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Page 148

PART II - BOOKS
CHAPTER XIII - JANE AUSTEN

Yet with all the help in the world how shall we drag these shy, proud books into the centre of our minds ? To be one with Jane Austen ! It is a contradiction in terms, yet every Jane Austenite has made the attempt. When the humour has been absorbed and the cynicism and moral earnestness both discounted, something remains which is easily called Life, but does not thus become more approachable. It is the books rather than the author that seem to reject us-natural enough, since the books are literature and the author an aunt. As Miss Bates remarked, ` Dear Jane, how shall we ever recollect half the dishes ? '-for though the banquet was not long, it has never been assimilated to our minds. Miss Bates received no answer to her most apposite question ; her dear Jane was thinking of something else. The dishes were carried back into the kitchen of the Crown before she could memorize them, and Heaven knows now what they contained !-strawberries from Donwell, perhaps, or apricots from Mansfield Rectory, or sugar-plums from Barton, or hothouse grapes from Pemberley, or melted butter from Woodston, or the hazel nut that Captain Wentworth once picked for Louisa Musgrove in a double hedgerow near Uppercross. Something has flashed past the faces of the guests and brushed their heartssomething as impalpable as stardust, yet it is part of the soil of England. Miss Austen herself, though she evoked it, cannot retain it any more than we can. When Pride and Prejudice is finished she goes up to London and searches in vain through the picture galleries for a portrait of Elizabeth Bennet. ' I dare say she will be in yellow,' she writes to Cassandra. But not in that nor in any colour could she find her.

2. SANDITON
THE fragment known to Miss Austen's family as Sanditon is of small literary merit, but no one is to blame for this : neither the authoress, who left it a fragment, nor the owner of the MS., who has rightly decided on publication, nor the editor of the text, who has done his work with care and skill. Though of

travel books:
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