Otterbourne, Winchester.
March 21st 1860

MS Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter/ Yonge 1860/81

My dear Miss Smith,

I have been so much taken up that I could not answer your letter sooner, and thank you for the way you have taken it. I am amused at the ordeal you are undergoing. I never met with anything like it, except once, when going with a cousin to luncheon with a connection of hers, she was addressed with ‘Anne, why could you have lent us Abbeychurch.2 Those games! And that mother!’ Afterwards we found we had all betrayed ourselves.

I think you are right in not making old Mrs Webster have been a servant – the mutual relations would be so very difficult to get over especially at that time of life, and the daughter of a respectable farmer or tradesman would fit in much better. I am quite relieved to hear how Harold and Grace are to end, though it is very cruel of me. So many cousins have little inclinations that go off safely that it is much safer so to shew it. Though after all, there is a cousin marriage coming in the story by two authors,3 only I don’t think they were first cousins, and I could not help believing in it myself. On the whole, if you ask me I should prefer Grace’s staying at home, and making more of the Sydneys, but have you got a decided catastrophe point of the story, I mean to finish up. When once my framework is settled, I never could make such a change as that, nor believe in it – if I leave out anything, I usually believe it really happened all the same only that there is no call to describe it. I want George and his father to get themselves right. I think it is the thing I care specially for. How good that last scene is about the cricket, & the different ways of treating brothers.

I think there are some reviews that think a book is disposed of when once they have said it is like something else. I remember one novel being said to resemble Miss Austen, Miss Edgeworth & Sir Walter Scott all at once, and for a long time Mrs Mozley’s Fairy Bower was a great plague as a comparison both for Miss Sewell’s books & mine. It is cleverer than either certainly, but not in the same line that they aim at, and I think I never saw any books so full of compression if I may say so – so free from the water element. Perhaps real life writing going over much of the ground of common life has a tendency to be like, from the very likeness of events, & superficial people see the resemblance more than the essential dissimilarity. However I only told you as a motive for consideration whether every effort should not be made to save yourself from dilution and to condense as much as possible. I do think the characters well worth pains, & am very fond of them all

yours sincerely

C M Yonge

1Envelope addressed to Miss Ann M Smith Compton Rectory/ Shefford and postmarked Winchester 21 March 1860.
2CMY’s first novel, published in 1844.
3Jean Ingelow and Frances Mary Levett, One story by two authors: or, A tale without a moral. (London 1862) Serialised in the Monthly Packet, February 1860 to June 1861.

Cite this letter

The Letters of Charlotte Mary Yonge(1823-1901) edited by Charlotte Mitchell, Ellen Jordan and Helen Schinske.

URL to this Letter is: https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/yonge/1787/to-ann-maria-carter-smith-33

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