Sir William Mountaguean unfinished performance
is humbly dedicated to Charles John
Austen Esqre, by his most obedient humble
Sir William Mountague was the son of Sir Henry Mountague, who was the son of Sir John Mountague, a descendant of Sir Christopher Mountague, who was the nephew of Sir Edward Mountague, whose ancestor was Sir James Mountague a near relation of Sir Robert Mountague, who inherited the Title & Estate from Sir Frederic Mountague.
Sir William was about 17 when his Father died, & left him a handsome fortune, an ancient House & a Park well stocked with Deer. Sir William had not been long in the possession of his Estate before he fell in Love with the 3 Miss Cliftons of Kilhoobery Park. These young Ladies were all equally young, equally handsome, equally rich & equally amiable—Sir William was equally in Love with them all, & knowing not which to prefer, he left the Country & took Lodgings in a small Village near Dover.
In this retreat, to which he had retired in the hope of finding a shelter from the Pangs of Love, he became enamoured of a young Widow of Quality, who came for change of air to the same Village, after the death of a Husband, whom she had always tenderly loved & now sincerely lamented.
Lady Percival was young, accomplished & lovely. Sir William adored her & she consented to become his Wife. Vehemently pressed by Sir William to name the Day in which he might conduct her to the Altar, she at length fixed on the following Monday, which was the first of September. Sir William was a Shot & could not support the idea of losing such a Day, even for such a Cause. He begged her to delay the Wedding a short time. Lady Percival was enraged & returned to London the next Morning.
Sir William was sorry to lose her, but as he knew that he should have been much more greived by the Loss of the 1st of September, his Sorrow was not without a mixture of Happiness, & his Affliction was considerably lessened by his Joy.
After staying at the Village a few weeks longer, he left it & went to a freind’s House in Surry. Mr Brudenell was a sensible Man, & had a beautifull Neice with whom Sir William soon fell in love. But Miss Arundel was cruel; she preferred a Mr Stanhope: Sir William shot Mr Stanhope; the lady had then no reason to refuse him; she accepted him, & they were to be married on the 27th of October. But on the 25th Sir William received a visit from Emma Stanhope the sister of the unfortunate Victim of his rage. She begged some recompence, some atonement for the cruel Murder of her Brother. Sir William bade her name her price. She fixed on 14s. Sir William offered her himself & Fortune. They went to London the next day & were there privately married. For a fortnight Sir William was compleatly happy, but chancing one day to see a charming young Woman entering a Chariot in Brook Street, he became again most violently in love. On enquiring the name of this fair Unknown, he found that she was the Sister of his old freind Lady Percival, at which he was much rejoiced, as he hoped to have, by his acquaintance with her Ladyship, free access to Miss Wentworth. . . . . . . .
© Oxford University Press
Extract from Teenage Writings by Jane Austen, edited by Kathryn Sutherland and Freya Johnston. Published by Oxford University Press in April 2017, available in paperback and eBook formats, £8.99