Jane Austen (1775-1817)
From 18th Century Literary Anecdotes

From James Stanier Clark, 27 March 1816

Dear Miss Austen,
I have to return you the thanks of His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent, for the handsome copy you sent him of your last excellent novel[ Emma] ... The Prince Regent has just left us for London; and having been pleased to appoint me Chaplain and Private English Secretary to the Prince of Coburg, I remain here with His Serene Highness and a select party until the marriage. Perhaps when you again appear in print you may choose to dedicate your volumes to Prince Leopold: any historical romance, illustrative of the history of the august House of Coburg, would just now be very interesting.

Believe me at all times,
    Dear Miss Austen,
    Your obliged friend,
       J. S. Clarke.

To James Stanier Clarke, 1 April 1816

My dear Sir,
I am honoured by the Prince's thanks and very much obliged to yourself for the kind manner in which you mention the work.... You are very kind in your hints as to the sort of composition which might recommend me at present, and I am fully sensible that an historical romance, founded on the House of Saxe Coburg, might be much more to the purpose of profit or popularity than such pictures of domestic life in country villages as I deal in. But I could not more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.

I remain, my dear Sir,
    Your very much obliged,
    and very sincere friend,
       J. Austen.

From Jane Austen's Letters ... Collected and edited by R. W. Chapman (2nd edn., 1952), pp. 451-3.

« NEXT » « 18th Century Anecdotes » « All Anecdotes » « Humour » « Library »