EARLY in the year 1816 some family troubles disturbed the usually tranquil course of Jane Austen’s life; and it is probable that the inward malady, which was to prove ultimately fatal, was already felt by her; for some distant friends, * whom she visited in the spring of that year, thought that her health was somewhat impaired, and observed that she went about her old haunts, and recalled old recollections connected with them in a particular manner, as if she did not expect ever to see them again. 207It is not surprising that, under these circumstances, some of her letters were of a graver tone than had been customary with her, and expressed resignation rather than cheerfulness. In reference to these troubles in a letter to her brother Charles, after mentioning that she had been laid up with an attack of bilious fever, she says: ‘I live up stairs for the present and am coddled. I am the only one of the party who has been so silly, but a weak body must excuse weak nerves.’ And again, to another correspondent: ‘But I am getting too near complaint; it has been the appointment of God, however secondary causes may have operated.’ But the elasticity of her spirits soon recovered their tone. It was in the latter half of that year that she addressed the two following lively letters to a nephew, one while he was at Winchester School, the other soon after he had left it:—