Emma — the first edition in question
Henry is an excellent patient, lies quietly in bed & is ready to swallow anything …
Tuesday is in my brain …
Dear friends and readers,
A separate blog for an important letter — it is rich with matter. It introduces another phase of the letters (121-133), about Austen’s publication as a respected author, of Emma, with ensuing correspondence by Henry to John Murray, Jane to Murray; the letters to the Prince Regent’s librarian, James Stanier Clarke, whom, like it or not, represented a rare meeting for Jane Austen with a professed and actual literary person, with connections. Henry falls ill, partly under a strain from coming bankruptcy.
Jack Huston as Haden and Adrian Edmondson as Henry (Miss Austen Regrets, 2008)
We glimpse from afar one possible flirtation: with William Seymour, Henry’s firm’s lawyer, and we will see another (her rival Fanny Austen Knight) Charles Haden, the apothecary hired to help during Henry’s momentarily grave illness.
No less important in understanding the atmosphere and milieu that Jane did have to live in daily: niece Caroline sends a manuscript of her novel for her aunt to read.
We begin with the text:
Tuesday 17- Wednesday 18 October 1815
Hans Place, Tuesday Oct. 17.
My dear Cassandra
Thank you for your two Letters. I am very glad the new Cook begins so well. Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness — Mr Murray’s Letter is come; he is a Rogue of course, but a civil one. He offers £450 — but wants to have the Copyright of MP. & S&S included. It will end in my publishing for myself I dare say. — He sends more praise however than I expected. It is an amusing Letter. You shall see it. — Henry came home on Sunday & we dined the same day with the Herrieses — a large family party — clever & accomplished. — I had a pleasant visit the day before. Mr Jackson is fond of eating & does not much like Mr or Miss Papillon — What weather we have — What shall we do about it? — The 17th of October & summer still! Henry is not quite well — a bilious bilious attack with fever — he came back early from Harley Street yesterday & went to bed — the comical consequence of which was that Mr Seymour & I dined together tete-a-tete. — He is calomeling & therefore in a way to be better & I hope may be well tomorrow. The Creeds of Hendon dine here today, which is rather unlucky – for he will hardly be able to shew himself — they are all Strangers to me. He has asked Mr Tilson to come & take his place. I doubt our being a very agreable pair. — We are engaged tomorrow to Cleveland Row — I was there yesterday morning. — There seems no idea now of Mr Gordon’s going to Chawton — nor of any of the family coming here at present. Many of them are sick. Wednesday.–
Henry’s illness is more serious than I expected. He has been in bed since three o’clock on Monday. It is a fever — something bilious, but cheifly Inflammatory. I am not alarmed — but I have determined to send this Letter today by the post, that you may know how things are going on. There is no chance of his being able to leave Town on Saturday. I asked Mr Haden that question today. — Mr Haden is the apothecary from the corner of Sloane Street — successor to Mr Smith, a young Man said to be clever, & he is certainly very attentive & appears hitherto to have understood the complaint. There is a little pain in the Chest, but it is not considered of any consequence. Mr Haden calls it a general Inflammation. — He took twenty ounces of Blood from Henry last night — & nearly as much more this morning — & expects to have to bleed him again tomorrow, but he assures me that he found him quite as much better today as he expected. Henry is an excellent Patient, lies quietly in bed & is ready to swallow anything. He lives upon Medicine, Tea & Barley water. — He has had a great deal of fever, but not much pain of any sort — & sleeps pretty well. — His going to Chawton will probably end in nothing, as his Oxfordshire Business is so near; — as for myself, You may be sure I shall return as soon as I can.
Tuesday is in my brain, but you will feel the Uncertainty of it. — I want to get rid of some of my Things, & therefore shall send down a parcel by Collier on Saturday. Let it be paid for on my own account.- It will be mostly dirty Cloathes — but I shall add Martha’s Lambswool, your Muslin Handkerchiefs.-(India at 3/6) your Pens, 3 shillings & some articles for Mary, if I receive them in time from Mrs Hore. — Cleveland Row of course is given up. Mr Tilson took a note there this morning. Till yesterday afternoon I was hoping that the Medicine he had taken, with a good night’s rest would set him quite to rights. I fancied it only Bile — but they they say the disorder must have originated in a Cold.
You must fancy Henry in the back room upstairs — & I am generally there also, working or writing. — I wrote to Edward yesterday, to put off our Nephews till friday. I have a strong idea of their Uncle’s being well enough to like seeing them [tornJ that time. — I shall write to you next by my parcel — two days hence — unless there is anything particular to be communicated before, always excepted.–
The post has this moment brought me a letter from Edward. He is likely to come here on Tuesday next, for a day or two’s necessary business in his Cause.
Mrs Hore wishes to observe to Frank & Mary that she doubts their finding it answer to have Chests of Drawers bought in London, when the expense of carriage is considered. The two Miss Gibsons called here on Sunday, & brought a Letter from Mary, which shall also be put into the parcel. Miss Gibson looked particularly well. — I have not been able to return their call. — I want to get to Keppel Street again if I can, but it must be doubtfuL — The Creeds are agreable People themselves, but I fear must have had a very dull visit. —
I long to know how Martha’s plans go on. If you have not written before, write by Sunday’s post to Hans
Place. — I shall be more than ready for news of you by that time. — A change of weather at last! –Wind & Rain — Mrs Tilson has just called. ~ Poor Woman, she is quite a wretch, always ill. — God bless you.-
Uncle Henry was very much amused with Cassy’s message, but if she were here now with the red shawl she woul make him laugh more than do him good. –
[Letters missing here J
Adrian Edmondson as Henry Austen (Miss Austen Regrets, 2009) who will swallow anything
First Diana’s reading:
“Writing to Cassandra from London, Jane Austen starts out in pleasantly epigrammatic manner: “Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness,” she remarks, about the new cook. Then turning to her letter from the publisher John Murray, she delivers her famous quote: “He is a rogue of course, but a civil one.” Like a sharp businessman, he offers £450 for Emma – but “wants to have the Copyright of MP and S&S included. It will end in my publishing for myself I dare say. – He sends more praise however than I expected. It is an amusing Letter. You shall see it.”
There are some cheerful goings-on – Henry has returned, they dined with the Herries family, a large party of friends, “clever and accomplished,” and the day before was a pleasant visit with Mr. Jackson who “is fond of eating and does not like Mr. or Miss P.” Mr. Jackson, Deirdre tells us, married Miss Sarah Papillion. The Papillions were distant connections of the Knights, but more importantly, the Jacksons had three daughters, one of whom, Eleanor was to marry Henry Austen in 1820.
One more joking epigrammatic remark: “What weather we have! – What shall we do about it?” It’s summer still. And then the tone turns more serious. “Henry is not quite well – a bilious attack with fever – he came back from H. St yesterday & went to bed – the comical consequence of which was that Mr. Seymour & I dined tete a tete.” Wiliam Seymour was Henry’s friend and lawyer, a widower who contemplated proposing to Jane Austen but never did. Interestingly, I see that he is also the man who offered Jane Austen’s novel Susan to the publisher B. Crosby & Co.! Makes sense, as who better to do this business than Henry’s lawyer. It is of Seymour that Jane Austen writes in her signed “MAD” letter of 5 April 1809: “In the Spring of the year 1803 a MS Novel in 2 vol. entitled Susan was sold to you by a Gentleman of the name of Seymour, & the purchase money £10 recd. at the same time.”
However, a brisk search turns up many mentions of Seymour’s contemplated proposal but maddeningly no citations! He is said to have told Henry he would like to seek her hand, and he once escorted her from London to Chawton, but never made the proposal. The vague attributions are to Deirdre’s A Family Record, 2004 edition, but my edition is older and doesn’t have this reference. And nowhere does it say where Deirdre got her information. Argghh. Maybe someone else can find this? A Persuasions article by Deirdre cites her own article, “Jane Austen’s Laggard Suitor.” Notes and Queries ns 47 245.3 (Sept. 2000): 301-04. but I don’t have that lying around.
Jane continues about Henry, “He is calomeling & therefore in a way to be better & I hope may be well tomorrow.” A reminder (as if the vague mentions of bile and fever weren’t enough) how bad was medicine of the period; calomel is toxic mercury used at that period as purgative and laxative – we may recall how it wrecked the health of Louisa May Alcott. Still Jane is not seriously alarmed, and makes the social rearrangements necessary in Henry’s illness: “The Creeds of Hendon dine here today, which is rather unlucky – for he will hardly be able to show himself – & they are all Strangers to me. He has asked Mr. Tilson to come & take his place. I doubt our being a very agreable pair.” Deirdre’s biographical notes are unsatisfactory; she tells us that a Catherine Herries married 1813 Henry Knowles Creed, who later took Holy Orders, and that a Mr. William Creed and daughter “were living in Hampstead, near Hendon, in 1795, and in 1815 a Mr. H. Creed was living at 19 Hans Place, who may be the same HKC.” Well maybe he is and maybe he isn’t; but I do myself note that Hendon is where Anna and her husband were living recently, so maybe there’s some connection.
Mr. Gordon, a business friend of Henry’s, won’t be going to Chawton, nor any of the family coming here, for “Many of them are sick.” Then she writes the next day (Wednesday): “Henry’s illness is more serious than I expected. He has been in bed since three o’clock on Monday. It is a fever – something bilious, but cheifly Inflammatory. I am not alarmed – but I have determined to send this Letter today by the post, that you may know how things are going on.”
Mr. Haydon is called in. He is “the apothecary from the corner of Sloane St – successor to Mr. Smith, a young man said to be clever, & he is certainly very attentive & appears hitherto to have understood the complaint. There is a little pain in the Chest, but it is not considered of any consequence. Mr. H. calls it a general inflammation.” (Deirdre tells us he is Charles-Thomas Haden, not Haydon as Jane wrote it, 1786-1824), apothecary and surgeon, and a few more details about him, including that he was “delighted with Emma.”)
Then back to the ghastly period medicine: “He took twenty ounce of Blood from Henry last night – & nearly as much more this morng – & expects to have to bleed him again tomorrow, but he assures me that he found him quite as much better today as he expected.” Eeek! We have 12 units of blood in an average-sized man’s body, there’s 15.2 ounces in a unit. So if this much blood was taken from Henry in two days, that’s 60 ounces – that’s 4 units – A THIRD OF THE BLOOD IN HENRY’S BODY!! Can that be POSSIBLE? Holy cow. It’s no wonder Byron died partly from excessive blood letting…as well as many others. Reading about blood letting (Wiki), I see this is pretty standard treatment for “inflammation,” and the article says succinctly, “some successful, some not.”
Poor Henry “is an excellent Patient, lies quietly in bed & is ready to swallow anything. He lives upon Medicine, Tea & Barley water. – He has had a great deal of fever, but not much pain of any sort – & sleeps pretty well.” Jane Austen writes of the arrangements – she will send down a parcel to Chawton (“mostly dirty Cloathes but I shall add Martha’s Lambswool, your Muslin Handks…”) She fancied the illness “only Bile – but they say, the disorder must have originated in a Cold. You must fancy Henry in the back room upstairs – & I am generally there also, working or writing.”
She says she wrote to Edward to put off their nephews till Friday, “I have a strong idea of their Uncle’s being well enough to like seeing them by that time.” Edward himself is likely to come next Tuesday, “for a day or two’s necessary business in his Cause” (the Hinton lawsuit).
More chatter: advice to Frank and Mary from a Mrs. Hore about furniture (she seems to be a relation of Mary’s), and more of Mary’s relations, the Gibsons, have called, but JA could not return their call, nor get to Keppel Street, home of Charles’s wife’s family. The weather has changed, rainy now, and Mrs. Tilson has called, “quite a wretch, always ill.”
She closes with an unaccustomed “God bless you,” perhaps showing her anxiety, but to ease Cassandra’s, she mentions that Henry was amused by a message from Cassy, and if she was there “she wd make him laugh more than wd do him good.”
She is trying to be reassuring, but Deirdre’s note tells us that Henry “grew worse, and on Sunday 22 October JA wrote by express post to Cassandra, James, and Edward. Edward set off immediately for London on 23 October, James collected Cassandra from Chawton and they arrived in London on 25 October.”
This is not reflected in the letters, but I’ll end here, and take up the rest of the story next week.
My response and additions:
Henry’s Hans Place provides a congenial atmosphere for socializing: Olivia Williams as Jane now proud of her publishing (Miss Austen Regrets, 2008)
This is an important letter: real news of dealings over Emma (followed by a remnant of a letter by Henry to Murray), we see that Austen is dealing with a pre-eminent publisher of her day by this time. Her stature is coming along; whatever might be the stupidities of the remarks she copies out or the press, all three novels, S&S, P&P, and MP have been recognized as finished fine novels, moral, of a highly intelligent writer. Whence the review by none other than Scott of mostly Emma (we’ll come to that later).
Henry’s sickness. Details of medicine, his strain over coming bankruptcy coming out? More suitors? Henry looking for a wife, Henry’s friends and associates attracted to his sister? Mr Seymour, the so-called “laggard suitor” (the phrase is LeFaye’s) is said to have been someone who at least thought of proposing, was involved with the attempt to publish Northanger Abbey as Susan in 1803. A relationship with Haden, the apothecary begun.
One of the segments of Miss Austen Regrets conveys very well the sequence where Henry sickens, the bleeding, the real worry, and intertwine it accurately enough with the visit of Austen to Clarke. There they fictionalize by having Haydon the go-between, or (perhaps this is what was meant) someone accompanying her in the coach.
Both highly unlikely, but that there was a flirtation and real interest in this young man in Austen I am persuaded and the movie does justice — but not too much as he is attracted to the younger Fanny more (as the letters seem to suggest). It’s of interest that they call an apothecary; such a person is much less expensive, plus (to us paradoxically) apothecaries were more likely to hand out remedies, what passed for medicine. As today status is all in professions throughout the 19th century a man who made and sold medicines was of a muc lower stature than a surgeon (who could perform things) and surgeon lower than physician (theoretical). The doctor was gentleman, could and did dine with the family (remember Mr Gibson of Wives and Daughters), surgeons were lower and (paradoxically to us) took the title of Dr (Dr Thorne of Trollope’s novel of that name). There was slide though and Lydgate in Middlemarch is both surgeon and learned physician, but then he was a reformer (Deerbrooke by Harriet Martineau is another book which explores this). And here’s Val Sanborn’s good discussion in her Jane Austen’s worlds:
WE have one of the rare spots in the letters which makes for important Tuesdays however enigmatic. “Tuesday is in my brain.” I know this can be interpreted locally but the phrase itself is suggestive of something much more.
Cassandra hired a new cook — things looking up. Jane liked to eat and to drink. The phrase “domestic happiness” is redolent of 18th century values.
The publication of Emma: I add to Diana’s comments: Jane, Henry and Murray compromised in the end: published and advertised on 21, 22, 23 December 1815, Murray brought it out, but at the Austen’s expense with profits to her after 10 per cent commission to publisher, with copyright remaining hers. I wish we had that “amusing” letter – what was amusing about it, I wonder. His hypocrisy and dealings over money because in the next letter we find that Henry was not amused — but he is often austere and slightly disdainful, anything but pleased in his letters meant for public consumption.
Murray was not wrong to offer a lower price; when the price of the expensively printed book was set against the profits for it and a second edition of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen got only £121 and then £38 18. In fact she’d have done better to take the 450. (It’s not true that one should always hold onto copyrights if the case if you can get a large sum for a first copy; Trollope took big fees for his books upfront, sold the copyright and did very well — he didn’t want to be bothered with later cheaper editions, trying to make more money that way. ) By 1820, 529 copies of Emma were still in stock! There are similar disappointing figures for the second edition of Mansfield Park (the first sold briskly aftter P&P; so 1820 498 copies still on hand and remaindered). By contrast, the post-humous publication of NA and Persuasion did much better (1818 only 312 ot of 1,750 copies printed left with a profit of £ 515 17s 7d for Cassandra and Henry) — perhaps attention had been attraced by _telling her name_ and offering biogrpahy. That’s the way of the world. The clearest least tendentious account of this with numbers is by David Gilson, “Editions and Publishing History,” in J.David Grey’s The Jane Austen Handbook.
A very hot October. Then we find Austen in Henry’s world. The people mentioned are associates, friends, lawyers, all of whom connected with Austen as Henry’s sister. So the Jacksons have intermarried with the Papillons (remember the later joke by Jane that she will Papillon, no sacrifice too small); Eleanor would become Henry’s wife. I am impressed this morning by the reality that she was not a great catch (so like Francis’s choice of Mary Gibson); he was a bankrupt and curate by then, but also that he did marry non-materialistically. Austen alas characterized Eleanor as dumb in an earlier letter (see Diana’s quotation). Let’s hope Austen was unfair. Tilson is someone that Austen does regard as a partner they must visit Gordon connects to other marriage possibility as well. Seymour as Diana says was Henry’s lawyer, negotiated that niggardly £10 with Crosby; he does not seem to be a very good negotiator. This is the price Fanny Burney got in the later 1770s; the women at Minerva Press did better than this. And no clause demanding immediate or quick publication. It also shows how Austen was a nobody in 1803.
Then the long worrying sequence of Henry’s serious illnes,for so it was even at the start. Again I’m just adding to Diana’s comments: That’s a lot of blood all right to take out. Here I’d like to compare what’s being done to Henry today’s cancer treatments. Calomel was a hard poison — so is chemotherapy and chemotherapies are not well understood at all, why sometimes they work for this person, have disastrous adverse effects on other. Haydon did not try cupping but that’s burning which is how radiation feels. Finally the blood taking: a show of force like enemas (and today’s drastic surgeries).
How I love Henry for being ready to “swallow anything.” A man after my own heart. That’s a joke that extends beyond the food Austen makes him; he also swallows the concoctions Haydon puts together. Barley water is a traditional British Herbal tea — so she’s giving him this to be soothing. I note that in the paragraphs there is a strong tendency to look on the best side, and the attitude of mind reminds me of Elinor in the book (as opposed to the movies since 1995): Austen herself is hoping for the best, that this is not serious: “I was hoping that the Medicine he had taken, with a good night’s rest, would set him to rights.” Elinor at first hoped much from a good night’s rest for Marianna; alas, the next morning Marianne was worse.
Visits planned have to be given up: Cleveland Row, the Tilsons. Nephews put off until Uncle better and will “like seeing them.” They feared contagion? Edward coming for his lawsuit. I note that Tuesday is when Edward is coming (no resonance there) but again Henry had some business to transact (given up) but it seems Jane was not hopeful the business end would come out well, “the uncertainty of it” is tied to Tuesday in her brain.
Things needed are being sent (Jane will now pay!) and things sent (dirty clothes). I note Martha is not forgot: she has given Jane some lambswool she made.
I agree that note on Creed is evasive.
She ends on family news. I add to Diana’s on Mary and Frank, Keppel Street is where the Palmers reside — so that’s Charles news. There’s a slight dig about the Palmers (alas). Austen thinks the Creeds (whoever they were) would have a dull visit with the Palmers (as lower class, not as well educated?)
Again though Martha not forgot: “I long to know how Martha’s plans go on.” If Cassandra has not written before, she should write by Sunday to Hans Place.” I feel her anxiety there, the tone a spill over from Henry, but the content is she wants to know what is going on with Martha at Chawton. I see in these last phrases a sense of a woman’s world Jane implicitly assumes (but our editor and our male-dominated culture overlooks), it’s this association that brings Henry’s partner’s wife to mind: the wife is wretched all the time because if you pay attention you find she is often pregnant – and pregnancies meant childbirths with aftereffects, miscarriages (rarely mentioned in letters – Austen an exception here), I take it she’s tired.
I shall be more than ready for news of you by that time. — A change of weather at last! — Wind & Rain. — Mrs Tilson has just called. Poor Woman, she is quite a wretch, always ill. — God bless you …
Cassandra as dependable person.
Let us remember Cassy’s letter — No 93 — a clever one showing a girl who actually could identify servants as people like herself (Lefaye, 4th edition, pp 252-53, dated Mon-Thurs 18-21 Oct 1813). So Palmers are not always dull, are they? I take it Cassy is succeeding in making witty jokes to cheer her uncle: she apparently made laughter with something she did with a red shawl.
Cast ensemble of Miss Austen Regrets used to give us a feel of the gaiety Henry attempted in his London life, which Austen joins in herre.
We all need laughter, and Jane Austen too.
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