18 JANUARY 1902, Page 21



Jane Ausien: her Homes and her Friends. By Constance Hill (John Lane. 21s.)—To open one of Miss Austen's delightful stozies is as pleasant as setting out to visit an old and dear friend, one whom we like as well as love: there is a d fference, fox some whom we revere are by no means entertaining, while others whose society is amusing do not always c. =nand our affection and respect. We find both sorts in the lifelike groups into whose intimacy Miss Austen invites us. We laugh at Sir Walter Elliot, the Bennets, Mr. Norris, Mr. Woodhouse, and Miss Bates we love the two last as well as laugh at them—and enjoy the exquisite refinement of Anne Elliot, the fun and good sense of Elizabeth and Emma, the childlike naïveté and sincerity of Catherine and Fenny, just as if they were living persons : and how much more alive and modern they are than any description we have ever seen of our authoress and her surroundings! Although it tells us little of her inner life and history, this book is a valuable contribution to Austen lore. We follew with Miss Hill in the footsteps of Anne and Catherine in the fashionable resorts of Bath, perhaps the most interesting of her minute descriptions. for it tells us of a society now gone for ever, small but not too small, as Mr. Woodhouse would have said. We are grateful to her for the charming little pen-and iuk sketches, such as the children's feast ; also the family portraits. and the quaint silhouette representing her little uncle's intro- duction to his foster parents; also the various country scenes which Miss Austen chooses for the background, never thrusting them into the foreground, of her novels. Those who, unlike ourselves, do not frequently find a refuge from the worries of life in their delightful pages, will owe Miss Hill eternal grati- tude if she induces them to turn to them once more. We have heard the bores objected to, but bores whom you may get rid of at any moment are refreshing rather than otherwise ; we seem to revenge ourselves for the real bores we have met by seeing their absurdities and pomposities held up to ridicule ; but Miss Austen is never spiteful, and even Mr. Collins has a claim upon our goodwill, if only for the hearty laughs we enjoy at his expense.