Jane Austen’s letters to her family, friends and acquaintances afford a unique insight into her daily life and what influenced her as novelist. Intimate, gossipy, observant and informative– There are plain parallels to her novel Emma. Even today, over 200 years later, we can witness her relationships and surroundings with a fresh, unformatted quality. This letter to her sister, in particular, corresponds to chapter 26 which portrays the frivolous, yet charming, dancing that takes place spontaneously at the Cole’s party.
Rowling, Monday September 5th
My dear Cassandra,
I shall be extremely anxious to hear the event of your Ball, and shall hope to receive so long & minute an account of every particular that I shall be tired of reading it. Let me know how many, besides their fourteen selves & Mr. and Mrs. Wright, Michael will contrive to place about their coach, and how many of the gentlemen, musicians, and waiters, he will have persuaded to come in their Shooting Jackets. I hope John Lovett’s accident will not prevent his attending the ball, as you will otherwise be obliged to dance with Mr. Tincton the whole evening. Let me know how J. Harwood deports himself without the Miss Biggs- and which of the Marys will carry the day with my brother James. We were at a ball on Saturday, I assure you. We dined at Goodnestone, and in the evening danced two Country Dances & the Boulangeries. I opened the Ball with Edward Bridges; the other couples were Lewis Cage & Harriet, Frank and Louisa, Fanny and George. Elizabeth played one country-dance, Lady Bridges the other, which she made Henry dance with her, and Miss Finch played the Boulangeries. On reading over the last three or four lines, I am aware of my having expressed myself in so doubtful a manner that, if I did not tell you to the contrary, you might imagine it was Lady Bridges who made Henry dance with her at the same time that she was playing,-which, if not impossible, must appear a very improbable event to you.-But it was Elizabeth who danced…
Give my love to Mary Harrison, and tell her I wish, whenever she is attached to a young man, some respectable Dr. Marchmont may keep them apart for five volumes.