Steventon, Monday Night, Dec 24, 1798
My dear Cassandra,
Our ball was very thin, but by no means unpleasant. There were thirty-one people, and only eleven ladies out of the number, and but five single women in the room. Of the gentlemen present you may have some idea from my list of partners - Mr. Wood, G. Lefroy, Rice, a Mr. Butcher (belonging to the Temples, a sailor and not of the 11th Light Dragoons), Mr. Temple (not the horrid one of all), Mr. Wm. Orde (cousin to the Kingsclere man), Mr. John Harwood, and Mr. Calland, who appeared as usual with his hat in his hand, and stood every now and then behind Catherine and me to be talked to an abused for not dancing. We teased him, however, into it at last. I was very glad to see him again after so long a separation...
There were twenty dances, and I danced them all, and without any fatigue...My black cap was openly admired by Mrs. Lefroy, and secretly I imagine by everybody else in the room...
Of my charities to the poor since I came home you shall have a faithful account. I have given a pair of worsted stockings to Mary Hutchins, Dame Kew, Mary Stevens, and Dame Staples; a shift to Hannah Staples, and a shawl to Betty Dawkins; amounting in all to about half a guinea...
I was to have dined at Deane today, but the weather is so cold that I am not sorry to be kept at home by the appearance of snow.
We are to have company to dinner on Friday: the three Digweeds and James. We shall be a nice silent party, I suppose.
You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve...God bless you!
Note: The Digweeds were the tenants of Steventon Manor. Jane's partners at the ball were neighbours, with the exception of Mr. Calland, who was probably the rector of Bentworth.
-Quoted from My Dear Cassandra: The Letters of Jane Austen, selected and introduced by Penelope Hughes-Hallett
I love reading through Jane Austen's letters to her various friends and family member but most of all to her sister Cassandra who was her best friend.
In the letter I quoted Jane was at home in Steventon with her family and was writing to Cassandra who was probably visiting with friends or family. I found Jane's details of the ball she attended and her list of dancing partners good fun. I love the last line of her letter which I've put in bold above.
I was also surprised by the beauty of this lovely screencap from Becoming Jane (2005). I just loved the colors, textures and composition of the scene with actress Anna Maxwell Martin as Cassandra Austen reading a severely edited letter from Jane.
How sweet to have a letter from someone you love!
Very Truly Your's,