1805 was a full year for the Austens: Jane Austen at Bath followed news of the naval war – and would make use of her knowledge in writing Mansfield Park and Persuasion. She outwitted enemy interceptor-ships to get letters to her brother Frank, one of Nelson's favoured captains.
Jane Austen was deeply interested in public events partly because her well-informed brothers confided in her. Good St John's College Tories – such as the Austens – talked discreetly about politics, and her brother Henry found it natural to discuss imperial policy with her. Every war is political; every action of her brother Frank's for the East India Company – which cited him more often in its secret minutes than any other naval officer – would have been of interest to the beaten Whig opponents of the Austens' patron and well-wisher Warren Hastings. One might be discreet in discussing Frank's occasional work for the Company, but his normal duties in the navy were another matter. Both Frank and Charles Austen were now at sea fighting the French, and with rumours that the enemy were at last ready to invade Kent with 'a corps of guide-interpreters, ready to take up their duties directly the force landed', naval families were uneasy.
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