret, a brace of Partridges, a leash of Pheasants & a Dozen of Pigeons.

Chapter the Fourth

IT was not till the next morning that Charlotte recollected the double engagement she had entered into; but when she did, the reflection of her past folly operated so strongly on her mind, that she resolved to be guilty of a greater, & to that end threw herself into a deep stream which ran thro her Aunt’s pleasure Grounds in Portland Place.

She floated to Crankhumdunberry where she was picked up & buried; the following epitaph, composed by Frederic, Elfrida, & Rebecca, was placed on her tomb.


Here lies our friend who having promis-ed
That unto two she would be marri-ed
Threw her sweet Body & her lovely face
Into the Stream that runs thro’ Portland Place.

These sweet lines, as pathetic as beautifull, were never read by any one who passed that way, without a shower of tears, which if they should fail of exciting in you, Reader, your mind must be unworthy to peruse them.

Having performed the last sad office to their departed freind, Frederic & Elfrida together with Captain Roger & Rebecca returned to Mrs. Fitzroy’s, at whose feet they threw themselves with one accord & addressed her in the following Manner.


“When the sweet Captain Roger first addressed the amiable Rebecca, you alone objected to their union on account of the tender years of the Parties. That plea can be no more, seven days being now expired, together with the lovely Charlotte, since the Captain first spoke to you on the subject.”

“Consent then Madam to their union & as a reward, this smelling Bottle which I enclose in my right hand, shall be yours & yours forever; I never will claim it again. But if you refuse to join their hands in 3 days time, this dagger which I enclose in my left shall be steeped in your heart’s blood.”

“Speak then, Madam, & decide their fate & yours.”

Such gentle & sweet persuasion could not fail of having the desired effect. The answer they received, was this.

“My dear young freinds”

“The arguments you have used are too just & too eloquent to be withstood; Rebecca, in 3 days time, you shall be united to the Captain.”

This speech, than which nothing could be more satisfactory, was received with Joy by all; & peace being once more restored on all sides, Captain Roger intreated Rebecca to favour them with a Song, in compliance with which request, having first assured them that she had a terrible cold, she sung as follows.

When Corydon went to the fair
He bought a red ribbon for Bess,
With which she encircled her hair
& made herself look very fess.

Chapter the Fifth

AT the end of 3 days Captain Roger and Rebecca were united, and immediately after the Ceremony set off in the Stage Waggon for the Captain’s seat in Buckinghamshire.

The parents of Elfrida, alltho’ they earnestly wished to see her married to Frederic before they died, yet knowing the delicate frame of her mind could ill bear the least exertion & rightly judging that naming her wedding day would be too great a one, forebore to press her on the subject.

Weeks & Fortnights flew away without gaining the least ground; the Cloathes grew out of fashion & at length Capt. Roger & his Lady arrived, to pay a visit to their Mother & introduce to her their beautifull Daughter of eighteen.

Elfrida, who had found her former acquaintance were growing too old & too ugly to be any longer agreable, was rejoiced to hear of the arrival of so pretty a girl as Eleanor, with whom she determined to form the strictest freindship.

But the Happiness she had expected from an acquaintance with Eleanor, she soon found was not to be received, for she had not only the mortification of finding herself treated by her as little less than an old woman, but had actually the horror of perceiving a growing passion in the Bosom of Frederic for the Daughter of the amiable Rebecca.

The instant she had the first idea of such an attachment, she flew to Frederic & in a manner truly heroick, spluttered out to him her intention of being married the next Day.

To one in his predicament who possessed less personal Courage than Frederic was master of, such a speech would have been Death; but he, not being the least terrified, boldly replied:

“Damme, Elfrida, you may be married tomorrow, but I won’t.”

This answer distressed her too much for her delicate Constitution. She accordingly fainted & was in such a hurry to have a succession of fainting fits, that she had scarcely patience enough to recover from one before she fell into another.

Tho’ in any threatening Danger to his Life or Liberty, Frederic was as bold as brass, yet in other respects his heart was as soft as cotton & immediately on hearing of the dangerous way Elfrida was in, he flew to her & finding her better than he had been taught to expect, was united to her Forever. —


Visit the Jane Austen Information Page for end notes on this novel.

Enjoyed this article? Browse our book shop at

Posted on

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.


Enjoyed this article? Browse our book shop at