On July 18, 1817, Jane Austen slipped away in the early morning. Her last recorded words, the day before, were “God grant me patience, Pray for me Oh Pray for me.”
Before she died, her clergyman-brothers Henry and James had “administered the services suitable for a Christian’s death-bed” (Memoir of Jane Austen). So she had repented of sins, asked God’s forgiveness, and taken her final Communion service. Her brothers had prayed with and for her.
A London obituary that appeared on July 22 read:
“On the 18th inst. at Winchester, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen, rector of Steventon, in Hampshire, and the Authoress of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. Her manners were most gentle; her affections ardent; her candor was not to be surpassed, and she lived and died as became a humble Christian” (Courier and Evening Gazette, quoted in Kelly, Jane Austen, The Secret Radical). (Inst. means of the current month, so the 18th of July. To understand this usage of candor, see Jane Bennet and Candor.)
The inscription on her tombstone in Winchester Cathedral doesn’t mention her writing.
In Memory of
youngest daughter of the late
Revd GEORGE AUSTEN,
formerly Rector of Steventon in this County
she departed this Life on the 18th of July 1817,
aged 41, after a long illness supported with
the patience and the hopes of a Christian.
The benevolence of her heart,
the sweetness of her temper, and
the extraordinary endowments of her mind
obtained the regard of all who knew her, and
the warmest love of her intimate connections.
Their grief is in proportion to their affection,
they know their loss to be irreparable,
but in their deepest affliction they are consoled
by a firm though humble hope that her charity,
devotion, faith and purity have rendered
her soul acceptable in the sight of her
Both emphasize Austen’s faith in Christ.
Austen wrote a humorous poem shortly before her death. In it, St. Swithin proclaims, “Behold, me immortal.” Jane’s family, and Jane herself, certainly believed that she would be immortal in heaven. They may not have realized that her novels would keep her alive for us on earth over two hundred years later.
I’ve written elsewhere about what Jane had to say about death in her novels. Today I posted on what she might have died from, which is very controversial.
For you, what makes our beloved Jane “immortal”?
2 thoughts on “Jane Austen’s Death”
Hi, Brenda, Are you Episcopalian? I am going through the course, Episcopalian 101) at St. Alban’s here in Hickory, NC. Ordained in Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I feel drawn toward the spirituality and practices (was a Lutheran for years).
Sorry, getting off-topic; I have written to you before, with a different and now defunct e-mail address, email@example.com I admired your cross stitch. which was hanging behind you on one of your zoom presentations; I did get the graph, but am having some problems with vision (I hope temporarily), so have put it away for now.
The new Regional Coordinator for North Carolina has connected with me over programming in the New Year, since am the religious representative in JASNA/NC. When she asked for presenters names, I put yours forward, since I read and enjoy your blog, and have seen several of your presentations on Zoom. Be careful what you endorse! So she asked me whether I could provide an introduction to you to pursue a possible presentation for JASNA/NC.
Now I am aware that you do not know me, but am being so bold as to ask whether you would entertain communication about providing a possible program for North Carolina. And as you give this request careful and prayerful thought, remember the season!
Hope your holiday is filled with peace and comfort. And that, like me, you will be glued to the radio tomorrow (Christmas Eve) morning for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols From King’s College (I attended that service live in 2007—one of my fondest and coldest memories of all times!)
Christmas Cheer to you! Susan Brooks
Hi, Susan! As it happens, I am Presbyterian, but I grew up Disciples of Christ and I have attended a number of Anglican and Episcopal services, which I really appreciate. I love experiencing the different ways that Jesus’s followers worship. Thanks for the recommendation of the service tomorrow; wonderful idea!
I would love to speak to your group. Also I am now a member of JASNA’s Churches Committee. But I don’t see your new email address. I think if you contact me using the About Me–Contact link in the menu at the top, that will give me a way to respond to you in more detail. Or you can message me on Facebook; my page is http://www.facebook.com/BrendaSCoxRegency
I’d be delighted to do this, so let’s get in touch!