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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Steps or the Stinks

The following are the first twelve lines of Jane Austen's short poem which was dated right before Sense and Sensibility marked her publication debut in 1811.

When stretch'd out on one's bed
With a fierce-throbbing head
Which precludes alike Thought or Repose,
How little one cares
For the grandest affairs
That may busy the world as it goes! ---
How little one feels
For the Waltzes & reels
Of our dance-loving friends at a Ball!
How slight one's concern
To conjecture or learn
What their flounces or hearts may befall

I reproduce it above because I just read BC Southam's annotations for same, and learned for the first time that the last three of these twelve lines were a replacement for the following three lines, which were heavily x-ed out:

How little one thinks
Of the Steps or the Stinks
Which pervade the Assemblies all

This is, of course, not the only place in her writings where bad smells are mentioned, but I would like to have been a fly on the wall at the moment she was making this alteration, to see if it really resulted from her second thoughts, or whether someone in the family had strongly suggested an alteration.


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