Monday, June 10, 2013

Jane Austen's Letter to Mr. Clarke, Decembre 11, 1815

Letter to Mr. Clarke, Decembre 11, 1815
Dear Sir—My Emma is now so near publication that I feel it right to assure you of my not having forgotten your kind recom­mendation of an early copy for Carlton House, and that I have Mr. Murray’s promise of its being sent to His Royal Highness, under cover to you, three days precious to the work being really out.
I must make use of this opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other novels. I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their merit. My greatest anxiety at present is that this fourth work should not disgrace what was good in the others.
But on this point I will do myself the justice to declare that, whatever may be my wishes for its success, I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those readers who have preferred Pride and Prejudice it will appear inferior in wit; and to those who have preferred Mansfield Park, very inferior in good sense.
Such as it is, how­ever, I hope you will do me the favor of accepting a copy. Mr. Murray will have directions for sending one. I am quite honored by your thinking me capable of drawing such a clergyman as you gave the sketch of in your note of November 16th. But I assure you I am not. The comic part of the character I might be equal to, but not the good, the enthusiastic, the literary. Such a man’s conversation must at times be on subjects of science and philosophy, of which I know nothing; or at least occasionally abundant in quotations and allusions which a woman who, like me, knows only her own mother tongue, and has read little in that, would be totally without the power of giving.
A classical education, or at any rate a very extensive acquaintance with English literature, ancient and modern, appears to me quite indispensable for the person who would do any justice to your clergyman; and I think I may boast myself to be, with all possi­ble vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress.
Believe me, dear Sir,

Your obliged and faithful hum’ Ser'
Jane Austen

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