Thursday, 31 May 2007

Jane's letter to Cassandra from Cork Street

Following Rachel's post below, this is the exact copy of Jane Austen's letter to Cassandra, on 23 August 1796, seven months after the last surviving letter dated January 16, 1796 when Jane talked of her broken heart. I found this in 'Jane Austen's Letters (Chapman, 1979), page 7. No date was found in Chapman's book, only month and year, but Walker's (2007) article suggested that the date was 23 August 1796.

Cork Street: Tuesday morn (August 1796)

My dear Casandra

Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted. We reached Staines yesterday, I do not (know) when, without suffering so much from the heat as I had hoped to do. We set off again this morning at seven o’clock, and had a very pleasant drive, as the morning was cloudy and perfectly cool. I came all the way in the chaise from Hertford Bridge.

Edward and Frank are both gone out to seek their fortunes; the latter is to return soon and help us seek ours. The former we shall never see again. We are to be at Astley’s to-night, which I am glad of. Edward has heard from Henry this morning. He has not been at the races at all, unless his driving Miss Pearson over to Rowling one day can be so called. We shall find him there on Thursday.

I hope you are all alive after our melancholy parting yesterday, and that you pursued your intended avocation with success. God bless you! I must leave off, for we are going out.

Yours very affectionately,
J. Austen

Everybody’s love

Regarding the Cork Street letter, Walker (2007) argued that ‘this letter is the most anxious Jane ever wrote Cassandra. She writes as if she has arrived in the lion’s den, and that what she has dreaded is now upon her. She writes quickly, seemingly upon the moment of arrival, perhaps in the brief respite when she has retired to her room to rid herself of travel dust before making her appearance. If Tom were away, this anxiety certainly couldn’t be caused simply by being in a house redolent of his presence; she had the poise to cope with that.’

Walker also suggested that what Jane dreaded was not Tom, but Judge Langlois, Tom’s uncle. She pointed out that Anne Lefroy, or Tom, or both of them might have persuaded the Judge to meet Jane, the object of Tom’s interest. Walker also noted that ‘Austen’s letter(s) immediately following the one from Cork Street are missing, and the next we have, Letter 4, dated September 1, 1796, apologizes for the “conciseness” in the missing correspondence and promises to provide Cassandra with “elaborate details” when they meet, the phrase a reprise of the mocking tone of her very first letters.’



Chapman, R. W. 1979, Jane Austen's Letters to Her Sister Cassandra and Others, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Walker, L. R. 2007. 'Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy: Stories', Persuasions On-line, vol. 27, no. 1. Available:

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