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L of 1952






Jane Austen

born 1775
died 1817

"Lady Susan" and "The
Watsons" were first pub-
lished in 1871 in the second
edition of "A Memoir of
Jane Austen," _bv J. E.
Austen Leigh.


By Jane Austen



Printed in Great Britain.



Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation

Lady Susan Vernon to Mr, Vernon

Langford, Dec.

MY DEAR BROTHER,— I can no longer
refuse myself the pleasure of profiting by your
kind invitation when we la^ parted of spending
some weeks with you at Churchhill, and, therefore, if
quite convenient to you and Mrs. Vernon to receive me at
present, I shall hope within a few days to be introduced to
a sisler whom I have so long desired to be acquainted with.
My kind friends here are most affedionately urgent with me
to prolong my ^y, but their hospitable and cheerful dis-
positions lead them too much into society for my present
situation and ^ate of mind ; and I impatiently look forward
to the hour when I shall be admitted into your delightful

I long to be made known to your dear little children,
in whose hearts I shall be very eager to secure an intere^.
I shall soon have need for all my fortitude, as I am on the
point of separation from my own daughter. The long
illness of her dear father prevented my paying her that
attention which duty and affedlion equally didlated, and I
have too much reason to fear that the governess to whose care
I consigned her was unequal to the charge. I have there-
fore resolved on placing her at one of the be^ private
schools in town, where I shall have an opportunity of
3 leaving

Lady Susan

leaving her myself in my way to you. I am determined,
you see, not to be denied admittance at Churchhill. It
would indeed give me mo^ painful sensations to know that
it were not in your power to receive me.

Your molt obliged and affectionate si^er,

S. Vernon.


Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson

You were mi^aken, my dear Alicia, in supposing me
fixed at this place for the re^ of the winter : it grieves
me to say how greatly you were mi^ken, for I have
seldom spent three months more agreeably than those
which have ju^ flown away. At present, nothing goes
smoothly ; the females of the family are united again^
me. You foretold how it would be when I fir^ came to
Langford, and Mainwaring is so uncommonly pleasing
that I was not without apprehensions for myself. I remember
saying to myself, as I drove to the house, " I like this man,
pray Heaven no harm come of it ! " But I was deter-
mined to be discreet, to bear in mind my being only four
months a widow, and to be as quiet as possible : and I
have been so, my dear creature ; I have admitted no one's
attentions but Mainwaring's. I have avoided all general
flirtation whatever ; I have diftinguished no creature
besides, of all the numbers resorting hither, except Sir
James Martin, on whom I be^owed a little notice, in order
to detach him from Miss Mainwaring ; but, if the world
could know my motive there they would honour me. I
4 have

Lady Susan

have been called an unkind mother, but it was the sacred
impulse of maternal affedlion, it was the advantage of my
daughter that led me on ; and if that daughter were not
the greater simpleton on earth, I might have been rewarded
for my exertions as I ought.

Sir James did make proposals to me for Frederica ; but
Frederica, who was born to be the torment of my life,
chose to set herself so violently again^ the match that I
thought it better to lay aside the scheme for the present.
I have more than once repented that I did not marry him
myself ; and were he but one degree less contemptibly
weak I certainly should : but I mu^ own myself rather
romantic in that respeft, and that riches only will not
satisfy me. The event of all this is very provoking : Sir
James is gone, Maria highly incensed, and Mrs. Mainwaring
insupportably jealous ; so jealous, in short, and so enraged
again^ me, that, in the fury of her temper, I should not
be surprized at her appealing to her guardian, if she had
the liberty of addressing him : but there your husband
^ands my friend ; and the kinde^, mo^ amiable adlion
of his life was his throwing her off for ever on her marriage.
Keep up his resentment, therefore, I charge you. We are
now in a sad ^ate ; no house was ever more altered ; the
whole party are at war, and Mainwaring scarcely dares
speak to me. It is time for me to be gone ; I have there-
fore determined on leaving them, and shall spend, I hope,
a comfortable day with you in town within this week. If
I am as little in favour with Mr. Johnson as ever, you mu^
come to me at lo Wigmore Street j but I hope this may
not be the case, for as Mr. Johnson, with all his faults,
is a man to whom that great word " respedlable " is always
5 given

Lady Susan

given, and I am known to be so intimate with his wife, his
slighting me has an awkward look.

I take London in my way to that insupportable spot, a
country village ; for I am really going to Churchhill.
Forgive me, my dear friend, it is my la^ resource. Were
there another place in England open to me I would prefer
it. Charles Vernon is my aversion, and I am afraid of his
wife. At Churchhill, however, I mu^ remain till I have
something better in view. My young lady accompanies
me to town, where I shall deposit her under the care of
Miss Summers, in Wigmore Street, till she becomes a little
more reasonable. She will made good connections there,
as the girls are all of the besT: families. The price is immense,
and much beyond what I can ever attempt to pay.

Adieu, I will send you a line as soon as I arrive in town.

Yours ever,

S. Vernon.


Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy


My dear Mother, — I am very sorry to tell you that it
will not be in our power to keep our promise of spending
our Chri^mas with you ; and we are prevented that happi-
ness by a circum^ance which is not likely to make us any
amends. Lady Susan, in a letter to her brother-in-law,
has declared her intention of visiting us almo^ immediately ;
and as such a visit is in all probability merely an affair of
convenience, it is impossible to conjecture its length. I
was by no means prepared for such an event, nor can I now
6 account

Lady Susan

account for her ladyship's condudl ; Langford appeared
so exaftly the place for her in every respeft, as well from
the elegant and expensive style of living there, as from her
particular attachment to Mr. Mainwaring, that I was very
far from expecting so speedy a distinction, though I always
imagined from her increasing friendship for us since her
husband's death that we should, at some future period, be
obliged to receive her. Mr. Vernon, I think, was a great
deal too kind to her when he was in Staffordshire ; her
behaviour to him, independent of her general character, has
been so inexcusably artful and ungenerous since our marriage
was fir^ in agitation that no one less amiable and mild
than himself could have overlooked it all ; and though,
as his brother's widow, and in narrow circum^ances, it was
proper to render her pecuniary assi^ance, I cannot help
thinking his pressing invitation to her to visit us at Church-
hill perfedlly unnecessary. Disposed, however, as he
always is to think the be^ of everyone, her display of grief,
and professions of regret, and general resolutions of prudence,
were sufficient to soften his heart and make him really
confide in her sincerity ; but, as for myself, I am ^ill
unconvinced, and plausibly as her ladyship has now written,
I cannot make up my mind till I better under^nd her
real meaning in coming to us. You may guess, therefore,
my dear madam, with what feelings I look forward to her
arrival. She will have occasion for all those attractive
powers for which she is celebrated to gain any share of
my regard ; and I shall certainly endeavour to guard myself
again^ their influence, if not accompanied by something
more sub^antial. She expresses a mo^ eager desire of being
acquainted with me, and makes very gracious mention of

7 1^7

Lady Susan

my children, but I am not quite weak enough to suppose a
woman who has behaved with inattention, if not with
unkindness, to her own child, should be attached to any of
mine. Miss Vernon is to be placed at a school in London
before her mother comes to us, which I am glad of, for her
sake and my own. It mu^ be to her advantage to be
separated from her mother, and a girl of sixteen who has
received so wretched an education, could not be a very
desirable companion here. Reginald has long wished, I
know, to see the captivating Lady Susan, and we shall
depend on his joining our party soon. I am glad to hear
that my father continues so well ; and am, with be^
love, &c.,

Catherine Vernon.


Mr. De Courcy to Mrs, Vernon


My dear Si^er, — I congratulate you and Mr. Vernon
on being about to receive into your family the mo^ accom-
plished coquette in England. As a very di^inguished flirt
I have always been taught to consider her, but it has lately
fallen in my way to hear some particulars of her condudt
at Langford, which prove that she does not confine herself
to that sort of hone^ flirtation which satisfies mo^ people,
but aspires to the more delicious gratification of making a
whole family miserable. By her behaviour to Mr. Main-
waring she gave jealousy and wretchedness to his wife, and
by her attentions to a young man previously attached to
Mr. Mainwaring's si^er deprived an amiable girl of her

8 I

Lady Susan

I learnt all this from Mr. Smith, now in this neighbour-
hood (I have dined with him, at HursT: and Wilford), who
is ju^ come from Langford where he was a fortnight with
her ladyship, and who is therefore well qualified to make
the communication.

What a woman she mu^ be ! I long to see her, and
shall certainly accept your kind invitation, that I may
form some idea of those bewitching powers which can do
so much — engaging at the same time, and in the same
house, the affedlions of two men, who were neither of
them at liberty to be^ow them — and all this without the
charm of youth ! I am glad to find Miss Vernon does not
accompany her mother to Churchhill, as she has not even
manners to recommend her ; and, according to Mr. Smith's
account, is equally dull and proud. Where pride and
Cupidity unite there can be no dissimulation worthy notice,
and Miss Vernon shall be consigned to unrelenting con-
tempt j but by all that I can gather Lady Susan possesses
a degree of captivating deceit which it musT: be pleasing to
witness and detedl. I shall be with you very soon, and am

Your affedlionate brother,

R. De Courcy.


Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson


I received your note, my dear Alicia, ju^ before I left

town, and rejoice to be assured that Mr. Johnson suspefted

nothing of your engagement the evening before. It is

9 undoubtedly

Lady Susan

undoubtedly better to deceive him entirely, and since he
will be ^ubborn he mu^ be tricked. I arrived here in
safety, and have no reason to complain of my reception
from Mr. Vernon ; but I confess myself not equally
satisfied with the behaviour of his lady. She is perfeflly
well-bred, indeed, and has the air of a woman of fashion,
but her manners are not such as can persuade me of her
being prepossessed in my favour. I wanted her to be
delighted at seeing me. I was as amiable as possible on the
occasion, but all in vain. She does not like me. To be
sure when we consider that I did take some pains to prevent
my brother-in-law's marrying her, this want of cordiality
is not very surprizing, and yet it shows an illiberal and
vindiftive spirit to resent a projedl which influenced me six
years ago, and which never succeeded at la^.

I am sometimes disposed to repent that I did not let
Charles buy Vernon Caftle, when we were obliged to sell
it ; but it was a trying circum^ance, especially as the sale
took place exactly at the time of his marriage ; and every-
body ought to respedl the delicacy of those feelings which
could not endure that my husband's dignity should be
lessened by his younger brother's having possession of the
family e^te. Could matters have been so arranged as to
prevent the necessity of our leaving the ca^le, could we have
lived with Charles and kept him single, I should have
been very far from persuading my husband to dispose of
it elsewhere ; but Charles was on the point of marrying
Miss De Courcy, and the event has j unified me. Here
are children in abundance, and what benefit could have
accrued to me from his purchasing Vernon ? My having
prevented it may perhaps have given his wife an unfavour-
I o able

Lady Susan

able impression, but where there is a disposition to disHke,
a motive will never be wanting ; and as to money matters
it has not withheld him from being very useful to me. I
really have a regard for him, he is so easily imposed upon !
The house is a good one, the furniture fashionable, and
everything announces plenty and elegance. Charles is
very rich I am sure ; when a man has once got his name in
a banking-house he rolls in money ; but they do not know
what to do with it, keep very little company, and never go
to London but on business. We shall be as sl:upid as possible.
I mean to win my si^er-in-law's heart through the children j

I know all their names already, and am going to attach
myself with the greatest: sensibility to one in particular, a
young Frederic, whom I take on my lap and sigh over for
his dear uncle's sake.

Poor Mainwaring ! I need not tell you how much I
miss him, how perpetually he is in my thoughts. I found
a dismal letter from him on my arrival here, full of com-
plaints of his wife and si^er, and lamentations on the cruelty
of his fate. I passed off the letter as his wife's, to the
Vernons, and when I write to him it musT: be under cover
to you.

Ever yours,

S. Vernon.

Mrs. Vernon to Mr. De Courcy

Well, my dear Reginald, I have seen this dangerous
creature, and musT: give you some description of her, though


Lady Susan

I hope you will soon be able to form your own judgment.
She is really excessively pretty ; however you may choose
to que^ion the allurements of a lady no longer young, I
mull, for my own part, declare that I have seldom seen so
lovely a woman as Lady Susan. She is delicately fair,
with fine grey eyes and dark eyelashes ; and from her
appearance one would not suppose her more than five and
twenty, though she mu^ in fact be ten years older. I was
certainly not disposed to admire her, though always hearing
she was beautiful ; but I cannot help feeling that she
possesses an uncommon union of symmetry, brilliancy, and
grace. Her address to me was so gentle, frank, and even
affeftionate, that, if I had not known how much she has
always disliked me for marrying Mr. Vernon, and that we
had never met before, I should have imagined her an attached
friend. One is apt, I believe, to connedl assurance of
manner with coquetry, and to expert that an impudent
address will naturally attend an impudent mind ; at lea^ I
was myself prepared for an improper degree of confidence
in Lady Susan ; but her countenance is absolutely sweet,
and her voice and manner winningly mild. I am sorry it
is so, for what is this but deceit \ Unfortunately, one
knows her too well. She is clever and agreeable, has all
that knowledge of the world which makes conversation
easy, and talks very well, with a happy command of language,
which is too often used, I believe, to make black appear
white. She has already almo^ persuaded me of her being
warmly attached to her daughter, though I have been so
long convinced to the contrary. She speaks of her with so
much tenderness and anxiety, lamenting so bitterly the
negledl of her education, which she represents however as
1 2 wholly

Lady Susan

wholly unavoidable, that I am forced to recolleft how
many successive springs her ladyship spent in town, while
her daughter was left in Staffordshire to the care of servants,
or a governess very little better, to prevent my believing
what she says.

If her manners have so great an influence on my resentful
heart, you may judge how much more Wrongly they operate
on Mr. Vernon's generous temper. I wish I could be as
well satisfied as he is, that it was really her choice to leave
Langford for Churchhill ; and if she had not ^yed there
for months before she discovered that her friend's manner
of living did not suit her situation or feelings, I might have
believed that concern for the loss of such a husband as Mr.
Vernon, to whom her own behaviour was far from un-
exceptionable, might for a time make her wish for retire-
ment. But I cannot forget the length of her visit to the
Mainwarings, and when I refledl on the different mode of
life which she led with them from that to which she mu^
now submit, I can only suppose that the wish of e^ablishing
her reputation by following though late the path of pro-
priety, occasioned her removal from a family where she mu^
in reality have been particularly happy. Your friend Mr.
Smith's ^ory, however, cannot be quite correct, as she
corresponds regularly with Mrs. Mainwaring. At any rate
it mu^ be exaggerated. It is scarcely possible that two men
should be so grossly deceived by her at once.

Yours, &c.,

Catherine Vernon.


Lady Susan


Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs, Johnson


My dear Alicia, — You are very good in taking notice
of Frederica, and I am grateful for it as a mark of your
friendship ; but as I cannot have any doubt of the warmth
of your affecSlion, I am far from exadling so heavy a sacrifice.
She is a ^upid girl, and has nothing to recommend her.
I would not, therefore, on my account, have you encumber
one moment of your precious time by sending for her to
Edward Street, especially as every visit is so much dedudled
from the grand affair of education, which I really wish to
have attended to while she remains at Miss Summers's. I
want her to play and sing with some portion of ta^e and a
good deal of assurance, as she has my hand and arm and a
tolerable voice. I was so much indulged in my infant
years that I was never obliged to attend to anything, and
consequently am without the accomplishments which are
now necessary to finish a pretty woman. Not that I am
an advocate for the prevailing fashion of acquiring a perfedl
knowledge of all languages, arts, and sciences. It is throw-
ing time away to be mi^ress of French, Italian, and German :
music, singing, and drawing, &c., will gain a woman some
applause, but will not add one lover to her li^ — grace and
manner, after all, are of the greater importance. I do not
mean, therefore, that Frederica's acquirements should be
more than superficial, and I flatter myself that she will not
remain long enough at school to underhand anything
thoroughly. I hope to see her the wife of Sir James within
a twelvemonth. You know on what I ground my hope,
14 and

Lady Susan

and it is certainly a good foundation, for school mu^ be
very humiliating to a girl of Frederica's age. And, by-the-
by, you had better not invite her any more on that account,
as I wish her to find her situation as unpleasant as possible.
I am sure of Sir James at any time, and could make him
renew his application by a line. I shall trouble you mean-
while to prevent his forming any other attachment when he
comes to town. Ask him to your house occasionally, and
talk to him of Frederica, that he may not forget her. Upon
the whole, I commend my own condudt in this affair ex-
tremely, and regard it as a very happy in^ance of circum-
spedlion and tenderness. Some mothers would have insi^ed
on their daughter's accepting so good an offer on the fir^
overture ; but I could not reconcile it to myself to force
Frederica into a marriage from which her heart revolted,
and in^ead of adopting so harsh a measure merely propose
to make it her own choice, by rendering her thoroughly
uncomfortable till she does accept him — but enough of this
tiresome girl. You may well wonder how I contrive to
pass my time here, and for the firft week it was insufferably
dull. Now, however, we begin to mend, our party is enlarged
by Mrs. Vernon's brother, a handsome young man, who
promises me some amusement. There is something about
him which rather intere^s me, a sort of sauciness and
familiarity which I shall teach him to corredl. He is lively,
and seems clever, and when I have inspired him with
greater respeft for me than his sixer's kind offices have
implanted, he may be an agreeable flirt. There is exquisite
pleasure in subduing an insolent spirit, in making a person
predetermined to dislike acknowledge one's superiority. I
have disconcerted him already by my calm reserve, and it
15 shall

Lady Susan

shall be my endeavour to humble the pride of these self-
important De Courcys still lower, to convince Mrs. Vernon
that her sifterly cautions have been be^owed in vain, and
to persuade Reginald that she has scandalously belied me.
This projedl will serve at lea^ to amuse me, and prevent
my feeling so acutely this dreadful separation from you and
all whom I love.

Yours ever,

S. Vernon.

Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy


My dear Mother, — You mu^ not expedl Reginald back
again for some time. He desires me to tell you that the
present open weather induces him to accept Mr. Vernon's
invitation to prolong his ^ay in Sussex, that they may have
some hunting together. He means to send for his horses
immediately, and it is impossible to say when you may see
him in Kent. I will not disguise my sentiments on this
change from you, my dear mother, though I think you had
better not communicate them to my father, whose excessive
anxiety about Reginald would subjedl him to an alarm
which might seriously affect his health and spirits. Lady
Susan has certainly contrived, in the space of a fortnight,
to make my brother like her. In short, I am persuaded
that his continuing here beyond the time originally fixed
for his return is occasioned as much by a degree of fascina-
tion towards her, as by the wish of hunting with Mr. Vernon,
and of course I cannot receive that pleasure from the length
i6 of

Lady Susan

of his visit which my brother's company would otherwise
give me. I am, indeed, provoked at the artifice of this
unprincipled woman ; what Wronger proof of her dangerous
abilities can be given than this perversion of Reginald's
judgment, which when he entered the house was so decidedly
again^ her ? In his la^ letter he actually gave me some
particulars of her behaviour at Langford, such as he received
from a gentleman who knew her perfectly well, which, if
true, mu^ raise abhorrence again^ her, and which Reginald
himself was entirely disposed to credit. His opinion of her,
I am sure, was as low as of any woman in England ; and
when he fir^ came it was evident that he considered her as
one entitled neither to delicacy nor respeft, and that he
felt she would be delighted with the attentions of any man
inclined to flirt with her. Her behaviour, I confess, has
been calculated to do away with such an idea ; I have not
detected the smallest impropriety in it — nothing of vanity,
of pretension, of levity ; and she is altogether so attraftive
that I should not wonder at his being delighted with her,
had he known nothing of her previous to this personal
acquaintance ; but, again^ reason, againsT: conviction, to
be so well pleased with her, as I am sure he is, does really
a^onish me. His admiration was at fir^ very strong, but
no more than was natural, and I did not wonder at his
being much ^ruck by the gentleness and delicacy of her
manners ; but when he has mentioned her of late it has
been in terms of more extraordinary praise j and yesl:erday
he adlually said that he could not be surprised at any effecl
produced on the heart of man by such loveliness and such
abilities ; and when I lamented, in reply, the badness of

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Online LibraryJane AustenLady Susan and The Watsons → online text (page 1 of 10)