Tues., 16 December 1817
My dear Miss Austen,
I fondly wish you the very happiest of birthdays!
You said that no-one but yourself would much like me. I am sure I deserved this fate, and I am quite willing to believe that you are always right; however, I am led to understand that there are others who might disagree. This is all owing to you, and I cannot express my gratitude in giving me – in giving us all – so happy an ending! or rather, a future; for my happiness has not ended, nor will it.
What an amiable creature I was! Nay, proud and disagreeable and meddlesome; thinking that I could determine people’s destiny and that I was always right. I am not unwilling to conclude that I was terribly, mortifyingly wrong most of the time; and I made so many horrible blunders that I shall never stop feeling at the very least silly about them (and it will be some time until I can be that indifferent).
I must apologize for all my interference with your planned outcome for our story, even if I was unaware of it, and I am so thankful that you didn’t get completely irritated with me and give it up! You brought it all very brilliantly about though, I must say; indeed, you put us all from perfect misery to perfect happiness at one point or other.
I am still trying to deserve my Mr Knightley (and I still will not call him George!), but I have such pleasure in trying to deserve him, and more in his constant companionship, and still more in his faithful devotion, that I cannot express how blessed I feel.
I shall evermore leave all matters of the heart – romance, love, match-making – quite up to you, because you are most certainly the expert.
Mr and Mrs Frank Churchill send their regards, and of course my dear Husband and Father; and Miss Bates sends a thousand thanks. (Those were not her words, but I must abridge or this note should quadruple in size.)
Robert Martin is writing to you himself I believe, on behalf of his wife and himself; Harriet will be asking him not to make his letter too short, I fancy.
Which reminds me to close. I hope that you find as much happiness for yourself as you have bestowed upon all of us, dear Miss Austen! Happy Birthday!
Yours very respectfully,
Mrs Emma Knightley
I practised my artistry once again for the front of this card. The painting is of myself and Mr Knightley; but I do not think it does him justice.