Sunday, 12 August 2012

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 202

In the few minutes of spare time that I can find nowadays, I work a daily puzzle named "Cryptogram" which uses quotes from famous and not-so-famous people.  Well, finally, there was one by our own dear Jane, and I simply must share it with you.  I found the quote in her letter No. LXXX in the Brabourne edition, dated Nov. 18,1814 written to her niece, Fanny Knight.  To put the quote in context here is the whole paragraph:
Think of all this, Fanny. Mr. A. has advantages which do not often meet in one person. His only fault, indeed, seems modesty. If he were less modest he would be more agreeable, speak louder, and look impudenter; and is not it a fine character of which modesty is the only defect? I have no doubt he will get more lively and more like yourselves as he is more with you; he will catch your ways if he belongs to you. And, as to there being any objection from his goodness, from the danger of his becoming even evangelical, I cannot admit that. I am by no means convinced that we ought not all to be evangelicals, and am at least persuaded that they who are so from reason and feeling must be happiest and safest. Do not be frightened from the connection by your brothers having most wit -- wisdom is better than wit, and in the long run will certainly have the laugh on her side; and don't be frightened by the idea of his acting more strictly up to the precepts of the New Testament than others.
The cryptogram quote is in bold.  I thought I knew what the word 'wit' meant in the back of my mind, so I looked it up in the dictionary to be sure.  However, now I am not at all sure.  I'll have to think about it for awhile.  Any enlightenment you may wish to send me will be greatly appreciated.
I especially appreciated her reference to 'evangelicals' which agrees with my own beliefs.  The bottom line is this:  what other gems might we find in her letters?  Did she never write anything that is not worth reading?  Sigh, I leave it for you to determine.
Yrs aff'ly,
Linda the Librarian
Pic: water colour picture of Fanny Knight, taken from The Jane Austen Centre UK

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