I would like to thank Arnie Perlstein for tipping the existence of an excellent book titled ‘The Letters of Mrs. Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend’. And of course, to dearest Rachel for sending one copy to me across the
Letter 1 [
My dearest Edward,
Your letter of Friday last gave me great pleasure I feel the separation my beloved Boy as severely as it is possible for you to do but whilst I can reflect upon your disposition & conduct with as much comfort as I now derive from it I will endeavour to bear the unavoidable absences & look forward to the time when we shall meet again with delight you have I trust from your conduct at school [laid up] for yourself a source of comfort thro’ life & I pray to God that you may always pursue in the same manner & that little Ben: may follow your example – we expect your Uncle John on Tuesday I am greatly disappointed at finding he cannot continue to call at Warfield Col:nl Lefroy & Thomas are to come here on Thursday or Friday I believe George will go to Cork St he is not much delighted with the scheme as you may suppose
I must intreat you to accept of the enclosed half guinea I cannot bear your affection for me should so impoverish you & be assured I have derived more pleasure from your kindness than 50 times the sum could have purchased for me in any other we all join in love to you, Ben: & Tom – tell Ben: I hope he will write to me I will send him a letter very soon.
My dearest Boy your affect:te Mother AL
Ashe Sunday Sept:r 29
The ‘Thomas’ in the letter was obviously Thomas Langlois Lefroy, for it was paired up with Colonel Lefroy. The ‘Tom’ in the last paragraph was Ben Lefroy’s cousin, Tom Brydges. The bold sentences are my own emphasise.
I am uncertain of the
However, the probable visit of Tom Lefroy in Ashe in October 1800 might lead to the drama in Mansfield Park where Edmund Bertram asked Fanny Price to give her consent on his involvement in the silly drama. Put it in Jane/Tom perspective, it is plausible that Tom still tried to explain to Jane his behaviours of leaving her for Mary Paul, and it’s possible that the time was on October 1800, in Ashe Hampshire. Otherwise, how would Jane reached an understanding about Tom, albeit belatedly? For to me, Jane clearly effused her comprehension of Tom’s situation in the Wentworth/Anne Elliot interaction in Persuasion where Jane as the narrator clearly understood the reason why Anne left Captain Wentworth; i.e. for her family’s sake.
I still have to double check where Jane was on early October 1800; I hope other Team Jane can help me with this. If she was in Hampshire that month, it was very likely that Jane and Tom truly met again, even just for an explanatory chat. However, on
‘I am not yet able to acknowledge the receipt of any parcel from
Arnie suggested that Jane’s disappointment might be Tom-related, and I second his opinion. Hence, it is plausible that Jane was in Hampshire in early October 1800, and she met Tom again there, presumably having the long-delayed explanatory talk.
Faye, D. L. 1997, Jane Austen's Letters, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Lefroy, A., Lefroy, H. & Turner, G. 2007, The Letters of Mrs Lefroy: Jane Austen's Beloved Friend, The Jane Austen Society, Winchester.