Jane Austen trying and …

One of our readers mentioned Jane Austen in relation to an earlier post on the recommendation to avoid try and in favour of try to. Searching the novels for “try and” I found one instance, in Emma:

I shall try and persuade her to stay longer with us.

But the novels produced as many as 45 sentences with try to. Nor did I find any instances in the letters: there are no instances with try and, and and 9 with try to, as in:

I will try to write a little more (letter 87)

The speaker of the example in Emma is Mr Woodhouse, so we may conclude that Jane Austen herself was a categorical try to user. But her ear was good enough to spot it when usage was different, and she deployed such differences in her novels accordingly. But why Mr Woodhouse?

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