Eye at an Adultress

“I am proud to say that I have a very good eye at an Adultress, for tho’ repeatedly assured that another in the same party was the She, I fixed upon the right one from the first. . . . her face has the same defect of baldness as her sister’s, & her features not so handsome;–she was highly rouged, & looked rather quietly & contentedly silly than anything else.”

letter to Cassandra
May 12, 1801 [36]

The adulteress in question, observed in the upper rooms at Bath, was the Hon. Mary Cassandra Twisleton, who was a relation of the Austen’s somehow through the Leigh side (through Mrs. Austen’s family).  Her father had committed suicide when she was just fourteen, because he had some kind of disease that gave him terrible pain in his head, which the doctors told him was incurable.  Mary Cassandra eloped at sixteen with her first husband, then scandalously divorced after an affair with an MP when she was twenty-three.  So much for quiet life in the English country!

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