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seemed rooted so much deeper down to in February, 1805, she removed to Southhim. It had its origin in the life she ampton. There she remained for four led, the places she saw; and apart from years, when her mother, her sister Cashis love, he was possessed by a great sandra, and herself, took up their abode longing to rescue her from this, to guide at Chawton in Hampshire, in a house beher by a teaching of which she knew longing to Mr. Austen's second son. This nothing, for of many truths, the heathen continued to be her home till her last ill. in a savage land had as much knowledge ness. She died in Winchester, whither as poor Robin. And the same compas. she had gone for medical advice, on July sión - although in a lesser degree -- he 10, 1817. She inade few friends beyond spread out towards Mr. Veriker, with the circle of her own family, and it is not whom Christopher never talked without known that she was ever seriously in love. realizing how impotent words are when, Her literary activity falls into two disto those we say them to, they bear no tinct sections. She began “ Pride and meaning.
Prejudice” in October, 1796, at the age of Mr. Veriker's sole anxiety as to death, twenty, and finished it in August, 1797. was that he had to leave Robin. “I'm “ Sense and Sensibility
Sense and Sensibility" was begun in afraid I must make up my mind to throw November, 1797. “Northanger Abbey" up my hand,” he would say, “and there, was composed in 1798. Then came a so far as I've found out, will be an end pause. During the nine years passed at of the game — and of me." Then see. Bath and Southampton, extending from ing that Christopher looked pained, he her twenty-sixth to her thirty-fifth year, would add by way of consolation, “ You we do not know that she wrote anything talk to Robin about that, my good fellow, except the short but striking history of make her listen to what you've been tell. “ Lady Susan,” a novel in letters, though ing me – women are ever so much easier it is probable that the fragment which Mr. to convince about that sort of thing than Austen-Leigh entitles “The Watsons," men are."
was begun in these nine years. She pubIt never seemed to present itself to lished nothing till 1811; but from that Mr. Veriker that Christopher was a man date onwards, novel followed novel with – most certainly he never regarded him great rapidity:
“Sense and Sensibility,' as one; he rather looked on him as after undergoing revision, was published some strange anomaly, some unaccount. in 1811;" Pride and Prejudice” in 1813; able being, possessing, a pot of money, “Mansfield Park” followed in 1814; and not an idea of enjoying it! except “Emma " at the end of 1815; and “Perin spending it on him and Robin, and suasion came out with
Northanger that certainly he had done freely enough Abbey," after her death, in 1818. since he had been there; he was never This silence may be explained by the tired of bringing them gifts, anticipating discouragement which attended Miss their wishes, providing them with pleas- | Austen's first attempts to put her work in
They had lived as much as was print. A proposal made by her father to possible en prince since Christopher bad Mr. Cadell for the publication of a novel come to Venice.
comprising three volumes — about the length of Miss Burney's • Evelina'" (“ Pride and Prejudice ") was declined by return of post. The fate of “ Northanger
Abbey” was still more humiliating. It From Temple Bar. was sold in 1803 to a publisher in Bath JANE AUSTEN.*
for ten pounds, but “it found so little The chronicle of Miss Austen's life is favor in his eyes that he chose to abide brief and simple. For twenty-five years by his first loss rather than risk further from her birth on December 16, 1775, she expense by publishing such a work." lived in her father's family at the rectory "The Thorpes," " Tilneys," and "Cather
“ “ of Steventon in Hampshire, making of ine Morland” for ten pounds, and dear course occasional visits to relatives and at the price! Afterwards, when four nov. friends, some of which visits took her to els had been published, Jane wished to Bath. In 1801, on the resignation of her recover the copyright. father, she went with her family to Bath, and from thence, after Mr. Austen's death tion. He found the purchaser very willing to
One of her brothers undertook the negotia.
receive back his money and to resign all claim • Novels by Jane Austen, with a biography, in six to the copyright. When the bargain was convolumes. Bentiey and Son.
cluded, and the money paid, but not till then,
the negotiator had the satisfaction of inform- | Mr. Collins and Mr. Elton are selfish, uning him that the work thus lightly esteemed derbred men, whose thoughts are wholly was by the author of “Pride and Prejudice.” occupied with themselves. Dr. Grant, in
Six novels, of which four only were “Mansfield Park,” is a bon vivant, of published in her life, and a few fragments, whom we hear in connection with a roast do not make up a large bulk of work for turkey and the best means of turning a one who wrote so rapidly and well as living to good account. The young men Miss Austen. It is true that she died in who are about to take orders, the Berher forty-third year, but on the other hand trams, Tilneys, and Ferrars, have common she began to write at a very early age. sense, and morals enough to enable them She was barely twenty when she began to fill the place of a country clergyman, “Pride and Prejudice, and she finished and that is all. They never exhibit any it in ten months. After a brief interval peculiar fitness for their vocation, unless she is engaged upon a fresh work, “Sense it be that they appear to be fit for nothing and Sensibility,” which is completed with else. Jane knew this, and answered Mr. equal rapidity. Thus before she was
Clarke thus: twenty-three she had written two of the
I am quite honored by your thinking me best novels in the language. At this rate capable of drawing such a clergyman as you she might have filled our shelves, as gave the sketch of in your note. But I assure recent novelists have filled them. But you I am not. The comic part of the chara the great stimulus to over-production was ter I might be equal to, but not the good, the wanting: there was no demand for her enthusiastic, the literary. Such a man's conlabor. No printer's boy waited to carry science and philosophy, of which I know noth
versation must at times be on subjects of off her “copy,” no editor insisted on another sheet to make up his forthcoming quotations and allusions, which a woman who,
ing, or at least be occasionally abundant in number. Unknown and in silence she like me, knows only her mother tongue, and created her wonderful stories. Mrs. Ben-has read little in that, would be totally without net lamented in vain; Mr. Collins made the power of giving. A classical education or, love and no one laughed. With nothing at any rate, a very extensive acquaintance with but her own taste to guide her, she pro- English literature, ancient and modern, apduced work almost faultless in style; and pears to me quite indispensable for the person wrote English which puts us tó shame. who would do any justice to your clergyman; She composed in the first instance for her and I think I may boast myself to be with all own amusement from her earliest child possible vanity the most unlearned and unin
formed female who ever dared to be an auhood writing rather than reading attracted
thoress. her - and therefore she wrote when and as she pleased. She altered, excised, re
The same gentleman, failing with his wrote, caring for nothing but the perfec- parson, suggested yet another subject. tion which satisfied her own judgment.
“ A historical romance, illustrative of the She steadily refused to travel beyond the august house of Coburg would just now circle within which she felt that her
be very interesting," he writes, on the ers ranged. In the last years of her life, occasion of the approaching marriage of when she became known as an authoress, Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold, she received various suggestions from whose chaplain and secretary he had friends that she should write a novel on recently become. It is difficult to believe this or that subject. Mr. Clarke, for in. that any man, even a chaplain, could have stance, the librarian of Carlton House, made such a proposal. What have hisrequested her to “delineate the habits, tory and the august house of Coburg to character, and enthusiasm of a clergyman do with life in English villages and waterwho should pass his time between the ing-places, with the ultra - genteel and metropolis and the country, who should demi-vulgar, the artful or artless young be something like Beattie's minstrel — women, and somewhat flabby young men,
whom Jane Austen knew from the heart “Silent when glad, affectionate though shy,
outwards ? She answers, humorously : – And in his looks was most demurely sad; And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew I am fully sensible that a historical romance why.”
founded on the House of Saxe-Coburg might What induced the man to make this be much more to the purpose of profit or poprequest, it is hard to say; Jane's clergy country villages as I deal in. But I could no
ularity than. such pictures of domestic life in men are far enough removed from such a
more write a romance than an epic poem. I type. The qualities which they distinctly could not sit seriously down to write a serious have not, are earnestness and enthusiasm. romance under any motive than to save my
life, and if it were indispensable to keep it up | by his example that some of her earliest and never relax into laughing at myself or at attempts seem to have been written in the other people, I am sure that I should be hung form of letters - Lady Susan” still before I had finished the first chapter. No! is. must keep to my own style and go on in my posed, but was rewritten after the removal
"Sense and Sensibility” was so com: own way: and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I shall to Chawton in 1809. She is accurate in totally fail in any other.
all her descriptions of ships and naval
affairs; but her knowledge of these mat. This is from a letter dated April 1, 1816. ters was derived from conversation and In August she had finished " Persuasion.” correspondence with her two youngest Who would exchange Anne Elliot for“ a brothers, who were in the navy, rather wilderness” of heroines of the “august than from any study of the subject in house of Coburg”?
books. Not that she shrank from such The same self-command and certainty reading: she mentions with pleasure an of aim showed itself in her mode of com
“Essay on the Military Police, and Instiposition:
tutions of the British Empire,” by Captain She had no separate study to retire to, and Pasley," which I find delightfully written most of the work must have been done in the and highly interesting. I am as much in general sitting-room, subject to all kinds of love with the author as ever I was with casual interruptions. She was careful that her Clarkson or Buchanan. The first soldier occupation should not be suspected by ser. I ever sighed for, but he does write with vants, or visitors, or any persons beyond her extraordinary force and spirit.”, Captain own family party. She wrote upon small sheets of paper, which could easily be put
Pasley's book was an octavo. Her opin. away, or covered with a piece of 'blotting- ion of the far-famed “Spectator," the paper. There was, between the front door great thesaurus of sound English and and the offices, a swing door which creaked sound morality, she has given us in when it was opened; but she objected to having " Northanger Abbey," in a passage in this little inconvenience remedied, because it which she makes a powerful claim for the give her notice when any one was coming. I novel as against other kinds of literature. have no doubt [her nephew and biographer continues] that I and my sisters and cousins,
“I am no novel-reader - I seldom look into on our visits to Chawton, frequently disturbed novels - Do not imagine that I often read this mystic process, without having any idea novels - It is really very well for a novel.” of the mischief we were doing : certainly we Such is the common cant.
“ And what are
“Oh! it is only a should never have guessed by any signs of im- you reading, Miss patience or irritability in the writer.
novel!” replies the young lady; while she lays
down her book with affected indifference or Of herself Jane says in a letter :
momentary shame. It is only “Cecilia" or What should I do with your strong, manly,
“Camilla or “Belinda ;” or, in short, only vigorous sketches, full of variety and glow some work in which the greatest powers of the How could I possibly join them on to the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which knowledge of human nature, the happiest de. I work with so fine a brush as produces little lineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions effect after much labor ?
of wit and humor, are conveyed to the world
in the best chosen language. Now, had the Miss Austen read little ; she seems to same young lady been engaged with a volume have shared Lamb's aversion to the ac- of “The Spectator," instead of such a work, quirement of useful knowledge. He could how proudly would she have produced the read anything but the authors who form work and told its name; though the chances the necessary part of a gentleman's libra- must be against her being occupied with any ry.
She “detested quartos.' “ Ladies part of that voluminous publication, of which who read those enormous great, stupid, the matter or manner would not disgust a thick quarto volumes, which one always young person of taste. sees in the breakfast parlor there, must This passage is the more interesting be acquainted with everything in the because it is perhaps the sole instance of world." To write and create was her irritation and severity to be found in Miss pleasure : her vein of original composition Austen's works. was so full and strong that she had no So far as we know, her favorite authors need to replenish it with reading. She were Johnson in prose, Crabbe in verse, knew French well and something of Ital- and Cowper in both. "She would some. ian, but we find little or no traces of either times say, in jest, that if ever she married French or Italian literature in her works. at all, she could fancy being Mrs. Crabbe.” Richardson she had carefully studied and The truth is that she estimated the knew minutely; she was so far influenced knowledge which comes from life far
above the knowledge which comes from for a scene and a subject; the nearest books. In this learning she was herself village with its hall or parsonage was skilled as few have been, and she knew enough. It is seldom that we meet with the value of it. When Fanny Price ap. this close connection between author and pears at Mansfield Park, she is at a great subject; but when we do, the result is of disadvantage in all accomplishments as peculiar value. It is this which makes compared with her cousins, the Bertrams. Wordsworth's poetry what it is. While My cousin is really so very ignorant,” says
his great contemporaries “ went attitudione Miss Bertram. “Do you know, we asked nizing through life,” raptin fictitious emoher last night what way she would go to get to tions, plunged in unreal sorrows, telling Ireland! and she said she should cross to the Eastern stories and painting the visions Isle of Wight, and she calls it the island, as if of a dream, he laid his hand on the coun. there were no other island in the world. I am try and the life nearest to him. And sure I should have been ashamed of myself if therefore his poetry is the English poetry I had not known better long before I was so of the early part of this century; for betold as she is. I cannot remember the time ter or worse it is the poetry by which that when I did not know a great deal that she has generation will be known in the history of not the least notion of yet. How long ago is
literature. In his later work, when he it since we had to repeat the chronological order of the Kings of England with the dates came to write “Don Juan,” Byron got of their accession, and most of the principal close to reality, but the reality was itself events of their reigns ?”
unreal, the fevered existence of a restless “Yes," added the other, “and of the Ro- spirit, not a calın, self-controlled life. For man Emperors as low as Severus, besides a this reason even “Don Juan” will wear great deal of the heathen mythology and all out before the best parts of Wordsworth. the metals, semi-metals, plants and distin- The same reality breathes through Miss guished philosophers."
Austen's work. If we wish to know what As the story develops these young la. life was like in the scenes she depicts, we dies, so precocious and well informed, turn to her; and we might ask with the make but a poor show beside the ignorant ancient critic, Fanny Price, for," with all their promis.
O life! O Menander ! ing talents and early information,” “ they
Which of you two was the plagiarist ? were entirely deficient in the common acquirements of self-knowledge, generos- In this respect she has perhaps only two ity, and humility.” In this matter, we rivals, Scott in his best novels, and fieldmay take Fanny for a reflection of the ing. They also have the supreme gift authoress. Her knowledge, like all the of making literary and artistic the world best knowledge, came from within, not in which they live. They have the humor from without; she needed no books to which transforms like “heavenly alcheopen the world to her; she possessed my” what would otherwise be commonthat divine gift," from worlds not quick- place, or even repellent; they are creative ened by the sun,” which enables persons as Homer and Shakespeare are creative. to see for themselves, and at first hand. Their range is wider, their touch more
This want of knowledge derived from powerful than Jane Austen's; butin faithbooks has had a wholesome effect on fulness of delineation and finish of work, her work. No author is so free from she is more than an equal. book-making - very few tell us so much Yet while we commend the faithful realthat is strictly their own. Jane Austen ism of Jane Austen, we cannot deny, and is not the prophet of a superior culture she would not have denied, that her range or the slave of general ideas. She does is limited. The incidents of her novels not weary us with art or anatomy; she are the incidents of common, every-day, has nothing to say about evolution and the social life : family conversations or gathJews. She plucks her wild flowers and erings, morning calls, dinners, balls, wedplants them; whether beautiful or not, dings, and the like – things intensely real there they are, in their native soil, delin. perhaps, but intensely prosaic. Regions eated with such fidelity and grace, with so familiar to later novelists are left unthorough an insight into their habitats and touched by her. In her works we shall life, such an exquisite discrimination of look in vain for scenes such as the meetcolor and curve, as hardly another writering of Maggie and Philip in the “Red in the language has attained. This was Deeps ;” of mother and daughter in Carher knowledge — she knew what was oline Helstone's sick-room. She has around her and close to her. She never nothing to tell us of rebellion and aspira. sought in distant places or remote ages tion; of that ideal world which "after all
is the world as we shall one day know it.” | might have been written down from actual Wives weary of their husbands cannot life.". This is true : they might have been turn to her for refuge, and in her pages so written, but we have not the least rea. maidens will find little of the rapture and son to suppose that they were. bliss so prominent in the tender scenes of beard her characters speaking, they would recent novels. Jane's heroines say what undoubtedly say what she makes them they have to say unimpeded by kisses; say; but the characters are nevertheless even when the “illusion of the feelings ” her own creation. From the fragments is at its strongest, they behave as ra- of real life she has given us a complete tional creatures; at any rate we are whole, just as a physiologist might restore spared the descriptions of their weakness a skeleton from a bone. The characters
or it may be that their joys are silent, of real life are not so complete and con. “too deep for words,” as best befits a feel. centrated as the characters of fiction, for ing which must wear through a lifetime. the sufficient reason that we cannot know Whatever realism there is in uncontrolled our acquaintance as the novelist knows passion, is not Jane's “realism.” Nor his creations, or govern their actions and can we find in her works brilliant descrip- words at our will
. And very many of lions of natural scenery. That she was the personages of real life are without not insensible to these things we see from any character at all, though they may supmore than one speech put in the mouth of ply the materials of a character to a great Faony Price, the most meditative of her genius, who knows them better than they characters, but her sensitiveness was know themselves. They leave no distinct never aided by imagination. Such a pas, impression on us; a novelist cannot there. sage as this, in which Georges Sand fore write down what they say or describe describes the scenery of the Creuse, is what they do. The fragmentary photobeyond the reach of the English author-graph must be made into a picture, the
dry bones must live, the dulness of country
life must become a source of never-ending C'est un mouvement gracieux de la bonne déesse ; mais, dans ce mouvement, dans ce pli Austen removed from the mere imitation
amusement- so far is the realism of Jane facile de son vêtement frais, on sent la force et
of real life. l'ampleur de ses allures. Elle est là comme couchée de son long sur les herbes, baignant
How this transformation is effected we ses pieds blancs dans une eau courante et learn from herself when she tells us that pure ; c'est la puissance en repos; c'est la she can only depict those characters at bonté calme des dieux amies. Mais il n'y a whom she can laugh. Her gift is pre-emirien de mou dans ses formes, rien d'énervé nently humor — a rare gift at any time, dans son sourire. Elle a la souveraine tran: and perhaps peculiarly so just now, when quillité des immortels, et, toute mignonne et delicate qu'elle se montre, on sent que c'est make existence intolerable.
a general earnestness seems likely to
For it is d'une main formidablement aisée qu'elle a creusé ce vaste et délicieux jardin dans cet truly melancholy to think how serious we
have become; we have lost the power of horizon de son choix.
laughing at ourselves or others, and all The passion for nature which is sone. our energies are absorbed in universal times prompted by inward dissatisfaction criticism and the higher thought. Music, or despair, was unknown to Miss Austen. “ heavenly maid,” is now an « educational Completely in harmony with the life force.” Poetry to be classical must have around her, her attention was absorbed “the note of seriousness; "and poets who by that, and not absorbed only, but satis- have not this note, like Chaucer and fied. Neither in her books, nor in her Burns, must begin with sbame to take the letters, do we find any trace of a heart lower room, while elegiac Gray is perill at ease, of a spirit seeking rest and mitted to go up higher.
“A common grey. finding none. Such satisfaction is at ness silvers everything." Nay, even the once a source of strength and of weak- premier himself may perhaps owe his exness; it gives finish, but it necessitates alted position to bis inability to appreciate limitation. When, therefore, we speak of the lighter aspects of life, while Lord the realism of Jane Austen, we do not Beaconsfield has fallen under the con. mean that there are not a thousand and demnation which a serious generation one things beyond her reach, and yet inevitably pronounces a frivolous real; we mean that what she gives us, she statesman of threescore years and ten. gives without exaggeration, or deficiency, Humor itself has come to be regarded as or adulteration.
something which postulates sadness. Some have said: “Her conversations | This was not the temper of Jane Austen.