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III. LIFE AT STEVENTON; FIRST VISIT TO BATH; EARLIEST ATTEMPTS AT
WRITING. PRECISELY how old the sisters were at the time of their
being sent to school at Reading does not anywhere appear in the
family records; but we may safely assume the event to have been, in
Jane's case at least, the first going away from home. After that
date, whenever it may have been, Jane and Cassandra were from time
to time welcome visitors in Bath, at the house of their mother's
brother, Mr. Leigh Perrot, and at the house of her sister, who,
with her husband, Dr. Cooper, the Vicar of Sonning, near Reading,
resided in Bath. One of these visits, quite possibly the earliest,
must have been paid by Jane in 1791, on which occasion a portrait
was painted of her by the then popular artist, Zofifani,
representing her as a sweet faced girl of not more than fifteen.
This portrait was long in the possession of Colonel Austen, of
Kippington, who is said to have been Jane's godfather, and it was
therefore most probably painted at his desire. The present owner,
Reverend John Morland Rice, of Bramber Rectory, Steyning, Surrey, a
grand-nephew of the original of the portrait, was bequeathed itby
Dr. Harding Newman (late Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford), whose
stepmother had received it from Colonel Austen. No particulars
concerning this visit have been preserved; but very probably the
sisters were together when it took place, since their
correspondence, when separated, was frequent and regular, and it
was Cassandra's custom to retain all her sister's letters. That no
letters of her own to Jane exist, is no doubt owing to her having
destroyed whatever letters of hers she may have found among her
sister's papers after the death of the latter. Supposing her to
have done this, we cannot but regret the fact, for ...
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