I am grateful for the hospitality that you extended to me during my stay in Steventon, Bath, Southampton, and, finally, Chawton. I so enjoyed meeting your loved ones and friends, especially your sister, Cassandra, your cherished lifelong companion. Some have called her tiresome--your niece Fanny complained that Cassandra's lectures gave her a headache--but we must remember that her fiance's death extinguished Cassandra's youth and dulled her hopes. I also couldn't help liking your cousin Eliza, another misunderstood woman. Those who disparaged Eliza's flirtatiousness and devotion to French fashions closed their eyes to her generosity and touching love for her son. And your friend Martha Lloyd--so down to earth but full of fun--I'd want her for a friend, too.
Getting to know you was the highlight of my visit, of course, although I sensed that you held back your finest thoughts and observations. You must have been saving them for your books. I particularly liked seeing your bond with your nieces and nephews. "She seemed to love you, and you loved her naturally in return," your niece Caroline said of you. Your kindness to two of your brother Edward's boys in the days after their mother's death especially touched me. The outings and games that you arranged for them, from rowboat rides to spillikins (pick-up sticks), eased them through a sorrowful time. would it surprise you to know that the young still feel connected to you two hundred years after your death?
I must mention one thing. I still don't know what to make of your penchant for gossip. Deliberately pointing out others' faults, if only to entertain friends, seems unnecessarily cruel. Yet when one has a talent for clever, cutting remarks, making them must be hard to resist. And yours are so witty. In the months since we parted I have heard again in my mind your description of poor Mr. Warren, whom you called "ugly enough; uglier even than his cousin John," and innocent Miss Langley, a young lady you dismissed as being "like any other short girl, with a broad nose and wide mouth, fashionable dress, and exposed bosom." Of course, you write novels, and novelists must be willing (dare I say eager?) to show characters in an unfavorable light.
Since leaving Chawton, I have been staying in the north, in the Yorkshire village of Haworth, with a clergyman named Bronte and his three grown daughters. I'd love to hear what you would say about them! They wear old-fashioned dresses, attend no balls, and shun most company. They have all written novels called shocking in their time and deemed unsuitable for young ladies to read. Now I will pass along some gossip of my own: Charlotte, the oldest Bronte sister, has read your books, and she said they lack passion!
Dearest Jane, in closing I will only say that I am sorry you had to leave us so soon.