Love and Friendship, is a series of letters, written mostly by Laura to the young daughter (Marianne) of her childhood friend Isable. This is one of Jane Austen’s early works, and I found it entertaining and full of wit, for one so young and a minister’s daughter.
These letters, I think, show Jane’s humorous side. The Republic of Pemberley, description ‘Love and Friendship’:
This tale, in epistolary form, is one of Jane Austen's Juvenilia. Love and Freindship (which is usually cited in Jane Austen's original spelling) is an exuberant parody of the cult of sensibility, which she later criticized in a more serious way in her novel Sense and Sensibility. For the main characters in Love and Freindship, including the narrator Laura, violent and overt emotion substitutes for morality and common sense. Characters who have this "sensibility" fall into each other's arms weeping the first time they ever meet, and on suffering any misfortune are too preoccupied with indulging their emotions to take any effective action. They use their fine feelings as the excuse for any misdeeds, and despise characters without such feelings.
I found myself laughing many times throughout the story at Jane’s description of situations, and I wondered where she came up with these ideas. I think, like many of Jane’s novels we wonder if she did in fact those around her to draw on her characters.
Here are the first three letters in this tale of sorry and woe.
Letter the First from Isabel to Laura
How often, in answer to my repeated intreaties that you would give my Daughter a regular detail of the Misfortunes and Adventures of your Life, have you said "No, my freind, never will I comply with your request till I may be no longer in Danger of again experiencing such dreadful ones."
Surely that time is now at hand. You are this day 55. If a woman may ever be said to be in safety from the determined Perseverance of disagreeable Lovers and the cruel Persecutions of obstinate Fathers, surely it must be at such a time of Life.
Letter 2nd Laura to Isabel
ALTHO' I cannot agree with you in supposing that I shall never again be exposed to Misfortunes as unmerited as those I have already experienced, yet to avoid the imputation of Obstinacy or ill-nature, I will gratify the curiosity of your Daughter; and may the fortitude with which I have suffered the many afflictions of my past Life, prove to her a useful lesson for the support of those which may befall her in her own.
Letter 3rd Laura to Marianne
AS the Daughter of my most intimate freind, I think you entitled to that knowledge of my unhappy story, which your Mother has so often solicited me to give you.
My Father was a native of Ireland and an inhabitant of Wales; my Mother was the natural Daughter of a Scotch Peer by an Italian Opera-girl -- I was born in Spain, and received my Education at a Convent in France.
When I had reached my eighteenth Year, I was recalled by my Parents to my paternal roof in Wales. Our mansion was situated in one of the most romantic parts of the Vale of Uske. Tho' my Charms are now considerably softened and somewhat impaired by the Misfortunes I have undergone, I was once beautiful. But lovely as I was, the Graces of my Person were the least of my Perfections. Of every accomplishment accustomary to my sex, I was Mistress. When in the Convent, my progress had always exceeded my instructions, my Acquirements had been wonderfull for my age, and I had shortly surpassed my Masters.
In my Mind, every Virtue that could adorn it was centered; it was the Rendez-vous of every good Quality and of every noble sentiment.
A sensibility too tremblingly alive to every affliction of my Freinds, my Acquaintance, and particularly to every affliction of my own, was my only fault, if a fault it could be called. Alas! how altered now! Tho' indeed my own Misfortunes do not make less impression on me than they ever did, yet now I never feel for those of an other. My accomplishments too, begin to fade -- I can neither sing so well nor Dance so gracefully as I once did -- and I have entirely forgot the Minuet
Here are a few of my favourite lines from other letters in ‘Love and Friendship’.
After having been deprived during the course of 3 weeks of a real freind (for such I term your Mother), imagine my transports at beholding one most truly worthy of the Name. Sophia was rather above the middle size; most elegantly formed. A soft languor spread over her lovely features, but increased their Beauty. -- It was the Characteristic of her Mind. -- She was all Sensibility and Feeling. We flew into each other's arms and after having exchanged vows of mutual Freindship for the rest of our Lives, instantly unfolded to each other the most inward secrets of our Hearts. -- We were interrupted in the delightfull Employment by the entrance of Augustus (Edward's freind), who was just returned from a solitary ramble.
Never did I see such an affecting Scene as was the meeting of Edward and Augustus.
"My Life! my Soul!" (exclaimed the former) "My Adorable Angel!" (replied the latter), as they flew into each other's arms. It was too pathetic for the feelings of Sophia and myself -- We fainted alternately on a sofa.
Then there is this one:
She had not time to answer me, for every thought was now engaged by the horrid Spectacle before us. Two Gentlemen most elegantly attired, but weltering in their blood, was what first struck our Eyes -- we approached -- they were Edward and Augustus. -- Yes dearest Marianne they were our Husbands. Sophia shreiked and fainted on the Ground -- I screamed and instantly ran mad. -- We remained thus mutually deprived of our Senses some minutes, and on regaining them were deprived of them again. For an Hour and a Quarter did we continue in this unfortunate Situation -- Sophia fainting every moment and I running Mad as often. At length a groan from the hapless Edward (who alone retained any share of Life) restored us to ourselves. Had we indeed before imagined that either of them lived, we should have been more sparing of our Greif -- but as we had supposed when we first beheld them that they were no more, we knew that nothing could remain to be done but what we were about. No sooner, therefore, did we hear my Edward's groan than postponing our Lamentations for the present, we hastily ran to the Dear Youth and kneeling on each side of him implored him not to die. -- "Laura (said He, fixing his now languid Eyes on me) I fear I have been overturned."
The spelling mistakes are those of Miss. Austen, can’t you just see her sitting at her desk writing madly as the ideas pop into her head. I wonder if she thought her novels through?
If you’d like to read the full tale you can find it here at The Republic of Pemberley
I borrowed the book of Jane’s early works from my local library, so if you’re like me and love to curl up with your book, try my library or a second hand bookstore.