Autumn is finally here. The clocks went back last night, the mornings have been crisp & today I’m wearing my beautiful mint-green Jane Austen socks. I’ve already posted some of my favourite autumnal poems & quotes trying to summon up the season so today, in honour of my socks, here’s a poem by the divine Miss Austen. This was written to her brother, Frank, on the birth of his son & contains the lovely lines about making a home. Jane, her mother & sister, Cassandra, were finally settled at Chawton & were enjoying the process of making a home.
I’ve also been thinking about Austen because I’ve been listening to a new (to me) podcast, Tea and Tattle. Miranda & Sophie talk about books, lifestyle & culture. I’ve listened to several episodes so far, on their favourite Jane Austen heroines & the trend for books about decluttering. The next episode of the podcast (due this coming week) will feature renowned Austen scholar Janet Todd & author Diana Birchall who blogs at Light, Bright, and Sparkling. Diana & I are in the same online reading group & it will be a thrill to hear her voice as she & Janet chat with Miranda & Sophie about their love of Austen.
My dearest Frank, I wish you joy
Of Mary’s safety with a Boy,
Whose birth has given little pain
Compared with that of Mary Jane.–
May he a growing Blessing prove,
And well deserve his Parents’ Love!–
Endow’d with Art’s and Nature’s Good,
Thy Name possessing with thy Blood,
In him, in all his ways, may we
Another Francis WIlliam see!–
Thy infant days may he inherit,
THey warmth, nay insolence of spirit;–
We would not with one foult dispense
To weaken the resemblance.
May he revive thy Nursery sin,
Peeping as daringly within,
His curley Locks but just descried,
With ‘Bet, my be not come to bide.’–
Fearless of danger, braving pain,
And threaten’d very oft in vain,
Still may one Terror daunt his Soul,
One needful engine of Controul
Be found in this sublime array,
A neigbouring Donkey’s aweful Bray.
So may his equal faults as Child,
Produce Maturity as mild!
His saucy words and fiery ways
In early Childhood’s pettish days,
In Manhood, shew his Father’s mind
Like him, considerate and Kind;
All Gentleness to those around,
And anger only not to wound.
Then like his Father too, he must,
To his own former struggles just,
Feel his Deserts with honest Glow,
And all his self-improvement know.
A native fault may thus give birth
To the best blessing, conscious Worth.
As for ourselves we’re very well;
As unaffected prose will tell.–
Cassandra’s pen will paint our state,
The many comforts that await
Our Chawton home, how much we find
Already in it, to our mind;
And how convinced, that when complete
It will all other Houses beat
The ever have been made or mended,
With rooms concise, or rooms distended.
You’ll find us very snug next year,
Perhaps with Charles and Fanny near,
For now it often does delight us
To fancy them just over-right us.