A Collection of Letters

To Miss Cooper

COUSIN Conscious of the Charming Character which in every Country, & every Clime in Christendom is Cried Concerning you, with Caution & Care I Commend to your Charitable Criticism this Clever Collection of Curious Comments, which have been Carefully Culled, Collected, & Classed by your Comical Cousin

The Author

Letter the first From A Mother to her freind

My Children begin now to claim all my attention in a different Manner from that in which they have been used to receive it, as they are now arrived at that age when it is necessary for them in some measure to become conversant with the World. My Augusta is 17 & her Sister scarcely a twelve-month younger. I flatter myself that their education has been such as will not disgrace their appearance in the World, & that they will not disgrace their Education, I have every reason to beleive. Indeed, they are sweet Girls. -- Sensible yet unaffected -- Accomplished yet Easy. -- Lively yet Gentle. -- As their progress in every thing they have learnt has been always the same, I am willing to forget the difference of age, and to introduce them together into Public. This very Evening is fixed on as their first entrée into life, as we are to drink tea with Mrs. Cope & her Daughter. I am glad that we are to meet no one, for my Girls' sake, as it would be awkward for them to enter too wide a Circle on the very first day. But we shall proceed by degrees. -- Tomorrow, Mr. Stanly's family will drink tea with us, and perhaps the Miss Phillips will meet them. On Tuesday we shall pay Morning-Visits. -- On Wednesday we are to dine at Westbrook. On Thursday we have Company at home. On Friday we are to be at a private concert at Sir John Wynne's -- & on Saturday we expect Miss Dawson to call in the morning, -- which will complete my Daughters' Introduction into Life. How they will bear so much dissipation I cannot imagine; of their Spirits I have no fear, I only dread their health. This mighty affair is now happily over, & my Girls are out. As the moment approached for our departure, you can have no idea how the sweet Creatures trembled with fear & expectation. Before the Carriage drove to the door, I called them into my dressing-room, & as soon as they were seated, thus addressed them. "My dear Girls, the moment is now arrived when I am to reap the rewards of all my Anxieties and Labours towards you during your Education. You are this Evening to enter a World in which you will meet with many wonderfull Things; Yet let me warn you against suffering yourselves to be meanly swayed by the Follies & Vices of others, for beleive me, my beloved Children, that if you do -- I shall be very sorry for it." They both assured me that they would ever remember my advice with Gratitude, & follow it with Attention; That they were prepared to find a World full of things to amaze & shock them: but that they trusted their behaviour would never give me reason to repent the Watchful Care with which I had presided over their infancy & formed their Minds. -- "With such expectations & such intentions, (cried I) I can have nothing to fear from you -- & can chearfully conduct you to Mrs. Cope's without a fear of your being seduced by her Example or contaminated by her Follies. Come then, my Children, (added I) the Carriage is driving to the door, & I will not a moment delay the happiness you are so impatient to enjoy." When we arrived at Warleigh, poor Augusta could hardly breathe, while Margaret was all Life & Rapture. "The long-expected Moment is now arrived, (said she) and we shall soon be in the World." -- In a few Moments we were in Mrs. Cope's parlour, -- where with her daughter she sat ready to receive us. I observed with delight the impression my Children made on them. -- They were indeed two sweet, elegant-looking Girls, & tho' somewhat abashed from the peculiarity of their Situation, Yet there was an ease in their Manners & Address which could not fail of pleasing. -- Imagine, my dear Madam, how delighted I must have been in beholding, as I did, how attentively they observed every object they saw, how disgusted with some Things, how enchanted with others, how astonished at all! On the whole, however, they returned in raptures with the World, its Inhabitants, & Manners. Yrs. Ever -- A---- F----

Letter the second

From a Young lady crossed in Love to her freind -- Why should this last disappointment hang so heavily on my Spirits? Why should I feel it more, why should it wound me deeper than those I have experienced before? Can it be that I have a greater affection for Willoughby than I had for his amiable predecessors? Or is it that our feelings become more acute from being often wounded? I must suppose, my dear Belle, that this is the Case, since I am not conscious of being more sincerely attached to Willoughby than I was to Neville, Fitzowen, or either of the Crawfords, for all of whom I once felt the most lasting affection that ever warmed a Woman's heart. Tell me then, dear Belle, why I still sigh when I think of the faithless Edward, or why I weep when I behold his Bride, for too surely this is the case. -- My Freinds are all alarmed for me; They fear my declining health; they lament my want of Spirits; they dread the effects of both. In hopes of releiving my Melancholy, by directing my thoughts to other objects, they have invited several of their freinds to spend the Christmas with us. Lady Bridget Dashwood & her Sister-in-Law Miss Jane are expected on Friday; & Colonel Seaton's family will be with us next week. This is all most kindly meant by my Uncle & Cousins; but what can the presence of a dozen indifferent people do to me, but weary & distress me. -- I will not finish my Letter till some of our Visitors are arrived. Friday Evening -- Lady Bridget came this Morning, and with her, her sweet Sister, Miss Jane. -- Although I have been acquainted with this charming Woman above fifteen years, Yet I never before observed how lovely she is. She is now about 35, & in spite of sickness, Sorrow, and Time, is more blooming than I ever saw a Girl of 17. I was delighted with her, the moment she entered the house, & she appeared equally pleased with me, attaching herself to me during the remainder of the day. There is something so sweet, so mild in her Countenance, that she seems more than Mortal. Her Conversation is as bewitching as her appearance; -- I could not help telling her how much she engaged my Admiration. -- "Oh! Miss Jane" (said I) -- and stopped from an inability at the moment of expressing myself as I could wish -- "Oh! Miss Jane" (I repeated) -- I could not think of words to suit my feelings -- She seemed waiting for my Speech. -- I was confused -- distressed. -- My thoughts were bewildered -- and I could only add "How do you do?" She saw & felt for my embarrassment & with admirable presence of mind releived me from it by saying -- "My dear Sophia, be not uneasy at having exposed Yourself -- I will turn the Conversation without appearing to notice it." Oh! how I loved her for her kindness! "Do you ride as much as you used to do?" said she. -- "I am advised to ride by my Physician, We have delightful Rides round us, I have a charming horse, am uncommonly fond of the Amusement," replied I, quite recovered from my Confusion, "& in short, I ride a great deal." "You are in the right my Love," said She, Then repeating the following Line which was an extempore & equally adapted to recommend both Riding & Candour -- "Ride where you may, Be Candid where You can," She added, "I rode once, but it is many years ago" -- She spoke this in so Low & tremulous a Voice, that I was silent -- Struck with her Manner of Speaking, I could make no reply. "I have not ridden," continued she, fixing her Eyes on my face, "since I was married." I was never so surprised -- "Married, Ma'am!" I repeated. "You may well wear that look of astonishment," said she, "since what I have said must appear improbable to you -- Yet nothing is more true than that I once was married." "Then why are you called ``Miss Jane'?" "I married, my Sophia, without the consent or knowledge of my father -- the late Admiral Annesley. It was therefore necessary to keep the secret from him & from every one, till some fortunate opportunity might offer of revealing it. -- Such an opportunity alas! was but too soon given in the death of my dear Capt. Dashwood -- Pardon these tears," continued Miss Jane, wiping her Eyes, "I owe them to my Husband's Memory; He fell, my Sophia, while fighting for his Country in America after a most happy Union of seven years. -- My Children, two sweet Boys & a Girl, who had constantly resided with my Father & me, passing with him & with every one as the Children of a Brother (tho' I had ever been an only child) had as yet been the Comforts of my Life. But no sooner had I lossed my Henry, than these sweet Creatures fell sick & died. -- Conceive, dear Sophia, what my feelings must have been when as an Aunt I attended my Children to their early Grave. -- My Father did not survive them many weeks -- He died, poor Good old Man, happily ignorant to his last hour of my Marriage." "But did you not own it, & assume his name at your husband's death?" "No; I could not bring myself to do it; more especially when in my Children, I lost all inducement for doing it. Lady Bridget and Yourself are the only persons who are in the knowledge of my having ever been either Wife or Mother. As I could not prevail on myself to take the name of Dashwood (a name which after my Henry's death I could never hear without emotion), and as I was conscious of having no right to that of Annesley, I dropt all thoughts of either, & have made it a point of bearing only my Christian one since my Father's death." She paused -- "Oh! my dear Miss Jane (said I) how infinitely am I obliged to you for so entertaining a Story! You cannot think how it has diverted me! But have you quite done?" "I have only to add, my dear Sophia, that my Henry's elder Brother dieing about the same time, Lady Bridget became a Widow like myself, and as we had always loved each other in idea from the high Character in which we had ever been spoken of, though we had never met, we determined to live together. We wrote to one another on the same subject by the same post, so exactly did our feelings & our Actions coincide: We both eagerly embraced the proposals we gave & received of becoming one family, and have from that time lived together in the greatest affection." "And is this all?" said I, "I hope you have not done." "Indeed I have; and did you ever hear a Story more pathetic?" "I never did -- and it is for that reason it pleases me so much, for when one is unhappy, nothing is so delightful to one's sensations as to hear of equal Misery." "Ah! but my Sophia, why are you unhappy?" "Have you not heard, Madam, of Willoughby's Marriage?" "But my Love, why lament his perfidy, when you bore so well that of many young Men before?" "Ah! Madam, I was used to it then, but when Willoughby broke his Engagements, I had not been dissapointed for half a year." "Poor Girl!" said Miss Jane.   Enjoyed this article? Browse our book shop at janeaustengiftshop.co.uk

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