In the first place I hope you will live twenty-three years longer. Letter from Jane to Cassandra, January 9, 1796
The new infant, however, did not appear quite so soon as was expected, and the last letter of the series is written by George Austen on December 17, 1775.
Steventon: December 17, 1775.
DEAR SISTER,–You have doubtless been for some time in expectation of hearing from Hampshire, and perhaps wondered a little we were in our old age grown such bad reckoners, but so it was, for Cassy certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago; however, last night the time came, and without a great deal of warning, everything was soon happily over. We have now another girl, a present plaything for her sister Cassy, and a future companion. She is to be Jenny, and seems to me as if she would be as like Harry as Cassy is to Neddy. Your sister, thank God, is pure well after it.
George Austen’s prediction was fully justified. Never were sisters more to each other than Cassandra and Jane; while in a particularly affectionate family there seems to have been a special link between Cassandra and Edward on the one hand, and between Jane and Henry on the other.
Jane’s godparents were Mrs. Musgrave (a connexion of her mother’s), Mrs. Francis Austen (another Jane), wife of George’s kind uncle, and Samuel Cooke, Rector of Little Bookham.
From Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters: A Family Record, by William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh, Chapter II
Happy birthday, Jane! May birthday cake and French wine flow long today out in the ether.
Gentle Readers, your party hat is hereby provided; Dorothy is serving vanilla rooibos and cake in the conservatory. Please feel free to leave your birthday greetings in this thread!
ETA: As on Jane’s birthday every year, JASNA has published the Winter 2009 issue of Persuasions On-line for your reading pleasure.