Sunday, 6 July 2008

Jane Austen’s admirer from Ireland

Thanks to Mariana, I can upload this article albeit taking too long a time. And no, the title does not refer to Thomas Langlois Lefroy. Not directly, at least! Below is the summary of what Mariana informed us a few weeks ago.

It’s about one of Jane’s letters written on 25 September 1813 from Godmersham Park (Wednesday, Nov. 3), in which she has a very interesting comment regarding S & S and the fact that she is “read & admired in Ireland too”. The letter is quoted below:

Cassandra 1813: Godmersham Park Wednesday Novr* 3d*.

“Who has it next?-I am glad William's going is voluntary, & on no worse grounds. An inclination for the Country is a venial fault.-He has more of Cowper than of Johnson in him, fonder of Tame Hares & Blank verse than of the full tide of human Existence at Charing Cross.-Oh! I have more of such sweet flattery from Miss Sharp!-She is an excellent kind friend. I am read & admired in Ireland too.-There is a Mrs. Fletcher, the wife of a Judge, an old Lady & very good & very clever, who is all curiosity to know about me-what I am like & so forth-. I am not known to her by name however. This comes through Mrs. Carrick, not through Mrs. Gore-You are quite out there.-I do not despair of having my picture in the Exhibition at last-all white & red, with my Head on one Side;-or perhaps I may marry young Mr. D'arblay.-I suppose in the meantime I shall owe dear Henry a great deal of Money for Printing & c.-I hope Mrs. Fletcher will indulge herself with S & S.” (Mariana’s emphasise)

We all know that Jane wanted to remain anonymous (Lord Brabourne edition): “There is also an interesting entry of the date of September 28, 1811: "Letter from At. Cass. to beg we would not mention that Aunt Jane wrote Sense and Sensibility."

Godmersham Park-Sept: 25. 1813: “People shall pay for their knowledge if I can make them. Henry heard P. & p. warmly praised in Scotland, by Lady Robt* Kerr & another Lady; & what does he do in the warmth of his Brotherly vanity & Love, but immediately tell them who wrote it! A Thing once set going in that way-one knows how it spreads!-and he, dear Creature, has set it going so much more than once. I know it is all done from affection & partiality but at the same time, let me here again express to you & Mary my sense of the superior kindness which you have shewn on the occasion, in doing what I wished. I am trying to harden myself. After all, what a trifle it is in all its Bearings, to the really important points of one's existence even in this World!”

The Irish admirer “happened” to be the wife of a judge and not any judge, but the one connected with Tom Lefroy. Even more interesting is the fact that Mrs. Fletcher was “all curiosity to know about me-what I am like & so forth. I am not known to her by name however.”

Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy - Chapter III

On the resignation of Judge Mayne, in 1820, he was offered the vacant seat in the Queen's Bench, by Earl Talbot, but he declined the offer. Again in the following year, on the resignation of Baron George, he was offered the vacant seat on the Exchequer Bench, by the Marquis of Wellesley, who had then succeeded Earl Talbot in the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland; and in 1823, on the death of Judge Fletcher, he was offered a seat in the Court of Common Pleas, also by Marquis of “Wellesley”.

To learn more about Judge Fletcher, read the old article of Connaught Journal of Galway, Ireland (Monday, June 9, 1823) here.

Both names, Gore and Carrick could be linked to Lefroy, although it might be a simple coincidence. Mariana could not find any other information about these two ladies other than a small review of Mrs Carrick for Mansfield Park in "All who think deeply & feel much will give the Preference to Mansfield Park."

Anyway, bottom line is that a Mrs. Fletcher, wife of Judge Fletcher, knew about Jane Austen’s book, and she was keen to know more about Jane. As Judge Fletcher was within Tom Lefroy’s circle, could it be that Tom Lefroy himself recommended the book to Mrs. Fletcher?

Or are Mariana and I reading too much between the lines?

Pic: Thomas Langlois Lefroy by G. Engleheart from the Independent UK


mamma jakeline said...

Hello dear friends. I have been off on vacation and therefore not been very active here, or anywhere on the web for that matter. There was no internet at all in that part of the woods we where... ;) Ah well, here I am again! :) missed me? ;)

Icha & Mariana, I do not think you read too much between the lines, not at all. Why wouldn't Tom recommend the book to Mrs Fletcher?

Rachel said...

I agree Maria, this is not a coincidence....I believe that there is a high chance that in mingling in social settings, Mrs Fletcher and Tom Lefroy would have discussed literature...and what a good author to start with....the love of Tom's life??

mamma jakeline said...

rachel, I'm sure Tom did his best to spread the word of Jane's greatness, or so I would like to believe. At least one of her dreams came through.

Icha said...

Maria dearest, another hi again from me for you and peanut.

Say, Maria and Rachel, I also love the idea that Tom Lefroy chose to keep the fond memory of Jane Austen by promoting her works and her dreams. If he could not be with her physically, at least he would be a loyal friend and admirer for her, albeit from a distance. From a very very far away distance.

And yet, to me it is still love. Unconditional, sweet, chaste love, worth admiring.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Icha for uploading this article. Here is one more strange coincidence that I've found in “A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain”: the name of Mr Fletcher’s grandmother before marriage was Gardiner. Tom’s mother was also a Gardiner before marrying Anthony Lefroy.
I could not find any info online for Gardiner family so I do not know if they may be connected but… BUT it is again a very interesting coincidence of names, don’t you think?

Infinity of Jane Love

Icha said...

Yes, thanks a lot, Mariana! That's a very interesting fact indeed. I' not sure if Tom's mother and Mr. Fletcher's grandmother were related? If so, that would make sense if Tom had a somewhat close association with the Fletchers.

Arnie Perlstein said...

Hi guys!

If you are still monitoring these old blog posts, check out what I just wrote in the Austen L group. Did you ever find more info about Mr. or Mrs. Fletcher????

Cheers from your old pal-in-Austen,
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter