Monday, June 6, 2011

Surprised By Beauty: Letter To Cassandra Austen

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! 
Yous affectionately,   
Jane Austen
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,


Tristans_Isolde said...

Anna Maxwell Martin was great as Cassandra in Becoming Jane wasn't she! She was sweet and kind- just everything I imagined her to be!

I loved the line in Jane's letter "My black cap was openly admired by Mrs.Lefroy, and secretly I imagine by everybody else in the room..." *laughs* Jane Austen is just so wonderful!

Thank you for sharing this :)

Bama said...

I so enjoyed this. I just really love Jane Austen, period!

beast'sbelle said...

Just reading her letters makes you realize why she's such a world-famous author. She has such a dry, amusing way of depicting events and people around her. Jane Austen is my absolute favorite author. :)

Maria Elisabeth said...

Hi Miss Laurie
I linked to your blog on my 'Lovely Blogs' page and put up your blog button on my sidebar!
Miss Georgiana

Mrs.Rabe said...

Oh, I need to get this book!

What a fun read!


Maria Elisabeth said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. Your thoughts on Emma convinced me it's probably time for a re-read. Emma (the movie) is very beautiful, but they did get most of the supporting characters wrong. I'm not sure about Mr. Knightley (it's really time for a re-read.)
Romola Garai's Emma is on order from the library so as soon as I get that I can compare the two.

-Miss Georgiana

Maria Elisabeth said...

I'm quite surprised that it looks like Darcy won't get to the second round. I had an easy time choosing to vote for him because he had way less than Knightley and even if he isn't better than Knightley, he deserves to have more votes. It was also easy to chose to go for Wentworth because I haven't read North and South.

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