Persuasions #7, 1985 Page 20
“Lop’t and Crop’t”
When we see Jane Austen write to her sister Casandra about the length of Pride and Prejudice, that “I have lop’t and crop’t . . . successfully,” it is possible we are privy to a joke between the sisters, in the form of a literary allusion. In “The Critic” (1779), Sheridan has a playright complain about the way actors have cut his dialogue: “Here is such a lopping and cropping . . . ”
Jane Austen had earlier referred to “The Critic” in her juvenile “The History of England,” sending readers who wished to know about Sir Walter Raleigh to the play for “many interesting anecdotes.” “The Critic” also contains the stage direction “They faint alternately in each other’s arms,” which may be echoed in Jane Austen’s youthful “Love and Friendship” when Laura and Sophia faint alternately on a sopha.