A letter from Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett

austen1

Jane Austen

If it’s romantic or touches the heart, why not share it? Well, I found an old CD full of my writing jumbled among what I deemed junk—and what a little gem I found. If anyone knows me, they’ll know my love of Jane Austen spans several of her books: Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibilities, and Emma. The following letter is written in the vein of role-play, as if Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennett, now Mrs. Darcy and Sense and Sensibilities’ Elinor Dashwood, now Mrs. Ferrars are friends. The letter connects each book in a subtle way through Elizabeth’s experiences, sharing each encounter with Elinor.

My Dear Elinor,

Imagine my genuine delight in receiving your letter, for I cannot begin to give you a better expressed account of welcome it gave me this fine day.  Truly, I hope that my letter finds everyone in exceedingly good health and happiness; complete and without complaint, as I can report only the same.

Indeed, I found your very obliging account of Marianne’s happiness in marriage to be every bit as much as I had hoped for her and her new husband.  Pray, continue to give my regards, for I would only have want of their continued greatness in love and deep attachment.  And for you, my dear friend, I can only wish the same in pleasure and similarity of happiness with regards to your marriage.  Your felicity in situation and amiable tone of life passed through your words with much attention, bringing a pleasant smile to my lips that could only know sanguine overtures.

But first, to another matter with regards to my dear Sister-in-law, Georgiana, forgive me Elinor if my words were to blunt with surprise in view of her impending marriage to Colonel Fitzwilliam.  I wrote you in a moment of great joy and excitement that could not be contained and I am very sure that my words were expressed poorly, lacking due decorum.  Mr. Darcy and I are exceedingly happy with the turn of events and can only find such sincere contentment with the notable turn of events.  Having said that, however, I must tell you that indeed, Mr. Darcy and I would truly never find a more amiable and temperate gentleman than Colonel Fitzwilliam for Georgiana.  So, I must conclude the joyous turn of events as completely wonderful for everyone.  Even as I write you, a letter came by post from my dear Sister-in-law to be that the ever-imposing virtue of Lady Catherine de Burgh has given her blessing with much heart as she indeed she possesses.  Oh, dear Elinor, you will think me impertinent for that remark.  There are times when my own opinions have no scruple in judgments, but I shall endeavor to curb myself.

I have been waiting for the right time to relate the every exciting evening party that Mr. Darcy and I attended.  I had not realized the extent of whom exactly I was going to be meeting until the moment I arrived.  Mr. Darcy was well meaning in his discretion for fear that I would be too anxious, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised and I shall save the unveiling moment until the last.  We traveled five miles to Randalls, the home of Mr. Weston, a business acquaintance of Mr. Darcy’s and by all accounts a most generous host and a sensible man, who I found in good character and easy manner.  His wife, Mrs. Weston, was every bit the same in judgment and taste, with worthy conversation and politeness only to warmth.  There was only a pleasing affection that could easily blossom into a very lasting friendship that I found indeed agreeable.

Next, there was a couple in attendance that happen to be very close to the Weston’s not only in distance but in true friendship.   Mr. & Mrs. Knightley of Donwell Abbey, yet residing at the home of Mrs. Knightley’s father.  My, dear Elinor, here is a couple that both you and Mr. Ferrars would find exceedingly agreeable.  Mr. Knightley is considerably older than his wife, but by all account a cheerful man with an open heart, for he moved to his wife’s home for her ailing father could not endure the change of her marriage, yet Mr. Knightley’s generous manner gave way.  Mrs. Knightley was entirely comfortable and warm in her conversation and heart and I found both of them agreeable and quite loving in their attentions to each other as well as to their acquaintances.  In a close conversation with Mr. Knightley, he happened to mentioned to me that he had never seen Mr. Darcy so happy.  The compliment paid found me momentarily reflecting in a swelling burst of pride, yet humbled – for once I thought Mr. Darcy to have improper pride; oh, how time does change the heart!

Now, my friend—I must give way to the very news that I first brought up—only to stop most ungraciously.  Amongst the small gathering at Randalls, I was introduced to a Lady Russell, an old family acquaintance of the late Lady Anne Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s mother.  Lady Russell traveled up especially to wait upon me from Bath and such a marked attention could hardly go unnoticed for indeed the great honor left me enthusiastic, though I feared to obtusely disappointing yet said lady.  However, my fears were rallied.  I found Lady Russell to be a widow of steady character with obvious manners, perhaps a bit cool, yet unassuming.  We only spoke at first of generalities, but she then made it known how she would desire a closer acquaintance.  For so long she and the Darcy family have been intimate friends and that to see another mistress of Pemberly closely, as an honor.  Such a clear admission by her left me modestly seeking a quiet moment, so I shall venture no other opinion on the matter other than to say for now that I found Lady Russell affable in spirit.  Mr. Darcy did himself say he found the evening most enjoyable and I would heartily agree with him.

My dear Elinor, if ever there were enough hours, I would have the perfect day and most enjoyably write you more, but alas, Mrs. Reynolds, my housekeeper seeks an audience.  I am very pleased to know you and Mr. Ferrars are doing so well and settling in at Delaford.  Should you but have a moment before the holidays get underway, do write me.  For now, I must be content with that. My best to you—

Yours ever,

Elizabeth

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