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I found a sentence, which I could not understand after several rereading, in an introduction to Pride and Prejudice.

It reads (the context is also included, and the sentence I don't understand is in bold):

The project remained alive for some time in its original form: at the start of 1799 Jane wrote to Cassandra, 'I do not wonder at your wanting to read first impressions again, so seldom as you have gone through it, & that so long ago.' Jokingly, she reported in June of the same year the malign plans of her friend and connection by marriage Martha Lloyd: 'I would not let Martha read First Impressions again upon any account, & am very glad that I did not leave it in your power. — She is very cunning, but I see through her design; — she means to publish it from Memory, & one more perusal must enable her to do it'.

It's quite easy to figure out the structure of the first half of the sentence:

Jokingly, she reported in June of the same year the malign plans of her friend

However, I cannot understand the latter half.

Was the "connection" also one of the two things she reported? The word "by" here means "by the means" I suppose. But shouldn't the word "marriage" be "marrying" then if the what I suppose is right? In addition, I don't know what role the name Martha Lloyd is in here. According to the context, it should be the name of Jane's friend. But if it's that case, shouldn't some commas be interpolated in between?

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"friend and connection by marriage " is a single 'idea'.

Martha Lloyd was her friend - that's the easy bit.
She was also connected to her because [& I don't know the facts*, so this is a made-up simplification] she was married to Martha's brother.
I would imagine the actual relationship to be more distant than this, but still, they are related by marriage of someone in each of their families.
*Thanks to Kate Bunting from comments, it appears one of Jane's brothers was married to Martha's sister.

So Martha is her "friend & connection by marriage", or friend & relation.

It could handle a comma before Martha Lloyd just to give you a pause for breath, but there's no sub-clause that needs isolating.

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    From this it appears that one of Jane's brothers had married Martha's sister. Much later, long after Jane's death, Martha herself married another Austen brother. Jul 4 at 8:03
  • @KateBunting - thanks for the research. You might be able to tell from context I hadn't even figured these were 'real people', I'd assumed they were book characters. I'll fix that up a bit ;) Jul 4 at 8:10
  • Yes, the OP says it's from the introduction to 'Pride and Prejudice', not the novel itself. Jul 4 at 8:26
  • @KateBunting - yes, but that still doesn't make it obvious who they're talking about without prior knowledge. The question itself is answerable from the provided context alone, without needing to know who the people are. Jul 4 at 8:41
  • Sorry - I tend to assume that everyone knows that Jane Austen was the author of P&P. But then, I know nothing about some of the films and video games that people ask questions about on these forums! Jul 4 at 9:24
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Martha Lloyd is an associate of Jane in two ways:

  • Martha is Jane's friend
  • Martha is connected to Jane by marriage

The structure here is similar to "The plans of my friend and barber, George Smith". The name "George Smith" is in apposition to the description "My friend and barber".

Yes, some commas could be usefully inserted (if you were a modern copyeditor).

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I don't know who wrote the intro here, but I'd say it's missing a couple of commas. It can happen. Maybe it's a typo, maybe some OCR software didn't scan it properly, and nobody bothered to proof read it.

Jokingly, she reported in June of the same year the malign plans of her friend, and connection by marriage, Martha Lloyd.

Martha Lloyd was Jane's friend who was connected to her by marriage - i.e. one of Jane's relatives was married to Martha Lloyd.

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