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Pride and Prejudice

A Penguin Enhanced e-Book Classic Edited with an Introduction and Notes by VIVIEN JONES

With the original Penguin Classics Introduction by TONY TANNER

Enhanced E-book Features Editor JULIETTE WELLS




PRIDE AND PREJUDICE jane austen was born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon, near Basingstoke, the seventh child of the rector of the parish. She lived with her family at Steventon until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. After his death in 1805, she moved around with her mother; in 1809, they settled in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire. Here she remained, except for a few visits to London, until in May 1817 she moved to Winchester to be near her doctor. There she died on 18 July 1817. Jane Austen was extremely modest about her own genius, describing her work to her nephew, Edward, as ‘the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory, on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour’. As a girl she wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances. Her works were pub­ lished only after much revision, four novels being published in her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously in 1817 with a biographical notice by her brother, Henry Austen, the first formal announcement of her author­ ship. Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815–16. She also left two earlier compositions, a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan, and an unfinished novel, The Watsons. At the time of her death, she was working on a new novel, Sanditon, a fragmentary draft of which survives. vivien jones is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Leeds. She has published books on Henry James and Jane Austen, and her publications on gender and writing in the eighteenth century include Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity (1990) and Women and Literature in Britain 1700– 1800 (2000), as well as numerous articles. She has edited Frances Burney’s Evelina for Oxford World’s Classics. claire lamont is Textual Adviser for the works of Jane Austen in Penguin Classics.

tony tanner was a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Cambridge. He taught and travelled extensively in America and Europe. Among his many books are The Reign of Wonder (1965); City of Words (1970); Contract and Transgression: Adultery and the Novel (1980); Jane Austen (1986); Scenes of Nature, Signs of Men (1987); Venice Desired (1992); Henry James and the Art of Non-Fiction (1995); and The American Mystery (2000). Tony Tanner died in December 1998. JULIETTE WELLS, an assistant professor of English at Manhattanville College, received her Ph.D. from Yale University. She is the author of numerous articles on Austen’s novels and their cultural legacy.


Pride and Prejudice

A Penguin Enhanced e-Book Classic Edited with an Introduction and Notes by VIVIEN JONES

With the original Penguin Classics Introduction by TONY TANNER

Enhanced E-book Features Editor JULIETTE WELLS



Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London, wc2r 0rl, England

Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada m4v 3b2

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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London, wc2r 0rl, England

ISBN: 1-4362-1998-1

First published 1813

Published in Penguin Classics 1996

This edition reissued with new Chronology, updated Further Reading

and 1972 Penguin Classics Introduction by Tony Tanner 2003


Introduction and Notes copyright © Vivien Jones, 1996, 2003

Textual Adviser’s Note and Chronology copyright © Claire Lamont, 1995, 2003

Appendix: Original Penguin Classics Introduction copyright © Tony Tanner, 1972

Penguin Enhanced E-book Classics Features copyright © Juliette Wells, 2008

All rights reserved

The moral right of the editors has been asserted

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Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject

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prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in

which it is published and without a similar condition including this

condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser


Acknowledgments The Penguin Edition of the Novels of Jane Austen Introduction Note on the Text PRIDE AND PREJUDICE Volume One Volume Two Volume Three Appendix: Original Penguin Classics Introduction by Tony Tanner Emendations to the Text Notes Penguin Classics Enhanced E-Book Features How to Navigate Guide Filmography Nineteenth-Century Reviews Chronology

Further Reading What Austen Ate How to Prepare Tea Austen Sites to Visit in England Map of Sites from the Novel Behaving Yourself: Etiquette and Dancing in Austen’s Day Illustrations of Fashion, Home Decor, Architecture, and Transportation Enhanced eBook Notes


I want to thank John Barnard, Paul Hammond, Rick Jones, Angela Keane, David Lindley, Oliver Pickering, Susan Spearey, Andrew Wawn and John Whale for their help in preparing this edition. It was completed during study leave funded by the Humanities Research Board of the British Academy, and I am grateful for research time, both to them and to the School of English, University of Leeds. Vivien Jones June 1995

The Penguin Edition of the

Novels of Jane Austen

The texts of Austen’s novels in the Penguin Edition are based on the first editions and have been edited afresh. The texts of four of the novels are necessarily based on the first edition: in the case of Pride and Prejudice Austen sold the copyright to the publisher of the first edition and was not involved with the preparation of the two further editions in her lifetime; Emma did not reach a second edition in Britain in Austen’s lifetime; and Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published post­ humously. Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park, however, both appeared in second editions in which Austen took some part. Hitherto all reprints of these novels have been based on the second editions. The Penguin Edition returns to the first-edition texts of both novels, and includes a list of the substantive vari­ ants between the two editions so that readers can see clearly for the first time the alterations made between the first and second editions. The editors have worked from copies of the first editions kindly supplied by the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The editorial policy is one of minimum intervention: no attempt has been made to modernize spelling or punctuation, or to render spell­ ings consistent so long as the variant spellings were acceptable in the period. Where any of these might cause difficulty to the modern reader the editor has offered help and explanation in a note. The editors have emended the text in the following circum­ stances: errors in spelling and punctuation have been corrected. Where, after all allowance has been made for historical usage, the text seems faulty the editors have cautiously emended it.


n ov el s o f j an e a us te n

They have been assisted by the fact that there is a tradition of Austen scholarship. The first edition of Austen’s novels to examine the texts thoroughly was The Novels of Jane Austen, edited by R. W. Chapman, 5 vols (Clarendon, 1923). This pioneering edition was itself revised in later reprints, and all recent editions have been either based on Chapman’s text or acknowledge debts to it. The editors of the Penguin Edition have edited Austen’s texts anew from the first editions, but in making decisions about obscurities and cruxes they have borne in mind the work of previous commentators on the Austen texts. The greatest of these is R. W. Chapman, but there have been others, including critics and general readers who have from time to time queried passages in Austen’s texts and suggested emendations. Where the Penguin editors are indebted to a previous scholar for a particular emendation they acknowledge it, and where a crux has provoked controversy they indicate it in a brief note. All corrections to the text other than any which are purely typographical are recorded in the ‘Emendations to the Text’. Austen’s novels originally appeared in three volumes (with the exception of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, which appeared together in four volumes). To make the original vol­ ume arrangements visible in a one-volume format the Penguin Edition has headlines at the top of each page so that in any opening the headline on the left will give the volume and chapter number in the first edition and the headline on the right will give the chapter number in a continuously numbered sequence. The bibliographical basis of the Penguin Edition is David Gilson’s Bibliography of Jane Austen (Clarendon, 1982), to which the edition is happy to acknowledge its debt. Claire Lamont Textual Adviser University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Introduction New readers are advised that this Introduction makes the detail of the plot explicit.

In each of her six novels Austen provides her heroine with a good marriage, but that of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice is the most dazzling of all. Of all Austen’s love stories, it is Pride and Prejudice which most comfortably fits the patterns of popu­ lar romantic fiction, which is perhaps one reason why Austen herself famously described the novel as ‘rather too light & bright & sparkling’.1 Pride and Prejudice is centrally concerned with personal happiness and the grounds on which it might be achieved, and Elizabeth’s marriage to Darcy – tall, handsome, and rich – is the stuff of wish-fulfilment. When Darcy is first seen by Meryton society, at the assembly in the third chapter, he ‘soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien’. Physically, at least, he epitomizes the romantic hero, the ideal object of desire in popular romance fantasy. What’s more, he is reported as having ‘ten thousand a year’, which makes him the object of rather more mercenary desires among those for whom, in the novel’s famous opening words, ‘It is a truth universally acknowl­ edged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’ (I, i). But the fortune-hunters – and Elizabeth – are put off when Darcy is ‘discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased’ (I, iii). The inhabitants of Meryton might lose interest, but for the experienced romance reader the story really gets under way with this early confrontation between Darcy’s snobbish indifference and Elizabeth’s angry pride. Darcy’s arrogance only serves to enhance his desirability and confirm his status as hero: as every reader of romantic fiction knows, the heroine will learn to


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reinterpret the hero’s bad manners, his ‘shocking rudeness’ (I, iii), as a seductive sign of his repressed passion for her. She has the power to transform apparent hostility into lasting commitment and a happy-ever-after marriage. In Pride and Prejudice, this process of transformation and seduction is very complex and very subtle. It involves Elizabeth and Darcy in far-reaching reassessments of themselves, and of their social pride and prejudices. Their prospects for happiness are rigorously tested by constant comparison with the situations and expectations of other characters. In this Introduction I shall be focusing primarily on Austen’s immediate social, political and fictional context, and exploring the meanings that Austen’s use of romance might have had for a contemporary audience. But to point out basic structural similarities between Austen’s novel and a Mills and Boon or Harlequin romance is not to reduce Austen’s achievement. Rather, it helps account for the continuing popularity of Austen’s fiction and of Pride and Preju­ dice in particular. The romantic fantasy which so effectively shapes Austen’s early-nineteenth-century novel is still a power­ ful cultural myth for readers in the late twentieth century. We still respond with pleasure to the rags-to-riches love story, to the happy ending which combines sexual and emotional attraction with ten thousand a year and the prospect of becoming mistress of Pemberley, a resolution which makes romantic love both the guarantee and the excuse for economic and social success. Romance makes connections across history: it helps us identify and understand the continuities – and the differences – between the novel’s significance at the time it was written and published and the appeal it still has for modern readers. The particular appeal of Pride and Prejudice is also due, of course, to its articulate and independent-minded heroine – ‘as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print’, as Austen herself described her.2 An early reviewer noted approvingly that ‘Eliza­ beth’s sense and conduct are of a superior order to those of the common heroines of novels.’3 The qualities which distinguished Elizabeth from the ‘common heroines’ familiar to contemporary audiences continue to endear her to modern readers. Though she plays her part in a version of the familiar romantic plot,

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Elizabeth Bennet embodies a very different kind of femininity from that of the typically passive, vulnerable and child-like romantic heroine; her wit and outspokenness make her the most immediately attractive of all Austen’s female protagonists. Less naı¨ve than Catherine Morland, livelier than Elinor Dashwood or Fanny Price, not such a snob as Emma Woodhouse and younger and more confident than Anne Elliot, Elizabeth Bennet seems to connect most directly with the active, visible, indepen­ dent identity of modern feminity. Importantly, it is the fatal attraction of Elizabeth’s critical intelligence – ‘the liveliness of [her] mind’, and not just her ‘fine eyes’ (III, xviii; I, vi) – which proves even Darcy to be ‘in want of a wife’. From that first meeting, Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s fraught fascination with each other generates a tantalizing sexual energy, an energy which, like Charlotte Bronte¨’s Jane Eyre and Rochester later in the century, finds expression in a series of highly articulate confrontations. Elizabeth and Darcy engage in verbal struggles to assert their own definitions of people, principles – and each other. Elizabeth’s satirical sense of humour and sharp intelligence are stimulated and matched by Darcy’s judgemental reserve, his apparent refusal to compro­ mise; his social and moral confidence are challenged by her uncompromising criticism. But by the time Elizabeth admits her love to herself, confrontation has been transformed into an ideal complementarity: She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved, and from his judgment, information, and know­ ledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater impor­ tance. (III, viii)

As good readers of romantic fiction, we know long before Eliza­ beth does that union with Darcy would answer ‘all her wishes’; as modern readers committed to Elizabeth’s independence of


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mind, we may feel slightly disturbed by the inequality (‘bene­ fit of greater importance’) at the heart of that imagined union. But the narrative momentum of romance demands a happy ending and, supported by the subtlety of Austen’s characteriz­ ation, makes it very difficult to resist Elizabeth’s longing descrip­ tion of ‘connubial felicity’ (III, viii). Her description stands as the novel’s central definition of its ideal state of ‘rational happiness’ (III, vii): that is, marriage envisaged as a balance of moral and personal qualities, as a fulfilling process of mutual improvement. Austen’s skilful use of romance to shape her detailed analyses of social manners is powerfully persuasive: their capacity for ‘rational happiness’ makes it seem both inevi­ table and desirable that her exceptional heroine should find fulfilment through a spectacular marriage to her most eligible hero. I want to pursue this idea of Pride and Prejudice as a ‘power­ fully persuasive’ text, and to develop my suggestion that it is Austen’s deployment of the conventional, pleasurable romantic plot, and a rather less conventional heroine, which makes it so. At one level, we are simply being persuaded that two particular individuals are right for each other, that – against all the social odds – Fitzwilliam Darcy is ‘exactly the man’, the only man, who could have satisfied Elizabeth Bennet’s emotional needs. The breathtaking arrogance of Darcy’s first proposal is, after all, gratifying evidence that individual desire transcends econ­ omic and social differences: ‘ ‘‘My feelings will not be repres­ sed’’ ’ (II, xi). But personal happiness is inseparable from the world in which it must find expression: precisely because they transgress normal expectations of who can marry whom, Darcy’s private ‘feelings’ have an unavoidably public signifi­ cance. Darcy’s romantic attachment involves a very clear rejec­ tion of the dynastic ambitions of his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, for example, with her plan that he should ‘unite the two estates’ by marrying his cousin (I, xvi). On the other hand, Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s unorthodox relationship is very explicitly distinguished from the shocking impropriety of Lydia’s irresponsible attachment to Wickham. Indeed, the moment at which Elizabeth finally recognizes Darcy as the

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answer to ‘all her wishes’ is also the moment at which fulfilment seems impossible, precisely because ‘An union of a different tendency, and precluding the possibility of the other, was soon to be formed in their family’ (III, viii). By this characteristic process of juxtaposition and contrast, Austen establishes Eliza­ beth’s and Darcy’s marriage as necessarily significant within the wider community. Our narrative and emotional commitment to their successful union becomes, imperceptibly, also a commitment to the values that union embodies. Again, at one level, those values are concerned primarily with the ostensibly private world of morals and manners: in the comparison between Elizabeth and Lydia, with the point at which the right to autonomy becomes irresponsible selfindulgence; in the opposition to Lady Catherine, with the rival claims of personal choice and family aggrandisement as legiti­ mate motives for marriage. But, precisely through that focus on individuals and communities, Austen’s novels intervene in wider political debate. Written in a period of political crisis and social mobility, they are strategic critical analyses of the moral values and modes of behaviour through which a section of the ruling class was redefining itself. Very few readers and critics would now endorse the myopic view represented by George Steiner’s comment: ‘At the height of political and industrial revolution, in a decade of formidable philosophic activity, Miss Austen composes novels almost extra-territorial to history.’4 It all depends, of course, on what you mean by ‘history’ and on where history is assumed to happen. Austen writes about ‘3 or 4 Families in a Country Village’ – ‘the very thing to work on’, as she told her niece Anna5 – and about the fates and choices of their marriageable daughters. She writes, therefore, about femininity and about class: about forms of identity and about marriage as a political institution which reproduces – symbolic­ ally as well as literally – the social order. An important feminist insight from the late sixties reminds us that ‘the personal is political’; and the reverse is also true. ‘Political and industrial revolution’ are enacted or resisted at the level of private con­ sciousness as well as public event; historical change takes place through subtle shifts in social interaction, not just through


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wars and technology; much ‘formidable philosophic activity’ is concerned, like Pride and Prejudice, with the pursuit of happiness. Access to the full political dimension of Austen’s novels depends on an understanding of the ways in which apparently inconsequential or private details of behaviour or language evoke wider debates. So far, I have stressed the pleasures of recognition on which Austen’s persuasive power depends: in terms of its romance plot, and the moral choices which that plot addresses, Pride and Prejudice feels familiar. But though the moral issues themselves may be easily recognizable, the public forms – the manners, the social assumptions, even the language – through which they manifest themselves for our judgement are often strange to a modern readership. Strangeness is itself another source of enjoyment, of course. Austen’s novels give us the difference of history, one of the important pleasures of which – beyond that of a purely aesthetic enjoyment – is the opportunity to make comparisons with our current moment. Austen works out her romance plots in terms of the everyday, material details of realist fiction, and her novels offer access to a particular, irretrievable lifestyle. But their economical atten­ tion to the lived texture of a social environment is never simply documentary or merely decorative. It would be a mistake to adopt a commodified view of that world as comfortingly stable, ordered and comprehensible. Austen’s fictional tech­ nique depends crucially on the reader as an active interpre­ ter, not just a passive consumer, of detail. Her texts work on the shared assumption that nuances of language, or dress, or behaviour can carry very particular implications: as compara­ tively straightforward signs of social status, for example; as clues to a character’s moral attitude; or – more problematically for modern readers – as conscious references to the terms and issues which were being contested in contemporary cultural debates. Like its protagonists, Pride and Prejudice is vitally engaged in argument. Mr Collins’s speech and behaviour, for example, make his absurd conceit abundantly clear. We could hardly fail to sym­ pathize with Elizabeth’s acute sense of his awfulness as a pro­

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spective husband, nor to register the difference between his calculated and entirely impersonal criteria for a good wife and Darcy’s irrepressible response to Elizabeth’s individuality. It may be less obvious, however, that when Mr Collins obtusely insists on praising Elizabeth’s ‘modesty’ and ‘economy’ (I, xix), his terminology aligns him with advocates of a middle-class ideal of submissive, domestic womanhood, an ideal which was at the time an influential aspect of reactionary political discourse. Elizabeth’s very different mode of femininity, the ‘liveli­ ness’ of mind which attracts Darcy, thus becomes politically charged – and the contrasting masculine identities of Darcy and Mr Collins similarly take on political, as well as moral and social, resonances. This contrast between Mr Collins’s ideal woman and Eliza­ beth distances both Austen and her heroine from an extreme conservative view – as far as gender, at least, is concerned. Most commentators agree, however, that Austen’s novels do advocate an essentially conservative position. Their focus on a section of the rural ruling class, their concern with harmony, decorum, marriage itself, speaks for the consolidation and renewal of an established social order rather than for revolution. But, as the example of Mr Collins suggests, having established this broadly conservative position, it’s rather less easy to define Austen’s precise identity within it. This is partly a function of form, of the difference between a straightforwardly polemical text and a work of fiction, in which dramatization produces multiple possibilities for interpretation. It’s partly to do with the complex shifts within class hierarchies in the period – an issue I shall be returning to. And it’s partly to do with Austen’s status as a woman, which complicates the already difficult question of her class position. Women’s class status is traditionally determined by their father or husband. They exist in a liminal state neither inside nor outside class hierarchies, and gender can cut across and conflict with class or party politics. The precise conjunction of gender and class in Austen has been a vexed question in Austen criticism for some years. Does she, as some critics have suggested, present a subversive, proto-feminist critique which conflicts with her class politics? Or is she demonstrably


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anti-feminist, an anti-revolutionary defender of traditional femininity and family values? It’s probably most useful, I want to argue, to think of her as post- rather than simply anti­ revolutionary, as strategically assimilating rather than blindly opposing ideas for change. Still using romance as an important focus, I want to go on now to explore in more detail Pride and Prejudice’s persuasive dramatization of this ‘post-revolutionary’ position. Pride and Prejudice began life in the 1790s as First Impressions, completed between October 1796 and August 1797 and unsuc­ cessfully submitted for publication in November 1797. It was first conceived, therefore, during the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution, when Britain was at war with France and the repressive Pitt government was (with limited success) seeking to eradicate revolutionary ideas and activity on this side of the English Channel. This was a period of intense ideological debate, in which the personal was very definitely political. Edmund Burke’s anti-revolutionary Reflections on the Revol­ ution in France, published in 1790, had eloquently defended feudal traditions of paternalism, property and aristocracy in terms which put sexual mores and the family at the centre of the political agenda. Burke famously lamented the passing of ‘the age of chivalry’, of ‘generous loyalty to rank and sex’, and argued that ‘we begin our public affections in our families’: ‘To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections.’6 He was attacked by, among many others, Mary Wollstone­ craft, professional writer and member of radical intellectual circles in London, and well known today as one of the first modern English feminists. In A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), Wollstonecraft defended revolutionary ideals, and argued that a ‘libertine imagination’, a predatory masculinity which reduced women to sexual objects, lay at the heart of Burkean traditionalism. For Wollstonecraft, Burke’s idea of the family enshrined sexual inequality. Two years later, in Vindica­ tion of the Rights of Woman, she developed that insight in a

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more sustained application of revolutionary principles to sexual politics. Rights of Woman claims liberty, equality and citizen­ ship for women, and offers a devastating critique of the process by which women come to identify themselves as exclusively sexual beings, incapable of rational thought or independent action: In short, women in general, as well as the rich of both sexes, have acquired all the follies and vices of civilization, and missed the useful fruit . . . [Women’s] senses are inflamed, and their understandings neglected, consequently they become the prey of their senses, delicately termed sensibility, and are blown about by every momentary gust of feeling. Civilized women are . . . weakened by false refinement . . . All their thoughts turn on things calculated to excite emotion and feeling, when they should reason . . .7

The kind of traditionalism represented by Burke was based on hierarchies of all kinds, including a sexual hierarchy within the family which took it for granted that the sexes are innately different. The egalitarian polemic of writers like Wollstonecraft did away with essential sexual difference by invoking a common human identity. Contemporary definitions of sexual difference tended to assign reason to men and feeling to women. In the passage just quoted, as throughout Rights of Woman, Woll­ stonecraft denies that opposition. She assumes that women’s capacity for reason is equal to that of men, even if, through inadequate education, that capacity often remains undeveloped. For Wollstonecraft, it is culture, not nature, which dictates that women behave like merely passive creatures of feeling, just as it is culture, not nature, which has allowed a self-perpetuating ruling class to reach a similar state of decadent self-indulgence. The ideal which she offers as an alternative to both – and to Burke’s defence of tradition – is that of the professional middle class, where education is a process of self- as well as public improvement: In the middle rank of life . . . men, in their youth, are prepared for professions, and marriage is not considered as the grand feature of


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their lives; whilst women, on the contrary, have no other scheme to sharpen their faculties. It is not business, extensive plans, or any of the excursive flights of ambition, that engross their attention; no, their thoughts are not employed in rearing noble structures.8

Women have only one route to self-improvement: ‘To rise in the world, and have the liberty of running from pleasure to pleasure, they must marry advantageously, and to this object their time is sacrificed, and their persons often legally prosti­ tuted’.9 Instead, Wollstonecraft envisages the possibility of women becoming more publicly active participants in a middle­ class meritocracy. The characterization of women as ‘rational creatures’,10 the question of whether marriage is the only legitimate goal for a woman, the promotion of an active feminine identity and a professional ideal: these issues, raised by Wollstonecraft and others in the cause of revolutionary change, reverberate in politi­ cal writing – and in fiction – throughout the 1790s and beyond. And they are clearly still very much current in Pride and Preju­ dice. In the 1790s radical women such as Mary Hays, Charlotte Smith and Wollstonecraft herself wrote experimental novels with active – even unchaste – heroines, novels which exposed the stifling limitations of the conventional happy-ever-after mar­ riage; in response, anti-revolutionary novels by, for example, Jane West or Elizabeth Hamilton reasserted a virtuous, domestic feminine ideal, often through plots which demonstrate the cata­ strophic personal consequences of taking up radical ideas – or of giving in to ‘first impressions’. Drafts of Austen’s First Impressions have not survived, so we can’t know precisely how her original novel might have fitted into this fictional ‘war of ideas’. What is evident, however, is the broad resemblance between Austen’s plot and the plots of some of the more con­ servative novels of the 1790s. In Austen’s novel, Elizabeth has to learn to revise her first impressions, not just of Darcy but also of the unscrupulous Wickham; in conservative fiction, heroines similarly over-confident of their capacity to make independent decisions, and to act on them, learn the error of their self­

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assertive ways – often (unlike Elizabeth) by suffering near or utter ruin. More than ten years intervened between the writing of First Impressions and the publication of Pride and Prejudice in Janu­ ary 1813. Austen ‘lopt and cropt’ First Impressions11 to produce the novel as we now know it, in a rather different political climate. In the later 1790s, with the failure of revolutionary ideals in France and repressive domestic policies at home, Eng­ lish radicals lost confidence and their voice became more muted; during the next decade, as the Napoleonic Wars went on, the sometimes hysterically reactionary atmosphere at the turn of the century also gradually gave way to a precarious conservative consensus, at least among the increasingly confident middle classes. Again, ideas about the role of women played a crucial part in these shifts of opinion. Conservatives and traditionalists could not ignore the new Wollstonecraftian femininity. It was violently discredited in some anti-revolutionary propaganda, usually by depicting Wollstonecraft and other radical women as prostitutes, ‘unsex’d females’ who advocated and practised ‘Gallic licentiousness’. But the idea that women might be active participants in culture also had a more complicated and pervas­ ive effect: in a much modified form, active femininity was appro­ priated for the conservative cause of national family values, Burke’s ‘little platoon’. The work of the evangelical writer Hannah More typifies this process. In many ways, More is the ideological opposite of Wollstonecraft. More herself, as well as other contemporary commentators, certainly presented the two women as the accept­ able and unacceptable faces of womanhood, and a brief com­ parison of More with Wollstonecraft provides a very useful context against which to tease out the subtleties of Austen’s treatment of femininity in Pride and Prejudice. In her Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (1799) More vehe­ mently reasserts ‘natural’ sexual difference, implicitly answering Wollstonecraft’s belief in a human identity common to both sexes: ‘Each sex has its proper excellencies, which would be lost were they melted down into the common character.’12 On the


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basis of that difference, More makes a rousing appeal to women on behalf of their war-torn nation: I would call on [women] to come forward, and contribute their full and fair proportion towards the saving of their country. But I would call on them to come forward, without departing from the refinement of their character, without derogating from the dignity of their rank, without blemishing the delicacy of their sex.13

The impact of the new femininity on conservative thinking is evident in More’s consciousness-raising call to women to ‘come forward’ into awareness of their central role in the nation’s survival. But, in opposition to Wollstonecraft, More aligns her­ self with a version of Burkean traditionalism – as that phrase ‘the dignity of their rank’ suggests. Rather than Wollstonecraft’s new and disruptive vision of a rational meritocracy, More appeals to women’s anxieties about the possible consequences of breaking established codes of femininity. She describes a comfortingly circumscribed form of involvement and defines female ‘excellencies’ in all-too-familiar terms. Her buzz-words are those of the conduct books, the popular manuals which instructed young women in appropriately decorous behaviour: works like James Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, which Mr Collins tries to read to the Bennet sisters (I, xiv), and which Wollstonecraft attacked in Rights of Woman as likely to ‘hunt every spark of nature out of [a girl’s] composition’.14 For More and the conduct writers, femininity consists in ‘refinement’, ‘delicacy’ – and propriety: ‘Propriety is to a woman . . . the first, the second, the third requisite’.15 In both More and conduct literature generally, such terms have a primarily moral meaning, but they are nevertheless terms which Wollstonecraft deeply mistrusted because they are complicit with more exclusively sexual definitions of women as decorative, vulnerable, in need of protection. In the first of the extracts I quoted above from Rights of Woman, for example, Wollstonecraft attacks the ‘false refinement’ which reduces women to creatures of sense rather than reason, and in her critique of Fordyce she contrasts ‘female meekness and artificial grace’ with the ‘true grace [which] arises

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from some kind of independence of mind’.16 In contrast with Wollstonecraft’s ideal of female autonomy, More’s view of women’s activity is seriously limited by the fear that they might blemish ‘the delicacy of their sex’. Later in Strictures, for example, she offers a depressingly self-abnegating image of womanhood: An early habitual restraint is peculiarly important to the future charac­ ter and happiness of women. A judicious unrelaxing but steady and gentle curb on their tempers and passions can alone ensure their peace and establish their principles . . . Girls should be led to distrust their own judgment; they should learn not to murmur at expostulation; they should be accustomed to expect and to endure opposition . . . It is of the last importance to their happiness, even in this life, that they should early acquire a submissive temper and a forbearing spirit.17

Pride and Prejudice could well be read as a critical exploration of More’s contention that women’s happiness is dependent on restraint and submission. I have already suggested that happi­ ness is a central preoccupation in the novel; and the key terms from contemporary debates about women play constantly through Austen’s careful discriminations between the degrees and kinds of happiness expected not just by Elizabeth but by a whole range of female characters. Reason, feeling, passion, propriety, decorum, modesty, delicacy, elegance, independence: as in the work of polemicists like Wollstonecraft and More, this embattled vocabulary is under scrutiny throughout Pride and Prejudice. How, then, might we place Elizabeth Bennet and the novel’s other female characters against the versions of woman­ hood which it evokes? Elizabeth is clearly much closer to Wollstonecraft’s rational femininity and ‘independence of mind’ than to More’s ideal of a ‘submissive temper’ and ‘forbearing spirit’. She demonstrates precisely that independence, after all, in rejecting Mr Collins – along with his stereotyped definition of her as a creature of ‘modesty’ and ‘economy’. At the end of their interview, as Mr Collins continues to insist that her refusal is due merely to conventional coquetry, Elizabeth makes a desperate plea to be


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taken seriously as a woman of integrity: ‘ ‘‘Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart’’ ’ (I, xix, my emphasis). The opposition between a false form of femininity and a strongly felt rational autonomy, like the phrase ‘rational creature’ itself, is straight out of Wollstonecraft. Similarly, when Elizabeth dashes across the countryside to Netherfield to be with Jane in her illness, we admire her for her concerned spontaneity, and for her unconcern about ‘blem­ ishing the delicacy of [her] sex’. Other characters are less impressed by such unladylike exertion, and the whole event – crucial in so many ways to the development of the novel – dramatizes an important debate about what is and is not ‘proper’ behaviour. Mary Bennet, for example, who talks like a conduct book rather than a human being, primly intones the maxim that ‘ ‘‘every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason’’ ’ (I, vii); while Caroline Bingley rationalizes her jealousy by appealing to a more worldly, metropolitan view of propriety: ‘ ‘‘It [i.e. walk­ ing several miles alone and getting ‘above her ancles in dirt’] seems to me to shew an abominable sort of conceited indepen­ dence, a most country town indifference to decorum’’ ’ (I, viii). Elizabeth’s liveliness, her ‘active sensibility’ – to take a phrase from one of Wollstonecraft’s novels18 – secures our sympathy even more firmly through juxtaposition with such self-interested versions of conduct-book standards. But, though the characterization of Elizabeth suggests a tend­ ency towards Wollstonecraft’s position rather than More’s, it would be unwise to identify Austen too neatly with Wollstone­ craft’s gender radicalism. Austen’s (and her characters’) use of politicized terms is always strategic, contingent on particular circumstances, subject to adjustment in the wider context of their usage in the novel as a whole. In Elizabeth’s contrast between herself as a ‘rational creature’ and the image of the ‘elegant female’, for example, ‘elegant female’ is Mr Collins’s phrase, not her own. It suggests his conceited, but also class­ based, ignorance of what real ‘elegance’ might be, rather than a fixed definition. A few chapters later, the authorial voice approvingly describes Mrs Gardiner – who is certainly rational

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– as ‘elegant’ (II, ii). (And, later still, we are told that Pemberley, representative of its owner, has ‘more real elegance’ than Ros­ ings (III, i).) The two categories are not actually incompatible in Austen’s post-revolutionary scheme of things: the more con­ ventionally feminine, and upper-class, attribute of elegance can coexist with the more contentious claim to rationality. The most important consequence of Elizabeth’s walk to Netherfield is its effect on Darcy. As Caroline Bingley recognizes only too well, Elizabeth’s ‘indifference to decorum’, her ‘im­ patient activity’, make her all the more attractive. When Eliza­ beth arrives, Darcy too is doubtful about the prudence of her solitary walk, but he is equally struck by ‘the brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion’ (I, vii). Elizabeth’s stay at Netherfield gives Darcy plenty of opportunity to experience her intellectual as well as her physical attractions, and the visit is punctuated by their sexually charged sparring and by authori­ ally directed glimpses into Darcy’s growing subjection: ‘Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by [Elizabeth]’; ‘He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention’; ‘She attracted him more than he liked’ (I, x; xi; xii). Darcy’s ‘divided’ responses point up a conflict in which a spontaneous female individuality wins out over femi­ nine propriety and social status. And it does so because it’s a source of sexual power. Where Wollstonecraft urged women to seek other objects, Austen returns the new femininity to the more familiar pleasures of romantic fiction. Those privileged moments of access to Darcy’s private feelings play strategically on romance expectations: reading from Elizabeth’s point of view, we take pleasure in her power, fully confident that Darcy’s pride will have to fall before the charms of a woman with ‘independence of mind’. For the romance to be fulfilled, that independence of mind also has to be adjusted, however: Elizabeth’s prejudice has to fall with Darcy’s pride. Like a good reader of More’s Strictures, it would seem, Elizabeth has to learn to ‘distrust [her] own judgment’, to recognize the error of her first impressions. After reading Darcy’s letter, Elizabeth fiercely castigates herself for wilfully misjudging both Darcy and Wickham:


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‘Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. – Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.’ (II, xiii)

And later, when she has to convince her father that Darcy is the man who will make her happy, Elizabeth earnestly wishes ‘that her former opinions had been more reasonable, her expressions more moderate’ (III, xvii, my emphasis). Elizabeth comes close here to a More-like regret at the lack of ‘a steady and gentle curb on [her] tempers and passions’, and the language of painful self-knowledge recalls those anti-revolutionary novels of female education, which dramatize the disciplinary advice of conduct literature. Had she been the heroine in a standard anti­ revolutionary novel, Elizabeth’s misjudgement of men would have been based on a foolish romantic attachment, and might well have caused her downfall. But in Pride and Prejudice it is Lydia, not the heroine, who enacts the conventional melodrama of mistaken and self-indulgent passion. If Elizabeth is in love, it is with her individuality, not the wrong man. She prides herself on being above the usual female obsession with men and mar­ riage ( just as, when the trip to the Lake District is planned, she distinguishes herself from ‘the generality of travellers’ (II, iv)). The shock of remorse includes the recognition that she has been as ‘wretchedly blind’ as the generality of heroines, and the punishment for courting ‘prepossession and ignorance’ is to fall in love, like them. In fact, Elizabeth is made to suffer what she at one point describes to Charlotte as ‘ ‘‘the greatest misfortune of all! – To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate!’’ ’ (I, xviii). The wit of Austen’s romantic plot makes it very difficult to read Pride and Prejudice (Sense and Sensibility or Mansfield Park may be another matter) as a novel advocating punitive control – or even the resigned compromise that More articulates: this world is not a stage for the display of superficial or even of shining

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talents, but for the sober exercise of fortitude, temperance, meekness, diligence, and self-denial; . . . life is not a splendid romance . . . [but] a true history, many pages of which will be dull, obscure, and uninter­ esting.19

Such circumscribed expectations describe the attitude and experience of Charlotte Lucas, rather than Elizabeth Bennet, for whom life does turn out to be ‘a splendid romance’. For Charlotte, marriage is women’s ‘pleasantest preservative from want’, but it is ‘uncertain of giving happiness’ (I, xxii). Elizabeth, in contrast, strongly believes in marriage as a test of personal moral integrity and in individual happiness as a legitimate goal, and that idealism is one of her most attractive traits. She is shocked when Charlotte sacrifices ‘every better feeling to worldly advantage’ (I, xxii); and, against the advice of her milder and more conventionally passive sister Jane, she condemns the ‘want of proper resolution’ which almost leads Bingley to ‘sac­ rifice his own happiness’ (and Jane’s) to the whim of others (II, i). Elizabeth’s ‘prepossession and ignorance’ may need some corrective redirection, but her idealism and readiness to judge responsibly remain intact. And when she acknowledges Darcy as her true object of desire, the plot tells us, that idealism finds its proper fulfilment. Elizabeth’s lively individuality – her ‘shining talent’, to use More’s terminology – is provided with an appropriate ‘stage’ when she marries Darcy and becomes mistress of the ‘comfort and elegance of their family party at Pemberley’ (III, xviii). Unlike More, then, Pride and Prejudice makes a very clear connection between a (slightly chastened) ‘independence of mind’ and women’s individual happiness. Unlike Wollstone­ craft, however, it finds women’s ‘independence of mind’, their opportunities for rational self-improvement, entirely compat­ ible with marrying ‘advantageously’. From their very different political standpoints, both More and Wollstonecraft con­ demned romance fiction for diverting women’s energies from more appropriate objects: for More, romantic fantasies deflect women from their duty as the moral centre of the nation; for Wollstonecraft, they reduce women to ‘abject wooers and fond


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slaves’. A preoccupation with novels, she argues, tends to ‘make women the creatures of sensation’; it ‘relaxes the other powers of the mind’.20 Begun in the 1790s but completed in the later, post-revolutionary, period, Austen’s novel has assimilated both positions and moved on. It dares to close the gap between ‘splendid romance’ and ‘true history’. Unlike More, for whom happiness was a state of necessary constraint, or Wollstonecraft, for whom it was deferred until some revolutionary future, Austen’s romantic comedy makes fulfilment seem both legiti­ mate and attainable in the present. Rather than condemning the pleasures of fantasy, Pride and Prejudice directs those energies to a carefully redefined fantasy object: through the ideal of ‘rational happiness’, it persuades women of their active role in a revitalized version of Burke’s ‘little platoon’. So far, in exploring Pride and Prejudice as a post­ revolutionary romance, I have focused on gender: on Elizabeth as an early-nineteenth-century equivalent of the ‘post-feminist’ heroine. I want now to consider the wider social meaning, the class allegiance and the literary precedents implicit in the alliance between Elizabeth’s new femininity and Darcy’s ancient family. In spite of her independence of mind, Elizabeth’s marriage is in some ways strikingly conventional – so much so that it thrills Mrs Bennet much more than the marriages of either Lydia or Jane: ‘ ‘‘Jane’s is nothing to it – nothing at all’’ ’ (III, xvii). Like a good daughter, Elizabeth marries above her, and secures upward social mobility, as well as financial advantage, for her­ self and her family. Marriage to Darcy represents a particularly impressive example of this standard female route to social improvement. Indeed, Elizabeth could be said to repeat the spectacular success of Pamela, the serving-girl who marries the master of the house in Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, published in 1740. Pamela withstands physical assaults, abduction and attempted rape from Mr B. for so long and with such moral firmness that he eventually reforms, falls in love with her and makes her his wife and mistress of his estates. Pamela was a huge popular success. Industries sprang up to produce the print, the stage show, the ballad and the teaset

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of the novel. And, as that level of popularity testifies, the figure of Pamela herself became a kind of cultural myth: the virtuous woman who reforms the rake came to embody the impact of middle-class values on a corrupt ruling class and the possibility of wider social access to wealth and power. In spite of the sixty or so years and obvious differences between them, Pamela and Pride and Prejudice are recognizably part of the same woman-centred, middle-class fictional tra­ dition. Unlike Mr B., Darcy is not a rake: the housekeeper at Pemberley very explicitly describes him as ‘Not like the wild young men now-a-days, who think of nothing but themselves’ (III, i). But though Elizabeth may not be in danger of direct physical assault, Darcy’s insulting dismissal of her family and his interference in Jane’s happiness are only more subtle modes of violation. Echoing Pamela, who cannot ‘look upon [Mr B.] as a gentleman’, and doesn’t think she could take him as a husband because of his sexual ‘rudeness’,21 Elizabeth refuses Darcy’s first proposal with a cutting critique of his manners – indeed, of his very identity: ‘ ‘‘You are mistaken, Mr Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman­ like manner’’ ’ (II, xi). As we learn later, these are the words that subsequently ‘torture’ Darcy (III, xvi) and produce the new man who greets Elizabeth and the Gardiners at Pemberley. Like Richardson’s Mr B. who, like all ‘people of fortune’, had been ‘unaccustomed to controul’,22 Darcy confesses to having been ‘spoilt’ by parents who ‘almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing’ (III, xvi). As in Pamela, desire opens up that faulty class education to the possibility of correction; the shock of resistance and criticism from the lower-class woman excites upper-class masculinity into change: ‘ ‘‘You [Elizabeth] taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled’’ ’ (III, xvi). Elizabeth’s lesson in Pride and Prejudice is to learn that she loves the man whose social pride prejudiced her against him; Darcy’s is to adjust that ‘mistaken pride’ (III, x) and welcome into his intimate ‘family party’ Elizabeth’s ‘low connections’, the relations from


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Cheapside who he once thought must ‘very materially lessen [her] chance of marrying [a man] of any consideration in the world’ (I, viii). Elizabeth and Darcy’s ‘family party’ at Pemberley represents the nation: as in Burke’s focus on the ‘little platoon’, the inti­ mate, domestic group is both the image and the source of national order and responsibility. In the final chapter of Pride and Prejudice, the membership of the Pemberley family is care­ fully defined. It includes Jane and Bingley, of course, and Georg­ iana Darcy; Mr Bennet is a regular visitor, and Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh (eventually), and even Lydia, are occasionally entertained; only Mrs Bennet, Mary and Wickham remain remote. But ‘with the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms’, since it was they who, ‘by bringing [Elizabeth] into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them’ (III, xix). At its most intimate level, then, this ideal community effects an alliance between the traditional ruling e´lite and a new order: between Darcy, a member of the landowning aristocracy, and the Gardiners, important figures in Pride and Prejudice, and representative of that growing commercial and professional class whose ‘excursive flights of ambition’ Wollstonecraft so admired. The alliance is mediated and secured by Elizabeth. In terms of status, she is herself the daughter of a marriage between much lesser, financially insecure, landowning gentry and com­ merce; more importantly, in terms of moral and cultural values, her feminine individualism penetrates Darcy’s self-satisfied and exclusive definition of what it is to be ‘well bred’. Class identity has become as much a function of mental and moral qualities as it is of visible wealth or an ancient name. When the Gardiners are first introduced, for example, Mr Gardiner is described as ‘a sensible, gentlemanlike man’, and the narrative voice clearly takes sides against ‘the Netherfield ladies’ who ‘would have had difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and within view of his own warehouses, could have been so well bred and agreeable’ (II, ii, my emphasis). Austen’s relationship with a traditional e´lite is not, then, as has sometimes been thought, simply that of straightforward apologist. Her own social status was precarious, both as a

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woman, and as the daughter of a family partly dependent on the patronage of wealthier relations. Her novels are alert to the complexities and insecurities of that social position, and preoccupied with questions of respectability and responsibility; they describe the rapidly changing constituency of rural England at a moment when estates were being bought, rented or created by those who had made their money in trade (as has Bingley’s family) and when, at the same time, a new metropolitan pro­ fessional middle class to which people such as the Gardiners belonged was gaining cultural ascendancy. Her heroines are the agents of both change and consolidation. Operating in the private, domestic sphere, they are much closer to the new pro­ fessional values of self-reliance, rationalism and integrity than to what Austen depicts as the mercenary superficiality of the rentier class. Through Elizabeth, through Fanny, the dependent outsider who becomes the moral centre of Mansfield Park, even through the more socially secure Emma who has to learn about the proper exercise of responsibility, Austen prescribes reform, adjustment, and thus renewal, for a dangerously unself­ conscious and therefore vulnerable ruling class. In that wonder­ ful scene towards the end of the novel, for example, in which Elizabeth has to defend her right to happiness against inter­ ference from Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Lady Catherine is an easy target. She is a sharply realized embodiment of a stock comic figure: the caricature of an old order, powerless in the face of youth and desire and incapable of change. Her appeal to ‘ ‘‘the claims of duty, honour, and gratitude’’ ’ (III, xiv) stands little chance against Elizabeth’s rationality, wit and unswerving belief in autonomous choice: ‘Supposing [Darcy] to be attached to me, would my refusing to accept his hand, make him wish to bestow it on his cousin? Allow me to say, Lady Catherine, that the arguments with which you have supported this extraordinary application, have been as frivolous as the application was ill judged.’ (III, xiv)

‘Frivolous’ is a key word here. It puts Lady Catherine’s rehearsal of Burkean notions of honour on a par with the ostentatious


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display of Rosings, and aligns her inflexible version of tradition with the superficial snobbery of a Caroline Bingley. In daring to judge Lady Catherine’s argument ‘frivolous’, Elizabeth enacts an alternative value system identified with mental qualities of seriousness, ‘depth’ and commitment rather than superficial display. Elizabeth’s Wollstonecraftian ‘liveliness’ of mind, her habit of ironic laughter and self-awareness (however imperfect), can thus be identified in quite precise cultural terms. Selfconscious, rational, sceptical: Elizabeth is an Enlightenment figure skilfully integrated, through the mechanisms of romantic comedy, into the traditional Burkean hierarchy which Enlightenment values sought to dismantle. Elizabeth’s victory over Lady Catherine is inevitable rather than revolutionary: traditional values in that form are no longer the target, as they were when Wollstonecraft attacked Burke. Darcy, on the other hand, is much less easy to overcome. He can appreciate, match and accommodate the potentially revolutionary qualities which differentiate Elizabeth from the likes of Caroline Bingley – because they rouse his desire. At the end of the novel, Elizabeth and Darcy indulge in the familiar lovers’ pleasure of confirming love by narrating its origin. Elizabeth, characteristically, speaks for Darcy: ‘The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable you would have hated me for it; but in spite of the pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always noble and just . . . really, all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable.’ (III, xviii)

The tone is playful, flirtatious, ironic. It libidinizes the serious moral and political vocabulary of nobility, amiability, justice, reason and, in doing so, forges unobtrusive connections between private and public histories. Elizabeth’s loving retrospect rewrites Darcy’s insupportable snobbery as mere ‘disguise’;

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aristocratic culture is discovered to be essentially ‘amiable’ after all. In the previous chapter, Elizabeth tells Jane the story of how her own love developed: ‘ ‘‘It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley’’ ’ (III, xvii). From the moment the novel was published, criticism of Richardson’s Pamela turned on the possibility that Pamela’s ‘virtue’ was no more than mercenary self-interest masquerading as moral rectitude. Similar questions have been asked of Eliza­ beth’s motivation in Pride and Prejudice – usually reaching the comfortable conclusion that she is blamelessly free of any ignoble interest in Darcy’s wealth. But the novel is less com­ placent than some of its critics have been: Elizabeth’s ironic narrative of falling in love is properly selfconscious about the impossibility of easily distinguishing between disinterested motives and the attraction of material advantages. A conflation of morality, aesthetic pleasure and social power is at the very heart of the female-centred fiction of upward social mobility: middle- or lower-class heroines (and their readers) are seduced precisely by the prospect of ‘reforming’, and therefore partici­ pating in, the attractive power of the upper-class male. In Pride and Prejudice, the seduction is intellectual and aesthetic rather than physical, but that just makes it all the more effective. When Elizabeth sees Pemberley, what impresses her is the extent of Darcy’s influence: As a brother, a landlord, a master, she considered how many people’s happiness were in his guardianship! – How much of pleasure or pain it was in his power to bestow! – How much of good or evil must be done by him! . . . she thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before; she remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression. (III, i)

Elizabeth’s rational judgement is modified by the prospect of effective power; she is seduced out of her class-based indignation by the thought that, through marriage, she might have shared


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this position of influence over others’ happiness. And the romance plot immediately rewards her with Darcy himself, ‘strikingly altered’ in his manner towards her (III, i). At the personal level, confrontation gives way to the compromise which will make romantic fulfilment possible. At the public level, by implication, class antagonism settles for a mutually beneficial consensus. The effectiveness of that consensus is demonstrated when Darcy, working in close partnership with Mr Gardiner, saves Lydia from the worst social consequences of her liaison with Wickham. As Mrs Gardiner tells Elizabeth, Darcy’s ‘mistaken pride’ at first made him think it ‘beneath him’ to share his knowledge of Wickham’s character and behaviour (III, x). By entering into a more open form of government and giving others access to that knowledge, Darcy is instrumental in returning Lydia – and Wickham – to a kind of respectability. Wickham, a vestigial example of the old rake figure, is effectively disem­ powered as the new alliance, between Darcy’s wealth and influ­ ence and Mr Gardiner’s professional expertise, acts to guarantee public morality and order. By the end of the novel, then, Darcy has been converted into a figure of comic reconciliation. Lady Catherine, representing the older generation of aristocracy, would have thwarted the romantic fulfilment on which comedy depends. Darcy, the new aristocratic man, uses his power and knowledge to re-establish social harmony, a harmony symbolized – as at the end of Shake­ spearian comedy – by multiple marriages: Lydia’s to Wickham, Jane’s to Bingley, and most important, of course, his own to Elizabeth. In doing so, he recalls another of Samuel Richardson’s heroes: not the dangerously predatory Mr B., but the protagonist of Richardson’s last work, Sir Charles Grandison (1753–4), a novel Austen greatly admired. Sir Charles is a model of new masculine sensibility who spends a lot of money and moral effort persuading other characters into marriage, to the unqualified admiration of all around him. But Austen, the inheritor also of a tradition of women’s writing, significantly modifies her Richardsonian original. Sir Charles acts out of disinterested and rather tediously unassailable masculine virtue. Darcy acts out


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of love for Elizabeth. ‘Her heart did whisper, that he had done it for her’, and her instincts are triumphantly confirmed when Darcy confesses that his main motivation in saving Lydia was ‘ ‘‘the wish of giving happiness to you’’ ’ (III, x; III, xvi). Romantic love makes individual happiness both the motivation and the goal of moral and social change. As a result of Elizabeth’s influence, and in the hope of pleasing her, Darcy rethinks his pride, opens himself up to new social alliances and acts to ensure Lydia’s respectability. His reward, when Elizabeth accepts his second proposal, is ‘happiness . . . such as he had probably never felt before’ (III, xvi). So the power to motivate and reward change, both personal and social, lies with the woman. As in the standard popular romance, as in Richardson’s Pamela, the hero is ultimately shown to be loving and therefore lovable; through desire for the heroine, he is transformed from an aggressive and potentially threatening figure into an ally and a husband. Elizabeth’s Wollstonecraftian ‘independence of mind’ makes her desirable to Darcy and brings laughter, ‘ease and liveliness’ to Pemberley. This plot formula seems to give women, and the values they represent, a lot of power and responsibility. But it is power of a carefully circumscribed kind. The social order has been modi­ fied, not radically altered. Austen’s post-revolutionary achieve­ ment in Pride and Prejudice is to put Wollstonecraft’s revolutionary femininity at the service of the Burkean ‘family party’ by writing what is still one of the most perfect, most pleasurable and most subtle – and therefore, perhaps, most dangerously persuasive – of romantic love stories.

REFERENCES Burke, Edmund, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), edited by Conor Cruise O’Brien (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1996) Jane Austen’s Letters, 3rd edition, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)


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More, Hannah, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (1799), Vols. VII and VIII of The Works of Hannah More, 18 vols. (London, 1818) Richardson, Samuel, Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded (1740), edited by Peter Sabor with an Introduction by Margaret A. Doody (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1997) Southam, B. C. (ed.), Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968) Steiner, George, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Transla­ tion (London, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1975) Wollstonecraft, Mary, Maria (1798) in Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary and Maria; Mary Shelley, Matilda, edited by Janet Todd (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1996) ——, Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), edited by Miriam Brody (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1996)

NOTES TO THE INTRODUCTION 1. Letters, p. 203. 2. Ibid., p. 201. 3. Southam, p. 46. 4. Steiner, p. 9. 5. Letters, p. 275. 6. Burke, pp. 170, 315, 135. 7. Wollstonecraft, Vindication, p. 152. 8. Ibid., pp. 150–51. 9. Ibid., p. 151. 10. Ibid., p. 81. 11. Letters, p. 202. 12. More, Vol. VIII, p. 24. 13. Ibid., Vol. VII, p. 4.

14. Wollstonecraft, Vindication, p. 192. 15. More, Vol. VII, p. 6. 16. Wollstonecraft, Vindication, p. 192. 17. More, Vol. VII, pp. 181, 183–4. 18. Wollstonecraft, Maria, p. 114. 19. More, Vol. VII, pp. 195–6. 20. Wollstonecraft, Vindication, pp. 224, 152. 21. Richardson, p. 78. 22. Ibid., p. 463.

Note on the Text

The first edition of Pride and Prejudice was published in January 1813, price eighteen shillings. No manuscript of the novel sur­ vives, and there is no record of Jane Austen having corrected proofs. She sold the manuscript to Egerton in 1812 for £110, as she records in a letter to Martha Lloyd on 29 November: ‘P. & P. is sold.—Egerton gives £110 for it.—I would rather have had £150, but we could not both be pleased, & I am not at all surprised that he should not chuse to hazard so much.’1 When she received her copy of the first edition, Austen noted: ‘There are a few Typical errors—& a ‘‘said he’’ or a ‘‘said she’’ would sometimes make the Dialogue more immediately clear—but ‘‘I do not write for such dull Elves’’ ‘‘As have not a great deal of Ingenuity themselves.’’ —The 2d vol. is shorter than I cd wish—but the difference is not so much in reality as in look, there being a larger proportion of Narrative in that part’ (29 January 1813).2 She also noted ‘the greatest blunder in the Printing . . . where two speeches are made into one’ (4 February 1813).3 Having sold the copyright, Austen had nothing to do with subsequent editions of the novel so, as Chapman notes, ‘the unique authority of the first edition is critically indisputable’.4 The second edition, published in October 1813, was a complete resetting of the first with some minor variations in spelling and punctuation. The third edition, published in 1817, was reset into two volumes, dividing the novel after the thirty-third chapter (Vol. II, chap. x), an arrange­ ment which persisted until Chapman’s edition of 1923 restored Austen’s original volume division. Neither edition corrected the paragraphing ‘blunder’ which Austen noted.


n ot e o n t he te xt

This edition of Pride and Prejudice is based on the text of the first edition. Obvious typographical errors and errors of grammar and punctuation have been corrected, but no attempt has been made to standardize or modernize the text: the original punctuation, variants in capitalization (‘Lady’/‘lady’, for example) and variant spellings, including variants of proper names, have been retained. At times, therefore, the text will look strange to a modern reader. On several occasions, for example (mainly at the beginning of the third volume), ‘Philips’ appears as ‘Phillips’. More pervasively, the reader will be aware of different punctuation conventions: commas, for example, are typically placed between the subject and the predicate of a sentence (e.g., p. 85: ‘The happiness anticipated by Catherine and Lydia, depended less on any single event . . .’), or at the end of phrases not preceded by a comma (e.g., p. 86: ‘a ball was at any rate, a ball’); parenthetical phrases or clauses are often introduced with a dash and closed with a comma (e.g., p. 316: ‘Her astonishment at his coming—at his coming to Netherfield, to Longbourn, and voluntarily seeking her again, was almost equal . . .’). The paragraphing error which Austen noted and two similar cases have been corrected. These, and most of the other emen­ dations, follow Chapman’s edition, though I have not adopted all of Chapman’s changes to the text. I have, however, adopted two of the five emendations made in Cassandra Austen’s copy of the first edition of the novel, which came to light in 1937; the other three are described in notes to the appropriate passage. All substantive alterations are detailed in ‘Emendations to the Text’ (p. 409).

REFERENCES Chapman, R. W. (ed.), Pride and Prejudice, vol. II of The Novels of Jane Austen, 5 vols. (1923); 3rd edition (London, New York and Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1965) Jane Austen’s Letters, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye, 3rd edition (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)


n ot e o n t he te xt

NOTES 1. Letters, p. 197. 2. Ibid., pp. 201–2. 3. Ibid., p. 203. 4. Chapman, p. xii.


Volume One


chapter i

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters. ‘‘My dear Mr. Bennet,’’ said his lady to him one day, ‘‘have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?’’ Mr. Bennet replied that he had not. ‘‘But it is,’’ returned she; ‘‘for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.’’ Mr. Bennet made no answer. ‘‘Do not you want to know who has taken it?’’ cried his wife impatiently. ‘‘You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.’’ This was invitation enough. ‘‘Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Nether­ field is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four1 to see the place, and was so much delighted with it that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take pos­ session before Michaelmas,2 and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week.’’ ‘‘What is his name?’’ ‘‘Bingley.’’ ‘‘Is he married or single?’’


v ol um e i ch ap te r i

‘‘Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!’’ ‘‘How so? how can it affect them?’’ ‘‘My dear Mr. Bennet,’’ replied his wife, ‘‘how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.’’ ‘‘Is that his design in settling here?’’ ‘‘Design! nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes.’’ ‘‘I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley might like you the best of the party.’’ ‘‘My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not pretend to be any thing extraordinary now. When a woman has five grown up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own beauty.’’ ‘‘In such cases, a woman has not often much beauty to think of.’’ ‘‘But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr. Bingley when he comes into the neighbourhood.’’ ‘‘It is more than I engage for, I assure you.’’ ‘‘But consider your daughters. Only think what an establish­ ment it would be for one of them. Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account, for in general you know they visit no new comers. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him, if you do not.’’ ‘‘You are over scrupulous surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying which ever he chuses of the girls; though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy.’’ ‘‘I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving her the preference.’’ ‘‘They have none of them much to recommend them,’’ replied

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he; ‘‘they are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.’’ ‘‘Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves.’’ ‘‘You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.’’ ‘‘Ah! you do not know what I suffer.’’ ‘‘But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood.’’ ‘‘It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come since you will not visit them.’’ ‘‘Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all.’’ Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts,3 sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife under­ stand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develope. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied her­ self nervous.4 The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.

chapter ii

Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley. He had always intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that he should not go; and till the evening after the visit was paid, she had no knowledge of it. It was then disclosed in the following manner. Observing his second daughter employed in trimming a hat, he suddenly addressed her with, ‘‘I hope Mr. Bingley will like it Lizzy.’’ ‘‘We are not in a way to know what Mr. Bingley likes,’’ said her mother resentfully, ‘‘since we are not to visit.’’ ‘‘But you forget, mama,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘that we shall meet him at the assemblies,1 and that Mrs. Long has promised to introduce him.’’ ‘‘I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing. She has two neices2 of her own. She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I have no opinion of her.’’ ‘‘No more have I,’’ said Mr. Bennet; ‘‘and I am glad to find that you do not depend on her serving you.’’ Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply; but unable to contain herself, began scolding one of her daughters. ‘‘Don’t keep coughing so, Kitty, for heaven’s sake! Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces.’’ ‘‘Kitty has no discretion in her coughs,’’ said her father; ‘‘she times them ill.’’ ‘‘I do not cough for my own amusement,’’ replied Kitty fretfully. ‘‘When is your next ball to be, Lizzy?’’ ‘‘To-morrow fortnight.’’

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‘‘Aye, so it is,’’ cried her mother, ‘‘and Mrs. Long does not come back till the day before; so, it will be impossible for her to introduce him, for she will not know him herself.’’ ‘‘Then, my dear, you may have the advantage of your friend, and introduce Mr. Bingley to her.’’ ‘‘Impossible, Mr. Bennet, impossible, when I am not ac­ quainted with him myself; how can you be so teazing?’’ ‘‘I honour your circumspection. A fortnight’s acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But if we do not venture, somebody else will; and after all, Mrs. Long and her neices must stand their chance; and therefore, as she will think it an act of kindness, if you decline the office, I will take it on myself.’’ The girls stared at their father. Mrs. Bennet said only, ‘‘Non­ sense, nonsense!’’ ‘‘What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation?’’ cried he. ‘‘Do you consider the forms of introduction,3 and the stress that is laid on them, as nonsense? I cannot quite agree with you there. What say you, Mary? for you are a young lady of deep reflection I know, and read great books, and make extracts.’’4 Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how. ‘‘While Mary is adjusting her ideas,’’ he continued, ‘‘let us return to Mr. Bingley.’’ ‘‘I am sick of Mr. Bingley,’’ cried his wife. ‘‘I am sorry to hear that; but why did not you tell me so before? If I had known as much this morning, I certainly would not have called on him. It is very unlucky; but as I have actually paid the visit, we cannot escape the acquaintance now.’’ The astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished; that of Mrs. Bennet perhaps surpassing the rest; though when the first tumult of joy was over, she began to declare that it was what she had expected all the while. ‘‘How good it was in you, my dear Mr. Bennet! But I knew I should persuade you at last. I was sure you loved your girls too well to neglect such an acquaintance. Well, how pleased I am! and it is such a good joke, too, that you should have gone this morning, and never said a word about it till now.’’


v ol um e i ch ap te r ii

‘‘Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you chuse,’’ said Mr. Bennet; and, as he spoke, he left the room, fatigued with the raptures of his wife. ‘‘What an excellent father you have, girls,’’ said she, when the door was shut. ‘‘I do not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me either, for that matter. At our time of life, it is not so pleasant I can tell you, to be making new acquaintance every day; but for your sakes, we would do any thing. Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I dare say Mr. Bingley will dance with you at the next ball.’’ ‘‘Oh!’’ said Lydia stoutly, ‘‘I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I’m the tallest.’’ The rest of the evening was spent in conjecturing how soon he would return Mr. Bennet’s visit, and determining when they should ask him to dinner.

chapter iii

Not all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could ask on the subject was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley. They attacked him in various ways; with barefaced questions, ingenious suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded the skill of them all; and they were at last obliged to accept the second-hand intelligence1 of their neighbour Lady Lucas. Her report was highly favourable. Sir William had been delighted with him. He was quite young, wonderfully handsome, ex­ tremely agreeable, and to crown the whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party. Nothing could be more delightful! To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr. Bingley’s heart were entertained. ‘‘If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield,’’ said Mrs. Bennet to her husband, ‘‘and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing to wish for.’’ In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet’s visit, and sat about ten minutes with him in his library. He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he had heard much; but he saw only the father. The ladies were somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantage of ascertaining from an upper window, that he wore a blue coat and rode a black horse. An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards dispatched; and already had Mrs. Bennet planned the courses that were to do credit to her housekeeping, when an answer arrived which deferred it all. Mr. Bingley was obliged to be in town the


v ol um e i ch ap te r iii

following day, and consequently unable to accept the honour of their invitation, &c. Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted. She could not imagine what business he could have in town so soon after his arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might be always flying about from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be. Lady Lucas quieted her fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to London only to get a large party for the ball; and a report soon followed that Mr. Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a number of ladies; but were comforted the day before the ball by hearing, that instead of twelve, he had brought only six with him from London, his five sisters and a cousin. And when the party entered the assembly room, it consisted of only five altogether, Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man. Mr. Bingley was good looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion. His brother-in­ law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mein; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year.2 The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust3 which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend. Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between

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him and his friend! Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagree­ able man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again. Amongst the most violent against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general behaviour, was sharpened into particular resentment, by his having slighted one of her daughters. Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentle­ men, to sit down for two dances;4 and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation between him and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes, to press his friend to join it. ‘‘Come, Darcy,’’ said he, ‘‘I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.’’ ‘‘I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room, whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with.’’ ‘‘I would not be so fastidious as you are,’’ cried Bingley, ‘‘for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life, as I have this evening; and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty.’’ ‘‘You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room,’’ said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet. ‘‘Oh! she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say, very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.’’ ‘‘Which do you mean?’’ and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, ‘‘She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better


v ol um e i ch ap te r iii

return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.’’ Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. She told the story however with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous. The evening altogether passed off pleasantly to the whole family. Mrs. Bennet had seen her eldest daughter much admired by the Netherfield party. Mr. Bingley had danced with her twice, and she had been distinguished by his sisters. Jane was as much gratified by this, as her mother could be, though in a quieter way. Elizabeth felt Jane’s pleasure. Mary had heard herself mentioned to Miss Bingley as the most accomplished girl in the neighbourhood; and Catherine and Lydia had been fortunate enough to be never without partners, which was all that they had yet learnt to care for at a ball. They returned therefore in good spirits to Longbourn, the village where they lived, and of which they were the principal inhabitants. They found Mr. Bennet still up. With a book he was regardless of time; and on the present occasion he had a good deal of curiosity as to the event of an evening which had raised such splendid expectations. He had rather hoped that all his wife’s views on the stranger would be disappointed; but he soon found that he had a very different story to hear. ‘‘Oh! my dear Mr. Bennet,’’ as she entered the room, ‘‘we have had a most delightful evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Every body said how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice. Only think of that my dear; he actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time. First of all, he asked Miss Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with her; but, however, he did not admire her at all: indeed, nobody can, you know; and he seemed quite struck with Jane as she was going down the dance. So, he enquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. Then, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth

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with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger.’’5 ‘‘If he had had any compassion for me,’’ cried her husband impatiently, ‘‘he would not have danced half so much! For God’s sake, say no more of his partners. Oh! that he had sprained his ancle in the first dance!’’ ‘‘Oh! my dear,’’ continued Mrs. Bennet, ‘‘I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively6 handsome! and his sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw any thing more elegant than their dresses. I dare say the lace upon Mrs. Hurst’s gown —’’ Here she was interrupted again. Mr. Bennet protested against any description of finery. She was therefore obliged to seek another branch of the subject, and related, with much bitterness of spirit and some exaggeration, the shocking rudeness of Mr. Darcy. ‘‘But I can assure you,’’ she added, ‘‘that Lizzy does not lose much by not suiting his fancy; for he is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsome enough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set downs. I quite detest the man.’’

chapter iv

When Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in her praise of Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her sister how very much she admired him. ‘‘He is just what a young man ought to be,’’ said she, ‘‘sensible, good humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners!— so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!’’ ‘‘He is also handsome,’’ replied Elizabeth, ‘‘which a young man ought likewise to be, if he possibly can. His character is thereby complete.’’ ‘‘I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time. I did not expect such a compliment.’’ ‘‘Did not you? I did for you. But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never. What could be more natural than his asking you again? He could not help seeing that you were about five times as pretty as every other woman in the room. No thanks to his gallantry for that. Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person.’’ ‘‘Dear Lizzy!’’ ‘‘Oh! you are a great deal too apt you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.’’ ‘‘I would wish not to be hasty in censuring any one; but I always speak what I think.’’ ‘‘I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder. With your good sense, to be so honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour1 is common

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enough;—one meets it every where. But to be candid without ostentation or design—to take the good of every body’s charac­ ter and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad—belongs to you alone. And so, you like this man’s sisters too, do you? Their manners are not equal to his.’’ ‘‘Certainly not; at first. But they are very pleasing women when you converse with them. Miss Bingley is to live with her brother and keep his house; and I am much mistaken if we shall not find a very charming neighbour in her.’’ Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced; their behaviour at the assembly had not been calculated to please in general; and with more quickness of observation and less pliancy of temper than her sister, and with a judgment too unassailed by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed to approve them. They were in fact very fine ladies;2 not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of being agreeable where they chose it; but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town,3 had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank; and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their mem­ ories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired by trade. Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly an hundred thousand pounds from his father, who had intended to purchase an estate, but did not live to do it.—Mr. Bingley intended it likewise, and sometimes made choice of his county; but as he was now provided with a good house and the liberty of a manor,4 it was doubtful to many of those who best knew the easiness of his temper, whether he might not spend the remainder of his days at Netherfield, and leave the next genera­ tion to purchase. His sisters were very anxious for his having an estate of his own; but though he was now established only as a tenant, Miss Bingley was by no means unwilling to preside at his table, nor


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was Mrs. Hurst, who had married a man of more fashion than fortune, less disposed to consider his house as her home when it suited her. Mr. Bingley had not been of age two years, when he was tempted by an accidental recommendation to look at Netherfield House. He did look at it and into it for half an hour, was pleased with the situation and the principal rooms, satisfied with what the owner said in its praise, and took it immediately. Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in spite of a great opposition of character.—Bingley was ende­ ared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, ductility of his temper, though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own, and though with his own he never appeared dissatisfied. On the strength of Darcy’s regard Bingley had the firmest reliance, and of his judgment the highest opinion. In understanding Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient, but Darcy was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners, though well bred, were not inviting. In that respect his friend had greatly the advantage. Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, Darcy was continually giving offence. The manner in which they spoke of the Meryton assembly was sufficiently characteristic. Bingley had never met with pleasanter people or prettier girls in his life; every body had been most kind and attentive to him, there had been no formality, no stiffness, he had soon felt acquainted with all the room; and as to Miss Bennet, he could not conceive an angel more beautiful. Darcy, on the contrary, had seen a collection of people in whom there was little beauty and no fashion, for none of whom he had felt the smallest interest, and from none received either attention or pleasure. Miss Bennet he acknowledged to be pretty, but she smiled too much. Mrs. Hurst and her sister allowed it to be so—but still they admired her and liked her, and pronounced her to be a sweet girl, and one whom they should not object to know more of. Miss Bennet was therefore established as a sweet girl, and their brother felt authorised by such commendation to think of her as he chose.

chapter v

Within a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom the Bennets were particularly intimate. Sir William Lucas had been formerly in trade in Meryton, where he had made a toler­ able fortune and risen to the honour of knighthood by an address to the King, during his mayoralty.1 The distinction had perhaps been felt too strongly. It had given him a disgust to his business and to his residence in a small market town; and quitting them both, he had removed with his family to a house about a mile from Meryton, denominated from that period Lucas Lodge, where he could think with pleasure of his own importance, and unshackled by business, occupy himself solely in being civil to all the world. For though elated by his rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary, he was all attention to every body. By nature inoffensive, friendly and obliging, his presentation at St. James’s2 had made him courteous. Lady Lucas was a very good kind of woman, not too clever to be a valuable neighbour to Mrs. Bennet.—They had several children. The eldest of them a sensible, intelligent young woman, about twenty-seven, was Elizabeth’s intimate friend. That the Miss Lucases and the Miss Bennets should meet to talk over a ball was absolutely necessary; and the morning after the assembly brought the former to Longbourn to hear and to communicate. ‘‘You began the evening well, Charlotte,’’ said Mrs. Bennet with civil self-command to Miss Lucas. ‘‘You were Mr. Bingley’s first choice.’’ ‘‘Yes;—but he seemed to like his second better.’’


v ol um e i ch ap te r v

‘‘Oh!—you mean Jane, I suppose—because he danced with her twice. To be sure that did seem as if he admired her—indeed I rather believe he did—I heard something about it—but I hardly know what—something about Mr. Robinson.’’ ‘‘Perhaps you mean what I overheard between him and Mr. Robinson; did not I mention it to you? Mr. Robinson’s asking him how he liked our Meryton assemblies, and whether he did not think there were a great many pretty women in the room, and which he thought the prettiest? and his answer­ ing immediately to the last question—Oh! the eldest Miss Bennet beyond a doubt, there cannot be two opinions on that point.’’ ‘‘Upon my word!—Well, that was very decided indeed—that does seem as if—but however, it may all come to nothing you know.’’ ‘‘My overhearings were more to the purpose than yours, Eliza,’’ said Charlotte. ‘‘Mr. Darcy is not so well worth listening to as his friend, is he?—Poor Eliza!—to be only just tolerable.’’ ‘‘I beg you would not put it into Lizzy’s head to be vexed by his ill-treatment; for he is such a disagreeable man that it would be quite a misfortune to be liked by him. Mrs. Long told me last night that he sat close to her for half an hour without once opening his lips.’’ ‘‘Are you quite sure, Ma’am?—is not there a little mistake?’’ said Jane.—‘‘I certainly saw Mr. Darcy speaking to her.’’ ‘‘Aye—because she asked him at last how he liked Nether­ field, and he could not help answering her;—but she said he seemed very angry at being spoke to.’’ ‘‘Miss Bingley told me,’’ said Jane, ‘‘that he never speaks much unless among his intimate acquaintance. With them he is remarkably agreeable.’’ ‘‘I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very agreeable he would have talked to Mrs. Long. But I can guess how it was; every body says that he is ate up with pride, and I dare say he had heard somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep a carriage, and had come to the ball in a hack chaise.’’3 ‘‘I do not mind his not talking to Mrs. Long,’’ said Miss Lucas, ‘‘but I wish he had danced with Eliza.’’

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‘‘Another time, Lizzy,’’ said her mother, ‘‘I would not dance with him, if I were you.’’ ‘‘I believe, Ma’am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him.’’ ‘‘His pride,’’ said Miss Lucas, ‘‘does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, every thing in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.’’ ‘‘That is very true,’’ replied Elizabeth, ‘‘and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.’’ ‘‘Pride,’’ observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, ‘‘is a very common failing I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed, that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonimously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.’’ ‘‘If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy,’’ cried a young Lucas who came with his sisters, ‘‘I should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds,4 and drink a bottle of wine every day.’’ ‘‘Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought,’’ said Mrs. Bennet; ‘‘and if I were to see you at it I should take away your bottle directly.’’ The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare that she would, and the argument ended only with the visit.

chapter vi

The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on1 those of Netherfield. The visit was returned in due form. Miss Bennet’s pleasing manners grew on the good will of Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and though the mother was found to be intolerable and the younger sisters not worth speaking to, a wish of being better acquainted with them, was expressed towards the two eldest. By Jane this attention was received with the greatest pleasure; but Elizabeth still saw superciliousness in their treatment of every body, hardly excepting even her sister, and could not like them; though their kindness to Jane, such as it was, had a value as arising in all probability from the influence of their brother’s admiration. It was generally evident whenever they met, that he did admire her; and to her it was equally evident that Jane was yielding to the preference which she had begun to entertain for him from the first, and was in a way to be very much in love; but she considered with pleasure that it was not likely to be discovered by the world in general, since Jane united with great strength of feeling, a composure of temper and a uniform cheer­ fulness of manner, which would guard her from the suspicions of the impertinent.2 She mentioned this to her friend Miss Lucas. ‘‘It may perhaps be pleasant,’’ replied Charlotte, ‘‘to be able to impose on the public in such a case; but it is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded. If a woman conceals her affection3 with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor consolation to believe the world equally in the dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely—a slight

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preference is natural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement. In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better shew more affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on.’’ ‘‘But she does help him on, as much as her nature will allow. If I can perceive her regard for him, he must be a simpleton indeed not to discover it too.’’ ‘‘Remember, Eliza, that he does not know Jane’s disposition as you do.’’ ‘‘But if a woman is partial to a man, and does not endeavour to conceal it, he must find it out.’’ ‘‘Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her. But though Bingley and Jane meet tolerably often, it is never for many hours together; and as they always see each other in large mixed parties, it is impossible that every moment should be employed in conversing together. Jane should therefore make the most of every half hour in which she can command his attention. When she is secure of him, there will be leisure for falling in love as much as she chuses.’’ ‘‘Your plan is a good one,’’ replied Elizabeth, ‘‘where nothing is in question but the desire of being well married; and if I were determined to get a rich husband, or any husband, I dare say I should adopt it. But these are not Jane’s feelings; she is not acting by design. As yet, she cannot even be certain of the degree of her own regard, nor of its reasonableness. She has known him only a fortnight. She danced four dances with him at Mery­ ton; she saw him one morning at his own house, and has since dined in company with him four times. This is not quite enough to make her understand his character.’’ ‘‘Not as you represent it. Had she merely dined with him, she might only have discovered whether he had a good appetite; but you must remember that four evenings have been also spent together—and four evenings may do a great deal.’’ ‘‘Yes; these four evenings have enabled them to ascertain that they both like Vingt-un better than Commerce;4 but with respect to any other leading characteristic, I do not imagine that much has been unfolded.’’


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‘‘Well,’’ said Charlotte, ‘‘I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to him to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness, as if she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always con­ tinue5 to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.’’ ‘‘You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know it is not sound, and that you would never act in this way yourself.’’ Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley’s attentions to her sister, Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest in the eyes of his friend. Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. Of this she was perfectly unaware;— to her he was only the man who made himself agreeable no where, and who had not thought her handsome enough to dance with. He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with others. His doing so drew her notice. It was at Sir William Lucas’s, where a large party were assembled. ‘‘What does Mr. Darcy mean,’’ said she to Charlotte, ‘‘by listening to my conversation with Colonel Forster?’’ ‘‘That is a question which Mr. Darcy only can answer.’’

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‘‘But if he does it any more I shall certainly let him know that I see what he is about. He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of him.’’ On his approaching them soon afterwards, though without seeming to have any intention of speaking, Miss Lucas defied her friend to mention such a subject to him, which immediately provoking Elizabeth to do it, she turned to him and said, ‘‘Did not you think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself uncommonly well just now, when I was teazing Colonel Forster to give us a ball at Meryton?’’ ‘‘With great energy;—but it is a subject which always makes a lady energetic.’’ ‘‘You are severe on us.’’ ‘‘It will be her turn soon to be teazed,’’ said Miss Lucas. ‘‘I am going to open the instrument, Eliza, and you know what follows.’’ ‘‘You are a very strange creature by way of a friend!—always wanting me to play and sing before any body and every body!— If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you would have been invaluable, but as it is, I would really rather not sit down before those who must be in the habit of hearing the very best performers.’’ On Miss Lucas’s persevering, however, she added, ‘‘Very well; if it must be so, it must.’’ And gravely glancing at Mr. Darcy, ‘‘There is a fine old saying, which every body here is of course familiar with—‘Keep your breath to cool your porridge,’6 —and I shall keep mine to swell my song.’’ Her performance was pleasing, though by no means capital. After a song or two, and before she could reply to the entreaties of several that she would sing again, she was eagerly succeeded at the instrument by her sister Mary, who having, in con­ sequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, was always impatient for display. Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellence than she had reached. Elizabeth, easy and unaffected,


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had been listened to with much more pleasure, though not playing half so well; and Mary, at the end of a long concerto, was glad to purchase praise and gratitude by Scotch and Irish airs, at the request of her younger sisters, who with some of the Lucases and two or three officers joined eagerly in dancing at one end of the room. Mr. Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode of passing the evening, to the exclusion of all conversation, and was too much engrossed by his own thoughts to perceive that Sir William Lucas was his neighbour, till Sir William thus began. ‘‘What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy!—There is nothing like dancing after all.—I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished societies.’’ ‘‘Certainly, Sir,—and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of the world.—Every savage can dance.’’ Sir William only smiled. ‘‘Your friend performs delightfully;’’ he continued after a pause, on seeing Bingley join the group;— ‘‘and I doubt not that you are an adept in the science yourself, Mr. Darcy.’’ ‘‘You saw me dance at Meryton, I believe, Sir.’’ ‘‘Yes, indeed, and received no inconsiderable pleasure from the sight. Do you often dance at St. James’s?’’ ‘‘Never, Sir.’’ ‘‘Do you not think it would be a proper compliment to the place?’’ ‘‘It is a compliment which I never pay to any place if I can avoid it.’’ ‘‘You have a house in town, I conclude.’’ Mr. Darcy bowed. ‘‘I had once some thoughts of fixing in town myself—for I am fond of superior society; but I did not feel quite certain that the air of London would agree with Lady Lucas.’’ He paused in hopes of an answer; but his companion was not disposed to make any; and Elizabeth at that instant moving towards them, he was struck with the notion of doing a very gallant thing, and called out to her,

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‘‘My dear Miss Eliza, why are not you dancing?—Mr. Darcy, you must allow me to present this young lady to you as a very desirable partner.—You cannot refuse to dance, I am sure, when so much beauty is before you.’’ And taking her hand, he would have given it to Mr. Darcy, who, though extremely surprised, was not unwilling to receive it, when she instantly drew back, and said with some discomposure to Sir William, ‘‘Indeed, Sir, I have not the least intention of dancing.—I entreat you not to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner.’’ Mr. Darcy with grave propriety requested to be allowed the honour of her hand; but in vain. Elizabeth was determined; nor did Sir William at all shake her purpose by his attempt at persuasion. ‘‘You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza, that it is cruel to deny me the happiness of seeing you; and though this gentleman dislikes the amusement in general, he can have no objection, I am sure, to oblige us for one half hour.’’ ‘‘Mr. Darcy is all politeness,’’ said Elizabeth, smiling. ‘‘He is indeed—but considering the inducement, my dear Miss Eliza, we cannot wonder at his complaisance; for who would object to such a partner?’’ Elizabeth looked archly, and turned away. Her resistance had not injured her with the gentleman, and he was thinking of her with some complacency,7 when thus accosted by Miss Bingley, ‘‘I can guess the subject of your reverie.’’ ‘‘I should imagine not.’’ ‘‘You are considering how insupportable it would be to pass many evenings in this manner—in such society; and indeed I am quite of your opinion. I was never more annoyed! The insipidity and yet the noise; the nothingness and yet the selfimportance of all these people!—What would I give to hear your strictures on them!’’ ‘‘Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. My mind was more agreeably engaged. I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.’’ Miss Bingley immediately fixed her eyes on his face, and


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desired he would tell her what lady had the credit of inspiring such reflections. Mr. Darcy replied with great intrepidity, ‘‘Miss Elizabeth Bennet.’’ ‘‘Miss Elizabeth Bennet!’’ repeated Miss Bingley. ‘‘I am all astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite?—and pray when am I to wish you joy?’’ ‘‘That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy.’’ ‘‘Nay, if you are so serious about it, I shall consider the matter as absolutely settled. You will have a charming mother-in-law, indeed, and of course she will be always at Pemberley with you.’’ He listened to her with perfect indifference, while she chose to entertain herself in this manner, and as his composure con­ vinced her that all was safe, her wit flowed long.

chapter vii

Mr. Bennet’s property consisted almost entirely in an estate of two thousand a year, which, unfortunately for his daughters was entailed in default of heirs male,1 on a distant relation; and their mother’s fortune, though ample for her situation in life, could but ill supply the deficiency of his. Her father had been an attorney in Meryton, and had left her four thousand pounds. She had a sister married to a Mr. Phillips,2 who had been a clerk to their father, and succeeded him in the business, and a brother settled in London in a respectable line of trade.3 The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to their aunt and to a milliner’s shop4 just over the way. The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in these attentions; their minds were more vacant than their sisters’, and when nothing better offered, a walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent arrival of a militia regiment5 in the neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole winter, and Meryton was the head quarters. Their visits to Mrs. Philips were now productive of the most interesting intelligence. Every day added something to their knowledge of the officers’ names and connections. Their lodg­ ings were not long a secret, and at length they began to know the officers themselves. Mr. Philips visited them all, and this


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opened to his nieces a source of felicity unknown before. They could talk of nothing but officers; and Mr. Bingley’s large for­ tune, the mention of which gave animation to their mother, was worthless in their eyes when opposed to the regimentals of an ensign.6 After listening one morning to their effusions7 on this subject, Mr. Bennet coolly observed, ‘‘From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now convinced.’’ Catherine was disconcerted, and made no answer; but Lydia, with perfect indifference, continued to express her admiration of Captain Carter, and her hope of seeing him in the course of the day, as he was going the next morning to London. ‘‘I am astonished, my dear,’’ said Mrs. Bennet, ‘‘that you should be so ready to think your own children silly. If I wished to think slightingly of any body’s children, it should not be of my own however.’’ ‘‘If my children are silly I must hope to be always sensible8 of it.’’ ‘‘Yes—but as it happens, they are all of them very clever.’’ ‘‘This is the only point, I flatter myself, on which we do not agree. I had hoped that our sentiments coincided in every particular, but I must so far differ from you as to think our two youngest daughters uncommonly foolish.’’ ‘‘My dear Mr. Bennet, you must not expect such girls to have the sense of their father and mother.—When they get to our age I dare say they will not think about officers any more than we do. I remember the time when I liked a red-coat myself very well—and indeed so I do still at my heart; and if a smart young colonel, with five or six thousand a year,9 should want one of my girls, I shall not say nay to him; and I thought Colonel Forster looked very becoming the other night at Sir William’s in his regimentals.’’ ‘‘Mama,’’ cried Lydia, ‘‘my aunt says that Colonel Forster and Captain Carter do not go so often to Miss Watson’s as they did when they first came; she sees them now very often standing in Clarke’s library.’’10

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Mrs. Bennet was prevented replying by the entrance of the footman with a note for Miss Bennet; it came from Netherfield, and the servant waited for an answer. Mrs. Bennet’s eyes sparkled with pleasure, and she was eagerly calling out, while her daughter read, ‘‘Well, Jane, who is it from? what is it about? what does he say? well, Jane, make haste and tell us; make haste, my love.’’ ‘‘It is from Miss Bingley,’’ said Jane, and then read it aloud. ‘‘My dear Friend, ‘‘IF you are not so compassionate as to dine to-day with Louisa and me, we shall be in danger of hating each other for the rest of our lives, for a whole day’s teˆte-a`-teˆte between two women can never end without a quarrel. Come as soon as you can on the receipt of this. My brother and the gentlemen are to dine with the officers. Yours ever, ‘‘CAROLINE BINGLEY.’’ ‘‘With the officers!’’ cried Lydia. ‘‘I wonder my aunt did not tell us of that.’’ ‘‘Dining out,’’ said Mrs. Bennet, ‘‘that is very unlucky.’’ ‘‘Can I have the carriage,’’ said Jane. ‘‘No, my dear, you had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and then you must stay all night.’’ ‘‘That would be a good scheme,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘if you were sure that they would not offer to send her home.’’ ‘‘Oh! but the gentlemen will have Mr. Bingley’s chaise to go to Meryton; and the Hursts have no horses to theirs.’’ ‘‘I had much rather go in the coach.’’11 ‘‘But, my dear, your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure. They are wanted in the farm, Mr. Bennet, are not they?’’ ‘‘They are wanted in the farm much oftener than I can get them.’’ ‘‘But if you have got them to day,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘my mother’s purpose will be answered.’’ She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that the horses were engaged, Jane was therefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to the door with many cheerful prognostics of a bad day. Her hopes were answered; Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard. Her sisters


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were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted. The rain continued the whole evening without intermission; Jane cer­ tainly could not come back. ‘‘This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed!’’ said Mrs. Bennet, more than once, as if the credit of making it rain were all her own. Till the next morning, however, she was not aware of all the felicity of her contrivance. Breakfast was scarcely over when a servant from Netherfield brought the following note for Elizabeth: ‘‘My dearest Lizzy, ‘‘I FIND myself very unwell this morning, which, I suppose, is to be imputed to my getting wet through yesterday. My kind friends will not hear of my returning home till I am better. They insist also on my seeing Mr. Jones—therefore do not be alarmed if you should hear of his having been to me—and excepting a sore-throat and head-ache there is not much the matter with me. ‘‘Yours, &c.’’ ‘‘Well, my dear,’’ said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, ‘‘if your daughter should have a danger­ ous fit of illness, if she should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders.’’ ‘‘Oh! I am not at all afraid of her dying. People do not die of little trifling colds. She will be taken good care of. As long as she stays there, it is all very well. I would go and see her, if I could have the carriage.’’ Elizabeth, feeling really anxious, was determined to go to her, though the carriage was not to be had; and as she was no horse-woman, walking was her only alternative. She declared her resolution. ‘‘How can you be so silly,’’ cried her mother, ‘‘as to think of such a thing, in all this dirt! You will not be fit to be seen when you get there.’’ ‘‘I shall be very fit to see Jane—which is all I want.’’ ‘‘Is this a hint to me, Lizzy,’’ said her father, ‘‘to send for the horses?’’ ‘‘No, indeed. I do not wish to avoid the walk. The distance is

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nothing, when one has a motive; only three miles. I shall be back by dinner.’’ ‘‘I admire the activity of your benevolence,’’ observed Mary, ‘‘but every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.’’ ‘‘We will go as far as Meryton with you,’’ said Catherine and Lydia.—Elizabeth accepted their company, and the three young ladies set off together. ‘‘If we make haste,’’ said Lydia, as they walked along, ‘‘per­ haps we may see something of Captain Carter before he goes.’’ In Meryton they parted; the two youngest repaired to the lodgings of one of the officers’ wives, and Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last within view of the house, with weary ancles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise. She was shewn into the breakfast-parlour, where all but Jane were assembled, and where her appearance created a great deal of surprise.—That she should have walked three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather, and by herself, was almost incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth was convinced that they held her in contempt for it. She was received, however, very politely by them; and in their brother’s manners there was something better than politeness; there was good humour and kindness.—Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all. The former was divided between admir­ ation of the brilliancy which exercise had given to her com­ plexion, and doubt as to the occasion’s justifying her coming so far alone. The latter was thinking only of his breakfast. Her enquiries after her sister were not very favourably answered. Miss Bennet had slept ill, and though up, was very feverish and not well enough to leave her room. Elizabeth was glad to be taken to her immediately; and Jane, who had only been withheld by the fear of giving alarm or inconvenience, from expressing in her note how much she longed for such a visit, was delighted at her entrance. She was not equal, however,


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to much conversation, and when Miss Bingley left them together, could attempt little beside expressions of gratitude for the extraordinary kindness she was treated with. Elizabeth silently attended her. When breakfast was over, they were joined by the sisters; and Elizabeth began to like them herself, when she saw how much affection and solicitude they shewed for Jane. The apothecary12 came, and having examined his patient, said, as might be sup­ posed, that she had caught a violent cold, and that they must endeavour to get the better of it; advised her to return to bed, and promised her some draughts.13 The advice was followed readily, for the feverish symptoms increased, and her head ached acutely. Elizabeth did not quit her room for a moment, nor were the other ladies often absent; the gentlemen being out, they had in fact nothing to do elsewhere. When the clock struck three, Elizabeth felt that she must go; and very unwillingly said so. Miss Bingley offered her the carriage, and she only wanted a little pressing to accept it, when Jane testified such concern in parting with her, that Miss Bingley was obliged to convert the offer of the chaise into an invitation to remain at Netherfield for the present. Elizabeth most thankfully consented, and a servant was dispatched to Longbourn to acquaint the family with her stay, and bring back a supply of clothes.

chapter viii

At five o’clock the two ladies retired to dress, and at half past six Elizabeth was summoned to dinner.1 To the civil enquiries which then poured in, and amongst which she had the pleasure of distinguishing the much superior solicitude of Mr. Bingley’s, she could not make a very favourable answer. Jane was by no means better. The sisters, on hearing this, repeated three or four times how much they were grieved, how shocking it was to have a bad cold, and how excessively they disliked being ill themselves; and then thought no more of the matter: and their indifference towards Jane when not immediately before them, restored Elizabeth to the enjoyment of all her original dislike. Their brother, indeed, was the only one of the party whom she could regard with any complacency.2 His anxiety for Jane was evident, and his attentions to herself most pleasing, and they prevented her feeling herself so much an intruder as she believed she was considered by the others. She had very little notice from any but him. Miss Bingley was engrossed by Mr. Darcy, her sister scarcely less so; and as for Mr. Hurst, by whom Elizabeth sat, he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards, who when he found her prefer a plain dish to a ragout,3 had nothing to say to her. When dinner was over, she returned directly to Jane, and Miss Bingley began abusing her as soon as she was out of the room. Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no stile, no taste, no beauty. Mrs. Hurst thought the same, and added, ‘‘She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being


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an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.’’ ‘‘She did indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy!’’4 ‘‘Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it,5 not doing its office.’’ ‘‘Your picture may be very exact, Louisa,’’ said Bingley; ‘‘but this was all lost upon me. I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well, when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice.’’ ‘‘You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure,’’ said Miss Bingley; ‘‘and I am inclined to think that you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition.’’ ‘‘Certainly not.’’ ‘‘To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ancles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! what could she mean by it? It seems to me to shew an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country town indifference to decorum.’’ ‘‘It shews an affection for her sister that is very pleasing,’’ said Bingley. ‘‘I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,’’ observed Miss Bingley, in a half whisper, ‘‘that this adventure has rather affected your admir­ ation of her fine eyes.’’ ‘‘Not at all,’’ he replied; ‘‘they were brightened by the exer­ cise.’’—A short pause followed this speech, and Mrs. Hurst began again. ‘‘I have an excessive regard for Jane Bennet, she is really a very sweet girl, and I wish with all my heart she were well settled. But with such a father and mother, and such low connections, I am afraid there is no chance of it.’’ ‘‘I think I have heard you say, that their uncle is an attorney in Meryton.’’ ‘‘Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside.’’6

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‘‘That is capital,’’ added her sister, and they both laughed heartily. ‘‘If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside,’’ cried Bingley, ‘‘it would not make them one jot less agreeable.’’ ‘‘But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world,’’ replied Darcy. To this speech Bingley made no answer; but his sisters gave it their hearty assent, and indulged their mirth for some time at the expense of their dear friend’s vulgar relations. With a renewal of tenderness, however, they repaired to her room on leaving the dining-parlour, and sat with her till sum­ moned to coffee.7 She was still very poorly, and Elizabeth would not quit her at all, till late in the evening, when she had the com­ fort of seeing her asleep, and when it appeared to her rather right than pleasant that she should go down stairs herself. On enter­ ing the drawing-room she found the whole party at loo,8 and was immediately invited to join them; but suspecting them to be playing high she declined it, and making her sister the excuse, said she would amuse herself for the short time she could stay below with a book. Mr. Hurst looked at her with astonishment. ‘‘Do you prefer reading to cards?’’ said he; ‘‘that is rather singular.’’ ‘‘Miss Eliza Bennet,’’ said Miss Bingley, ‘‘despises cards. She is a great reader and has no pleasure in any thing else.’’ ‘‘I deserve neither such praise nor such censure,’’ cried Eliza­ beth; ‘‘I am not a great reader, and I have pleasure in many things.’’ ‘‘In nursing your sister I am sure you have pleasure,’’ said Bingley; ‘‘and I hope it will soon be increased by seeing her quite well.’’ Elizabeth thanked him from her heart, and then walked towards a table where a few books were lying. He immediately offered to fetch her others; all that his library afforded. ‘‘And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever look into.’’ Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the room.


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‘‘I am astonished,’’ said Miss Bingley, ‘‘that my father should have left so small a collection of books.—What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!’’ ‘‘It ought to be good,’’ he replied, ‘‘it has been the work of many generations.’’ ‘‘And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books.’’ ‘‘I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these.’’ ‘‘Neglect! I am sure you neglect nothing that can add to the beauties of that noble place. Charles, when you build your house, I wish it may be half as delightful as Pemberley.’’ ‘‘I wish it may.’’ ‘‘But I would really advise you to make your purchase in that neighbourhood, and take Pemberley for a kind of model. There is not a finer county in England than Derbyshire.’’ ‘‘With all my heart; I will buy Pemberley itself if Darcy will sell it.’’ ‘‘I am talking of possibilities, Charles.’’ ‘‘Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by purchase than by imitation.’’ Elizabeth was so much caught by what passed, as to leave her very little attention for her book; and soon laying it wholly aside, she drew near the card-table, and stationed herself between Mr. Bingley and his eldest sister, to observe the game. ‘‘Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?’’ said Miss Bingley; ‘‘will she be as tall as I am?’’ ‘‘I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s height, or rather taller.’’ ‘‘How I long to see her again! I never met with anybody who delighted me so much. Such a countenance, such manners!— and so extremely accomplished for her age! Her performance on the piano-forte is exquisite.’’ ‘‘It is amazing to me,’’ said Bingley, ‘‘how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished, as they all are.’’ ‘‘All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?’’ ‘‘Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover skreens

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and net purses.9 I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.’’ ‘‘Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,’’ said Darcy, ‘‘has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse, or covering a skreen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished.’’ ‘‘Nor I, I am sure,’’ said Miss Bingley. ‘‘Then,’’ observed Elizabeth, ‘‘you must comprehend10 a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman.’’ ‘‘Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it.’’ ‘‘Oh! certainly,’’ cried his faithful assistant, ‘‘no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word;11 and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’’ ‘‘All this she must possess,’’ added Darcy, ‘‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.’’ ‘‘I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accom­ plished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.’’ ‘‘Are you so severe upon your own sex, as to doubt the possibility of all this?’’ ‘‘I never saw such a woman, I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe, united.’’ Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley both cried out against the injus­ tice of her implied doubt, and were both protesting that they knew many women who answered this description, when Mr. Hurst called them to order, with bitter complaints of their inattention to what was going forward. As all conversation was thereby at an end, Elizabeth soon afterwards left the room. ‘‘Eliza Bennet,’’ said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed


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on her, ‘‘is one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex, by undervaluing their own; and with many men, I dare say, it succeeds. But, in my opinion, it is a paltry device, a very mean art.’’ ‘‘Undoubtedly,’’ replied Darcy, to whom this remark was chiefly addressed, ‘‘there is meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation. Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable.’’ Miss Bingley was not so entirely satisfied with this reply as to continue the subject. Elizabeth joined them again only to say that her sister was worse, and that she could not leave her. Bingley urged Mr. Jones’s being sent for immediately; while his sisters, convinced that no country advice could be of any service, recommended an express to town for one of the most eminent physicians.12 This, she would not hear of; but she was not so unwilling to comply with their brother’s proposal; and it was settled that Mr. Jones should be sent for early in the morning, if Miss Bennet were not decidedly better. Bingley was quite uncomfortable; his sisters declared that they were miserable. They solaced their wretchedness, however, by duets after supper, while he could find no better relief to his feelings than by giving his housekeeper directions that every possible attention might be paid to the sick lady and her sister.

chapter ix

Elizabeth passed the chief of the night in her sister’s room, and in the morning had the pleasure of being able to send a tolerable answer to the enquiries which she very early received from Mr. Bingley by a house-maid, and some time afterwards from the two elegant ladies who waited on his sisters. In spite of this amendment, however, she requested to have a note sent to Longbourn, desiring her mother to visit Jane, and form her own judgment of her situation. The note was immediately dis­ patched, and its contents as quickly complied with. Mrs. Bennet, accompanied by her two youngest girls, reached Netherfield soon after the family breakfast. Had she found Jane in any apparent danger, Mrs. Bennet would have been very miserable; but being satisfied on seeing her that her illness was not alarming, she had no wish of her recovering immediately, as her restoration to health would probably remove her from Netherfield. She would not listen therefore to her daughter’s proposal of being carried home; neither did the apothecary, who arrived about the same time, think it at all advisable. After sitting a little while with Jane, on Miss Bingley’s appearance and invitation, the mother and three daughters all attended her into the breakfast parlour. Bingley met them with hopes that Mrs. Bennet had not found Miss Bennet worse than she expected. ‘‘Indeed I have, Sir,’’ was her answer. ‘‘She is a great deal too ill to be moved. Mr. Jones says we must not think of moving her. We must trespass a little longer on your kindness.’’ ‘‘Removed!’’ cried Bingley. ‘‘It must not be thought of. My sister, I am sure, will not hear of her removal.’’


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‘‘You may depend upon it, Madam,’’ said Miss Bingley, with cold civility, ‘‘that Miss Bennet shall receive every possible attention while she remains with us.’’ Mrs. Bennet was profuse in her acknowledgments. ‘‘I am sure,’’ she added, ‘‘if it was not for such good friends I do not know what would become of her, for she is very ill indeed, and suffers a vast deal, though with the greatest patience in the world, which is always the way with her, for she has, without exception, the sweetest temper I ever met with. I often tell my other girls they are nothing to her. You have a sweet room here, Mr. Bingley, and a charming prospect over that gravel walk. I do not know a place in the country that is equal to Netherfield. You will not think of quitting it in a hurry I hope, though you have but a short lease.’’ ‘‘Whatever I do is done in a hurry,’’ replied he; ‘‘and therefore if I should resolve to quit Netherfield, I should probably be off in five minutes. At present, however, I consider myself as quite fixed here.’’ ‘‘That is exactly what I should have supposed of you,’’ said Elizabeth. ‘‘You begin to comprehend me, do you?’’ cried he, turning towards her. ‘‘Oh! yes—I understand you perfectly.’’ ‘‘I wish I might take this for a compliment; but to be so easily seen through I am afraid is pitiful.’’ ‘‘That is as it happens. It does not necessarily follow that a deep, intricate character is more or less estimable than such a one as yours.’’ ‘‘Lizzy,’’ cried her mother, ‘‘remember where you are, and do not run on in the wild manner that you are suffered to do at home.’’ ‘‘I did not know before,’’ continued Bingley immediately, ‘‘that you were a studier of character. It must be an amusing study.’’ ‘‘Yes; but intricate characters are the most amusing. They have at least that advantage.’’ ‘‘The country,’’ said Darcy, ‘‘can in general supply but few subjects for such a study. In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society.’’

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‘‘But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.’’ ‘‘Yes, indeed,’’ cried Mrs. Bennet, offended by his manner of mentioning a country neighbourhood. ‘‘I assure you there is quite as much of that going on in the country as in town.’’ Every body was surprised; and Darcy, after looking at her for a moment, turned silently away. Mrs. Bennet, who fancied she had gained a complete victory over him, continued her triumph. ‘‘I cannot see that London has any great advantage over the country for my part, except the shops and public places. The country is a vast deal pleasanter, is not it, Mr. Bingley?’’ ‘‘When I am in the country,’’ he replied, ‘‘I never wish to leave it; and when I am in town it is pretty much the same. They have each their advantages, and I can be equally happy in either.’’ ‘‘Aye—that is because you have the right disposition. But that gentleman,’’ looking at Darcy, ‘‘seemed to think the country was nothing at all.’’ ‘‘Indeed, Mama, you are mistaken,’’ said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother. ‘‘You quite mistook Mr. Darcy. He only meant that there were not such a variety of people to be met with in the country as in town, which you must acknowledge to be true.’’ ‘‘Certainly, my dear, nobody said there were; but as to not meeting with many people in this neighbourhood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger. I know we dine with four and twenty families.’’ Nothing but concern for Elizabeth could enable Bingley to keep his countenance. His sister was less delicate, and directed her eye towards Mr. Darcy with a very expressive smile. Eliza­ beth, for the sake of saying something that might turn her mother’s thoughts, now asked her if Charlotte Lucas had been at Longbourn since her coming away. ‘‘Yes, she called yesterday with her father. What an agreeable man Sir William is, Mr. Bingley—is not he? so much the man of fashion! so genteel and so easy!—He has always something to say to every body.—That is my idea of good breeding; and those persons who fancy themselves very important and never open their mouths, quite mistake the matter.’’


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‘‘Did Charlotte dine with you?’’ ‘‘No, she would go home. I fancy she was wanted about the mince pies. For my part, Mr. Bingley, I always keep servants that can do their own work; my daughters are brought up differently.1 But every body is to judge for themselves, and the Lucases are very good sort of girls, I assure you. It is a pity they are not handsome! Not that I think Charlotte so very plain— but then she is our particular friend.’’ ‘‘She seems a very pleasant young woman,’’ said Bingley. ‘‘Oh! dear, yes;—but you must own she is very plain. Lady Lucas herself has often said so, and envied me Jane’s beauty. I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure, Jane—one does not often see any body better looking. It is what every body says. I do not trust my own partiality. When she was only fifteen, there was a gentleman at my brother Gardiner’s in town, so much in love with her, that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But however he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were.’’ ‘‘And so ended his affection,’’ said Elizabeth impatiently. ‘‘There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!’’ ‘‘I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,’’ said Darcy.2 ‘‘Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Every thing nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.’’ Darcy only smiled; and the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble lest her mother should be exposing herself again. She longed to speak, but could think of nothing to say; and after a short silence Mrs. Bennet began repeating her thanks to Mr. Bingley for his kindness to Jane, with an apology for troubling him also with Lizzy. Mr. Bingley was unaffectedly civil in his answer, and forced his younger sister to be civil also, and say what the occasion required. She performed her part indeed without much graciousness, but Mrs. Bennet was satis­

c ha pt er 9


fied, and soon afterwards ordered her carriage. Upon this signal, the youngest of her daughters put herself forward. The two girls had been whispering to each other during the whole visit, and the result of it was, that the youngest should tax Mr. Bingley with having promised on his first coming into the country to give a ball at Netherfield. Lydia was a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and good-humoured countenance; a favourite with her mother, whose affection had brought her into public at an early age. She had high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence, which the attentions of the officers, to whom her uncle’s good dinners and her own easy manners recom­ mended her, had increased into assurance. She was very equal therefore to address Mr. Bingley on the subject of the ball, and abruptly reminded him of his promise; adding, that it would be the most shameful thing in the world if he did not keep it. His answer to this sudden attack was delightful to their mother’s ear. ‘‘I am perfectly ready, I assure you, to keep my engagement; and when your sister is recovered, you shall if you please name the very day of the ball. But you would not wish to be dancing while she is ill.’’ Lydia declared herself satisfied. ‘‘Oh! yes—it would be much better to wait till Jane was well, and by that time most likely Captain Carter would be at Meryton again. And when you have given your ball,’’ she added, ‘‘I shall insist on their giving one also. I shall tell Colonel Forster it will be quite a shame if he does not.’’ Mrs. Bennet and her daughters then departed, and Elizabeth returned instantly to Jane, leaving her own and her relations’ behaviour to the remarks of the two ladies and Mr. Darcy; the latter of whom, however, could not be prevailed on to join in their censure of her, in spite of all Miss Bingley’s witticisms on fine eyes.

chapter x

The day passed much as the day before had done. Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley had spent some hours of the morning with the invalid, who continued, though slowly, to mend; and in the evening Elizabeth joined their party in the drawing-room. The loo table, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing, and Miss Bingley, seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter, and repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet,1 and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game. Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the lady either on his hand-writing, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each. ‘‘How delighted Miss Darcy will be to receive such a letter!’’ He made no answer. ‘‘You write uncommonly fast.’’ ‘‘You are mistaken. I write rather slowly.’’ ‘‘How many letters you must have occasion to write in the course of the year! Letters of business too! How odious I should think them!’’ ‘‘It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of to yours.’’ ‘‘Pray tell your sister that I long to see her.’’ ‘‘I have already told her so once, by your desire.’’ ‘‘I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well.’’

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‘‘Thank you—but I always mend my own.’’ ‘‘How can you contrive to write so even?’’ He was silent. ‘‘Tell your sister I am delighted to hear of her improvement on the harp, and pray let her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley’s.’’ ‘‘Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again?—At present I have not room to do them justice.’’ ‘‘Oh! it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January. But do you always write such charming long letters to her, Mr. Darcy?’’ ‘‘They are generally long; but whether always charming, it is not for me to determine.’’ ‘‘It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter, with ease, cannot write ill.’’ ‘‘That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline,’’ cried her brother—‘‘because he does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables.—Do not you, Darcy?’’ ‘‘My stile of writing is very different from yours.’’ ‘‘Oh!’’ cried Miss Bingley, ‘‘Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest.’’ ‘‘My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them—by which means my letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents.’’ ‘‘Your humility, Mr. Bingley,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘must disarm reproof.’’ ‘‘Nothing is more deceitful,’’ said Darcy, ‘‘than the appear­ ance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.’’ ‘‘And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty?’’ ‘‘The indirect boast;—for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing any thing with quickness is always much prized by the


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possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance. When you told Mrs. Bennet this morning that if you ever resolved on quitting Netherfield you should be gone in five minutes, you meant it to be a sort of panegyric, of compliment to yourself—and yet what is there so very laudable in a precipitance which must leave very necessary business undone, and can be of no real advantage to yourself or any one else?’’ ‘‘Nay,’’ cried Bingley, ‘‘this is too much, to remember at night all the foolish things that were said in the morning. And yet, upon my honour, I believed what I said of myself to be true, and I believe it at this moment. At least, therefore, I did not assume the character of needless precipitance merely to shew off before the ladies.’’ ‘‘I dare say you believed it; but I am by no means convinced that you would be gone with such celerity. Your conduct would be quite as dependant on chance as that of any man I know; and if, as you were mounting your horse, a friend were to say, ‘Bingley, you had better stay till next week,’ you would probably do it, you would probably not go—and, at another word, might stay a month.’’ ‘‘You have only proved by this,’’ cried Elizabeth, ‘‘that Mr. Bingley did not do justice to his own disposition. You have shewn him off now much more than he did himself.’’ ‘‘I am exceedingly gratified,’’ said Bingley, ‘‘by your con­ verting what my friend says into a compliment on the sweetness of my temper. But I am afraid you are giving it a turn which that gentleman did by no means intend; for he would certainly think the better of me, if under such a circumstance I were to give a flat denial, and ride off as fast as I could.’’ ‘‘Would Mr. Darcy then consider the rashness of your original intention as atoned for by your obstinacy in adhering to it?’’ ‘‘Upon my word I cannot exactly explain the matter, Darcy must speak for himself.’’ ‘‘You expect me to account for opinions which you chuse to call mine, but which I have never acknowledged. Allowing the case, however, to stand according to your representation, you must remember, Miss Bennet, that the friend who is supposed

c ha pt er 10


to desire his return to the house, and the delay of his plan, has merely desired it, asked it without offering one argument in favour of its propriety.’’ ‘‘To yield readily—easily—to the persuasion of a friend is no merit with you.’’ ‘‘To yield without conviction is no compliment to the under­ standing of either.’’ ‘‘You appear to me, Mr. Darcy, to allow nothing for the influence of friendship and affection. A regard for the requester would often make one readily yield to a request, without waiting for arguments to reason one into it. I am not particularly speak­ ing of such a case as you have supposed about Mr. Bingley. We may as well wait, perhaps, till the circumstance occurs, before we discuss the discretion of his behaviour thereupon. But in general and ordinary cases between friend and friend, where one of them is desired by the other to change a resolution of no very great moment, should you think ill of that person for complying with the desire, without waiting to be argued into it?’’ ‘‘Will it not be advisable, before we proceed on this subject, to arrange with rather more precision the degree of importance which is to appertain to this request, as well as the degree of intimacy subsisting between the parties?’’ ‘‘By all means,’’ cried Bingley; ‘‘let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their comparative height and size; for that will have more weight in the argument, Miss Bennet, than you may be aware of. I assure you that if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference. I declare I do not know a more aweful object than Darcy, on particular occasions, and in particular places; at his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening when he has nothing to do.’’ Mr. Darcy smiled; but Elizabeth thought she could perceive that he was rather offended; and therefore checked her laugh. Miss Bingley warmly resented the indignity he had received, in an expostulation with her brother for talking such nonsense. ‘‘I see your design, Bingley,’’ said his friend.—‘‘You dislike an argument, and want to silence this.’’


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‘‘Perhaps I do. Arguments are too much like disputes. If you and Miss Bennet will defer yours till I am out of the room, I shall be very thankful; and then you may say whatever you like of me.’’ ‘‘What you ask,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘is no sacrifice on my side; and Mr. Darcy had much better finish his letter.’’ Mr. Darcy took her advice, and did finish his letter. When that business was over, he applied to Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for the indulgence of some music. Miss Bingley moved with alacrity to the piano-forte, and after a polite request that Elizabeth would lead the way, which the other as politely and more earnestly negatived, she seated herself. Mrs. Hurst sang with her sister, and while they were thus employed Elizabeth could not help observing as she turned over some music books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man; and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her, was still more strange. She could only imagine however at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present. The supposition did not pain her. She liked him too little to care for his approbation. After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch air; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her— ‘‘Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?’’2 She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence. ‘‘Oh!’’ said she, ‘‘I heard you before; but I could not immedi­ ately determine what to say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say ‘Yes,’ that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste, but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have therefore made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all—and now despise me if you dare.’’ ‘‘Indeed I do not dare.’’

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Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger. Miss Bingley saw, or suspected enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the recovery of her dear friend Jane, received some assistance from her desire of getting rid of Elizabeth. She often tried to provoke Darcy into disliking her guest, by talking of their supposed marriage, and planning his happiness in such an alliance. ‘‘I hope,’’ said she, as they were walking together in the shrubbery the next day, ‘‘you will give your mother-in-law a few hints, when this desirable event takes place, as to the advan­ tage of holding her tongue; and if you can compass it, do cure the younger girls of running after the officers.—And, if I may mention so delicate a subject, endeavour to check that little something, bordering on conceit and impertinence, which your lady possesses.’’ ‘‘Have you any thing else to propose for my domestic felicity?’’ ‘‘Oh! yes.—Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Philips be placed in the gallery at Pemberley. Put them next to your great uncle the judge. They are in the same profession, you know; only in different lines. As for your Elizabeth’s picture, you must not attempt to have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?’’ ‘‘It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression, but their colour and shape, and the eye-lashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied.’’ At that moment they were met from another walk, by Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth herself. ‘‘I did not know that you intended to walk,’’ said Miss Bingley, in some confusion, lest they had been overheard. ‘‘You used us abominably ill,’’ answered Mrs. Hurst, ‘‘in running away without telling us that you were coming out.’’


v ol um e i ch ap te r x

Then taking the disengaged arm of Mr. Darcy, she left Eliza­ beth to walk by herself. The path just admitted three. Mr. Darcy felt their rudeness and immediately said,— ‘‘This walk is not wide enough for our party. We had better go into the avenue.’’ But Elizabeth who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly answered, ‘‘No, no; stay where you are.—You are charmingly group’d, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt3 by admitting a fourth. Good bye.’’ She then ran gaily off, rejoicing as she rambled about, in the hope of being at home again in a day or two. Jane was already so much recovered as to intend leaving her room for a couple of hours that evening.

chapter xi

When the ladies removed after dinner, Elizabeth ran up to her sister, and seeing her well guarded from cold, attended her into the drawing-room; where she was welcomed by her two friends with many professions of pleasure; and Elizabeth had never seen them so agreeable as they were during the hour which passed before the gentlemen appeared. Their powers of conversation were considerable. They could describe an entertainment with accuracy, relate an anecdote with humour, and laugh at their acquaintance with spirit. But when the gentlemen entered, Jane was no longer the first object. Miss Bingley’s eyes were instantly turned towards Darcy, and she had something to say to him before he had advanced many steps. He addressed himself directly to Miss Bennet, with a polite congratulation; Mr. Hurst also made her a slight bow, and said he was ‘‘very glad;’’ but diffuseness and warmth remained for Bingley’s salutation. He was full of joy and atten­ tion. The first half hour was spent in piling up the fire, lest she should suffer from the change of room; and she removed at his desire to the other side of the fire-place, that she might be farther from the door. He then sat down by her, and talked scarcely to any one else. Elizabeth, at work in the opposite corner, saw it all with great delight. When tea was over, Mr. Hurst reminded his sister-in-law of the card-table—but in vain. She had obtained private intelli­ gence that Mr. Darcy did not wish for cards; and Mr. Hurst soon found even his open petition rejected. She assured him that no one intended to play, and the silence of the whole party on the subject, seemed to justify her. Mr. Hurst had therefore


v ol um e i ch ap te r xi

nothing to do, but to stretch himself on one of the sophas and go to sleep. Darcy took up a book; Miss Bingley did the same; and Mrs. Hurst, principally occupied in playing with her brace­ lets and rings, joined now and then in her brother’s conversation with Miss Bennet. Miss Bingley’s attention was quite as much engaged in watch­ ing Mr. Darcy’s progress through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page. She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her question, and read on. At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, ‘‘How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!—When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.’’ No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement; when hearing her brother mentioning a ball to Miss Bennet, she turned suddenly towards him and said, ‘‘By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield?—I would advise you, before you deter­ mine on it, to consult the wishes of the present party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be rather a punishment than a pleasure.’’ ‘‘If you mean Darcy,’’ cried her brother, ‘‘he may go to bed, if he chuses, before it begins—but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup1 enough I shall send round my cards.’’ ‘‘I should like balls infinitely better,’’ she replied, ‘‘if they were carried on in a different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process of such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day.’’ ‘‘Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball.’’ Miss Bingley made no answer, and soon afterwards got up

c ha pt er 11


and walked about the room. Her figure was elegant, and she walked well;—but Darcy, at whom it was all aimed, was still inflexibly studious. In the desperation of her feelings she resolved on one effort more; and, turning to Elizabeth, said, ‘‘Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room.—I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude.’’ Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real object of her civility; Mr. Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book. He was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing, that he could imagine but two motives for their chusing to walk up and down the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. ‘‘What could he mean? she was dying to know what could be his meaning’’—and asked Elizabeth whether she could at all understand him? ‘‘Not at all,’’ was her answer, ‘‘but depend upon it, he means to be severe on us, and our surest way of disappointing him, will be to ask nothing about it.’’ Miss Bingley, however, was incapable of disappointing Mr. Darcy in any thing, and persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives. ‘‘I have not the smallest objection to explaining them,’’ said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. ‘‘You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other’s confidence and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking;—if the first, I should be completely in your way;— and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.’’ ‘‘Oh! shocking!’’ cried Miss Bingley. ‘‘I never heard any thing so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech?’’ ‘‘Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination,’’ said Eliza­ beth. ‘‘We can all plague and punish one another. Teaze him— laugh at him.—Intimate as you are, you must know how it is to be done.’’


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‘‘But upon my honour I do not. I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet taught me that. Teaze calmness of temper and presence of mind! No, no—I feel he may defy us there. And as to laughter, we will not expose ourselves, if you please, by attempting to laugh without a subject. Mr. Darcy may hug himself.’’ ‘‘Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at!’’ cried Elizabeth. ‘‘That is an uncommon advantage, and uncommon I hope it will continue, for it would be a great loss to me to have many such acquaintance. I dearly love a laugh.’’ ‘‘Miss Bingley,’’ said he, ‘‘has given me credit for more than can be. The wisest and the best of men, nay, the wisest and best of their actions, may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke.’’ ‘‘Certainly,’’ replied Elizabeth—‘‘there are such people, but I hope I am not one of them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.—But these, I suppose, are precisely what you are without.’’ ‘‘Perhaps that is not possible for any one. But it has been the study of my life to avoid those weaknesses which often expose a strong understanding to ridicule.’’ ‘‘Such as vanity and pride.’’ ‘‘Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride—where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation.’’ Elizabeth turned away to hide a smile. ‘‘Your examination of Mr. Darcy is over, I presume,’’ said Miss Bingley;—‘‘and pray what is the result?’’ ‘‘I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise.’’ ‘‘No’’—said Darcy, ‘‘I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for.—It is I believe too little yielding— certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps

c ha pt er 11


be called resentful.—My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.’’ ‘‘That is a failing indeed!’’—cried Elizabeth. ‘‘Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But you have chosen your fault well.—I really cannot laugh at it. You are safe from me.’’ ‘‘There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best edu­ cation can overcome.’’ ‘‘And your defect is a propensity to hate every body.’’ ‘‘And yours,’’ he replied with a smile, ‘‘is wilfully to misunder­ stand them.’’ ‘‘Do let us have a little music,’’—cried Miss Bingley, tired of a conversation in which she had no share.—‘‘Louisa, you will not mind my waking Mr. Hurst.’’ Her sister made not the smallest objection, and the piano forte was opened, and Darcy, after a few moments recollection, was not sorry for it. He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention.

chapter xii

In consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth wrote the next morning to her mother, to beg that the carriage might be sent for them in the course of the day. But Mrs. Bennet, who had calculated on her daughters remaining at Netherfield till the following Tuesday, which would exactly finish Jane’s week, could not bring herself to receive them with pleasure before. Her answer, therefore, was not propitious, at least not to Elizabeth’s wishes, for she was impatient to get home. Mrs. Bennet sent them word that they could not possibly have the carriage before Tuesday; and in her postscript it was added, that if Mr. Bingley and his sister pressed them to stay longer, she could spare them very well.—Against staying longer, however, Elizabeth was positively resolved—nor did she much expect it would be asked; and fearful, on the contrary, as being considered as intruding themselves needlessly long, she urged Jane to borrow Mr. Bingley’s carriage immediately, and at length it was settled that their original design of leaving Netherfield that morning should be mentioned, and the request made. The communication excited many professions of concern; and enough was said of wishing them to stay at least till the following day to work on Jane; and till the morrow, their going was deferred. Miss Bingley was then sorry that she had proposed the delay, for her jealousy and dislike of one sister much exceeded her affection for the other. The master of the house heard with real sorrow that they were to go so soon, and repeatedly tried to persuade Miss Bennet that it would not be safe for her—that she was not enough recovered; but Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right.

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To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence—Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked—and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teazing than usual to himself. He wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it. Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half an hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her. On Sunday, after morning service, the separation, so agree­ able to almost all, took place. Miss Bingley’s civility to Elizabeth increased at last very rapidly, as well as her affection for Jane; and when they parted, after assuring the latter of the pleasure it would always give her to see her either at Longbourn or Netherfield, and embracing her most tenderly, she even shook hands with the former.—Elizabeth took leave of the whole party in the liveliest spirits. They were not welcomed home very cordially by their mother. Mrs. Bennet wondered at their coming, and thought them very wrong to give so much trouble, and was sure Jane would have caught cold again.—But their father, though very laconic in his expressions of pleasure, was really glad to see them; he had felt their importance in the family circle. The evening conversation, when they were all assembled, had lost much of its animation, and almost all its sense, by the absence of Jane and Elizabeth. They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough bass1 and human nature; and had some new extracts to admire, and some new observations of thread-bare morality to listen to. Catherine and Lydia had information for them of a different sort. Much had been done, and much had been said in the regiment since the preceding Wednesday; several of the officers had dined lately with their uncle, a private had been flogged, and it had actually been hinted that Colonel Forster was going to be married.

chapter xiii

‘‘I hope, my dear,’’ said Mr. Bennet to his wife, as they were at breakfast the next morning, ‘‘that you have ordered a good dinner to-day, because I have reason to expect an addition to our family party.’’ ‘‘Who do you mean, my dear? I know of nobody that is coming I am sure, unless Charlotte Lucas should happen to call in, and I hope my dinners are good enough for her. I do not believe she often sees such at home.’’ ‘‘The person of whom I speak, is a gentleman and a stranger.’’ Mrs. Bennet’s eyes sparkled.—‘‘A gentleman and a stranger! It is Mr. Bingley I am sure. Why Jane—you never dropt a word of this; you sly thing! Well, I am sure I shall be extremely glad to see Mr. Bingley.—But—good lord! how unlucky! there is not a bit of fish to be got to-day. Lydia, my love, ring the bell. I must speak to Hill, this moment.’’ ‘‘It is not Mr. Bingley,’’ said her husband; ‘‘it is a person whom I never saw in the whole course of my life.’’ This roused a general astonishment; and he had the pleasure of being eagerly questioned by his wife and five daughters at once. After amusing himself some time with their curiosity, he thus explained. ‘‘About a month ago I received this letter, and about a fortnight ago I answered it, for I thought it a case of some delicacy, and requiring early attention. It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of this house as soon as he pleases.’’ ‘‘Oh! my dear,’’ cried his wife, ‘‘I cannot bear to hear that mentioned. Pray do not talk of that odious man. I do think it is

c ha pt er 13


the hardest thing in the world, that your estate should be entailed away from your own children;1 and I am sure if I had been you, I should have tried long ago to do something or other about it.’’ Jane and Elizabeth attempted to explain to her the nature of an entail. They had often attempted it before, but it was a subject on which Mrs. Bennet was beyond the reach of reason; and she continued to rail bitterly against the cruelty of settling an estate away from a family of five daughters, in favour of a man whom nobody cared anything about. ‘‘It certainly is a most iniquitous affair,’’ said Mr. Bennet, ‘‘and nothing can clear Mr. Collins from the guilt of inheriting Longbourn. But if you will listen to his letter, you may perhaps be a little softened by his manner of expressing himself.’’ ‘‘No, that I am sure I shall not; and I think it was very impertinent of him to write to you at all, and very hypocritical. I hate such false friends. Why could not he keep on quarrelling with you, as his father did before him?’’ ‘‘Why, indeed, he does seem to have had some filial scruples on that head, as you will hear.’’ Hunsford, near Westerham, Kent, 15th October. DEAR SIR, THE disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honoured father, always gave me much uneasiness, and since I have had the misfortune to lose him, I have frequently wished to heal the breach but for some time I was kept back by my own doubts, fearing lest it might seem disrespectful to his memory for me to be on good terms with any one, with whom it had always pleased him to be at variance.— ‘‘There, Mrs. Bennet.’’—My mind however is now made up on the subject, for having received ordination at Easter, I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, whose bounty and beneficence has preferred2 me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be my earnest endeavour to demean3 myself with grateful respect towards her Ladyship, and be ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies which are instituted by the Church of England. As a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to


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promote and establish the blessing of peace in all families within the reach of my influence; and on these grounds I flatter myself that my present overtures of good-will are highly commendable, and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail of Longbourn estate, will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you to reject the offered olive branch. I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters, and beg leave to apolo­ gise for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends,—but of this hereafter. If you should have no objection to receive me into your house, I propose myself the satisfac­ tion of waiting on you and your family, Monday, November 18th, by four o’clock, and shall probably trespass on your hospitality till the Saturday se’night4 following, which I can do without any incon­ venience, as Lady Catherine is far from objecting to my occasional absence on a Sunday, provided that some other clergyman is engaged to do the duty of the day. I remain, dear sir, with respectful compliments to your lady and daughters, your well-wisher and friend, WILLIAM COLLINS.

‘‘At four o’clock, therefore, we may expect this peace-making gentleman,’’ said Mr. Bennet, as he folded up the letter. ‘‘He seems to be a most conscientious and polite young man, upon my word; and I doubt not will prove a valuable acquaintance, especially if Lady Catherine should be so indulgent as to let him come to us again.’’ ‘‘There is some sense in what he says about the girls however; and if he is disposed to make them any amends, I shall not be the person to discourage him.’’ ‘‘Though it is difficult,’’ said Jane, ‘‘to guess in what way he can mean to make us the atonement he thinks our due, the wish is certainly to his credit.’’ Elizabeth was chiefly struck with his extraordinary defer­ ence for Lady Catherine, and his kind intention of christen­ ing, marrying, and burying his parishioners whenever it were required. ‘‘He must be an oddity, I think,’’ said she. ‘‘I cannot make him out.—There is something very pompous in his stile.—And what can he mean by apologizing for being next in the entail?—

c ha pt er 13


We cannot suppose he would help it, if he could.—Can he be a sensible man, sir?’’ ‘‘No, my dear; I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the reverse. There is a mixture of servility and selfimportance in his letter, which promises well. I am impatient to see him.’’ ‘‘In point of composition,’’ said Mary, ‘‘his letter does not seem defective. The idea of the olive branch perhaps is not wholly new, yet I think it is well expressed.’’ To Catherine and Lydia, neither the letter nor its writer were in any degree interesting. It was next to impossible that their cousin should come in a scarlet coat, and it was now some weeks since they had received pleasure from the society of a man in any other colour. As for their mother, Mr. Collins’s letter had done away much of her ill-will, and she was preparing to see him with a degree of composure, which astonished her husband and daughters. Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the whole family. Mr. Bennet indeed said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk, and Mr. Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent himself. He was a tall, heavy looking young man of five and twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal. He had not been long seated before he compli­ mented Mrs. Bennet on having so fine a family of daughters, said he had heard much of their beauty, but that, in this instance, fame had fallen short of the truth; and added, that he did not doubt her seeing them all in due time well disposed of in mar­ riage. This gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his hearers, but Mrs. Bennet, who quarrelled with no compliments, answered most readily, ‘‘You are very kind, sir, I am sure; and I wish with all my heart it may prove so; for else they will be destitute enough. Things are settled so oddly.’’ ‘‘You allude perhaps to the entail of this estate.’’ ‘‘Ah! sir, I do indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls, you must confess. Not that I mean to find fault with you, for such things I know are all chance in this world. There is no


v ol um e i ch ap te r xiii

knowing how estates will go when once they come to be entailed.’’ ‘‘I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins,—and could say much on the subject, but that I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate. But I can assure the young ladies that I come prepared to admire them. At present I will not say more, but perhaps when we are better acquainted —’’ He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins’s admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture were examined and praised; and his commendation of every thing would have touched Mrs. Bennet’s heart, but for the mortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property. The dinner too in its turn was highly admired; and he begged to know to which of his fair cousins, the excellence of its cookery was owing. But here he was set right by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen. He begged pardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she declared herself not at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of an hour.

chapter xiv

During dinner, Mr. Bennet scarcely spoke at all; but when the servants were withdrawn, he thought it time to have some conversation with his guest, and therefore started a subject in which he expected him to shine, by observing that he seemed very fortunate in his patroness. Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s attention to his wishes, and consideration for his comfort, appeared very remarkable. Mr. Bennet could not have chosen better. Mr. Collins was eloquent in her praise. The subject elevated him to more than usual solemnity of manner, and with a most important aspect1 he protested that he had never in his life witnessed such behaviour in a person of rank—such affability and condescension, as he had himself experienced from Lady Catherine. She had been graciously pleased to approve of both the discourses, which he had already had the honour of preaching before her. She had also asked him twice to dine at Rosings, and had sent for him only the Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille2 in the evening. Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people he knew, but he had never seen any thing but affability in her. She had always spoken to him as she would to any other gentleman; she made not the smallest objection to his joining in the society of the neighbourhood, nor to his leaving his parish occasionally for a week or two, to visit his relations. She had even condescended to advise him to marry as soon as he could, provided he chose with discretion; and had once paid him a visit in his humble parsonage, where she had perfectly approved all the alterations he had been making, and had even vouchsafed to suggest some herself,—some shelves in the closets up stairs.


v ol um e i ch ap te r xiv

‘‘That is all very proper and civil, I am sure,’’ said Mrs. Bennet, ‘‘and I dare say she is a very agreeable woman. It is a pity that great ladies in general are not more like her. Does she live near you, sir?’’ ‘‘The garden in which stands my humble abode, is separated only by a lane from Rosings Park, her ladyship’s residence.’’ ‘‘I think you said she was a widow, sir? has she any family?’’ ‘‘She has one only daughter, the heiress of Rosings, and of very extensive property.’’ ‘‘Ah!’’ cried Mrs. Bennet, shaking her head, ‘‘then she is better off than many girls. And what sort of young lady is she? is she handsome?’’ ‘‘She is a most charming young lady indeed. Lady Catherine herself says that in point of true beauty, Miss De Bourgh is far superior to the handsomest of her sex; because there is that in her features which marks the young woman of distinguished birth. She is unfortunately of a sickly constitution, which has prevented her making that progress in many accomplishments, which she could not otherwise have failed of; as I am informed by the lady who superintended her education, and who still resides with them. But she is perfectly amiable, and often conde­ scends to drive by my humble abode in her little phaeton3 and ponies.’’ ‘‘Has she been presented?4 I do not remember her name among the ladies at court.’’ ‘‘Her indifferent state of health unhappily prevents her being in town; and by that means, as I told Lady Catherine myself one day, has deprived the British court of its brightest ornament. Her ladyship seemed pleased with the idea, and you may imagine that I am happy on every occasion to offer those little delicate compliments which are always acceptable to ladies. I have more than once observed to Lady Catherine, that her charming daugh­ ter seemed born to be a duchess, and that the most elevated rank, instead of giving her consequence, would be adorned by her.—These are the kind of little things which please her lady­ ship, and it is a sort of attention which I conceive myself pecu­ liarly bound to pay.’’ ‘‘You judge very properly,’’ said Mr. Bennet, ‘‘and it is happy

c ha pt er 14


for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?’’ ‘‘They arise chiefly from what is passing at the time, and though I sometimes amuse myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible.’’ Mr. Bennet’s expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance, and except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure. By tea-time however the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but on beholding it, (for every thing announced it to be from a circulating library,) he started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels.—Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed.—Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce’s Sermons.5 Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with, ‘‘Do you know, mama, that my uncle Philips talks of turning away Richard, and if he does, Colonel Forster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday. I shall walk to Meryton to-morrow to hear more about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny comes back from town.’’ Lydia was bid by her two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much offended, laid aside his book, and said, ‘‘I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess;—for certainly, there can be nothing so advantageous to them as instruction. But I will no longer importune my young cousin.’’ Then turning to Mr. Bennet, he offered himself as his antag­ onist at backgammon. Mr. Bennet accepted the challenge,


v ol um e i ch ap te r xiv

observing that he acted very wisely in leaving the girls to their own trifling amusements. Mrs. Bennet and her daughters apolo­ gised most civilly for Lydia’s interruption, and promised that it should not occur again, if he would resume his book; but Mr. Collins, after assuring them that he bore his young cousin no ill will, and should never resent her behaviour as any affront, seated himself at another table with Mr. Bennet, and prepared for backgammon.

chapter xv

Mr. Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society; the greatest part of his life having been spent under the guidance of an illiterate and miserly father; and though he belonged to one of the universities, he had merely kept the necessary terms,1 with­ out forming at it any useful acquaintance. The subjection in which his father had brought him up, had given him originally great humility of manner, but it was now a good deal counter­ acted by the self-conceit of a weak head, living in retirement, and the consequential feelings of early and unexpected prosperity. A fortunate chance had recommended him to Lady Catherine de Bourgh when the living2 of Hunsford was vacant; and the respect which he felt for her high rank, and his veneration for her as his patroness, mingling with a very good opinion of himself, of his authority as a clergyman, and his rights as a rector, made him altogether a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, selfimportance and humility. Having now a good house and very sufficient income, he intended to marry; and in seeking a reconciliation with the Longbourn family he had a wife in view, as he meant to chuse one of the daughters, if he found them as handsome and amiable as they were represented by common report. This was his plan of amends—of atonement—for inheriting their father’s estate; and he thought it an excellent one, full of eligibility and suit­ ableness, and excessively generous and disinterested on his own part. His plan did not vary on seeing them.—Miss Bennet’s lovely face confirmed his views, and established all his strictest notions


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of what was due to seniority; and for the first evening she was his settled choice. The next morning, however, made an alteration; for in a quarter of an hour’s teˆte-a`-teˆte with Mrs. Bennet before breakfast, a conversation beginning with his par­ sonage-house, and leading naturally to the avowal of his hopes, that a mistress for it might be found at Longbourn, produced from her, amid very complaisant smiles and general encourage­ ment, a caution against the very Jane he had fixed on.—‘‘As to her younger daughters she could not take upon her to say—she could not positively answer—but she did not know of any prepossession;—her eldest daughter, she must just mention— she felt it incumbent on her to hint, was likely to be very soon engaged.’’ Mr. Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth—and it was soon done—done while Mrs. Bennet was stirring the fire. Elizabeth, equally next to Jane in birth and beauty, succeeded her of course. Mrs. Bennet treasured up the hint, and trusted that she might soon have two daughters married; and the man whom she could not bear to speak of the day before, was now high in her good graces. Lydia’s intention of walking to Meryton was not forgotten; every sister except Mary agreed to go with her; and Mr. Collins was to attend them, at the request of Mr. Bennet, who was most anxious to get rid of him, and have his library to himself; for thither Mr. Collins had followed him after breakfast, and there he would continue, nominally engaged with one of the largest folios in the collection,3 but really talking to Mr. Bennet, with little cessation, of his house and garden at Hunsford. Such doings discomposed Mr. Bennet exceedingly. In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity; and though prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other room in the house, he was used to be free from them there; his civility, therefore, was most prompt in inviting Mr. Collins to join his daughters in their walk; and Mr. Collins, being in fact much better fitted for a walker than a reader, was extremely well pleased to close his large book, and go. In pompous nothings on his side, and civil assents on that of

c ha pt er 15


his cousins, their time passed till they entered Meryton. The attention of the younger ones was then no longer to be gained by him. Their eyes were immediately wandering up in the street in quest of the officers, and nothing less than a very smart bonnet indeed, or a really new muslin4 in a shop window, could recal them. But the attention of every lady was soon caught by a young man, whom they had never seen before, of most gentlemanlike appearance, walking with an officer on the other side of the way. The officer was the very Mr. Denny, concerning whose return from London Lydia came to inquire, and he bowed as they passed. All were struck with the stranger’s air, all wondered who he could be, and Kitty and Lydia, determined if possible to find out, led the way across the street, under pretence of wanting something in an opposite shop, and fortunately had just gained the pavement when the two gentlemen turning back had reached the same spot. Mr. Denny addressed them directly, and en­ treated permission to introduce his friend, Mr. Wickham, who had returned with him the day before from town, and he was happy to say had accepted a commission5 in their corps. This was exactly as it should be; for the young man wanted only regimentals to make him completely charming. His appearance was greatly in his favour; he had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address. The introduction was followed up on his side by a happy readiness of conversation—a readiness at the same time perfectly correct and unassuming; and the whole party were still standing and talking together very agreeably, when the sound of horses drew their notice, and Darcy and Bingley were seen riding down the street. On distinguishing the ladies of the group, the two gentlemen came directly towards them, and began the usual civilities. Bingley was the principal spokesman, and Miss Bennet the principal object. He was then, he said, on his way to Long­ bourn on purpose to inquire after her. Mr. Darcy corroborated it with a bow, and was beginning to determine not to fix his eyes on Elizabeth, when they were suddenly arrested by the sight of the stranger, and Elizabeth happening to see the countenance of both as they looked at each other, was all astonishment at


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the effect of the meeting. Both changed colour, one looked white, the other red. Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, touched his hat—a salutation which Mr. Darcy just deigned to return. What could be the meaning of it?—It was impossible to imagine; it was impossible not to long to know. In another minute Mr. Bingley, but without seeming to have noticed what passed, took leave and rode on with his friend. Mr. Denny and Mr. Wickham walked with the young ladies to the door of Mr. Philips’s house, and then made their bows, in spite of Miss Lydia’s pressing entreaties that they would come in, and even in spite of Mrs. Philips’ throwing up the parlour window, and loudly seconding the invitation. Mrs. Philips was always glad to see her nieces, and the two eldest, from their recent absence, were particularly welcome, and she was eagerly expressing her surprise at their sudden return home, which, as their own carriage had not fetched them, she should have known nothing about, if she had not happened to see Mr. Jones’s shop boy in the street, who had told her that they were not to send any more draughts to Netherfield because the Miss Bennets were come away, when her civility was claimed towards Mr. Collins by Jane’s introduction of him. She received him with her very best politeness, which he returned with as much more, apologising for his intrusion, without any previous acquaintance with her, which he could not help flattering himself however might be justified by his relationship to the young ladies who introduced him to her notice. Mrs. Philips was quite awed by such an excess of good breeding; but her contemplation of one stranger was soon put an end to by exclamations and inquiries about the other, of whom, however, she could only tell her nieces what they already knew, that Mr. Denny had brought him from London, and that he was to have a lieutenant’s commission in the ——shire. She had been watching him the last hour, she said, as he walked up and down the street, and had Mr. Wickham appeared Kitty and Lydia would certainly have continued the occupation, but unluckily no one passed the windows now except a few of the officers, who in comparison with the stranger, were become ‘‘stupid, disagreeable fellows.’’ Some of them were to dine with the Philipses the next day, and

c ha pt er 15


their aunt promised to make her husband call on Mr. Wickham, and give him an invitation also, if the family from Longbourn would come in the evening. This was agreed to, and Mrs. Philips protested that they would have a nice comfortable noisy game of lottery tickets,6 and a little bit of hot supper afterwards. The prospect of such delights was very cheering, and they parted in mutual good spirits. Mr. Collins repeated his apologies in quit­ ting the room, and was assured with unwearying civility that they were perfectly needless. As they walked home, Elizabeth related to Jane what she had seen pass between the two gentlemen; but though Jane would have defended either or both, had they appeared to be wrong, she could no more explain such behaviour than her sister. Mr. Collins on his return highly gratified Mrs. Bennet by admiring Mrs. Philips’s manners and politeness. He protested that except Lady Catherine and her daughter, he had never seen a more elegant woman; for she had not only received him with the utmost civility, but had even pointedly included him in her invitation for the next evening, although utterly unknown to her before. Something he supposed might be attributed to his connection with them, but yet he had never met with so much attention in the whole course of his life.

chapter xvi

As no objection was made to the young people’s engagement with their aunt, and all Mr. Collins’s scruples of leaving Mr. and Mrs. Bennet for a single evening during his visit were most steadily resisted, the coach conveyed him and his five cousins at a suitable hour to Meryton; and the girls had the pleasure of hearing, as they entered the drawing-room, that Mr. Wickham had accepted their uncle’s invitation, and was then in the house. When this information was given, and they had all taken their seats, Mr. Collins was at leisure to look around him and admire, and he was so much struck with the size and furniture of the apartment, that he declared he might almost have supposed himself in the small summer breakfast parlour at Rosings; a comparison that did not at first convey much gratification; but when Mrs. Philips understood from him what Rosings was, and who was its proprietor, when she had listened to the description of only one of Lady Catherine’s drawing-rooms, and found that the chimney-piece alone had cost eight hundred pounds,1 she felt all the force of the compliment, and would hardly have resented a comparison with the housekeeper’s room. In describing to her all the grandeur of Lady Catherine and her mansion, with occasional digressions in praise of his own humble abode, and the improvements it was receiving, he was happily employed until the gentlemen joined them; and he found in Mrs. Philips a very attentive listener, whose opinion of his consequence increased with what she heard, and who was resolving to retail it all among her neighbours as soon as she could. To the girls, who could not listen to their cousin, and who had nothing to do but to wish for an instrument, and

c ha pt er 16


examine their own indifferent imitations of china2 on the mantlepiece, the interval of waiting appeared very long. It was over at last however. The gentlemen did approach; and when Mr. Wickham walked into the room, Elizabeth felt that she had neither been seeing him before, nor thinking of him since, with the smallest degree of unreasonable admiration. The officers of the ——shire were in general a very creditable, gentlemanlike set, and the best of them were of the present party; but Mr. Wickham was as far beyond them all in person, countenance, air, and walk, as they were superior to the broad-faced stuffy uncle Philips, breathing port wine, who followed them into the room. Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned, and Elizabeth was the happy woman by whom he finally seated himself; and the agreeable manner in which he immediately fell into conversation, though it was only on its being a wet night, and on the probability of a rainy season, made her feel that the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker. With such rivals for the notice of the fair, as Mr. Wickham and the officers, Mr. Collins seemed likely to sink into insignifi­ cance; to the young ladies he certainly was nothing; but he had still at intervals a kind listener in Mrs. Philips, and was, by her watchfulness, most abundantly supplied with coffee and muffin. When the card tables were placed, he had an opportunity of obliging her in return, by sitting down to whist. ‘‘I know little of the game, at present,’’ said he, ‘‘but I shall be glad to improve myself, for in my situation of life’’—Mrs. Philips was very thankful for his compliance, but could not wait for his reason. Mr. Wickham did not play at whist, and with ready delight was he received at the other table between Elizabeth and Lydia. At first there seemed danger of Lydia’s engrossing him entirely, for she was a most determined talker; but being likewise extremely fond of lottery tickets, she soon grew too much inter­ ested in the game, too eager in making bets and exclaiming after prizes, to have attention for any one in particular. Allowing for


v ol um e i ch ap te r xvi

the common demands of the game, Mr. Wickham was therefore at leisure to talk to Elizabeth, and she was very willing to hear him, though what she chiefly wished to hear she could not hope to be told, the history of his acquaintance with Mr. Darcy. She dared not even mention that gentleman. Her curiosity however was unexpectedly relieved. Mr. Wickham began the subject himself. He inquired how far Netherfield was from Meryton; and, after receiving her answer, asked in an hesitating manner how long Mr. Darcy had been staying there. ‘‘About a month,’’ said Elizabeth; and then, unwilling to let the subject drop, added, ‘‘he is a man of very large property in Derbyshire, I understand.’’ ‘‘Yes,’’ replied Wickham;—‘‘his estate there is a noble one. A clear ten thousand per annum. You could not have met with a person more capable of giving you certain information on that head than myself—for I have been connected with his family in a particular manner from my infancy.’’ Elizabeth could not but look surprised. ‘‘You may well be surprised, Miss Bennet, at such an assertion, after seeing, as you probably might, the very cold manner of our meeting yesterday.—Are you much acquainted with Mr. Darcy?’’ ‘‘As much as I ever wish to be,’’ cried Elizabeth warmly,—‘‘I have spent four days in the same house with him, and I think him very disagreeable.’’ ‘‘I have no right to give my opinion,’’ said Wickham, ‘‘as to his being agreeable or otherwise. I am not qualified to form one. I have known him too long and too well to be a fair judge. It is impossible for me to be impartial. But I believe your opinion of him would in general astonish—and perhaps you would not express it quite so strongly anywhere else.—Here you are in your own family.’’ ‘‘Upon my word I say no more here than I might say in any house in the neighbourhood, except Netherfield. He is not at all liked in Hertfordshire. Every body is disgusted with his pride. You will not find him more favourably spoken of by any one.’’ ‘‘I cannot pretend to be sorry,’’ said Wickham, after a short interruption, ‘‘that he or that any man should not be estimated

c ha pt er 16


beyond their deserts; but with him I believe it does not often happen. The world is blinded by his fortune and consequence, or frightened by his high and imposing manners, and sees him only as he chuses to be seen.’’ ‘‘I should take him, even on my slight acquaintance, to be an ill-tempered man.’’ Wickham only shook his head. ‘‘I wonder,’’ said he, at the next opportunity of speaking, ‘‘whether he is likely to be in this country much longer.’’ ‘‘I do not at all know; but I heard nothing of his going away when I was at Netherfield. I hope your plans in favour of the —— shire will not be affected by his being in the neighbourhood.’’ ‘‘Oh! no—it is not for me to be driven away by Mr. Darcy. If he wishes to avoid seeing me, he must go. We are not on friendly terms, and it always gives me pain to meet him, but I have no reason for avoiding him but what I might proclaim to all the world; a sense of very great ill usage, and most painful regrets at his being what he is. His father, Miss Bennet, the late Mr. Darcy, was one of the best men that ever breathed, and the truest friend I ever had; and I can never be in company with this Mr. Darcy without being grieved to the soul by a thousand tender recollections. His behaviour to myself has been scandal­ ous; but I verily believe I could forgive him any thing and every thing, rather than his disappointing the hopes and disgracing the memory of his father.’’ Elizabeth found the interest of the subject increase, and listened with all her heart; but the delicacy of it prevented farther inquiry. Mr. Wickham began to speak on more general topics, Mery­ ton, the neighbourhood, the society, appearing highly pleased with all that he had yet seen, and speaking of the latter especially, with gentle but very intelligible gallantry. ‘‘It was the prospect of constant society, and good society,’’ he added, ‘‘which was my chief inducement to enter the —— shire. I knew it to be a most respectable, agreeable corps, and my friend Denny tempted me farther by his account of their present quarters, and the very great attentions and excellent acquaintance Meryton had procured them. Society, I own, is necessary to me. I have been a disappointed man, and my spirits


v ol um e i ch ap te r xvi

will not bear solitude. I must have employment and society. A military life is not what I was intended for, but circumstances have now made it eligible. The church ought to have been my profession—I was brought up for the church, and I should at this time have been in possession of a most valuable living, had it pleased the gentleman we were speaking of just now.’’ ‘‘Indeed!’’ ‘‘Yes—the late Mr. Darcy bequeathed me the next presen­ tation of the best living in his gift. He was my godfather, and excessively attached to me. I cannot do justice to his kindness. He meant to provide for me amply, and thought he had done it; but when the living fell, it was given elsewhere.’’ ‘‘Good heavens!’’ cried Elizabeth; ‘‘but how could that be?— How could his will be disregarded?—Why did not you seek legal redress?’’ ‘‘There was just such an informality in the terms of the bequest as to give me no hope from law. A man of honour could not have doubted the intention, but Mr. Darcy chose to doubt it— or to treat it as a merely conditional recommendation, and to assert that I had forfeited all claim to it by extravagance, imprudence, in short any thing or nothing. Certain it is, that the living became vacant two years ago, exactly as I was of an age to hold it, and that it was given to another man; and no less certain is it, that I cannot accuse myself of having really done any thing to deserve to lose it. I have a warm, unguarded temper, and I may perhaps have sometimes spoken my opinion of him, and to him, too freely. I can recal nothing worse. But the fact is, that we are very different sort of men, and that he hates me.’’ ‘‘This is quite shocking!—He deserves to be publicly dis­ graced.’’ ‘‘Some time or other he will be—but it shall not be by me. Till I can forget his father, I can never defy or expose him.’’ Elizabeth honoured him for such feelings, and thought him handsomer than ever as he expressed them. ‘‘But what,’’ said she, after a pause, ‘‘can have been his motive?—what can have induced him to behave so cruelly?’’ ‘‘A thorough, determined dislike of me—a dislike which I cannot but attribute in some measure to jealousy. Had the late

c ha pt er 16


Mr. Darcy liked me less, his son might have borne with me better; but his father’s uncommon attachment to me, irritated him I believe very early in life. He had not a temper to bear the sort of competition in which we stood—the sort of preference which was often given me.’’ ‘‘I had not thought Mr. Darcy so bad as this—though I have never liked him, I had not thought so very ill of him—I had supposed him to be despising his fellow-creatures in general, but did not suspect him of descending to such malicious revenge, such injustice, such inhumanity as this!’’ After a few minutes reflection, however, she continued, ‘‘I do remember his boasting one day, at Netherfield, of the implac­ ability of his resentments, of his having an unforgiving temper. His disposition must be dreadful.’’ ‘‘I will not trust myself on the subject,’’ replied Wickham, ‘‘I can hardly be just to him.’’ Elizabeth was again deep in thought, and after a time exclaimed, ‘‘To treat in such a manner, the godson, the friend, the favourite of his father!’’—She could have added, ‘‘A young man too, like you, whose very countenance may vouch for your being amiable’’—but she contented herself with ‘‘And one, too, who had probably been his own companion from childhood, connected together, as I think you said, in the closest manner!’’ ‘‘We were born in the same parish, within the same park, the greatest part of our youth was passed together; inmates of the same house, sharing the same amusements, objects of the same parental care. My father began life in the profession which your uncle, Mr. Philips, appears to do so much credit to—but he gave up every thing to be of use to the late Mr. Darcy, and devoted all his time to the care of the Pemberley property. He was most highly esteemed by Mr. Darcy, a most intimate, confidential friend. Mr. Darcy often acknowledged himself to be under the greatest obligations to my father’s active superin­ tendance, and when immediately before my father’s death, Mr. Darcy gave him a voluntary promise of providing for me, I am convinced that he felt it to be as much a debt of gratitude to him, as of affection to myself.’’ ‘‘How strange!’’ cried Elizabeth. ‘‘How abominable!—I


v ol um e i ch ap te r xvi

wonder that the very pride of this Mr. Darcy has not made him just to you!—If from no better motive, that he should not have been too proud to be dishonest,—for dishonesty I must call it.’’ ‘‘It is wonderful,’’—replied Wickham,—‘‘for almost all his actions may be traced to pride;—and pride has often been his best friend. It has connected him nearer with virtue than any other feeling. But we are none of us consistent; and in his behaviour to me, there were stronger impulses even than pride.’’ ‘‘Can such abominable pride as his, have ever done him good?’’ ‘‘Yes. It has often led him to be liberal and generous,—to give his money freely, to display hospitality, to assist his tenants, and relieve the poor. Family pride, and filial pride, for he is very proud of what his father was, have done this. Not to appear to disgrace his family, to degenerate from the popular qualities, or lose the influence of the Pemberley House, is a powerful motive. He has also brotherly pride, which with some brotherly affec­ tion, makes him a very kind and careful guardian of his sister; and you will hear him generally cried up as the most attentive and best of brothers.’’ ‘‘What sort of a girl is Miss Darcy?’’ He shook his head.—‘‘I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy. But she is too much like her brother,—very, very proud.—As a child, she was affectionate and pleasing, and extremely fond of me; and I have devoted hours and hours to her amusement. But she is nothing to me now. She is a handsome girl, about fifteen or sixteen, and I understand highly accomplished. Since her father’s death, her home has been London, where a lady lives with her, and superin­ tends her education.’’ After many pauses and many trials of other subjects, Elizabeth could not help reverting once more to the first, and saying, ‘‘I am astonished at his intimacy with Mr. Bingley! How can Mr. Bingley, who seems good humour itself, and is, I really believe, truly amiable, be in friendship with such a man? How can they suit each other?—Do you know Mr. Bingley?’’

c ha pt er 16


‘‘Not at all.’’ ‘‘He is a sweet tempered, amiable, charming man. He cannot know what Mr. Darcy is.’’ ‘‘Probably not;—but Mr. Darcy can please where he chuses. He does not want abilities. He can be a conversible companion if he thinks it worth his while. Among those who are at all his equals in consequence, he is a very different man from what he is to the less prosperous. His pride never deserts him; but with the rich, he is liberal-minded, just, sincere, rational, honourable, and perhaps agreeable,—allowing something for fortune and figure.’’ The whist party soon afterwards breaking up, the players gathered round the other table, and Mr. Collins took his station between his cousin Elizabeth and Mrs. Philips.—The usual inquiries as to his success were made by the latter. It had not been very great; he had lost every point; but when Mrs. Philips began to express her concern thereupon, he assured her with much earnest gravity that it was not of the least importance, that he considered the money as a mere trifle, and begged she would not make herself uneasy. ‘‘I know very well, madam,’’ said he, ‘‘that when persons sit down to a card table, they must take their chance of these things,—and happily I am not in such circumstances as to make five shillings any object. There are undoubtedly many who could not say the same, but thanks to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, I am removed far beyond the necessity of regarding little matters.’’ Mr. Wickham’s attention was caught; and after observing Mr. Collins for a few moments, he asked Elizabeth in a low voice whether her relation were very intimately acquainted with the family of de Bourgh. ‘‘Lady Catherine de Bourgh,’’ she replied, ‘‘has very lately given him a living. I hardly know how Mr. Collins was first introduced to her notice, but he certainly has not known her long.’’ ‘‘You know of course that Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lady Anne Darcy were sisters; consequently that she is aunt to the present Mr. Darcy.’’ ‘‘No, indeed, I did not.—I knew nothing at all of Lady


v ol um e i ch ap te r xvi

Catherine’s connections. I never heard of her existence till the day before yesterday.’’ ‘‘Her daughter, Miss de Bourgh, will have a very large fortune, and it is believed that she and her cousin will unite the two estates.’’ This information made Elizabeth smile, as she thought of poor Miss Bingley. Vain indeed must be all her attentions, vain and useless her affection for his sister and her praise of himself, if he were already self-destined to another. ‘‘Mr. Collins,’’ said she, ‘‘speaks highly both of Lady Cath­ erine and her daughter; but from some particulars that he has related of her ladyship, I suspect his gratitude misleads him, and that in spite of her being his patroness, she is an arrogant, conceited woman.’’ ‘‘I believe her to be both in a great degree,’’ replied Wickham; ‘‘I have not seen her for many years, but I very well remember that I never liked her, and that her manners were dictatorial and insolent. She has the reputation of being remarkably sensible and clever; but I rather believe she derives part of her abilities from her rank and fortune, part from her authoritative manner, and the rest from the pride of her nephew, who chuses that every one connected with him should have an understanding of the first class.’’ Elizabeth allowed that he had given a very rational account of it, and they continued talking together with mutual satisfac­ tion till supper put an end to cards; and gave the rest of the ladies their share of Mr. Wickham’s attentions. There could be no conversation in the noise of Mrs. Philips’s supper party, but his manners recommended him to every body. Whatever he said, was said well; and whatever he did, done gracefully. Eliza­ beth went away with her head full of him. She could think of nothing but of Mr. Wickham, and of what he had told her, all the way home; but there was not time for her even to mention his name as they went, for neither Lydia nor Mr. Collins were once silent. Lydia talked incessantly of lottery tickets, of the fish she had lost and the fish she had won, and Mr. Collins, in describing the civility of Mr. and Mrs. Philips, protesting that he did not in the least regard his losses at whist, enumerating all

c ha pt er 16


the dishes at supper, and repeatedly fearing that he crouded his cousins, had more to say than he could well manage before the carriage stopped at Longbourn House.

chapter xvii

Elizabeth related to Jane the next day, what had passed between Mr. Wickham and herself. Jane listened with astonishment and concern;—she knew not how to believe that Mr. Darcy could be so unworthy of Mr. Bingley’s regard; and yet, it was not in her nature to question the veracity of a young man of such amiable appearance as Wickham.—The possibility of his having really endured such unkindness, was enough to interest all her tender feelings; and nothing therefore remained to be done, but to think well of them both, to defend the conduct of each, and throw into the account of accident or mistake, whatever could not be otherwise explained. ‘‘They have both,’’ said she, ‘‘been deceived, I dare say, in some way or other, of which we can form no idea. Interested1 people have perhaps misrepresented each to the other. It is, in short, impossible for us to conjecture the causes or circumstances which may have alienated them, without actual blame on either side.’’ ‘‘Very true, indeed;—and now, my dear Jane, what have you got to say in behalf of the interested people who have probably been concerned in the business?—Do clear them too, or we shall be obliged to think ill of somebody.’’ ‘‘Laugh as much as you chuse, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion. My dearest Lizzy, do but consider in what a disgraceful light it places Mr. Darcy, to be treating his father’s favourite in such a manner,—one, whom his father had promised to provide for.—It is impossible. No man of common humanity, no man who had any value for his character, could be capable of it. Can his most intimate friends be so excessively deceived in him? oh! no.’’

c ha pt er 17


‘‘I can much more easily believe Mr. Bingley’s being imposed on, than that Mr. Wickham should invent such a history of himself as he gave me last night; names, facts, every thing mentioned without ceremony.—If it be not so, let Mr. Darcy contradict it. Besides, there was truth in his looks.’’ ‘‘It is difficult indeed—it is distressing.—One does not know what to think.’’ ‘‘I beg your pardon;—one knows exactly what to think.’’ But Jane could think with certainty on only one point,—that Mr. Bingley, if he had been imposed on, would have much to suffer when the affair became public. The two young ladies were summoned from the shrubbery2 where this conversation passed, by the arrival of some of the very persons of whom they had been speaking; Mr. Bingley and his sisters came to give their personal invitation for the long expected ball at Netherfield, which was fixed for the following Tuesday. The two ladies were delighted to see their dear friend again, called it an age since they had met, and repeatedly asked what she had been doing with herself since their separation. To the rest of the family they paid little attention; avoiding Mrs. Bennet as much as possible, saying not much to Elizabeth, and nothing at all to the others. They were soon gone again; rising from their seats with an activity which took their brother by surprise, and hurrying off as if eager to escape from Mrs. Bennet’s civilities. The prospect of the Netherfield ball was extremely agreeable to every female of the family. Mrs. Bennet chose to consider it as given in compliment to her eldest daughter, and was particularly flattered by receiving the invitation from Mr. Bingley himself, instead of a ceremonious card. Jane pictured to herself a happy evening in the society of her two friends, and the attentions of their brother; and Elizabeth thought with pleasure of dancing a great deal with Mr. Wickham, and of seeing a confirmation of every thing in Mr. Darcy’s looks and behaviour. The happiness anticipated by Catherine and Lydia, depended less on any single event, or any particular person, for though they each, like Eliza­ beth, meant to dance half the evening with Mr. Wickham, he was by no means the only partner who could satisfy them, and


v ol um e i ch ap te r xvii

a ball was at any rate, a ball. And even Mary could assure her family that she had no disinclination for it. ‘‘While, I can have my mornings to myself,’’ said she, ‘‘it is enough.—I think it no sacrifice to join occasionally in evening engagements. Society has claims on us all; and I profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amuse­ ment as desirable for every body.’’ Elizabeth’s spirits were so high on the occasion, that though she did not often speak unnecessarily to Mr. Collins, she could not help asking him whether he intended to accept Mr. Bingley’s invitation, and if he did, whether he would think it proper to join in the evening’s amusement; and she was rather surprised to find that he entertained no scruple whatever on that head, and was very far from dreading a rebuke either from the Arch­ bishop, or Lady Catherine de Bourgh, by venturing to dance.3 ‘‘I am by no means of opinion, I assure you,’’ said he, ‘‘that a ball of this kind, given by a young man of character, to respect­ able people, can have any evil tendency; and I am so far from objecting to dancing myself that I shall hope to be honoured with the hands of all my fair cousins in the course of the evening, and I take this opportunity of soliciting yours, Miss Elizabeth, for the two first dances especially,—a preference which I trust my cousin Jane will attribute to the right cause, and not to any disrespect for her.’’ Elizabeth felt herself completely taken in. She had fully pro­ posed being engaged by Wickham for those very dances:—and to have Mr. Collins instead!—her liveliness had been never worse timed. There was no help for it however. Mr. Wickham’s happiness and her own was per force delayed a little longer, and Mr. Collins’s proposal accepted with as good a grace as she could. She was not the better pleased with his gallantry, from the idea it suggested of something more.—It now first struck her, that she was selected from among her sisters as worthy of being the mistress of Hunsford Parsonage, and of assisting to form a quadrille table at Rosings, in the absence of more eligible visitors. The idea soon reached to conviction, as she observed his increasing civilities towards herself, and heard his frequent attempt at a compliment on her wit and vivacity; and though

c ha pt er 17


more astonished than gratified herself, by this effect of her charms, it was not long before her mother gave her to understand that the probability of their marriage was exceedingly agreeable to her. Elizabeth however did not chuse to take the hint, being well aware that a serious dispute must be the consequence of any reply. Mr. Collins might never make the offer, and till he did, it was useless to quarrel about him. If there had not been a Netherfield ball to prepare for and talk of, the younger Miss Bennets would have been in a pitiable state at this time, for from the day of the invitation, to the day of the ball, there was such a succession of rain as prevented their walking to Meryton once. No aunt, no officers, no news could be sought after;—the very shoe-roses4 for Netherfield were got by proxy. Even Elizabeth might have found some trial of her patience in weather, which totally suspended the improvement of her acquaintance with Mr. Wickham; and nothing less than a dance on Tuesday, could have made such a Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, endurable to Kitty and Lydia.

chapter xviii

Till Elizabeth entered the drawing-room at Netherfield and looked in vain for Mr. Wickham among the cluster of red coats there assembled, a doubt of his being present had never occurred to her. The certainty of meeting him had not been checked by any of those recollections that might not unreasonably have alarmed her. She had dressed with more than usual care, and prepared in the highest spirits for the conquest of all that remained unsubdued of his heart, trusting that it was not more than might be won in the course of the evening. But in an instant arose the dreadful suspicion of his being purposely omitted for Mr. Darcy’s pleasure in the Bingleys’ invitation to the officers; and though this was not exactly the case, the absolute fact of his absence was pronounced by his friend Mr. Denny, to whom Lydia eagerly applied, and who told them that Wickham had been obliged to go to town on business the day before, and was not yet returned; adding, with a significant smile, ‘‘I do not imagine his business would have called him away just now, if he had not wished to avoid a certain gentleman here.’’ This part of his intelligence, though unheard by Lydia, was caught by Elizabeth, and as it assured her that Darcy was not less answerable for Wickham’s absence than if her first surmise had been just, every feeling of displeasure against the former was so sharpened by immediate disappointment, that she could hardly reply with tolerable civility to the polite inquiries which he directly afterwards approached to make.—Attention, for­ bearance, patience with Darcy, was injury to Wickham. She was resolved against any sort of conversation with him, and turned

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away with a degree of ill humour, which she could not wholly surmount even in speaking to Mr. Bingley, whose blind partial­ ity provoked her. But Elizabeth was not formed for ill-humour; and though every prospect of her own was destroyed for the evening, it could not dwell long on her spirits; and having told all her griefs to Charlotte Lucas, whom she had not seen for a week, she was soon able to make a voluntary transition to the oddities of her cousin, and to point him out to her particular notice. The two first dances, however, brought a return of distress; they were dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, awkward and solemn, apologising instead of attending, and often moving wrong with­ out being aware of it, gave her all the shame and misery which a disagreeable partner for a couple of dances can give. The moment of her release from him was exstacy. She danced next with an officer, and had the refreshment of talking of Wickham, and of hearing that he was universally liked. When those dances were over she returned to Charlotte Lucas, and was in conversation with her, when she found herself suddenly addressed by Mr. Darcy, who took her so much by surprise in his application for her hand, that, without knowing what she did, she accepted him. He walked away again immedi­ ately, and she was left to fret over her own want of presence of mind; Charlotte tried to console her. ‘‘I dare say you will find him very agreeable.’’ ‘‘Heaven forbid!—That would be the greatest misfortune of all!—To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate!—Do not wish me such an evil.’’ When the dancing recommenced, however, and Darcy approached to claim her hand, Charlotte could not help cau­ tioning her in a whisper not to be a simpleton and allow her fancy for Wickham to make her appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man of ten times his consequence. Elizabeth made no answer, and took her place in the set, amazed at the dignity to which she was arrived in being allowed to stand opposite to Mr. Darcy, and reading in her neighbours’ looks their equal amazement in beholding it. They stood for some time without speaking a word; and she began to imagine that their silence


v ol um e i ch ap te r xviii

was to last through the two dances, and at first was resolved not to break it; till suddenly fancying that it would be the greater punishment to her partner to oblige him to talk, she made some slight observation on the dance. He replied, and was silent again. After a pause of some minutes she addressed him a second time with ‘‘It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy.—I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples.’’ He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be said. ‘‘Very well.—That reply will do for the present.—Perhaps by and bye I may observe that private balls are much pleasanter than public ones.—But now we may be silent.’’ ‘‘Do you talk by rule then, while you are dancing?’’ ‘‘Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely silent for half an hour together, and yet for the advantage of some, conversation ought to be so arranged as that they may have the trouble of saying as little as possible.’’ ‘‘Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you imagine that you are gratifying mine?’’ ‘‘Both,’’ replied Elizabeth archly; ‘‘for I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds.—We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.’’ ‘‘This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure,’’ said he. ‘‘How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say.—You think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly.’’ ‘‘I must not decide on my own performance.’’ He made no answer, and they were again silent till they had gone down the dance, when he asked her if she and her sisters did not very often walk to Meryton. She answered in the affirma­ tive, and, unable to resist the temptation, added, ‘‘When you met us there the other day, we had just been forming a new acquaintance.’’ The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur over­ spread his features, but he said not a word, and Elizabeth,

c ha pt er 18


though blaming herself for her own weakness, could not go on. At length Darcy spoke, and in a constrained manner said, ‘‘Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends—whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.’’ ‘‘He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship,’’ replied Elizabeth with emphasis, ‘‘and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all his life.’’ Darcy made no answer, and seemed desirous of changing the subject. At that moment Sir William Lucas appeared close to them, meaning to pass through the set to the other side of the room; but on perceiving Mr. Darcy he stopt with a bow of superior courtesy to compliment him on his dancing and his partner. ‘‘I have been most highly gratified indeed, my dear Sir. Such very superior dancing is not often seen. It is evident that you belong to the first circles. Allow me to say, however, that your fair partner does not disgrace you, and that I must hope to have this pleasure often repeated, especially when a certain desirable event, my dear Miss Eliza (glancing at her sister and Bingley,) shall take place. What congratulations will then flow in! I appeal to Mr. Darcy:—but let me not interrupt you, Sir.—You will not thank me for detaining you from the bewitching converse of that young lady, whose bright eyes are also upbraiding me.’’ The latter part of this address was scarcely heard by Darcy; but Sir William’s allusion to his friend seemed to strike him forcibly, and his eyes were directed with a very serious expres­ sion towards Bingley and Jane, who were dancing together. Recovering himself, however, shortly, he turned to his partner, and said, ‘‘Sir William’s interruption has made me forget what we were talking of.’’ ‘‘I do not think we were speaking at all. Sir William could not have interrupted any two people in the room who had less to say for themselves.—We have tried two or three subjects already without success, and what we are to talk of next I cannot imagine.’’ ‘‘What think you of books?’’ said he, smiling.


v ol um e i ch ap te r xviii

‘‘Books—Oh! no.—I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings.’’ ‘‘I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of subject.—We may compare our different opinions.’’ ‘‘No—I cannot talk of books in a ball-room; my head is always full of something else.’’ ‘‘The present always occupies you in such scenes—does it?’’ said he, with a look of doubt. ‘‘Yes, always,’’ she replied, without knowing what she said, for her thoughts had wandered far from the subject, as soon afterwards appeared by her suddenly exclaiming, ‘‘I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever forgave, that your resentment once created was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being created.’’ ‘‘I am,’’ said he, with a firm voice. ‘‘And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?’’ ‘‘I hope not.’’ ‘‘It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properly at first.’’ ‘‘May I ask to what these questions tend?’’ ‘‘Merely to the illustration of your character,’’ said she, endeavouring to shake off her gravity. ‘‘I am trying to make it out.’’ ‘‘And what is your success?’’ She shook her head. ‘‘I do not get on at all. I hear such different accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly.’’ ‘‘I can readily believe,’’ answered he gravely, ‘‘that report may vary greatly with respect to me; and I could wish, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character at the present moment, as there is reason to fear that the performance would reflect no credit on either.’’ ‘‘But if I do not take your likeness now, I may never have another opportunity.’’ ‘‘I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours,’’ he coldly replied. She said no more, and they went down the other dance and parted in silence; on each side dissatisfied, though not to an equal degree, for in Darcy’s breast there was a tolerable

c ha pt er 18


powerful feeling towards her, which soon procured her pardon, and directed all his anger against another. They had not long separated when Miss Bingley came towards her, and with an expression of civil disdain thus accosted her, ‘‘So, Miss Eliza, I hear you are quite delighted with George Wickham!—Your sister has been talking to me about him, and asking me a thousand questions; and I find that the young man forgot to tell you, among his other communications, that he was the son of old Wickham, the late Mr. Darcy’s steward. Let me recommend you, however, as a friend, not to give implicit confidence to all his assertions; for as to Mr. Darcy’s using him ill, it is perfectly false; for, on the contrary, he has been always remarkably kind to him, though George Wickham has treated Mr. Darcy in a most infamous manner. I do not know the particulars, but I know very well that Mr. Darcy is not in the least to blame, that he cannot bear to hear George Wickham mentioned, and that though my brother thought he could not well avoid including him in his invitation to the officers, he was excessively glad to find that he had taken himself out of the way. His coming into the country at all, is a most insolent thing indeed, and I wonder how he could presume to do it. I pity you, Miss Eliza, for this discovery of your favourite’s guilt, but really considering his descent, one could not expect much better.’’ ‘‘His guilt and his descent appear by your account to be the same,’’ said Elizabeth angrily; ‘‘for I have heard you accuse him of nothing worse than of being the son of Mr. Darcy’s steward, and of that, I can assure you, he informed me himself.’’ ‘‘I beg your pardon,’’ replied Miss Bingley, turning away with a sneer. ‘‘Excuse my interference.—It was kindly meant.’’ ‘‘Insolent girl!’’ said Elizabeth to herself.—‘‘You are much mistaken if you expect to influence me by such a paltry attack as this. I see nothing in it but your own wilful ignorance and the malice of Mr. Darcy.’’ She then sought her eldest sister, who had undertaken to make inquiries on the same subject of Bingley. Jane met her with a smile of such sweet complacency, a glow of such happy expression, as sufficiently marked how well she was satisfied with the occurrences of the evening.—Elizabeth instantly read her feelings, and at that moment solicitude for


v ol um e i ch ap te r xviii

Wickham, resentment against his enemies, and every thing else gave way before the hope of Jane’s being in the fairest way for happiness. ‘‘I want to know,’’ said she, with a countenance no less smiling than her sister’s, ‘‘what you have learnt about Mr. Wickham. But perhaps you have been too pleasantly engaged to think of any third person; in which case you may be sure of my pardon.’’ ‘‘No,’’ replied Jane, ‘‘I have not forgotten him; but I have nothing satisfactory to tell you. Mr. Bingley does not know the whole of his history, and is quite ignorant of the circumstances which have principally offended Mr. Darcy; but he will vouch for the good conduct, the probity and honour of his friend, and is perfectly convinced that Mr. Wickham has deserved much less attention from Mr. Darcy than he has received; and I am sorry to say that by his account as well as his sister’s, Mr. Wickham is by no means a respectable young man. I am afraid he has been very imprudent, and has deserved to lose Mr. Darcy’s regard.’’ ‘‘Mr. Bingley does not know Mr. Wickham himself ?’’ ‘‘No; he never saw him till the other morning at Meryton.’’ ‘‘This account then is what he has received from Mr. Darcy. I am perfectly satisfied. But what does he say of the living?’’ ‘‘He does not exactly recollect the circumstances, though he has heard them from Mr. Darcy more than once, but he believes that it was left to him conditionally only.’’ ‘‘I have not a doubt of Mr. Bingley’s sincerity,’’ said Elizabeth warmly; ‘‘but you must excuse my not being convinced by assurances only. Mr. Bingley’s defence of his friend was a very able one I dare say, but since he is unacquainted with several parts of the story, and has learnt the rest from that friend himself, I shall venture still to think of both gentlemen as I did before.’’ She then changed the discourse to one more gratifying to each, and on which there could be no difference of sentiment. Elizabeth listened with delight to the happy, though modest hopes which Jane entertained of Bingley’s regard, and said all in her power to heighten her confidence in it. On their being joined by Mr. Bingley himself, Elizabeth withdrew to Miss

c ha pt er 18


Lucas; to whose inquiry after the pleasantness of her last partner she had scarcely replied, before Mr. Collins came up to them and told her with great exultation that he had just been so fortunate as to make a most important discovery. ‘‘I have found out,’’ said he, ‘‘by a singular accident, that there is now in the room a near relation of my patroness. I happened to overhear the gentleman himself mentioning to the young lady who does the honours of this house the names of his cousin Miss de Bourgh, and of her mother Lady Catherine. How wonderfully these sort of things occur! Who would have thought of my meeting with—perhaps—a nephew of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in this assembly!—I am most thankful that the discovery is made in time for me to pay my respects to him, which I am now going to do, and trust he will excuse my not having done it before. My total ignorance of the connection must plead my apology.’’ ‘‘You are not going to introduce yourself to Mr. Darcy?’’ ‘‘Indeed I am. I shall intreat his pardon for not having done it earlier. I believe him to be Lady Catherine’s nephew. It will be in my power to assure him that her ladyship was quite well yesterday se’nnight.’’ Elizabeth tried hard to dissuade him from such a scheme; assuring him that Mr. Darcy would consider his addressing him without introduction as an impertinent freedom, rather than a compliment to his aunt; that it was not in the least necessary there should be any notice on either side, and that if it were, it must belong to Mr. Darcy, the superior in consequence, to begin the acquaintance.—Mr. Collins listened to her with the determined air of following his own inclination, and when she ceased speaking, replied thus, ‘‘My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world of your excellent judgment in all matters within the scope of your understanding, but permit me to say that there must be a wide difference between the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity, and those which regulate the clergy; for give me leave to observe that I consider the clerical office as equal in point of dignity with the highest rank in the kingdom— provided that a proper humility of behaviour is at the same time


v ol um e i ch ap te r xviii

maintained. You must therefore allow me to follow the dictates of my conscience on this occasion, which leads me to perform what I look on as a point of duty. Pardon me for neglecting to profit by your advice, which on every other subject shall be my constant guide, though in the case before us I consider myself more fitted by education and habitual study to decide on what is right than a young lady like yourself.’’ And with a low bow he left her to attack Mr. Darcy, whose reception of his advances she eagerly watched, and whose astonishment at being so addressed was very evident. Her cousin prefaced his speech with a solemn bow, and though she could not hear a word of it, she felt as if hearing it all, and saw in the motion of his lips the words ‘‘apology,’’ ‘‘Hunsford,’’ and ‘‘Lady Catherine de Bourgh.’’—It vexed her to see him expose himself to such a man. Mr. Darcy was eyeing him with unrestrained wonder, and when at last Mr. Collins allowed him time to speak, replied with an air of distant civility. Mr. Collins, however, was not discouraged from speak­ ing again, and Mr. Darcy’s contempt seemed abundantly increasing with the length of his second speech, and at the end of it he only made him a slight bow, and moved another way. Mr. Collins then returned to Elizabeth. ‘‘I have no reason, I assure you,’’ said he, ‘‘to be dissatisfied with my reception. Mr. Darcy seemed much pleased with the attention. He answered me with the utmost civility, and even paid me the compliment of saying, that he was so well convinced of Lady Catherine’s discernment as to be certain she could never bestow a favour unworthily. It was really a very handsome thought. Upon the whole, I am much pleased with him.’’ As Elizabeth had no longer any interest of her own to pursue, she turned her attention almost entirely on her sister and Mr. Bingley, and the train of agreeable reflections which her observa­ tions gave birth to, made her perhaps almost as happy as Jane. She saw her in idea settled in that very house in all the felicity which a marriage of true affection could bestow; and she felt capable under such circumstances, of endeavouring even to like Bingley’s two sisters. Her mother’s thoughts she plainly saw were bent the same way, and she determined not to venture near her, lest she might hear too much. When they sat down to

c ha pt er 18


supper, therefore, she considered it a most unlucky perverseness which placed them within one of each other; and deeply was she vexed to find that her mother was talking to that one person (Lady Lucas) freely, openly, and of nothing else but of her expectation that Jane would be soon married to Mr. Bingley.— It was an animating subject, and Mrs. Bennet seemed incapable of fatigue while enumerating the advantages of the match. His being such a charming young man, and so rich, and living but three miles from them, were the first points of self-gratulation; and then it was such a comfort to think how fond the two sisters were of Jane, and to be certain that they must desire the connection as much as she could do. It was, moreover, such a promising thing for her younger daughters, as Jane’s marrying so greatly must throw them in the way of other rich men; and lastly, it was so pleasant at her time of life to be able to consign her single daughters to the care of their sister, that she might not be obliged to go into company more than she liked. It was necessary to make this circumstance a matter of pleasure, because on such occasions it is the etiquette; but no one was less likely than Mrs. Bennet to find comfort in staying at home at any period of her life. She concluded with many good wishes that Lady Lucas might soon be equally fortunate, though evi­ dently and triumphantly believing there was no chance of it. In vain did Elizabeth endeavour to check the rapidity of her mother’s words, or persuade her to describe her felicity in a less audible whisper; for to her inexpressible vexation, she could perceive that the chief of it was overheard by Mr. Darcy, who sat opposite to them. Her mother only scolded her for being nonsensical. ‘‘What is Mr. Darcy to me, pray, that I should be afraid of him? I am sure we owe him no such particular civility as to be obliged to say nothing he may not like to hear.’’ ‘‘For heaven’s sake, madam, speak lower.—What advantage can it be to you to offend Mr. Darcy?—You will never rec­ ommend yourself to his friend by so doing.’’ Nothing that she could say, however, had any influence. Her mother would talk of her views in the same intelligible tone. Elizabeth blushed and blushed again with shame and vexation.


v ol um e i ch ap te r xviii

She could not help frequently glancing her eye at Mr. Darcy, though every glance convinced her of what she dreaded; for though he was not always looking at her mother, she was convinced that his attention was invariably fixed by her. The expression of his face changed gradually from indignant con­ tempt to a composed and steady gravity. At length however Mrs. Bennet had no more to say; and Lady Lucas, who had been long yawning at the repetition of delights which she saw no likelihood of sharing, was left to the comforts of cold ham and chicken. Elizabeth now began to revive. But not long was the interval of tranquillity; for when supper was over, singing was talked of, and she had the mortification of seeing Mary, after very little entreaty, preparing to oblige the company. By many significant looks and silent entreaties, did she endeavour to prevent such a proof of complaisance,—but in vain; Mary would not understand them; such an opportunity of exhibiting was delightful to her, and she began her song. Elizabeth’s eyes were fixed on her with most painful sensations; and she watched her progress through the several stanzas with an impatience which was very ill rewarded at their close; for Mary, on receiving amongst the thanks of the table, the hint of a hope that she might be prevailed on to favour them again, after the pause of half a minute began another. Mary’s powers were by no means fitted for such a display; her voice was weak, and her manner affected.—Elizabeth was in agonies. She looked at Jane, to see how she bore it; but Jane was very composedly talking to Bingley. She looked at his two sisters, and saw them making signs of derision at each other, and at Darcy, who continued however impenetrably grave. She looked at her father to entreat his interference, lest Mary should be singing all night. He took the hint, and when Mary had finished her second song, said aloud, ‘‘That will do extremely well, child. You have delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time to exhibit.’’ Mary, though pretending not to hear, was somewhat discon­ certed; and Elizabeth sorry for her, and sorry for her father’s speech, was afraid her anxiety had done no good.—Others of the party were now applied to.

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‘‘If I,’’ said Mr. Collins, ‘‘were so fortunate as to be able to sing, I should have great pleasure, I am sure, in obliging the company with an air; for I consider music as a very innocent diversion, and perfectly compatible with the profession of a clergyman.—I do not mean however to assert that we can be justified in devoting too much of our time to music, for there are certainly other things to be attended to. The rector of a parish has much to do.—In the first place, he must make such an agreement for tythes1 as may be beneficial to himself and not offensive to his patron. He must write his own sermons; and the time that remains will not be too much for his parish duties, and the care and improvement of his dwelling, which he cannot be excused from making as comfortable as possible. And I do not think it of light importance that he should have attentive and conciliatory manners towards every body, especially towards those to whom he owes his preferment. I cannot acquit him of that duty; nor could I think well of the man who should omit an occasion of testifying his respect towards any body connected with the family.’’ And with a bow to Mr. Darcy, he concluded his speech, which had been spoken so loud as to be heard by half the room.—Many stared.—Many smiled; but no one looked more amused than Mr. Bennet himself, while his wife seriously commended Mr. Collins for having spoken so sensibly, and observed in a half-whisper to Lady Lucas, that he was a remarkably clever, good kind of young man. To Elizabeth it appeared, that had her family made an agree­ ment to expose themselves as much as they could during the evening, it would have been impossible for them to play their parts with more spirit, or finer success; and happy did she think it for Bingley and her sister that some of the exhibition had escaped his notice, and that his feelings were not of a sort to be much distressed by the folly which he must have witnessed. That his two sisters and Mr. Darcy, however, should have such an opportunity of ridiculing her relations was bad enough, and she could not determine whether the silent contempt of the gentleman, or the insolent smiles of the ladies, were more intolerable. The rest of the evening brought her little amusement. She was


v ol um e i ch ap te r xviii

teazed by Mr. Collins, who continued most perseveringly by her side, and though he could not prevail with her to dance with him again, put it out of her power to dance with others. In vain did she entreat him to stand up with somebody else, and offer to introduce him to any young lady in the room. He assured her that as to dancing, he was perfectly indifferent to it; that his chief object was by delicate attentions to recommend himself to her, and that he should therefore make a point of remain­ ing close to her the whole evening. There was no arguing upon such a project. She owed her greatest relief to her friend Miss Lucas, who often joined them, and goodnaturedly engaged Mr. Collins’s conversation to herself. She was at least free from the offence of Mr. Darcy’s farther notice; though often standing within a very short distance of her, quite disengaged, he never came near enough to speak. She felt it to be the probable consequence of her allusions to Mr. Wickham, and rejoiced in it. The Longbourn party were the last of all the company to depart; and by a manoeuvre of Mrs. Bennet had to wait for their carriages a quarter of an hour after every body else was gone, which gave them time to see how heartily they were wished away by some of the family. Mrs. Hurst and her sister scarcely opened their mouths except to complain of fatigue, and were evidently impatient to have the house to themselves. They repulsed every attempt of Mrs. Bennet at conversation, and by so doing, threw a languor over the whole party, which was very little relieved by the long speeches of Mr. Collins, who was complimenting Mr. Bingley and his sisters on the elegance of their entertainment, and the hospitality and politeness which had marked their behaviour to their guests. Darcy said nothing at all. Mr. Bennet, in equal silence, was enjoying the scene. Mr. Bingley and Jane were standing together, a little detached from the rest, and talked only to each other. Elizabeth preserved as steady a silence as either Mrs. Hurst or Miss Bingley; and even Lydia was too much fatigued to utter more than the occasional exclamation of ‘‘Lord, how tired I am!’’ accompanied by a violent yawn. When at length they arose to take leave, Mrs. Bennet was

c ha pt er 18


most pressingly civil in her hope of seeing the whole family soon at Longbourn; and addressed herself particularly to Mr. Bingley, to assure him how happy he would make them, by eating a family dinner with them at any time, without the ceremony of a formal invitation. Bingley was all grateful pleasure, and he readily engaged for taking the earliest opportunity of waiting on her, after his return from London, whither he was obliged to go the next day for a short time. Mrs. Bennet was perfectly satisfied; and quitted the house under the delightful persuasion that, allowing for the necessary preparations of settlements,2 new carriages and wedding clothes, she should undoubtedly see her daughter settled at Netherfield, in the course of three or four months. Of having another daughter married to Mr. Collins, she thought with equal certainty, and with considerable, though not equal, pleasure. Elizabeth was the least dear to her of all her children; and though the man and the match were quite good enough for her, the worth of each was eclipsed by Mr. Bingley and Netherfield.

chapter xix

The next day opened a new scene at Longbourn. Mr. Collins made his declaration in form. Having resolved to do it without loss of time, as his leave of absence extended only to the follow­ ing Saturday, and having no feelings of diffidence to make it distressing to himself even at the moment, he set about it in a very orderly manner, with all the observances which he supposed a regular part of the business. On finding Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth, and one of the younger girls together, soon after breakfast, he addressed the mother in these words, ‘‘May I hope, Madam, for your interest with your fair daugh­ ter Elizabeth, when I solicit for the honour of a private audience with her in the course of this morning?’’ Before Elizabeth had time for any thing but a blush of surprise, Mrs. Bennet instantly answered, ‘‘Oh dear!—Yes—certainly.—I am sure Lizzy will be very happy—I am sure she can have no objection.—Come, Kitty, I want you up stairs.’’ And gathering her work together, she was hastening away, when Elizabeth called out, ‘‘Dear Ma’am, do not go.—I beg you will not go.—Mr. Collins must excuse me.—He can have nothing to say to me that any body need not hear. I am going away myself.’’ ‘‘No, no, nonsense, Lizzy.—I desire you will stay where you are.’’—And upon Elizabeth’s seeming really, with vexed and embarrassed looks, about to escape, she added, ‘‘Lizzy, I insist upon your staying and hearing Mr. Collins.’’ Elizabeth would not oppose such an injunction—and a moment’s consideration making her also sensible that it would be wisest to get it over as soon and as quietly as possible, she

c ha pt er 19


sat down again, and tried to conceal by incessant employment the feelings which were divided between distress and diversion. Mrs. Bennet and Kitty walked off, and as soon as they were gone Mr. Collins began. ‘‘Believe me, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that your modesty, so far from doing you any disservice, rather adds to your other perfections. You would have been less amiable in my eyes had there not been this little unwillingness; but allow me to assure you that I have your respected mother’s permis­ sion for this address. You can hardly doubt the purport of my discourse, however your natural delicacy may lead you to dissemble; my attentions have been too marked to be mistaken. Almost as soon as I entered the house I singled you out as the companion of my future life. But before I am run away with by my feelings on this subject, perhaps it will be advisable for me to state my reasons for marrying—and moreover for coming into Hertfordshire with the design of selecting a wife, as I certainly did.’’ The idea of Mr. Collins, with all his solemn composure, being run away with by his feelings, made Elizabeth so near laughing that she could not use the short pause he allowed in any attempt to stop him farther, and he continued: ‘‘My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish. Secondly, that I am convinced it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly— which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness. Twice has she condescended to give me her opinion (unasked too!) on this subject; and it was but the very Saturday night before I left Hunsford—between our pools at quadrille, while Mrs. Jenkinson was arranging Miss de Bourgh’s foot-stool, that she said, ‘Mr. Collins, you must marry. A clergyman like you must marry.—Chuse properly, chuse a gentlewoman for my sake; and for your own, let her be an active, useful sort of person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way. This is my advice. Find such a woman as soon as you can,


v ol um e i ch ap te r xix

bring her to Hunsford, and I will visit her.’ Allow me, by the way, to observe, my fair cousin, that I do not reckon the notice and kindness of Lady Catherine de Bourgh as among the least of the advantages in my power to offer. You will find her manners beyond any thing I can describe; and your wit and vivacity I think must be acceptable to her, especially when tempered with the silence and respect which her rank will inevit­ ably excite. Thus much for my general intention in favour of matrimony; it remains to be told why my views were directed to Longbourn instead of my own neighbourhood, where I assure you there are many amiable young women. But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father, (who, however, may live many years longer,) I could not satisfy myself without resolving to chuse a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place—which, however, as I have already said, may not be for several years. This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you in the most animated language of the violence of my affection. To fortune I am perfectly indifferent, and shall make no demand of that nature on your father, since I am well aware that it could not be complied with; and that one thousand pounds in the 4 per cents.1 which will not be yours till after your mother’s decease, is all that you may ever be entitled to. On that head, therefore, I shall be uniformly silent; and you may assure yourself that no ungenerous reproach shall ever pass my lips when we are married.’’ It was absolutely necessary to interrupt him now. ‘‘You are too hasty, Sir,’’ she cried. ‘‘You forget that I have made no answer. Let me do it without farther loss of time. Accept my thanks for the compliment you are paying me. I am very sensible of the honour of your proposals, but it is impossible for me to do otherwise than decline them.’’ ‘‘I am not now to learn,’’ replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave of the hand, ‘‘that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the

c ha pt er 19


refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.’’ ‘‘Upon my word, Sir,’’ cried Elizabeth, ‘‘your hope is rather an extraordinary one after my declaration. I do assure you that I am not one of those young ladies (if such young ladies there are) who are so daring as to risk their happiness on the chance of being asked a second time. I am perfectly serious in my refusal.—You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world who would make you so.—Nay, were your friend Lady Catherine to know me, I am persuaded she would find me in every respect ill qualified for the situation.’’ ‘‘Were it certain that Lady Catherine would think so,’’ said Mr. Collins very gravely—‘‘but I cannot imagine that her lady­ ship would at all disapprove of you. And you may be certain that when I have the honour of seeing her again I shall speak in the highest terms of your modesty, economy,2 and other amiable qualifications.’’ ‘‘Indeed, Mr. Collins, all praise of me will be unnecessary. You must give me leave to judge for myself, and pay me the compliment of believing what I say. I wish you very happy and very rich, and by refusing your hand, do all in my power to prevent your being otherwise. In making me the offer, you must have satisfied the delicacy of your feelings with regard to my family, and may take possession of Longbourn estate whenever it falls, without any self reproach. This matter may be con­ sidered, therefore, as finally settled.’’ And rising as she thus spoke, she would have quitted the room, had not Mr. Collins thus addressed her, ‘‘When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on this subject I shall hope to receive a more favourable answer than you have now given me; though I am far from accusing you of cruelty at present, because I know it to be the established custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application, and perhaps you have even now said as much to encourage my suit as would be consistent with the true delicacy of the female character.’’


v ol um e i ch ap te r xix

‘‘Really, Mr. Collins,’’ cried Elizabeth with some warmth, ‘‘you puzzle me exceedingly. If what I have hitherto said can appear to you in the form of encouragement, I know not how to express my refusal in such a way as may convince you of its being one.’’ ‘‘You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin, that your refusal of my addresses is merely words of course. My reasons for believing it are briefly these:—It does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy your acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desir­ able. My situation in life, my connections with the family of De Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in my favour; and you should take it into farther consider­ ation that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications. As I must therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall chuse to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females.’’ ‘‘I do assure you, Sir, that I have no pretension whatever to that kind of elegance which consists in tormenting a respectable man. I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere. I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible. My feelings in every respect forbid it. Can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature3 speaking the truth from her heart.’’ ‘‘You are uniformly charming!’’ cried he, with an air of awk­ ward gallantry; ‘‘and I am persuaded that when sanctioned by the express authority of both your excellent parents, my proposals will not fail of being acceptable.’’ To such perseverance in wilful self-deception Elizabeth would make no reply, and immediately and in silence withdrew; deter­ mined, that if he persisted in considering her repeated refusals as flattering encouragement, to apply to her father, whose negative

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might be uttered in such a manner as must be decisive, and whose behaviour at least could not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry of an elegant female.

chapter xx

Mr. Collins was not left long to the silent contemplation of his successful love; for Mrs. Bennet, having dawdled about in the vestibule to watch for the end of the conference, no sooner saw Elizabeth open the door and with quick step pass her towards the staircase, than she entered the breakfast-room, and con­ gratulated both him and herself in warm terms on the happy prospect of their nearer connection. Mr. Collins received and returned these felicitations with equal pleasure, and then pro­ ceeded to relate the particulars of their interview, with the result of which he trusted he had every reason to be satisfied, since the refusal which his cousin had stedfastly given him would naturally flow from her bashful modesty and the genuine deli­ cacy of her character. This information, however, startled Mrs. Bennet;—she would have been glad to be equally satisfied that her daughter had meant to encourage him by protesting against his pro­ posals, but she dared not to believe it, and could not help saying so. ‘‘But depend upon it, Mr. Collins,’’ she added, ‘‘that Lizzy shall be brought to reason. I will speak to her about it myself directly. She is a very headstrong foolish girl, and does not know her own interest; but I will make her know it.’’ ‘‘Pardon me for interrupting you, Madam,’’ cried Mr. Collins; ‘‘but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage state. If therefore she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force her into accepting me, because

c ha pt er 20


if liable to such defects of temper, she could not contribute much to my felicity.’’ ‘‘Sir, you quite misunderstand me,’’ said Mrs. Bennet, alarmed. ‘‘Lizzy is only headstrong in such matters as these. In every thing else she is as good natured a girl as ever lived. I will go directly to Mr. Bennet, and we shall very soon settle it with her, I am sure.’’ She would not give him time to reply, but hurrying instantly to her husband, called out as she entered the library, ‘‘Oh! Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediately; we are all in an uproar. You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, for she vows she will not have him, and if you do not make haste he will change his mind and not have her.’’ Mr. Bennet raised his eyes from his book as she entered, and fixed them on her face with a calm unconcern which was not in the least altered by her communication. ‘‘I have not the pleasure of understanding you,’’ said he, when she had finished her speech. ‘‘Of what are you talking?’’ ‘‘Of Mr. Collins and Lizzy. Lizzy declares she will not have Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins begins to say that he will not have Lizzy.’’ ‘‘And what am I to do on the occasion?—It seems an hopeless business.’’ ‘‘Speak to Lizzy about it yourself. Tell her that you insist upon her marrying him.’’ ‘‘Let her be called down. She shall hear my opinion.’’ Mrs. Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to the library. ‘‘Come here, child,’’ cried her father as she appeared. ‘‘I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?’’ Elizabeth replied that it was. ‘‘Very well—and this offer of marriage you have refused?’’ ‘‘I have, Sir.’’ ‘‘Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is not it so, Mrs. Bennet?’’ ‘‘Yes, or I will never see her again.’’ ‘‘An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this


v ol um e i ch ap te r xx

day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.—Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.’’ Elizabeth could not but smile at such a conclusion of such a beginning; but Mrs. Bennet, who had persuaded herself that her husband regarded the affair as she wished, was excessively disappointed. ‘‘What do you mean, Mr. Bennet, by talking in this way? You promised me to insist upon her marrying him.’’ ‘‘My dear,’’ replied her husband, ‘‘I have two small favours to request. First, that you will allow me the free use of my understanding on the present occasion; and secondly, of my room. I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as may be.’’ Not yet, however, in spite of her disappointment in her hus­ band, did Mrs. Bennet give up the point. She talked to Elizabeth again and again; coaxed and threatened her by turns. She endeavoured to secure Jane in her interest, but Jane with all possible mildness declined interfering;—and Elizabeth some­ times with real earnestness and sometimes with playful gaiety replied to her attacks. Though her manner varied however, her determination never did. Mr. Collins, meanwhile, was meditating in solitude on what had passed. He thought too well of himself to comprehend on what motive his cousin could refuse him; and though his pride was hurt, he suffered in no other way. His regard for her was quite imaginary; and the possibility of her deserving her mother’s reproach prevented his feeling any regret. While the family were in this confusion, Charlotte Lucas came to spend the day with them. She was met in the vestibule by Lydia, who, flying to her, cried in a half whisper, ‘‘I am glad you are come, for there is such fun here!—What do you think has happened this morning?—Mr. Collins has made an offer to Lizzy, and she will not have him.’’ Charlotte had hardly time to answer, before they were joined by Kitty, who came to tell the same news, and no sooner had they entered the breakfast-room, where Mrs. Bennet was alone, than she likewise began on the subject, calling on Miss Lucas

c ha pt er 20


for her compassion, and entreating her to persuade her friend Lizzy to comply with the wishes of all her family. ‘‘Pray do, my dear Miss Lucas,’’ she added in a melancholy tone, ‘‘for nobody is on my side, nobody takes part with me, I am cruelly used, nobody feels for my poor nerves.’’ Charlotte’s reply was spared by the entrance of Jane and Elizabeth. ‘‘Aye, there she comes,’’ continued Mrs. Bennet, ‘‘looking as unconcerned as may be, and caring no more for us than if we were at York, provided she can have her own way.—But I tell you what, Miss Lizzy, if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all—and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead.—I shall not be able to keep you—and so I warn you.—I have done with you from this very day.—I told you in the library, you know, that I should never speak to you again, and you will find me as good as my word. I have no pleasure in talking to undutiful children.— Not that I have much pleasure indeed in talking to any body. People who suffer as I do from nervous complaints can have no great inclination for talking. Nobody can tell what I suffer!—But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied.’’ Her daughters listened in silence to this effusion, sensible that any attempt to reason with or sooth her would only increase the irritation. She talked on, therefore, without interruption from any of them till they were joined by Mr. Collins, who entered with an air more stately than usual, and on perceiving whom, she said to the girls. ‘‘Now, I do insist upon it, that you, all of you, hold your tongues, and let Mr. Collins and me have a little conversation together.’’ Elizabeth passed quietly out of the room, Jane and Kitty followed, but Lydia stood her ground, determined to hear all she could; and Charlotte, detained first by the civility of Mr. Collins, whose inquiries after herself and all her family were very minute, and then by a little curiosity, satisfied herself with walking to the window and pretending not to hear. In a doleful


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voice Mrs. Bennet thus began the projected conversation.— ‘‘Oh! Mr. Collins!’’— ‘‘My dear Madam,’’ replied he, ‘‘let us be for ever silent on this point. Far be it from me,’’ he presently continued in a voice that marked his displeasure, ‘‘to resent the behaviour of your daughter. Resignation to inevitable evils is the duty of us all; the peculiar duty of a young man who has been so fortunate as I have been in early preferment; and I trust I am resigned. Perhaps not the less so from feeling a doubt of my positive happiness had my fair cousin honoured me with her hand; for I have often observed that resignation is never so perfect as when the blessing denied begins to lose somewhat of its value in our estimation. You will not, I hope, consider me as shewing any disrespect to your family, my dear Madam, by thus withdrawing my pretensions to your daughter’s favour, without having paid yourself and Mr. Bennet the compliment of requesting you to interpose your authority in my behalf. My conduct may I fear be objectionable in having accepted my dismission from your daughter’s lips instead of your own. But we are all liable to error. I have certainly meant well through the whole affair. My object has been to secure an amiable companion for myself, with due consideration for the advantage of all your family, and if my manner has been at all reprehensible, I here beg leave to apologise.’’

chapter xxi

The discussion of Mr. Collins’s offer was now nearly at an end, and Elizabeth had only to suffer from the uncomfortable feelings necessarily attending it, and occasionally from some peevish allusion of her mother. As for the gentleman himself, his feelings were chiefly expressed, not by embarrassment or dejection, or by trying to avoid her, but by stiffness of manner and resentful silence. He scarcely ever spoke to her, and the assiduous atten­ tions which he had been so sensible of himself, were transferred for the rest of the day to Miss Lucas, whose civility in listening to him, was a seasonable relief to them all, and especially to her friend. The morrow produced no abatement of Mrs. Bennet’s ill humour or ill health. Mr. Collins was also in the same state of angry pride. Elizabeth had hoped that his resentment might shorten his visit, but his plan did not appear in the least affected by it. He was always to have gone on Saturday, and to Saturday he still meant to stay. After breakfast, the girls walked to Meryton to inquire if Mr. Wickham were returned, and to lament over his absence from the Netherfield ball. He joined them on their entering the town and attended them to their aunt’s, where his regret and vexation, and the concern of every body was well talked over.—To Eliza­ beth, however, he voluntarily acknowledged that the necessity of his absence had been self imposed. ‘‘I found,’’ said he, ‘‘as the time drew near, that I had better not meet Mr. Darcy;—that to be in the same room, the same party with him for so many hours together, might be more than


v ol um e i ch ap te r xxi

I could bear, and that scenes might arise unpleasant to more than myself.’’ She highly approved his forbearance, and they had leisure for a full discussion of it, and for all the commendation which they civilly bestowed on each other, as Wickham and another officer walked back with them to Longbourn, and during the walk, he particularly attended to her. His accompanying them was a double advantage; she felt all the compliment it offered to herself, and it was most acceptable as an occasion of introducing him to her father and mother. Soon after their return, a letter was delivered to Miss Bennet; it came from Netherfield, and was opened immediately. The envelope contained a sheet of elegant, little, hot pressed paper,1 well covered with a lady’s fair, flowing hand; and Elizabeth saw her sister’s countenance change as she read it, and saw her dwelling intently on some particular passages. Jane recollected herself soon, and putting the letter away, tried to join with her usual cheerfulness in the general conversation; but Elizabeth felt an anxiety on the subject which drew off her attention even from Wickham; and no sooner had he and his companion taken leave, than a glance from Jane invited her to follow her upstairs. When they had gained their own room, Jane taking out the letter, said, ‘‘This is from Caroline Bingley; what it contains, has surprised me a good deal. The whole party have left Netherfield by this time, and are on their way to town; and without any intention of coming back again. You shall hear what she says.’’ She then read the first sentence aloud, which comprised the information of their having just resolved to follow their brother to town directly, and of their meaning to dine that day in Grosvenor street,2 where Mr. Hurst had a house. The next was in these words. ‘‘I do not pretend to regret any thing I shall leave in Hertfordshire, except your society, my dearest friend; but we will hope at some future period, to enjoy many returns of the delightful intercourse we have known, and in the mean while may lessen the pain of separation by a very frequent and most unreserved correspondence. I depend on you for that.’’ To these high flown expressions, Elizabeth listened with all the insensi­

c ha pt er 21


bility of distrust; and though the suddenness of their removal surprised her, she saw nothing in it really to lament; it was not to be supposed that their absence from Netherfield would prevent Mr. Bingley’s being there; and as to the loss of their society, she was persuaded that Jane must soon cease to regard it, in the enjoyment of his. ‘‘It is unlucky,’’ said she, after a short pause, ‘‘that you should not be able to see your friends before they leave the country. But may we not hope that the period of future happiness to which Miss Bingley looks forward, may arrive earlier than she is aware, and that the delightful intercourse you have known as friends, will be renewed with yet greater satisfaction as sis­ ters?—Mr. Bingley will not be detained in London by them.’’ ‘‘Caroline decidedly says that none of the party will return into Hertfordshire this winter. I will read it to you— ‘‘When my brother left us yesterday, he imagined that the business which took him to London, might be concluded in three or four days, but as we are certain it cannot be so, and at the same time convinced that when Charles gets to town, he will be in no hurry to leave it again, we have determined on following him thither, that he may not be obliged to spend his vacant hours in a comfortless hotel. Many of my acquaintance are already there for the winter; I wish I could hear that you, my dearest friend, had any intention of making one in the croud, but of that I despair. I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hert­ fordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season generally brings, and that your beaux will be so numerous as to prevent your feeling the loss of the three, of whom we shall deprive you.’’ ‘‘It is evident by this,’’ added Jane, ‘‘that he comes back no more this winter.’’ ‘‘It is only evident that Miss Bingley does not mean he should.’’ ‘‘Why will you think so? It must be his own doing.—He is his own master. But you do not know all. I will read you the passage which particularly hurts me. I will have no reserves from you.’’ ‘‘Mr. Darcy is impatient to see his sister, and to confess the truth, we are scarcely less eager to meet her again. I


v ol um e i ch ap te r xxi

really do not think Georgiana Darcy has her equal for beauty, elegance, and accomplishments; and the affection she inspires in Louisa and myself, is heightened into something still more interesting, from the hope we dare to entertain of her being hereafter our sister. I do not know whether I ever before men­ tioned to you my feelings on this subject, but I will not leave the country without confiding them, and I trust you will not esteem them unreasonable. My brother admires her greatly already, he will have frequent opportunity now of seeing her on the most intimate footing, her relations all wish the connection as much as his own, and a sister’s partiality is not misleading me, I think, when I call Charles most capable of engaging any woman’s heart. With all these circumstances to favour an attachment and nothing to prevent it, am I wrong, my dearest Jane, in indulging the hope of an event which will secure the happiness of so many?’’ ‘‘What think you of this sentence, my dear Lizzy?’’— said Jane as she finished it. ‘‘Is it not clear enough?—Does it not expressly declare that Caroline neither expects nor wishes me to be her sister; that she is perfectly convinced of her brother’s indifference, and that if she suspects the nature of my feelings for him, she means (most kindly!) to put me on my guard? Can there be any other opinion on the subject?’’ ‘‘Yes, there can; for mine is totally different.—Will you hear it?’’ ‘‘Most willingly.’’ ‘‘You shall have it in few words. Miss Bingley sees that her brother is in love with you, and wants him to marry Miss Darcy. She follows him to town in the hope of keeping him there, and tries to persuade you that he does not care about you.’’ Jane shook her head. ‘‘Indeed, Jane, you ought to believe me.—No one who has ever seen you together, can doubt his affection. Miss Bingley I am sure cannot. She is not such a simpleton. Could she have seen half as much love in Mr. Darcy for herself, she would have ordered her wedding clothes. But the case is this. We are not rich enough, or grand enough for them; and she is the more anxious to get Miss Darcy for her brother, from the notion that when there has been one intermarriage, she may have less

c ha pt er 21


trouble in achieving a second; in which there is certainly some ingenuity, and I dare say it would succeed, if Miss de Bourgh were out of the way. But, my dearest Jane, you cannot seriously imagine that because Miss Bingley tells you her brother greatly admires Miss Darcy, he is in the smallest degree less sensible of your merit than when he took leave of you on Tuesday, or that it will be in her power to persuade him that instead of being in love with you, he is very much in love with her friend.’’ ‘‘If we thought alike of Miss Bingley,’’ replied Jane, ‘‘your representation of all this, might make me quite easy. But I know the foundation is unjust. Caroline is incapable of wilfully deceiving any one; and all that I can hope in this case is, that she is deceived herself.’’ ‘‘That is right.—You could not have started a more happy idea, since you will not take comfort in mine. Believe her to be deceived by all means. You have now done your duty by her, and must fret no longer.’’ ‘‘But, my dear sister, can I be happy, even supposing the best, in accepting a man whose sisters and friends are all wishing him to marry elsewhere?’’ ‘‘You must decide for yourself,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘and if upon mature deliberation, you find that the misery of disobliging his two sisters is more than equivalent to the happiness of being his wife, I advise you by all means to refuse him.’’ ‘‘How can you talk so?’’—said Jane faintly smiling,—‘‘you must know that though I should be exceedingly grieved at their disapprobation, I could not hesitate.’’ ‘‘I did not think you would;—and that being the case, I cannot consider your situation with much compassion.’’ ‘‘But if he returns no more this winter, my choice will never be required. A thousand things may arise in six months!’’ The idea of his returning no more Elizabeth treated with the utmost contempt. It appeared to her merely the suggestion of Caroline’s interested wishes, and she could not for a moment suppose that those wishes, however openly or artfully spoken, could influence a young man so totally independent of every one. She represented to her sister as forcibly as possible what she


v ol um e i ch ap te r xxi

felt on the subject, and had soon the pleasure of seeing its happy effect. Jane’s temper was not desponding, and she was gradually led to hope, though the diffidence of affection sometimes over­ came the hope, that Bingley would return to Netherfield and answer every wish of her heart. They agreed that Mrs. Bennet should only hear of the depar­ ture of the family, without being alarmed on the score of the gentleman’s conduct; but even this partial communication gave her a great deal of concern, and she bewailed it as exceedingly unlucky that the ladies should happen to go away, just as they were all getting so intimate together. After lamenting it however at some length, she had the consolation of thinking that Mr. Bingley would be soon down again and soon dining at Long­ bourn, and the conclusion of all was the comfortable declaration that, though he had been invited only to a family dinner, she would take care to have two full courses.3

chapter xxii

The Bennets were engaged to dine with the Lucases, and again during the chief of the day, was Miss Lucas so kind as to listen to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth took an opportunity of thanking her. ‘‘It keeps him in good humour,’’ said she, ‘‘and I am more obliged to you than I can express.’’ Charlotte assured her friend of her satisfaction in being useful, and that it amply repaid her for the little sacrifice of her time. This was very amiable, but Charlotte’s kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of;—its object was nothing less, than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins’s addresses, by engaging them towards herself. Such was Miss Lucas’s scheme; and appear­ ances were so favourable that when they parted at night, she would have felt almost sure of success if he had not been to leave Hertfordshire so very soon. But here, she did injustice to the fire and independence of his character, for it led him to escape out of Longbourn House the next morning with admir­ able slyness, and hasten to Lucas Lodge to throw himself at her feet. He was anxious to avoid the notice of his cousins, from a conviction that if they saw him depart, they could not fail to conjecture his design, and he was not willing to have the attempt known till its success could be known likewise; for though feeling almost secure, and with reason, for Charlotte had been tolerably encouraging, he was comparatively diffident since the adventure of Wednesday. His reception however was of the most flattering kind. Miss Lucas perceived him from an upper window as he walked towards the house, and instantly set out to meet him accidentally in the lane. But little had she dared to hope that so much love and eloquence awaited her there.


v ol um e i ch ap te r xxii

In as short a time as Mr. Collins’s long speeches would allow, every thing was settled between them to the satisfaction of both; and as they entered the house, he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men; and though such a solicitation must be waved for the present, the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness. The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature, must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continu­ ance; and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained. Sir William and Lady Lucas were speedily applied to for their consent; and it was bestowed with a most joyful alacrity. Mr. Collins’s present circumstances made it a most eligible match for their daughter, to whom they could give little fortune; and his prospects of future wealth were exceedingly fair. Lady Lucas began directly to calculate with more interest than the matter had ever excited before, how many years longer Mr. Bennet was likely to live; and Sir William gave it as his decided opinion, that whenever Mr. Collins should be in possession of the Longbourn estate, it would be highly expedient that both he and his wife should make their appearance at St. James’s. The whole family in short were properly overjoyed on the occasion. The younger girls formed hopes of coming out1 a year or two sooner than they might otherwise have done; and the boys were relieved from their apprehension of Charlotte’s dying an old maid. Charlotte herself was tolerably composed. She had gained her point, and had time to consider of it. Her reflections were in general satis­ factory. Mr. Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agree­ able; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband.—Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preserv­ ative from want. This preservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it. The least agreeable circumstance

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in the business, was the surprise it must occasion to Elizabeth Bennet, whose friendship she valued beyond that of any other person. Elizabeth would wonder, and probably would blame her; and though her resolution was not to be shaken, her feelings must be hurt by such disapprobation. She resolved to give her the information herself, and therefore charged Mr. Collins when he returned to Longbourn to dinner, to drop no hint of what had passed before any of the family. A promise of secrecy was of course very dutifully given, but it could not be kept without difficulty; for the curiosity excited by his long absence, burst forth in such very direct questions on his return, as required some ingenuity to evade, and he was at the same time exercising great self-denial, for he was longing to publish his prosperous love. As he was to begin his journey too early on the morrow to see any of the family, the ceremony of leave-taking was performed when the ladies moved for the night; and Mrs. Bennet with great politeness and cordiality said how happy they should be to see him at Longbourn again, whenever his other engagements might allow him to visit them. ‘‘My dear Madam,’’ he replied, ‘‘this invitation is particularly gratifying, because it is what I have been hoping to receive; and you may be very certain that I shall avail myself of it as soon as possible.’’ They were all astonished; and Mr. Bennet, who could by no means wish for so speedy a return, immediately said, ‘‘But is there not danger of Lady Catherine’s disapprobation here, my good sir?—You had better neglect your relations, than run the risk of offending your patroness.’’ ‘‘My dear sir,’’ replied Mr. Collins, ‘‘I am particularly obliged to you for this friendly caution, and you may depend upon my not taking so material a step without her ladyship’s con­ currence.’’ ‘‘You cannot be too much on your guard. Risk any thing rather than her displeasure; and if you find it likely to be raised by your coming to us again, which I should think exceedingly probable, stay quietly at home, and be satisfied that we shall take no offence.’’


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‘‘Believe me, my dear sir, my gratitude is warmly excited by such affectionate attention; and depend upon it, you will speed­ ily receive from me a letter of thanks for this, as well as for every other mark of your regard during my stay in Hertfordshire. As for my fair cousins, though my absence may not be long enough to render it necessary, I shall now take the liberty of wishing them health and happiness, not excepting my cousin Elizabeth.’’ With proper civilities the ladies then withdrew; all of them equally surprised to find that he meditated a quick return. Mrs. Bennet wished to understand by it that he thought of paying his addresses to one of her younger girls, and Mary might have been prevailed on to accept him. She rated his abilities much higher than any of the others; there was a solidity in his reflec­ tions which often struck her, and though by no means so clever as herself she thought that if encouraged to read and improve himself by such an example as her’s, he might become a very agreeable companion. But on the following morning, every hope of this kind was done away. Miss Lucas called soon after breakfast, and in a private conference with Elizabeth related the event of the day before. The possibility of Mr. Collins’s fancying himself in love with her friend had once occurred to Elizabeth within the last day or two; but that Charlotte could encourage him, seemed almost as far from possibility as that she could encourage him herself, and her astonishment was consequently so great as to overcome at first the bounds of decorum, and she could not help crying out, ‘‘Engaged to Mr. Collins! my dear Charlotte,—impossible!’’ The steady countenance which Miss Lucas had commanded in telling her story, gave way to a momentary confusion here on receiving so direct a reproach; though, as it was no more than she expected, she soon regained her composure, and calmly replied, ‘‘Why should you be surprised, my dear Eliza?—Do you think it incredible that Mr. Collins should be able to procure any woman’s good opinion, because he was not so happy as to succeed with you?’’ But Elizabeth had now recollected herself, and making a strong effort for it, was able to assure her with tolerable firmness

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that the prospect of their relationship was highly grateful to her, and that she wished her all imaginable happiness. ‘‘I see what you are feeling,’’ replied Charlotte,—‘‘you must be surprised, very much surprised,—so lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had time to think it all over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair, as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.’’ Elizabeth quietly answered ‘‘Undoubtedly;’’—and after an awkward pause, they returned to the rest of the family. Charlotte did not stay much longer, and Elizabeth was then left to reflect on what she had heard. It was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strange­ ness of Mr. Collins’s making two offers of marriage within three days, was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted. She had always felt that Charlotte’s opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she could not have supposed it possible that when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins, was a most humiliating picture!—And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.

chapter xxiii

Elizabeth was sitting with her mother and sisters, reflecting on what she had heard, and doubting whether she were authorised to mention it, when Sir William Lucas himself appeared, sent by his daughter to announce her engagement to the family. With many compliments to them, and much self-gratulation on the prospect of a connection between the houses, he unfolded the matter,—to an audience not merely wondering, but incredu­ lous; for Mrs. Bennet, with more perseverance than politeness, protested he must be entirely mistaken, and Lydia, always unguarded and often uncivil, boisterously exclaimed, ‘‘Good Lord! Sir William, how can you tell such a story?— Do not you know that Mr. Collins wants to marry Lizzy?’’ Nothing less than the complaisance of a courtier could have borne without anger such treatment; but Sir William’s good breeding carried him through it all; and though he begged leave to be positive as to the truth of his information, he listened to all their impertinence with the most forbearing courtesy. Elizabeth, feeling it incumbent on her to relieve him from so unpleasant a situation, now put herself forward to confirm his account, by mentioning her prior knowledge of it from Charlotte herself; and endeavoured to put a stop to the exclamations of her mother and sisters, by the earnestness of her congratulations to Sir William, in which she was readily joined by Jane, and by making a variety of remarks on the happiness that might be expected from the match, the excellent character of Mr. Collins, and the convenient distance of Hunsford from London. Mrs. Bennet was in fact too much overpowered to say a great deal while Sir William remained; but no sooner had he left them

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than her feelings found a rapid vent. In the first place, she persisted in disbelieving the whole of the matter; secondly, she was very sure that Mr. Collins had been taken in; thirdly she trusted that they would never be happy together; and fourthly, that the match might be broken off. Two inferences, however, were plainly deduced from the whole; one, that Eliza­ beth was the real cause of all the mischief; and the other, that she herself had been barbarously used by them all; and on these two points she principally dwelt during the rest of the day. Nothing could console and nothing appease her.—Nor did that day wear out her resentment. A week elapsed before she could see Elizabeth without scolding her, a month passed away before she could speak to Sir William or Lady Lucas without being rude, and many months were gone before she could at all forgive their daughter. Mr. Bennet’s emotions were much more tranquil on the occasion, and such as he did experience he pronounced to be of a most agreeable sort; for it gratified him, he said, to discover that Charlotte Lucas, whom he had been used to think tolerably sensible, was as foolish as his wife, and more foolish than his daughter! Jane confessed herself a little surprised at the match; but she said less of her astonishment than of her earnest desire for their happiness; nor could Elizabeth persuade her to consider it as improbable. Kitty and Lydia were far from envying Miss Lucas, for Mr. Collins was only a clergyman; and it affected them in no other way than as a piece of news to spread at Meryton. Lady Lucas could not be insensible of triumph on being able to retort on Mrs. Bennet the comfort of having a daughter well married; and she called at Longbourn rather oftener than usual to say how happy she was, though Mrs. Bennet’s sour looks and ill-natured remarks might have been enough to drive happiness away. Between Elizabeth and Charlotte there was a restraint which kept them mutually silent on the subject; and Elizabeth felt persuaded that no real confidence could ever subsist between them again. Her disappointment in Charlotte made her turn with fonder regard to her sister, of whose rectitude and delicacy


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she was sure her opinion could never be shaken, and for whose happiness she grew daily more anxious, as Bingley had now been gone a week, and nothing was heard of his return. Jane had sent Caroline an early answer to her letter, and was counting the days till she might reasonably hope to hear again. The promised letter of thanks from Mr. Collins arrived on Tuesday, addressed to their father, and written with all the solemnity of gratitude which a twelvemonth’s abode in the family might have prompted. After discharging his conscience on that head, he proceeded to inform them, with many rapturous expressions, of his happiness in having obtained the affection of their amiable neighbour, Miss Lucas, and then explained that it was merely with the view of enjoying her society that he had been so ready to close with their kind wish of seeing him again at Longbourn, whither he hoped to be able to return on Monday fortnight; for Lady Catherine, he added, so heartily approved his marriage, that she wished it to take place as soon as possible, which he trusted would be an unanswerable argument with his amiable Charlotte to name an early day for making him the happiest of men. Mr. Collins’s return into Hertfordshire was no longer a matter of pleasure to Mrs. Bennet. On the contrary she was as much disposed to complain of it as her husband.—It was very strange that he should come to Longbourn instead of to Lucas Lodge; it was also very inconvenient and exceedingly troublesome.— She hated having visitors in the house while her health was so indifferent, and lovers were of all people the most disagreeable. Such were the gentle murmurs of Mrs. Bennet, and they gave way only to the greater distress of Mr. Bingley’s continued absence. Neither Jane nor Elizabeth were comfortable on this subject. Day after day passed away without bringing any other tidings of him than the report which shortly prevailed in Meryton of his coming no more to Netherfield the whole winter; a report which highly incensed Mrs. Bennet, and which she never failed to contradict as a most scandalous falsehood. Even Elizabeth began to fear—not that Bingley was indiffer­ ent—but that his sisters would be successful in keeping him

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away. Unwilling as she was to admit an idea so destructive of Jane’s happiness, and so dishonourable to the stability of her lover, she could not prevent its frequently recurring. The united efforts of his two unfeeling sisters and of his overpowering friend, assisted by the attractions of Miss Darcy and the amuse­ ments of London, might be too much, she feared, for the strength of his attachment. As for Jane, her anxiety under this suspence was, of course, more painful than Elizabeth’s; but whatever she felt she was desirous of concealing, and between herself and Elizabeth, there­ fore, the subject was never alluded to. But as no such delicacy restrained her mother, an hour seldom passed in which she did not talk of Bingley, express her impatience for his arrival, or even require Jane to confess that if he did not come back, she should think herself very ill used. It needed all Jane’s steady mildness to bear these attacks with tolerable tranquillity. Mr. Collins returned most punctually on the Monday fort­ night, but his reception at Longbourn was not quite so gracious as it had been on his first introduction. He was too happy, however, to need much attention; and luckily for the others, the business of love-making relieved them from a great deal of his company. The chief of every day was spent by him at Lucas Lodge, and he sometimes returned to Longbourn only in time to make an apology for his absence before the family went to bed. Mrs. Bennet was really in a most pitiable state. The very mention of any thing concerning the match threw her into an agony of ill humour, and wherever she went she was sure of hearing it talked of. The sight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence. Whenever Charlotte came to see them she con­ cluded her to be anticipating the hour of possession; and when­ ever she spoke in a low voice to Mr. Collins, was convinced that they were talking of the Longbourn estate, and resolving to turn herself and her daughters out of the house, as soon as Mr. Bennet were dead. She complained bitterly of all this to her husband. ‘‘Indeed, Mr. Bennet,’’ said she, ‘‘it is very hard to think that


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Charlotte Lucas should ever be mistress of this house, that I should be forced to make way for her, and live to see her take my place in it!’’ ‘‘My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts. Let us hope for better things. Let us flatter ourselves that I may be the survivor.’’ This was not very consoling to Mrs. Bennet, and, therefore, instead of making any answer, she went on as before, ‘‘I cannot bear to think that they should have all this estate. If it was not for the entail I should not mind it.’’ ‘‘What should not you mind?’’ ‘‘I should not mind any thing at all.’’ ‘‘Let us be thankful that you are preserved from a state of such insensibility.’’ ‘‘I never can be thankful, Mr. Bennet, for any thing about the entail. How any one could have the conscience to entail away an estate from one’s own daughters I cannot understand; and all for the sake of Mr. Collins too!—Why should he have it more than anybody else?’’ ‘‘I leave it to yourself to determine,’’ said Mr. Bennet. END OF VOL. I.

Volume Two


chapter i

Miss Bingley’s letter arrived, and put an end to doubt. The very first sentence conveyed the assurance of their being all settled in London for the winter, and concluded with her brother’s regret at not having had time to pay his respects to his friends in Hertfordshire before he left the country. Hope was over, entirely over; and when Jane could attend to the rest of the letter, she found little, except the professed affection of the writer, that could give her any comfort. Miss Darcy’s praise occupied the chief of it. Her many attractions were again dwelt on, and Caroline boasted joyfully of their increasing intimacy, and ventured to predict the accomplish­ ment of the wishes which had been unfolded in her former letter. She wrote also with great pleasure of her brother’s being an inmate of Mr. Darcy’s house, and mentioned with raptures, some plans of the latter with regard to new furniture. Elizabeth, to whom Jane very soon communicated the chief of all this, heard it in silent indignation. Her heart was divided between concern for her sister, and resentment against all the others. To Caroline’s assertion of her brother’s being partial to Miss Darcy she paid no credit. That he was really fond of Jane, she doubted no more than she had ever done; and much as she had always been disposed to like him, she could not think without anger, hardly without contempt, on that easiness of temper, that want of proper resolution which now made him the slave of his designing friends, and led him to sacrifice his own happiness to the caprice of their inclinations. Had his own happiness, however, been the only sacrifice, he might have been allowed to sport with it in what ever manner he thought best;


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but her sister’s was involved in it, as she thought he must be sensible himself. It was a subject, in short, on which reflection would be long indulged, and must be unavailing. She could think of nothing else, and yet whether Bingley’s regard had really died away, or were suppressed by his friends’ interference; whether he had been aware of Jane’s attachment, or whether it had escaped his observation; whichever were the case, though her opinion of him must be materially affected by the difference, her sister’s situation remained the same, her peace equally wounded. A day or two passed before Jane had courage to speak of her feelings to Elizabeth; but at last on Mrs. Bennet’s leaving them together, after a longer irritation than usual about Netherfield and its master, she could not help saying, ‘‘Oh! that my dear mother had more command over herself; she can have no idea of the pain she gives me by her continual reflections on him. But I will not repine. It cannot last long. He will be forgot, and we shall all be as we were before.’’ Elizabeth looked at her sister with incredulous solicitude, but said nothing. ‘‘You doubt me,’’ cried Jane slightly colouring; ‘‘indeed you have no reason. He may live in my memory as the most amiable man of my acquaintance, but that is all. I have nothing either to hope or fear, and nothing to reproach him with. Thank God! I have not that pain. A little time therefore.—I shall certainly try to get the better.’’ With a stronger voice she soon added, ‘‘I have this comfort immediately, that it has not been more than an error of fancy on my side, and that it has done no harm to any one but myself.’’ ‘‘My dear Jane!’’ exclaimed Elizabeth, ‘‘you are too good. Your sweetness and disinterestedness are really angelic; I do not know what to say to you. I feel as if I had never done you justice, or loved you as you deserve.’’ Miss Bennet eagerly disclaimed all extraordinary merit, and threw back the praise on her sister’s warm affection. ‘‘Nay,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘this is not fair. You wish to think all the world respectable, and are hurt if I speak ill of any body. I only want to think you perfect, and you set yourself against it.

c ha pt er 24


Do not be afraid of my running into any excess, of my encroaching on your privilege of universal good will. You need not. There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little depen­ dence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense. I have met with two instances lately; one I will not mention; the other is Charlotte’s marriage. It is unaccountable! in every view it is unaccountable!’’ ‘‘My dear Lizzy, do not give way to such feelings as these. They will ruin your happiness. You do not make allowance enough for difference of situation and temper. Consider Mr. Collins’s respectability, and Charlotte’s prudent, steady charac­ ter. Remember that she is one of a large family; that as to fortune, it is a most eligible match; and be ready to believe, for every body’s sake, that she may feel something like regard and esteem for our cousin.’’ ‘‘To oblige you, I would try to believe almost any thing, but no one else could be benefited by such a belief as this; for were I persuaded that Charlotte had any regard for him, I should only think worse of her understanding, than I now do of her heart. My dear Jane, Mr. Collins is a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man; you know he is, as well as I do; and you must feel, as well as I do, that the woman who marries him, cannot have a proper way of thinking. You shall not defend her, though it is Charlotte Lucas. You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity, nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me, that selfishness is pru­ dence, and insensibility of danger, security for happiness.’’ ‘‘I must think your language too strong in speaking of both,’’ replied Jane, ‘‘and I hope you will be convinced of it, by seeing them happy together. But enough of this. You alluded to some­ thing else. You mentioned two instances. I cannot misunder­ stand you, but I intreat you, dear Lizzy, not to pain me by thinking that person to blame, and saying your opinion of him is sunk. We must not be so ready to fancy ourselves intentionally injured. We must not expect a lively young man to be always so


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guarded and circumspect. It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us. Women fancy admiration means more than it does.’’ ‘‘And men take care that they should.’’ ‘‘If it is designedly done, they cannot be justified; but I have no idea of there being so much design in the world as some persons imagine.’’ ‘‘I am far from attributing any part of Mr. Bingley’s conduct to design,’’ said Elizabeth; ‘‘but without scheming to do wrong, or to make others unhappy, there may be error, and there may be misery. Thoughtlessness, want of attention to other people’s feelings, and want of resolution, will do the business.’’ ‘‘And do you impute it to either of those?’’ ‘‘Yes; to the last. But if I go on, I shall displease you by say­ ing what I think of persons you esteem. Stop me whilst you can.’’ ‘‘You persist, then, in supposing his sisters influence him.’’ ‘‘Yes, in conjunction with his friend.’’ ‘‘I cannot believe it. Why should they try to influence him? They can only wish his happiness, and if he is attached to me, no other woman can secure it.’’ ‘‘Your first position is false. They may wish many things besides his happiness; they may wish his increase of wealth and consequence; they may wish him to marry a girl who has all the importance of money, great connections, and pride.’’ ‘‘Beyond a doubt, they do wish him to chuse Miss Darcy,’’ replied Jane; ‘‘but this may be from better feelings than you are supposing. They have known her much longer than they have known me; no wonder if they love her better. But, whatever may be their own wishes, it is very unlikely they should have opposed their brother’s. What sister would think herself at liberty to do it, unless there were something very objectionable? If they believed him attached to me, they would not try to part us; if he were so, they could not succeed. By supposing such an affection, you make every body acting unnaturally and wrong, and me most unhappy. Do not distress me by the idea. I am not ashamed of having been mistaken—or, at least, it is slight, it is nothing in comparison of what I should feel in thinking ill of

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him or his sisters. Let me take it in the best light, in the light in which it may be understood.’’ Elizabeth could not oppose such a wish; and from this time Mr. Bingley’s name was scarcely ever mentioned between them. Mrs. Bennet still continued to wonder and repine at his returning no more, and though a day seldom passed in which Elizabeth did not account for it clearly, there seemed little chance of her ever considering it with less perplexity. Her daughter endeavoured to convince her of what she did not believe herself, that his attentions to Jane had been merely the effect of a common and transient liking, which ceased when he saw her no more; but though the probability of the statement was admitted at the time, she had the same story to repeat every day. Mrs. Bennet’s best comfort was, that Mr. Bingley must be down again in the summer. Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. ‘‘So, Lizzy,’’ said he one day, ‘‘your sister is crossed in love I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough at Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably.’’ ‘‘Thank you, Sir, but a less agreeable man would satisfy me. We must not all expect Jane’s good fortune.’’ ‘‘True,’’ said Mr. Bennet, ‘‘but it is a comfort to think that, whatever of that kind may befal you, you have an affectionate mother who will always make the most of it.’’ Mr. Wickham’s society was of material service in dispelling the gloom, which the late perverse occurrences had thrown on many of the Longbourn family. They saw him often, and to his other recommendations was now added that of general unreserve. The whole of what Elizabeth had already heard, his claims on Mr. Darcy, and all that he had suffered from him, was now openly acknowledged and publicly canvassed; and every body was pleased to think how much they had always


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disliked Mr. Darcy before they had known any thing of the matter. Miss Bennet was the only creature who could suppose there might be any extenuating circumstances in the case, unknown to the society of Hertfordshire; her mild and steady candour always pleaded for allowances, and urged the possibility of mistakes—but by everybody else Mr. Darcy was condemned as the worst of men.

chapter ii

After a week spent in professions of love and schemes of felicity, Mr. Collins was called from his amiable Charlotte by the arrival of Saturday. The pain of separation, however, might be allevi­ ated on his side, by preparations for the reception of his bride, as he had reason to hope, that shortly after his next return into Hertfordshire, the day would be fixed that was to make him the happiest of men. He took leave of his relations at Longbourn with as much solemnity as before; wished his fair cousins health and happiness again, and promised their father another letter of thanks. On the following Monday, Mrs. Bennet had the pleasure of receiving her brother and his wife, who came as usual to spend the Christmas at Longbourn. Mr. Gardiner was a sensible, gentlemanlike man, greatly superior to his sister as well by nature as education. The Netherfield ladies would have had difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and within view of his own warehouses, could have been so well bred and agreeable. Mrs. Gardiner, who was several years younger than Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Philips, was an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her Longbourn nieces. Between the two eldest and herself especially, there sub­ sisted a very particular regard. They had frequently been staying with her in town. The first part of Mrs. Gardiner’s business on her arrival, was to distribute her presents and describe the newest fashions. When this was done, she had a less active part to play. It became her turn to listen. Mrs. Bennet had many grievances to relate, and much to complain of. They had all been very ill-used since


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she last saw her sister. Two of her girls had been on the point of marriage, and after all there was nothing in it. ‘‘I do not blame Jane,’’ she continued, ‘‘for Jane would have got Mr. Bingley, if she could. But, Lizzy! Oh, sister! it is very hard to think that she might have been Mr. Collins’s wife by this time, had not it been for her own perverseness. He made her an offer in this very room, and she refused him. The conse­ quence of it is, that Lady Lucas will have a daughter married before I have, and that Longbourn estate is just as much entailed as ever. The Lucases are very artful people indeed, sister. They are all for what they can get. I am sorry to say it of them, but so it is. It makes me very nervous and poorly, to be thwarted so in my own family, and to have neighbours who think of themselves before anybody else. However, your coming just at this time is the greatest of comforts, and I am very glad to hear what you tell us, of long sleeves.’’ Mrs. Gardiner, to whom the chief of this news had been given before, in the course of Jane and Elizabeth’s correspondence with her, made her sister a slight answer, and in compassion to her nieces turned the conversation. When alone with Elizabeth afterwards, she spoke more on the subject. ‘‘It seems likely to have been a desirable match for Jane,’’ said she. ‘‘I am sorry it went off. But these things happen so often! A young man, such as you describe Mr. Bingley, so easily falls in love with a pretty girl for a few weeks, and when accident separates them, so easily forgets her, that these sort of inconstancies are very frequent.’’ ‘‘An excellent consolation in its way,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘but it will not do for us. We do not suffer by accident. It does not often happen that the interference of friends will persuade a young man of independent fortune to think no more of a girl, whom he was violently in love with only a few days before.’’ ‘‘But that expression of ‘violently in love’ is so hackneyed, so doubtful, so indefinite, that it gives me very little idea. It is as often applied to feelings which arise from an half-hour’s acquaintance, as to a real, strong attachment. Pray, how violent was Mr. Bingley’s love?’’ ‘‘I never saw a more promising inclination. He was growing

c ha pt er 25


quite inattentive to other people, and wholly engrossed by her. Every time they met, it was more decided and remarkable. At his own ball he offended two or three young ladies, by not asking them to dance, and I spoke to him twice myself, without receiving an answer. Could there be finer symptoms? Is not general incivility the very essence of love?’’ ‘‘Oh, yes!—of that kind of love which I suppose him to have felt. Poor Jane! I am sorry for her, because, with her disposition, she may not get over it immediately. It had better have happened to you, Lizzy; you would have laughed yourself out of it sooner. But do you think she would be prevailed on to go back with us? Change of scene might be of service—and perhaps a little relief from home, may be as useful as anything.’’ Elizabeth was exceedingly pleased with this proposal, and felt persuaded of her sister’s ready acquiescence. ‘‘I hope,’’ added Mrs. Gardiner, ‘‘that no consideration with regard to this young man will influence her. We live in so different a part of town, all our connections are so different, and, as you well know, we go out so little, that it is very improbable they should meet at all, unless he really comes to see her.’’ ‘‘And that is quite impossible; for he is now in the custody of his friend, and Mr. Darcy would no more suffer him to call on Jane in such a part of London! My dear aunt, how could you think of it? Mr. Darcy may perhaps have heard of such a place as Gracechurch Street,1 but he would hardly think a month’s ablution enough to cleanse him from its impurities, were he once to enter it; and depend upon it, Mr. Bingley never stirs without him.’’ ‘‘So much the better. I hope they will not meet at all. But does not Jane correspond with the sister? She will not be able to help calling.’’ ‘‘She will drop the acquaintance entirely.’’ But in spite of the certainty in which Elizabeth affected to place this point, as well as the still more interesting one of Bingley’s being withheld from seeing Jane, she felt a solici­ tude on the subject which convinced her, on examination, that she did not consider it entirely hopeless. It was possible, and


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sometimes she thought it probable, that his affection might be reanimated, and the influence of his friends successfully combated by the more natural influence of Jane’s attractions. Miss Bennet accepted her aunt’s invitation with pleasure; and the Bingleys were no otherwise in her thoughts at the time, than as she hoped that, by Caroline’s not living in the same house with her brother, she might occasionally spend a morning with her, without any danger of seeing him. The Gardiners staid a week at Longbourn; and what with the Philipses, the Lucases, and the officers, there was not a day without its engagement. Mrs. Bennet had so carefully provided for the entertainment of her brother and sister, that they did not once sit down to a family dinner. When the engagement was for home, some of the officers always made part of it, of which officers Mr. Wickham was sure to be one; and on these occasions, Mrs. Gardiner, rendered suspicious by Elizabeth’s warm commendation of him, narrowly observed them both. Without supposing them, from what she saw, to be very seri­ ously in love, their preference of each other was plain enough to make her a little uneasy; and she resolved to speak to Elizabeth on the subject before she left Hertfordshire, and represent to her the imprudence of encouraging such an attachment. To Mrs. Gardiner, Wickham had one means of affording pleasure, unconnected with his general powers. About ten or a dozen years ago, before her marriage, she had spent a consider­ able time in that very part of Derbyshire, to which he belonged. They had, therefore, many acquaintance in common; and, though Wickham had been little there since the death of Darcy’s father, five years before, it was yet in his power to give her fresher intelligence of her former friends, than she had been in the way of procuring. Mrs. Gardiner had seen Pemberley, and known the late Mr. Darcy by character perfectly well. Here consequently was an inexhaustible subject of discourse. In comparing her recollection of Pemberley, with the minute description which Wickham could give, and in bestowing her tribute of praise on the charac­ ter of its late possessor, she was delighting both him and herself. On being made acquainted with the present Mr. Darcy’s treat­

c ha pt er 25


ment of him, she tried to remember something of that gentle­ man’s reputed disposition, when quite a lad, which might agree with it, and was confident at last, that she recollected having heard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud, ill-natured boy.

chapter iii

Mrs. Gardiner’s caution to Elizabeth was punctually and kindly given on the first favourable opportunity of speaking to her alone; after honestly telling her what she thought, she thus went on: ‘‘You are too sensible a girl, Lizzy, to fall in love merely because you are warned against it; and, therefore, I am not afraid of speaking openly. Seriously, I would have you be on your guard. Do not involve yourself, or endeavour to involve him in an affection which the want of fortune would make so very imprudent. I have nothing to say against him; he is a most interesting young man; and if he had the fortune he ought to have, I should think you could not do better. But as it is— you must not let your fancy run away with you. You have sense, and we all expect you to use it. Your father would depend on your resolution and good conduct, I am sure. You must not disappoint your father.’’ ‘‘My dear aunt, this is being serious indeed.’’ ‘‘Yes, and I hope to engage you to be serious likewise.’’ ‘‘Well, then, you need not be under any alarm. I will take care of myself, and of Mr. Wickham too. He shall not be in love with me, if I can prevent it.’’ ‘‘Elizabeth, you are not serious now.’’ ‘‘I beg your pardon. I will try again. At present I am not in love with Mr. Wickham; no, I certainly am not. But he is, beyond all comparison, the most agreeable man I ever saw—and if he becomes really attached to me—I believe it will be better that he should not. I see the imprudence of it.—Oh! that abominable Mr. Darcy!—My father’s opinion of me does me the greatest

c ha pt er 26


honor; and I should be miserable to forfeit it. My father, how­ ever, is partial to Mr. Wickham. In short, my dear aunt, I should be very sorry to be the means of making any of you unhappy; but since we see every day that where there is affection, young people are seldom withheld by immediate want of fortune, from entering into engagements with each other, how can I promise to be wiser than so many of my fellow-creatures if I am tempted, or how am I even to know that it would be wisdom to resist? All that I can promise you, therefore, is not to be in a hurry. I will not be in a hurry to believe myself his first object. When I am in company with him, I will not be wishing. In short, I will do my best.’’ ‘‘Perhaps it will be as well, if you discourage his coming here so very often. At least, you should not remind your Mother of inviting him.’’ ‘‘As I did the other day,’’ said Elizabeth, with a conscious smile; ‘‘very true, it will be wise in me to refrain from that. But do not imagine that he is always here so often. It is on your account that he has been so frequently invited this week. You know my mother’s ideas as to the necessity of constant company for her friends. But really, and upon my honour, I will try to do what I think to be wisest; and now, I hope you are satisfied.’’ Her aunt assured her that she was; and Elizabeth having thanked her for the kindness of her hints, they parted; a wonder­ ful instance of advice being given on such a point, without being resented. Mr. Collins returned into Hertfordshire soon after it had been quitted by the Gardiners and Jane; but as he took up his abode with the Lucases, his arrival was no great inconvenience to Mrs. Bennet. His marriage was now fast approaching, and she was at length so far resigned as to think it inevitable, and even repeat­ edly to say in an ill-natured tone that she ‘‘wished they might be happy.’’ Thursday was to be the wedding day, and on Wed­ nesday Miss Lucas paid her farewell visit; and when she rose to take leave, Elizabeth, ashamed of her mother’s ungracious and reluctant good wishes, and sincerely affected herself, accom­ panied her out of the room. As they went down stairs together, Charlotte said,


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‘‘I shall depend on hearing from you very often, Eliza.’’ ‘‘That you certainly shall.’’ ‘‘And I have another favour to ask. Will you come and see me?’’ ‘‘We shall often meet, I hope, in Hertfordshire.’’ ‘‘I am not likely to leave Kent for some time. Promise me, therefore, to come to Hunsford.’’ Elizabeth could not refuse, though she foresaw little pleasure in the visit. ‘‘My father and Maria are to come to me in March,’’ added Charlotte, ‘‘and I hope you will consent to be of the party. Indeed, Eliza, you will be as welcome to me as either of them.’’ The wedding took place; the bride and bridegroom set off for Kent from the church door, and every body had as much to say or to hear on the subject as usual. Elizabeth soon heard from her friend; and their correspondence was as regular and frequent as it had ever been; that it should be equally unreserved was impossible. Elizabeth could never address her without feeling that all the comfort of intimacy was over, and, though deter­ mined not to slacken as a correspondent, it was for the sake of what had been, rather than what was. Charlotte’s first letters were received with a good deal of eagerness; there could not but be curiosity to know how she would speak of her new home, how she would like Lady Catherine, and how happy she would dare pronounce herself to be; though, when the letters were read, Elizabeth felt that Charlotte expressed herself on every point exactly as she might have foreseen. She wrote cheerfully, seemed surrounded with comforts, and mentioned nothing which she could not praise. The house, furniture, neighbour­ hood, and roads, were all to her taste, and Lady Catherine’s behaviour was most friendly and obliging. It was Mr. Collins’s picture of Hunsford and Rosings rationally softened; and Eliza­ beth perceived that she must wait for her own visit there, to know the rest. Jane had already written a few lines to her sister to announce their safe arrival in London; and when she wrote again, Eliza­ beth hoped it would be in her power to say something of the Bingleys.

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Her impatience for this second letter was as well rewarded as impatience generally is. Jane had been a week in town, without either seeing or hearing from Caroline. She accounted for it, however, by supposing that her last letter to her friend from Longbourn, had by some accident been lost. ‘‘My aunt,’’ she continued, ‘‘is going to-morrow into that part of the town, and I shall take the opportunity of calling in Grosvenor-street.’’ She wrote again when the visit was paid, and she had seen Miss Bingley. ‘‘I did not think Caroline in spirits,’’ were her words, ‘‘but she was very glad to see me, and reproached me for giving her no notice of my coming to London. I was right, therefore; my last letter had never reached her. I enquired after their brother, of course. He was well, but so much engaged with Mr. Darcy, that they scarcely ever saw him. I found that Miss Darcy was expected to dinner. I wish I could see her. My visit was not long, as Caroline and Mrs. Hurst were going out. I dare say I shall soon see them here.’’ Elizabeth shook her head over this letter. It convinced her, that accident only could discover to Mr. Bingley her sister’s being in town. Four weeks passed away, and Jane saw nothing of him. She endeavoured to persuade herself that she did not regret it; but she could no longer be blind to Miss Bingley’s inattention. After waiting at home every morning for a fortnight, and inventing every evening a fresh excuse for her, the visitor did at last appear; but the shortness of her stay, and yet more, the alteration of her manner, would allow Jane to deceive herself no longer. The letter which she wrote on this occasion to her sister, will prove what she felt. ‘‘My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing in her better judgment, at my expence, when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley’s regard for me. But, my dear sister, though the event has proved you right, do not think me obstinate if I still assert, that, considering what her behaviour was, my confidence was as natural as your suspicion. I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing to be intimate with me, but if the same circumstances were to happen again, I


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am sure I should be deceived again. Caroline did not return my visit till yesterday; and not a note, not a line, did I receive in the mean time. When she did come, it was very evident that she had no pleasure in it; she made a slight, formal, apology for not calling before, said not a word of wishing to see me again, and was in every respect so altered a creature, that when she went away, I was perfectly resolved to continue the acquaintance no longer. I pity, though I cannot help blaming her. She was very wrong in singling me out as she did; I can safely say, that every advance to intimacy began on her side. But I pity her, because she must feel that she has been acting wrong, and because I am very sure that anxiety for her brother is the cause of it. I need not explain myself farther; and though we know this anxiety to be quite needless, yet if she feels it, it will easily account for her behaviour to me; and so deservedly dear as he is to his sister, whatever anxiety she may feel on his behalf, is natural and amiable. I cannot but wonder, however, at her having any such fears now, because, if he had at all cared about me, we must have met long, long ago. He knows of my being in town, I am certain, from something she said herself; and yet it should seem by her manner of talking, as if she wanted to persuade herself that he is really partial to Miss Darcy. I cannot understand it. If I were not afraid of judging harshly, I should be almost tempted to say, that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all this. But I will endeavour to banish every painful thought, and think only of what will make me happy, your affection, and the invariable kindness of my dear uncle and aunt. Let me hear from you very soon. Miss Bingley said something of his never returning to Netherfield again, of giving up the house, but not with any certainty. We had better not mention it. I am extremely glad that you have such pleasant accounts from our friends at Hunsford. Pray go to see them, with Sir William and Maria. I am sure you will be very comfortable there. ‘‘Your’s, &c.’’ This letter gave Elizabeth some pain; but her spirits returned as she considered that Jane would no longer be duped, by the sister at least. All expectation from the brother was now absolutely over. She would not even wish for any renewal of his

c ha pt er 26


attentions. His character sunk on every review of it; and as a punishment for him, as well as a possible advantage to Jane, she seriously hoped he might really soon marry Mr. Darcy’s sister, as, by Wickham’s account, she would make him abundantly regret what he had thrown away. Mrs. Gardiner about this time reminded Elizabeth of her promise concerning that gentleman, and required information; and Elizabeth had such to send as might rather give contentment to her aunt than to herself. His apparent partiality had subsided, his attentions were over, he was the admirer of some one else. Elizabeth was watchful enough to see it all, but she could see it and write of it without material pain. Her heart had been but slightly touched, and her vanity was satisfied with believing that she would have been his only choice, had fortune permitted it. The sudden acquisition of ten thousand pounds was the most remarkable charm of the young lady to whom he was now rendering himself agreeable; but Elizabeth, less clear sighted perhaps in his case than in Charlotte’s, did not quarrel with him for his wish of independence. Nothing, on the contrary, could be more natural; and while able to suppose that it cost him a few struggles to relinquish her, she was ready to allow it a wise and desirable measure for both, and could very sincerely wish him happy. All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner; and after relating the circumstances, she thus went on:—‘‘I am now con­ vinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. But my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl. There can be no love in all this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I should certainly be a more interesting object to all my acquaintance, were I distractedly in love with him, I cannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance. Importance may sometimes be purchased too dearly. Kitty and Lydia take his defection much more to heart than I do. They are young in the ways of the


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world, and not yet open to the mortifying conviction that hand­ some young men must have something to live on, as well as the plain.’’

chapter iv

With no greater events than these in the Longbourn family, and otherwise diversified by little beyond the walks to Meryton, sometimes dirty and sometimes cold, did January and February pass away. March was to take Elizabeth to Hunsford. She had not at first thought very seriously of going thither; but Charlotte, she soon found, was depending on the plan, and she gradually learned to consider it herself with greater pleasure as well as greater certainty. Absence had increased her desire of seeing Charlotte again, and weakened her disgust of Mr. Collins. There was novelty in the scheme, and as, with such a mother and such uncompanionable sisters, home could not be faultless, a little change was not unwelcome for its own sake. The journey would moreover give her a peep at Jane; and, in short, as the time drew near, she would have been very sorry for any delay. Every thing, however, went on smoothly, and was finally settled according to Charlotte’s first sketch. She was to accompany Sir William and his second daughter. The improvement of spending a night in London was added in time, and the plan became perfect as plan could be. The only pain was in leaving her father, who would certainly miss her, and who, when it came to the point, so little liked her going, that he told her to write to him, and almost promised to answer her letter. The farewell between herself and Mr. Wickham was perfectly friendly; on his side even more. His present pursuit could not make him forget that Elizabeth had been the first to excite and to deserve his attention, the first to listen and to pity, the first to be admired; and in his manner of bidding her adieu, wishing her


v ol um e ii c h ap te r iv

every enjoyment, reminding her of what she was to expect in Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and trusting their opinion of her— their opinion of every body—would always coincide, there was a solicitude, an interest which she felt must ever attach her to him with a most sincere regard; and she parted from him convinced, that whether married or single, he must always be her model of the amiable and pleasing. Her fellow-travellers the next day, were not of a kind to make her think him less agreeable. Sir William Lucas, and his daughter Maria, a good humoured girl, but as empty-headed as himself, had nothing to say that could be worth hearing, and were listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise. Elizabeth loved absurdities, but she had known Sir William’s too long. He could tell her nothing new of the wonders of his presentation and knighthood; and his civilities were worn out like his information. It was a journey of only twenty-four miles, and they began it so early as to be in Gracechurch-street by noon. As they drove to Mr. Gardiner’s door, Jane was at a drawing-room window watching their arrival; when they entered the passage she was there to welcome them, and Elizabeth, looking earnestly in her face, was pleased to see it healthful and lovely as ever. On the stairs were a troop of little boys and girls, whose eagerness for their cousin’s appearance would not allow them to wait in the drawing-room, and whose shyness, as they had not seen her for a twelvemonth, prevented their coming lower. All was joy and kindness. The day passed most pleasantly away; the morning in bustle and shopping, and the evening at one of the theatres. Elizabeth then contrived to sit by her aunt. Their first subject was her sister; and she was more grieved than astonished to hear, in reply to her minute enquiries, that though Jane always struggled to support her spirits, there were periods of dejection. It was reasonable, however, to hope, that they would not con­ tinue long. Mrs. Gardiner gave her the particulars also of Miss Bingley’s visit in Gracechurch-street, and repeated conver­ sations occurring at different times between Jane and herself, which proved that the former had, from her heart, given up the acquaintance.

c ha pt er 27


Mrs. Gardiner then rallied her niece on Wickham’s desertion, and complimented her on bearing it so well. ‘‘But, my dear Elizabeth,’’ she added, ‘‘what sort of girl is Miss King? I should be sorry to think our friend mercen­ ary.’’ ‘‘Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin? Last Christmas you were afraid of his marrying me, because it would be imprudent; and now, because he is trying to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds, you want to find out that he is mercenary.’’ ‘‘If you will only tell me what sort of girl Miss King is, I shall know what to think.’’ ‘‘She is a very good kind of girl, I believe. I know no harm of her.’’ ‘‘But he paid her not the smallest attention, till her grand­ father’s death made her mistress of this fortune.’’ ‘‘No—why should he? If it was not allowable for him to gain my affections, because I had no money, what occasion could there be for making love to a girl whom he did not care about, and who was equally poor?’’ ‘‘But there seems indelicacy in directing his attentions towards her, so soon after this event.’’ ‘‘A man in distressed circumstances has not time for all those elegant decorums which other people may observe. If she does not object to it, why should we?’’ ‘‘Her not objecting, does not justify him. It only shews her being deficient in something herself—sense or feeling.’’ ‘‘Well,’’ cried Elizabeth, ‘‘have it as you choose. He shall be mercenary, and she shall be foolish.’’ ‘‘No, Lizzy, that is what I do not choose. I should be sorry, you know, to think ill of a young man who has lived so long in Derbyshire.’’ ‘‘Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire; and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick of them all. Thank Heaven! I am going to-morrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor


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sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all.’’ ‘‘Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of dis­ appointment.’’ Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play, she had the unexpected happiness of an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure which they proposed taking in the summer. ‘‘We have not quite determined how far it shall carry us,’’ said Mrs. Gardiner, ‘‘but perhaps to the Lakes.’’1 No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful. ‘‘My dear, dear aunt,’’ she rapturously cried, ‘‘what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to dis­ appointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what hours of transport2 we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea of any thing. We will know where we have gone—we will recollect what we have seen. Lakes, moun­ tains, and rivers, shall not be jumbled together in our imagina­ tions; nor, when we attempt to describe any particular scene, will we begin quarrelling about its relative situation. Let our first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers.’’

chapter v

Every object in the next day’s journey was new and interesting to Elizabeth; and her spirits were in a state for enjoyment; for she had seen her sister looking so well as to banish all fear for her health, and the prospect of her northern tour was a constant source of delight. When they left the high road for the lane to Hunsford, every eye was in search of the Parsonage, and every turning expected to bring it in view. The paling of Rosings park was their bound­ ary on one side. Elizabeth smiled at the recollection of all that she had heard of its inhabitants. At length the Parsonage was discernible. The garden sloping to the road, the house standing in it, the green pales and the laurel hedge, every thing declared they were arriving. Mr. Collins and Charlotte appeared at the door, and the carriage stopped at the small gate, which led by a short gravel walk to the house, amidst the nods and smiles of the whole party. In a moment they were all out of the chaise, rejoicing at the sight of each other. Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure, and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming, when she found herself so affectionately received. She saw instantly that her cousin’s manners were not altered by his marriage; his formal civility was just what it had been, and he detained her some minutes at the gate to hear and satisfy his enquiries after all her family. They were then, with no other delay than his pointing out the neatness of the entrance, taken into the house; and as soon as they were in the parlour, he welcomed them a second time with ostentatious formality to his humble abode, and punctually repeated all his wife’s offers of refreshment.


v ol um e ii c h ap te r v

Elizabeth was prepared to see him in his glory; and she could not help fancying that in displaying the good proportion of the room, its aspect and its furniture, he addressed himself particularly to her, as if wishing to make her feel what she had lost in refusing him. But though every thing seemed neat and comfortable, she was not able to gratify him by any sigh of repentance; and rather looked with wonder at her friend that she could have so cheerful an air, with such a companion. When Mr. Collins said any thing of which his wife might reasonably be ashamed, which certainly was not unseldom, she involuntarily turned her eye on Charlotte. Once or twice she could discern a faint blush; but in general Charlotte wisely did not hear. After sitting long enough to admire every article of furniture in the room, from the sideboard to the fender, to give an account of their journey and of all that had happened in London, Mr. Collins invited them to take a stroll in the garden, which was large and well laid out, and to the cultivation of which he attended himself. To work in his garden was one of his most respectable pleasures; and Elizabeth admired the command of countenance with which Charlotte talked of the healthfulness of the exercise, and owned she encouraged it as much as possible. Here, leading the way through every walk and cross walk, and scarcely allowing them an interval to utter the praises he asked for, every view was pointed out with a minuteness which left beauty entirely behind. He could number the fields in every direction, and could tell how many trees there were in the most distant clump. But of all the views which his garden, or which the county, or the kingdom could boast, none were to be com­ pared with the prospect of Rosings, afforded by an opening in the trees that bordered the park nearly opposite the front of his house. It was a handsome modern building, well situated on rising ground. From his garden, Mr. Collins would have led them round his two meadows, but the ladies not having shoes to encounter the remains of a white frost, turned back; and while Sir William accompanied him, Charlotte took her sister and friend over the house, extremely well pleased, probably, to have the opportu­ nity of shewing it without her husband’s help. It was rather

c ha pt er 28


small, but well built and convenient; and every thing was fitted up and arranged with a neatness and consistency of which Elizabeth gave Charlotte all the credit. When Mr. Collins could be forgotten, there was really a great air of comfort throughout, and by Charlotte’s evident enjoyment of it, Elizabeth supposed he must be often forgotten. She had already learnt that Lady Catherine was still in the country. It was spoken of again while they were at dinner, when Mr. Collins joining in, observed, ‘‘Yes, Miss Elizabeth, you will have the honour of seeing Lady Catherine de Bourgh on the ensuing Sunday at church, and I need not say you will be delighted with her. She is all affability and condescension, and I doubt not but you will be honoured with some portion of her notice when service is over. I have scarcely any hesitation in saying that she will include you and my sister Maria in every invitation with which she honours us during your stay here. Her behaviour to my dear Charlotte is charming. We dine at Rosings twice every week, and are never allowed to walk home. Her ladyship’s carriage is regularly ordered for us. I should say, one of her ladyship’s carriages, for she has several.’’ ‘‘Lady Catherine is a very respectable, sensible woman indeed,’’ added Charlotte, ‘‘and a most attentive neighbour.’’ ‘‘Very true, my dear, that is exactly what I say. She is the sort of woman whom one cannot regard with too much deference.’’ The evening was spent chiefly in talking over Hertfordshire news, and telling again what had been already written; and when it closed, Elizabeth in the solitude of her chamber had to meditate upon Charlotte’s degree of contentment, to understand her address in guiding, and composure in bearing with her husband, and to acknowledge that it was all done very well. She had also to anticipate how her visit would pass, the quiet tenor of their usual employments, the vexatious interruptions of Mr. Collins, and the gaieties of their intercourse with Rosings. A lively imagination soon settled it all. About the middle of the next day, as she was in her room getting ready for a walk, a sudden noise below seemed to speak the whole house in confusion; and after listening a moment, she


v ol um e ii c h ap te r v

heard somebody running up stairs in a violent hurry, and calling loudly after her. She opened the door, and met Maria in the landing place, who, breathless with agitation, cried out, ‘‘Oh, my dear Eliza! pray make haste and come into the dining-room, for there is such a sight to be seen! I will not tell you what it is. Make haste, and come down this moment.’’ Elizabeth asked questions in vain; Maria would tell her noth­ ing more, and down they ran into the dining-room, which fronted the lane, in quest of this wonder; it was two ladies stopping in a low phaeton at the garden gate. ‘‘And is this all?’’ cried Elizabeth. ‘‘I expected at least that the pigs were got into the garden, and here is nothing but Lady Catherine and her daughter!’’ ‘‘La! my dear,’’ said Maria quite shocked at the mistake, ‘‘it is not Lady Catherine. The old lady is Mrs. Jenkinson, who lives with them. The other is Miss De Bourgh. Only look at her. She is quite a little creature. Who would have thought she could be so thin and small!’’ ‘‘She is abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this wind. Why does she not come in?’’ ‘‘Oh! Charlotte says, she hardly ever does. It is the greatest of favours when Miss De Bourgh comes in.’’ ‘‘I like her appearance,’’ said Elizabeth, struck with other ideas. ‘‘She looks sickly and cross.—Yes, she will do for him very well. She will make him a very proper wife.’’ Mr. Collins and Charlotte were both standing at the gate in conversation with the ladies; and Sir William, to Elizabeth’s high diversion, was stationed in the door-way, in earnest con­ templation of the greatness before him, and constantly bowing whenever Miss De Bourgh looked that way. At length there was nothing more to be said; the ladies drove on, and the others returned into the house. Mr. Collins no sooner saw the two girls than he began to congratulate them on their good fortune, which Charlotte explained by letting them know that the whole party was asked to dine at Rosings the next day.

chapter vi

Mr. Collins’s triumph in consequence of this invitation was complete. The power of displaying the grandeur of his patroness to his wondering visitors, and of letting them see her civility towards himself and his wife, was exactly what he had wished for, and that an opportunity of doing it should be given so soon, was such an instance of Lady Catherine’s condescension as he knew not how to admire enough. ‘‘I confess,’’ said he, ‘‘that I should not have been at all surprised by her Ladyship’s asking us on Sunday to drink tea and spend the evening at Rosings. I rather expected, from my knowledge of her affability, that it would happen. But who could have foreseen such an attention as this? Who could have imagined that we should receive an invitation to dine there (an invitation moreover including the whole party) so immediately after your arrival!’’ ‘‘I am the less surprised at what has happened,’’ replied Sir William, ‘‘from that knowledge of what the manners of the great really are, which my situation in life has allowed me to acquire. About the Court, such instances of elegant breeding are not uncommon.’’ Scarcely any thing was talked of the whole day or next morn­ ing, but their visit to Rosings. Mr. Collins was carefully instructing them in what they were to expect, that the sight of such rooms, so many servants, and so splendid a dinner might not wholly overpower them. When the ladies were separating for the toilette, he said to Elizabeth, ‘‘Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your


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apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us, which becomes herself and daughter. I would advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest, there is no occasion for any thing more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.’’ While they were dressing, he came two or three times to their different doors, to recommend their being quick, as Lady Catherine very much objected to be kept waiting for her dinner.—Such formidable accounts of her Ladyship, and her manner of living, quite frightened Maria Lucas, who had been little used to company, and she looked forward to her introduc­ tion at Rosings, with as much apprehension, as her father had done to his presentation at St. James’s. As the weather was fine, they had a pleasant walk of about half a mile across the park.—Every park has its beauty and its prospects; and Elizabeth saw much to be pleased with, though she could not be in such raptures as Mr. Collins expected the scene to inspire, and was but slightly affected by his enumeration of the windows in front of the house, and his relation of what the glazing altogether had originally cost Sir Lewis De Bourgh. When they ascended the steps to the hall, Maria’s alarm was every moment increasing, and even Sir William did not look perfectly calm.—Elizabeth’s courage did not fail her. She had heard nothing of Lady Catherine that spoke her awful from any extraordinary talents or miraculous virtue, and the mere stateliness of money and rank, she thought she could witness without trepidation. From the entrance hall, of which Mr. Collins pointed out, with a rapturous air, the fine proportion and finished ornaments, they followed the servants through an antichamber, to the room where Lady Catherine, her daughter, and Mrs. Jenkinson were sitting.—Her Ladyship, with great condescension, arose to receive them; and as Mrs. Collins had settled it with her husband that the office of introduction should be her’s, it was performed in a proper manner, without any of those apologies and thanks which he would have thought necessary. In spite of having been at St. James’s, Sir William was so

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completely awed, by the grandeur surrounding him, that he had but just courage enough to make a very low bow, and take his seat without saying a word; and his daughter, frightened almost out of her senses, sat on the edge of her chair, not knowing which way to look. Elizabeth found herself quite equal to the scene, and could observe the three ladies before her composedly.—Lady Catherine was a tall, large woman, with strongly-marked features, which might once have been hand­ some. Her air was not conciliating, nor was her manner of receiving them, such as to make her visitors forget their inferior rank. She was not rendered formidable by silence; but whatever she said, was spoken in so authoritative a tone, as marked her self-importance, and brought Mr. Wickham immediately to Elizabeth’s mind; and from the observation of the day altogether, she believed Lady Catherine to be exactly what he had represented. When, after examining the mother, in whose countenance and deportment she soon found some resemblance of Mr. Darcy, she turned her eyes on the daughter, she could almost have joined in Maria’s astonishment, at her being so thin, and so small. There was neither in figure nor face, any likeness between the ladies. Miss De Bourgh was pale and sickly; her features, though not plain, were insignificant; and she spoke very little, except in a low voice, to Mrs. Jenkinson, in whose appearance there was nothing remarkable, and who was entirely engaged in listening to what she said, and placing a screen in the proper direction1 before her eyes. After sitting a few minutes, they were all sent to one of the windows, to admire the view, Mr. Collins attending them to point out its beauties, and Lady Catherine kindly informing them that it was much better worth looking at in the summer. The dinner was exceedingly handsome, and there were all the servants, and all the articles of plate which Mr. Collins had promised; and, as he had likewise foretold, he took his seat at the bottom of the table, by her ladyship’s desire, and looked as if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater.—He carved, and ate, and praised with delighted alacrity; and every dish was commended, first by him, and then by Sir William, who was


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now enough recovered to echo whatever his son in law said, in a manner which Elizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could bear. But Lady Catherine seemed gratified by their excessive admiration, and gave most gracious smiles, especially when any dish on the table proved a novelty to them. The party did not supply much conversation. Elizabeth was ready to speak whenever there was an opening, but she was seated between Charlotte and Miss De Bourgh—the former of whom was engaged in listening to Lady Catherine, and the latter said not a word to her all dinner time. Mrs. Jenkinson was chiefly employed in watching how little Miss De Bourgh ate, pressing her to try some other dish, and fearing she were indisposed. Maria thought speaking out of the question, and the gentlemen did nothing but eat and admire. When the ladies returned to the drawing room, there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did without any intermission till coffee came in, delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to have her judgment controverted. She enquired into Charlotte’s domestic concerns familiarly and minutely, and gave her a great deal of advice, as to the manage­ ment of them all; told her how every thing ought to be regulated in so small a family as her’s, and instructed her as to the care of her cows and her poultry. Elizabeth found that nothing was beneath this great Lady’s attention, which could furnish her with an occasion of dictating to others. In the intervals of her discourse with Mrs. Collins, she addressed a variety of questions to Maria and Elizabeth, but especially to the latter, of whose connections she knew the least, and who she observed to Mrs. Collins, was a very genteel, pretty kind of girl. She asked her at different times, how many sisters she had, whether they were older or younger than herself, whether any of them were likely to be married, whether they were handsome, where they had been educated, what carriage her father kept, and what had been her mother’s maiden name?—Elizabeth felt all the imperti­ nence of her questions, but answered them very composedly.— Lady Catherine then observed, ‘‘Your father’s estate is entailed on Mr. Collins, I think. For

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your sake,’’ turning to Charlotte, ‘‘I am glad of it; but otherwise I see no occasion for entailing estates from the female line.—It was not thought necessary in Sir Lewis de Bourgh’s family.— Do you play and sing, Miss Bennet?’’ ‘‘A little.’’ ‘‘Oh! then—some time or other we shall be happy to hear you. Our instrument is a capital one, probably superior to— You shall try it some day.—Do your sisters play and sing?’’ ‘‘One of them does.’’ ‘‘Why did not you all learn?—You ought all to have learned. The Miss Webbs all play, and their father has not so good an income as your’s.—Do you draw?’’ ‘‘No, not at all.’’ ‘‘What, none of you?’’ ‘‘Not one.’’ ‘‘That is very strange. But I suppose you had no opportunity. Your mother should have taken you to town every spring for the benefit of masters.’’ ‘‘My mother would have had no objection, but my father hates London.’’ ‘‘Has your governess left you?’’ ‘‘We never had any governess.’’ ‘‘No governess! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without a governess!—I never heard of such a thing. Your mother must have been quite a slave to your education.’’ Elizabeth could hardly help smiling, as she assured her that had not been the case. ‘‘Then, who taught you? who attended to you? Without a governess you must have been neglected.’’2 ‘‘Compared with some families, I believe we were; but such of us as wished to learn, never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary. Those who chose to be idle, certainly might.’’ ‘‘Aye, no doubt; but that is what a governess will prevent, and if I had known your mother, I should have advised her most strenuously to engage one. I always say that nothing is to be done in education without steady and regular instruction, and


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nobody but a governess can give it. It is wonderful how many families I have been the means of supplying in that way. I am always glad to get a young person well placed out.3 Four nieces of Mrs. Jenkinson are most delightfully situated through my means; and it was but the other day, that I recommended another young person, who was merely accidentally mentioned to me, and the family are quite delighted with her. Mrs. Collins, did I tell you of Lady Metcalfe’s calling yesterday to thank me? She finds Miss Pope a treasure. ‘Lady Catherine,’ said she, ‘you have given me a treasure.’ Are any of your younger sisters out, Miss Bennet?’’ ‘‘Yes, Ma’am, all.’’ ‘‘All!—What, all five out at once? Very odd!—And you only the second.—The younger ones out before the elder are married!—Your younger sisters must be very young?’’ ‘‘Yes, my youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps she is full young to be much in company. But really, Ma’am, I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters, that they should not have their share of society and amusement because the elder may not have the means or inclination to marry early.—The last born has as good a right to the pleasures of youth, as the first. And to be kept back on such a motive!—I think it would not be very likely to promote sisterly affection or delicacy of mind.’’ ‘‘Upon my word,’’ said her Ladyship, ‘‘you give your opinion very decidedly for so young a person.—Pray, what is your age?’’ ‘‘With three younger sisters grown up,’’ replied Elizabeth smiling, ‘‘your Ladyship can hardly expect me to own it.’’ Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence. ‘‘You cannot be more than twenty, I am sure,—therefore you need not conceal your age.’’ ‘‘I am not one and twenty.’’ When the gentlemen had joined them, and tea was over, the card tables were placed. Lady Catherine, Sir William, and Mr. and Mrs. Collins sat down to quadrille; and as Miss De Bourgh chose to play at cassino,4 the two girls had the honour of

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assisting Mrs. Jenkinson to make up her party. Their table was superlatively stupid. Scarcely a syllable was uttered that did not relate to the game, except when Mrs. Jenkinson expressed her fears of Miss De Bourgh’s being too hot or too cold, or having too much or too little light. A great deal more passed at the other table. Lady Catherine was generally speaking—stating the mistakes of the three others, or relating some anecdote of herself. Mr. Collins was employed in agreeing to every thing her Ladyship said, thanking her for every fish he won, and apologising if he thought he won too many. Sir William did not say much. He was storing his memory with anecdotes and noble names. When Lady Catherine and her daughter had played as long as they chose, the tables were broke up, the carriage was offered to Mrs. Collins, gratefully accepted, and immediately ordered. The party then gathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine determine what weather they were to have on the morrow. From these instructions they were summoned by the arrival of the coach, and with many speeches of thankfulness on Mr. Collins’s side, and as many bows on Sir William’s, they departed. As soon as they had driven from the door, Elizabeth was called on by her cousin, to give her opinion of all that she had seen at Rosings, which, for Charlotte’s sake, she made more favourable than it really was. But her commendation, though costing her some trouble, could by no means satisfy Mr. Collins, and he was very soon obliged to take her Ladyship’s praise into his own hands.

chapter vii

Sir William staid only a week at Hunsford; but his visit was long enough to convince him of his daughter’s being most comfortably settled, and of her possessing such a husband and such a neighbour as were not often met with. While Sir William was with them, Mr. Collins devoted his mornings to driving him out in his gig,1 and shewing him the country; but when he went away, the whole family returned to their usual employ­ ments, and Elizabeth was thankful to find that they did not see more of her cousin by the alteration, for the chief of the time between breakfast and dinner was now passed by him either at work in the garden, or in reading and writing, and looking out of window in his own book room, which fronted the road. The room in which the ladies sat was backwards. Elizabeth at first had rather wondered that Charlotte should not prefer the dining parlour for common use; it was a better sized room, and had a pleasanter aspect; but she soon saw that her friend had an excellent reason for what she did, for Mr. Collins would undoubtedly have been much less in his own apartment, had they sat in one equally lively; and she gave Charlotte credit for the arrangement. From the drawing room they could distinguish nothing in the lane, and were indebted to Mr. Collins for the knowledge of what carriages went along, and how often especially Miss De Bourgh drove by in her phaeton, which he never failed coming to inform them of, though it happened almost every day. She not unfrequently stopped at the Parsonage, and had a few minutes’ conversation with Charlotte, but was scarcely ever prevailed on to get out.

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Very few days passed in which Mr. Collins did not walk to Rosings, and not many in which his wife did not think it neces­ sary to go likewise; and till Elizabeth recollected that there might be other family livings to be disposed of, she could not understand the sacrifice of so many hours. Now and then, they were honoured with a call from her Ladyship, and nothing escaped her observation that was passing in the room during these visits. She examined into their employments, looked at their work, and advised them to do it differently; found fault with the arrangement of the furniture, or detected the housemaid in negligence; and if she accepted any refreshment, seemed to do it only for the sake of finding out that Mrs. Collins’s joints of meat were too large for her family. Elizabeth soon perceived that though this great lady was not in the commission of the peace2 for the county, she was a most active magistrate in her own parish, the minutest concerns of which were carried to her by Mr. Collins; and whenever any of the cottagers were disposed to be quarrelsome, discontented or too poor, she sallied forth into the village to settle their differ­ ences, silence their complaints, and scold them into harmony and plenty. The entertainment of dining at Rosings was repeated about twice a week; and, allowing for the loss of Sir William, and there being only one card table in the evening, every such enter­ tainment was the counterpart of the first. Their other engage­ ments were few; as the style of living of the neighbourhood in general, was beyond the Collinses’ reach. This however was no evil to Elizabeth, and upon the whole she spent her time comfortably enough; there were half hours of pleasant conver­ sation with Charlotte, and the weather was so fine for the time of year, that she had often great enjoyment out of doors. Her favourite walk, and where she frequently went while the others were calling on Lady Catherine, was along the open grove which edged that side of the park, where there was a nice sheltered path, which no one seemed to value but herself, and where she felt beyond the reach of Lady Catherine’s curiosity. In this quiet way, the first fortnight of her visit soon passed away. Easter was approaching, and the week preceding it, was


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to bring an addition to the family at Rosings, which in so small a circle must be important. Elizabeth had heard soon after her arrival, that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the course of a few weeks, and though there were not many of her acquaintance whom she did not prefer, his coming would furnish one com­ paratively new to look at in their Rosings parties, and she might be amused in seeing how hopeless Miss Bingley’s designs on him were, by his behaviour to his cousin, for whom he was evidently destined by Lady Catherine; who talked of his coming with the greatest satisfaction, spoke of him in terms of the highest admiration, and seemed almost angry to find that he had already been frequently seen by Miss Lucas and herself. His arrival was soon known at the Parsonage, for Mr. Collins was walking the whole morning within view of the lodges open­ ing into Hunsford Lane, in order to have the earliest assurance of it; and after making his bow as the carriage turned into the Park, hurried home with the great intelligence. On the following morning he hastened to Rosings to pay his respects. There were two nephews of Lady Catherine to require them, for Mr. Darcy had brought with him a Colonel Fitzwilliam, the younger son of his uncle, Lord —— and to the great surprise of all the party, when Mr. Collins returned the gentlemen accompanied him. Charlotte had seen them from her husband’s room, crossing the road, and immediately running into the other, told the girls what an honour they might expect, adding. ‘‘I may thank you, Eliza, for this piece of civility. Mr. Darcy would never have come so soon to wait upon me.’’ Elizabeth had scarcely time to disclaim all right to the compli­ ment, before their approach was announced by the door-bell, and shortly afterwards the three gentlemen entered the room. Colonel Fitzwilliam, who led the way, was about thirty, not handsome, but in person and address most truly the gentleman. Mr. Darcy looked just as he had been used to look in Hertford­ shire, paid his compliments, with his usual reserve, to Mrs. Collins; and whatever might be his feelings towards her friend, met her with every appearance of composure. Elizabeth merely curtseyed to him, without saying a word. Colonel Fitzwilliam entered into conversation directly with

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the readiness and ease of a well-bred man, and talked very pleasantly; but his cousin, after having addressed a slight obser­ vation on the house and garden to Mrs. Collins, sat for some time without speaking to any body. At length, however, his civility was so far awakened as to enquire of Elizabeth after the health of her family. She answered him in the usual way, and after a moment’s pause, added, ‘‘My eldest sister has been in town these three months. Have you never happened to see her there?’’ She was perfectly sensible that he never had; but she wished to see whether he would betray any consciousness of what had passed between the Bingleys and Jane; and she thought he looked a little confused as he answered that he had never been so fortunate as to meet Miss Bennet. The subject was pursued no farther, and the gentlemen soon afterwards went away.

chapter viii

Colonel Fitzwilliam’s manners were very much admired at the parsonage, and the ladies all felt that he must add considerably to the pleasure of their engagements at Rosings. It was some days, however, before they received any invitation thither, for while there were visitors in the house, they could not be neces­ sary; and it was not till Easter-day, almost a week after the gentlemen’s arrival, that they were honoured by such an atten­ tion, and then they were merely asked on leaving church to come there in the evening. For the last week they had seen very little of either Lady Catherine or her daughter. Colonel Fitzwilliam had called at the parsonage more than once during the time, but Mr. Darcy they had only seen at church. The invitation was accepted of course, and at a proper hour they joined the party in Lady Catherine’s drawing room. Her ladyship received them civilly, but it was plain that their com­ pany was by no means so acceptable as when she could get nobody else; and she was, in fact, almost engrossed by her nephews, speaking to them, especially to Darcy, much more than to any other person in the room. Colonel Fitzwilliam seemed really glad to see them; any thing was a welcome relief to him at Rosings; and Mrs. Collins’s pretty friend had moreover caught his fancy very much. He now seated himself by her, and talked so agreeably of Kent and Hertfordshire, of travelling and staying at home, of new books and music, that Elizabeth had never been half so well entertained in that room before; and they conversed with so much spirit and flow, as to draw the attention of Lady Catherine herself, as well as of Mr. Darcy. His eyes had been soon and repeatedly turned

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towards them with a look of curiosity; and that her ladyship after a while shared the feeling, was more openly acknowledged, for she did not scruple to call out, ‘‘What is that you are saying, Fitzwilliam? What is it you are talking of ? What are you telling Miss Bennet? Let me hear what it is.’’ ‘‘We are speaking of music, Madam,’’ said he, when no longer able to avoid a reply. ‘‘Of music! Then pray speak aloud. It is of all subjects my delight. I must have my share in the conversation, if you are speaking of music. There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient. And so would Anne, if her health had allowed her to apply. I am confident that she would have performed delight­ fully. How does Georgiana get on, Darcy?’’ Mr. Darcy spoke with affectionate praise to his sister’s pro­ ficiency. ‘‘I am very glad to hear such a good account of her,’’ said Lady Catherine; ‘‘and pray tell her from me, that she cannot expect to excel, if she does not practise a great deal.’’ ‘‘I assure you, Madam,’’ he replied, ‘‘that she does not need such advice. She practises very constantly.’’ ‘‘So much the better. It cannot be done too much; and when I next write to her, I shall charge her not to neglect it on any account. I often tell young ladies, that no excellence in music is to be acquired, without constant practice. I have told Miss Bennet several times, that she will never play really well, unless she practises more; and though Mrs. Collins has no instrument, she is very welcome, as I have often told her, to come to Rosings every day, and play on the piano forte in Mrs. Jenkinson’s room. She would be in nobody’s way, you know, in that part of the house.’’ Mr. Darcy looked a little ashamed of his aunt’s ill breeding, and made no answer. When coffee was over, Colonel Fitzwilliam reminded Eliza­ beth of having promised to play to him; and she sat down directly to the instrument. He drew a chair near her. Lady


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Catherine listened to half a song, and then talked, as before, to her other nephew; till the latter walked away from her, and moving with his usual deliberation towards the piano forte, stationed himself so as to command a full view of the fair performer’s countenance. Elizabeth saw what he was doing, and at the first convenient pause, turned to him with an arch smile, and said, ‘‘You mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me? But I will not be alarmed though your sister does play so well. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.’’ ‘‘I shall not say that you are mistaken,’’ he replied, ‘‘because you could not really believe me to entertain any design of alarming you; and I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know, that you find great enjoyment in occasion­ ally professing opinions which in fact are not your own.’’ Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself, and said to Colonel Fitzwilliam, ‘‘Your cousin will give you a very pretty notion of me, and teach you not to believe a word I say. I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so well able to expose my real character, in a part of the world, where I had hoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, it is very ungenerous in you to mention all that you knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordshire—and, give me leave to say, very impolitic too—for it is provoking me to retaliate, and such things may come out, as will shock your relations to hear.’’ ‘‘I am not afraid of you,’’ said he, smilingly. ‘‘Pray let me hear what you have to accuse him of,’’ cried Colonel Fitzwilliam. ‘‘I should like to know how he behaves among strangers.’’ ‘‘You shall hear then—but prepare yourself for something very dreadful. The first time of my ever seeing him in Hertford­ shire, you must know, was at a ball—and at this ball, what do you think he did? He danced only four dances! I am sorry to pain you—but so it was. He danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more

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than one young lady was sitting down in want of a partner. Mr. Darcy, you cannot deny the fact.’’ ‘‘I had not at that time the honour of knowing any lady in the assembly beyond my own party.’’ ‘‘True; and nobody can ever be introduced in a ball-room. Well, Colonel Fitzwilliam, what do I play next? My fingers wait your orders.’’ ‘‘Perhaps,’’ said Darcy, ‘‘I should have judged better, had I sought an introduction, but I am ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers.’’ ‘‘Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this?’’ said Elizabeth, still addressing Colonel Fitzwilliam. ‘‘Shall we ask him why a man of sense and education, and who has lived in the world, is ill-qualified to recommend himself to strangers?’’ ‘‘I can answer your question,’’ said Fitzwilliam, ‘‘without applying to him. It is because he will not give himself the trouble.’’ ‘‘I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,’’ said Darcy, ‘‘of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.’’ ‘‘My fingers,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘do not move over this instru­ ment in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I would not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman’s of superior execution.’’ Darcy smiled and said, ‘‘You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privi­ lege of hearing you, can think any thing wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers.’’ Here they were interrupted by Lady Catherine, who called out to know what they were talking of. Elizabeth immediately began playing again. Lady Catherine approached, and, after listening for a few minutes, said to Darcy, ‘‘Miss Bennet would not play at all amiss, if she practised more, and could have the advantage of a London master. She


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has a very good notion of fingering, though her taste is not equal to Anne’s. Anne would have been a delightful performer, had her health allowed her to learn.’’ Elizabeth looked at Darcy to see how cordially he assented to his cousin’s praise; but neither at that moment nor at any other could she discern any symptom of love; and from the whole of his behaviour to Miss De Bourgh she derived this comfort for Miss Bingley, that he might have been just as likely to marry her, had she been his relation. Lady Catherine continued her remarks on Elizabeth’s per­ formance, mixing with them many instructions on execution and taste. Elizabeth received them with all the forbearance of civility; and at the request of the gentlemen remained at the instrument till her Ladyship’s carriage was ready to take them all home.

chapter ix

Elizabeth was sitting by herself the next morning, and writing to Jane, while Mrs. Collins and Maria were gone on business into the village, when she was startled by a ring at the door, the certain signal of a visitor. As she had heard no carriage, she thought it not unlikely to be Lady Catherine, and under that apprehension was putting away her half-finished letter that she might escape all impertinent questions, when the door opened, and to her very great surprise, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy only, entered the room. He seemed astonished too on finding her alone, and apolo­ gised for his intrusion, by letting her know that he had under­ stood all the ladies to be within. They then sat down, and when her enquiries after Rosings were made, seemed in danger of sinking into total silence. It was absolutely necessary, therefore, to think of something, and in this emergence recollecting when she had seen him last in Hert­ fordshire, and feeling curious to know what he would say on the subject of their hasty departure, she observed, ‘‘How very suddenly you all quitted Netherfield last Novem­ ber, Mr. Darcy! It must have been a most agreeable surprise to Mr. Bingley to see you all after him so soon; for, if I recollect right, he went but the day before. He and his sisters were well, I hope, when you left London.’’ ‘‘Perfectly so—I thank you.’’ She found that she was to receive no other answer—and, after a short pause, added, ‘‘I think I have understood that Mr. Bingley has not much idea of ever returning to Netherfield again?’’


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‘‘I have never heard him say so; but it is probable that he may spend very little of his time there in future. He has many friends, and he is at a time of life when friends and engagements are continually increasing.’’ ‘‘If he means to be but little at Netherfield, it would be better for the neighbourhood that he should give up the place entirely, for then we might possibly get a settled family there. But perhaps Mr. Bingley did not take the house so much for the convenience of the neighbourhood as for his own, and we must expect him to keep or quit it on the same principle.’’ ‘‘I should not be surprised,’’ said Darcy, ‘‘if he were to give it up, as soon as any eligible purchase offers.’’ Elizabeth made no answer. She was afraid of talking longer of his friend; and, having nothing else to say, was now deter­ mined to leave the trouble of finding a subject to him. He took the hint, and soon began with, ‘‘This seems a very comfortable house. Lady Catherine, I believe, did a great deal to it when Mr. Collins first came to Hunsford.’’ ‘‘I believe she did—and I am sure she could not have bestowed her kindness on a more grateful object.’’ ‘‘Mr. Collins appears very fortunate in his choice of a wife.’’ ‘‘Yes, indeed; his friends may well rejoice in his having met with one of the very few sensible women who would have accepted him, or have made him happy if they had. My friend has an excellent understanding—though I am not certain that I consider her marrying Mr. Collins as the wisest thing she ever did. She seems perfectly happy, however, and in a prudential light, it is certainly a very good match for her.’’ ‘‘It must be very agreeable to her to be settled within so easy a distance of her own family and friends.’’ ‘‘An easy distance do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles.’’ ‘‘And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a day’s journey. Yes, I call it a very easy distance.’’ ‘‘I should never have considered the distance as one of the advantages of the match,’’ cried Elizabeth. ‘‘I should never have said Mrs. Collins was settled near her family.’’ ‘‘It is a proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire. Any

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thing beyond the very neighbourhood of Longbourn, I suppose, would appear far.’’ As he spoke there was a sort of smile, which Elizabeth fancied she understood; he must be supposing her to be thinking of Jane and Netherfield, and she blushed as she answered, ‘‘I do not mean to say that a woman may not be settled too near her family. The far and the near must be relative, and depend on many varying circumstances. Where there is fortune to make the expence of travelling unimportant, distance becomes no evil. But that is not the case here. Mr. and Mrs. Collins have a comfortable income, but not such a one as will allow of frequent journeys—and I am persuaded my friend would not call herself near her family under less than half the present distance.’’ Mr. Darcy drew his chair a little towards her, and said ‘‘You cannot have a right to such very strong local attachment. You cannot have been always at Longbourn.’’ Elizabeth looked surprised. The gentleman experienced some change of feeling; he drew back his chair, took a newspaper from the table, and, glancing over it, said, in a colder voice, ‘‘Are you pleased with Kent?’’ A short dialogue on the subject of the country ensued, on either side calm and concise—and soon put an end to by the entrance of Charlotte and her sister, just returned from their walk. The teˆte a teˆte surprised them. Mr. Darcy related the mistake which had occasioned his intruding on Miss Bennet, and after sitting a few minutes longer without saying much to any body, went away. ‘‘What can be the meaning of this!’’ said Charlotte, as soon as he was gone. ‘‘My dear Eliza he must be in love with you, or he would never have called on us in this familiar way.’’ But when Elizabeth told of his silence, it did not seem very likely, even to Charlotte’s wishes, to be the case; and after various conjectures, they could at last only suppose his visit to proceed from the difficulty of finding any thing to do, which was the more probable from the time of year. All field sports were over. Within doors there was Lady Catherine, books, and a billiard table, but gentlemen cannot be always within doors;


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and in the nearness of the Parsonage, or the pleasantness of the walk to it, or of the people who lived in it, the two cousins found a temptation from this period of walking thither almost every day. They called at various times of the morning, sometimes separately, sometimes together, and now and then accompanied by their aunt. It was plain to them all that Colonel Fitzwilliam came because he had pleasure in their society, a persuasion which of course recommended him still more; and Elizabeth was reminded by her own satisfaction in being with him, as well as by his evident admiration of her, of her former favourite George Wickham; and though, in comparing them, she saw there was less captivating softness in Colonel Fitzwilliam’s manners, she believed he might have the best informed mind. But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage, it was more difficult to understand. It could not be for society, as he frequently sat there ten minutes together without opening his lips; and when he did speak, it seemed the effect of necessity rather than of choice—a sacrifice to propriety, not a pleasure to himself. He seldom appeared really animated. Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s occasion­ ally laughing at his stupidity, proved that he was generally different, which her own knowledge of him could not have told her; and as she would have liked to believe this change the effect of love, and the object of that love, her friend Eliza, she sat herself seriously to work to find it out.—She watched him whenever they were at Rosings, and whenever he came to Huns­ ford; but without much success. He certainly looked at her friend a great deal, but the expression of that look was disputable. It was an earnest, stedfast gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much admiration in it, and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind. She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial to her, but Elizabeth always laughed at the idea; and Mrs. Collins did not think it right to press the subject, from the danger of raising expectations which might only end in disappointment; for in her opinion it admitted not of a doubt, that all her friend’s dislike would vanish, if she could suppose him to be in her power.

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In her kind schemes for Elizabeth, she sometimes planned her marrying Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was beyond comparison the pleasantest man; he certainly admired her, and his situation in life was most eligible; but, to counter balance these advantages, Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the church, and his cousin could have none at all.

chapter x

More than once did Elizabeth in her ramble within the Park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy.—She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought; and to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first, that it was a favourite haunt of hers.—How it could occur a second time therefore was very odd!—Yet it did, and even a third. It seemed like wilful ill-nature, or a voluntary penance, for on these occasions it was not merely a few formal enquiries and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her. He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected questions—about her pleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins’s happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed to imply it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant any thing, he must mean an allusion to what might arise in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite glad to find herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage. She was engaged one day as she walked, in re-perusing Jane’s last letter, and dwelling on some passages which proved that Jane had not written in spirits, when, instead of being again surprised by Mr. Darcy, she saw on looking up that Colonel

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Fitzwilliam was meeting her. Putting away the letter immediately and forcing a smile, she said, ‘‘I did not know before that you ever walked this way.’’ ‘‘I have been making the tour of the Park,’’ he replied, ‘‘as I generally do every year, and intended to close it with a call at the Parsonage. Are you going much farther?’’ ‘‘No, I should have turned in a moment.’’ And accordingly she did turn, and they walked towards the Parsonage together. ‘‘Do you certainly leave Kent on Saturday?’’ said she. ‘‘Yes—if Darcy does not put it off again. But I am at his disposal. He arranges the business just as he pleases.’’ ‘‘And if not able to please himself in the arrangement, he has at least great pleasure in the power of choice. I do not know any body who seems more to enjoy the power of doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy.’’ ‘‘He likes to have his own way very well,’’ replied Colonel Fitzwilliam. ‘‘But so we all do. It is only that he has better means of having it than many others, because he is rich, and many others are poor. I speak feelingly. A younger son, you know, must be inured to self-denial and dependence.’’ ‘‘In my opinion, the younger son of an Earl can know very little of either. Now, seriously, what have you ever known of self-denial and dependence? When have you been prevented by want of money from going wherever you chose, or procuring any thing you had a fancy for?’’ ‘‘These are home questions—and perhaps I cannot say that I have experienced many hardships of that nature. But in matters of greater weight, I may suffer from the want of money. Younger sons cannot marry where they like.’’ ‘‘Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do.’’ ‘‘Our habits of expence make us too dependant, and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money.’’ ‘‘Is this,’’ thought Elizabeth, ‘‘meant for me?’’ and she coloured at the idea; but, recovering herself, said in a lively tone,


v ol um e ii c h ap te r x

‘‘and pray, what is the usual price of an Earl’s younger son? Unles the elder brother is very sickly, I suppose you would not ask above fifty thousand pounds.’’ He answered her in the same style, and the subject dropped. To interrupt a silence which might make him fancy her affected with what had passed, she soon afterwards said, ‘‘I imagine your cousin brought you down with him chiefly for the sake of having somebody at his disposal. I wonder he does not marry, to secure a lasting convenience of that kind. But, perhaps his sister does as well for the present, and, as she is under his sole care, he may do what he likes with her.’’ ‘‘No,’’ said Colonel Fitzwilliam, ‘‘that is an advantage which he must divide with me. I am joined with him in the guardianship of Miss Darcy.’’ ‘‘Are you, indeed? And pray what sort of guardians do you make? Does your charge give you much trouble? Young ladies of her age, are sometimes a little difficult to manage, and if she has the true Darcy spirit, she may like to have her own way.’’ As she spoke, she observed him looking at her earnestly, and the manner in which he immediately asked her why she supposed Miss Darcy likely to give them any uneasiness, convinced her that she had somehow or other got pretty near the truth. She directly replied, ‘‘You need not be frightened. I never heard any harm of her; and I dare say she is one of the most tractable creatures in the world. She is a very great favourite with some ladies of my acquaintance, Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley. I think I have heard you say that you know them.’’ ‘‘I know them a little. Their brother is a pleasant gentleman­ like man—he is a great friend of Darcy’s.’’ ‘‘Oh! yes,’’ said Elizabeth drily—‘‘Mr. Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr. Bingley, and takes a prodigious deal of care of him.’’ ‘‘Care of him!—Yes, I really believe Darcy does take care of him in those points where he most wants care. From something that he told me in our journey hither, I have reason to think Bingley very much indebted to him. But I ought to beg his pardon, for I have no right to suppose that Bingley was the person meant. It was all conjecture.’’

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‘‘What is it you mean?’’ ‘‘It is a circumstance which Darcy of course would not wish to be generally known, because if it were to get round to the lady’s family, it would be an unpleasant thing.’’ ‘‘You may depend upon my not mentioning it.’’ ‘‘And remember that I have not much reason for supposing it to be Bingley. What he told me was merely this; that he congratulated himself on having lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage, but without mentioning names or any other particulars, and I only suspected it to be Bingley from believing him the kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort, and from knowing them to have been together the whole of last summer.’’ ‘‘Did Mr. Darcy give you his reasons for this interference?’’ ‘‘I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady.’’ ‘‘And what arts did he use to separate them?’’ ‘‘He did not talk to me of his own arts,’’ said Fitzwilliam smiling. ‘‘He only told me, what I have now told you.’’ Elizabeth made no answer, and walked on, her heart swelling with indignation. After watching her a little, Fitzwilliam asked her why she was so thoughtful. ‘‘I am thinking of what you have been telling me,’’ said she. ‘‘Your cousin’s conduct does not suit my feelings. Why was he to be the judge?’’ ‘‘You are rather disposed to call his interference officious?’’ ‘‘I do not see what right Mr. Darcy had to decide on the propriety of his friend’s inclination, or why, upon his own judgment alone, he was to determine and direct in what manner that friend was to be happy.’’ ‘‘But,’’ she continued, recollecting herself, ‘‘as we know none of the particulars, it is not fair to condemn him. It is not to be supposed that there was much affection in the case.’’ ‘‘That is not an unnatural surmise,’’ said Fitzwilliam, ‘‘but it is lessening the honour of my cousin’s triumph very sadly.’’ This was spoken jestingly, but it appeared to her so just a picture of Mr. Darcy, that she would not trust herself with an answer; and, therefore, abruptly changing the conversation,


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talked on indifferent matters till they reached the parsonage. There, shut into her own room, as soon as their visitor left them, she could think without interruption of all that she had heard. It was not to be supposed that any other people could be meant than those with whom she was connected. There could not exist in the world two men, over whom Mr. Darcy could have such boundless influence. That he had been concerned in the measures taken to separate Mr. Bingley and Jane, she had never doubted; but she had always attributed to Miss Bingley the principal design and arrangement of them. If his own vanity, however, did not mislead him, he was the cause, his pride and caprice were the cause of all that Jane had suffered, and still continued to suffer. He had ruined for a while every hope of happiness for the most affectionate, generous heart in the world; and no one could say how lasting an evil he might have inflicted. ‘‘There were some very strong objections against the lady,’’ were Colonel Fitzwilliam’s words, and these strong objections probably were, her having one uncle who was a country attorney, and another who was in business in London. ‘‘To Jane herself,’’ she exclaimed, ‘‘there could be no possibility of objection. All loveliness and goodness as she is! Her understand­ ing excellent, her mind improved, and her manners captivating. Neither could any thing be urged against my father, who, though with some peculiarities, his abilities which Mr. Darcy himself need not disdain, and respectability which he will probably never reach.’’ When she thought of her mother indeed, her confidence gave way a little, but she would not allow that any objections there had material weight with Mr. Darcy, whose pride, she was convinced, would receive a deeper wound from the want of importance in his friend’s connections, than from their want of sense; and she was quite decided at last, that he had been partly governed by this worst kind of pride, and partly by the wish of retaining Mr. Bingley for his sister. The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned, brought on a headach; and it grew so much worse towards the evening that, added to her unwillingness to see Mr. Darcy, it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings, where they were engaged to drink tea. Mrs. Collins, seeing that she was really

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unwell, did not press her to go, and as much as possible pre­ vented her husband from pressing her, but Mr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine’s being rather displeased by her staying at home.

chapter xi

When they were gone, Elizabeth, as if intending to exasperate herself as much as possible against Mr. Darcy, chose for her employment the examination of all the letters which Jane had written to her since her being in Kent. They contained no actual complaint, nor was there any revival of past occurrences, or any communication of present suffering. But in all, and in almost every line of each, there was a want of that cheerfulness which had been used to characterize her style, and which, proceeding from the serenity of a mind at ease with itself, and kindly disposed towards every one, had been scarcely ever clouded. Elizabeth noticed every sentence conveying the idea of uneasi­ ness, with an attention which it had hardly received on the first perusal. Mr. Darcy’s shameful boast of what misery he had been able to inflict, gave her a keener sense of her sister’s sufferings. It was some consolation to think that his visit to Rosings was to end on the day after the next, and a still greater, that in less than a fortnight she should herself be with Jane again, and enabled to contribute to the recovery of her spirits, by all that affection could do. She could not think of Darcy’s leaving Kent, without remem­ bering that his cousin was to go with him; but Colonel Fitz­ william had made it clear that he had no intentions at all, and agreeable as he was, she did not mean to be unhappy about him. While settling this point, she was suddenly roused by the sound of the door bell, and her spirits were a little fluttered by the idea of its being Colonel Fitzwilliam himself, who had once before called late in the evening, and might now come to enquire particularly after her. But this idea was soon banished, and

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her spirits were very differently affected, when, to her utter amazement, she saw Mr. Darcy walk into the room. In an hurried manner he immediately began an enquiry after her health, imputing his visit to a wish of hearing that she were better. She answered him with cold civility. He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began, ‘‘In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’’ Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation— of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit. In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insens­ ible to the compliment of such a man’s affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. She tried, however, to compose herself to answer him with patience, when he should have done. He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther, and when he ceased, the colour rose into her cheeks, and she said,


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xi

‘‘In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, how­ ever unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot—I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelings which, you tell me, have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard, can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation.’’ Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantle-piece with his eyes fixed on her face, seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature. He was struggling for the appearance of composure, and would not open his lips, till he believed himself to have attained it. The pause was to Elizabeth’s feelings dreadful. At length, in a voice of forced calmness, he said, ‘‘And this is all the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting! I might, perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected. But it is of small importance.’’ ‘‘I might as well enquire,’’ replied she, ‘‘why with so evident a design of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for incivility, if I was uncivil? But I have other provocations. You know I have. Had not my own feelings decided against you, had they been indifferent, or had they even been favourable, do you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man, who has been the means of ruining, perhaps for ever, the happiness of a most beloved sister?’’ As she pronounced these words, Mr. Darcy changed colour; but the emotion was short, and he listened without attempting to interrupt her while she continued. ‘‘I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. No motive can excuse the unjust and ungenerous part you acted

c ha pt er 34


there. You dare not, you cannot deny that you have been the principal, if not the only means of dividing them from each other, of exposing one of the censure of the world for caprice and instability, the other to its derision for disappointed hopes, and involving them both in misery of the acutest kind.’’ She paused, and saw with no slight indignation that he was listening with an air which proved him wholly unmoved by any feeling of remorse. He even looked at her with a smile of affected incredulity. ‘‘Can you deny that you have done it?’’ she repeated. With assumed tranquillity he then replied, ‘‘I have no wish of denying that I did every thing in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself.’’ Elizabeth disdained the appearance of noticing this civil reflection, but its meaning did not escape, nor was it likely to conciliate her. ‘‘But it is not merely this affair,’’ she continued, ‘‘on which my dislike is founded. Long before it had taken place, my opinion of you was decided. Your character was unfolded in the recital which I received many months ago from Mr. Wickham. On this subject, what can you have to say? In what imaginary act of friendship can you here defend yourself ? or under what misrepresentation, can you here impose upon others?’’ ‘‘You take an eager interest in that gentleman’s concerns,’’ said Darcy in a less tranquil tone, and with a heightened colour. ‘‘Who that knows what his misfortunes have been, can help feeling an interest in him?’’ ‘‘His misfortunes!’’ repeated Darcy contemptuously; ‘‘yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed.’’ ‘‘And of your infliction,’’ cried Elizabeth with energy. ‘‘You have reduced him to his present state of poverty, comparative poverty. You have withheld the advantages, which you must know to have been designed for him. You have deprived the best years of his life, of that independence which was no less his due than his desert. You have done all this! and yet you can treat the mention of his misfortunes with contempt and ridicule.’’ ‘‘And this,’’ cried Darcy, as he walked with quick steps across


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the room, ‘‘is your opinion of me! This is the estimation in which you hold me! I thank you for explaining it so fully. My faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed! But perhaps,’’ added he, stopping in his walk, and turning towards her, ‘‘these offences might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design. These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I with greater policy concealed my struggles, and flattered you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination; by reason, by reflection, by every thing. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?’’ Elizabeth felt herself growing more angry every moment; yet she tried to the utmost to speak with composure when she said, ‘‘You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.’’ She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she con­ tinued, ‘‘You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.’’ Again his astonishment was obvious; and he looked at her with an expression of mingled incredulity and mortification. She went on. ‘‘From the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that ground-work of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.’’ ‘‘You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend

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your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.’’ And with these words he hastily left the room, and Elizabeth heard him the next moment open the front door and quit the house. The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour. Her astonishment, as she reflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it. That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy! that he should have been in love with her for so many months! so much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend’s marrying her sister, and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case, was almost incredible! it was gratifying to have inspired unconsciously so strong an affection. But his pride, his abomin­ able pride, his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Jane, his unpardonable assurance in acknowledging, though he could not justify it, and the unfeeling manner in which he had mentioned Mr. Wickham, his cruelty towards whom he had not attempted to deny, soon overcame the pity which the consideration of his attachment had for a moment excited. She continued in very agitating reflections till the sound of Lady Catherine’s carriage made her feel how unequal she was to encounter Charlotte’s observation, and hurried her away to her room.

chapter xii

Elizabeth awoke the next morning to the same thoughts and meditations which had at length closed her eyes. She could not yet recover from the surprise of what had happened; it was impossible to think of any thing else, and totally indisposed for employment, she resolved soon after breakfast to indulge herself in air and exercise. She was proceeding directly to her favourite walk, when the recollection of Mr. Darcy’s sometimes coming there stopped her, and instead of entering the park, she turned up the lane, which led her farther from the turnpike road. The park paling was still the boundary on one side, and she soon passed one of the gates into the ground. After walking two or three times along that part of the lane, she was tempted, by the pleasantness of the morning, to stop at the gates and look into the park. The five weeks which she had now passed in Kent, had made a great difference in the country, and every day was adding to the verdure of the early trees. She was on the point of continuing her walk, when she caught a glimpse of a gentleman within the sort of grove which edged the park; he was moving that way; and fearful of its being Mr. Darcy, she was directly retreating. But the person who advanced, was now near enough to see her, and stepping forward with eagerness, pronounced her name. She had turned away, but on hearing herself called, though in a voice which proved it to be Mr. Darcy, she moved again towards the gate. He had by that time reached it also, and holding out a letter, which she instinctively took, said with a look of haughty composure, ‘‘I have been walking in the grove some time in the hope of meeting you. Will you do me the honour of reading that letter?’’—And

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then, with a slight bow, turned again into the plantation, and was soon out of sight. With no expectation of pleasure, but with the strongest curi­ osity, Elizabeth opened the letter, and to her still increasing wonder, perceived an envelope containing two sheets of letter paper, written quite through, in a very close hand.—The envel­ ope itself was likewise full.—Pursuing her way along the lane, she then began it. It was dated from Rosings, at eight o’clock in the morning, and was as follows:— ‘‘Be not alarmed, Madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those senti­ ments, or renewal of those offers, which were last night so disgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes, which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten; and the effort which the formation, and the perusal of this letter must occasion, should have been spared, had not my character required it to be written and read. You must, therefore, pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice. ‘‘Two offences of a very different nature, and by no means of equal magnitude, you last night laid to my charge. The first mentioned was, that, regardless of the sentiments of either, I had detached Mr. Bingley from your sister,—and the other, that I had, in defiance of various claims, in defiance of honour and humanity, ruined the immediate prosperity, and blasted the prospects of Mr. Wickham.—Wilfully and wantonly to have thrown off the companion of my youth, the acknowledged favourite of my father, a young man who had scarcely any other dependence than on our patronage, and who had been brought up to expect its exertion, would be a depravity, to which the separation of two young persons, whose affection could be the growth of only a few weeks, could bear no comparison.—But from the severity of that blame which was last night so liberally bestowed, respecting each circumstance, I shall hope to be in future secured, when the following account of my actions and their motives has been read.—If, in the explanation of them which is due to myself, I am under the necessity of relating


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feelings which may be offensive to your’s, I can only say that I am sorry.—The necessity must be obeyed—and farther apology would be absurd.—I had not been long in Hertfordshire, before I saw, in common with others, that Bingley preferred your eldest sister, to any other young woman in the country.—But it was not till the evening of the dance at Netherfield that I had any apprehension of his feeling a serious attachment.—I had often seen him in love before.—At that ball, while I had the honour of dancing with you, I was first made acquainted, by Sir William Lucas’s accidental information, that Bingley’s attentions to your sister had given rise to a general expectation of their marriage. He spoke of it as a certain event, of which the time alone could be undecided. From that moment I observed my friend’s behaviour attentively; and I could then perceive that his partial­ ity for Miss Bennet was beyond what I had ever witnessed in him. Your sister I also watched.—Her look and manners were open, cheerful and engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard, and I remained convinced from the evening’s scrutiny, that though she received his attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by any participation of sentiment.—If you have not been mistaken here, I must have been in an error. Your superior knowledge of your sister must make the latter probable.—If it be so, if I have been misled by such error, to inflict pain on her, your resentment has not been unreasonable. But I shall not scruple to assert, that the serenity of your sister’s countenance and air was such, as might have given the most acute observer, a conviction that, however amiable her temper, her heart was not likely to be easily touched.—That I was desirous of believing her indifferent is certain,—but I will ven­ ture to say that my investigations and decisions are not usually influenced by my hopes or fears.—I did not believe her to be indifferent because I wished it;—I believed it on impartial conviction, as truly as I wished it in reason.—My objections to the marriage were not merely those, which I last night acknowl­ edged to have required the utmost force of passion to put aside, in my own case; the want of connection could not be so great an evil to my friend as to me.—But there were other causes of repugnance;—causes which, though still existing, and existing

c ha pt er 35


to an equal degree in both instances, I had myself endeavoured to forget, because they were not immediately before me.—These causes must be stated, though briefly.—The situation of your mother’s family, though objectionable, was nothing in compari­ son of that total want of propriety so frequently, so almost uniformly betrayed by herself, by your three younger sisters, and occasionally even by your father.—Pardon me.—It pains me to offend you. But amidst your concern for the defects of your nearest relations, and your displeasure at this representation of them, let it give you consolation to consider that, to have conducted yourselves so as to avoid any share of the like censure, is praise no less generally bestowed on you and your eldest sister, than it is honourable to the sense and disposition of both.—I will only say farther, that from what passed that evening, my opinion of all parties was confirmed, and every inducement heightened, which could have led me before, to preserve my friend from what I esteemed a most unhappy con­ nection.—He left Netherfield for London, on the day follow­ ing, as you, I am certain, remember, with the design of soon returning.—The part which I acted, is now to be explained.— His sisters’ uneasiness had been equally excited with my own; our coincidence of feeling was soon discovered; and, alike sen­ sible that no time was to be lost in detaching their brother, we shortly resolved on joining him directly in London.—We accordingly went—and there I readily engaged in the office of pointing out to my friend, the certain evils of such a choice.—I described, and enforced them earnestly.—But, however this remonstrance might have staggered or delayed his determi­ nation, I do not suppose that it would ultimately have prevented the marriage, had it not been seconded by the assurance which I hesitated not in giving, of your sister’s indifference. He had before believed her to return his affection with sincere, if not with equal regard.—But Bingley has great natural modesty, with a stronger dependence on my judgment than on his own.— To convince him, therefore, that he had deceived himself, was no very difficult point. To persuade him against returning into Hertfordshire, when that conviction had been given, was scarcely the work of a moment.—I cannot blame myself for


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xii

having done thus much. There is but one part of my conduct in the whole affair, on which I do not reflect with satisfaction; it is that I condescended to adopt the measures of art so far as to conceal from him your sister’s being in town. I knew it myself, as it was known to Miss Bingley, but her brother is even yet ignorant of it.—That they might have met without ill conse­ quence, is perhaps probable;—but his regard did not appear to me enough extinguished for him to see her without some danger.—Perhaps this concealment, this disguise, was beneath me.—It is done, however, and it was done for the best.—On this subject I have nothing more to say, no other apology to offer. If I have wounded your sister’s feelings, it was unknow­ ingly done; and though the motives which governed me may to you very naturally appear insufficient, I have not yet learnt to condemn them.—With respect to that other, more weighty accusation, of having injured Mr. Wickham, I can only refute it by laying before you the whole of his connection with my family. Of what he has particularly accused me I am ignorant; but of the truth of what I shall relate, I can summon more than one witness of undoubted veracity. Mr. Wickham is the son of a very respectable man, who had for many years the management of all the Pemberley estates; and whose good conduct in the discharge of his trust, naturally inclined my father to be of service to him, and on George Wickham, who was his god-son, his kindness was therefore liberally bestowed. My father sup­ ported him at school, and afterwards at Cambridge;—most important assistance, as his own father, always poor from the extravagance of his wife, would have been unable to give him a gentleman’s education. My father was not only fond of this young man’s society, whose manners were always engaging; he had also the highest opinion of him, and hoping the church would be his profession, intended to provide for him in it. As for myself, it is many, many years since I first began to think of him in a very different manner. The vicious propensities— the want of principle which he was careful to guard from the knowledge of his best friend, could not escape the observation of a young man of nearly the same age with himself, and who had opportunities of seeing him in unguarded moments, which

c ha pt er 35


Mr. Darcy could not have. Here again I shall give you pain—to what degree you only can tell. But whatever may be the senti­ ments which Mr. Wickham has created, a suspicion of their nature shall not prevent me from unfolding his real character. It adds even another motive. My excellent father died about five years ago; and his attachment to Mr. Wickham was to the last so steady, that in his will he particularly recommended it to me, to promote his advancement in the best manner that his profession might allow, and if he took orders, desired that a valuable family living might be his as soon as it became vacant. There was also a legacy of one thousand pounds. His own father did not long survive mine, and within half a year from these events, Mr. Wickham wrote to inform me that, having finally resolved against taking orders, he hoped I should not think it unreasonable for him to expect some more immediate pecuniary advantage, in lieu of the preferment, by which he could not be benefited. He had some intention, he added, of studying the law, and I must be aware that the interest of one thousand pounds would be a very insufficient support therein. I rather wished, than believed him to be sincere; but at any rate, was perfectly ready to accede to his proposal. I knew that Mr. Wickham ought not to be a clergyman. The business was therefore soon settled. He resigned all claim to assistance in the church, were it possible that he could ever be in a situation to receive it, and accepted in return three thousand pounds. All connection between us seemed now dissolved. I thought too ill of him, to invite him to Pemberley, or admit his society in town. In town I believe he chiefly lived, but his studying the law was a mere pretence, and being now free from all restraint, his life was a life of idleness and dissipation. For about three years I heard little of him; but on the decease of the incumbent of the living which had been designed for him, he applied to me again by letter for the presentation. His circumstances, he assured me, and I had no difficulty in believing it, were exceedingly bad. He had found the law a most unprofitable study, and was now absolutely resolved on being ordained, if I would present him to the living in question—of which he trusted there could be little doubt, as he was well assured that I had no other person to provide for,


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and I could not have forgotten my revered father’s intentions. You will hardly blame me for refusing to comply with this entreaty, or for resisting every repetition of it. His resentment was in proportion to the distress of his circumstances—and he was doubtless as violent in his abuse of me to others, as in his reproaches to myself. After this period, every appearance of acquaintance was dropt. How he lived I know not. But last summer he was again most painfully obtruded on my notice. I must now mention a circumstance which I would wish to forget myself, and which no obligation less than the present should induce me to unfold to any human being. Having said thus much, I feel no doubt of your secrecy. My sister, who is more than ten years my junior, was left to the guardianship of my mother’s nephew, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and myself. About a year ago, she was taken from school, and an establishment formed for her in London; and last summer she went with the lady who presided over it, to Ramsgate;1 and thither also went Mr. Wickham, undoubtedly by design; for there proved to have been a prior acquaintance between him and Mrs. Younge, in whose character we were most unhappily deceived; and by her connivance and aid, he so far recommended himself to Georgiana, whose affectionate heart retained a strong impres­ sion of his kindness to her as a child, that she was persuaded to believe herself in love, and to consent to an elopement. She was then but fifteen, which must be her excuse; and after stating her imprudence, I am happy to add, that I owed the knowledge of it to herself. I joined them unexpectedly a day or two before the intended elopement, and then Georgiana, unable to support the idea of grieving and offending a brother whom she almost looked up to as a father, acknowledged the whole to me. You may imagine what I felt and how I acted. Regard for my sister’s credit and feelings prevented any public exposure, but I wrote to Mr. Wickham, who left the place immediately, and Mrs. Younge was of course removed from her charge. Mr. Wickham’s chief object was unquestionably my sister’s fortune, which is thirty thousand pounds; but I cannot help supposing that the hope of revenging himself on me, was a strong inducement. His revenge would have been complete indeed. This, madam, is a

c ha pt er 35


faithful narrative of every event in which we have been con­ cerned together, and if you do not absolutely reject it as false, you will, I hope, acquit me henceforth of cruelty towards Mr. Wickham. I know not in what manner, under what form of falsehood he has imposed on you; but his success is not perhaps to be wondered at, ignorant as you previously were of every thing concerning either. Detection could not be in your power, and suspicion certainly not in your inclination. You may poss­ ibly wonder why all this was not told you last night. But I was not then master enough of myself to know what could or ought to be revealed. For the truth of every thing here related, I can appeal more particularly to the testimony of Colonel Fitz­ william, who from our near relationship and constant intimacy, and still more as one of the executors of my father’s will, has been unavoidably acquainted with every particular of these transactions. If your abhorrence of me should make my assertions valueless, you cannot be prevented by the same cause from confiding in my cousin; and that there may be the possibil­ ity of consulting him, I shall endeavour to find some opportunity of putting this letter in your hands in the course of the morning. I will only add, God bless you. ‘‘FITZWILLIAM DARCY.’’

chapter xiii

If Elizabeth, when Mr. Darcy gave her the letter, did not expect it to contain a renewal of his offers, she had formed no expec­ tation at all of its contents. But such as they were, it may be well supposed how eagerly she went through them, and what a contrariety of emotion they excited. Her feelings as she read were scarcely to be defined. With amazement did she first under­ stand that he believed any apology to be in his power; and stedfastly was she persuaded that he could have no explanation to give, which a just sense of shame would not conceal. With a strong prejudice against every thing he might say, she began his account of what had happened at Netherfield. She read, with an eagerness which hardly left her power of comprehension, and from impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring, was incapable of attending to the sense of the one before her eyes. His belief of her sister’s insensibility, she instantly resolved to be false, and his account of the real, the worst objections to the match, made her too angry to have any wish of doing him justice. He expressed no regret for what he had done which satisfied her; his style was not penitent, but haughty. It was all pride and insolence. But when this subject was succeeded by his account of Mr. Wickham, when she read with somewhat clearer attention, a relation of events, which, if true, must overthrow every cher­ ished opinion of his worth, and which bore so alarming an affinity to his own history of himself, her feelings were yet more acutely painful and more difficult of definition. Astonishment, apprehension, and even horror, oppressed her. She wished to discredit it entirely, repeatedly exclaiming, ‘‘This must be false!

c ha pt er 36


This cannot be! This must be the grossest falsehood!’’—and when she had gone through the whole letter, though scarcely knowing any thing of the last page or two, put it hastily away, protesting that she would not regard it, that she would never look in it again. In this perturbed state of mind, with thoughts that could rest on nothing, she walked on; but it would not do; in half a minute the letter was unfolded again, and collecting herself as well as she could, she again began the mortifying perusal of all that related to Wickham, and commanded herself so far as to exam­ ine the meaning of every sentence. The account of his connection with the Pemberley family, was exactly what he had related himself; and the kindness of the late Mr. Darcy, though she had not before known its extent, agreed equally well with his own words. So far each recital confirmed the other: but when she came to the will, the difference was great. What Wickham had said of the living was fresh in her memory, and as she recalled his very words, it was impossible not to feel that there was gross duplicity on one side or the other; and, for a few moments, she flattered herself that her wishes did not err. But when she read, and re-read with the closest attention, the particulars immedi­ ately following of Wickham’s resigning all pretensions to the living, of his receiving in lieu, so considerable a sum as three thousand pounds, again was she forced to hesitate. She put down the letter, weighed every circumstance with what she meant to be impartiality—deliberated on the probability of each statement—but with little success. On both sides it was only assertion. Again she read on. But every line proved more clearly that the affair, which she had believed it impossible that any contrivance could so represent, as to render Mr. Darcy’s conduct in it less than infamous, was capable of a turn which must make him entirely blameless throughout the whole. The extravagance and general profligacy which he scrupled not to lay to Mr. Wickham’s charge, exceedingly shocked her; the more so, as she could bring no proof of its injustice. She had never heard of him before his entrance into the ——shire Militia, in which he had engaged at the persuasion of the young man, who, on meeting him accidentally in town, had there renewed


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xiii

a slight acquaintance. Of his former way of life, nothing had been known in Hertfordshire but what he told himself. As to his real character, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of enquiring. His countenance, voice, and manner, had established him at once in the possession of every virtue. She tried to recollect some instance of goodness, some distinguished trait of integrity or benevolence, that might rescue him from the attacks of Mr. Darcy; or at least, by the predomi­ nance of virtue, atone for those casual errors, under which she would endeavour to class, what Mr. Darcy had described as the idleness and vice of many years continuance. But no such recollection befriended her. She could see him instantly before her, in every charm of air and address; but she could remember no more substantial good than the general approbation of the neighbourhood, and the regard which his social powers had gained him in the mess. After pausing on this point a consider­ able while, she once more continued to read. But, alas! the story which followed of his designs on Miss Darcy, received some confirmation from what had passed between Colonel Fitz­ william and herself only the morning before; and at last she was referred for the truth of every particular to Colonel Fitzwilliam himself—from whom she had previously received the infor­ mation of his near concern in all his cousin’s affairs, and whose character she had no reason to question. At one time she had almost resolved on applying to him, but the idea was checked by the awkwardness of the application, and at length wholly banished by the conviction that Mr. Darcy would never have hazarded such a proposal, if he had not been well assured of his cousin’s corroboration. She perfectly remembered every thing that had passed in conversation between Wickham and herself, in their first even­ ing at Mr. Philips’s. Many of his expressions were still fresh in her memory. She was now struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped her before. She saw the indelicacy of putting himself forward as he had done, and the inconsistency of his professions with his conduct. She remembered that he had boasted of having no fear of seeing Mr. Darcy—that Mr. Darcy might leave the country,

c ha pt er 36


but that he should stand his ground; yet he had avoided the Netherfield ball the very next week. She remembered also, that till the Netherfield family had quitted the country, he had told his story to no one but herself; but that after their removal, it had been every where discussed; that he had then no reserves, no scruples in sinking Mr. Darcy’s character, though he had assured her that respect for the father, would always prevent his exposing the son. How differently did every thing now appear in which he was concerned! His attentions to Miss King were now the conse­ quence of views solely and hatefully mercenary; and the medioc­ rity of her fortune proved no longer the moderation of his wishes, but his eagerness to grasp at any thing. His behaviour to herself could now have had no tolerable motive; he had either been deceived with regard to her fortune, or had been gratifying his vanity by encouraging the preference which she believed she had most incautiously shewn. Every lingering struggle in his favour grew fainter and fainter; and in farther justification of Mr. Darcy, she could not but allow that Mr. Bingley, when questioned by Jane, had long ago asserted his blamelessness in the affair; that proud and repulsive as were his manners, she had never, in the whole course of their acquaintance, an acquain­ tance which had latterly brought them much together, and given her a sort of intimacy with his ways, seen any thing that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust—any thing that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits. That among his own connections he was esteemed and valued—that even Wickham had allowed him merit as a brother, and that she had often heard him speak so affectionately of his sister as to prove him capable of some amiable feeling. That had his actions been what Wickham rep­ resented them, so gross a violation of every thing right could hardly have been concealed from the world; and that friendship between a person capable of it, and such an amiable man as Mr. Bingley, was incomprehensible. She grew absolutely ashamed of herself.—Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd. ‘‘How despicably have I acted!’’ she cried.—‘‘I, who have


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xiii

prided myself on my discernment!—I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity, in useless or blameable distrust.—How humiliating is this discovery!—Yet, how just a humiliation!—Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly.— Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.’’ From herself to Jane—from Jane to Bingley, her thoughts were in a line which soon brought to her recollection that Mr. Darcy’s explanation there, had appeared very insufficient; and she read it again. Widely different was the effect of a second perusal.—How could she deny that credit to his assertions, in one instance, which she had been obliged to give in the other?— He declared himself to have been totally unsuspicious of her sister’s attachment;—and she could not help remembering what Charlotte’s opinion had always been.—Neither could she deny the justice of his description of Jane.—She felt that Jane’s feel­ ings, though fervent, were little displayed, and that there was a constant complacency in her air and manner, not often united with great sensibility. When she came to that part of the letter, in which her family were mentioned, in terms of such mortifying, yet merited reproach, her sense of shame was severe. The justice of the charge struck her too forcibly for denial, and the circumstances to which he particularly alluded, as having passed at the Nether­ field ball, and as confirming all his first disapprobation, could not have made a stronger impression on his mind than on hers. The compliment to herself and her sister, was not unfelt. It soothed, but it could not console her for the contempt which had been thus self-attracted by the rest of her family;—and as she considered that Jane’s disappointment had in fact been the work of her nearest relations, and reflected how materially the credit of both must be hurt by such impropriety of conduct, she felt depressed beyond any thing she had ever known before.

c ha pt er 36


After wandering along the lane for two hours, giving way to every variety of thought; re-considering events, determining probabilities, and reconciling herself as well as she could, to a change so sudden and so important, fatigue, and a recollection of her long absence, made her at length return home; and she entered the house with the wish of appearing cheerful as usual, and the resolution of repressing such reflections as must make her unfit for conversation. She was immediately told, that the two gentlemen from Ros­ ings had each called during her absence; Mr. Darcy, only for a few minutes to take leave, but that Colonel Fitzwilliam had been sitting with them at least an hour, hoping for her return, and almost resolving to walk after her till she could be found.— Elizabeth could but just affect concern in missing him; she really rejoiced at it. Colonel Fitzwilliam was no longer an object. She could think only of her letter.

chapter xiv

The two gentlemen left Rosings the next morning; and Mr. Collins having been in waiting near the lodges, to make them his parting obeisance, was able to bring home the pleasing intelligence, of their appearing in very good health, and in as tolerable spirits as could be expected, after the melancholy scene so lately gone through at Rosings. To Rosings he then hastened to console Lady Catherine, and her daughter; and on his return, brought back, with great satisfaction, a message from her Lady­ ship, importing that she felt herself so dull as to make her very desirous of having them all to dine with her. Elizabeth could not see Lady Catherine without recollecting, that had she chosen it, she might by this time have been presented to her, as her future niece; nor could she think, without a smile, of what her ladyship’s indignation would have been. ‘‘What would she have said?—how would she have behaved?’’ were questions with which she amused herself. Their first subject was the diminution of the Rosings party.— ‘‘I assure you, I feel it exceedingly,’’ said Lady Catherine; ‘‘I believe nobody feels the loss of friends so much as I do. But I am particularly attached to these young men; and know them to be so much attached to me!—They were excessively sorry to go! But so they always are. The dear colonel rallied his spirits tolerably till just at last; but Darcy seemed to feel it most acutely, more I think than last year. His attachment to Rosings, certainly increases.’’ Mr. Collins had a compliment, and an allusion to throw in here, which were kindly smiled on by the mother and daughter. Lady Catherine observed, after dinner, that Miss Bennet

c ha pt er 37


seemed out of spirits, and immediately accounting for it herself, by supposing that she did not like to go home again so soon, she added, ‘‘But if that is the case, you must write to your mother to beg that you may stay a little longer. Mrs. Collins will be very glad of your company, I am sure.’’ ‘‘I am much obliged to your ladyship for your kind invi­ tation,’’ replied Elizabeth, ‘‘but it is not in my power to accept it.—I must be in town next Saturday.’’ ‘‘Why, at that rate, you will have been here only six weeks. I expected you to stay two months. I told Mrs. Collins so before you came. There can be no occasion for your going so soon. Mrs. Bennet could certainly spare you for another fortnight.’’ ‘‘But my father cannot.—He wrote last week to hurry my return.’’ ‘‘Oh! your father of course may spare you, if your mother can.—Daughters are never of so much consequence to a father. And if you will stay another month complete, it will be in my power to take one of you as far as London, for I am going there early in June, for a week; and as Dawson does not object to the Barouche box,1 there will be very good room for one of you— and indeed, if the weather should happen to be cool, I should not object to taking you both, as you are neither of you large.’’ ‘‘You are all kindness, Madam; but I believe we must abide by our original plan.’’ Lady Catherine seemed resigned.— ‘‘Mrs. Collins, you must send a servant with them. You know I always speak my mind, and I cannot bear the idea of two young women travelling post2 by themselves. It is highly improper. You must contrive to send somebody. I have the greatest dislike in the world to that sort of thing.—Young women should always be properly guarded and attended, according to their situation in life. When my niece Georgiana went to Ramsgate last summer, I made a point of her having two men servants go with her.— Miss Darcy, the daughter of Mr. Darcy, of Pemberley, and Lady Anne, could not have appeared with propriety in a different manner.—I am excessively attentive to all those things. You must send John with the young ladies, Mrs. Collins. I am glad


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xiv

it occurred to me to mention it; for it would really be discredit­ able to you to let them go alone.’’ ‘‘My uncle is to send a servant for us.’’ ‘‘Oh!—Your uncle!—He keeps a man-servant, does he?—I am very glad you have somebody who thinks of those things. Where shall you change horses?—Oh! Bromley, of course.—If you mention my name at the Bell, you will be attended to.’’ Lady Catherine had many other questions to ask respecting their journey, and as she did not answer them all herself, atten­ tion was necessary, which Elizabeth believed to be lucky for her, or, with a mind so occupied, she might have forgotten where she was. Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours; when­ ever she was alone, she gave way to it as the greatest relief; and not a day went by without a solitary walk, in which she might indulge in all the delight of unpleasant recollections. Mr. Darcy’s letter, she was in a fair way of soon knowing by heart. She studied every sentence: and her feelings towards its writer were at times widely different. When she remembered the style of his address, she was still full of indignation; but when she considered how unjustly she had condemned and upbraided him, her anger was turned against herself; and his disappointed feelings became the object of compassion. His attachment excited gratitude, his general character respect; but she could not approve him; nor could she for a moment repent her refusal, or feel the slightest inclination ever to see him again. In her own past behaviour, there was a constant source of vexation and regret; and in the unhappy defects of her family a subject of yet heavier chagrin. They were hopeless of remedy. Her father, contented with laughing at them, would never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters; and her mother, with manners so far from right herself, was entirely insensible of the evil. Elizabeth had frequently united with Jane in an endeavour to check the imprudence of Catherine and Lydia; but while they were supported by their mother’s indul­ gence, what chance could there be of improvement? Catherine, weak-spirited, irritable, and completely under Lydia’s guidance, had been always affronted by their advice; and Lydia, self-willed and careless, would scarcely give them a hearing. They were

c ha pt er 37


ignorant, idle, and vain. While there was an officer in Meryton, they would flirt with him; and while Meryton was within a walk of Longbourn, they would be going there for ever. Anxiety on Jane’s behalf, was another prevailing concern, and Mr. Darcy’s explanation, by restoring Bingley to all her former good opinion, heightened the sense of what Jane had lost. His affection was proved to have been sincere, and his conduct cleared of all blame, unless any could attach to the implicitness of his confidence in his friend. How grievous then was the thought that, of a situation so desirable in every respect, so replete with advantage, so promising for happiness, Jane had been deprived, by the folly and indecorum of her own family! When to these recollections was added the developement of Wickham’s character, it may be easily believed that the happy spirits which had seldom been depressed before, were now so much affected as to make it almost impossible for her to appear tolerably cheerful. Their engagements at Rosings were as frequent during the last week of her stay, as they had been at first. The very last evening was spent there; and her Ladyship again enquired minutely into the particulars of their journey, gave them direc­ tions as to the best method of packing, and was so urgent on the necessity of placing gowns in the only right way, that Maria thought herself obliged, on her return, to undo all the work of the morning, and pack her trunk afresh. When they parted, Lady Catherine, with great condescension, wished them a good journey, and invited them to come to Hunsford again next year; and Miss De Bourgh exerted herself so far as to curtsey and hold out her hand to both.

chapter xv

On Saturday morning Elizabeth and Mr. Collins met for break­ fast a few minutes before the others appeared; and he took the opportunity of paying the parting civilities which he deemed indispensably necessary. ‘‘I know not, Miss Elizabeth,’’ said he, ‘‘whether Mrs. Collins has yet expressed her sense of your kindness in coming to us, but I am very certain you will not leave the house without receiving her thanks for it. The favour of your company has been much felt, I assure you. We know how little there is to tempt any one to our humble abode. Our plain manner of living, our small rooms, and few domestics, and the little we see of the world, must make Hunsford extremely dull to a young lady like yourself; but I hope you will believe us grateful for the condescension, and that we have done every thing in our power to prevent your spending your time unpleasantly.’’ Elizabeth was eager with her thanks and assurances of happi­ ness. She had spent six weeks with great enjoyment; and the pleasure of being with Charlotte, and the kind attentions she had received, must make her feel the obliged. Mr. Collins was gratified; and with a more smiling solemnity replied, ‘‘It gives me the greatest pleasure to hear that you have passed your time not disagreeably. We have certainly done our best; and most fortunately having it in our power to introduce you to very superior society, and from our connection with Rosings, the frequent means of varying the humble home scene, I think we may flatter ourselves that your Hunsford visit cannot have been entirely irksome. Our situation with regard to Lady Cath­ erine’s family is indeed the sort of extraordinary advantage and

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blessing which few can boast. You see on what a footing we are. You see how continually we are engaged there. In truth I must acknowledge that, with all the disadvantages of this humble parsonage, I should not think any one abiding in it an object of compassion, while they are sharers of our intimacy at Rosings.’’ Words were insufficient for the elevation of his feelings; and he was obliged to walk about the room, while Elizabeth tried to unite civility and truth in a few short sentences. ‘‘You may, in fact, carry a very favourable report of us into Hertfordshire, my dear cousin. I flatter myself at least that you will be able to do so. Lady Catherine’s great attentions to Mrs. Collins you have been a daily witness of; and altogether I trust it does not appear that your friend has drawn an unfortunate— but on this point it will be as well to be silent. Only let me assure you, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that I can from my heart most cordially wish you equal felicity in marriage. My dear Charlotte and I have but one mind and one way of thinking. There is in every thing a most remarkable resemblance of character and ideas between us. We seem to have been designed for each other.’’ Elizabeth could safely say that it was a great happiness where that was the case, and with equal sincerity could add that she firmly believed and rejoiced in his domestic comforts. She was not sorry, however, to have the recital of them interrupted by the entrance of the lady from whom they sprung. Poor Charlotte!—it was melancholy to leave her to such society!— But she had chosen it with her eyes open; and though evidently regretting that her visitors were to go, she did not seem to ask for compassion. Her home and her housekeeping, her parish and her poultry, and all their dependent concerns, had not yet lost their charms. At length the chaise arrived, the trunks were fastened on, the parcels placed within, and it was pronounced to be ready. After an affectionate parting between the friends, Elizabeth was attended to the carriage by Mr. Collins, and as they walked down the garden, he was commissioning her with his best respects to all her family, not forgetting his thanks for the kindness he had received at Longbourn in the winter, and his compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, though unknown. He


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xv

then handed her in, Maria followed, and the door was on the point of being closed, when he suddenly reminded them, with some consternation, that they had hitherto forgotten to leave any message for the ladies of Rosings. ‘‘But,’’ he added, ‘‘you will of course wish to have your humble respects delivered to them, with your grateful thanks for their kindness to you while you have been here.’’ Elizabeth made no objection;—the door was then allowed to be shut, and the carriage drove off. ‘‘Good gracious!’’ cried Maria, after a few minutes silence, ‘‘it seems but a day or two since we first came!—and yet how many things have happened!’’ ‘‘A great many indeed,’’ said her companion, with a sigh. ‘‘We have dined nine times at Rosings, besides drinking tea there twice!— How much I shall have to tell!’’ Elizabeth privately added, ‘‘and how much I shall have to conceal.’’ Their journey was performed without much conversation, or any alarm; and within four hours of their leaving Hunsford, they reached Mr. Gardiner’s house, where they were to remain a few days. Jane looked well, and Elizabeth had little opportunity of studying her spirits, amidst the various engagements which the kindness of her aunt had reserved for them. But Jane was to go home with her, and at Longbourn there would be leisure enough for observation. It was not without an effort meanwhile that she could wait even for Longbourn, before she told her sister of Mr. Darcy’s proposals. To know that she had the power of revealing what would so exceedingly astonish Jane, and must, at the same time, so highly gratify whatever of her own vanity she had not yet been able to reason away, was such a temptation to openness as nothing could have conquered, but the state of indecision in which she remained, as to the extent of what she should com­ municate; and her fear, if she once entered on the subject, of being hurried into repeating something of Bingley, which might only grieve her sister farther.

chapter xvi

It was the second week in May, in which the three young ladies set out together from Gracechurch-street, for the town of —— in Hertfordshire; and, as they drew near the appointed inn where Mr. Bennet’s carriage was to meet them, they quickly perceived, in token of the coachman’s punctuality, both Kitty and Lydia looking out of a dining room up stairs. These two girls had been above an hour in the place, happily employed in visiting an opposite milliner, watching the sentinel on guard,1 and dressing a sallad and cucumber. After welcoming their sisters, they triumphantly displayed a table set out with such cold meat as an inn larder usually affords, exclaiming, ‘‘Is not this nice? is not this an agreeable surprise?’’ ‘‘And we mean to treat you all,’’ added Lydia; ‘‘but you must lend us the money, for we have just spent ours at the shop out there.’’ Then shewing her purchases: ‘‘Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.’’ And when her sisters abused it as ugly, she added, with perfect unconcern, ‘‘Oh! but there were two or three much uglier in the shop; and when I have bought some prettier-coloured satin to trim it with fresh, I think it will be very tolerable. Besides, it will not much signify what one wears this summer, after the —— shire have left Meryton, and they are going in a fortnight.’’ ‘‘Are they indeed?’’ cried Elizabeth, with the greatest satis­ faction. ‘‘They are going to be encamped near Brighton;2 and I do so want papa to take us all there for the summer! It would be such


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xvi

a delicious scheme, and I dare say would hardly cost any thing at all. Mamma would like to go too of all things! Only think what a miserable summer else we shall have!’’ ‘‘Yes,’’ thought Elizabeth, ‘‘that would be a delightful scheme, indeed, and completely do for us at once. Good Heaven! Brigh­ ton, and a whole campful of soldiers, to us, who have been overset already by one poor regiment of militia, and the monthly balls of Meryton.’’ ‘‘Now I have got some news for you,’’ said Lydia, as they sat down to table. ‘‘What do you think? It is excellent news, capital news, and about a certain person that we all like.’’ Jane and Elizabeth looked at each other, and the waiter was told that he need not stay. Lydia laughed, and said, ‘‘Aye, that is just like your formality and discretion. You thought the waiter must not hear, as if he cared! I dare say he often hears worse things said than I am going to say. But he is an ugly fellow! I am glad he is gone. I never saw such a long chin in my life. Well, but now for my news: it is about dear Wickham; too good for the waiter, is not it? There is no danger of Wickham’s marrying Mary King. There’s for you! She is gone down to her uncle at Liverpool; gone to stay. Wickham is safe.’’ ‘‘And Mary King is safe!’’ added Elizabeth; ‘‘safe from a connection imprudent as to fortune.’’ ‘‘She is a great fool for going away, if she liked him.’’ ‘‘But I hope there is no strong attachment on either side,’’ said Jane. ‘‘I am sure there is not on his. I will answer for it he never cared three straws about her. Who could about such a nasty little freckled thing?’’ Elizabeth was shocked to think that, however incapable of such coarseness of expression herself, the coarseness of the sentiment was little other than her own breast had formerly harboured and fancied liberal! As soon as all had ate, and the elder ones paid, the carriage was ordered; and after some contrivance, the whole party, with all their boxes, workbags, and parcels, and the unwelcome addition of Kitty’s and Lydia’s purchases, were seated in it. ‘‘How nicely we are crammed in!’’ cried Lydia. ‘‘I am glad I

c ha pt er 39


bought my bonnet, if it is only for the fun of having another bandbox! Well, now let us be quite comfortable and snug, and talk and laugh all the way home. And in the first place, let us hear what has happened to you all, since you went away. Have you seen any pleasant men? Have you had any flirting? I was in great hopes that one of you would have got a husband before you came back. Jane will be quite an old maid soon, I declare. She is almost three and twenty! Lord, how ashamed I should be of not being married before three and twenty! My aunt Philips wants you so to get husbands, you can’t think. She says Lizzy had better have taken Mr. Collins; but I do not think there would have been any fun in it. Lord! how I should like to be married before any of you; and then I would chaperon you about to all the balls. Dear me! we had such a good piece of fun the other day at Colonel Forster’s! Kitty and me were to spend the day there, and Mrs. Forster promised to have a little dance in the evening; (by the bye, Mrs. Forster and me are such friends!) and so she asked the two Harringtons to come, but Harriet was ill, and so Pen was forced to come by herself; and then, what do you think we did? We dressed up Chamberlayne in woman’s clothes, on purpose to pass for a lady,—only think what fun! Not a soul knew of it, but Col. and Mrs. Forster, and Kitty and me, except my aunt, for we were forced to borrow one of her gowns; and you cannot imagine how well he looked! When Denny, and Wickham, and Pratt, and two or three more of the men came in, they did not know him in the least. Lord! how I laughed! and so did Mrs. Forster. I thought I should have died. And that made the men suspect something, and then they soon found out what was the matter.’’ With such kind of histories of their parties and good jokes, did Lydia, assisted by Kitty’s hints and additions, endeavour to amuse her companions all the way to Longbourn. Elizabeth listened as little as she could, but there was no escaping the frequent mention of Wickham’s name. Their reception at home was most kind. Mrs. Bennet rejoiced to see Jane in undiminished beauty; and more than once during dinner did Mr. Bennet say voluntarily to Elizabeth, ‘‘I am glad you are come back, Lizzy.’’


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xvi

Their party in the dining-room was large, for almost all the Lucases came to meet Maria and hear the news: and various were the subjects which occupied them; lady Lucas was enquir­ ing of Maria across the table, after the welfare and poultry of her eldest daughter; Mrs. Bennet was doubly engaged, on one hand collecting an account of the present fashions from Jane, who sat some way below her, and on the other, retailing them all to the younger Miss Lucasses; and Lydia, in a voice rather louder than any other person’s, was enumerating the various pleasures of the morning to any body who would hear her. ‘‘Oh! Mary,’’ said she, ‘‘I wish you had gone with us, for we had such fun! as we went along Kitty and me drew up all the blinds, and pretended there was nobody in the coach; and I should have gone so all the way, if Kitty had not been sick; and when we got to the George, I do think we behaved very handsomely, for we treated the other three with the nicest cold luncheon in the world, and if you would have gone, we would have treated you too. And then when we came away it was such fun! I thought we never should have got into the coach. I was ready to die of laughter. And then we were so merry all the way home! we talked and laughed so loud, that any body might have heard us ten miles off !’’ To this, Mary very gravely replied, ‘‘Far be it from me, my dear sister, to depreciate such pleasures. They would doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds. But I confess they would have no charms for me. I should infinitely prefer a book.’’ But of this answer Lydia heard not a word. She seldom listened to any body for more than half a minute, and never attended to Mary at all. In the afternoon Lydia was urgent with the rest of the girls to walk to Meryton and see how every body went on; but Elizabeth steadily opposed the scheme. It should not be said, that the Miss Bennets could not be at home half a day before they were in pursuit of the officers. There was another reason too for her opposition. She dreaded seeing Wickham again, and was resolved to avoid it as long as possible. The comfort to her, of the regiment’s approaching removal, was indeed beyond

c ha pt er 39


expression. In a fortnight they were to go, and once gone, she hoped there could be nothing more to plague her on his account. She had not been many hours at home, before she found that the Brighton scheme, of which Lydia had given them a hint at the inn, was under frequent discussion between her parents. Elizabeth saw directly that her father had not the smallest inten­ tion of yielding; but his answers were at the same time so vague and equivocal, that her mother, though often disheartened, had never yet despaired of succeeding at last.

chapter xvii

Elizabeth’s impatience to acquaint Jane with what had hap­ pened could no longer be overcome; and at length resolving to suppress every particular in which her sister was concerned, and preparing her to be surprised, she related to her the next morning the chief of the scene between Mr. Darcy and herself. Miss Bennet’s astonishment was soon lessened by the strong sisterly partiality which made any admiration of Elizabeth appear perfectly natural; and all surprise was shortly lost in other feelings. She was sorry that Mr. Darcy should have delivered his sentiments in a manner so little suited to recommend them; but still more was she grieved for the unhappiness which her sister’s refusal must have given him. ‘‘His being so sure of succeeding, was wrong,’’ said she; ‘‘and certainly ought not to have appeared; but consider how much it must increase his disappointment.’’ ‘‘Indeed,’’ replied Elizabeth, ‘‘I am heartily sorry for him; but he has other feelings which will probably soon drive away his regard for me. You do not blame me, however, for refusing him?’’ ‘‘Blame you! Oh, no.’’ ‘‘But you blame me for having spoken so warmly of Wickham.’’ ‘‘No—I do not know that you were wrong in saying what you did.’’ ‘‘But you will know it, when I have told you what happened the very next day.’’ She then spoke of the letter, repeating the whole of its contents as far as they concerned George Wickham. What a stroke was

c ha pt er 40


this for poor Jane! who would willingly have gone through the world without believing that so much wickedness existed in the whole race of mankind, as was here collected in one individual. Nor was Darcy’s vindication, though grateful to her feelings, capable of consoling her for such discovery. Most earnestly did she labour to prove the probability of error, and seek to clear one, without involving the other. ‘‘This will not do,’’ said Elizabeth. ‘‘You never will be able to make both of them good for any thing. Take your choice, but you must be satisfied with only one. There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man; and of late it has been shifting about pretty much. For my part, I am inclined to believe it all Mr. Darcy’s, but you shall do as you chuse.’’ It was some time, however, before a smile could be extorted from Jane. ‘‘I do not know when I have been more shocked,’’ said she. ‘‘Wickham so very bad! It is almost past belief. And poor Mr. Darcy! dear Lizzy, only consider what he must have suffered. Such a disappointment and with the knowledge of your ill opinion too! and having to relate such a thing of his sister! It is really too distressing. I am sure you must feel it so.’’ ‘‘Oh! no, my regret and compassion are all done away by seeing you so full of both. I know you will do him such ample justice, that I am growing every moment more unconcerned and indifferent. Your profusion makes me saving; and if you lament over him much longer, my heart will be as light as a feather.’’ ‘‘Poor Wickham; there is such an expression of goodness in his countenance! such an openness and gentleness in his manner.’’ ‘‘There certainly was some great mismanagement in the edu­ cation of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.’’ ‘‘I never thought Mr. Darcy so deficient in the appearance of it as you used to do.’’ ‘‘And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him, without any reason. It is such a spur to one’s genius, such an opening for wit to have a dislike of that


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xvii

kind. One may be continually abusive without saying any thing just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.’’ ‘‘Lizzy, when you first read that letter, I am sure you could not treat the matter as you do now.’’ ‘‘Indeed I could not. I was uncomfortable enough. I was very uncomfortable, I may say unhappy. And with no one to speak to, of what I felt, no Jane to comfort me and say that I had not been so very weak and vain and nonsensical as I knew I had! Oh! how I wanted you!’’ ‘‘How unfortunate that you should have used such very strong expressions in speaking of Wickham to Mr. Darcy, for now they do appear wholly undeserved.’’ ‘‘Certainly. But the misfortune of speaking with bitterness, is a most natural consequence of the prejudices I had been encouraging. There is one point, on which I want your advice. I want to be told whether I ought, or ought not to make our acquaintance in general understand Wickham’s character.’’ Miss Bennet paused a little and then replied, ‘‘Surely there can be no occasion for exposing him so dreadfully. What is your own opinion?’’ ‘‘That it ought not to be attempted. Mr. Darcy has not author­ ised me to make his communication public. On the contrary every particular relative to his sister, was meant to be kept as much as possible to myself; and if I endeavour to undeceive people as to the rest of his conduct, who will believe me? The general prejudice against Mr. Darcy is so violent, that it would be the death of half the good people in Meryton, to attempt to place him in an amiable light. I am not equal to it. Wickham will soon be gone; and therefore it will not signify to anybody here, what he really is. Sometime hence it will be all found out, and then we may laugh at their stupidity in not knowing it before. At present I will say nothing about it.’’ ‘‘You are quite right. To have his errors made public might ruin him for ever. He is now perhaps sorry for what he has done, and anxious to re-establish a character. We must not make him desperate.’’ The tumult of Elizabeth’s mind was allayed by this conver­

c ha pt er 40


sation. She had got rid of two of the secrets which had weighed on her for a fortnight, and was certain of a willing listener in Jane, whenever she might wish to talk again of either. But there was still something lurking behind, of which prudence forbad the disclosure. She dared not relate the other half of Mr. Darcy’s letter, nor explain to her sister how sincerely she had been valued by his friend. Here was knowledge in which no one could partake; and she was sensible that nothing less than a perfect understanding between the parties could justify her in throwing off this last incumbrance of mystery. ‘‘And then,’’ said she, ‘‘if that very improbable event should ever take place, I shall merely be able to tell what Bingley may tell in a much more agreeable manner himself. The liberty of communication cannot be mine till it has lost all its value!’’ She was now, on being settled at home, at leisure to observe the real state of her sister’s spirits. Jane was not happy. She still cherished a very tender affection for Bingley. Having never even fancied herself in love before, her regard had all the warmth of first attachment, and from her age and disposition, greater steadiness than first attachments often boast; and so fervently did she value his remembrance, and prefer him to every other man, that all her good sense, and all her attention to the feelings of her friends, were requisite to check the indulgence of those regrets, which must have been injurious to her own health and their tranquillity. ‘‘Well, Lizzy,’’ said Mrs. Bennet one day, ‘‘what is your opinion now of this sad business of Jane’s? For my part, I am determined never to speak of it again to anybody. I told my sister Philips so the other day. But I cannot find out that Jane saw any thing of him in London. Well, he is a very undeserving young man—and I do not suppose there is the least chance in the world of her ever getting him now. There is no talk of his coming to Netherfield again in the summer; and I have enquired of every body too, who is likely to know.’’ ‘‘I do not believe that he will ever live at Netherfield any more.’’ ‘‘Oh, well it is just as he chooses. Nobody wants him to come. Though I shall always say that he used my daughter extremely


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xvii

ill; and if I was her, I would not have put up with it. Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done.’’ But as Elizabeth could not receive comfort from any such expectation, she made no answer. ‘‘Well, Lizzy,’’ continued her mother soon afterwards, ‘‘and so the Collinses live very comfortable, do they? Well, well, I only hope it will last. And what sort of table do they keep? Charlotte is an excellent manager, I dare say. If she is half as sharp as her mother, she is saving enough. There is nothing extravagant in their housekeeping, I dare say.’’ ‘‘No, nothing at all.’’ ‘‘A great deal of good management, depend upon it. Yes, yes. They will take care not to outrun their income. They will never be distressed for money. Well, much good may it do them! And so, I suppose, they often talk of having Longbourn when your father is dead. They look upon it quite as their own, I dare say, whenever that happens.’’ ‘‘It was a subject which they could not mention before me.’’ ‘‘No. It would have been strange if they had. But I make no doubt, they often talk of it between themselves. Well, if they can be easy with an estate that is not lawfully their own, so much the better. I should be ashamed of having one that was only entailed on me.’’

chapter xviii

The first week of their return was soon gone. The second began. It was the last of the regiment’s stay in Meryton, and all the young ladies in the neighbourhood were drooping apace. The dejection was almost universal. The elder Miss Bennets alone were still able to eat, drink, and sleep, and pursue the usual course of their employments. Very frequently were they reproached for this insensibility by Kitty and Lydia, whose own misery was extreme, and who could not comprehend such hard-heartedness in any of the family. ‘‘Good Heaven! What is to become of us! What are we to do!’’ would they often exclaim in the bitterness of woe. ‘‘How can you be smiling so, Lizzy?’’ Their affectionate mother shared all their grief; she remembered what she had herself endured on a similar occasion, five and twenty years ago. ‘‘I am sure,’’ said she, ‘‘I cried for two days together when Colonel Millar’s regiment went away. I thought I should have broke my heart.’’ ‘‘I am sure I shall break mine,’’ said Lydia. ‘‘If one could but go to Brighton!’’ observed Mrs. Bennet. ‘‘Oh, yes!—if one could but go to Brighton! But papa is so disagreeable.’’ ‘‘A little sea-bathing would set me up for ever.’’ ‘‘And my aunt Philips is sure it would do me a great deal of good,’’ added Kitty. Such were the kind of lamentations resounding perpetually through Longbourn-house. Elizabeth tried to be diverted by them; but all sense of pleasure was lost in shame. She felt anew the justice of Mr. Darcy’s objections; and never had she before


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xviii

been so much disposed to pardon his interference in the views of his friend. But the gloom of Lydia’s prospect was shortly cleared away; for she received an invitation from Mrs. Forster, the wife of the Colonel of the regiment, to accompany her to Brighton. This invaluable friend was a very young woman, and very lately married. A resemblance in good humour and good spirits had recommended her and Lydia to each other, and out of their three months’ acquaintance they had been intimate two. The rapture of Lydia on this occasion, her adoration of Mrs. Forster, the delight of Mrs. Bennet, and the mortification of Kitty, are scarcely to be described. Wholly inattentive to her sister’s feelings, Lydia flew about the house in restless ecstacy, calling for every one’s congratulations, and laughing and talking with more violence than ever; whilst the luckless Kitty continued in the parlour repining at her fate in terms as unreasonable as her accent was peevish. ‘‘I cannot see why Mrs. Forster should not ask me as well as Lydia,’’ said she, ‘‘though I am not her particular friend. I have just as much right to be asked as she has, and more too, for I am two years older.’’ In vain did Elizabeth attempt to make her reasonable, and Jane to make her resigned. As for Elizabeth herself, this invi­ tation was so far from exciting in her the same feelings as in her mother and Lydia, that she considered it as the death-warrant of all possibility of common sense for the latter; and detestable as such a step must make her were it known, she could not help secretly advising her father not to let her go. She represented to him all the improprieties of Lydia’s general behaviour, the little advantage she could derive from the friendship of such a woman as Mrs. Forster, and the probability of her being yet more imprudent with such a companion at Brighton, where the temp­ tations must be greater than at home. He heard her attentively, and then said, ‘‘Lydia will never be easy till she has exposed herself1 in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances.’’

c ha pt er 41


‘‘If you were aware,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘of the very great disad­ vantage to us all, which must arise from the public notice of Lydia’s unguarded and imprudent manner; nay, which has already arisen from it, I am sure you would judge differently in the affair.’’ ‘‘Already arisen!’’ repeated Mr. Bennet. ‘‘What, has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor little Lizzy! But do not be cast down. Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity, are not worth a regret. Come, let me see the list of the pitiful fellows who have been kept aloof by Lydia’s folly.’’ ‘‘Indeed you are mistaken. I have no such injuries to resent. It is not of peculiar,2 but of general evils, which I am now complaining. Our importance, our respectability in the world, must be affected by the wild volatility, the assurance and disdain of all restraint which mark Lydia’s character. Excuse me—for I must speak plainly. If you, my dear father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, and of teaching her that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment. Her character will be fixed, and she will, at sixteen, be the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous. A flirt too, in the worst and meanest degree of flirtation; without any attraction beyond youth and a tolerable person; and from the ignorance and emptiness of her mind, wholly unable to ward off any portion of that universal contempt which her rage for admiration will excite. In this danger Kitty is also compre­ hended. She will follow wherever Lydia leads. Vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrouled! Oh! my dear father, can you suppose it possible that they will not be censured and despised wherever they are known, and that their sisters will not be often involved in the disgrace?’’ Mr. Bennet saw that her whole heart was in the subject; and affectionately taking her hand, said in reply, ‘‘Do not make yourself uneasy, my love. Whenever you and Jane are known, you must be respected and valued; and you will not appear to less advantage for having a couple of—or I may say, three very silly sisters. We shall have no peace at


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Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton. Let her go then. Colonel Forster is a sensible man, and will keep her out of any real mischief; and she is luckily too poor to be an object of prey to any body. At Brighton she will be of less importance even as a common flirt than she has been here. The officers will find women better worth their notice. Let us hope, therefore, that her being there may teach her her own insignificance. At any rate, she cannot grow many degrees worse, without authorizing us to lock her up for the rest of her life.’’ With this answer Elizabeth was forced to be content; but her own opinion continued the same, and she left him disappointed and sorry. It was not in her nature, however, to increase her vexations by dwelling on them. She was confident of having performed her duty, and to fret over unavoidable evils, or aug­ ment them by anxiety, was no part of her disposition. Had Lydia and her mother known the substance of her confer­ ence with her father, their indignation would hardly have found expression in their united volubility. In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happi­ ness. She saw with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention, to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp; its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once. Had she known that her sister sought to tear her from such prospects and such realities as these, what would have been her sensations? They could have been understood only by her mother, who might have felt nearly the same. Lydia’s going to Brighton was all that consoled her for the melancholy conviction of her husband’s never intending to go there himself. But they were entirely ignorant of what had passed; and their raptures continued with little intermission to the very day of Lydia’s leaving home. Elizabeth was now to see Mr. Wickham for the last time. Having been frequently in company with him since her return,

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agitation was pretty well over; the agitations of former partiality entirely so. She had even learnt to detect, in the very gentleness which had first delighted her, an affectation and a sameness to disgust and weary. In his present behaviour to herself, moreover, she had a fresh source of displeasure, for the inclination he soon testified of renewing those attentions which had marked the early part of their acquaintance, could only serve, after what had since passed, to provoke her. She lost all concern for him in finding herself thus selected as the object of such idle and frivol­ ous gallantry; and while she steadily repressed it, could not but feel the reproof contained in his believing, that however long, and for whatever cause, his attentions had been withdrawn, her vanity would be gratified and her preference secured at any time by their renewal. On the very last day of the regiment’s remaining in Meryton, he dined with others of the officers at Longbourn; and so little was Elizabeth disposed to part from him in good humour, that on his making some enquiry as to the manner in which her time had passed at Hunsford, she mentioned Colonel Fitzwilliam’s and Mr. Darcy’s having both spent three weeks at Rosings, and asked him if he were acquainted with the former. He looked surprised, displeased, alarmed; but with a moment’s recollection and a returning smile, replied, that he had formerly seen him often; and after observing that he was a very gentlemanlike man, asked her how she had liked him. Her answer was warmly in his favour. With an air of indifference he soon afterwards added, ‘‘How long did you say that he was at Rosings?’’ ‘‘Nearly three weeks.’’ ‘‘And you saw him frequently?’’ ‘‘Yes, almost every day.’’ ‘‘His manners are very different from his cousin’s.’’ ‘‘Yes, very different. But I think Mr. Darcy improves on acquaintance.’’ ‘‘Indeed!’’ cried Wickham with a look which did not escape her. ‘‘And pray may I ask?’’ but checking himself, he added in a gayer tone, ‘‘Is it in address that he improves? Has he deigned to add ought of civility to his ordinary style? for I dare not


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hope,’’ he continued in a lower and more serious tone, ‘‘that he is improved in essentials.’’ ‘‘Oh, no!’’ said Elizabeth. ‘‘In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was.’’ While she spoke, Wickham looked as if scarcely knowing whether to rejoice over her words, or to distrust their meaning. There was a something in her countenance which made him listen with an apprehensive and anxious attention, while she added, ‘‘When I said that he improved on acquaintance, I did not mean that either his mind or manners were in a state of improve­ ment, but that from knowing him better, his disposition was better understood.’’ Wickham’s alarm now appeared in a heightened complexion and agitated look; for a few minutes he was silent; till, shaking off his embarrassment, he turned to her again, and said in the gentlest of accents, ‘‘You, who so well know my feelings towards Mr. Darcy, will readily comprehend how sincerely I must rejoice that he is wise enough to assume even the appearance of what is right. His pride, in that direction, may be of service, if not to himself, to many others, for it must deter him from such foul misconduct as I have suffered by. I only fear that the sort of cautiousness, to which you, I imagine, have been alluding, is merely adopted on his visits to his aunt, of whose good opinion and judgment he stands much in awe. His fear of her, has always operated, I know, when they were together; and a good deal is to be imputed to his wish of forwarding the match with Miss De Bourgh, which I am certain he has very much at heart.’’ Elizabeth could not repress a smile at this, but she answered only by a slight inclination of the head. She saw that he wanted to engage her on the old subject of his grievances, and she was in no humour to indulge him. The rest of the evening passed with the appearance, on his side, of usual cheerfulness, but with no farther attempt to distinguish Elizabeth; and they parted at last with mutual civility, and possibly a mutual desire of never meeting again. When the party broke up, Lydia returned with Mrs. Forster

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to Meryton, from whence they were to set out early the next morning. The separation between her and her family was rather noisy than pathetic. Kitty was the only one who shed tears; but she did weep from vexation and envy. Mrs. Bennet was diffuse in her good wishes for the felicity of her daughter, and impressive in her injunctions that she would not miss the opportunity of enjoying herself as much as possible; advice, which there was every reason to believe would be attended to; and in the clamor­ ous happiness of Lydia herself in bidding farewell, the more gentle adieus of her sisters were uttered without being heard.

chapter xix

Had Elizabeth’s opinion been all drawn from her own family, she could not have formed a very pleasing picture of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort. Her father captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour, which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind, had very early in their mar­ riage put an end to all real affection for her. Respect, esteem, and confidence, had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown. But Mr. Bennet was not of a disposition to seek comfort for the disappointment which his own imprudence had brought on, in any of those pleasures which too often console the unfortunate for their folly or their vice. He was fond of the country and of books; and from these tastes had arisen his principal enjoyments. To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted, than as her ignorance and folly had contributed to his amusement. This is not the sort of happi­ ness which a man would in general wish to owe to his wife; but where other powers of entertainment are wanting, the true philosopher will derive benefit from such as are given. Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father’s behaviour as a husband. She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible. But she had never felt so strongly as now, the disadvantages which must attend the children of so

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unsuitable a marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents which rightly used, might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife. When Elizabeth had rejoiced over Wickham’s departure, she found little other cause for satisfaction in the loss of the regi­ ment. Their parties abroad were less varied than before; and at home she had a mother and sister whose constant repinings at the dulness of every thing around them, threw a real gloom over their domestic circle; and, though Kitty might in time regain her natural degree of sense, since the disturbers of her brain were removed, her other sister, from whose disposition greater evil might be apprehended, was likely to be hardened in all her folly and assurance, by a situation of such double danger as a watering place and a camp. Upon the whole, therefore, she found, what has been sometimes found before, that an event to which she had looked forward with impatient desire, did not in taking place, bring all the satisfaction she had promised herself. It was consequently necessary to name some other period for the commencement of actual felicity; to have some other point on which her wishes and hopes might be fixed, and by again enjoying the pleasure of anticipation, console herself for the present, and prepare for another disappointment. Her tour to the Lakes was now the object of her happiest thoughts; it was her best consolation for all the uncomfortable hours, which the discontentedness of her mother and Kitty made inevitable; and could she have included Jane in the scheme, every part of it would have been perfect. ‘‘But it is fortunate,’’ thought she, ‘‘that I have something to wish for. Were the whole arrangement complete, my disappoint­ ment would be certain. But here, by carrying with me one ceaseless source of regret in my sister’s absence, I may reasonably hope to have all my expectations of pleasure realized. A scheme of which every part promises delight, can never be successful; and general disappointment is only warded off by the defence of some little peculiar vexation.’’ When Lydia went away, she promised to write very often and very minutely to her mother and Kitty; but her letters were


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always long expected, and always very short. Those to her mother, contained little else, than that they were just returned from the library, where such and such officers had attended them, and where she had seen such beautiful ornaments as made her quite wild; that she had a new gown, or a new parasol, which she would have described more fully, but was obliged to leave off in a violent hurry, as Mrs. Forster called her, and they were going to the camp;—and from her correspondence with her sister, there was still less to be learnt—for her letters to Kitty, though rather longer, were much too full of lines under the words to be made public. After the first fortnight or three weeks of her absence, health, good humour and cheerfulness began to re-appear at Long­ bourn. Everything wore a happier aspect. The families who had been in town for the winter came back again, and summer finery and summer engagements arose. Mrs. Bennet was restored to her usual querulous serenity, and by the middle of June Kitty was so much recovered as to be able to enter Meryton without tears; an event of such happy promise as to make Elizabeth hope, that by the following Christmas, she might be so tolerably reasonable as not to mention an officer above once a day, unless by some cruel and malicious arrangement at the war-office, another regiment should be quartered in Meryton. The time fixed for the beginning of their Northern tour was now fast approaching; and a fortnight only was wanting of it, when a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner, which at once delayed its commencement and curtailed its extent. Mr. Gardiner would be prevented by business from setting out till a fortnight later in July, and must be in London again within a month; and as that left too short a period for them to go so far, and see so much as they had proposed, or at least to see it with the leisure and comfort they had built on, they were obliged to give up the Lakes, and substitute a more contracted tour; and, according to the present plan, were to go no farther northward than Derbyshire. In that county, there was enough to be seen, to occupy the chief of their three weeks; and to Mrs. Gardiner it had a peculiarly strong attraction. The town where she had formerly passed some years of her life, and where they were

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now to spend a few days, was probably as great an object of her curiosity, as all the celebrated beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak.1 Elizabeth was excessively disappointed; she had set her heart on seeing the Lakes; and still thought there might have been time enough. But it was her business to be satisfied—and certainly her temper to be happy; and all was soon right again. With the mention of Derbyshire, there were many ideas con­ nected. It was impossible for her to see the word without think­ ing of Pemberley and its owner. ‘‘But surely,’’ said she, ‘‘I may enter his county with impunity, and rob it of a few petrified spars2 without his perceiving me.’’ The period of expectation was now doubled. Four weeks were to pass away before her uncle and aunt’s arrival. But they did pass away, and Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, with their four children, did at length appear at Longbourn. The children, two girls of six and eight years old, and two younger boys, were to be left under the particular care of their cousin Jane, who was the general favourite, and whose steady sense and sweetness of temper exactly adapted her for attending to them in every way— teaching them, playing with them, and loving them.3 The Gardiners staid only one night at Longbourn, and set off the next morning with Elizabeth in pursuit of novelty and amusement. One enjoyment was certain—that of suitableness as companions; a suitableness which comprehended health and temper to bear inconveniences—cheerfulness to enhance every pleasure—and affection and intelligence, which might supply it among themselves if there were disappointments abroad. It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derby­ shire, nor of any of the remarkable places through which their route thither lay; Oxford, Blenheim, Warwick, Kenelworth, Bir­ mingham, &c.4 are sufficiently known. A small part of Derby­ shire is all the present concern. To the little town of Lambton, the scene of Mrs. Gardiner’s former residence, and where she had lately learned that some acquaintance still remained, they bent their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders of the country; and within five miles of Lambton, Elizabeth found from her aunt, that Pemberley was situated. It was not in their direct


v ol um e ii c h ap te r xix

road, nor more than a mile or two out of it. In talking over their route the evening before, Mrs. Gardiner expressed an inclination to see the place again. Mr. Gardiner declared his willingness, and Elizabeth was applied to for her approbation. ‘‘My love, should not you like to see a place of which you have heard so much?’’ said her aunt. ‘‘A place too, with which so many of your acquaintance are connected. Wickham passed all his youth there, you know.’’ Elizabeth was distressed. She felt that she had no business at Pemberley, and was obliged to assume a disinclination for seeing it. She must own that she was tired of great houses;5 after going over so many, she really had no pleasure in fine carpets or satin curtains. Mrs. Gardiner abused her stupidity. ‘‘If it were merely a fine house richly furnished,’’ said she, ‘‘I should not care about it myself; but the grounds are delightful. They have some of the finest woods in the country.’’ Elizabeth said no more—but her mind could not acquiesce. The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy, while viewing the place, instantly occurred. It would be dreadful! She blushed at the very idea; and thought it would be better to speak openly to her aunt, than to run such a risk. But against this, there were objections; and she finally resolved that it could be the last resource, if her private enquiries as to the absence of the family, were unfavour­ ably answered. Accordingly, when she retired at night, she asked the chamber­ maid whether Pemberley were not a very fine place, what was the name of its proprietor, and with no little alarm, whether the family were down for the summer. A most welcome negative fol­ lowed the last question—and her alarms being now removed, she was at leisure to feel a great deal of curiosity to see the house herself; and when the subject was revived the next morning, and she was again applied to, could readily answer, and with a proper air of indifference, that she had not really any dislike to the scheme. To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go. END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.

Volume Three


chapter i

Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter. The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in one of its lowest points, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood, stretching over a wide extent. Elizabeth’s mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness1 wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.2 They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt, that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something! They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door; and, while examining the nearer aspect of the house, all her apprehensions of meeting its owner returned. She dreaded lest the chambermaid had been mistaken. On applying to see


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the place, they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was. The housekeeper came; a respectable-looking, elderly woman, much less fine, and more civil, than she had any notion of finding her. They followed her into the dining-parlour. It was a large, well-proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Elizabeth, after slightly surveying it, went to a window to enjoy its prospect. The hill, crowned with wood, from which they had descended, receiving increased abruptness from the distance, was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene, the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it, with delight. As they passed into other rooms, these objects were taking different positions; but from every window there were beauties to be seen. The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine;3 with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings. ‘‘And of this place,’’ thought she, ‘‘I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and aunt.—But no,’’—recollecting herself,—‘‘that could never be: my uncle and aunt would have been lost to me: I should not have been allowed to invite them.’’ This was a lucky recollection—it saved her from something like regret. She longed to enquire of the housekeeper, whether her master were really absent, but had not courage for it. At length, how­ ever, the question was asked by her uncle; and she turned away with alarm, while Mrs. Reynolds replied, that he was, adding, ‘‘but we expect him to morrow, with a large party of friends.’’ How rejoiced was Elizabeth that their own journey had not by any circumstance been delayed a day! Her aunt now called her to look at a picture. She approached, and saw the likeness of Mr. Wickham suspended, amongst

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several other miniatures, over the mantle-piece. Her aunt asked her, smilingly, how she liked it. The housekeeper came forward, and told them it was the picture of a young gentleman, the son of her late master’s steward, who had been brought up by him at his own expence.—‘‘He is now gone into the army,’’ she added, ‘‘but I am afraid he has turned out very wild.’’ Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece with a smile, but Elizabeth could not return it. ‘‘And that,’’ said Mrs Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures,4 ‘‘is my master—and very like him. It was drawn at the same time as the other—about eight years ago.’’ ‘‘I have heard much of your master’s fine person,’’ said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; ‘‘it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.’’ Mrs. Reynolds’s respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master. ‘‘Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?’’ Elizabeth coloured, and said—‘‘A little.’’ ‘‘And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, Ma’am?’’ ‘‘Yes, very handsome.’’ ‘‘I am sure I know none so handsome; but in the gallery up stairs you will see a finer, larger picture of him than this. This room was my late master’s favourite room, and these miniatures are just as they used to be then. He was very fond of them.’’ This accounted to Elizabeth for Mr. Wickham’s being among them. Mrs. Reynolds then directed their attention to one of Miss Darcy, drawn when she was only eight years old. ‘‘And is Miss Darcy as handsome as her brother?’’ said Mr. Gardiner. ‘‘Oh! yes—the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so accomplished!—She plays and sings all day long. In the next room is a new instrument just come down for her— a present from my master; she comes here to-morrow with him.’’ Mr. Gardiner, whose manners were easy and pleasant, encouraged her communicativeness by his questions and


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remarks; Mrs. Reynolds, either from pride or attachment; had evidently great pleasure in talking of her master and his sister. ‘‘Is your master much at Pemberley in the course of the year?’’ ‘‘Not so much as I could wish, Sir; but I dare say he may spend half his time here; and Miss Darcy is always down for the summer months.’’ ‘‘Except,’’ thought Elizabeth, ‘‘when she goes to Ramsgate.’’ ‘‘If your master would marry, you might see more of him.’’ ‘‘Yes, Sir; but I do not know when that will be. I do not know who is good enough for him.’’ Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner smiled. Elizabeth could not help saying, ‘‘It is very much to his credit, I am sure, that you should think so.’’ ‘‘I say no more than the truth, and what every body will say that knows him,’’ replied the other. Elizabeth thought this was going pretty far; and she listened with increasing astonishment as the housekeeper added, ‘‘I have never had a cross word from him in my life, and I have known him ever since he was four years old.’’ This was praise, of all others most extraordinary, most oppo­ site to her ideas. That he was not a good-tempered man, had been her firmest opinion. Her keenest attention was awakened; she longed to hear more, and was grateful to her uncle for saying, ‘‘There are very few people of whom so much can be said. You are lucky in having such a master.’’ ‘‘Yes, Sir, I know I am. If I was to go through the world, I could not meet with a better. But I have always observed, that they who are good-natured when children, are good-natured when they grow up; and he was always the sweetest-tempered, most generous-hearted, boy in the world.’’ Elizabeth almost stared at her.—‘‘Can this be Mr. Darcy!’’ thought she. ‘‘His father was an excellent man,’’ said Mrs. Gardiner. ‘‘Yes, Ma’am, that he was indeed; and his son will be just like him—just as affable to the poor.’’ Elizabeth listened, wondered, doubted, and was impatient for

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more. Mrs. Reynolds could interest her on no other point. She related the subject of the pictures, the dimensions of the rooms, and the price of the furniture, in vain. Mr. Gardiner, highly amused by the kind of family prejudice, to which he attributed her excessive commendation of her master, soon led again to the subject; and she dwelt with energy on his many merits, as they proceeded together up the great staircase. ‘‘He is the best landlord, and the best master,’’ said she, ‘‘that ever lived. Not like the wild young men now-a-days, who think of nothing but themselves. There is not one of his tenants or servants but what will give him a good name. Some people call him proud; but I am sure I never saw any thing of it. To my fancy, it is only because he does not rattle away like other young men.’’ ‘‘In what an amiable light does this place him!’’ thought Elizabeth. ‘‘This fine account of him,’’ whispered her aunt, as they walked, ‘‘is not quite consistent with his behaviour to our poor friend.’’ ‘‘Perhaps we might be deceived.’’ ‘‘That is not very likely; our authority was too good.’’ On reaching the spacious lobby above, they were shewn into a very pretty sitting-room, lately fitted up with greater elegance and lightness than the apartments below; and were informed that it was but just done, to give pleasure to Miss Darcy, who had taken a liking to the room, when last at Pemberley. ‘‘He is certainly a good brother,’’ said Elizabeth, as she walked towards one of the windows. Mrs. Reynolds anticipated Miss Darcy’s delight, when she should enter the room. ‘‘And this is always the way with him,’’ she added.—‘‘Whatever can give his sister any pleasure, is sure to be done in a moment. There is nothing he would not do for her.’’ The picture-gallery, and two or three of the principal bed­ rooms, were all that remained to be shewn. In the former were many good paintings; but Elizabeth knew nothing of the art; and from such as had been already visible below, she had willingly turned to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy’s, in


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crayons, whose subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligible. In the gallery there were many family portraits, but they could have little to fix the attention of a stranger. Elizabeth walked on in quest of the only face whose features would be known to her. At last it arrested her—and she beheld a striking resemblance of Mr. Darcy, with such a smile over the face, as she remembered to have sometimes seen, when he looked at her. She stood several minutes before the picture in earnest contemplation, and returned to it again before they quitted the gallery. Mrs. Reynolds informed them, that it had been taken in his father’s life time. There was certainly at this moment, in Elizabeth’s mind, a more gentle sensation towards the original, than she had ever felt in the height of their acquaintance. The commendation bestowed on him by Mrs. Reynolds was of no trifling nature. What praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant? As a brother, a landlord, a master, she considered how many people’s happiness were in his guardianship!—How much of pleasure or pain it was in his power to bestow!—How much of good or evil must be done by him! Every idea that had been brought forward by the housekeeper was favourable to his character, and as she stood before the canvas, on which he was represented, and fixed his eyes upon herself, she thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude5 than it had ever raised before; she remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression. When all of the house that was open to general inspection had been seen, they returned down stairs, and taking leave of the housekeeper, were consigned over to the gardener, who met them at the hall door. As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road, which led behind it to the stables. They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that it was impossible to avoid his sight.

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Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immoveable from surprise; but shortly recovering him­ self, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility. She had instinctively turned away; but, stopping on his approach, received his compliments with an embarrassment impossible to be overcome. Had his first appearance, or his resemblance to the picture they had just been examining, been insufficient to assure the other two that they now saw Mr. Darcy, the gardener’s expression of surprise, on beholding his master, must immediately have told it. They stood a little aloof while he was talking to their niece, who, astonished and con­ fused, scarcely dared lift her eyes to his face, and knew not what answer she returned to his civil enquiries after her family. Amazed at the alteration in his manner since they last parted, every sentence that he uttered was increasing her embarrass­ ment; and every idea of the impropriety of her being found there, recurring to her mind, the few minutes in which they continued together, were some of the most uncomfortable of her life. Nor did he seem much more at ease; when he spoke, his accent had none of its usual sedateness; and he repeated his enquiries as to the time of her having left Longbourn, and of her stay in Derbyshire, so often, and in so hurried a way, as plainly spoke the distraction of his thoughts. At length, every idea seemed to fail him; and, after standing a few moments without saying a word, he suddenly recollected himself, and took leave. The others then joined her, and expressed their admiration of his figure; but Elizabeth heard not a word, and, wholly engrossed by her own feelings, followed them in silence. She was over­ powered by shame and vexation. Her coming there was the most unfortunate, the most ill-judged thing in the world! How strange must it appear to him! In what a disgraceful light might it not strike so vain a man! It might seem as if she had purposely thrown herself in his way again! Oh! why did she come? or, why did he thus come a day before he was expected? Had they been only ten minutes sooner, they should have been beyond


v ol um e iii ch ap te r i

the reach of his discrimination, for it was plain that he was that moment arrived, that moment alighted from his horse or his carriage. She blushed again and again over the perverseness of the meeting. And his behaviour, so strikingly altered,—what could it mean? That he should even speak to her was amazing!— but to speak with such civility, to enquire after her family! Never in her life had she seen his manners so little dignified, never had he spoken with such gentleness as on this unexpected meeting. What a contrast did it offer to his last address in Rosing’s Park, when he put his letter into her hand! She knew not what to think, nor how to account for it. They had now entered a beautiful walk by the side of the water, and every step was bringing forward a nobler fall of ground, or a finer reach of the woods to which they were approaching; but it was some time before Elizabeth was sensible of any of it; and, though she answered mechanically to the repeated appeals of her uncle and aunt, and seemed to direct her eyes to such objects as they pointed out, she distinguished no part of the scene. Her thoughts were all fixed on that one spot of Pemberley House, whichever it might be, where Mr. Darcy then was. She longed to know what at that moment was passing in his mind; in what manner he thought of her, and whether, in defiance of every thing, she was still dear to him. Perhaps he had been civil, only because he felt himself at ease; yet there had been that in his voice, which was not like ease. Whether he had felt more of pain or of pleasure in seeing her, she could not tell, but he certainly had not seen her with composure. At length, however, the remarks of her companions on her absence of mind roused her, and she felt the necessity of appear­ ing more like herself. They entered the woods, and bidding adieu to the river for a while, ascended some of the higher grounds; whence, in spots where the opening of the trees gave the eye power to wander, were many charming views of the valley, the opposite hills, with the long range of woods overspreading many, and occasionally part of the stream. Mr. Gardiner expressed a wish of going round the whole Park, but feared it might be beyond a walk.

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With a triumphant smile, they were told, that it was ten miles round. It settled the matter; and they pursued the accustomed circuit; which brought them again, after some time, in a descent among hanging woods, to the edge of the water, in one of its narrowest parts. They crossed it by a simple bridge, in character with the general air of the scene; it was a spot less adorned than any they had yet visited; and the valley, here contracted into a glen, allowed room only for the stream, and a narrow walk amidst the rough coppice-wood which bordered it. Elizabeth longed to explore its windings; but when they had crossed the bridge, and perceived their distance from the house, Mrs. Gardiner, who was not a great walker, could go no farther, and thought only of returning to the carriage as quickly as possible. Her niece was, therefore, obliged to submit, and they took their way towards the house on the opposite side of the river, in the nearest direction; but their progress was slow, for Mr. Gardiner, though seldom able to indulge the taste, was very fond of fishing, and was so much engaged in watching the occasional appearance of some trout in the water, and talking to the man about them, that he advanced but little. Whilst wandering on in this slow manner, they were again surprised, and Elizabeth’s astonish­ ment was quite equal to what it had been at first, by the sight of Mr. Darcy approaching them, and at no great distance. The walk being here less sheltered than on the other side, allowed them to see him before they met. Elizabeth, however astonished, was at least more prepared for an interview than before, and resolved to appear and to speak with calmness, if he really intended to meet them. For a few moments, indeed, she felt that he would probably strike into some other path. This idea lasted while a turning in the walk concealed him from their view; the turning past, he was immediately before them. With a glance she saw, that he had lost none of his recent civility; and, to imitate his politeness, she began, as they met, to admire the beauty of the place; but she had not got beyond the words ‘‘delightful,’’ and ‘‘charming,’’ when some unlucky recollections obtruded, and she fancied that praise of Pemberley from her, might be mischievously construed. Her colour changed, and she said no more.


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Mrs. Gardiner was standing a little behind; and on her pausing, he asked her, if she would do him the honour of intro­ ducing him to her friends. This was a stroke of civility for which she was quite unprepared; and she could hardly suppress a smile, at his being now seeking the acquaintance of some of those very people, against whom his pride had revolted, in his offer to herself. ‘‘What will be his surprise,’’ thought she, ‘‘when he knows who they are! He takes them now for people of fashion.’’ The introduction, however, was immediately made; and as she named their relationship to herself, she stole a sly look at him, to see how he bore it; and was not without the expectation of his decamping as fast as he could from such disgraceful companions. That he was surprised by the connexion was evi­ dent; he sustained it however with fortitude, and so far from going away, turned back with them, and entered into conver­ sation with Mr. Gardiner. Elizabeth could not but be pleased, could not but triumph. It was consoling, that he should know she had some relations for whom there was no need to blush. She listened most attentively to all that passed between them, and gloried in every expression, every sentence of her uncle, which marked his intelligence, his taste, or his good manners. The conversation soon turned upon fishing, and she heard Mr. Darcy invite him, with the greatest civility, to fish there as often as he chose, while he continued in the neighbourhood, offering at the same time to supply him with fishing tackle, and pointing out those parts of the stream where there was usually most sport. Mrs. Gardiner, who was walking arm in arm with Elizabeth, gave her a look expressive of her wonder. Elizabeth said nothing, but it gratified her exceedingly; the compliment must be all for herself. Her astonishment, however, was extreme; and continually was she repeating, ‘‘Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me, it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me.’’ After walking some time in this way, the two ladies in front, the two gentlemen behind, on resuming their places, after

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descending to the brink of the river for the better inspection of some curious water-plant, there chanced to be a little alteration. It originated in Mrs. Gardiner, who, fatigued by the exercise of the morning, found Elizabeth’s arm inadequate to her support, and consequently preferred her husband’s. Mr. Darcy took her place by her niece, and they walked on together. After a short silence, the lady first spoke. She wished him to know that she had been assured of his absence before she came to the place, and accordingly began by observing, that his arrival had been very unexpected—‘‘for your housekeeper,’’ she added, ‘‘in­ formed us that you would certainly not be here till tomorrow; and indeed, before we left Bakewell, we understood that you were not immediately expected in the country.’’ He acknowl­ edged the truth of it all; and said that business with his steward had occasioned his coming forward a few hours before the rest of the party with whom he had been travelling. ‘‘They will join me early to-morrow,’’ he continued, ‘‘and among them are some who will claim an acquaintance with you,—Mr. Bingley and his sisters.’’ Elizabeth answered only by a slight bow. Her thoughts were instantly driven back to the time when Mr. Bingley’s name had been last mentioned between them; and if she might judge from his complexion, his mind was not very differently engaged. ‘‘There is also one other person in the party,’’ he continued after a pause, ‘‘who more particularly wishes to be known to you,—Will you allow me, or do I ask too much, to introduce my sister to your acquaintance during your stay at Lambton?’’ The surprise of such an application was great indeed; it was too great for her to know in what manner she acceded to it. She immediately felt that whatever desire Miss Darcy might have of being acquainted with her, must be the work of her brother, and without looking farther, it was satisfactory; it was gratifying to know that his resentment had not made him think really ill of her. They now walked on in silence; each of them deep in thought. Elizabeth was not comfortable; that was impossible; but she was flattered and pleased. His wish of introducing his sister to her, was a compliment of the highest kind. They soon outstripped


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the others, and when they had reached the carriage, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner were half a quarter of a mile behind. He then asked her to walk into the house—but she declared herself not tired, and they stood together on the lawn. At such a time, much might have been said, and silence was very awk­ ward. She wanted to talk, but there seemed an embargo on every subject. At last she recollected that she had been travelling, and they talked of Matlock and Dove Dale with great perseverance. Yet time and her aunt moved slowly—and her patience and her ideas were nearly worn out before the tete-a-tete was over. On Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner’s coming up, they were all pressed to go into the house and take some refreshment; but this was declined, and they parted on each side with the utmost politeness. Mr. Darcy handed the ladies into the carriage, and when it drove off, Elizabeth saw him walking slowly towards the house. The observations of her uncle and aunt now began; and each of them pronounced him to be infinitely superior to any thing they had expected. ‘‘He is perfectly well behaved, polite, and unassuming,’’ said her uncle. ‘‘There is something a little stately in him to be sure,’’ replied her aunt, ‘‘but it is confined to his air, and is not unbecoming. I can now say with the housekeeper, that though some people may call him proud, I have seen nothing of it.’’ ‘‘I was never more surprised than by his behaviour to us. It was more than civil; it was really attentive; and there was no necessity for such attention. His acquaintance with Elizabeth was very trifling.’’ ‘‘To be sure, Lizzy,’’ said her aunt, ‘‘he is not so handsome as Wickham; or rather he has not Wickham’s countenance, for his features are perfectly good. But how came you to tell us that he was so disagreeable?’’ Elizabeth excused herself as well as she could; said that she had liked him better when they met in Kent than before, and that she had never seen him so pleasant as this morning. ‘‘But perhaps he may be a little whimsical in his civilities,’’ replied her uncle. ‘‘Your great men often are; and therefore I shall not take him at his word about fishing, as he might change his mind another day, and warn me off his grounds.’’

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Elizabeth felt that they had entirely mistaken his character, but said nothing. ‘‘From what we have seen of him,’’ continued Mrs. Gardiner, ‘‘I really should not have thought that he could have behaved in so cruel a way by any body, as he has done by poor Wickham. He has not an ill-natured look. On the contrary, there is something pleasing about his mouth when he speaks. And there is some­ thing of dignity in his countenance, that would not give one an unfavourable idea of his heart. But to be sure, the good lady who shewed us the house, did give him a most flaming character! I could hardly help laughing aloud sometimes. But he is a liberal master, I suppose, and that in the eye of a servant comprehends every virtue.’’ Elizabeth here felt herself called on to say something in vindication of his behaviour to Wickham; and therefore gave them to understand, in as guarded a manner as she could, that by what she had heard from his relations in Kent, his actions were capable of a very different construction; and that his character was by no means so faulty, nor Wickham’s so amiable, as they had been considered in Hertfordshire. In confirmation of this, she related the particulars of all the pecuniary trans­ actions in which they had been connected, without actually naming her authority, but stating it to be such as might be relied on. Mrs. Gardiner was surprised and concerned; but as they were now approaching the scene of her former pleasures, every idea gave way to the charm of recollection; and she was too much engaged in pointing out to her husband all the interesting spots in its environs, to think of any thing else. Fatigued as she had been by the morning’s walk, they had no sooner dined than she set off again in quest of her former acquaintance, and the evening was spent in the satisfactions of an intercourse renewed after many years discontinuance. The occurrences of the day were too full of interest to leave Elizabeth much attention for any of these new friends; and she could do nothing but think, and think with wonder, of Mr. Darcy’s civility, and above all, of his wishing her to be acquainted with his sister.

chapter ii

Elizabeth had settled it that Mr. Darcy would bring his sister to visit her, the very day after her reaching Pemberley; and was consequently resolved not to be out of sight of the inn the whole of that morning. But her conclusion was false; for on the very morning after their own arrival at Lambton, these visitors came. They had been walking about the place with some of their new friends, and were just returned to the inn to dress themselves for dining with the same family, when the sound of a carriage drew them to a window, and they saw a gentleman and lady in a curricle,1 driving up the street. Elizabeth immediately recognis­ ing the livery, guessed what it meant, and imparted no small degree of surprise to her relations, by acquainting them with the honour which she expected. Her uncle and aunt were all amazement; and the embarrassment of her manner as she spoke, joined to the circumstance itself, and many of the circumstances of the preceding day, opened to them a new idea on the business. Nothing had ever suggested it before, but they now felt that there was no other way of accounting for such attentions from such a quarter, than by supposing a partiality for their niece. While these newly-born notions were passing in their heads, the perturbation of Elizabeth’s feelings was every moment in­ creasing. She was quite amazed at her own discomposure; but amongst other causes of disquiet, she dreaded lest the partiality of the brother should have said too much in her favour; and more than commonly anxious to please, she naturally suspected that every power of pleasing would fail her. She retreated from the window, fearful of being seen; and as she walked up and down the room, endeavouring to compose

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herself, saw such looks of enquiring surprise in her uncle and aunt, as made every thing worse. Miss Darcy and her brother appeared, and this formidable introduction took place. With astonishment did Elizabeth see, that her new acquaintance was at least as much embarrassed as herself. Since her being at Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was exceedingly proud; but the observation of a very few minutes convinced her, that she was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a word from her beyond a monosyllable. Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother, but there was sense and good humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Elizabeth, who had expected to find in her as acute and unembarrassed an observer as ever Mr. Darcy had been, was much relieved by discerning such different feelings. They had not been long together, before Darcy told her that Bingley was also coming to wait on her; and she had barely time to express her satisfaction, and prepare for such a visitor, when Bingley’s quick step was heard on the stairs, and in a moment he entered the room. All Elizabeth’s anger against him had been long done away; but, had she still felt any, it could hardly have stood its ground against the unaffected cordiality with which he expressed himself, on seeing her again. He enquired in a friendly, though general way, after her family, and looked and spoke with the same good-humoured ease that he had ever done. To Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner he was scarcely a less interesting personage than to herself. They had long wished to see him. The whole party before them, indeed, excited a lively attention. The suspicions which had just arisen of Mr. Darcy and their niece, directed their observation towards each with an earnest, though guarded, enquiry; and they soon drew from those enquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew what it was to love. Of the lady’s sensations they remained a little in doubt; but that the gentleman was overflowing with admiration was evident enough.


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Elizabeth, on her side, had much to do. She wanted to ascer­ tain the feelings of each of her visitors, she wanted to compose her own, and to make herself agreeable to all; and in the latter object, where she feared most to fail, she was most sure of success, for those to whom she endeavoured to give pleasure were prepossessed in her favour. Bingley was ready, Georgiana was eager, and Darcy determined, to be pleased. In seeing Bingley, her thoughts naturally flew to her sister; and oh! how ardently did she long to know, whether any of his were directed in a like manner. Sometimes she could fancy, that he talked less than on former occasions, and once or twice pleased herself with the notion that as he looked at her, he was trying to trace a resemblance. But, though this might be imaginary, she could not be deceived as to his behaviour to Miss Darcy, who had been set up as a rival of Jane. No look appeared on either side that spoke particular regard. Nothing occurred between them that could justify the hopes of his sister. On this point she was soon satisfied; and two or three little circumstances occurred ere they parted, which, in her anxious interpretation, denoted a recollection of Jane, not untinctured by tenderness, and a wish of saying more that might lead to the mention of her, had he dared. He observed to her, at a moment when the others were talking together, and in a tone which had something of real regret, that it ‘‘was a very long time since he had had the pleasure of seeing her;’’ and, before she could reply, he added, ‘‘It is above eight months. We have not met since the 26th of November, when we were all dancing together at Netherfield.’’ Elizabeth was pleased to find his memory so exact; and he afterwards took occasion to ask her, when unattended to by any of the rest, whether all her sisters were at Longbourn. There was not much in the question, nor in the preceding remark, but there was a look and a manner which gave them meaning. It was not often that she could turn her eyes on Mr. Darcy himself; but, whenever she did catch a glimpse, she saw an expression of general complaisance, and in all that he said, she heard an accent so far removed from hauteur or disdain of his companions, as convinced her that the improvement of manners which she had yesterday witnessed, however temporary its exist­

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ence might prove, had at least outlived one day. When she saw him thus seeking the acquaintance, and courting the good opinion of people, with whom any intercourse a few months ago would have been a disgrace; when she saw him thus civil, not only to herself, but to the very relations whom he had openly disdained, and recollected their last lively scene in Hunsford Parsonage, the difference, the change was so great, and struck so forcibly on her mind, that she could hardly restrain her astonishment from being visible. Never, even in the company of his dear friends at Netherfield, or his dignified relations at Rosings, had she seen him so desirous to please, so free from self-consequence, or unbending reserve as now, when no impor­ tance could result from the success of his endeavours, and when even the acquaintance of those to whom his attentions were addressed, would draw down the ridicule and censure of the ladies both of Netherfield and Rosings. Their visitors staid with them above half an hour, and when they arose to depart, Mr. Darcy called on his sister to join him in expressing their wish of seeing Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, and Miss Bennet, to dinner at Pemberley, before they left the country. Miss Darcy, though with a diffidence which marked her little in the habit of giving invitations, readily obeyed. Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece, desirous of knowing how she, whom the invitation most concerned, felt disposed as to its acceptance, but Elizabeth had turned away her head. Presuming, however, that this studied avoidance spoke rather a momentary embar­ rassment, than any dislike of the proposal, and seeing in her husband, who was fond of society, a perfect willingness to accept it, she ventured to engage for her attendance, and the day after the next was fixed on. Bingley expressed great pleasure in the certainty of seeing Elizabeth again, having still a great deal to say to her, and many enquiries to make after all their Hertfordshire friends. Elizabeth, construing all this into a wish of hearing her speak of her sister, was pleased; and on this account, as well as some others, found herself, when their visitors left them, capable of considering the last half hour with some satisfaction, though while it was passing, the enjoyment of it had been little. Eager to be alone,


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and fearful of enquiries or hints from her uncle and aunt, she staid with them only long enough to hear their favourable opinion of Bingley, and then hurried away to dress. But she had no reason to fear Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner’s curi­ osity; it was not their wish to force her communication. It was evident that she was much better acquainted with Mr. Darcy than they had before any idea of; it was evident that he was very much in love with her. They saw much to interest, but nothing to justify enquiry. Of Mr. Darcy it was now a matter of anxiety to think well; and, as far as their acquaintance reached, there was no fault to find. They could not be untouched by his politeness, and had they drawn his character from their own feelings, and his ser­ vant’s report, without any reference to any other account, the circle in Hertfordshire to which he was known, would not have recognised it for Mr. Darcy. There was now an interest, however, in believing the housekeeper; and they soon became sensible, that the authority of a servant who had known him since he was four years old, and whose own manners indicated respectability, was not to be hastily rejected. Neither had any thing occurred in the intelligence of their Lambton friends, that could materially lessen its weight. They had nothing to accuse him of but pride; pride he probably had, and if not, it would certainly be imputed by the inhabitants of a small market-town, where the family did not visit. It was acknowledged, however, that he was a liberal man, and did much good among the poor. With respect to Wickham, the travellers soon found that he was not held there in much estimation; for though the chief of his concerns, with the son of his patron, were imperfectly understood, it was yet a well known fact that, on his quitting Derbyshire, he had left many debts behind him, which Mr. Darcy afterwards discharged. As for Elizabeth her thoughts were at Pemberley this evening more than the last, and the evening, though as it passed it seemed long, was not long enough to determine her feelings towards one in that mansion; and she lay awake two whole hours, endeavouring to make them out. She certainly did not hate him. No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long

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been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him, that could be so called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings; and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature, by the testi­ mony so highly in his favour, and bringing forward his dispo­ sition in so amiable a light, which yesterday had produced. But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of good will which could not be overlooked. It was grati­ tude.—Gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough, to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection. He who, she had been persuaded, would avoid her as his greatest enemy, seemed, on this accidental meeting, most eager to preserve the acquaintance, and without any indelicate display of regard, or any peculiarity of manner, where their two selves only were concerned, was soliciting the good opinion of her friends, and bent on making her known to his sister. Such a change in a man of so much pride, excited not only astonishment but gratitude—for to love, ardent love, it must be attributed; and as such its impression on her was of a sort to be encouraged, as by no means unpleasing, though it could not be exactly defined. She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare; and she only wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend upon herself, and how far it would be for the happiness of both that she should employ the power, which her fancy told her she still possessed, of bringing on the renewal of his addresses. It had been settled in the evening, between the aunt and niece, that such a striking civility as Miss Darcy’s, in coming to them on the very day of her arrival at Pemberley, for she had reached it only to a late breakfast, ought to be imitated, though it could not be equalled, by some exertion of politeness on their side; and, consequently, that it would be highly expedient to wait on her at Pemberley the following morning. They were, therefore, to go.—Elizabeth was pleased, though, when she asked herself the reason, she had very little to say in reply.


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Mr. Gardiner left them soon after breakfast. The fishing scheme had been renewed the day before, and a positive engage­ ment made of his meeting some of the gentlemen at Pemberley by noon.

chapter iii

Convinced as Elizabeth now was that Miss Bingley’s dislike of her had originated in jealousy, she could not help feeling how very unwelcome her appearance at Pemberley must be to her, and was curious to know with how much civility on that lady’s side, the acquaintance would now be renewed. On reaching the house, they were shewn through the hall into the saloon, whose northern aspect rendered it delightful for summer. Its windows opening to the ground, admitted a most refreshing view of the high woody hills behind the house, and of the beautiful oaks and Spanish chesnuts which were scattered over the intermediate lawn. In this room they were received by Miss Darcy, who was sitting there with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, and the lady with whom she lived in London. Georgiana’s reception of them was very civil; but attended with all that embarrassment which, though proceeding from shyness and the fear of doing wrong, would easily give to those who felt themselves inferior, the belief of her being proud and reserved. Mrs. Gardiner and her niece, however, did her justice, and pitied her. By Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, they were noticed only by a curtsey; and on their being seated, a pause, awkward as such pauses must always be, succeeded for a few moments. It was first broken by Mrs. Annesley, a genteel, agreeable-looking woman, whose endeavour to introduce some kind of discourse, proved her to be more truly well bred than either of the others; and between her and Mrs. Gardiner, with occasional help from Elizabeth, the conversation was carried on. Miss Darcy looked as if she wished for courage enough to join in it; and sometimes


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did venture a short sentence, when there was least danger of its being heard. Elizabeth soon saw that she was herself closely watched by Miss Bingley, and that she could not speak a word, especially to Miss Darcy, without calling her attention. This observation would not have prevented her from trying to talk to the latter, had they not been seated at an inconvenient distance; but she was not sorry to be spared the necessity of saying much. Her own thoughts were employing her. She expected every moment that some of the gentlemen would enter the room. She wished, she feared that the master of the house might be amongst them; and whether she wished or feared it most, she could scarcely determine. After sitting in this manner a quarter of an hour, without hearing Miss Bingley’s voice, Elizabeth was roused by receiving from her a cold enquiry after the health of her family. She answered with equal indifference and brevity, and the other said no more. The next variation which their visit afforded was produced by the entrance of servants with cold meat, cake, and a variety of all the finest fruits in season; but this did not take place till after many a significant look and smile from Mrs. Annesley to Miss Darcy had been given, to remind her of her post. There was now employment for the whole party; for though they could not all talk, they could all eat; and the beautiful pyramids of grapes, nectarines, and peaches,1 soon collected them round the table. While thus engaged, Elizabeth had a fair opportunity of decid­ ing whether she most feared or wished for the appearance of Mr. Darcy, by the feelings which prevailed on his entering the room; and then, though but a moment before she had believed her wishes to predominate, she began to regret that he came. He had been some time with Mr. Gardiner, who, with two or three other gentlemen from the house, was engaged by the river, and had left him only on learning that the ladies of the family intended a visit to Georgiana that morning. No sooner did he appear, than Elizabeth wisely resolved to be perfectly easy and unembarrassed;—a resolution the more necessary to be made, but perhaps not the more easily kept, because she saw that the

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suspicions of the whole party were awakened against them, and that there was scarcely an eye which did not watch his behaviour when he first came into the room. In no countenance was attentive curiosity so strongly marked as in Miss Bingley’s, in spite of the smiles which overspread her face whenever she spoke to one of its objects; for jealousy had not yet made her desperate, and her attentions to Mr. Darcy were by no means over. Miss Darcy, on her brother’s entrance, exerted herself much more to talk; and Elizabeth saw that he was anxious for his sister and herself to get acquainted, and forwarded, as much as possible, every attempt at conversation on either side. Miss Bingley saw all this likewise; and, in the imprudence of anger, took the first opportunity of saying, with sneering civility, ‘‘Pray, Miss Eliza, are not the ——shire militia removed from Meryton? They must be a great loss to your family.’’ In Darcy’s presence she dared not mention Wickham’s name; but Elizabeth instantly comprehended that he was uppermost in her thoughts; and the various recollections connected with him gave her a moment’s distress; but, exerting herself vigor­ ously to repel the ill-natured attack, she presently answered the question in a tolerably disengaged tone. While she spoke, an involuntary glance shewed her Darcy with an heightened com­ plexion, earnestly looking at her, and his sister overcome with confusion, and unable to lift up her eyes. Had Miss Bingley known what pain she was then giving her beloved friend, she undoubtedly would have refrained from the hint; but she had merely intended to discompose Elizabeth, by bringing forward the idea of a man to whom she believed her partial, to make her betray a sensibility which might injure her in Darcy’s opinion, and perhaps to remind the latter of all the follies and absurdities, by which some part of her family were connected with that corps. Not a syllable had ever reached her of Miss Darcy’s meditated elopement. To no creature had it been revealed, where secresy was possible, except to Elizabeth; and from all Bingley’s connections her brother was particularly anxious to conceal it, from that very wish which Elizabeth had long ago attributed to him, of their becoming hereafter her own. He had certainly formed such a plan, and without meaning that it should affect


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his endeavour to separate him from Miss Bennet, it is probable that it might add something to his lively concern for the welfare of his friend. Elizabeth’s collected behaviour, however, soon quieted his emotion; and as Miss Bingley, vexed and disappointed, dared not approach nearer to Wickham, Georgiana also recovered in time, though not enough to be able to speak any more. Her brother, whose eye she feared to meet, scarcely recollected her interest in the affair, and the very circumstance which had been designed to turn his thoughts from Elizabeth, seemed to have fixed them on her more, and more cheerfully. Their visit did not continue long after the question and answer above mentioned; and while Mr. Darcy was attending them to their carriage, Miss Bingley was venting her feelings in criticisms on Elizabeth’s person, behaviour, and dress. But Georgiana would not join her. Her brother’s recommendation was enough to ensure her favour: his judgment could not err, and he had spoken in such terms of Elizabeth, as to leave Georgiana without the power of finding her otherwise than lovely and amiable. When Darcy returned to the saloon, Miss Bingley could not help repeating to him some part of what she had been saying to his sister. ‘‘How very ill Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy,’’ she cried; ‘‘I never in my life saw any one so much altered as she is since the winter. She is grown so brown and coarse!2 Louisa and I were agreeing that we should not have known her again.’’ However little Mr. Darcy might have liked such an address, he contented himself with coolly replying, that he perceived no other alteration than her being rather tanned,—no miraculous consequence of travelling in the summer. ‘‘For my own part,’’ she rejoined, ‘‘I must confess that I never could see any beauty in her. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her features are not at all handsome. Her nose wants character; there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth are tolerable, but not out of the common way; and as for her eyes, which have sometimes been called so fine, I never could perceive any thing extraordinary in them. They have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in her air altogether,

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there is a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable.’’ Persuaded as Miss Bingley was that Darcy admired Elizabeth, this was not the best method of recommending herself; but angry people are not always wise; and in seeing him at last look somewhat nettled, she had all the success she expected. He was resolutely silent however; and, from a determination of making him speak, she continued, ‘‘I remember, when we first knew her in Hertfordshire, how amazed we all were to find that she was a reputed beauty; and I particularly recollect your saying one night, after they had been dining at Netherfield, ‘She a beauty!—I should as soon call her mother a wit.’ But afterwards she seemed to improve on you, and I believe you thought her rather pretty at one time.’’ ‘‘Yes,’’ replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, ‘‘but that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.’’ He then went away, and Miss Bingley was left to all the satisfaction of having forced him to say what gave no one any pain but herself. Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth talked of all that had occurred, during their visit, as they returned except what had particularly interested them both. The looks and behaviour of every body they had seen were discussed, except of the person who had mostly engaged their attention. They talked of his sister, his friends, his house, his fruit, of every thing but himself; yet Elizabeth was longing to know what Mrs. Gardiner thought of him, and Mrs. Gardiner would have been highly gratified by her niece’s beginning the subject.

chapter iv

Elizabeth had been a good deal disappointed in not finding a letter from Jane, on their first arrival at Lambton; and this disappointment had been renewed on each of the mornings that had now been spent there; but on the third, her repining was over, and her sister justified by the receipt of two letters from her at once, on one of which was marked that it had been missent elsewhere. Elizabeth was not surprised at it, as Jane had written the direction remarkably ill. They had just been preparing to walk as the letters came in; and her uncle and aunt, leaving her to enjoy them in quiet, set off by themselves. The one missent must be first attended to; it had been written five days ago. The beginning contained an account of all their little parties and engagements, with such news as the country afforded; but the latter half, which was dated a day later, and written in evident agitation, gave more important intelligence. It was to this effect: ‘‘Since writing the above, dearest Lizzy, something has occurred of a most unexpected and serious nature; but I am afraid of alarming you—be assured that we are all well. What I have to say relates to poor Lydia. An express1 came at twelve last night, just as we were all gone to bed, from Colonel Forster, to inform us that she was gone off to Scotland2 with one of his officers; to own the truth, with Wickham!—Imagine our surprise. To Kitty, however, it does not seem so wholly unexpec­ ted. I am very, very sorry. So imprudent a match on both sides!— But I am willing to hope the best, and that his character has been misunderstood. Thoughtless and indiscreet I can easily believe him, but this step (and let us rejoice over it) marks

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nothing bad at heart. His choice is disinterested at least, for he must know my father can give her nothing. Our poor mother is sadly grieved. My father bears it better. How thankful am I, that we never let them know what has been said against him; we must forget it ourselves. They were off Saturday night about twelve, as is conjectured, but were not missed till yesterday morning at eight. The express was sent off directly. My dear Lizzy, they must have passed within ten miles of us. Colonel Forster gives us reason to expect him here soon. Lydia left a few lines for his wife, informing her of their intention. I must conclude, for I cannot be long from my poor mother. I am afraid you will not be able to make it out, but I hardly know what I have written.’’ Without allowing herself time for consideration, and scarcely knowing what she felt, Elizabeth on finishing this letter, instantly seized the other, and opening it with the utmost impatience, read as follows: it had been written a day later than the conclusion of the first. ‘‘By this time, my dearest sister, you have received my hurried letter; I wish this may be more intelligible, but though not confined for time, my head is so bewildered that I cannot answer for being coherent. Dearest Lizzy, I hardly know what I would write, but I have bad news for you, and it cannot be delayed. Imprudent as a marriage between Mr. Wickham and our poor Lydia would be, we are now anxious to be assured it has taken place, for there is but too much reason to fear they are not gone to Scotland. Colonel Forster came yesterday, having left Brighton the day before, not many hours after the express. Though Lydia’s short letter to Mrs. F. gave them to understand that they were going to Gretna Green, something was dropped by Denny expressing his belief that W. never intended to go there, or to marry Lydia at all, which was repeated to Colonel F. who instantly taking the alarm, set off from B. intending to trace their route. He did trace them easily to Clapham,3 but no farther; for on entering that place they removed into a hackney-coach and dismissed the chaise that brought them from Epsom. All that is known after this is, that they were seen to continue the London road. I know not what to think. After


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making every possible enquiry on that side London, Colonel F. came on into Hertfordshire, anxiously renewing them at all the turnpikes, and at the inns in Barnet and Hatfield, but without any success, no such people had been seen to pass through.4 With the kindest concern he came on to Longbourn, and broke his apprehensions to us in a manner most creditable to his heart. I am sincerely grieved for him and Mrs. F: but no one can throw any blame on them. Our distress, my dear Lizzy, is very great. My father and mother believe the worst, but I cannot think so ill of him. Many circumstances might make it more eligible for them to be married privately5 in town than to pursue their first plan; and even if he could form such a design against a young woman of Lydia’s connections, which is not likely, can I suppose her so lost to every thing?—Impossible. I grieve to find, however, that Colonel F. is not disposed to depend upon their marriage; he shook his head when I expressed my hopes, and said he feared W. was not a man to be trusted. My poor mother is really ill and keeps her room. Could she exert herself it would be better, but this is not to be expected; and as to my father, I never in my life saw him so affected. Poor Kitty has anger for having concealed their attachment; but as it was a matter of confidence one cannot wonder. I am truly glad, dearest Lizzy, that you have been spared something of these distressing scenes; but now as the first shock is over, shall I own that I long for your return? I am not so selfish, however, as to press for it, if inconvenient. Adieu. I take up my pen again to do, what I have just told you I would not, but circumstances are such, that I cannot help earn­ estly begging you all to come here, as soon as possible. I know my dear uncle and aunt so well, that I am not afraid of requesting it, though I have still something more to ask of the former. My father is going to London with Colonel Forster instantly, to try to discover her. What he means to do, I am sure I know not; but his excessive distress will not allow him to pursue any measure in the best and safest way, and Colonel Forster is obliged to be at Brighton again to-morrow evening. In such an exigence my uncle’s advice and assistance would be every thing in the world; he will immediately comprehend what I must feel, and I rely upon his goodness.’’

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‘‘Oh! where, where is my uncle?’’ cried Elizabeth, darting from her seat as she finished the letter, in eagerness to follow him, without losing a moment of the time so precious; but as she reached the door, it was opened by a servant, and Mr. Darcy appeared. Her pale face and impetuous manner made him start, and before he could recover himself enough to speak, she, in whose mind every idea was superseded by Lydia’s situation, hastily exclaimed, ‘‘I beg your pardon, but I must leave you. I must find Mr. Gardiner this moment, on business that cannot be delayed; I have not an instant to lose.’’ ‘‘Good God! what is the matter?’’ cried he, with more feeling than politeness; then recollecting himself, ‘‘I will not detain you a minute, but let me, or let the servant, go after Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. You are not well enough;—you cannot go yourself.’’ Elizabeth hesitated, but her knees trembled under her, and she felt how little would be gained by her attempting to pursue them. Calling back the servant, therefore, she commissioned him, though in so breathless an accent as made her almost unintelligible, to fetch his master and mistress home, instantly. On his quitting the room, she sat down, unable to support herself, and looking so miserably ill, that it was impossible for Darcy to leave her, or to refrain from saying, in a tone of gentleness and commiseration, ‘‘Let me call your maid. Is there nothing you could take, to give you present relief ?—A glass of wine;—shall I get you one?—You are very ill.’’ ‘‘No, I thank you;’’ she replied, endeavouring to recover herself. ‘‘There is nothing the matter with me. I am quite well. I am only distressed by some dreadful news which I have just received from Longbourn.’’ She burst into tears as she alluded to it, and for a few minutes could not speak another word. Darcy, in wretched suspense, could only say something indistinctly of his concern, and observe her in compassionate silence. At length, she spoke again. ‘‘I have just had a letter from Jane, with such dreadful news. It cannot be concealed from any one. My youngest sister has left all her friends—has eloped;—has thrown herself into the power of— of Mr. Wickham. They are gone off together from Brighton. You know him too well to doubt the rest. She has no money, no


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connections, nothing that can tempt him to—she is lost for ever.’’ Darcy was fixed in astonishment. ‘‘When I consider,’’ she added, in a yet more agitated voice, ‘‘that I might have prevented it!—I who knew what he was. Had I but explained some part of it only—some part of what I learnt, to my own family! Had his character been known, this could not have happened. But it is all, all too late now.’’ ‘‘I am grieved, indeed,’’ cried Darcy; ‘‘grieved—shocked. But is it certain, absolutely certain?’’ ‘‘Oh yes!—They left Brighton together on Sunday night, and were traced almost to London, but not beyond; they are certainly not gone to Scotland.’’ ‘‘And what has been done, what has been attempted, to recover her?’’ ‘‘My father is gone to London, and Jane has written to beg my uncle’s immediate assistance, and we shall be off, I hope, in half an hour. But nothing can be done; I know very well that nothing can be done. How is such a man to be worked on? How are they even to be discovered? I have not the smallest hope. It is every way horrible!’’ Darcy shook his head in silent acquiescence. ‘‘When my eyes were opened to his real character.—Oh! had I known what I ought, what I dared, to do! But I knew not—I was afraid of doing too much. Wretched, wretched, mistake!’’ Darcy made no answer. He seemed scarcely to hear her, and was walking up and down the room in earnest meditation; his brow contracted, his air gloomy. Elizabeth soon observed, and instantly understood it. Her power was sinking; every thing must sink under such a proof of family weakness, such an assurance of the deepest disgrace. She could neither wonder nor condemn, but the belief of his self-conquest brought nothing consolatory to her bosom, afforded no palliation of her distress. It was, on the contrary, exactly calculated to make her under­ stand her own wishes; and never had she so honestly felt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be vain. But self, though it would intrude, could not engross her. Lydia—the humiliation, the misery, she was bringing on them

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all, soon swallowed up every private care; and covering her face with her handkerchief, Elizabeth was soon lost to every thing else; and, after a pause of several minutes, was only recalled to a sense of her situation by the voice of her companion, who, in a manner, which though it spoke compassion, spoke likewise restraint, said, ‘‘I am afraid you have been long desiring my absence, nor have I any thing to plead in excuse of my stay, but real, though unavailing, concern. Would to heaven that any thing could be either said or done on my part, that might offer consolation to such distress.—But I will not torment you with vain wishes, which may seem purposely to ask for your thanks. This unfortunate affair will, I fear, prevent my sister’s having the pleasure of seeing you at Pemberley to day.’’ ‘‘Oh, yes. Be so kind as to apologize for us to Miss Darcy. Say that urgent business calls us home immediately. Conceal the unhappy truth as long as it is possible.—I know it cannot be long.’’ He readily assured her of his secrecy—again expressed his sorrow for her distress, wished it a happier conclusion than there was at present reason to hope, and leaving his compliments for her relations, with only one serious, parting, look, went away. As he quitted the room, Elizabeth felt how improbable it was that they should ever see each other again on such terms of cordiality as had marked their several meetings in Derbyshire; and as she threw a retrospective glance over the whole of their acquaintance, so full of contradictions and varieties, sighed at the perverseness of those feelings which would now have promoted its continuance, and would formerly have rejoiced in its termination. If gratitude and esteem are good foundations of affection, Elizabeth’s change of sentiment will be neither improbable nor faulty. But if otherwise, if the regard springing from such sources is unreasonable or unnatural, in comparison of what is so often described as arising on a first interview with its object, and even before two words have been exchanged, nothing can be said in her defence, except that she had given somewhat of a trial to the latter method, in her partiality for Wickham, and that its


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ill-success might perhaps authorise her to seek the other less interesting mode of attachment. Be that as it may, she saw him go with regret; and in this early example of what Lydia’s infamy must produce, found additional anguish as she reflected on that wretched business. Never, since reading Jane’s second letter, had she entertained a hope of Wickham’s meaning to marry her. No one but Jane, she thought, could flatter herself with such an expectation. Surprise was the least of her feelings on this developement. While the contents of the first letter remained on her mind, she was all surprise—all astonishment that Wickham should marry a girl, whom it was impossible he could marry for money; and how Lydia could ever have attached him, had appeared incomprehensible. But now it was all too natural. For such an attachment as this, she might have sufficient charms; and though she did not suppose Lydia to be deliberately engaging in an elopement, without the intention of marriage, she had no difficulty in believing that neither her virtue nor her understand­ ing would preserve her from falling an easy prey. She had never perceived, while the regiment was in Hertford­ shire, that Lydia had any partiality for him, but she was con­ vinced that Lydia had wanted only encouragement to attach herself to any body. Sometimes one officer, sometimes another had been her favourite, as their attentions raised them in her opinion. Her affections had been continually fluctuating, but never without an object. The mischief of neglect and mistaken indulgence towards such a girl.—Oh! how acutely did she now feel it. She was wild to be at home—to hear, to see, to be upon the spot, to share with Jane in the cares that must now fall wholly upon her, in a family so deranged; a father absent, a mother incapable of exertion, and requiring constant attendance; and though almost persuaded that nothing could be done for Lydia, her uncle’s interference seemed of the utmost importance, and till he entered the room, the misery of her impatience was severe. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner had hurried back in alarm, supposing, by the servant’s account, that their niece was taken suddenly ill;—but satisfying them instantly on that head, she eagerly communicated the cause of their summons, reading the two

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letters aloud, and dwelling on the postscript of the last, with trembling energy.—Though Lydia had never been a favourite with them, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner could not but be deeply affected. Not Lydia only, but all were concerned in it; and after the first exclamations of surprise and horror, Mr. Gardiner readily promised every assistance in his power.—Elizabeth, though expecting no less, thanked him with tears of gratitude; and all three being actuated by one spirit, every thing relating to their journey was speedily settled. They were to be off as soon as possible. ‘‘But what is to be done about Pemberley?’’ cried Mrs. Gardiner. ‘‘John told us Mr. Darcy was here when you sent for us;—was it so?’’ ‘‘Yes; and I told him we should not be able to keep our engagement. That is all settled.’’ ‘‘That is all settled;’’ repeated the other, as she ran into her room to prepare. ‘‘And are they upon such terms as for her to disclose the real truth! Oh, that I knew how it was!’’ But wishes were vain; or at best could serve only to amuse her in the hurry and confusion of the following hour. Had Elizabeth been at leisure to be idle, she would have remained certain that all employment was impossible to one so wretched as herself; but she had her share of business as well as her aunt, and amongst the rest there were notes to be written to all their friends in Lambton, with false excuses for their sudden departure. An hour, however, saw the whole completed; and Mr. Gardiner meanwhile having settled his account at the inn, nothing remained to be done but to go; and Elizabeth, after all the misery of the morning, found herself, in a shorter space of time than she could have supposed, seated in the carriage, and on the road to Longbourn.

chapter v

‘‘I have been thinking it over again, Elizabeth,’’ said her uncle, as they drove from the town; ‘‘and really, upon serious consider­ ation, I am much more inclined than I was to judge as your eldest sister does of the matter. It appears to me so very unlikely, that any young man should form such a design against a girl who is by no means unprotected or friendless, and who was actually staying in his colonel’s family, that I am strongly inclined to hope the best. Could he expect that her friends would not step forward? Could he expect to be noticed again by the regiment, after such an affront to Colonel Forster? His temptation is not adequate to the risk.’’ ‘‘Do you really think so?’’ cried Elizabeth, brightening up for a moment. ‘‘Upon my word,’’ said Mrs. Gardiner, ‘‘I begin to be of your uncle’s opinion. It is really too great a violation of decency, honour, and interest, for him to be guilty of it. I cannot think so very ill of Wickham. Can you, yourself, Lizzy, so wholly give him up, as to believe him capable of it?’’ ‘‘Not perhaps of neglecting his own interest. But of every other neglect I can believe him capable. If, indeed, it should be so! But I dare not hope it. Why should they not go on to Scotland, if that had been the case?’’ ‘‘In the first place,’’ replied Mr. Gardiner, ‘‘there is no absolute proof that they are not gone to Scotland.’’ ‘‘Oh! but their removing from the chaise into an hackney coach is such a presumption! And, besides, no traces of them were to be found on the Barnet road.’’ ‘‘Well, then—supposing them to be in London. They may be

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there, though for the purpose of concealment, for no more exceptionable purpose. It is not likely that money should be very abundant on either side; and it might strike them that they could be more economically, though less expeditiously,1 married in London, than in Scotland.’’ ‘‘But why all this secrecy? Why any fear of detection? Why must their marriage be private? Oh! no, no, this is not likely. His most particular friend, you see by Jane’s account, was persuaded of his never intending to marry her. Wickham will never marry a woman without some money. He cannot afford it. And what claims has Lydia, what attractions has she beyond youth, health, and good humour, that could make him for her sake, forego every chance of benefiting himself by marrying well. As to what restraint the apprehension of disgrace in the corps might throw on a dishonourable elopement with her, I am not able to judge; for I know nothing of the effects that such a step might produce. But as to your other objection, I am afraid it will hardly hold good. Lydia has no brothers to step forward; and he might imagine, from my father’s behaviour, from his indolence and the little attention he has ever seemed to give to what was going forward in his family, that he would do as little, and think as little about it, as any father could do, in such a matter.’’ ‘‘But can you think that Lydia is so lost to every thing but love of him, as to consent to live with him on any other terms than marriage?’’ ‘‘It does seem, and it is most shocking indeed,’’ replied Eliza­ beth, with tears in her eyes, ‘‘that a sister’s sense of decency and virtue in such a point should admit of doubt. But, really, I know not what to say. Perhaps I am not doing her justice. But she is very young; she has never been taught to think on serious subjects; and for the last half year, nay, for a twelvemonth, she has been given up to nothing but amusement and vanity. She has been allowed to dispose of her time in the most idle and frivolous manner, and to adopt any opinions that came in her way. Since the ——shire were first quartered in Meryton, nothing but love, flirtation, and officers, have been in her head. She has been doing every thing in her power by thinking and


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talking on the subject, to give greater—what shall I call it? susceptibility to her feelings; which are naturally lively enough. And we all know that Wickham has every charm of person and address that can captivate a woman.’’ ‘‘But you see that Jane,’’ said her aunt, ‘‘does not think so ill of Wickham, as to believe him capable of the attempt.’’ ‘‘Of whom does Jane ever think ill? And who is there, what­ ever might be their former conduct, that she would believe capable of such an attempt, till it were proved against them? But Jane knows, as well as I do, what Wickham really is. We both know that he has been profligate in every sense of the word. That he has neither integrity nor honour. That he is as false and deceitful, as he is insinuating.’’ ‘‘And do you really know all this?’’ cried Mrs. Gardiner, whose curiosity as to the mode of her intelligence was all alive. ‘‘I do, indeed,’’ replied Elizabeth, colouring. ‘‘I told you the other day, of his infamous behaviour to Mr. Darcy; and you, yourself, when last at Longbourn, heard in what manner he spoke of the man, who had behaved with such forbearance and liberality towards him. And there are other circumstances which I am not at liberty—which it is not worth while to relate; but his lies about the whole Pemberley family are endless. From what he said of Miss Darcy, I was thoroughly prepared to see a proud, reserved, disagreeable girl. Yet he knew to the contrary himself. He must know that she was as amiable and unpre­ tending as we have found her.’’ ‘‘But does Lydia know nothing of this? Can she be ignorant of what you and Jane seem so well to understand?’’ ‘‘Oh, yes!—that, that is the worst of all. Till I was in Kent, and saw so much both of Mr. Darcy and his relation, Colonel Fitzwilliam, I was ignorant of the truth myself. And when I returned home, the ——shire was to leave Meryton in a week or fortnight’s time. As that was the case, neither Jane, to whom I related the whole, nor I, thought it necessary to make our knowledge public; for of what use could it apparently be to any one, that the good opinion which all the neighbourhood had of him, should then be overthrown? And even when it was settled that Lydia should go with Mrs. Forster, the necessity of opening

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her eyes to his character never occurred to me. That she could be in any danger from the deception never entered my head. That such a consequence as this should ensue, you may easily believe was far enough from my thoughts.’’ ‘‘When they all removed to Brighton, therefore, you had no reason, I suppose, to believe them fond of each other.’’ ‘‘Not the slightest. I can remember no symptom of affection on either side; and had any thing of the kind been perceptible, you must be aware that ours is not a family, on which it could be thrown away. When first he entered the corps, she was ready enough to admire him; but so we all were. Every girl in, or near Meryton, was out of her senses about him for the first two months; but he never distinguished her by any particular atten­ tion, and, consequently, after a moderate period of extravagant and wild admiration, her fancy for him gave way, and others of the regiment, who treated her with more distinction, again became her favourites.’’ It may be easily believed, that however little of novelty could be added to their fears, hopes, and conjectures, on this interesting subject, by its repeated discussion, no other could detain them from it long, during the whole of the journey. From Elizabeth’s thoughts it was never absent. Fixed there by the keenest of all anguish, self reproach, she could find no interval of ease or forgetfulness. They travelled as expeditiously as possible; and sleeping one night on the road, reached Longbourn by dinner-time the next day. It was a comfort to Elizabeth to consider that Jane could not have been wearied by long expectations. The little Gardiners, attracted by the sight of a chaise, were standing on the steps of the house, as they entered the paddock; and when the carriage drove up to the door, the joyful surprise that lighted up their faces, and displayed itself over their whole bodies, in a variety of capers and frisks, was the first pleasing earnest of their welcome. Elizabeth jumped out; and after giving each of them an hasty kiss, hurried into the vestibule, where Jane, who came running down stairs from her mother’s apartment, immediately met her.


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Elizabeth, as she affectionately embraced her, whilst tears filled the eyes of both, lost not a moment in asking whether any thing had been heard of the fugitives. ‘‘Not yet,’’ replied Jane. ‘‘But now that my dear uncle is come, I hope every thing will be well.’’ ‘‘Is my father in town?’’ ‘‘Yes, he went on Tuesday as I wrote you word.’’ ‘‘And have you heard from him often?’’ ‘‘We have heard only once. He wrote me a few lines on Wednesday, to say that he had arrived in safety, and to give me his directions, which I particularly begged him to do. He merely added, that he should not write again, till he had something of importance to mention.’’ ‘‘And my mother—How is she? How are you all?’’ ‘‘My mother is tolerably well, I trust; though her spirits are greatly shaken. She is up stairs, and will have great satisfaction in seeing you all. She does not yet leave her dressing-room. Mary and Kitty, thank Heaven! are quite well.’’ ‘‘But you—How are you?’’ cried Elizabeth. ‘‘You look pale. How much you must have gone through!’’ Her sister, however, assured her, of her being perfectly well; and their conversation, which had been passing while Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner were engaged with their children, was now put an end to, by the approach of the whole party. Jane ran to her uncle and aunt, and welcomed and thanked them both, with alternate smiles and tears. When they were all in the drawing room, the questions which Elizabeth had already asked, were of course repeated by the others, and they soon found that Jane had no intelligence to give. The sanguine hope of good, however, which the benevolence of her heart suggested, had not yet deserted her; she still expected that it would all end well, and that every morning would bring some letter, either from Lydia or her father, to explain their proceedings, and perhaps announce the marriage. Mrs. Bennet, to whose apartment they all repaired, after a few minutes conversation together, received them exactly as might be expected; with tears and lamentations of regret, invec­ tives against the villanous conduct of Wickham, and complaints

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of her own sufferings and ill usage. Blaming every body but the person to whose ill judging indulgence the errors of her daughter must be principally owing. ‘‘If I had been able,’’ said she, ‘‘to carry my point of going to Brighton, with all my family this would not have happened; but poor dear Lydia had nobody to take care of her. Why did the Forsters ever let her go out of their sight? I am sure there was some great neglect or other on their side, for she is not the kind of girl to do such a thing, if she had been well looked after. I always thought they were very unfit to have the charge of her; but I was overruled, as I always am. Poor dear child! And now here’s Mr. Bennet gone away, and I know he will fight Wickham, wherever he meets him, and then he will be killed, and what is to become of us all? The Collinses will turn us out, before he is cold in his grave; and if you are not kind to us, brother, I do not know what we shall do.’’ They all exclaimed against such terrific2 ideas; and Mr. Gard­ iner, after general assurances of his affection for her and all her family, told her that he meant to be in London the very next day, and would assist Mr. Bennet in every endeavour for recovering Lydia. ‘‘Do not give way to useless alarm,’’ added he; ‘‘though it is right to be prepared for the worst, there is no occasion to look on it as certain. It is not quite a week since they left Brighton. In a few days more, we may gain some news of them, and till we know that they are not married, and have no design of marrying, do not let us give the matter over as lost. As soon as I get to town, I shall go to my brother, and make him come home with me to Gracechurch Street, and then we may consult together as to what is to be done.’’ ‘‘Oh! my dear brother,’’ replied Mrs. Bennet, ‘‘that is exactly what I could most wish for. And now do, when you get to town, find them out, wherever they may be; and if they are not married already, make them marry. And as for wedding clothes, do not let them wait for that, but tell Lydia she shall have as much money as she chuses, to buy them, after they are married. And, above all things, keep Mr. Bennet from fighting. Tell him what a dreadful state I am in,—that I am frightened out of my wits;


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and have such tremblings, such flutterings, all over me, such spasms in my side, and pains in my head, and such beatings at heart, that I can get no rest by night nor by day. And tell my dear Lydia, not to give any directions about her clothes, till she has seen me, for she does not know which are the best warehouses. Oh, brother, how kind you are! I know you will contrive it all.’’ But Mr. Gardiner, though he assured her again of his earnest endeavours in the cause, could not avoid recommending moder­ ation to her, as well in her hopes as her fears; and, after talking with her in this manner till dinner was on table, they left her to vent all her feelings on the housekeeper, who attended, in the absence of her daughters. Though her brother and sister were persuaded that there was no real occasion for such a seclusion from the family, they did not attempt to oppose it, for they knew that she had not pru­ dence enough to hold her tongue before the servants, while they waited at table, and judged it better that one only of the household, and the one whom they could most trust, should comprehend all her fears and solicitude on the subject. In the dining-room they were soon joined by Mary and Kitty, who had been too busily engaged in their separate apartments, to make their appearance before. One came from her books, and the other from her toilette. The faces of both, however, were tolerably calm; and no change was visible in either, except that the loss of her favourite sister, or the anger which she had herself incurred in the business, had given something more of fretfulness than usual, to the accents of Kitty. As for Mary, she was mistress enough of herself to whisper to Elizabeth with a countenance of grave reflection, soon after they were seated at table. ‘‘This is a most unfortunate affair; and will probably be much talked of. But we must stem the tide of malice, and pour into the wounded bosoms of each other, the balm of sisterly conso­ lation.’’ Then, perceiving in Elizabeth no inclination of replying, she added, ‘‘Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson; that loss of virtue in a female is

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irretrievable—that one false step involves her in endless ruin— that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful,—and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.’’3 Elizabeth lifted up her eyes in amazement, but was too much oppressed to make any reply. Mary, however, continued to console herself with such kind of moral extractions from the evil before them. In the afternoon, the two elder Miss Bennets were able to be for half an hour by themselves; and Elizabeth instantly availed herself of the opportunity of making many enquiries, which Jane was equally eager to satisfy. After joining in general lamen­ tations over the dreadful sequel of this event, which Elizabeth considered as all but certain, and Miss Bennet could not assert to be wholly impossible; the former continued the subject, by saying, ‘‘But tell me all and every thing about it, which I have not already heard. Give me farther particulars. What did Colonel Forster say? Had they no apprehension of any thing before the elopement took place? They must have seen them together for ever.’’ ‘‘Colonel Forster did own that he had often suspected some partiality, especially on Lydia’s side, but nothing to give him any alarm. I am so grieved for him. His behaviour was attentive and kind to the utmost. He was coming to us, in order to assure us of his concern, before he had any idea of their not being gone to Scotland: when that apprehension first got abroad, it hastened his journey.’’ ‘‘And was Denny convinced that Wickham would not marry? Did he know of their intending to go off ? Had Colonel Forster seen Denny himself ?’’ ‘‘Yes; but when questioned by him Denny denied knowing any thing of their plan, and would not give his real opinion about it. He did not repeat his persuasion of their not marrying— and from that, I am inclined to hope, he might have been misunderstood before.’’ ‘‘And till Colonel Forster came himself, not one of you enter­ tained a doubt, I suppose, of their being really married?’’ ‘‘How was it possible that such an idea should enter our


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brains! I felt a little uneasy—a little fearful of my sister’s happi­ ness with him in marriage, because I knew that his conduct had not been always quite right. My father and mother knew nothing of that, they only felt how imprudent a match it must be. Kitty then owned, with a very natural triumph on knowing more than the rest of us, that in Lydia’s last letter, she had prepared her for such a step. She had known, it seems, of their being in love with each other, many weeks.’’ ‘‘But not before they went to Brighton?’’ ‘‘No, I believe not.’’ ‘‘And did Colonel Forster appear to think ill of Wickham himself ? Does he know his real character?’’ ‘‘I must confess that he did not speak so well of Wickham as he formerly did. He believed him to be imprudent and extravagant. And since this sad affair has taken place, it is said, that he left Meryton greatly in debt; but I hope this may be false.’’ ‘‘Oh, Jane, had we been less secret, had we told what we knew of him, this could not have happened!’’ ‘‘Perhaps it would have been better;’’ replied her sister. ‘‘But to expose the former faults of any person, without knowing what their present feelings were, seemed unjustifiable. We acted with the best intentions.’’ ‘‘Could Colonel Forster repeat the particulars of Lydia’s note to his wife?’’ ‘‘He brought it with him for us to see.’’ Jane then took it from her pocket-book, and gave it to Eliza­ beth. These were the contents: ‘‘MY DEAR HARRIET, ‘‘You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater, when I write to them, and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing. Pray make my excuses

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to Pratt, for not keeping my engagement, and dancing with him to night. Tell him I hope he will excuse me when he knows all, and tell him I will dance with him at the next ball we meet, with great pleasure. I shall send for my clothes when I get to Longbourn; but I wish you would tell Sally to mend a great slit in my worked muslin gown, before they are packed up. Good bye. Give my love to Colonel Forster, I hope you will drink to our good journey. ‘‘Your affectionate friend, ‘‘LYDIA BENNET.’’

‘‘Oh! thoughtless, thoughtless Lydia!’’ cried Elizabeth when she had finished it. ‘‘What a letter is this, to be written at such a moment. But at least it shews, that she was serious in the object of her journey. Whatever he might afterwards persuade her to, it was not on her side a scheme of infamy. My poor father! how he must have felt it!’’ ‘‘I never saw any one so shocked. He could not speak a word for full ten minutes. My mother was taken ill immediately, and the whole house in such confusion!’’ ‘‘Oh! Jane!’’ cried Elizabeth, ‘‘was there a servant belonging to it, who did not know the whole story before the end of the day?’’ ‘‘I do not know.—I hope there was.—But to be guarded at such a time, is very difficult. My mother was in hysterics, and though I endeavoured to give her every assistance in my power, I am afraid I did not do so much as I might have done! but the horror of what might possibly happen, almost took from me my faculties.’’ ‘‘Your attendance upon her, has been too much for you. You do not look well. Oh! that I had been with you, you have had every care and anxiety upon yourself alone.’’ ‘‘Mary and Kitty have been very kind, and would have shared in every fatigue, I am sure, but I did not think it right for either of them. Kitty is slight and delicate, and Mary studies so much, that her hours of repose should not be broken in on. My aunt Phillips came to Longbourn on Tuesday, after my father went away; and was so good as to stay till Thursday with me. She was of great use and comfort to us all, and lady Lucas has been


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very kind; she walked here on Wednesday morning to condole with us, and offered her services, or any of her Daughters, if they could be of use to us.’’ ‘‘She had better have stayed at home,’’ cried Elizabeth; ‘‘per­ haps she meant well, but, under such a misfortune as this, one cannot see too little of one’s neighbours. Assistance is impossible; condolence, insufferable. Let them triumph over us at a distance, and be satisfied.’’ She then proceeded to enquire into the measures which her father had intended to pursue, while in town, for the recovery of his daughter. ‘‘He meant, I believe,’’ replied Jane, ‘‘to go to Epsom, the place where they last changed horses, see the postilions,4 and try if any thing could be made out from them. His principal object must be, to discover the number of the hackney coach which took them from Clapham. It had come with a fare from London; and as he thought the circumstance of a gentleman and lady’s removing from one carriage into another, might be remarked, he meant to make enquiries at Clapham. If he could any how discover at what house the coachman had before set down his fare, he determined to make enquiries there, and hoped it might not be impossible to find out the stand and number of the coach. I do not know of any other designs that he had formed: but he was in such a hurry to be gone, and his spirits so greatly discomposed, that I had difficulty in finding out even so much as this.’’

chapter vi

The whole party were in hopes of a letter from Mr. Bennet the next morning, but the post came in without bringing a single line from him. His family knew him to be on all common occasions, a most negligent and dilatory correspondent, but at such a time, they had hoped for exertion. They were forced to conclude, that he had no pleasing intelligence to send, but even of that they would have been glad to be certain. Mr. Gardiner had waited only for the letters before he set off. When he was gone, they were certain at least of receiving constant information of what was going on, and their uncle promised, at parting, to prevail on Mr. Bennet to return to Longbourn, as soon as he could, to the great consolation of his sister, who considered it as the only security for her husband’s not being killed in a duel.1 Mrs. Gardiner and the children were to remain in Hertford­ shire a few days longer, as the former thought her presence might be serviceable to her nieces. She shared in their attendance on Mrs. Bennet, and was a great comfort to them, in their hours of freedom. Their other aunt also visited them frequently, and always, as she said, with the design of cheering and heartening them up, though as she never came without reporting some fresh instance of Wickham’s extravagance or irregularity, she seldom went away without leaving them more dispirited than she found them. All Meryton seemed striving to blacken the man, who, but three months before, had been almost an angel of light. He was declared to be in debt to every tradesman in the place, and his intrigues, all honoured with the title of seduction, had been


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extended into every tradesman’s family. Every body declared that he was the wickedest young man in the world; and every body began to find out, that they had always distrusted the appearance of his goodness. Elizabeth, though she did not credit above half of what was said, believed enough to make her former assurance of her sister’s ruin still more certain; and even Jane, who believed still less of it, became almost hope­ less, more especially as the time was now come, when if they had gone to Scotland, which she had never before entirely despaired of, they must in all probability have gained some news of them. Mr. Gardiner left Longbourn on Sunday; on Tuesday, his wife received a letter from him; it told them, that on his arrival, he had immediately found out his brother, and persuaded him to come to Gracechurch street. That Mr. Bennet had been to Epsom and Clapham, before his arrival, but without gaining any satisfactory information; and that he was now determined to enquire at all the principal hotels in town, as Mr. Bennet thought it possible they might have gone to one of them, on their first coming to London, before they procured lodgings. Mr. Gardiner himself did not expect any success from this measure, but as his brother was eager in it, he meant to assist him in pursuing it. He added, that Mr. Bennet seemed wholly disinclined at present, to leave London, and promised to write again very soon. There was also a postscript to this effect: ‘‘I have written to Colonel Forster to desire him to find out, if possible, from some of the young man’s intimates in the regiment, whether Wickham has any relations or connections, who would be likely to know in what part of the town he has now concealed himself. If there were any one, that one could apply to, with a probability of gaining such a clue as that, it might be of essential consequence. At present we have nothing to guide us. Colonel Forster will, I dare say, do every thing in his power to satisfy us on this head. But, on second thoughts, perhaps Lizzy could tell us, what relations he has now living, better than any other person.’’ Elizabeth was at no loss to understand from whence this deference for her authority proceeded; but it was not in her

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power to give any information of so satisfactory a nature, as the compliment deserved. She had never heard of his having had any relations, except a father and mother, both of whom had been dead many years. It was possible, however, that some of his companions in the —— shire, might be able to give more information; and, though she was not very sanguine in expecting it, the application was a something to look forward to. Every day at Longbourn was now a day of anxiety; but the most anxious part of each was when the post was expected. The arrival of letters was the first grand object of every morning’s impatience. Through letters, whatever of good or bad was to be told, would be communicated, and every succeeding day was expected to bring some news of importance. But before they heard again from Mr. Gardiner, a letter arrived for their father, from a different quarter, from Mr. Collins; which, as Jane had received directions to open all that came for him in his absence, she accordingly read; and Elizabeth, who knew what curiosities his letters always were, looked over her, and read it likewise. It was as follows: ‘‘MY DEAR SIR, ‘‘I feel myself called upon, by our relationship, and my situation in life, to condole with you on the grievous affliction you are now suffering under, of which we were yesterday informed by a letter from Hertford­ shire. Be assured, my dear Sir, that Mrs. Collins and myself sincerely sympathise with you, and all your respectable family, in your present distress, which must be of the bitterest kind, because proceeding from a cause which no time can remove. No arguments shall be wanting on my part, that can alleviate so severe a misfortune; or that may comfort you, under a circumstance that must be of all others most afflicting to a parent’s mind. The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. And it is the more to be lamented, because there is reason to suppose, as my dear Charlotte informs me, that this licentiousness of behaviour in your daughter, has proceeded from a faulty degree of indulgence, though, at the same time, for the conso­ lation of yourself and Mrs. Bennet, I am inclined to think that her own disposition must be naturally bad, or she could not be guilty of such


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an enormity, at so early an age. Howsoever that may be, you are grievously to be pitied, in which opinion I am not only joined by Mrs. Collins, but likewise by lady Catherine and her daughter, to whom I have related the affair. They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter, will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others, for who, as lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family. And this consideration leads me moreover to reflect with augmented satisfaction on a certain event of last November, for had it been otherwise, I must have been involved in all your sorrow and disgrace. Let me advise you then, my dear Sir, to console yourself as much as possible, to throw off your unworthy child from your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offence. ‘‘I am, dear Sir, &c. &c.’’

Mr. Gardiner did not write again, till he had received an answer from Colonel Forster; and then he had nothing of a pleasant nature to send. It was not known that Wickham had a single relation, with whom he kept up any connection, and it was certain that he had no near one living. His former acquaint­ ance had been numerous; but since he had been in the militia, it did not appear that he was on terms of particular friendship with any of them. There was no one therefore who could be pointed out, as likely to give any news of him. And in the wretched state of his own finances, there was a very powerful motive for secrecy, in addition to his fear of discovery by Lydia’s relations, for it had just transpired that he had left gaming debts behind him, to a very considerable amount. Colonel Forster believed that more than a thousand pounds would be neces­ sary to clear his expences at Brighton. He owed a good deal in the town, but his debts of honour were still more formidable. Mr. Gardiner did not attempt to conceal these particulars from the Longbourn family, Jane heard them with horror. ‘‘A game­ ster!’’ she cried. ‘‘This is wholly unexpected. I had not an idea of it.’’ Mr. Gardiner added in his letter, that they might expect to see their father at home on the following day, which was Saturday. Rendered spiritless by the ill-success of all their endeavours, he

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had yielded to his brother-in-law’s intreaty that he would return to his family, and leave it to him to do, whatever occasion might suggest to be advisable for continuing their pursuit. When Mrs. Bennet was told of this, she did not express so much satisfaction as her children expected, considering what her anxiety for his life had been before. ‘‘What, is he coming home, and without poor Lydia!’’ she cried. ‘‘Sure he will not leave London before he has found them. Who is to fight Wickham, and make him marry her, if he comes away?’’ As Mrs. Gardiner began to wish to be at home, it was settled that she and her children should go to London, at the same time that Mr. Bennet came from it. The coach, therefore, took them the first stage of their journey, and brought its master back to Longbourn. Mrs. Gardiner went away in all the perplexity about Elizabeth and her Derbyshire friend, that had attended her from that part of the world. His name had never been voluntarily mentioned before them by her niece; and the kind of half-expectation which Mrs. Gardiner had formed, of their being followed by a letter from him, had ended in nothing. Elizabeth had received none since her return, that could come from Pemberley. The present unhappy state of the family, rendered any other excuse for the lowness of her spirits unnecessary; nothing, there­ fore, could be fairly conjectured from that, though Elizabeth, who was by this time tolerably well acquainted with her own feelings, was perfectly aware, that, had she known nothing of Darcy, she could have borne the dread of Lydia’s infamy somewhat better. It would have spared her, she thought, one sleepless night out of two. When Mr. Bennet arrived, he had all the appearance of his usual philosophic composure. He said as little as he had ever been in the habit of saying; made no mention of the business that had taken him away, and it was some time before his daughters had courage to speak of it. It was not till the afternoon, when he joined them at tea, that Elizabeth ventured to introduce the subject; and then, on her briefly expressing her sorrow for what he must have endured,


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he replied, ‘‘Say nothing of that. Who should suffer but myself ? It has been my own doing, and I ought to feel it.’’ ‘‘You must not be too severe upon yourself,’’ replied Elizabeth. ‘‘You may well warn me against such an evil. Human nature is so prone to fall into it! No, Lizzy, let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough.’’ ‘‘Do you suppose them to be in London?’’ ‘‘Yes; where else can they be so well concealed?’’ ‘‘And Lydia used to want to go to London,’’ added Kitty. ‘‘She is happy, then,’’ said her father, drily; ‘‘and her residence there will probably be of some duration.’’ Then, after a short silence, he continued, ‘‘Lizzy, I bear you no ill-will for being justified in your advice to me last May, which, considering the event, shews some greatness of mind.’’ They were interrupted by Miss Bennet, who came to fetch her mother’s tea. ‘‘This is a parade,’’ cried he, ‘‘which does one good; it gives such an elegance to misfortune! Another day I will do the same; I will sit in my library, in my night cap and powdering gown,2 and give as much trouble as I can,—or, perhaps, I may defer it till Kitty runs away.’’ ‘‘I am not going to run away, Papa,’’ said Kitty, fretfully; ‘‘if I should ever go to Brighton, I would behave better than Lydia.’’ ‘‘You go to Brighton!—I would not trust you so near it as East Bourne, for fifty pounds! No, Kitty, I have at last learnt to be cautious, and you will feel the effects of it. No officer is ever to enter my house again, nor even to pass through the village. Balls will be absolutely prohibited, unless you stand up with one of your sisters. And you are never to stir out of doors, till you can prove, that you have spent ten minutes of every day in a rational manner.’’ Kitty, who took all these threats in a serious light, began to cry. ‘‘Well, well,’’ said he, ‘‘do not make yourself unhappy. If you are a good girl for the next ten years, I will take you to a review at the end of them.’’

chapter vii

Two days after Mr. Bennet’s return, as Jane and Elizabeth were walking together in the shrubbery behind the house, they saw the housekeeper coming towards them, and, concluding that she came to call them to their mother, went forward to meet her; but, instead of the expected summons, when they approached her, she said to Miss Bennet, ‘‘I beg your pardon, madam, for interrupting you, but I was in hopes you might have got some good news from town, so I took the liberty of coming to ask.’’ ‘‘What do you mean, Hill? We have heard nothing from town.’’ ‘‘Dear madam,’’ cried Mrs. Hill, in great astonishment, ‘‘dont you know there is an express come for master from Mr. Gardiner? He has been here this half hour, and master has had a letter.’’ Away ran the girls, too eager to get in to have time for speech. They ran through the vestibule into the breakfast room; from thence to the library;—their father was in neither; and they were on the point of seeking him up stairs with their mother, when they were met by the butler, who said, ‘‘If you are looking for my master, ma’am, he is walking towards the little copse.’’ Upon this information, they instantly passed through the hall once more, and ran across the lawn after their father, who was deliberately pursuing his way towards a small wood on one side of the paddock. Jane, who was not so light, nor so much in the habit of running as Elizabeth, soon lagged behind, while her sister, panting for breath, came up with him, and eagerly cried out,


v ol um e iii ch ap te r vii

‘‘Oh, Papa, what news? what news? have you heard from my uncle?’’ ‘‘Yes, I have had a letter from him by express.’’ ‘‘Well, and what news does it bring? good or bad?’’ ‘‘What is there of good to be expected?’’ said he, taking the letter from his pocket; ‘‘but perhaps you would like to read it.’’ Elizabeth impatiently caught it from his hand. Jane now came up. ‘‘Read it aloud,’’ said their father, ‘‘for I hardly know myself what it is about.’’ ‘‘Gracechurch-street, Monday, August 2.1 ‘‘MY DEAR BROTHER, ‘‘At last I am able to send you some tidings of my niece, and such as, upon the whole, I hope will give you satisfaction. Soon after you left me on Saturday, I was fortunate enough to find out in what part of London they were. The particulars, I reserve till we meet. It is enough to know they are discovered, I have seen them both —’’ ‘‘Then it is, as I always hoped,’’ cried Jane; ‘‘they are married!’’ Elizabeth read on; ‘‘I have seen them both. They are not married, nor can I find there was any intention of being so; but if you are willing to perform the engagements which I have ventured to make on your side, I hope it will not be long before they are. All that is required of you is, to assure to your daughter, by settlement, her equal share of the five thousand pounds, secured among your children after the decease of yourself and my sister; and, moreover, to enter into an engagement of allowing her, during your life, one hundred pounds per annum. These are conditions, which, considering every thing, I had no hesita­ tion in complying with, as far as I thought myself privileged, for you. I shall send this by express, that no time may be lost in bringing me your answer. You will easily comprehend, from these particulars, that Mr. Wickham’s circumstances are not so hopeless as they are generally believed to be. The world has been deceived in that respect; and I am happy to say, there will be some little money, even when all his debts are discharged, to settle on my niece, in addition to her own fortune. If, as I conclude will be the case, you send me full powers to act in your name, throughout the whole of this business, I will immediately give

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directions to Haggerston for preparing a proper settlement. There will not be the smallest occasion for your coming to town again; therefore, stay quietly at Longbourn, and depend on my diligence and care. Send back your answer as soon as you can, and be careful to write explicitly. We have judged it best, that my niece should be married from this house, of which I hope you will approve. She comes to us to-day. I shall write again as soon as any thing more is determined on. Your’s, &c. ‘‘EDW. GARDINER.’’

‘‘Is it possible!’’ cried Elizabeth, when she had finished. ‘‘Can it be possible that he will marry her?’’ ‘‘Wickham is not so undeserving, then, as we have thought him;’’ said her sister. ‘‘My dear father, I congratulate you.’’ ‘‘And have you answered the letter?’’ said Elizabeth. ‘‘No; but it must be done soon.’’ Most earnestly did she then intreat him to lose no more time before he wrote. ‘‘Oh! my dear father,’’ she cried, ‘‘come back, and write immediately. Consider how important every moment is, in such a case.’’ ‘‘Let me write for you,’’ said Jane, ‘‘if you dislike the trouble yourself.’’ ‘‘I dislike it very much,’’ he replied; ‘‘but it must be done.’’ And so saying, he turned back with them, and walked towards the house. ‘‘And may I ask?’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘but the terms, I suppose, must be complied with.’’ ‘‘Complied with! I am only ashamed of his asking so little.’’ ‘‘And they must marry! Yet he is such a man!’’ ‘‘Yes, yes, they must marry. There is nothing else to be done. But there are two things that I want very much to know:—one is, how much money your uncle has laid down, to bring it about; and the other, how I am ever to pay him.’’ ‘‘Money! my uncle!’’ cried Jane, ‘‘what do you mean, Sir?’’ ‘‘I mean, that no man in his senses, would marry Lydia on so slight a temptation as one hundred a-year during my life, and fifty after I am gone.’’


v ol um e iii ch ap te r vii

‘‘That is very true,’’ said Elizabeth; ‘‘though it had not occurred to me before. His debts to be discharged, and some­ thing still to remain! Oh! it must be my uncle’s doings! Gener­ ous, good man, I am afraid he has distressed himself.2 A small sum could not do all this.’’ ‘‘No,’’ said her father, ‘‘Wickham’s a fool, if he takes her with a farthing less than ten thousand pounds. I should be sorry to think so ill of him, in the very beginning of our relationship.’’ ‘‘Ten thousand pounds! Heaven forbid! How is half such a sum to be repaid?’’ Mr. Bennet made no answer, and each of them, deep in thought, continued silent till they reached the house. Their father then went to the library to write, and the girls walked into the breakfast-room. ‘‘And they are really to be married!’’ cried Elizabeth, as soon as they were by themselves. ‘‘How strange this is! And for this we are to be thankful. That they should marry, small as is their chance of happiness, and wretched as is his character, we are forced to rejoice! Oh, Lydia!’’ ‘‘I comfort myself with thinking,’’ replied Jane, ‘‘that he certainly would not marry Lydia, if he had not a real regard for her. Though our kind uncle has done something towards clearing him, I cannot believe that ten thousand pounds, or any thing like it, has been advanced. He has children of his own, and may have more. How could he spare half ten thousand pounds?’’ ‘‘If we are ever able to learn what Wickham’s debts have been,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘and how much is settled on his side on our sister, we shall exactly know what Mr. Gardiner has done for them, because Wickham has not six-pence of his own. The kindness of my uncle and aunt can never be requited. Their taking her home, and affording her their personal protection and countenance, is such a sacrifice to her advantage, as years of gratitude cannot enough acknowledge. By this time she is actually with them! If such goodness does not make her miserable now, she will never deserve to be happy! What a meeting for her, when she first sees my aunt!’’ ‘‘We must endeavour to forget all that has passed on either

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side,’’ said Jane: ‘‘I hope and trust they will yet be happy. His consenting to marry her is a proof, I will believe, that he is come to a right way of thinking. Their mutual affection will steady them; and I flatter myself they will settle so quietly, and live in so rational a manner, as may in time make their past imprudence forgotten.’’ ‘‘Their conduct has been such,’’ replied Elizabeth, ‘‘as neither you, nor I, nor any body, can ever forget. It is useless to talk of it.’’ It now occurred to the girls that their mother was in all likelihood perfectly ignorant of what had happened. They went to the library, therefore, and asked their father, whether he would not wish them to make it known to her. He was writing, and, without raising his head, coolly replied, ‘‘Just as you please.’’ ‘‘May we take my uncle’s letter to read to her?’’ ‘‘Take whatever you like, and get away.’’ Elizabeth took the letter from his writing table, and they went up stairs together. Mary and Kitty were both with Mrs. Bennet: one communication would, therefore, do for all. After a slight preparation for good news, the letter was read aloud. Mrs. Bennet could hardly contain herself. As soon as Jane had read Mr. Gardiner’s hope of Lydia’s being soon married, her joy burst forth, and every following sentence added to its exuberance. She was now in an irritation as violent from delight, as she had ever been fidgetty from alarm and vexation. To know that her daughter would be married was enough. She was disturbed by no fear for her felicity, nor humbled by any remembrance of her misconduct. ‘‘My dear, dear Lydia!’’ she cried: ‘‘This is delightful indeed!—She will be married!—I shall see her again!—She will be married at sixteen!—My good, kind brother!—I knew how it would be—I knew he would manage every thing. How I long to see her! and to see dear Wickham too! But the clothes, the wedding clothes! I will write to my sister Gardiner about them directly. Lizzy, my dear, run down to your father, and ask him how much he will give her. Stay, stay, I will go myself. Ring the bell, Kitty, for Hill. I will put on my things in a moment. My


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dear, dear Lydia!—How merry we shall be together when we meet!’’ Her eldest daughter endeavoured to give some relief to the violence of these transports, by leading her thoughts to the obligations which Mr. Gardiner’s behaviour laid them all under. ‘‘For we must attribute this happy conclusion,’’ she added, ‘‘in a great measure, to his kindness. We are persuaded that he has pledged himself to assist Mr. Wickham with money.’’ ‘‘Well,’’ cried her mother, ‘‘it is all very right; who should do it but her own uncle? If he had not had a family of his own, I and my children must have had all his money you know, and it is the first time we have ever had any thing from him, except a few presents. Well! I am so happy. In a short time, I shall have a daughter married. Mrs. Wickham! How well it sounds. And she was only sixteen last June. My dear Jane, I am in such a flutter, that I am sure I can’t write; so I will dictate, and you write for me. We will settle with your father about the money afterwards; but the things should be ordered immediately.’’ She was then proceeding to all the particulars of calico, muslin, and cambric, and would shortly have dictated some very plentiful orders, had not Jane, though with some difficulty, persuaded her to wait, till her father was at leisure to be con­ sulted. One day’s delay she observed, would be of small import­ ance; and her mother was too happy, to be quite so obstinate as usual. Other schemes too came into her head. ‘‘I will go to Meryton,’’ said she, ‘‘as soon as I am dressed, and tell the good, good news to my sister Phillips. And as I come back, I can call on Lady Lucas and Mrs. Long. Kitty, run down and order the carriage. An airing would do me a great deal of good, I am sure. Girls, can I do any thing for you in Meryton? Oh! here comes Hill. My dear Hill, have you heard the good news? Miss Lydia is going to be married; and you shall all have a bowl of punch, to make merry at her wedding.’’ Mrs. Hill began instantly to express her joy. Elizabeth received her congratulations amongst the rest, and then, sick of this folly, took refuge in her own room, that she might think with freedom. Poor Lydia’s situation must, at best, be bad enough; but that it was no worse, she had need to be thankful. She felt it so;

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and though, in looking forward, neither rational happiness nor worldly prosperity, could be justly expected for her sister; in looking back to what they had feared, only two hours ago, she felt all the advantages of what they had gained.

chapter viii

Mr. Bennet had very often wished, before this period of his life, that, instead of spending his whole income, he had laid by an annual sum, for the better provision of his children, and of his wife, if she survived him. He now wished it more than ever. Had he done his duty in that respect, Lydia need not have been indebted to her uncle, for whatever of honour or credit could now be purchased for her. The satisfaction of prevailing on one of the most worthless young men in Great Britain to be her husband, might then have rested in its proper place. He was seriously concerned, that a cause of so little advantage to any one, should be forwarded at the sole expence of his brother-in-law, and he was determined, if possible, to find out the extent of his assistance, and to discharge the obligation as soon as he could. When first Mr. Bennet had married, economy was held to be perfectly useless; for, of course, they were to have a son. This son was to join in cutting off the entail, as soon as he should be of age, and the widow and younger children would by that means be provided for. Five daughters successively entered the world, but yet the son was to come; and Mrs. Bennet, for many years after Lydia’s birth, had been certain that he would. This event had at last been despaired of, but it was then too late to be saving. Mrs. Bennet had no turn for economy, and her husband’s love of independence had alone prevented their exceeding their income. Five thousand pounds was settled by marriage articles on Mrs. Bennet and the children. But in what proportions it should be divided amongst the latter, depended on the will of the

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parents. This was one point, with regard to Lydia at least, which was now to be settled, and Mr. Bennet could have no hesitation in acceding to the proposal before him. In terms of grateful acknowledgment for the kindness of his brother, though expressed most concisely, he then delivered on paper his perfect approbation of all that was done, and his willingness to fulfil the engagements that had been made for him. He had never before supposed that, could Wickham be prevailed on to marry his daughter, it would be done with so little inconvenience to himself, as by the present arrangement. He would scarcely be ten pounds a-year the loser, by the hundred that was to be paid them; for, what with her board and pocket allowance, and the continual presents in money, which passed to her, through her mother’s hands, Lydia’s expences had been very little within that sum. That it would be done with such trifling exertion on his side, too, was another very welcome surprise; for his chief wish at present, was to have as little trouble in the business as possible. When the first transports of rage which had produced his activity in seeking her were over, he naturally returned to all his former indolence. His letter was soon dispatched; for though dilatory in undertaking business, he was quick in its execution. He begged to know farther particulars of what he was indebted to his brother; but was too angry with Lydia, to send any message to her. The good news quickly spread through the house; and with proportionate speed through the neighbourhood. It was borne in the latter with decent philosophy. To be sure it would have been more for the advantage of conversation, had Miss Lydia Bennet come upon the town; or, as the happiest alternative, been secluded from the world, in some distant farm house.1 But there was much to be talked of, in marrying her; and the good-natured wishes for her well-doing, which had proceeded before, from all the spiteful old ladies in Meryton, lost but little of their spirit in this change of circumstances, because with such an husband, her misery was considered certain. It was a fortnight since Mrs. Bennet had been down stairs, but on this happy day, she again took her seat at the head of her


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table, and in spirits oppressively high. No sentiment of shame gave a damp to her triumph. The marriage of a daughter, which had been the first object of her wishes, since Jane was sixteen, was now on the point of accomplishment, and her thoughts and her words ran wholly on those attendants of elegant nuptials, fine muslins, new carriages, and servants. She was busily search­ ing through the neighbourhood for a proper situation for her daughter, and, without knowing or considering what their in­ come might be, rejected many as deficient in size and import­ ance. ‘‘Haye-Park might do,’’ said she, ‘‘if the Gouldings would quit it, or the great house at Stoke, if the drawing-room were larger; but Ashworth is too far off ! I could not bear to have her ten miles from me; and as for Purvis Lodge, the attics are dreadful.’’ Her husband allowed her to talk on without interruption, while the servants remained. But when they had withdrawn, he said to her, ‘‘Mrs. Bennet, before you take any, or all of these houses, for your son and daughter, let us come to a right under­ standing. Into one house in this neighbourhood, they shall never have admittance. I will not encourage the impudence of either, by receiving them at Longbourn.’’ A long dispute followed this declaration; but Mr. Bennet was firm: it soon led to another; and Mrs. Bennet found, with amazement and horror, that her husband would not advance a guinea to buy clothes for his daughter. He protested that she should receive from him no mark of affection whatever, on the occasion. Mrs. Bennet could hardly comprehend it. That his anger could be carried to such a point of inconceivable resent­ ment, as to refuse his daughter a privilege, without which her marriage would scarcely seem valid, exceeded all that she could believe possible. She was more alive to the disgrace, which the want of new clothes must reflect on her daughter’s nuptials, than to any sense of shame at her eloping and living with Wickham, a fortnight before they took place. Elizabeth was now most heartily sorry that she had, from the distress of the moment, been led to make Mr. Darcy acquainted with their fears for her sister; for since her marriage would so

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shortly give the proper termination to the elopement, they might hope to conceal its unfavourable beginning, from all those who were not immediately on the spot. She had no fear of its spreading farther, through his means. There were few people on whose secrecy she would have more confidently depended; but at the same time, there was no one, whose knowledge of a sister’s frailty would have mortified her so much. Not, however, from any fear of disadvantage from it, individually to herself; for at any rate, there seemed a gulf impossible2 between them. Had Lydia’s marriage been con­ cluded on the most honourable terms, it was not to be supposed that Mr. Darcy would connect himself with a family, where to every other objection would now be added, an alliance and relationship of the nearest kind with the man whom he so justly scorned. From such a connection she could not wonder that he should shrink. The wish of procuring her regard, which she had assured herself of his feeling in Derbyshire, could not in rational expec­ tation survive such a blow as this. She was humbled, she was grieved; she repented, though she hardly knew of what. She became jealous of his esteem, when she could no longer hope to be benefited by it. She wanted to hear of him, when there seemed the least chance of gaining intelligence. She was convinced that she could have been happy with him; when it was no longer likely they should meet. What a triumph for him, as she often thought, could he know that the proposals which she had proudly spurned only four months ago, would now have been gladly and gratefully re­ ceived! He was as generous, she doubted not, as the most gener­ ous of his sex. But while he was mortal, there must be a triumph. She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His under­ standing and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved, and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.


v ol um e iii ch ap te r viii

But no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial felicity really was. An union of a different tendency, and precluding the possibility of the other, was soon to be formed in their family. How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence, she could not imagine. But how little of perman­ ent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue, she could easily conjecture. Mr. Gardiner soon wrote again to his brother. To Mr. Bennet’s acknowledgments he briefly replied, with assurances of his eagerness to promote the welfare of any of his family; and concluded with intreaties that the subject might never be men­ tioned to him again. The principal purport of his letter was to inform them, that Mr. Wickham had resolved on quitting the Militia. ‘‘It was greatly my wish that he should do so,’’ he added, ‘‘as soon as his marriage was fixed on. And I think you will agree with me, in considering a removal from that corps as highly advisable, both on his account and my niece’s. It is Mr. Wick­ ham’s intention to go into the regulars;3 and, among his former friends, there are still some who are able and willing to assist him in the army. He has the promise of an ensigncy4 in General ——’s regiment, now quartered in the North. It is an advantage to have it so far from this part of the kingdom. He promises fairly, and I hope among different people, where they may each have a character to preserve, they will both be more prudent. I have written to Colonel Forster, to inform him of our present arrangements, and to request that he will satisfy the various creditors of Mr. Wickham in and near Brighton, with assurances of speedy payment, for which I have pledged myself. And will you give yourself the trouble of carrying similar assurances to his creditors in Meryton, of whom I shall subjoin a list, according to his information. He has given in all his debts; I hope at least he has not deceived us. Haggerston has our directions, and all will be completed in a week. They will then join his regiment, unless they are first invited to Longbourn; and I understand from Mrs.

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Gardiner, that my niece is very desirous of seeing you all, before she leaves the South. She is well, and begs to be dutifully remembered to you and her mother.—Your’s, &c. ‘‘E. GARDINER.’’ Mr. Bennet and his daughters saw all the advantages of Wick­ ham’s removal from the ——shire, as clearly as Mr. Gardiner could do. But Mrs. Bennet, was not so well pleased with it. Lydia’s being settled in the North, just when she had expected most pleasure and pride in her company, for she had by no means given up her plan of their residing in Hertfordshire, was a severe disappointment; and besides, it was such a pity that Lydia should be taken from a regiment where she was acquainted with every body, and had so many favourites. ‘‘She is so fond of Mrs. Forster,’’ said she, ‘‘it will be quite shocking to send her away! And there are several of the young men, too, that she likes very much. The officers may not be so pleasant in General ——’s regiment.’’ His daughter’s request, for such it might be considered, of being admitted into her family again, before she set off for the North, received at first an absolute negative. But Jane and Elizabeth, who agreed in wishing, for the sake of their sister’s feelings and consequence, that she should be noticed on her marriage by her parents, urged him so earnestly, yet so rationally and so mildly, to receive her and her husband at Longbourn, as soon as they were married, that he was prevailed on to think as they thought, and act as they wished. And their mother had the satisfaction of knowing, that she should be able to shew her married daughter in the neighbourhood, before she was banished to the North. When Mr. Bennet wrote again to his brother, therefore, he sent his permission for them to come; and it was settled, that as soon as the ceremony was over, they should proceed to Longbourn. Elizabeth was surprised, however, that Wickham should consent to such a scheme, and, had she con­ sulted only her own inclination, any meeting with him would have been the last object of her wishes.

chapter ix

Their sister’s wedding day arrived; and Jane and Elizabeth felt for her probably more than she felt for herself. The carriage was sent to meet them at ——, and they were to return in it, by dinner-time. Their arrival was dreaded by the elder Miss Bennets; and Jane more especially, who gave Lydia the feelings which would have attended herself, had she been the culprit, was wretched in the thought of what her sister must endure. They came. The family were assembled in the breakfast room, to receive them. Smiles decked the face of Mrs. Bennet, as the carriage drove up to the door; her husband looked impenetrably grave; her daughters, alarmed, anxious, uneasy. Lydia’s voice was heard in the vestibule; the door was thrown open, and she ran into the room. Her mother stepped forwards, embraced her, and welcomed her with rapture; gave her hand with an affectionate smile to Wickham, who followed his lady, and wished them both joy, with an alacrity which shewed no doubt of their happiness. Their reception from Mr. Bennet, to whom they then turned, was not quite so cordial. His countenance rather gained in austerity; and he scarcely opened his lips. The easy assurance of the young couple, indeed, was enough to provoke him. Elizabeth was disgusted, and even Miss Bennet was shocked. Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless. She turned from sister to sister, demanding their congratulations, and when at length they all sat down, looked eagerly round the room, took notice of some little alteration in it, and observed, with a laugh, that it was a great while since she had been there. Wickham was not at all more distressed than herself, but his

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manners were always so pleasing, that had his character and his marriage been exactly what they ought, his smiles and his easy address, while he claimed their relationship, would have delighted them all. Elizabeth had not before believed him quite equal to such assurance; but she sat down, resolving within herself, to draw no limits in future to the impudence of an impudent man. She blushed, and Jane blushed; but the cheeks of the two who caused their confusion, suffered no variation of colour. There was no want of discourse. The bride and her mother could neither of them talk fast enough; and Wickham, who happened to sit near Elizabeth, began enquiring after his acquaintance in that neighbourhood, with a good humoured ease, which she felt very unable to equal in her replies. They seemed each of them to have the happiest memories in the world. Nothing of the past was recollected with pain; and Lydia led voluntarily to subjects, which her sisters would not have alluded to for the world. ‘‘Only think of its being three months,’’ she cried, ‘‘since I went away; it seems but a fortnight I declare; and yet there have been things enough happened in the time. Good gracious! when I went away, I am sure I had no more idea of being married till I came back again! though I thought it would be very good fun if I was.’’ Her father lifted up his eyes. Jane was distressed. Elizabeth looked expressively at Lydia; but she, who never heard nor saw any thing of which she chose to be insensible, gaily continued, ‘‘Oh! mamma, do the people here abouts know I am married to day? I was afraid they might not; and we overtook William Goulding in his curricle, so I was determined he should know it, and so I let down the side glass next to him, and took off my glove, and let my hand just rest upon the window frame, so that he might see the ring, and then I bowed and smiled like any thing.’’ Elizabeth could bear it no longer. She got up, and ran out of the room; and returned no more, till she heard them passing through the hall to the dining parlour. She then joined them soon enough to see Lydia, with anxious parade, walk up to her


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mother’s right hand, and hear her say to her eldest sister, ‘‘Ah! Jane, I take your place now, and you must go lower, because I am a married woman.’’ It was not to be supposed that time would give Lydia that embarrassment, from which she had been so wholly free at first. Her ease and good spirits increased. She longed to see Mrs. Phillips, the Lucasses, and all their other neighbours, and to hear herself called ‘‘Mrs. Wickham,’’ by each of them; and in the mean time, she went after dinner to shew her ring and boast of being married, to Mrs. Hill and the two housemaids. ‘‘Well, mamma,’’ said she, when they were all returned to the breakfast room, ‘‘and what do you think of my husband? Is not he a charming man? I am sure my sisters must all envy me. I only hope they may have half my good luck. They must all go to Brighton. That is the place to get husbands. What a pity it is, mamma, we did not all go.’’ ‘‘Very true; and if I had my will, we should. But my dear Lydia, I don’t at all like your going such a way off. Must it be so?’’ ‘‘Oh, lord! yes;—there is nothing in that. I shall like it of all things. You and papa, and my sisters, must come down and see us. We shall be at Newcastle all the winter, and I dare say there will be some balls, and I will take care to get good partners for them all.’’ ‘‘I should like it beyond any thing!’’ said her mother. ‘‘And then when you go away, you may leave one or two of my sisters behind you; and I dare say I shall get husbands for them before the winter is over.’’ ‘‘I thank you for my share of the favour,’’ said Elizabeth; ‘‘but I do not particularly like your way of getting husbands.’’ Their visitors were not to remain above ten days with them. Mr. Wickham had received his commission before he left London, and he was to join his regiment at the end of a fortnight. No one but Mrs. Bennet, regretted that their stay would be so short; and she made the most of the time, by visiting about with her daughter, and having very frequent parties at home. These parties were acceptable to all; to avoid a family circle was even more desirable to such as did think, than such as did not.

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Wickham’s affection for Lydia, was just what Elizabeth had expected to find it; not equal to Lydia’s for him. She had scarcely needed her present observation to be satisfied, from the reason of things, that their elopement had been brought on by the strength of her love, rather than by his; and she would have wondered why, without violently caring for her, he chose to elope with her at all had she not felt certain that his flight was rendered necessary by distress of circumstances; and if that were the case, he was not the young man to resist an opportunity of having a companion. Lydia was exceedingly fond of him. He was her dear Wickham on every occasion; no one was to be put in competition with him. He did every thing best in the world; and she was sure he would kill more birds on the first of September,1 than any body else in the country. One morning, soon after their arrival, as she was sitting with her two elder sisters, she said to Elizabeth, ‘‘Lizzy, I never gave you an account of my wedding, I believe. You were not by, when I told mamma, and the others, all about it. Are not you curious to hear how it was managed?’’ ‘‘No really,’’ replied Elizabeth; ‘‘I think there cannot be too little said on the subject.’’ ‘‘La! You are so strange! But I must tell you how it went off. We were married you know, at St. Clement’s, because Wickham’s lodgings were in that parish.2 And it was settled that we should all be there by eleven o’clock. My uncle and aunt and I were to go together; and the others were to meet us at the church. Well, Monday morning came, and I was in such a fuss! I was so afraid you know that something would happen to put it off, and then I should have gone quite distracted. And there was my aunt, all the time I was dressing, preaching and talking away just as if she was reading a sermon. However, I did not hear above one word in ten, for I was thinking, you may suppose, of my dear Wickham. I longed to know whether he would be married in his blue coat. ‘‘Well, and so we breakfasted at ten as usual; I thought it would never be over; for, by the bye, you are to understand, that my uncle and aunt were horrid unpleasant all the time I


v ol um e iii ch ap te r ix

was with them. If you’ll believe me, I did not once put my foot out of doors, though I was there a fortnight. Not one party, or scheme, or any thing. To be sure London was rather thin, but however the little Theatre3 was open. Well, and so just as the carriage came to the door, my uncle was called away upon business to that horrid man Mr. Stone. And then, you know, when once they get together, there is no end of it. Well, I was so frightened I did not know what to do, for my uncle was to give me away; and if we were beyond the hour,4 we could not be married all day. But, luckily, he came back again in ten minutes time, and then we all set out. However, I recollected afterwards, that if he had been prevented going, the wedding need not be put off, for Mr. Darcy might have done as well.’’ ‘‘Mr. Darcy!’’ repeated Elizabeth, in utter amazement. ‘‘Oh, yes!—he was to come there with Wickham, you know. But gracious me! I quite forgot! I ought not to have said a word about it. I promised them so faithfully! What will Wickham say? It was to be such a secret!’’ ‘‘If it was to be secret,’’ said Jane, ‘‘say not another word on the subject. You may depend upon my seeking no further.’’ ‘‘Oh! certainly,’’ said Elizabeth, though burning with curi­ osity; ‘‘we will ask you no questions.’’ ‘‘Thank you,’’ said Lydia, ‘‘for if you did, I should certainly tell you all, and then Wickham would be angry.’’ On such encouragement to ask, Elizabeth was forced to put it out of her power, by running away. But to live in ignorance on such a point was impossible; or at least it was impossible not to try for information. Mr. Darcy had been at her sister’s wedding. It was exactly a scene, and exactly among people, where he had apparently least to do, and least temptation to go. Conjectures as to the meaning of it, rapid and wild, hurried into her brain; but she was satisfied with none. Those that best pleased her, as placing his conduct in the noblest light, seemed most improbable. She could not bear such sus­ pense; and hastily seizing a sheet of paper, wrote a short letter to her aunt, to request an explanation of what Lydia had dropt, if it were compatible with the secrecy which had been intended. ‘‘You may readily comprehend,’’ she added, ‘‘what my curi­

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osity must be to know how a person unconnected with any of us, and (comparatively speaking) a stranger to our family, should have been amongst you at such a time. Pray write instantly, and let me understand it—unless it is, for very cogent reasons, to remain in the secrecy which Lydia seems to think necessary; and then I must endeavour to be satisfied with ignorance.’’ ‘‘Not that I shall, though,’’ she added to herself, as she finished the letter; ‘‘and my dear aunt, if you do not tell me in an honourable manner, I shall certainly be reduced to tricks and stratagems to find it out.’’ Jane’s delicate sense of honour would not allow her to speak to Elizabeth privately of what Lydia had let fall; Elizabeth was glad of it;—till it appeared whether her inquiries would receive any satisfaction, she had rather be without a confidante.

chapter x

Elizabeth had the satisfaction of receiving an answer to her letter, as soon as she possibly could. She was no sooner in possession of it, than hurrying into the little copse, where she was least likely to be interrupted, she sat down on one of the benches, and prepared to be happy; for the length of the letter convinced her, that it did not contain a denial. ‘‘Gracechurch-street, Sept. 6. ‘‘MY DEAR NIECE, ‘‘I have just received your letter, and shall devote this whole morning to answering it, as I foresee that a little writing will not comprise what I have to tell you. I must confess myself surprised by your application; I did not expect it from you. Don’t think me angry, however, for I only mean to let you know, that I had not imagined such enquiries to be necessary on your side. If you do not choose to understand me, forgive my impertinence. Your uncle is as much surprised as I am—and nothing but the belief of your being a party concerned, would have allowed him to act as he has done. But if you are really innocent and ignorant, I must be more explicit. On the very day of my coming home from Longbourn, your uncle had a most unexpected visitor. Mr. Darcy called, and was shut up with him several hours. It was all over before I arrived; so my curiosity was not so dreadfully racked as your’s seems to have been. He came to tell Mr. Gardiner that he had found out where your sister and Mr. Wickham were, and that he had seen and talked with them both, Wickham repeatedly, Lydia once. From what I can collect, he left Derbyshire only one day after ourselves, and came to town with the resolution of hunting for them. The motive professed, was his conviction of its being owing to himself that Wickham’s worth­

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lessness had not been so well known, as to make it impossible for any young woman of character, to love or confide in him. He generously imputed the whole to his mistaken pride, and confessed that he had before thought it beneath him, to lay his private actions open to the world. His character was to speak for itself. He called it, therefore, his duty to step forward, and endeavour to remedy an evil, which had been brought on by himself. If he had another motive, I am sure it would never disgrace him. He had been some days in town, before he was able to discover them; but he had something to direct his search, which was more than we had; and the consciousness of this, was another reason for his resolving to follow us. There is a lady, it seems, a Mrs. Younge, who was some time ago governess to Miss Darcy, and was dismissed from her charge on some cause of disapprobation, though he did not say what. She then took a large house in Edward­ street,1 and has since maintained herself by letting lodgings. This Mrs. Younge was, he knew, intimately acquainted with Wickham; and he went to her for intelligence of him, as soon as he got to town. But it was two or three days before he could get from her what he wanted. She would not betray her trust, I suppose, without bribery and corrup­ tion, for she really did know where her friend was to be found. Wick­ ham indeed had gone to her, on their first arrival in London, and had she been able to receive them into her house, they would have taken up their abode with her. At length, however, our kind friend procured the wished-for direction. They were in —— street. He saw Wickham, and afterwards insisted on seeing Lydia. His first object with her, he acknowledged, had been to persuade her to quit her present disgraceful situation, and return to her friends as soon as they could be prevailed on to receive her, offering his assistance, as far as it would go. But he found Lydia absolutely resolved on remaining where she was. She cared for none of her friends, she wanted no help of his, she would not hear of leaving Wickham. She was sure they should be married some time or other, and it did not much signify when. Since such were her feelings, it only remained, he thought, to secure and expedite a mar­ riage, which, in his very first conversation with Wickham, he easily learnt, had never been his design. He confessed himself obliged to leave the regiment, on account of some debts of honour, which were very pressing; and scrupled not to lay all the ill-consequences of Lydia’s flight, on her own folly alone. He meant to resign his commission


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immediately; and as to his future situation, he could conjecture very little about it. He must go somewhere, but he did not know where, and he knew he should have nothing to live on. Mr. Darcy asked him why he had not married your sister at once. Though Mr. Bennet was not imagined to be very rich, he would have been able to do something for him, and his situation must have been benefited by marriage. But he found, in reply to this question, that Wickham still cherished the hope of more effectually making his fortune by marriage, in some other country.2 Under such circumstances, however, he was not likely to be proof against the temptation of immediate relief. They met several times, for there was much to be discussed. Wickham of course wanted more than he could get; but at length was reduced to be reasonable. Every thing being settled between them, Mr. Darcy’s next step was to make your uncle acquainted with it, and he first called in Gracechurch­ street the evening before I came home. But Mr. Gardiner could not be seen, and Mr. Darcy found, on farther enquiry, that your father was still with him, but would quit town the next morning. He did not judge your father to be a person whom he could so properly consult as your uncle, and therefore readily postponed seeing him, till after the departure of the former. He did not leave his name, and till the next day, it was only known that a gentleman had called on business. On Saturday he came again. Your father was gone, your uncle at home, and, as I said before, they had a great deal of talk together. They met again on Sunday, and then I saw him too. It was not all settled before Monday: as soon as it was, the express was sent off to Longbourn. But our visitor was very obstinate. I fancy, Lizzy, that obstinacy is the real defect of his character after all. He has been accused of many faults at different times; but this is the true one. Nothing was to be done that he did not do himself; though I am sure (and I do not speak it to be thanked, therefore say nothing about it,) your uncle would most readily have settled the whole. They battled it together for a long time, which was more than either the gentleman or lady concerned in it deserved. But at last your uncle was forced to yield, and instead of being allowed to be of use to his niece, was forced to put up with only having the probable credit of it, which went sorely against the grain; and I really believe your letter this morning gave him great pleasure, because it required an explanation that would rob him of his borrowed feathers, and give the praise where it was due. But, Lizzy, this must go no farther

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than yourself, or Jane at most. You know pretty well, I suppose, what has been done for the young people. His debts are to be paid, amounting, I believe, to considerably more than a thousand pounds, another thousand in addition to her own settled upon her, and his commission purchased. The reason why all this was to be done by him alone, was such as I have given above. It was owing to him, to his reserve, and want of proper consideration, that Wickham’s character had been so misunderstood, and consequently that he had been received and noticed as he was. Perhaps there was some truth in this; though I doubt whether his reserve, or anybody’s reserve, can be answerable for the event. But in spite of all this fine talking, my dear Lizzy, you may rest perfectly assured, that your uncle would never have yielded, if we had not given him credit for another interest in the affair. When all this was resolved on, he returned again to his friends, who were still staying at Pemberley; but it was agreed that he should be in London once more when the wedding took place, and all money matters were then to receive the last finish. I believe I have now told you every thing. It is a relation which you tell me is to give you great surprise; I hope at least it will not afford you any displeasure. Lydia came to us; and Wickham had constant admission to the house. He was exactly what he had been, when I knew him in Hertfordshire; but I would not tell you how little I was satisfied with her behaviour while she staid with us, if I had not perceived, by Jane’s letter last Wednesday, that her conduct on coming home was exactly of a piece with it, and therefore what I now tell you, can give you no fresh pain. I talked to her repeatedly in the most serious manner, representing to her all the wickedness of what she had done, and all the unhappiness she had brought on her family. If she heard me, it was by good luck, for I am sure she did not listen. I was sometimes quite provoked, but then I recollected my dear Elizabeth and Jane, and for their sakes had patience with her. Mr. Darcy was punctual in his return, and as Lydia informed you, attended the wedding. He dined with us the next day, and was to leave town again on Wednesday or Thursday. Will you be very angry with me, my dear Lizzy, if I take this opportunity of saying (what I was never bold enough to say before) how much I like him. His behaviour to us has, in every respect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire. His understanding and opinions all please me; he wants nothing but a little more liveliness, and that, if he marry prudently, his


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wife may teach him. I thought him very sly;—he hardly ever mentioned your name. But slyness seems the fashion. Pray forgive me, if I have been very presuming, or at least do not punish me so far, as to exclude me from P. I shall never be quite happy till I have been all round the park. A low phaeton, with a nice little pair of ponies, would be the very thing. But I must write no more. The children have been wanting me this half hour. Your’s, very sincerely, ‘‘M. GARDINER.’’

The contents of this letter threw Elizabeth into a flutter of spirits, in which it was difficult to determine whether pleasure or pain bore the greatest share. The vague and unsettled suspicions which uncertainty had produced of what Mr. Darcy might have been doing to forward her sister’s match, which she had feared to encourage, as an exertion of goodness too great to be prob­ able, and at the same time dreaded to be just, from the pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest extent to be true! He had followed them purposely to town, he had taken on himself all the trouble and mortification attendant on such a research; in which supplication had been necessary to a woman whom he must abominate and despise, and where he was reduced to meet, frequently meet, reason with, persuade, and finally bribe, the man whom he always most wished to avoid, and whose very name it was punishment to him to pronounce. He had done all this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem. Her heart did whisper, that he had done it for her. But it was a hope shortly checked by other considerations, and she soon felt that even her vanity was insufficient, when required to depend on his affection for her, for a woman who had already refused him, as able to overcome a sentiment so natural as abhorrence against relationship with Wickham. Brother in law of Wickham! Every kind of pride must revolt from the connec­ tion. He had to be sure done much. She was ashamed to think how much. But he had given a reason for his interference, which asked no extraordinary stretch of belief. It was reasonable that he should feel he had been wrong; he had liberality, and he had the means of exercising it; and though she would not place

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herself as his principal inducement, she could, perhaps, believe, that remaining partiality for her, might assist his endeavours in a cause where her peace of mind must be materially concerned. It was painful, exceedingly painful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who could never receive a return. They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character, every thing to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him. Proud that in a cause of compassion and honour, he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her aunt’s commendation of him again and again. It was hardly enough; but it pleased her. She was even sensible of some pleasure, though mixed with regret, on finding how stedfastly both she and her uncle had been persuaded that affection and confidence subsisted between Mr. Darcy and herself. She was roused from her seat, and her reflections, by some one’s approach; and before she could strike into another path, she was overtaken by Wickham. ‘‘I am afraid I interrupt your solitary ramble, my dear sister?’’ said he, as he joined her. ‘‘You certainly do,’’ she replied with a smile; ‘‘but it does not follow that the interruption must be unwelcome.’’ ‘‘I should be sorry indeed, if it were. We were always good friends; and now we are better.’’ ‘‘True. Are the others coming out?’’ ‘‘I do not know. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia are going in the carriage to Meryton. And so, my dear sister, I find, from our uncle and aunt, that you have actually seen Pemberley.’’ She replied in the affirmative. ‘‘I almost envy you the pleasure, and yet I believe it would be too much for me, or else I could take it in my way to Newcastle. And you saw the old housekeeper, I suppose? Poor Reynolds, she was always very fond of me. But of course she did not mention my name to you.’’ ‘‘Yes, she did.’’ ‘‘And what did she say?’’ ‘‘That you were gone into the army, and she was afraid had—


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not turned out well. At such a distance as that, you know, things are strangely misrepresented.’’ ‘‘Certainly,’’ he replied, biting his lips. Elizabeth hoped she had silenced him; but he soon afterwards said, ‘‘I was surprised to see Darcy in town last month. We passed each other several times. I wonder what he can be doing there.’’ ‘‘Perhaps preparing for his marriage with Miss de Bourgh,’’ said Elizabeth. ‘‘It must be something particular, to take him there at this time of year.’’ ‘‘Undoubtedly. Did you see him while you were at Lambton? I thought I understood from the Gardiners that you had.’’ ‘‘Yes; he introduced us to his sister.’’ ‘‘And do you like her?’’ ‘‘Very much.’’ ‘‘I have heard, indeed, that she is uncommonly improved within this year or two. When I last saw her, she was not very promising. I am very glad you liked her. I hope she will turn out well.’’ ‘‘I dare say she will; she has got over the most trying age.’’ ‘‘Did you go by the village of Kympton?’’ ‘‘I do not recollect that we did.’’ ‘‘I mention it, because it is the living which I ought to have had. A most delightful place! Excellent Parsonage House! It would have suited me in every respect.’’ ‘‘How should you have liked making sermons?’’ ‘‘Exceedingly well. I should have considered it as part of my duty, and the exertion would soon have been nothing. One ought not to repine;—but, to be sure, it would have been such a thing for me! The quiet, the retirement of such a life, would have answered all my ideas of happiness! But it was not to be. Did you ever hear Darcy mention the circumstance, when you were in Kent?’’ ‘‘I have heard from authority, which I thought as good, that it was left you conditionally only, and at the will of the present patron.’’ ‘‘You have. Yes, there was something in that; I told you so from the first, you may remember.’’ ‘‘I did hear, too, that there was a time, when sermon-making

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was not so palateable to you, as it seems to be at present; that you actually declared your resolution of never taking orders, and that the business had been compromised accordingly.’’ ‘‘You did! and it was not wholly without foundation. You may remember what I told you on that point, when first we talked of it.’’ They were now almost at the door of the house, for she had walked fast to get rid of him; and unwilling, for her sister’s sake, to provoke him, she only said in reply, with a good-humoured smile, ‘‘Come, Mr. Wickham, we are brother and sister, you know. Do not let us quarrel about the past. In future, I hope we shall be always of one mind.’’ She held out her hand; he kissed it with affectionate gallantry, though he hardly knew how to look, and they entered the house.

chapter xi

Mr. Wickham was so perfectly satisfied with this conversation, that he never again distressed himself, or provoked his dear sister Elizabeth, by introducing the subject of it; and she was pleased to find that she had said enough to keep him quiet. The day of his and Lydia’s departure soon came, and Mrs. Bennet was forced to submit to a separation, which, as her husband by no means entered into her scheme of their all going to Newcastle, was likely to continue at least a twelvemonth. ‘‘Oh! my dear Lydia,’’ she cried, ‘‘when shall we meet again?’’ ‘‘Oh, lord! I don’t know. Not these two or three years perhaps.’’ ‘‘Write to me very often, my dear.’’ ‘‘As often as I can. But you know married women have never much time for writing. My sisters may write to me. They will have nothing else to do.’’ Mr. Wickham’s adieus were much more affectionate than his wife’s. He smiled, looked handsome, and said many pretty things. ‘‘He is as fine a fellow,’’ said Mr. Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, ‘‘as ever I saw. He simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him. I defy even Sir William Lucas himself, to produce a more valuable son-in-law.’’ The loss of her daughter made Mrs. Bennet very dull for several days. ‘‘I often think,’’ said she, ‘‘that there is nothing so bad as parting with one’s friends. One seems so forlorn without them.’’ ‘‘This is the consequence, you see, Madam, of marrying a

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daughter,’’ said Elizabeth. ‘‘It must make you better satisfied that your other four are single.’’ ‘‘It is no such thing. Lydia does not leave me because she is married; but only because her husband’s regiment happens to be so far off. If that had been nearer, she would not have gone so soon.’’ But the spiritless condition which this event threw her into, was shortly relieved, and her mind opened again to the agitation of hope, by an article of news, which then began to be in circulation. The housekeeper at Netherfield had received orders to prepare for the arrival of her master, who was coming down in a day or two, to shoot there for several weeks. Mrs. Bennet was quite in the fidgets. She looked at Jane, and smiled, and shook her head by turns. ‘‘Well, well, and so Mr. Bingley is coming down, sister,’’ (for Mrs. Phillips first brought her the news.) ‘‘Well, so much the better. Not that I care about it, though. He is nothing to us, you know, and I am sure I never want to see him again. But, however, he is very welcome to come to Netherfield, if he likes it. And who knows what may happen? But that is nothing to us. You know, sister, we agreed long ago never to mention a word about it. And so, is it quite certain he is coming?’’ ‘‘You may depend on it,’’ replied the other, ‘‘for Mrs. Nicholls was in Meryton last night; I saw her passing by, and went out myself on purpose to know the truth of it; and she told me that it was certain true. He comes down on Thursday at the latest, very likely on Wednesday. She was going to the butcher’s, she told me, on purpose to order in some more meat on Wednesday, and she has got three couple of ducks, just fit to be killed.’’ Miss Bennet had not been able to hear of his coming, without changing colour. It was many months since she had mentioned his name to Elizabeth; but now, as soon as they were alone together, she said, ‘‘I saw you look at me to day, Lizzy, when my aunt told us of the present report; and I know I appeared distressed. But don’t imagine it was from any silly cause. I was only confused for the moment, because I felt that I should be looked at. I do assure you, that the news does not affect me either with pleasure or


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pain. I am glad of one thing, that he comes alone; because we shall see the less of him. Not that I am afraid of myself, but I dread other people’s remarks.’’ Elizabeth did not know what to make of it. Had she not seen him in Derbyshire, she might have supposed him capable of coming there, with no other view than what was acknowledged; but she still thought him partial to Jane, and she wavered as to the greater probability of his coming there with his friend’s permission, or being bold enough to come without it. ‘‘Yet it is hard,’’ she sometimes thought, ‘‘that this poor man cannot come to a house, which he has legally hired, without raising all this speculation! I will leave him to himself.’’ In spite of what her sister declared, and really believed to be her feelings, in the expectation of his arrival, Elizabeth could easily perceive that her spirits were affected by it. They were more disturbed, more unequal, than she had often seen them. The subject which had been so warmly canvassed between their parents, about a twelvemonth ago, was now brought for­ ward again. ‘‘As soon as ever Mr. Bingley comes, my dear,’’ said Mrs. Bennet, ‘‘you will wait on him of course.’’ ‘‘No, no. You forced me into visiting him last year, and promised if I went to see him, he should marry one of my daughters. But it ended in nothing, and I will not be sent on a fool’s errand again.’’ His wife represented to him how absolutely necessary such an attention would be from all the neighbouring gentlemen, on his returning to Netherfield. ‘‘ ’Tis an etiquette I despise,’’ said he. ‘‘If he wants our society, let him seek it. He knows where we live. I will not spend my hours in running after my neighbours every time they go away, and come back again.’’ ‘‘Well, all I know is, that it will be abominably rude if you do not wait on him. But, however, that shan’t prevent my asking him to dine here, I am determined. We must have Mrs. Long and the Gouldings soon. That will make thirteen with ourselves, so there will be just room at table for him.’’ Consoled by this resolution, she was the better able to bear

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her husband’s incivility; though it was very mortifying to know that her neighbours might all see Mr. Bingley in consequence of it, before they did. As the day of his arrival drew near, ‘‘I begin to be sorry that he comes at all,’’ said Jane to her sister. ‘‘It would be nothing; I could see him with perfect indifference, but I can hardly bear to hear it thus perpetually talked of. My mother means well; but she does not know, no one can know how much I suffer from what she says. Happy shall I be, when his stay at Netherfield is over!’’ ‘‘I wish I could say any thing to comfort you,’’ replied Eliza­ beth; ‘‘but it is wholly out of my power. You must feel it; and the usual satisfaction of preaching patience to a sufferer is denied me, because you have always so much.’’ Mr. Bingley arrived. Mrs. Bennet, through the assistance of servants, contrived to have the earliest tidings of it, that the period of anxiety and fretfulness on her side, might be as long as it could. She counted the days that must intervene before their invitation could be sent; hopeless of seeing him before. But on the third morning after his arrival in Hertfordshire, she saw him from her dressing-room window, enter the paddock, and ride towards the house. Her daughters were eagerly called to partake of her joy. Jane resolutely kept her place at the table; but Elizabeth, to satisfy her mother, went to the window—she looked,—she saw Mr. Darcy with him, and sat down again by her sister. ‘‘There is a gentleman with him, mamma,’’ said Kitty; ‘‘who can it be?’’ ‘‘Some acquaintance or other, my dear, I suppose; I am sure I do not know.’’ ‘‘La!’’ replied Kitty, ‘‘it looks just like that man that used to be with him before. Mr. what’s his name. That tall, proud man.’’ ‘‘Good gracious! Mr. Darcy!—and so it does I vow. Well, any friend of Mr. Bingley’s will always be welcome here to be sure; but else I must say that I hate the very sight of him.’’ Jane looked at Elizabeth with surprise and concern. She knew but little of their meeting in Derbyshire, and therefore felt for the awkwardness which must attend her sister, in seeing him almost for the first time after receiving his explanatory letter.


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Both sisters were uncomfortable enough. Each felt for the other, and of course for themselves; and their mother talked on, of her dislike of Mr. Darcy, and her resolution to be civil to him only as Mr. Bingley’s friend, without being heard by either of them. But Elizabeth had sources of uneasiness which could not be suspected by Jane, to whom she had never yet had courage to shew Mrs. Gardiner’s letter, or to relate her own change of sentiment towards him. To Jane, he could be only a man whose proposals she had refused, and whose merit she had under­ valued; but to her own more extensive information, he was the person, to whom the whole family were indebted for the first of benefits, and whom she regarded herself with an interest, if not quite so tender, at least as reasonable and just, as what Jane felt for Bingley. Her astonishment at his coming—at his coming to Netherfield, to Longbourn, and voluntarily seeking her again, was almost equal to what she had known on first witnessing his altered behaviour in Derbyshire. The colour which had been driven from her face, returned for half a minute with an additional glow, and a smile of delight added lustre to her eyes, as she thought for that space of time, that his affection and wishes must still be unshaken. But she would not be secure. ‘‘Let me first see how he behaves,’’ said she; ‘‘it will then be early enough for expectation.’’ She sat intently at work, striving to be composed, and without daring to lift up her eyes, till anxious curiosity carried them to the face of her sister, as the servant was approaching the door. Jane looked a little paler than usual, but more sedate than Elizabeth had expected. On the gentlemen’s appearing, her colour increased; yet she received them with tolerable ease, and with a propriety of behaviour equally free from any symptom of resentment, or any unnecessary complaisance. Elizabeth said as little to either as civility would allow, and sat down again to her work, with an eagerness which it did not often command. She had ventured only one glance at Darcy. He looked serious as usual; and she thought, more as he had been used to look in Hertfordshire, than as she had seen him at Pemberley. But, perhaps he could not in her mother’s presence

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be what he was before her uncle and aunt. It was a painful, but not an improbable, conjecture. Bingley, she had likewise seen for an instant, and in that short period saw him looking both pleased and embarrassed. He was received by Mrs. Bennet with a degree of civility, which made her two daughters ashamed, especially when contrasted with the cold and ceremonious politeness of her curtsey and address to his friend. Elizabeth particularly, who knew that her mother owed to the latter the preservation of her favourite daughter from irre­ mediable infamy, was hurt and distressed to a most painful degree by a distinction so ill applied. Darcy, after enquiring of her how Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner did, a question which she could not answer without confusion, said scarcely any thing. He was not seated by her; perhaps that was the reason of his silence; but it had not been so in Derbyshire. There he had talked to her friends, when he could not to herself. But now several minutes elapsed, without bringing the sound of his voice; and when occasionally, unable to resist the impulse of curiosity, she raised her eyes to his face, she as often found him looking at Jane, as at herself, and frequently on no object but the ground. More thoughtfulness, and less anxiety to please than when they last met, were plainly expressed. She was dis­ appointed, and angry with herself for being so. ‘‘Could I expect it to be otherwise!’’ said she. ‘‘Yet why did he come?’’ She was in no humour for conversation with any one but himself; and to him she had hardly courage to speak. She enquired after his sister, but could do no more. ‘‘It is a long time, Mr. Bingley, since you went away,’’ said Mrs. Bennet. He readily agreed to it. ‘‘I began to be afraid you would never come back again. People did say, you meant to quit the place entirely at Michaelmas; but, however, I hope it is not true. A great many changes have happened in the neighbourhood, since you went away. Miss Lucas is married and settled. And one of my own daughters. I suppose you have heard of it; indeed, you must


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have seen it in the papers. It was in the Times and the Courier, I know; though it was not put in as it ought to be. It was only said, ‘Lately, George Wickham, Esq. to Miss Lydia Bennet,’ without there being a syllable said of her father, or the place where she lived, or any thing. It was my brother Gardiner’s drawing up too, and I wonder how he came to make such an awkward business of it. Did you see it?’’ Bingley replied that he did, and made his congratulations. Elizabeth dared not lift up her eyes. How Mr. Darcy looked, therefore, she could not tell. ‘‘It is a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter well married,’’ continued her mother; ‘‘but at the same time, Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken such a way from me. They are gone down to Newcastle, a place quite northward, it seems, and there they are to stay, I do not know how long. His regiment is there; for I suppose you have heard of his leaving the —— shire, and of his being gone into the regulars. Thank Heaven! he has some friends, though perhaps not so many as he deserves.’’ Elizabeth, who knew this to be levelled at Mr. Darcy, was in such misery of shame, that she could hardly keep her seat. It drew from her, however, the exertion of speaking, which noth­ ing else had so effectually done before; and she asked Bingley, whether he meant to make any stay in the country at present. A few weeks, he believed. ‘‘When you have killed all your own birds, Mr. Bingley,’’ said her mother, ‘‘I beg you will come here, and shoot as many as you please, on Mr. Bennet’s manor. I am sure he will be vastly happy to oblige you, and will save all the best of the covies1 for you.’’ Elizabeth’s misery increased, at such unnecessary, such offi­ cious attention! Were the same fair prospect to arise at present, as had flattered them a year ago, every thing, she was persuaded, would be hastening to the same vexatious conclusion. At that instant she felt, that years of happiness could not make Jane or herself amends, for moments of such painful confusion. ‘‘The first wish of my heart,’’ said she to herself, ‘‘is never more to be in company with either of them. Their society can

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afford no pleasure, that will atone for such wretchedness as this! Let me never see either one or the other again!’’ Yet the misery, for which years of happiness were to offer no compensation, received soon afterwards material relief, from observing how much the beauty of her sister re-kindled the admiration of her former lover. When first he came in, he had spoken to her but little; but every five minutes seemed to be giving her more of his attention. He found her as handsome as she had been last year; as good natured, and as unaffected, though not quite so chatty. Jane was anxious that no difference should be perceived in her at all, and was really persuaded that she talked as much as ever. But her mind was so busily engaged, that she did not always know when she was silent. When the gentlemen rose to go away, Mrs. Bennet was mind­ ful of her intended civility, and they were invited and engaged to dine at Longbourn in a few days time. ‘‘You are quite a visit in my debt, Mr. Bingley,’’ she added, ‘‘for when you went to town last winter, you promised to take a family dinner with us, as soon as you returned. I have not forgot, you see; and I assure you, I was very much disappointed that you did not come back and keep your engagement.’’ Bingley looked a little silly at this reflection, and said some­ thing of his concern, at having been prevented by business. They then went away. Mrs. Bennet had been strongly inclined to ask them to stay and dine there, that day; but, though she always kept a very good table, she did not think any thing less than two courses,2 could be good enough for a man, on whom she had such anxious designs, or satisfy the appetite and pride of one who had ten thousand a-year.

chapter xii

As soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover her spirits; or in other words, to dwell without interruption on those subjects that must deaden them more. Mr. Darcy’s behaviour astonished and vexed her. ‘‘Why, if he came only to be silent, grave, and indifferent,’’ said she, ‘‘did he come at all?’’ She could settle it in no way that gave her pleasure. ‘‘He could be still amiable, still pleasing, to my uncle and aunt, when he was in town; and why not to me? If he fears me, why come hither? If he no longer cares for me, why silent? Teazing, teazing, man! I will think no more about him.’’ Her resolution was for a short time involuntarily kept by the approach of her sister, who joined her with a cheerful look, which shewed her better satisfied with their visitors, than Elizabeth. ‘‘Now,’’ said she, ‘‘that this first meeting is over, I feel perfectly easy. I know my own strength, and I shall never be embarrassed again by his coming. I am glad he dines here on Tuesday. It will then be publicly seen, that on both sides, we meet only as common and indifferent acquaintance.’’ ‘‘Yes, very indifferent indeed,’’ said Elizabeth, laughingly. ‘‘Oh, Jane, take care.’’ ‘‘My dear Lizzy, you cannot think me so weak, as to be in danger now.’’ ‘‘I think you are in very great danger of making him as much in love with you as ever.’’ They did not see the gentlemen again till Tuesday; and Mrs. Bennet, in the meanwhile, was giving way to all the happy

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schemes, which the good humour, and common politeness of Bingley, in half an hour’s visit, had revived. On Tuesday there was a large party assembled at Longbourn; and the two, who were most anxiously expected, to the credit of their punctuality as sportsmen, were in very good time. When they repaired to the dining-room, Elizabeth eagerly watched to see whether Bingley would take the place, which, in all their former parties, had belonged to him, by her sister. Her prudent mother, occupied by the same ideas, forbore to invite him to sit by herself. On entering the room, he seemed to hesitate; but Jane happened to look round, and happened to smile: it was decided. He placed himself by her. Elizabeth, with a triumphant sensation, looked towards his friend. He bore it with noble indifference, and she would have imagined that Bingley had received his sanction to be happy, had she not seen his eyes likewise turned towards Mr. Darcy, with an expression of half-laughing alarm. His behaviour to her sister was such, during dinner time, as shewed an admiration of her, which, though more guarded than formerly, persuaded Elizabeth, that if left wholly to himself, Jane’s happiness, and his own, would be speedily secured. Though she dared not depend upon the consequence, she yet received pleasure from observing his behaviour. It gave her all the animation that her spirits could boast; for she was in no cheerful humour. Mr. Darcy was almost as far from her, as the table could divide them. He was on one side of her mother. She knew how little such a situation would give pleasure to either, or make either appear to advantage. She was not near enough to hear any of their discourse, but she could see how seldom they spoke to each other, and how formal and cold was their manner, whenever they did. Her mother’s ungraciousness, made the sense of what they owed him more painful to Elizabeth’s mind; and she would, at times, have given any thing to be privileged to tell him, that his kindness was neither unknown nor unfelt by the whole of the family. She was in hopes that the evening would afford some opportu­ nity of bringing them together; that the whole of the visit would not pass away without enabling them to enter into something


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more of conversation, than the mere ceremonious salutation attending his entrance. Anxious and uneasy, the period which passed in the drawing-room, before the gentlemen came, was wearisome and dull to a degree, that almost made her uncivil. She looked forward to their entrance, as the point on which all her chance of pleasure for the evening must depend. ‘‘If he does not come to me, then,’’ said she, ‘‘I shall give him up for ever.’’ The gentlemen came; and she thought he looked as if he would have answered her hopes; but, alas! the ladies had crowded round the table, where Miss Bennet was making tea, and Elizabeth pouring out the coffee, in so close a confederacy, that there was not a single vacancy near her, which would admit of a chair. And on the gentlemen’s approaching, one of the girls moved closer to her than ever, and said, in a whisper, ‘‘The men shan’t come and part us, I am determined. We want none of them; do we?’’ Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her eyes, envied every one to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee; and then was enraged against herself for being so silly! ‘‘A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the sex, who would not protest against such a weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings!’’ She was a little revived, however, by his bringing back his coffee cup himself; and she seized the opportunity of saying, ‘‘Is your sister at Pemberley still?’’ ‘‘Yes, she will remain there till Christmas.’’ ‘‘And quite alone? Have all her friends left her?’’ ‘‘Mrs. Annesley is with her. The others have been gone on to Scarborough,1 these three weeks.’’ She could think of nothing more to say; but if he wished to converse with her, he might have better success. He stood by her, however, for some minutes, in silence; and, at last, on the young lady’s whispering to Elizabeth again, he walked away. When the tea-things were removed, and the card tables placed,

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the ladies all rose, and Elizabeth was then hoping to be soon joined by him, when all her views were overthrown, by seeing him fall a victim to her mother’s rapacity for whist players, and in a few moments after seated with the rest of the party. She now lost every expectation of pleasure. They were confined for the evening at different tables, and she had nothing to hope, but that his eyes were so often turned towards her side of the room, as to make him play as unsuccessfully as herself. Mrs. Bennet had designed to keep the two Netherfield gentle­ men to supper; but their carriage was unluckily ordered before any of the others, and she had no opportunity of detaining them. ‘‘Well girls,’’ said she, as soon as they were left to themselves, ‘‘What say you to the day? I think every thing has passed off uncommonly well, I assure you. The dinner was as well dressed as any I ever saw. The venison was roasted to a turn—and everybody said, they never saw so fat a haunch. The soup was fifty times better than what we had at the Lucas’s last week; and even Mr. Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French cooks at least. And, my dear Jane, I never saw you look in greater beauty. Mrs. Long said so too, for I asked her whether you did not. And what do you think she said besides? ‘Ah! Mrs. Bennet, we shall have her at Netherfield at last.’ She did indeed. I do think Mrs. Long is as good a creature as ever lived—and her nieces are very pretty behaved girls, and not at all handsome: I like them prodigiously.’’ Mrs. Bennet, in short, was in very great spirits; she had seen enough of Bingley’s behaviour to Jane, to be convinced that she would get him at last; and her expectations of advantage to her family, when in a happy humour, were so far beyond reason, that she was quite disappointed at not seeing him there again the next day, to make his proposals. ‘‘It has been a very agreeable day,’’ said Miss Bennet to Elizabeth. ‘‘The party seemed so well selected, so suitable one with the other. I hope we may often meet again.’’ Elizabeth smiled. ‘‘Lizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It mortifies me. I assure you that I have now learnt to enjoy his


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conversation as an agreeable and sensible young man, without having a wish beyond it. I am perfectly satisfied from what his manners now are, that he never had any design of engaging my affection. It is only that he is blessed with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire of generally pleasing than any other man.’’ ‘‘You are very cruel,’’ said her sister, ‘‘you will not let me smile, and are provoking me to it every moment.’’ ‘‘How hard it is in some cases to be believed!’’ ‘‘And how impossible in others!’’ ‘‘But why should you wish to persuade me that I feel more than I acknowledge?’’ ‘‘That is a question which I hardly know how to answer. We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing. Forgive me; and if you persist in indifference, do not make me your confidante.’’

chapter xiii

A few days after this visit, Mr. Bingley called again, and alone. His friend had left him that morning for London, but was to return home in ten days time. He sat with them above an hour, and was in remarkably good spirits. Mrs. Bennet invited him to dine with them; but, with many expressions of concern, he confessed himself engaged elsewhere. ‘‘Next time you call,’’ said she, ‘‘I hope we shall be more lucky.’’ He should be particularly happy at any time, &c. &c.; and if she would give him leave, would take an early opportunity of waiting on them. ‘‘Can you come to-morrow?’’ Yes, he had no engagement at all for to-morrow; and her invitation was accepted with alacrity. He came, and in such very good time, that the ladies were none of them dressed. In ran Mrs. Bennet to her daughter’s room, in her dressing gown, and with her hair half finished, crying out, ‘‘My dear Jane, make haste and hurry down. He is come— Mr. Bingley is come.—He is, indeed. Make haste, make haste. Here, Sarah, come to Miss Bennet this moment, and help her on with her gown. Never mind Miss Lizzy’s hair.’’ ‘‘We will be down as soon as we can,’’ said Jane; ‘‘but I dare say Kitty is forwarder than either of us, for she went up stairs half an hour ago.’’ ‘‘Oh! hang Kitty! what has she to do with it? Come be quick, be quick! where is your sash my dear?’’


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But when her mother was gone, Jane would not be prevailed on to go down without one of her sisters. The same anxiety to get them by themselves, was visible again in the evening. After tea, Mr. Bennet retired to the library, as was his custom, and Mary went up stairs to her instrument. Two obstacles of the five being thus removed, Mrs. Bennet sat looking and winking at Elizabeth and Catherine for a consider­ able time, without making any impression on them. Elizabeth would not observe her; and when at last Kitty did, she very innocently said, ‘‘What is the matter mamma? What do you keep winking at me for? What am I to do?’’ ‘‘Nothing child, nothing. I did not wink at you.’’ She then sat still five minutes longer; but unable to waste such a precious occasion, she suddenly got up, and saying to Kitty, ‘‘Come here, my love, I want to speak to you,’’ took her out of the room. Jane instantly gave a look at Elizabeth, which spoke her distress at such premeditation, and her intreaty that she would not give into it. In a few minutes, Mrs. Bennet half opened the door and called out, ‘‘Lizzy, my dear, I want to speak with you.’’ Elizabeth was forced to go. ‘‘We may as well leave them by themselves you know;’’ said her mother as soon as she was in the hall. ‘‘Kitty and I are going up stairs to sit in my dressing room.’’ Elizabeth made no attempt to reason with her mother, but remained quietly in the hall, till she and Kitty were out of sight, then returned into the drawing room. Mrs. Bennet’s schemes for this day were ineffectual. Bingley was every thing that was charming, except the professed lover of her daughter. His ease and cheerfulness rendered him a most agreeable addition to their evening party; and he bore with the ill-judged officiousness of the mother, and heard all her silly remarks with a forbearance and command of countenance, particularly grateful to the daughter. He scarcely needed an invitation to stay supper; and before he went away, an engagement was formed, chiefly through his own and Mrs. Bennet’s means, for his coming next morning to shoot with her husband.

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After this day, Jane said no more of her indifference. Not a word passed between the sisters concerning Bingley; but Eliza­ beth went to bed in the happy belief that all must speedily be concluded, unless Mr. Darcy returned within the stated time. Seriously, however, she felt tolerably persuaded that all this must have taken place with that gentleman’s concurrence. Bingley was punctual to his appointment; and he and Mr. Bennet spent the morning together, as had been agreed on. The latter was much more agreeable than his companion expected. There was nothing of presumption or folly in Bingley, that could provoke his ridicule, or disgust him into silence; and he was more communicative, and less eccentric than the other had ever seen him. Bingley of course returned with him to dinner; and in the evening Mrs. Bennet’s invention was again at work to get every body away from him and her daughter. Elizabeth, who had a letter to write, went into the breakfast room for that purpose soon after tea; for as the others were all going to sit down to cards, she could not be wanted to counteract her mother’s schemes. But on returning to the drawing room, when her letter was finished, she saw, to her infinite surprise, there was reason to fear that her mother had been too ingenious for her. On opening the door, she perceived her sister and Bingley standing together over the hearth, as if engaged in earnest conversation; and had this led to no suspicion, the faces of both as they hastily turned round, and moved away from each other, would have told it all. Their situation was awkward enough; but her’s she thought was still worse. Not a syllable was uttered by either; and Elizabeth was on the point of going away again, when Bingley, who as well as the others1 had sat down, suddenly rose, and whispering a few words to her sister, ran out of the room. Jane could have no reserves from Elizabeth, where confidence would give pleasure; and instantly embracing her, acknowl­ edged, with the liveliest emotion, that she was the happiest creature in the world. ‘‘ ’Tis too much!’’ she added, ‘‘by far too much. I do not deserve it. Oh! why is not every body as happy.’’ Elizabeth’s congratulations were given with a sincerity, a


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warmth, a delight, which words could but poorly express. Every sentence of kindness was a fresh source of happiness to Jane. But she would not allow herself to stay with her sister, or say half that remained to be said, for the present. ‘‘I must go instantly to my mother;’’ she cried. ‘‘I would not on any account trifle with her affectionate solicitude; or allow her to hear it from any one but myself. He is gone to my father already. Oh! Lizzy, to know that what I have to relate will give such pleasure to all my dear family! how shall I bear so much happiness!’’ She then hastened away to her mother, who had purposely broken up the card party, and was sitting up stairs with Kitty. Elizabeth, who was left by herself, now smiled at the rapidity and ease with which an affair was finally settled, that had given them so many previous months of suspense and vexation. ‘‘And this,’’ said she, ‘‘is the end of all his friend’s anxious circumspection! of all his sister’s falsehood and contrivance! the happiest, wisest, most reasonable end!’’ In a few minutes she was joined by Bingley, whose conference with her father had been short and to the purpose. ‘‘Where is your sister?’’ said he hastily, as he opened the door. ‘‘With my mother up stairs. She will be down in a moment I dare say.’’ He then shut the door, and coming up to her, claimed the good wishes and affection of a sister. Elizabeth honestly and heartily expressed her delight in the prospect of their relation­ ship. They shook hands with great cordiality; and then till her sister came down, she had to listen to all he had to say, of his own happiness, and of Jane’s perfections; and in spite of his being a lover, Elizabeth really believed all his expectations of felicity, to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the excellent understanding, and super-excellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity of feeling and taste between her and himself. It was an evening of no common delight to them all; the satisfaction of Miss Bennet’s mind gave a glow of such sweet animation to her face, as made her look handsomer than ever. Kitty simpered and smiled, and hoped her turn was coming

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soon. Mrs. Bennet could not give her consent, or speak her approbation in terms warm enough to satisfy her feelings, though she talked to Bingley of nothing else, for half an hour; and when Mr. Bennet joined them at supper, his voice and manner plainly shewed how really happy he was. Not a word, however, passed his lips in allusion to it, till their visitor took his leave for the night; but as soon as he was gone, he turned to his daughter and said, ‘‘Jane, I congratulate you. You will be a very happy woman.’’ Jane went to him instantly, kissed him, and thanked him for his goodness. ‘‘You are a good girl;’’ he replied, ‘‘and I have great pleasure in thinking you will be so happily settled. I have not a doubt of your doing very well together. Your tempers are by no means unlike. You are each of you so complying, that nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; and so generous, that you will always exceed your income.’’ ‘‘I hope not so. Imprudence or thoughtlessness in money matters, would be unpardonable in me.’’ ‘‘Exceed their income! My dear Mr. Bennet,’’ cried his wife, ‘‘what are you talking of ? Why, he has four or five thousand a-year, and very likely more.’’ Then addressing her daughter, ‘‘Oh! my dear, dear Jane, I am so happy! I am sure I sha’nt get a wink of sleep all night. I knew how it would be. I always said it must be so, at last. I was sure you could not be so beautiful for nothing! I remember, as soon as ever I saw him, when he first came into Hertfordshire last year, I thought how likely it was that you should come together. Oh! he is the handsomest young man that ever was seen!’’ Wickham, Lydia, were all forgotten. Jane was beyond com­ petition her favourite child. At that moment, she cared for no other. Her youngest sisters soon began to make interest with her for objects of happiness which she might in future be able to dispense. Mary petitioned for the use of the library at Netherfield; and Kitty begged very hard for a few balls there every winter. Bingley, from this time, was of course a daily visitor at Longbourn; coming frequently before breakfast, and always


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remaining till after supper; unless when some barbarous neigh­ bour, who could not be enough detested, had given him an invitation to dinner, which he thought himself obliged to accept. Elizabeth had now but little time for conversation with her sister; for while he was present, Jane had no attention to bestow on any one else; but she found herself considerably useful to both of them, in those hours of separation that must sometimes occur. In the absence of Jane, he always attached himself to Elizabeth, for the pleasure of talking of her; and when Bingley was gone, Jane constantly sought the same means of relief. ‘‘He has made me so happy,’’ said she, one evening, ‘‘by telling me, that he was totally ignorant of my being in town last spring! I had not believed it possible.’’ ‘‘I suspected as much,’’ replied Elizabeth. ‘‘But how did he account for it?’’ ‘‘It must have been his sister’s doing. They were certainly no friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many respects. But when they see, as I trust they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented, and we shall be on good terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each other.’’ ‘‘That is the most unforgiving speech,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘that I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It would vex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley’s pretended regard.’’ ‘‘Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November, he really loved me, and nothing but a persuasion of my being indifferent, would have prevented his coming down again!’’ ‘‘He made a little mistake to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty.’’ This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffi­ dence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities. Elizabeth was pleased to find, that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend, for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him. ‘‘I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!’’

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cried Jane. ‘‘Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!’’ ‘‘If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for myself; and, perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time.’’ The situation of affairs in the Longbourn family could not be long a secret. Mrs. Bennet was privileged to whisper it to Mrs. Phillips, and she ventured, without any permission, to do the same by all her neighbours in Meryton. The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world, though only a few weeks before, when Lydia had first run away, they had been generally proved to be marked out for misfortune.

chapter xiv

One morning, about a week after Bingley’s engagement with Jane had been formed, as he and the females of the family were sitting together in the dining room, their attention was suddenly drawn to the window, by the sound of a carriage; and they perceived a chaise and four driving up the lawn. It was too early in the morning for visitors, and besides, the equipage did not answer to that of any of their neighbours. The horses were post;1 and neither the carriage, nor the livery of the servant who preceded it, were familiar to them. As it was certain, however, that somebody was coming, Bingley instantly prevailed on Miss Bennet to avoid the confinement of such an intrusion, and walk away with him into the shrubbery. They both set off, and the conjectures of the remaining three continued, though with little satisfaction, till the door was thrown open, and their visitor entered. It was lady Catherine de Bourgh. They were of course all intending to be surprised; but their astonishment was beyond their expectation; and on the part of Mrs. Bennet and Kitty, though she was perfectly unknown to them, even inferior to what Elizabeth felt. She entered the room with an air more than usually un­ gracious, made no other reply to Elizabeth’s salutation, than a slight inclination of the head, and sat down without saying a word. Elizabeth had mentioned her name to her mother, on her ladyship’s entrance, though no request of introduction had been made. Mrs. Bennet all amazement, though flattered by having a guest of such high importance, received her with the utmost

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politeness. After sitting for a moment in silence, she said very stiffly to Elizabeth, ‘‘I hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady I suppose is your mother.’’ Elizabeth replied very concisely that she was. ‘‘And that I suppose is one of your sisters.’’ ‘‘Yes, madam,’’ said Mrs. Bennet, delighted to speak to a lady Catherine. ‘‘She is my youngest girl but one. My youngest of all, is lately married, and my eldest is somewhere about the grounds, walking with a young man, who I believe will soon become a part of the family.’’ ‘‘You have a very small park here,’’ returned lady Catherine after a short silence. ‘‘It is nothing in comparison of Rosings, my lady, I dare say; but I assure you it is much larger than Sir William Lucas’s.’’ ‘‘This must be a most inconvenient sitting room for the evening, in summer; the windows are full west.’’ Mrs. Bennet assured her that they never sat there after dinner; and then added, ‘‘May I take the liberty of asking your ladyship whether you left Mr. and Mrs. Collins well.’’ ‘‘Yes, very well. I saw them the night before last.’’ Elizabeth now expected that she would produce a letter for her from Charlotte, as it seemed the only probable motive for her calling. But no letter appeared, and she was completely puzzled. Mrs. Bennet, with great civility, begged her ladyship to take some refreshment; but Lady Catherine very resolutely, and not very politely, declined eating any thing; and then rising up, said to Elizabeth, ‘‘Miss Bennet, there seemed to be a prettyish kind of a little wilderness on one side of your lawn. I should be glad to take a turn in it, if you will favour me with your company.’’ ‘‘Go, my dear,’’ cried her mother, ‘‘and shew her ladyship about the different walks. I think she will be pleased with the hermitage.’’2 Elizabeth obeyed, and running into her own room for


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her parasol, attended her noble guest down stairs. As they passed through the hall, Lady Catherine opened the doors into the dining-parlour and drawing-room, and pronouncing them, after a short survey, to be decent looking rooms, walked on. Her carriage remained at the door, and Elizabeth saw that her waiting-woman was in it. They proceeded in silence along the gravel walk that led to the copse; Elizabeth was determined to make no effort for conversation with a woman, who was now more than usually insolent and disagreeable. ‘‘How could I ever think her like her nephew?’’ said she, as she looked in her face. As soon as they entered the copse, Lady Catherine began in the following manner:— ‘‘You can be at no loss, Miss Bennet, to understand the reason of my journey hither. Your own heart, your own conscience, must tell you why I come.’’ Elizabeth looked with unaffected astonishment. ‘‘Indeed, you are mistaken, Madam. I have not been at all able to account for the honour of seeing you here.’’ ‘‘Miss Bennet,’’ replied her ladyship, in an angry tone, ‘‘you ought to know, that I am not to be trifled with. But however insincere you may choose to be, you shall not find me so. My character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and frankness, and in a cause of such moment as this, I shall certainly not depart from it. A report of a most alarming nature, reached me two days ago. I was told, that not only your sister was on the point of being most advantageously married, but that you, that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, would, in all likelihood, be soon afterwards united to my nephew, my own nephew, Mr. Darcy. Though I know it must be a scandalous falsehood; though I would not injure him so much as to suppose the truth of it possible, I instantly resolved on setting off for this place, that I might make my sentiments known to you.’’ ‘‘If you believed it impossible to be true,’’ said Elizabeth, colouring with astonishment and disdain, ‘‘I wonder you took the trouble of coming so far. What could your ladyship propose by it?’’

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‘‘At once to insist upon having such a report universally contradicted.’’ ‘‘Your coming to Longbourn, to see me and my family,’’ said Elizabeth, coolly, ‘‘will be rather a confirmation of it; if, indeed, such a report is in existence.’’ ‘‘If! do you then pretend to be ignorant of it? Has it not been industriously circulated by yourselves? Do you not know that such a report is spread abroad?’’ ‘‘I never heard that it was.’’ ‘‘And can you likewise declare, that there is no foundation for it?’’ ‘‘I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your lady­ ship. You may ask questions, which I shall not choose to answer.’’ ‘‘This is not to be borne. Miss Bennet, I insist on being satisfied. Has he, has my nephew, made you an offer of marriage?’’ ‘‘Your ladyship has declared it to be impossible.’’ ‘‘It ought to be so; it must be so, while he retains the use of his reason. But your arts and allurements may, in a moment of infatuation, have made him forget what he owes to himself and to all his family. You may have drawn him in.’’ ‘‘If I have, I shall be the last person to confess it.’’ ‘‘Miss Bennet, do you know who I am? I have not been accustomed to such language as this. I am almost the nearest relation he has in the world, and am entitled to know all his dearest concerns.’’ ‘‘But you are not entitled to know mine, nor will such behaviour as this, ever induce me to be explicit.’’ ‘‘Let me be rightly understood. This match, to which you have the presumption to aspire, can never take place. No, never. Mr. Darcy is engaged to my daughter. Now what have you to say?’’ ‘‘Only this; that if he is so, you can have no reason to suppose he will make an offer to me.’’ Lady Catherine hesitated for a moment, and then replied, ‘‘The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy, they have been intended for each other. It was the


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favourite wish of his mother, as well as of her’s. While in their cradles, we planned the union: and now, at the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished, in their mar­ riage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the family! Do you pay no regard to the wishes of his friends? To his tacit engagement with Miss De Bourgh? Are you lost to every feeling of propriety and delicacy? Have you not heard me say, that from his earliest hours he was destined for his cousin?’’ ‘‘Yes, and I had heard it before. But what is that to me? If there is no other objection to my marrying your nephew, I shall certainly not be kept from it, by knowing that his mother and aunt wished him to marry Miss De Bourgh. You both did as much as you could, in planning the marriage. Its completion depended on others. If Mr. Darcy is neither by honour nor inclination confined to his cousin, why is not he to make another choice? And if I am that choice, why may not I accept him?’’ ‘‘Because honour, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid it. Yes, Miss Bennet, interest; for do not expect to be noticed by his family or friends, if you wilfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and despised, by every one connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never even be mentioned by any of us.’’ ‘‘These are heavy misfortunes,’’ replied Elizabeth. ‘‘But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine.’’ ‘‘Obstinate, headstrong girl! I am ashamed of you! Is this your gratitude for my attentions to you last spring? Is nothing due to me on that score? ‘‘Let us sit down. You are to understand, Miss Bennet, that I came here with the determined resolution of carrying my purpose; nor will I be dissuaded from it. I have not been used to submit to any person’s whims. I have not been in the habit of brooking disappointment.’’ ‘‘That will make your ladyship’s situation at present more pitiable; but it will have no effect on me.’’ ‘‘I will not be interrupted. Hear me in silence. My daughter

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and my nephew are formed for each other. They are descended on the maternal side, from the same noble line; and, on the father’s, from respectable, honourable, and ancient, though untitled families. Their fortune on both sides is splendid. They are destined for each other by the voice of every member of their respective houses; and what is to divide them? The upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune. Is this to be endured! But it must not, shall not be. If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere, in which you have been brought up.’’ ‘‘In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.’’ ‘‘True. You are a gentleman’s daughter. But who was your mother? Who are your uncles and aunts? Do not imagine me ignorant of their condition.’’ ‘‘Whatever my connections may be,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘if your nephew does not object to them, they can be nothing to you.’’ ‘‘Tell me once for all, are you engaged to him?’’ Though Elizabeth would not, for the mere purpose of obliging Lady Catherine, have answered this question; she could not but say, after a moment’s deliberation, ‘‘I am not.’’ Lady Catherine seemed pleased. ‘‘And will you promise me, never to enter into such an engagement?’’ ‘‘I will make no promise of the kind.’’ ‘‘Miss Bennet, I am shocked and astonished. I expected to find a more reasonable young woman. But do not deceive your­ self into a belief that I will ever recede. I shall not go away, till you have given me the assurance I require.’’ ‘‘And I certainly never shall give it. I am not to be intimidated into anything so wholly unreasonable. Your ladyship wants Mr. Darcy to marry your daughter; but would my giving you the wished-for promise, make their marriage at all more probable? Supposing him to be attached to me, would my refusing to accept his hand, make him wish to bestow it on his cousin? Allow me to say, Lady Catherine, that the arguments with which


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you have supported this extraordinary application, have been as frivolous as the application was ill judged. You have widely mistaken my character, if you think I can be worked on by such persuasions as these. How far your nephew might approve of your interference in his affairs, I cannot tell; but you have certainly no right to concern yourself in mine. I must beg, therefore, to be importuned no farther on the subject.’’ ‘‘Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister’s infamous elopement. I know it all; that the young man’s marry­ ing her, was a patched-up business, at the expence of your father and uncles. And is such a girl to be my nephew’s sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late father’s steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth!—of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?’’ ‘‘You can now have nothing farther to say,’’ she resentfully answered. ‘‘You have insulted me, in every possible method. I must beg to return to the house.’’ And she rose as she spoke. Lady Catherine rose also, and they turned back. Her ladyship was highly incensed. ‘‘You have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you not consider that a connection with you, must disgrace him in the eyes of every­ body?’’ ‘‘Lady Catherine, I have nothing farther to say. You know my sentiments.’’ ‘‘You are then resolved to have him?’’ ‘‘I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.’’ ‘‘It is well. You refuse, then, to oblige me. You refuse to obey the claims of duty, honour, and gratitude. You are determined to ruin him in the opinion of all his friends, and make him the contempt of the world.’’ ‘‘Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude,’’ replied Elizabeth, ‘‘have any possible claim on me, in the present instance. No

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principle of either, would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment’s concern— and the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn.’’ ‘‘And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but depend upon it I will carry my point.’’ In this manner Lady Catherine talked on, till they were at the door of the carriage, when turning hastily round, she added, ‘‘I take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no compliments to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am most seriously displeased.’’ Elizabeth made no answer; and without attempting to per­ suade her ladyship to return into the house, walked quietly into it herself. She heard the carriage drive away as she proceeded up stairs. Her mother impatiently met her at the door of the dressing room, to ask why Lady Catherine would not come in again and rest herself. ‘‘She did not choose it,’’ said her daughter, ‘‘she would go.’’ ‘‘She is a very fine-looking woman! and her calling here was prodigiously civil! for she only came, I suppose, to tell us the Collinses were well. She is on her road somewhere, I dare say, and so passing through Meryton, thought she might as well call on you. I suppose she had nothing particular to say to you, Lizzy?’’ Elizabeth was forced to give into a little falsehood here; for to acknowledge the substance of their conversation was impossible.

chapter xv

The discomposure of spirits, which this extraordinary visit threw Elizabeth into, could not be easily overcome; nor could she for many hours, learn to think of it less than incessantly. Lady Catherine it appeared, had actually taken the trouble of this journey from Rosings, for the sole purpose of breaking off her supposed engagement with Mr. Darcy. It was a rational scheme to be sure! but from what the report of their engagement could originate, Elizabeth was at a loss to imagine; till she recollected that his being the intimate friend of Bingley, and her being the sister of Jane, was enough, at a time when the expectation of one wedding, made every body eager for another, to supply the idea. She had not herself forgotten to feel that the marriage of her sister must bring them more frequently together. And her neighbours at Lucas lodge, therefore, (for through their communication with the Collinses, the report she concluded had reached lady Catherine) had only set that down, as almost certain and immediate, which she had looked forward to as possible, at some future time. In revolving lady Catherine’s expressions, however, she could not help feeling some uneasiness as to the possible consequence of her persisting in this interference. From what she had said of her resolution to prevent their marriage, it occurred to Elizabeth that she must meditate an application to her nephew; and how he might take a similar representation of the evils attached to a connection with her, she dared not pronounce. She knew not the exact degree of his affection for his aunt, or his dependence on her judgment, but it was natural to suppose that he thought much higher of her ladyship than she could do; and it was

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certain, that in enumerating the miseries of a marriage with one, whose immediate connections were so unequal to his own, his aunt would address him on his weakest side. With his notions of dignity, he would probably feel that the arguments, which to Elizabeth had appeared weak and ridiculous, contained much good sense and solid reasoning. If he had been wavering before, as to what he should do, which had often seemed likely, the advice and intreaty of so near a relation might settle every doubt, and determine him at once to be as happy, as dignity unblemished could make him. In that case he would return no more. Lady Catherine might see him in her way through town; and his engagement to Bingley of coming again to Netherfield must give way. ‘‘If, therefore, an excuse for not keeping his promise, should come to his friend within a few days,’’ she added, ‘‘I shall know how to understand it. I shall then give over every expectation, every wish of his constancy. If he is satisfied with only regretting me, when he might have obtained my affections and hand, I shall soon cease to regret him at all.’’ The surprise of the rest of the family, on hearing who their visitor had been, was very great; but they obligingly satisfied it, with the same kind of supposition, which had appeased Mrs. Bennet’s curiosity; and Elizabeth was spared from much teazing on the subject. The next morning, as she was going down stairs, she was met by her father, who came out of his library with a letter in his hand. ‘‘Lizzy,’’ said he, ‘‘I was going to look for you; come into my room.’’ She followed him thither; and her curiosity to know what he had to tell her, was heightened by the supposition of its being in some manner connected with the letter he held. It suddenly struck her that it might be from lady Catherine; and she antici­ pated with dismay all the consequent explanations. She followed her father to the fire place, and they both sat down. He then said, ‘‘I have received a letter this morning that has astonished me


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exceedingly. As it principally concerns yourself, you ought to know its contents. I did not know before, that I had two daugh­ ters on the brink of matrimony. Let me congratulate you, on a very important conquest.’’ The colour now rushed into Elizabeth’s cheeks in the instan­ taneous conviction of its being a letter from the nephew, instead of the aunt; and she was undetermined whether most to be pleased that he explained himself at all, or offended that his letter was not rather addressed to herself; when her father continued, ‘‘You look conscious. Young ladies have great penetration in such matters as these; but I think I may defy even your sagacity, to discover the name of your admirer. This letter is from Mr. Collins.’’ ‘‘From Mr. Collins! and what can he have to say?’’ ‘‘Something very much to the purpose of course. He begins with congratulations on the approaching nuptials of my eldest daughter, of which it seems he has been told, by some of the good-natured, gossiping Lucases. I shall not sport with your impatience, by reading what he says on that point. What relates to yourself, is as follows.’’ ‘‘Having thus offered you the sincere congratulations of Mrs. Collins and myself on this happy event, let me now add a short hint on the subject of another, of which we have been advertised by the same authority. Your daughter Elizabeth, it is presumed, will not long bear the name of Bennet, after her elder sister has resigned it, and the chosen partner of her fate, may be reasonably looked up to, as one of the most illustrious personages in this land.’’ ‘‘Can you possibly guess, Lizzy, who is meant by this?’’ ‘‘This young gentleman is blessed in a peculiar way, with every thing the heart of mortal can most desire,—splendid property, noble kindred, and extensive patronage. Yet in spite of all these temp­ tations, let me warn my cousin Elizabeth, and yourself, of what evils you may incur, by a precipitate closure with this gentle­ man’s proposals, which, of course, you will be inclined to take immediate advantage of.’’ ‘‘Have you any idea, Lizzy, who this gentleman is? But now it comes out.’’ ‘‘My motive for cautioning you, is as follows. We have reason

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to imagine that his aunt, lady Catherine de Bourgh, does not look on the match with a friendly eye.’’ ‘‘Mr. Darcy, you see, is the man! Now, Lizzy, I think I have surprised you. Could he, or the Lucases, have pitched on any man, within the circle of our acquaintance, whose name would have given the lie more effectually to what they related? Mr. Darcy, who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish, and who probably never looked at you in his life! It is admirable!’’ Elizabeth tried to join in her father’s pleasantry, but could only force one most reluctant smile. Never had his wit been directed in a manner so little agreeable to her. ‘‘Are you not diverted?’’ ‘‘Oh! yes. Pray read on.’’ ‘‘After mentioning the likelihood of this marriage to her lady­ ship last night, she immediately, with her usual condescension, expressed what she felt on the occasion; when it became appar­ ent, that on the score of some family objections on the part of my cousin, she would never give her consent to what she termed so disgraceful a match. I thought it my duty to give the speediest intelligence of this to my cousin, that she and her noble admirer may be aware of what they are about, and not run hastily into a marriage which has not been properly sanctioned.’’ ‘‘Mr. Collins moreover adds,’’ ‘‘I am truly rejoiced that my cousin Lydia’s sad business has been so well hushed up, and am only concerned that their living together before the marriage took place, should be so generally known. I must not, however, neglect the duties of my station, or refrain from declaring my amazement, at hearing that you received the young couple into your house as soon as they were married. It was an encourage­ ment of vice; and had I been the rector of Longbourn, I should very strenuously have opposed it. You ought certainly to forgive them as a christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing.’’ ‘‘That is his notion of christian forgiveness! The rest of his letter is only about his dear Charlotte’s situation, and his expectation of a young olive-branch. But, Lizzy, you look as if you did not enjoy it. You are not going to be Missish, I hope, and pretend to be affronted at an idle report. For what do we live, but to


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make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?’’ ‘‘Oh!’’ cried Elizabeth, ‘‘I am excessively diverted. But it is so strange!’’ ‘‘Yes—that is what makes it amusing. Had they fixed on any other man it would have been nothing; but his perfect indifference, and your pointed dislike, make it so delightfully absurd! Much as I abominate writing, I would not give up Mr. Collins’s correspondence for any consideration. Nay, when I read a letter of his, I cannot help giving him the preference even over Wickham, much as I value the impudence and hypocrisy of my son-in-law. And pray, Lizzy, what said Lady Catherine about this report? Did she call to refuse her consent?’’ To this question his daughter replied only with a laugh; and as it had been asked without the least suspicion, she was not distressed by his repeating it. Elizabeth had never been more at a loss to make her feelings appear what they were not. It was necessary to laugh, when she would rather have cried. Her father had most cruelly mortified her, by what he said of Mr. Darcy’s indifference, and she could do nothing but wonder at such a want of penetration, or fear that perhaps, instead of his seeing too little, she might have fancied too much.

chapter xvi

Instead of receiving any such letter of excuse from his friend, as Elizabeth half expected Mr. Bingley to do, he was able to bring Darcy with him to Longbourn before many days had passed after Lady Catherine’s visit. The gentlemen arrived early; and, before Mrs. Bennet had time to tell him of their having seen his aunt, of which her daughter sat in momentary dread, Bingley, who wanted to be alone with Jane, proposed their all walking out. It was agreed to. Mrs. Bennet was not in the habit of walking, Mary could never spare time, but the remaining five set off together. Bingley and Jane, however, soon allowed the others to outstrip them. They lagged behind, while Elizabeth, Kitty, and Darcy, were to entertain each other. Very little was said by either; Kitty was too much afraid of him to talk; Elizabeth was secretly forming a desperate resolution; and perhaps he might be doing the same. They walked towards the Lucases, because Kitty wished to call upon Maria; and as Elizabeth saw no occasion for making it a general concern, when Kitty left them, she went boldly on with him alone. Now was the moment for her resolution to be executed, and, while her courage was high, she immediately said, ‘‘Mr. Darcy, I am a very selfish creature; and, for the sake of giving relief to my own feelings, care not how much I may be wounding your’s. I can no longer help thanking you for your unexampled kindness to my poor sister. Ever since I have known it, I have been most anxious to acknowledge to you how grate­ fully I feel it. Were it known to the rest of my family, I should not have merely my own gratitude to express.’’


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‘‘I am sorry, exceedingly sorry,’’ replied Darcy, in a tone of surprise and emotion, ‘‘that you have ever been informed of what may, in a mistaken light, have given you uneasiness. I did not think Mrs. Gardiner was so little to be trusted.’’ ‘‘You must not blame my aunt. Lydia’s thoughtlessness first betrayed to me that you had been concerned in the matter; and, of course, I could not rest till I knew the particulars. Let me thank you again and again, in the name of all my family, for that generous compassion which induced you to take so much trouble, and bear so many mortifications, for the sake of dis­ covering them.’’ ‘‘If you will thank me,’’ he replied, ‘‘let it be for yourself alone. That the wish of giving happiness to you, might add force to the other inducements which led me on, I shall not attempt to deny. But your family owe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I believe, I thought only of you.’’ Elizabeth was too much embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, ‘‘You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.’’ Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances. The happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do. Had Elizabeth been able to encounter his eye, she might have seen how well the expression of heartfelt delight, diffused over his face, became him; but, though she could not look, she could listen, and he told her of feelings, which, in proving of what importance she was to him, made his affection every moment more valuable. They walked on, without knowing in what direction. There was too much to be thought, and felt, and said, for attention to

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any other objects. She soon learnt that they were indebted for their present good understanding to the efforts of his aunt, who did call on him in her return through London, and there relate her journey to Longbourn, its motive, and the substance of her conversation with Elizabeth; dwelling emphatically on every expression of the latter, which, in her ladyship’s apprehension, peculiarly denoted her perverseness and assurance, in the belief that such a relation must assist her endeavours to obtain that promise from her nephew, which she had refused to give. But, unluckily for her ladyship, its effect had been exactly con­ trariwise. ‘‘It taught me to hope,’’ said he, ‘‘as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before. I knew enough of your disposition to be certain, that, had you been absolutely, irrevocably decided against me, you would have acknowledged it to Lady Catherine, frankly and openly.’’ Elizabeth coloured and laughed as she replied, ‘‘Yes, you know enough of my frankness to believe me capable of that. After abusing you so abominably to your face, I could have no scruple in abusing you to all your relations.’’ ‘‘What did you say of me, that I did not deserve? For, though your accusations were ill-founded, formed on mistaken prem­ ises, my behaviour to you at the time, had merited the severest reproof. It was unpardonable. I cannot think of it without abhorrence.’’ ‘‘We will not quarrel for the greater share of blame annexed to that evening,’’ said Elizabeth. ‘‘The conduct of neither, if strictly examined, will be irreproachable; but since then, we have both, I hope, improved in civility.’’ ‘‘I cannot be so easily reconciled to myself. The recollection of what I then said, of my conduct, my manners, my expressions during the whole of it, is now, and has been many months, inexpressibly painful to me. Your reproof, so well applied, I shall never forget: ‘had you behaved in a more gentleman like manner.’ Those were your words. You know not, you can scarcely conceive, how they have tortured me;—though it was some time, I confess, before I was reasonable enough to allow their justice.’’


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‘‘I was certainly very far from expecting them to make so strong an impression. I had not the smallest idea of their being ever felt in such a way.’’ ‘‘I can easily believe it. You thought me then devoid of every proper feeling, I am sure you did. The turn of your countenance I shall never forget, as you said that I could not have addressed you in any possible way, that would induce you to accept me.’’ ‘‘Oh! do not repeat what I then said. These recollections will not do at all. I assure you, that I have long been most heartily ashamed of it.’’ Darcy mentioned his letter. ‘‘Did it,’’ said he, ‘‘did it soon make you think better of me? Did you, on reading it, give any credit to its contents?’’ She explained what its effect on her had been, and how gradually all her former prejudices had been removed. ‘‘I knew,’’ said he, ‘‘that what I wrote must give you pain, but it was necessary. I hope you have destroyed the letter. There was one part especially, the opening of it, which I should dread your having the power of reading again. I can remember some expressions which might justly make you hate me.’’ ‘‘The letter shall certainly be burnt, if you believe it essential to the preservation of my regard; but, though we have both reason to think my opinions not entirely unalterable, they are not, I hope, quite so easily changed as that implies.’’ ‘‘When I wrote that letter,’’ replied Darcy, ‘‘I believed myself perfectly calm and cool, but I am since convinced that it was written in a dreadful bitterness of spirit.’’ ‘‘The letter, perhaps, began in bitterness, but it did not end so. The adieu is charity itself. But think no more of the letter. The feelings of the person who wrote, and the person who received it, are now so widely different from what they were then, that every unpleasant circumstance attending it, ought to be forgotten. You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.’’ ‘‘I cannot give you credit for any philosophy of the kind. Your retrospections must be so totally void of reproach, that the contentment arising from them, is not of philosophy, but what is much better, of ignorance.1 But with me, it is not so. Painful

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recollections will intrude, which cannot, which ought not to be repelled. I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortu­ nately an only son, (for many years an only child) I was spoilt by my parents, who though good themselves, (my father particu­ larly, all that was benevolent and amiable,) allowed, encour­ aged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing, to care for none beyond my own family circle, to think meanly of all the rest of the world, to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own. Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.’’ ‘‘Had you then persuaded yourself that I should?’’ ‘‘Indeed I had. What will you think of my vanity? I believed you to be wishing, expecting my addresses.’’ ‘‘My manners must have been in fault, but not intentionally I assure you. I never meant to deceive you, but my spirits might often lead me wrong. How you must have hated me after that evening?’’ ‘‘Hate you! I was angry perhaps at first, but my anger soon began to take a proper direction.’’ ‘‘I am almost afraid of asking what you thought of me; when we met at Pemberley. You blamed me for coming?’’ ‘‘No indeed; I felt nothing but surprise.’’ ‘‘Your surprise could not be greater than mine in being noticed by you. My conscience told me that I deserved no extraordinary politeness, and I confess that I did not expect to receive more than my due.’’ ‘‘My object then,’’ replied Darcy, ‘‘was to shew you, by every civility in my power, that I was not so mean as to resent the past; and I hoped to obtain your forgiveness, to lessen your ill opinion, by letting you see that your reproofs had been attended


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to. How soon any other wishes introduced themselves I can hardly tell, but I believe in about half an hour after I had seen you.’’ He then told her of Georgiana’s delight in her acquaintance, and of her disappointment at its sudden interruption; which naturally leading to the cause of that interruption, she soon learnt that his resolution of following her from Derbyshire in quest of her sister, had been formed before he quitted the inn, and that his gravity and thoughtfulness there, had arisen from no other struggles than what such a purpose must compre­ hend. She expressed her gratitude again, but it was too painful a subject to each, to be dwelt on farther. After walking several miles in a leisurely manner, and too busy to know any thing about it, they found at last, on examin­ ing their watches, that it was time to be at home. ‘‘What could become of Mr. Bingley and Jane!’’ was a wonder which introduced the discussion of their affairs. Darcy was delighted with their engagement; his friend had given him the earliest information of it. ‘‘I must ask whether you were surprised?’’ said Elizabeth. ‘‘Not at all. When I went away, I felt that it would soon happen.’’ ‘‘That is to say, you had given your permission. I guessed as much.’’ And though he exclaimed at the term, she found that it had been pretty much the case. ‘‘On the evening before my going to London,’’ said he, ‘‘I made a confession to him, which I believe I ought to have made long ago. I told him of all that had occurred to make my former interference in his affairs, absurd and impertinent. His surprise was great. He had never had the slightest suspicion. I told him, moreover, that I believed myself mistaken in supposing, as I had done, that your sister was indifferent to him; and as I could easily perceive that his attachment to her was unabated, I felt no doubt of their happiness together.’’ Elizabeth could not help smiling at his easy manner of directing his friend. ‘‘Did you speak from your own observation,’’ said she, ‘‘when

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you told him that my sister loved him, or merely from my information last spring?’’ ‘‘From the former. I had narrowly observed her during the two visits which I had lately made here; and I was convinced of her affection.’’ ‘‘And your assurance of it, I suppose, carried immediate con­ viction to him.’’ ‘‘It did. Bingley is most unaffectedly modest. His diffidence had prevented his depending on his own judgment in so anxious a case, but his reliance on mine, made every thing easy. I was obliged to confess one thing, which for a time, and not unjustly, offended him. I could not allow myself to conceal that your sister had been in town three months last winter, that I had known it, and purposely kept it from him. He was angry. But his anger, I am persuaded, lasted no longer than he remained in any doubt of your sister’s sentiments. He has heartily forgiven me now.’’ Elizabeth longed to observe that Mr. Bingley had been a most delightful friend; so easily guided that his worth was invaluable; but she checked herself. She remembered that he had yet to learn to be laught at, and it was rather too early to begin. In anticipating the happiness of Bingley, which of course was to be inferior only to his own, he continued the conversation till they reached the house. In the hall they parted.

chapter xvii

‘‘My dear Lizzy, where can you have been walking to?’’ was a question which Elizabeth received from Jane as soon as she entered the room,1 and from all the others when they sat down to table. She had only to say in reply, that they had wandered about, till she was beyond her own knowledge. She coloured as she spoke; but neither that, nor any thing else, awakened a suspicion of the truth. The evening passed quietly, unmarked by any thing extraordi­ nary. The acknowledged lovers talked and laughed, the unack­ nowledged were silent. Darcy was not of a disposition in which happiness overflows in mirth; and Elizabeth, agitated and con­ fused, rather knew that she was happy, than felt herself to be so; for, besides the immediate embarrassment, there were other evils before her. She anticipated what would be felt in the family when her situation became known; she was aware that no one liked him but Jane; and even feared that with the others it was a dislike which not all his fortune and consequence might do away. At night she opened her heart to Jane. Though suspicion was very far from Miss Bennet’s general habits, she was absolutely incredulous here. ‘‘You are joking, Lizzy. This cannot be!—engaged to Mr. Darcy! No, no, you shall not deceive me. I know it to be impossible.’’ ‘‘This is a wretched beginning indeed! My sole dependence was on you; and I am sure nobody else will believe me, if you do not. Yet, indeed, I am in earnest. I speak nothing but the truth. He still loves me, and we are engaged.’’

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Jane looked at her doubtingly. ‘‘Oh, Lizzy! it cannot be. I know how much you dislike him.’’ ‘‘You know nothing of the matter. That is all to be forgot. Perhaps I did not always love him so well as I do now. But in such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable. This is the last time I shall ever remember it myself.’’ Miss Bennet still looked all amazement. Elizabeth again, and more seriously assured her of its truth. ‘‘Good Heaven! can it be really so! Yet now I must believe you,’’ cried Jane. ‘‘My dear, dear Lizzy, I would—I do congratu­ late you—but are you certain? forgive the question—are you quite certain that you can be happy with him?’’ ‘‘There can be no doubt of that. It is settled between us already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world. But are you pleased, Jane? Shall you like to have such a brother?’’ ‘‘Very, very much. Nothing could give either Bingley or myself more delight. But we considered it, we talked of it as impossible. And do you really love him quite well enough? Oh, Lizzy! do any thing rather than marry without affection. Are you quite sure that you feel what you ought to do?’’ ‘‘Oh, yes! You will only think I feel more than I ought to do, when I tell you all.’’ ‘‘What do you mean?’’ ‘‘Why, I must confess, that I love him better than I do Bingley. I am afraid you will be, angry.’’ ‘‘My dearest sister, now be serious. I want to talk very seri­ ously. Let me know every thing that I am to know, without delay. Will you tell me how long you have loved him?’’ ‘‘It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.’’ Another intreaty that she would be serious, however, pro­ duced the desired effect; and she soon satisfied Jane by her solemn assurances of attachment. When convinced on that article, Miss Bennet had nothing farther to wish. ‘‘Now I am quite happy,’’ said she, ‘‘for you will be as happy as myself. I always had a value for him. Were it for nothing but his love of you, I must always have esteemed him; but now, as


v ol um e iii ch ap te r xvii

Bingley’s friend and your husband, there can be only Bingley and yourself more dear to me. But Lizzy, you have been very sly, very reserved with me. How little did you tell me of what passed at Pemberley and Lambton! I owe all that I know of it, to another, not to you.’’ Elizabeth told her the motives of her secrecy. She had been unwilling to mention Bingley; and the unsettled state of her own feelings had made her equally avoid the name of his friend. But now she would no longer conceal from her, his share in Lydia’s marriage. All was acknowledged, and half the night spent in conversation. ‘‘Good gracious!’’ cried Mrs. Bennet, as she stood at a window the next morning, ‘‘if that disagreeable Mr. Darcy is not coming here again with our dear Bingley! What can he mean by being so tiresome as to be always coming here? I had no notion but he would go a shooting, or something or other, and not disturb us with his company. What shall we do with him? Lizzy, you must walk out with him again, that he may not be in Bingley’s way.’’ Elizabeth could hardly help laughing at so convenient a pro­ posal; yet was really vexed that her mother should be always giving him such an epithet. As soon as they entered, Bingley looked at her so expressively, and shook hands with such warmth, as left no doubt of his good information; and he soon afterwards said aloud, ‘‘Mr. Bennet, have you no more lanes hereabouts in which Lizzy may lose her way again to-day.’’ ‘‘I advise Mr. Darcy, and Lizzy, and Kitty,’’ said Mrs. Bennet, ‘‘to walk to Oakham Mount this morning. It is a nice long walk, and Mr. Darcy has never seen the view.’’ ‘‘It may do very well for the others,’’ replied Mr. Bingley; ‘‘but I am sure it will be too much for Kitty. Wont it, Kitty?’’ Kitty owned that she had rather stay at home. Darcy professed a great curiosity to see the view from the Mount, and Elizabeth silently consented. As she went up stairs to get ready, Mrs. Bennet followed her, saying, ‘‘I am quite sorry, Lizzy, that you should be forced to have

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that disagreeable man all to yourself. But I hope you will not mind it: it is all for Jane’s sake, you know; and there is no occasion for talking to him, except just now and then. So, do not put yourself to inconvenience.’’ During their walk, it was resolved that Mr. Bennet’s consent should be asked in the course of the evening. Elizabeth reserved to herself the application for her mother’s. She could not deter­ mine how her mother would take it; sometimes doubting whether all his wealth and grandeur would be enough to over­ come her abhorrence of the man. But whether she were violently set against the match, or violently delighted with it, it was certain that her manner would be equally ill adapted to do credit to her sense; and she could no more bear that Mr. Darcy should hear the first raptures of her joy, than the first vehemence of her disapprobation. In the evening, soon after Mr. Bennet withdrew to the library, she saw Mr. Darcy rise also and follow him, and her agitation on seeing it was extreme. She did not fear her father’s opposition, but he was going to be made unhappy, and that it should be through her means, that she, his favourite child, should be distressing him by her choice, should be filling him with fears and regrets in disposing of her, was a wretched reflection, and she sat in misery till Mr. Darcy appeared again, when, looking at him, she was a little relieved by his smile. In a few minutes he approached the table where she was sitting with Kitty; and, while pretending to admire her work, said in a whisper, ‘‘Go to your father, he wants you in the library.’’ She was gone directly. Her father was walking about the room, looking grave and anxious. ‘‘Lizzy,’’ said he, ‘‘what are you doing? Are you out of your senses, to be accepting this man? Have not you always hated him?’’ How earnestly did she then wish that her former opinions had been more reasonable, her expressions more moderate! It would have spared her from explanations and professions which it was exceedingly awkward to give; but they were now neces­ sary, and she assured him with some confusion, of her attach­ ment to Mr. Darcy.


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‘‘Or in other words, you are determined to have him. He is rich, to be sure, and you may have more fine clothes and fine carriages than Jane. But will they make you happy?’’ ‘‘Have you any other objection,’’ said Elizabeth, ‘‘than your belief of my indifference?’’ ‘‘None at all. We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant sort of man; but this would be nothing if you really liked him.’’ ‘‘I do, I do like him,’’ she replied, with tears in her eyes, ‘‘I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly amiable. You do not know what he really is; then pray do not pain me by speaking of him in such terms.’’ ‘‘Lizzy,’’ said her father, ‘‘I have given him my consent. He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I should never dare refuse any thing, which he condescended to ask. I now give it to you, if you are resolved on having him. But let me advise you to think better of it. I know your disposition, Lizzy. I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage. You could scarcely escape dis­ credit and misery. My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life. You know not what you are about.’’ Elizabeth, still more affected, was earnest and solemn in her reply; and at length, by repeated assurances that Mr. Darcy was really the object of her choice, by explaining the gradual change which her estimation of him had undergone, relating her abso­ lute certainty that his affection was not the work of a day, but had stood the test of many months suspense, and enumerating with energy all his good qualities, she did conquer her father’s incredulity, and reconcile him to the match. ‘‘Well, my dear,’’ said he, when she ceased speaking, ‘‘I have no more to say. If this be the case, he deserves you. I could not have parted with you, my Lizzy, to any one less worthy.’’ To complete the favourable impression, she then told him what Mr. Darcy had voluntarily done for Lydia. He heard her with astonishment. ‘‘This is an evening of wonders, indeed! And so, Darcy did

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every thing; made up the match, gave the money, paid the fellow’s debts, and got him his commission! So much the better. It will save me a world of trouble and economy. Had it been your uncle’s doing, I must and would have paid him; but these violent young lovers carry every thing their own way. I shall offer to pay him to-morrow; he will rant and storm about his love for you, and there will be an end of the matter.’’ He then recollected her embarrassment a few days before, on his reading Mr. Collins’s letter; and after laughing at her some time, allowed her at last to go—saying, as she quitted the room, ‘‘If any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at leisure.’’ Elizabeth’s mind was now relieved from a very heavy weight; and, after half an hour’s quiet reflection in her own room, she was able to join the others with tolerable composure. Every thing was too recent for gaiety, but the evening passed tranquilly away; there was no longer any thing material to be dreaded, and the comfort of ease and familiarity would come in time. When her mother went up to her dressing-room at night, she followed her, and made the important communication. Its effect was most extraordinary; for on first hearing it, Mrs. Bennet sat quite still, and unable to utter a syllable. Nor was it under many, many minutes, that she could comprehend what she heard; though not in general backward to credit what was for the advantage of her family, or that came in the shape of a lover to any of them. She began at length to recover, to fidget about in her chair, get up, sit down again, wonder, and bless herself. ‘‘Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! dear me! Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it! And is it really true? Oh! my sweetest Lizzy! how rich and how great you will be! What pin-money,2 what jewels, what carriages you will have! Jane’s is nothing to it—nothing at all. I am so pleased—so happy. Such a charming man!—so handsome! so tall!—Oh, my dear Lizzy! pray apologise for my having disliked him so much before. I hope he will overlook it. Dear, dear Lizzy. A house in town! Every thing that is charming! Three daughters married! Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! What will become of me. I shall go distracted.’’


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This was enough to prove that her approbation need not be doubted: and Elizabeth, rejoicing that such an effusion was heard only by herself, soon went away. But before she had been three minutes in her own room, her mother followed her. ‘‘My dearest child,’’ she cried, ‘‘I can think of nothing else! Ten thousand a year, and very likely more! ’Tis as good as a Lord! And a special licence. You must and shall be married by a special licence.3 But my dearest love, tell me what dish Mr. Darcy is particularly fond of, that I may have it to-morrow.’’ This was a sad omen of what her mother’s behaviour to the gentleman himself might be; and Elizabeth found, that though in the certain possession of his warmest affection, and secure of her relations’ consent, there was still something to be wished for. But the morrow passed off much better than she expected; for Mrs. Bennet luckily stood in such awe of her intended son-in-law, that she ventured not to speak to him, unless it was in her power to offer him any attention, or mark her deference for his opinion. Elizabeth had the satisfaction of seeing her father taking pains to get acquainted with him; and Mr. Bennet soon assured her that he was rising every hour in his esteem. ‘‘I admire all my three sons-in-law highly,’’ said he. ‘‘Wick­ ham, perhaps, is my favourite; but I think I shall like your husband quite as well as Jane’s.’’

chapter xviii

Elizabeth’s spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. ‘‘How could you begin?’’ said she. ‘‘I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?’’ ‘‘I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.’’ ‘‘My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners—my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?’’ ‘‘For the liveliness of your mind, I did.’’ ‘‘You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very little less. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable you would have hated me for it; but in spite of the pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always noble and just; and in your heart, you thoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you. There—I have saved you the trouble of accounting for it; and really, all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be sure, you knew no actual good of me—but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love.’’


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‘‘Was there no good in your affectionate behaviour to Jane, while she was ill at Netherfield?’’ ‘‘Dearest Jane! who could have done less for her? But make a virtue of it by all means. My good qualities are under your protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible; and, in return, it belongs to me to find occasions for teazing and quarrelling with you as often as may be; and I shall begin directly by asking you what made you so unwilling to come to the point at last. What made you so shy of me, when you first called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you called, did you look as if you did not care about me?’’ ‘‘Because you were grave and silent, and gave me no encour­ agement.’’ ‘‘But I was embarrassed.’’ ‘‘And so was I.’’ ‘‘You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner.’’ ‘‘A man who had felt less, might.’’ ‘‘How unlucky that you should have a reasonable answer to give, and that I should be so reasonable as to admit it! But I wonder how long you would have gone on, if you had been left to yourself. I wonder when you would have spoken, if I had not asked you! My resolution of thanking you for your kindness to Lydia had certainly great effect. Too much, I am afraid; for what becomes of the moral, if our comfort springs from a breach of promise, for I ought not to have mentioned the subject? This will never do.’’ ‘‘You need not distress yourself. The moral will be perfectly fair. Lady Catherine’s unjustifiable endeavours to separate us, were the means of removing all my doubts. I am not indebted for my present happiness to your eager desire of expressing your gratitude. I was not in a humour to wait for any opening of your’s. My aunt’s intelligence had given me hope, and I was determined at once to know every thing.’’ ‘‘Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use. But tell me, what did you come down to Netherfield for? Was it merely to ride to

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Longbourn and be embarrassed? or had you intended any more serious consequence?’’ ‘‘My real purpose was to see you, and to judge, if I could, whether I might ever hope to make you love me. My avowed one, or what I avowed to myself, was to see whether your sister were still partial to Bingley, and if she were, to make the confession to him which I have since made.’’ ‘‘Shall you ever have courage to announce to Lady Catherine, what is to befall her?’’ ‘‘I am more likely to want time than courage, Elizabeth. But it ought to be done, and if you will give me a sheet of paper, it shall be done directly.’’ ‘‘And if I had not a letter to write myself, I might sit by you, and admire the evenness of your writing, as another young lady once did. But I have an aunt, too, who must not be longer neglected.’’ From an unwillingness to confess how much her intimacy with Mr. Darcy had been over-rated, Elizabeth had never yet answered Mrs. Gardiner’s long letter, but now, having that to communicate which she knew would be most welcome, she was almost ashamed to find, that her uncle and aunt had already lost three days of happiness, and immediately wrote as follows: ‘‘I would have thanked you before, my dear aunt, as I ought to have done, for your long, kind, satisfactory, detail of particu­ lars; but to say the truth, I was too cross to write. You supposed more than really existed. But now suppose as much as you chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford, and unless you believe me actually married, you cannot greatly err. You must write again very soon, and praise him a great deal more than you did in your last. I thank you, again and again, for not going to the Lakes. How could I be so silly as to wish it! Your idea of the ponies is delightful. We will go round the Park every day. I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh. Mr. Darcy sends you all the love in the world, that he can spare from me.


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You are all to come to Pemberley at Christmas. Your’s, &c.’’ Mr. Darcy’s letter to Lady Catherine, was in a different style; and still different from either, was what Mr. Bennet sent to Mr. Collins, in reply to his last. ‘‘DEAR SIR, ‘‘I must trouble you once more for congratulations. Elizabeth will soon be the wife of Mr. Darcy. Console Lady Catherine as well as you can. But, if I were you, I would stand by the nephew. He has more to give. ‘‘Your’s sincerely, &c.’’

Miss Bingley’s congratulations to her brother, on his approaching marriage, were all that was affectionate and insin­ cere. She wrote even to Jane on the occasion, to express her delight, and repeat all her former professions of regard. Jane was not deceived, but she was affected; and though feeling no reliance on her, could not help writing her a much kinder answer than she knew was deserved. The joy which Miss Darcy expressed on receiving similar information, was as sincere as her brother’s in sending it. Four sides of paper were insufficient to contain all her delight, and all her earnest desire of being loved by her sister. Before any answer could arrive from Mr. Collins, or any congratulations to Elizabeth, from his wife, the Longbourn family heard that the Collinses were come themselves to Lucas lodge. The reason of this sudden removal was soon evident. Lady Catherine had been rendered so exceedingly angry by the contents of her nephew’s letter, that Charlotte, really rejoicing in the match, was anxious to get away till the storm was blown over. At such a moment, the arrival of her friend was a sincere pleasure to Elizabeth, though in the course of their meetings she must sometimes think the pleasure dearly bought, when she saw Mr. Darcy exposed to all the parading and obsequious civility of her husband. He bore it however with admirable calmness. He could even listen to Sir William Lucas, when he compli­ mented him on carrying away the brightest jewel of the country, and expressed his hopes of their all meeting frequently at St.

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James’s, with very decent composure. If he did shrug his shoul­ ders, it was not till Sir William was out of sight. Mrs. Philips’s vulgarity was another, and perhaps a greater tax on his forbearance; and though Mrs. Philips, as well as her sister, stood in too much awe of him to speak with the familiarity which Bingley’s good humour encouraged, yet, whenever she did speak, she must be vulgar. Nor was her respect for him, though it made her more quiet, at all likely to make her more elegant. Elizabeth did all she could, to shield him from the frequent notice of either, and was ever anxious to keep him to herself, and to those of her family with whom he might converse without mortification; and though the uncomfortable feelings arising from all this took from the season of courtship much of its pleasure, it added to the hope of the future; and she looked forward with delight to the time when they should be removed from society so little pleasing to either, to all the comfort and elegance of their family party at Pemberley.

chapter xix

Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters. With what delighted pride she afterwards visited Mrs. Bingley and talked of Mrs. Darcy may be guessed. I wish I could say, for the sake of her family, that the accomplishment of her earnest desire in the establishment of so many of her children, produced so happy an effect as to make her a sensible, amiable, well-informed woman for the rest of her life; though perhaps it was lucky for her husband, who might not have relished domestic felicity in so unusual a form, that she still was occasionally nervous and invariably silly. Mr. Bennet missed his second daughter exceedingly; his affec­ tion for her drew him oftener from home than any thing else could do. He delighted in going to Pemberley, especially when he was least expected. Mr. Bingley and Jane remained at Netherfield only a twelve­ month. So near a vicinity to her mother and Meryton relations was not desirable even to his easy temper, or her affectionate heart. The darling wish of his sisters was then gratified; he bought an estate in a neighbouring county to Derbyshire, and Jane and Elizabeth, in addition to every other source of happi­ ness, were within thirty miles of each other. Kitty, to her very material advantage, spent the chief of her time with her two elder sisters. In society so superior to what she had generally known, her improvement was great. She was not of so ungovernable a temper as Lydia, and, removed from the influence of Lydia’s example, she became, by proper attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant, and

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less insipid. From the farther disadvantage of Lydia’s society she was of course carefully kept, and though Mrs. Wickham frequently invited her to come and stay with her, with the promise of balls and young men, her father would never consent to her going. Mary was the only daughter who remained at home; and she was necessarily drawn from the pursuit of accomplishments by Mrs. Bennet’s being quite unable to sit alone. Mary was obliged to mix more with the world, but she could still moralize over every morning visit; and as she was no longer mortified by comparisons between her sisters’ beauty and her own, it was suspected by her father that she submitted to the change without much reluctance. As for Wickham and Lydia, their characters suffered no revol­ ution from the marriage of her sisters. He bore with philosophy the conviction that Elizabeth must now become acquainted with whatever of his ingratitude and falsehood had before been unknown to her; and in spite of every thing, was not wholly without hope that Darcy might yet be prevailed on to make his fortune. The congratulatory letter which Elizabeth received from Lydia on her marriage, explained to her that, by his wife at least, if not by himself, such a hope was cherished. The letter was to this effect: ‘‘MY DEAR LIZZY, ‘‘I wish you joy. If you love Mr. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy. It is a great comfort to have you so rich, and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help. Any place would do, of about three or four hundred a year; but however, do not speak to Mr. Darcy about it, if you had rather not. ‘‘Your’s, &c.’’

As it happened that Elizabeth had much rather not; she endeavoured in her answer to put an end to every intreaty and expectation of the kind. Such relief, however, as it was in her


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power to afford, by the practice of what might be called econ­ omy in her own private expences, she frequently sent them. It had always been evident to her that such an income as theirs, under the direction of two persons so extravagant in their wants, and heedless of the future, must be very insufficient to their support; and whenever they changed their quarters, either Jane or herself were sure of being applied to, for some little assistance towards discharging their bills. Their manner of living, even when the restoration of peace1 dismissed them to a home, was unsettled in the extreme. They were always moving from place to place in quest of a cheap situation, and always spending more than they ought. His affection for her soon sunk into indifference; her’s lasted a little longer; and in spite of her youth and her manners, she retained all the claims to reputation which her marriage had given her. Though Darcy could never receive him at Pemberley, yet, for Elizabeth’s sake, he assisted him farther in his profession. Lydia was occasionally a visitor there, when her husband was gone to enjoy himself in London or Bath; and with the Bingleys they both of them frequently staid so long, that even Bingley’s good humour was overcome, and he proceeded so far as to talk of giving them a hint to be gone. Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy’s marriage; but as she thought it advisable to retain the right of visiting at Pemberley, she dropt all her resentment; was fonder than ever of Georgiana, almost as attentive to Darcy as heretofore, and paid off every arrear of civility to Elizabeth. Pemberley was now Georgiana’s home; and the attachment of the sisters was exactly what Darcy had hoped to see. They were able to love each other, even as well as they intended. Georgiana had the highest opinion in the world of Elizabeth; though at first she often listened with an astonishment bordering on alarm, at her lively, sportive, manner of talking to her brother. He, who had always inspired in herself a respect which almost overcame her affection, she now saw the object of open pleasantry. Her mind received knowledge which had never before fallen in her way. By Elizabeth’s instructions she began to comprehend that a woman may take liberties with her husband,


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which a brother will not always allow in a sister more than ten years younger than himself. Lady Catherine was extremely indignant on the marriage of her nephew; and as she gave way to all the genuine frankness of her character, in her reply to the letter which announced its arrangement, she sent him language so very abusive, especially of Elizabeth, that for some time all intercourse was at an end. But at length, by Elizabeth’s persuasion, he was prevailed on to overlook the offence, and seek a reconciliation; and, after a little farther resistance on the part of his aunt, her resentment gave way, either to her affection for him, or her curiosity to see how his wife conducted herself; and she condescended to wait on them at Pemberley, in spite of that pollution which its woods had received, not merely from the presence of such a mistress, but the visits of her uncle and aunt from the city. With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them. FINIS.

Appendix: Original Penguin Classics

Introduction by Tony Tanner

Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I am puzzled on that point . . . I had not seen Pride and Prejudice till I read that sentence of yours, and then I got the book. And what did I find? An accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a commonplace face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a bright, vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses.

Thus Charlotte Bronte¨ expressed her dissatisfaction with one of the most enduringly popular of all English novels, in a letter to G. H. Lewes written in 1848. I will return to the terms of her criticism later, and the significance of their connotations, but the directness of her negative response prompts us to reconsider the reasons for the lasting appeal of the novel and what rel­ evance, if any, it can still have for people living in very different social conditions. In this introduction I want to suggest various approaches to the novel, which may help to clarify its achieve­ ment in terms of its own time and also suggest why the form of that achievement could become distasteful to a Romantic like Charlotte Bronte¨. I also hope that by showing the different ways we may look at the novel, its abiding relevance for all of us may become more readily apprehensible. It is indeed possible to call its relevance to the society of the time into question, for during a decade in which Napoleon was effectively engaging, if not transforming, Europe, Jane Austen composed a novel in which the most important events are the fact that a man changes his manners and a young lady changes

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her mind. Soldiers do appear but in the marginal role of offering distractions to young girls, which in one case goes as far as to produce an elopement. The overall impression given by the book is of a small section of society locked in an almost timeless present in which very little will or can change. For the most part the people are as fixed and repetitive as the linked routines and established social rituals which dominate their lives. Money is a potential (never an actual) problem, and courtship has its own personal dramas; but everything tends towards the achieving of satisfactory marriages – which is exactly how such a society secures its own continuity and minimizes the possibility of any­ thing approaching violent change. In such a world a change of mind – an act by which consciousness demonstrates some independence from the patterns of thought which have predeter­ mined its readings of things – can indeed come to seem a fairly momentous event, an internal modification matched in this novel by an external modification in an individual’s behaviour. Let me put it this way. For the first two parts of the book Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet believe that they are taking part in an action which, if turned into a fiction, should be called Dignity and Perception. They have to learn to see that their novel is more properly called Pride and Prejudice. For Jane Austen’s book is, most importantly, about pre-judging and re-judging. It is a drama of recognition – re-cognition, that act by which the mind can look again at a thing and if necessary make revisions and amendments until it sees the thing as it really is. As such it is thematically related to the dramas of recognition which constitute the great tradition of Western tragedy – Oedipus Rex, King Lear, Phe`dre – albeit the drama has now shifted to the comic mode, as is fitting in a book which is not about the finality of the individual death but the ongoingness of social life. I am not forgetting the immense charm of Elizabeth Bennet which has so much to do with the appeal of the book: I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least I do not know . . .


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wrote Jane Austen in a letter; and indeed her combination of energy and intelligence, her gay resilience in a society tending always towards dull conformity, would make her a worthy heroine in a Stendhal novel, which cannot be said for many English heroines. But at this point I want to suggest that a very important part of the book is how it touches on, indeed dramatizes, some aspects of the whole problem of knowledge. Eighteenth-century philosophers had, of course, addressed themselves to what Locke called ‘the discerning faculties of a man’ with unusual analytic rigour, considering not only the question what do we know, but the more reflexive matter of how we know what we know, and the limits set on knowledge by the very processes and instruments of cognition. John Locke asserted at the start of his Essay Concerning Human Under­ standing that it was worth while to search out the bounds between opinion and knowledge; and examine by what measures, in things whereof we have no certain knowledge, we ought to regulate our assent and moderate our per­ suasion.

And he added, in a caveat which is important for understanding much eighteenth-century literature, ‘Our business here is not to know all things, but those which concern our conduct.’ Locke pointed out how, because of ‘settled habit’, often ‘we take that for the perception of our sensation which is an idea formed by our judgement’. This fairly accurately sums up Elizabeth’s earlier reactions to Darcy. She identifies her sensory perceptions as judgements, or treats impressions as insights. In her violent condemnation of Darcy and the instant credence she gives to Wickham, no matter how understanding the former and excus­ able the latter, Elizabeth is guilty of ‘Wrong Assent, or Error’, as Locke entitled one of his chapters. In it he gives some of the causes of man’s falling into error, and they include ‘Received hypotheses’, ‘Predominant passions or inclinations’ and ‘Auth­ ority’. These are forces and influences with which every indi­ vidual consciousness has to contend if it is to make the lonely struggle towards true vision, as Elizabeth’s consciousness does;

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and the fact that whole groups and societies can live in the grip of ‘Wrong Assent, or Error’, often with intolerably unjust and cruel results, only helps to ensure the continuing relevance of this happy tale of a girl who learned to change her mind. The first title Jane Austen chose for the work which was finally called Pride and Prejudice was First Impressions and I think this provides an important clue to a central concern of the final version. We cannot know how prominently ‘first impres­ sions’ figured in the first version since it is lost. There has, needless to say, been a great deal of scholarship done on the putative evolution of the novel, and I will here quote from Brian Southam’s Jane Austen’s Literary Manuscripts since his research in this area is well in advance of my own. He suggests that the book may have started out as another of Jane Austen’s early burlesques, though adding that little remains in the final form to indicate such an origin. The object of the burlesque is hinted at in the title, for the phrase ‘first impressions’ comes directly from the terminology of sentimental literature, and Jane Austen would certainly have met it in Sir Charles Grandison, where its connotations are briefly defined. She would have known a more recent usage in The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), where the heroine is told that by resisting first impressions she will ‘acquire that steady dignity of mind, that can alone counter-balance the pas­ sions’. Here, as commonly in popular fiction, ‘first impressions’ exhibit the strength and truth of the heart’s immediate and intuitive response, usually love at first sight. Jane Austen had already attacked this concept of feeling in ‘Love’ and ‘Friendship’, and in Sense and Sensibility it is a deeply-founded trait of Marianne’s temperament . . . There is a striking reversal of this concept in Pride and Prejudice, yet in circumstances altogether unsentimental.

He is referring to Elizabeth’s ‘first impressions’ of Darcy’s house, Pemberley, which are, as it were, accurate and authenticated by the book. She is also right, we might add, in her first impressions of figures like Mr Collins, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. But she is wrong in her first impressions of Wickham; and her first impressions of Darcy, though to a large extent warranted by the


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evidence of his deportment and tone, are an inadequate basis for the rigid judgement which she then erects upon them.1 Mr Southam suggests that ‘the original title may have been discarded following the publication of a First Impressions by Mrs Holford in 1801’, and he repeats R. W. Chapman’s original observation that the new title almost certainly came from the closing pages of Fanny Burney’s Cecilia. This book also concerns a very proud young man, Mortimer Delvile, who cannot bring himself to give up his family name, which is the rather perverse condition on which alone Cecilia may inherit a fortune from her uncle. The relationship between this book and Jane Austen’s novel has also been explored by other critics and it will suffice here to quote from the wise Dr Lyster’s speech near the end of the book. ‘The whole of this unfortunate business,’ said Dr Lyster, ‘has been the result of pride and prejudice. Your uncle, the Dean, began it, by his arbitrary will, as if an ordinance of his own could arrest the course of nature! . . . Your father, Mr Mortimer, continued it with the same self-partiality, preferring the wretched gratification of tickling his ear with a favourite sound, to the solid happiness of his son with a rich and deserving wife. Yet this, however, remember: if to pride and prejudice you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to pride and prejudice you will also owe their ter­ mination.’

But while conceding that the phrase ‘first impressions’ may be more than a glancing blow aimed at the conventions of the sentimental novel, I want to suggest a further possible implica­ tion in Jane Austen’s original title. Without for a moment sug­ gesting that she read as much contemporary philosophy as she did fiction (though with so intelligent a woman it is scarcely impossible), I think it is worth pointing out that ‘impressions’ is one of the key words in David Hume’s philosophy, and the one to which he gives pre-eminence as the source of our knowledge. Thus from the beginning of the Treatise on Human Nature:

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All the perceptions of the human mind resolve themselves into two distinct kinds, which I shall call impressions and ideas. The difference betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and liveliness, with which they strike upon the mind, and make their way into our thought or consciousness. Those perceptions, which enter with most force and violence, we may name impressions; and under this name I comprehend all our sensations, passions and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soul. By ideas I mean the faint image of these in thinking and reasoning . . . There is another division of our perceptions, which it will be convenient to observe, and which extends itself both to our impressions and ideas. This division is into simple and complex . . . I observe that many of our complex ideas never had impressions, that corresponded to them, and that many of our complex impressions never are exactly copied in ideas. I can imagine to myself such a city as the New Jerusalem, whose pavement is gold and walls are rubies, tho’ I never saw any such. I have seen Paris; but shall I affirm that I can form such an idea of that city, as will perfectly represent all its streets and houses in their real and just proportions?

Elizabeth has a lively mind – her liveliness is indeed one of the qualities which wins Darcy to her – and her impressions are comparably lively, since the quality of the registering con­ sciousness necessarily affects the intensity of the registered impressions. Similarly she is capable both of complex impres­ sions and complex ideas – more of this later. Her problem, in Hume’s terms, is that her complex ideas are not always firmly based on her complex impressions obtained from the scenes before her. Here we notice that eighteenth-century suspicion of imagination, to which Jane Austen partially subscribed, since it was likely to make you believe ideas not based on impressions – to confuse the New Jerusalem and Paris. (In rebelling against eighteenth-century philosophy and psy­ chology, Blake was to assert the primacy of the faculty which could envision the New Jerusalem and elevate it over the mere perception of Paris.) If, says Hume, we wish to understand our ideas, we must go back to our impressions:


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By what invention can we throw light upon these ideas, and render them altogether precise and determinate to our intellectual view? Produce the impressions or original sentiments, from which the ideas are copied.

That is from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. In the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals he also stresses that the senses alone are not implicitly to be depended on; but that we must correct their evidence by reason, and by considerations, derived from the nature of the medium, the distance of the object, and the disposition of the organ, in order to render them, within their sphere, the proper criteria of truth and falsehood.

And ‘a false relish may frequently be corrected by argument and reflection’. Impressions beget inclinations, and those incli­ nations may then come under the consideration of reason. But Reason being cool and disengaged, is not motive to action, and directs only the impulse received from appetite or inclination, by showing us the means of attaining happiness or avoiding misery.

One further quotation: In every situation or incident, there are many particular and seem­ ingly minute circumstances, which the man of greatest talent is, at first, apt to overlook, though on them the justness of his conclusions, and consequently the prudence of his conduct, entirely depend . . . The truth is, an unexperienced reasoner could be no reasoner at all, were he absolutely unexperienced.

Without experience, no reason; without impressions, no experi­ ence. This suggests the particular importance of ‘first impres­ sions’ because, although they may well need subsequent correction, amplification, supplementation etc., they constitute the beginning of experience. All the above quotations from Hume seem to me to apply very aptly to Pride and Prejudice

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and I do not think this aptness needs spelling out. For Jane Austen, as for Hume, man, and woman, needed to be both an experiencer and a reasoner: the former without the latter is error-prone, the latter without the former is useless if not impossible (as exemplified by Mary Bennet’s sententious com­ ments; she is all ‘cool and disengaged’ reason, and thus no reasoner at all). Both experience and reason depend upon impressions, and first impressions thus become our first steps into full human life. To overstress this may become a matter suitable for burlesque, but as a general proposition it is not inherently so. To add to this proposition the reminder that first impressions, indeed all impressions, may need subsequent revision is only to say that full human life is a complex affair, and Jane Austen makes us well aware of this complexity. From the problematical irony of the opening assertion – ‘It is a truth universally acknowl­ edged’ – there are constant reminders of the shiftingness of what people take to be ‘truth’; for what is ‘universally acknowledged’ can change not only from society to society but from person to person, and indeed within the same person over a period of time. There is in the book a whole vocabulary connected with the process of decisions, opinion, conviction, stressing or suggesting how various and unstable are people’s ideas, judgements, accounts and versions of situations and people. After one evening of seeing Darcy ‘His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world’; Elizabeth asks Wickham about Lady Catherine and ‘allowed that he had given a very rational account’; she also believes his account of his treatment by Darcy and it is left to Jane to suggest that ‘interested people have perhaps misrepresented each to the other’. Jane, however, has her own myopia, for in her desire to think well of the whole world, she sees Miss Bingley’s treatment of her as agreeable while Elizabeth more accurately discerns it as super­ cilious. However Elizabeth is too confident, as when she asserts to her more tentative sister ‘I beg your pardon; one knows exactly what to think.’ She is ‘resolved’ against Darcy and for a while takes pleasure in Wickham who is, temporarily, ‘univer­ sally liked’. She questions Darcy whether he has never allowed


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himself ‘to be blinded by prejudice’, without thinking that she may at that very moment be guilty of prejudging with its resulting screening of vision. Opinions are constantly changing as people’s behaviour appears in a different light. Elizabeth ‘represents’ a person or a situation in one way, while Jane adheres to her own ‘idea’ of things. It is Jane who, when Darcy is condemned by everybody else as ‘the worst of men’, ‘pleaded for allowances, and urged the possibility of mistakes’. Of course it is not long before opinion shifts against Wickham. ‘Everybody declared that he was the wickedest young man in the world’, just as everybody’s opinion quickly reverses itself towards the Bennet family. ‘The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world, though only a few weeks before, when Lydia had first run away, they had been generally proved to be marked out for misfortune.’ (My italics.) The fallibility of our ‘proofs’ and the prematurity of all too many of our ‘pronouncements’ are amply demonstrated in this novel. The ‘anxious interpretation’ which is made necessary on social occasions is examined, and the ‘interest’ which lies behind this or that reading of things is alluded to. When Mrs Gardiner ‘recollected having heard Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud, ill-natured boy’ she takes it, temporarily, as knowledge. (My italics.) It is of course Elizabeth who most importantly comes to ‘wish that her former opinions had been more reasonable, her expressions more moderate’. As opposed to Jane whom she calls ‘honestly blind’, Elizabeth has more ‘quickness of observation’. But in Darcy’s case her observation proves to be too quick. Not that we can or wish to count her wrong in her ‘first impressions’ of Darcy, for his manner is proud, patronizing, and, in his famous proposal, insulting and unworthy of a gentleman – as Elizabeth very properly points out to our great delight. But she had formed a fixed ‘idea’ of the whole Darcy on insufficient data, and in believing Wickham’s account of the man – a purely verbal fabrication – she is putting too much confidence in unveri­ fied and, as it turns out, completely false, evidence. (The ability of language to make ‘Black appear White’ – and vice versa – was a crucial truth of which Jane Austen was particularly aware.

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In a society which relied so much on conversation it is a constant danger. But it is not a danger which is restricted to a highly verbal culture. It is, for instance, King Lear’s basic error in believing Goneril’s and Regan’s inflated rhetoric of love, and failing to recognize the actual thing itself wordlessly incorporate in Cordelia. Elizabeth’s error is not of the same order, of course, but it is of the same kind.) However, it is important to note that her e´claircissement first comes through language as well – in the form of Darcy’s letter. The passages describing her changing reaction to that letter are among the most important in the book. In effect she is having to choose between two opposed and mutually exclusive versions – Wickham’s and Darcy’s. ‘On both sides it was only assertion.’ She had at first been taken in by Wickham’s plausible physical manner, but she gradually comes to put more trust in Darcy’s authoritative writing manner – she is discriminating between styles at this point. (Note that she immediately judges that Mr Collins is not a sensible man from the pompous style of his letter-writing – in this case, first impressions are validated.) She realizes that ‘the affair . . . was capable of a turn which must make him (Darcy) entirely blameless throughout the whole’. The affair was capable of a turn – there in essence is the whole problem which forever confronts the interpreting human con­ sciousness which can turn things now this way now that way as it plays, seriously or sportively, with the varying versions of reality which it is capable of proliferating: one concrete world – many partial mental pictures of it. But if it is the problem of consciousness, it can also be its salvation, for it enables a person to change his version or interpretation of things. Just how tenacious a man can be of a fixed version, and how disastrous that tenacity can be when it is a wrong version, is indeed the very subject of King Lear. Elizabeth thinks for a time that her wrong version has cost her a perfect mate and a great house, crucial things for a young lady in that society. She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her . . . It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both . . . But no such happy


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marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial felicity really was.

But of course she does not have to undergo Lear’s tribulations. By an intelligent and just reading of Darcy’s letter she not only changes her mind about him; she comes to a moment of intense realization about herself. ‘How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! . . . She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling that she had been blind, partial, preju­ diced, absurd. ‘‘How despicably have I acted!’’ she cried; ‘‘I, who have prided myself on my discernment! . . . Till this moment I never knew myself.’’ ’ This may seem somewhat excessive – it is part of Darcy’s improvement that he comes to acknowledge the justness of much of what she has said about his behaviour and manner. The important thing is that in perceiving her own pride and prejudice – notice she uses both words of herself – Elizabeth can now begin to be free of them. There can be few more important moments in the evolution of a human consciousness than such an act of recognition. There is much in our literature as well as our experience to suggest that the person who never comes to the point of saying ‘I never knew myself ’ will indeed remain forever cut off from any self-knowledge – what possible effect there is on his vision and conduct need not here be spelt out. If we don’t know ourselves, we don’t know our world. It is not surprising that after wandering alone for two hours ‘giving way to every variety of thought – re-considering events, determining probabilities’, as Elizabeth does after receiving Darcy’s letter, she experiences ‘fatigue’. For she has indeed been through an ordeal and engaged in a critical effort of rearranging her mental furniture. As F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: ‘I was impelled to think. God, was it difficult! The moving about of great secret trunks.’ That there are internal expenditures of energy quite as exhausting as any bout of external action is a truth which Jane Austen, with her restricted position in a fairly immobile society, was peculiarly able to appreciate. Elizabeth’s particular ordeal is indeed a very ancient one, for she has been

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confronting for the first time the problematical discrepancies between appearances and reality, and the unsuspected limits of cognition. It is a theme as old as Oedipus Rex, and even if all that is involved is recognizing a rake and a gentleman respectively for what they really are, in Elizabeth’s society, no less than in ancient Greece, such acts of recognition are decisive in the procuring of happiness or misery. The constant need to be alert to the difference between appearance and reality is made clear from the start. Compared with Bingley and Darcy, Mr Hurst ‘merely looked the gentle­ man’. Since Mr Hurst alternates between playing cards and sleeping, he is hardly a problematical character. Wickham of course is more so. ‘His appearance was greatly in his favour’ and he has a ‘very pleasing address’. He is ‘beyond’ all the officers of his regiment ‘in person, countenance, air, and walk’. Elizabeth does not have it ‘in her nature to question the veracity of a young man of such amiable appearance as Wickham’. He ‘must always be her model of the amiable and the pleasing’. It is only after reading Darcy’s letter that she has to start changing that model. As the above-quoted words make clear (none of them have pronounced ethical connotations), Elizabeth has hitherto responded to Wickham’s manner, or that part of the self which is visible on social occasions. After the letter she thinks back. As to his real character had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of inquiring. His countenance, voice, and manner had established him at once in the possession of every virtue. She tried to recollect some instance of goodness, some distinguished trait of integ­ rity or benevolence . . . but she could remember no more substantial good than the general approbation of the neighbourhood.

She has now started to think about ‘substance’ as being distinct from ‘appearance’ and from this point on Darcy’s character will continue to rise in her estimation as Wickham’s falls, until she can complain to Jane ‘There certainly was some great misman­ agement in the education of these two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.’ Poor


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Jane, so reluctant to believe in the existence of human duplicity and evil scheming, would like to believe in the goodness of both men, but Elizabeth with her more rigorous mind points out that there is ‘but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man; and of late it has been shifting about pretty much. For my part, I am inclined to believe it all Mr Darcy’s.’ Even here, as we can see, Elizabeth’s sense of humour has not deserted her; and it enables her to disconcert Wickham with a nice irony. On her return from Rosings Wick­ ham asks if Darcy’s ‘ordinary style’ has improved, adding, ‘For I dare not hope that he is improved in essentials.’ Elizabeth, by now convinced of the essential goodness of Darcy can thus reply meaningfully. ‘Oh, no! . . . In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was.’ Wickham makes a rather agitated retreat, adding with weak insolence ‘I must rejoice that he is wise enough to assume even the appearance of what is right.’ The italics are Jane Austen’s and the word occurs again later in the chapter, again italicized, as if to stress that Elizabeth is now fully awakened to the possible disparities between appearance and substance. Just what constitutes a person’s ‘real character’ is one of the concerns of the book: the phrase occurs more than once, usually with the added idea that it is something that can be ‘exposed’ (and thus, by the same token, concealed). In particular, Darcy in his letter writes that whatever Elizabeth may feel about Wick­ ham it ‘shall not prevent me from unfolding his real character’, just as later in the letter he narrates Wickham’s attempt to seduce Georgiana, ‘a circumstance . . . which no obligation less than the present should induce me to unfold to any human being’. Cordelia’s last words before being banished are: Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides

Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.

‘Unfolding’ a hidden reality is of course replacing mere appear­ ance with substance. The fact that reality can get folded up and hidden away – because we are so built that we are forced to work from first impressions which can be cynically manipulated

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– means that it is very important to be careful about what we regard as convincing evidence. It is the mistake of both Lear and Othello that they ask for the wrong kind of evidence, thus making themselves vulnerable to those who are willing to fabri­ cate a set of false appearances. But in Shakespearean tragedy, as also in Pride and Prejudice, the ‘real character’ of both the good and the bad – of Cordelia and Iago, of Darcy and Wickham – is ‘unfolded’. The cost and process of the unfolding are of course very different in each case. But the perennial theme is common to both. At this point we may ask if Elizabeth has any more than calligraphic evidence for her new belief as to the relative merits of Darcy and Wickham. Obviously something more is required to give ‘substance’ to what could be mere ‘assertion’. There is of course the magnanimous part he plays in the crisis precipi­ tated by the elopement of Lydia and Wickham, but Elizabeth’s improved vision has already by then ‘learned to detect’ the boring affectation in Wickham’s manner, and appreciate the solid merit of Darcy. The education of her vision, if we may call it so, starts with Darcy’s letter but it is not complete until she has penetrated his house and confronted his portrait. This occurs on her visit to Derbyshire when the Gardiners persuade her to join them in looking round Pemberley, Darcy’s fine house and its beautiful grounds. This physical penetration of the interior of Pemberley, which is both an analogue and an aid for her perceptual penetration of the interior quality of its owner, occurs at the beginning of Book Three, and after the proposal-letter episode I regard it as the most important scene in the book and wish to consider it in some detail. The word ‘picture’ occurs frequently in the novel, often in the sense of people ‘picturing’ something – a ball, a married couple, a desired situation – to themselves. One important example of this is the following. ‘Had Elizabeth’s opinion been all drawn from her own family, she could not have formed a very pleasing picture of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort.’ These pictures, then, are mental images, either derived from impressions or conjured up by imagination. (It is of course a particular quality of Elizabeth’s that she is able to think outside the reality picture


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offered to her by her own family.) There are also more literal references to pictures – as when Miss Bingley suggests to Darcy, by way of a spiteful joke, that he should hang portraits of some of Elizabeth’s socially inferior (to Darcy) relatives at Pemberley, adding ‘As for your Elizabeth’s picture, you must not attempt to have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?’ The relation between actual portraits and men­ tal pictures is suggested when Darcy is dancing with Elizabeth. She has teased him with a witty description of their common characteristics. ‘ ‘‘This is not a very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure,’’ said he. ‘‘How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say. You think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly.’’ ’ Later in the same dance he says ‘I could wish, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character at the present moment, as there is reason to fear that the performance would reflect no credit on either.’ Her answer is: ‘But if I do not take your likeness now, I may never have another opportu­ nity.’ This is more than mere banter because, since we cannot literally internalize another person, it is at all times extremely important what particular picture or portrait of that person we carry with us. The portrait metaphor allows one to suggest that the picture should be done with some care in order that the gallery of the mind should not be hung with a series of unjust unlikenesses. We know that Jane Austen herself went to art galleries when she could. Thus in a letter to Cassandra in 1811: Mary & I, after disposing of her Father & Mother, went to the Liverpool Museum, & the British Gallery, & I had some amusement at each, tho’ my preference for Men & Women, always inclines me to attend more to the company than the sight.

And in 1813 it is clear that when she went to a portrait gallery she had her own fictional portraits in mind. Again the letter is to Cassandra: Henry and I went to the Exhibition in Spring Gardens. It is not thought a good collection, but I was very well pleased – particularly

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(pray tell Fanny) with a small portrait of Mrs Bingley, excessively like her. I went in hopes of finding one of her Sister, but there was no Mrs Darcy; – perhaps however, I may find her in the Great Exhibition which we shall go to, if we have time; – I have no chance of her in the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Paintings which is now shewing in Pall Mall, & which we are also to visit. – Mrs Bingley’s is exactly herself, size, shaped face, features & sweetness; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I had always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her. I dare say Mrs D. will be in Yellow.

Later in the letter she adds We have been both to the Exhibition & Sir J. Reynolds’, – and I am disappointed, for there was nothing like Mrs D. at either. I can only imagine that Mr D. prizes any Picture of her too much to like it should be exposed to the public eye. – I can imagine he wd have that sort of feeling – that mixture of Love, Pride & Delicacy. – Setting aside this disappointment, I had great amusement among the Pictures . . .

It is worth noting that she does not expect to find a recogniz­ able portrait of Elizabeth in Sir Joshua Reynolds’s collection. For Reynolds, the artist, including the portraitist, ‘acquires a just idea of beautiful forms; he corrects nature by her self, her imperfect state by her more perfect’. In his Discourses Reynolds laid typical neo-classical stress on ‘central forms’, and gen­ eralized figures which are not ‘the representation of an indi­ vidual, but of a class’. This neo-classic approach tended to minimize the individuating qualities of a person or thing in favour of more generic attributes or in deference to classical models.2 But for Jane Austen, the novelist and admirer of Richardson, it was precisely the individuating qualities, which sharply differentiated even the sisters in the same family, which held most interest. Elizabeth is not a type; indeed she has that kind of independent energy which is most calculated to disturb a typological attitude to people. She wants recognizing for what she is and not what she might represent (Mr Collins’s regard for her as for Charlotte, is, she knows, wholly ‘imaginary’ – he sees


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her only as a suitable wife-figure, and is dismissed according to his deserts). She is fortunate in attracting the discerning eye of Darcy – he is always staring at her, as if trying to read her fully, or capture the most complete likeness for his memory – for he alone of the men in the book is equipped to do justice to all her real qualities. It is thus only right that she should be brought to a full recognition of his real qualities. And this finally happens at Pemberley. As they drive through the grounds Elizabeth admires the unobtrusive good taste in evidence – ‘neither formal nor falsely adorned’ – and ‘at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!’ Then they are led through the house where again the elegance and genuine taste – ‘neither gaudy nor uselessly fine’ – awakens her admiration, and she again reverts to what she regards as her lost opportunity. ‘ ‘‘And of this place,’’ thought she, ‘‘I might have been mistress!’’ ’ Showing them round the house is Mrs Reynolds, a sort of cicerone who may be guilty of ‘family prejudice’ but whose testimony concerning the youthful qualities of Darcy and Wick­ ham has authority for Elizabeth. She is a voice from within the house and thus acquainted with Darcy from his origins, and is not, as Elizabeth necessarily is, a purely social acquaintance. She shows them some miniatures, including one of Darcy (‘ ‘‘the best landlord, and the best master’’ ’) and invites Elizabeth to go and look at a larger portrait of Darcy upstairs in the picture-gallery. Elizabeth walks among the portraits in quest of the only face whose features would be known to her. At last it arrested her – and she beheld a striking resemblance of Mr Darcy, with such a smile over the face as she remembered to have sometimes seen when he looked at her. She stood several minutes before the picture, in earnest contemplation . . . There was certainly at this moment, in Elizabeth’s mind, a more gentle sensation towards the original than she had ever felt in the height of their acquaintance . . . Every idea that had been brought forward by the housekeeper was favourable to his character, and as she stood before the canvas on which he was represented, she fixed his eyes upon herself, she thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever

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raised before; she remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression.

One can almost detect the unformulated thought – ‘and of this man I might have been the wife’. It is a thought which explicitly occurs to her in due course. Standing in the middle of the house, contemplating the quali­ ties in the face in the portrait (qualities imparted and corrobor­ ated to some extent by the housekeeper), Elizabeth completes the act of recognition which started with the reading of Darcy’s letter. Notice the fact that the truest portrait is the large one in the more private part of the house upstairs; downstairs Darcy is only visible in ‘miniature’. We can imagine that the further a man goes from the house in which he is truly known, the more liable he is both to mis-representation and non-recognition. Standing before the large and true image of the real Darcy, Elizabeth has in effect completed her journey. When she next meets the original, outside in the grounds, she is no longer in any doubt as to his true worth. The rest of the book is, indeed, for the most part concerned with externalities – the mere melo­ drama of Wickham’s elopement with Lydia which gives Darcy a chance to reveal his qualities in action. But all this is only delay, not advance, in terms of the novel. For the most important action is complete when Elizabeth has finished the contem­ plation of the portrait. In answer to Jane’s question concerning when Elizabeth first realized she was in love with Darcy, Eliza­ beth replies: ‘I believe it must date from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.’ This is not wholly a joke, nor should it be taken to indicate that at heart Elizabeth is just another materialist in what is shown to be a distinctly material­ istic society. In this case the grounds, the house, the portrait, all bespeak the real man – they represent a visible extension of his inner qualities, his true style. And if Pemberley represents an ordering of natural, social, and domestic space which is every­ thing that the Bennet household is not, who shall blame Eliza­ beth for recognizing that she would be more truly at home there. However, it is true that such a remark could only be made in the context of a society which shared certain basic agreements


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about the importance and significance of objects, domiciles, and possessions. One can well imagine Charlotte Bronte¨’s response to a remark of this kind. But these are matters to which we shall return. Having mentioned the central importance of Darcy’s letter which contains an ‘account of my actions and their motives’ for Elizabeth to peruse and re-peruse in private, we might at this point consider the overall importance of letters in this novel. So much of the main information in the novel is conveyed by letter – whether it be Mr Collins’s vapid but acquisitive pom­ posity, or Miss Bingley’s competitive coldness, or Mr Gardi­ ner’s account of Darcy’s role in securing the marriage of Lydia and Wickham – that there has been some speculation that the novel was initially conceived in epistolary form. Thus Brian Southam: In Sense and Sensibility, twenty-one letters are mentioned, quoted, or given verbatim, and in Pride and Prejudice no fewer than forty-four, including references to a ‘regular and frequent’ correspondence between Elizabeth and Charlotte Lucas, and the further regular com­ munications of Elizabeth and Jane with Mrs Gardiner, a very credible system of letters to carry much of the story in epistolary form. If this reconstruction is feasible it supports my theory that, like Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice was originally a novel-in-letters.

On the other hand critics have been drawn to note the brilliance of much of the dialogue and have suggested that the novel has close affinities with the drama. In an excellent essay entitled ‘Light and Bright and Sparkling’3 Reuben Brower writes: ‘In analysing the ironies and the assumptions, we shall see how intensely dramatic the dialogue is, dramatic in the sense of defining characters through the way they speak and are spoken about’, and he proceeds to show just how much, and how subtly, is revealed in various passages of dialogue. Walton Litz in his book on Jane Austen4 says that the tripartite structure of the novel is similar to the structure of a three-act play, and adds that in many of the passages ‘we are reminded of the novel’s affinities with the best in eighteenth-century drama’. But he also

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notes that the early part of the novel is more dramatic than the latter. Howard S. Babb has shown how Jane Austen plays on the word ‘performance’ in the early dialogues, bringing all the implications of the word together in the great scene at Rosings, where Elizabeth’s actual performance at the piano becomes the centre of a dramatic confrontation. But after the scene at Rosings, when Darcy’s letter begins Elizabeth’s movement toward self-recognition, the term ‘per­ formance’ quietly disappears from the novel. The first half of Pride and Prejudice has indeed been a dramatic performance, but in the second half a mixture of narrative, summary, and scene carries the plot towards the conclusion.

As he rightly says, this reveals that Jane Austen felt able to take advantage both of scenic representation and authorial omnisci­ ence using third-person narrative, but I think there is another interesting aspect of the combination of the dramatic and the epistolary – particularly bearing in mind that as Mr Babb has noted, the word ‘performance’ fades after Elizabeth receives Darcy’s letter. In essence a letter is written and read in retirement from the social scene; this is certainly true of Darcy’s major epistolary clarification. The letter enables him to formulate things and convey information in a way which would not be possible on a social occasion where public modes of utterance necessarily restrict the more private ones. A letter is also a transforming of action into words which may then be reflected on in a way which is impossible while one is actually involved in the action. ‘Introspection is retrospection’ said Sartre, and so is letter­ writing, even if the letter seems to be written in the midst of some anxious situation. By combining the dramatic and the epistolary modes, Jane Austen has deftly set before us a basic truth – that we are both performing selves and reflective selves. It is in social performance that Elizabeth reveals all her vitality, vivacity, and wit, as well as her actual physical magnetism; it is in private reflection (‘reflection must be reserved for soli­ tary hours’) that she matures in judgement, reconsiders first


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impressions, and is able to make substantial changes to her mental reality-picture. How suitable, then, that after giving us some of the most brilliant ‘performances’ in English fiction, Jane Austen should allow her novel to move away from performance towards reflection after Darcy’s letter. She thus subtly offers an analogue of how – in her view – the individual should develop. For if the human being is to be fully human, then to the energy of performance must be added the wisdom of reflection. The idea of the self as a performer has taken hold of much recent thought, and most people recognize that society is effec­ tively held together by a series of tacitly acknowledged rituals in which we all play a number of different parts.5 Jane Austen certainly believed in the value of the social rituals of her time – be they only balls, dinners, evening entertainments – and would have seen them, at their best, as ceremonies and celebrations of the values of the community. What she was also clearly aware of was how the failings of some of the performers – insensitivity, malice, arrogance, foolishness, and so on – could spoil the ritual, and transform a ceremony to be enjoyed into a nightmare to be endured, as Elizabeth has so often to endure her mother’s agonizing ceremonial violations. But although we are all role players for much of the time we spend with other people, there will obviously be a difference between those people who are unaware of the fact – who disappear into their roles, as it were – and those who are at all times quite aware that the particular role they are performing in any one particular situation is not to be identified as their whole self, that they have facets and dimensions of character which cannot always be revealed on every occasion. The former type of person may sometimes appear to be something of an automaton, incapable of reflection and detachment, while the latter type may often wish to make a gesture of disengagement from the roles he is called on to play, to indicate that he has not become mindlessly imprisoned in those roles. Such gestures are expressive of what Erving Goffman calls ‘role distance’. Considering the characters in Jane Austen’s novel in this light, we can see that Mr Bennet has become completely cynical about the social roles he is called on to play. He extracts a somewhat

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bitter pleasure from making gestures of disengagement from these roles, to compensate for the familial miseries brought about by his having married a sexually attractive but unintelli­ gent woman (another example of the dangers of unreflective action based on first impressions – Lydia is her father’s daughter as well as her mother’s).6 He effectively abdicates from the one role it is most incumbent on him to perform, i.e. the role of father. ( Jane Austen seems quite interested in the effects on a family of ineffectual, absent, or ailing fathers – it usually indi­ cates a dangerous lapse of central authority.) He has taken refuge in mockery just as he takes refuge in his library – both are gestures of disengagement from the necessary rituals of family and society. Mrs Bennet, incapable of reflection, loses herself in her performance. Unfortunately she has a very limited view of the requirements of that performance; lacking any intro­ spective tendencies she is incapable of appreciating the feelings of others and is only aware of material objects – hats, dresses, uniforms – and marriage, not as a meeting of true minds but as a disposing of redundant daughters. On another level Lady Catherine de Bourgh has none of what Jane Austen elsewhere approvingly calls ‘the Dignity of Rank’ but only the mindlessness of rank. She thinks her position entitles her to dictate to other people and impose her ‘schemes’ on them (a recurrent word in the book). She has never thought out, or thought round, the full implications of her performance. Being incapable of reflection she makes people suffer. At the other extreme Mary Bennet sees herself as a sage reflector before she has had any experience; when reflection portentously precedes performance in this way it is shown to be comical and useless. Darcy of course has thought about all the implications of his role in society, at least by the end of the book. His hauteur makes him go in for a certain amount of ‘role distance’, as at the first ball when he slights Elizabeth to show his contemptuous detachment from the social ritual of the moment; but, unlike Wickham, he is not cynical about role-playing, and by the end his performing self is shown to be in harmony with his reflecting self. Jane Bennet is incapable of role distance, but she has such a generous and high-minded conception of the roles she has to


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perform – daughter, sister, lover, wife – that she strikes us at all times as being both sensitive and sincere. Much the same could be said of Bingley, whose rather spineless plasticity in the hands of Darcy’s more decisive will indicate nevertheless that his basic good nature extends to a willingness to perform roles which are thrust upon him – obviously a potential source of vulnerability. Elizabeth is of course special. She can indeed perform all the roles that her familial and social situations require of her; more­ over she performs many of them with an esprit or an irony which reveal, as it were, a potential overspill of personality, as if there is more of her than can ever be expressed in any one role. She is also capable of role distance, not in her father’s spirit of cynicism but in her own spirit of determined independence. She will put truth to self above truth to role. Thus in two of the scenes which give us the most pleasure to read we see her refusing to take on the roles which people in socially superior positions attempt to impose on her. To Darcy’s first lordly proposal she refuses to respond in the role of passive grateful female, as he obviously expects she will; while in the face of Lady Catherine’s imperious insistence that she promise not to marry Darcy she refuses to act the compliant social inferior to which role Lady Catherine is relegating her. The assertion of the free-choosing self and its resistance to the would-be tyranny of roles imposed on it from socially superior powers is a spec­ tacle which delights us now quite as much as it can have done Jane Austen’s contemporaries. All that has been said makes it clear that there are at least two different kinds of characters in the book – those who are fully defined by their roles, even lost in them, and those who can see round their roles and do not lose awareness of what they are doing. D. W. Harding uses the terms character and caricature to point to this difference, and, commenting that ‘in painting it must be rather rare for caricature and full portraiture to be brought together in one group’, he goes on to show what Jane Austen achieves by her carefully handled interaction of charac­ ter and caricature, and what she is implying about a society in which such interactions are possible. (Examples are the meetings between Elizabeth and Mr Collins, and Elizabeth and Lady

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Catherine.7) There is an important conversation in which Eliza­ beth announces that she comprehends Bingley’s character com­ pletely. He replies that it is pitiful to be so transparent. ‘That is as it happens. It does not necessarily follow that a deep, intricate character is more or less estimable than such a one as yours.’ Bingley replies that he did not know she was a ‘studier of character’. ‘It must be an amusing study.’ ‘Yes, but intricate characters are the most amusing. They have at least that advantage.’ ‘The country,’ said Darcy, ‘can in general supply but few subjects for such a study. In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society.’ ‘But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them forever.’

Elizabeth’s last remark is not wholly borne out by the book, for the Collinses and the Mrs Bennets and Lady Catherines of this world do not change. But ‘intricate’ characters are capable of change, as both she and Darcy change. Marvin Mudrick has examined this separation of Jane Austen’s characters into the simple and the intricate, and shown how central it is to Pride and Prejudice, and there is no point in recapitulating his admirable observations here. Very generally we can say that obviously it is always likely to be in some ways oppressive for an intricate person to find himself or herself forced to live among simple people. Elizabeth has a dimension of complexity, a questing awareness, a mental range and depth which almost make her an isolated figure trapped in a constricting web of a small number of simple people. Darcy is posited as intricate to make her a match, but in truth he appears more to be honourable and reserved. He is not Benedick to Elizabeth’s Beatrice. He is how­ ever capable of appreciating the intricacy of Elizabeth so that in effect he can rescue her from the incipient claustrophobia of her life among simple people, and offer her more social and psycho­ logical space to move around in. (The good simple people, Jane and Bingley, join them in Derbyshire – the rest are left behind.)


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This matter of social space is an important one, but another word may be said about what we may refer to as mental space or range, and its effect on language. We can recognize at least two very different ways in which people use language in this book. Some people employ it unreflectively as an almost auto­ matic extension of their other behaviour; they are unable to speak, as they are unable to think, outside their particular social situation. (Consider, for example, the extremely limited range of Mrs Bennet’s conversation, its obsessive repetitions, its pre­ dictable progressions.) Others, by contrast, are capable of using language reflectively and not just as an almost conditioned response to a social situation. Such people seem to have more freedom of manoeuvre within language, more conceptual space to move around in, and as a result they can say unpredictable things that surprise both us and the other characters in the book, and they seem capable of arriving at independent and thought-out conclusions of their own. Obviously such people are capable of thinking outside their particular social context – thus Elizabeth’s mind and conversation are not limited to what she has seen and heard within her own family.8 It is not sur­ prising that a person who has achieved a certain amount of mental independence will wish to exercise as much free personal control over his or her own life as is possible. He, or she, will not readily submit to the situations and alliances which society seems to be urging them into – hence Elizabeth’s incredulity when Charlotte unhesitatingly accepts the role of Mr Collins’s wife, to Elizabeth an inconceivable capitulation to the solici­ tations of social convenience. By contrast she will strive for a maximum of personal control (in defiance of real economic and family pressures), as is consistent with her having the quickest and furthest-ranging mind, and the most richly developed lin­ guistic capacities. Because the same space is occupied by people using language both reflectively and unreflectively, the claustrophobia for some­ one highly sensitive to speech can become very great, as witness the agonies of embarrassment which Elizabeth goes through while her mother rattles unreflectively on. This can obviously lead to a desire to escape, and although Jane Austen does

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not seem to envisage how someone might renounce society altogether, she does show the relief with which an intricate person seeks out some solitude away from the miseries which can be caused by the constant company of more limited minds. Thus in the fragment The Watsons which Jane Austen wrote some time between First Impressions and Pride and Prejudice, the isolated, because more complex, consciousness of the hero­ ine, Emma, is glad to seek out the refuge of her father’s quiet sick-room away from the family downstairs. In his chamber, Emma was at peace from the dreadful mortifications of unequal Society, & family Discord – from the immediate endurance of Hard-hearted prosperity, low-minded Conceit, & wrong-headed folly, engrafted on an ontoward Disposition. She still suffered from them in the Contemplation of their existence; in memory & in prospect, but for the moment, she ceased to be tortured by their effects.

(cf. Elizabeth ‘sick of this folly, took refuge in her own room, that she might think with freedom’.) Elizabeth is fortunate to make a more permanent escape through marriage to Darcy; ‘she looked forward with delight to the time when they should be removed from society so little pleasing to either, to all the comfort and elegance of their family party at Pemberley’. Pem­ berley is an all but impossible dream of a space – both social and psychic – large enough to permit a maximum of reflecting speech and personal control. There is another aspect to the problems which can be posed by lack of social space. In a clearly stratified class society, such as Jane Austen depicts, there are invisible restrictions, boundaries and chasms, which the properly deferential person will not dare to traverse. There are quite a number of malicious remarks about people in trade made by some of the members of the landed aristocracy; one of the things Darcy has to do is to learn to appreciate the merits of people like the Gardiners. The absurd and cringing servility of Mr Collins is an extreme example of the kind of mind, or rather mindlessness, which such a society can exact as a condition of belonging. It is a point, indeed, whether Elizabeth can be contained within such a


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society. One of the trials which Darcy has to pass is to confront the fact that he will become related not only to Mrs Bennet, but also to Wickham, if he marries Elizabeth. Elizabeth is sure that there is ‘a gulf impassable between them’ after the marriage of Lydia and Wickham. ‘From such a connection she could not wonder that he should shrink.’ Lady Catherine insists to her that ‘connection with you must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody’. In this society, as in any highly structured society, it is a matter of some moment just who may be ‘connected’ to whom. Darcy has already dissuaded Bingley from a defiling connection with the Bennets, and the connection – from an external point of view – had indeed become more disgraceful by the end. The question is, can Darcy cross the social space which, in the eyes of society (and in his own up to a certain stage), exists between himself and Elizabeth? There is a curious little scene between Elizabeth and Darcy shortly before he proposes to her for the first time. They are discussing, of all apparently trivial things, whether it could be said that Charlotte Lucas is living near to her family, or far from them, now that she has moved fifty miles and become Mrs Collins. Darcy says it is near, Elizabeth that it is far; it is possible that he is wondering whether he will be able to move Elizabeth a sufficient distance away from the rest of her socially undesirable family. Elizabeth makes the politic remark: ‘The far and the near must be relative, and depend on varying circumstances.’ At this point Darcy ‘drew his chair a little towards her’ then a little later in the conversation he ‘experienced some change of feeling; he drew back his chair, took a newspaper from the table’, and coldly changes the drift of the conversation. In that small advance and retreat of his chair, Darcy is miming out, albeit unconsciously, his uncertainty as to whether he can bring himself to cross the great social space which, as he sees it (he is still proud), separates Elizabeth from himself. They live in a society which all but dictates certain ‘connections’ and works strongly to prevent others. Part of the drama is in seeing whether two people can resist the connections which society seems to be prescribing for them (as Lady Catherine has the ‘rational scheme’ of marrying her daughter to Darcy,9 and Mrs Bennet

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wishes to thrust Elizabeth at Mr Collins), and make a new connection of their own, one which is not made in response to society’s controlling power but freely made according to the dictates of their judgement, their reason, and their emotions. One of the gratifications of the book is that Elizabeth and Darcy seem to demonstrate that it is still possible for individuals to make new connections in defiance of society. That there is perhaps a fairy-tale touch to their total felicity at the conclusion in the dream world of Pemberley should not discourage us from recognizing the importance of holding on to this possibility as one which is essential to a healthy society. That is to say, a society in which the individual can experience freedom as well as commitment. At this point it is perhaps worth considering in a little more detail just what kind of society Jane Austen does portray in this novel. It is a society which stresses social control over individ­ ual ecstasy, formality over informality, sartorial neatness over bodily abandon, and alert consciousness over the more Romantic states of revery and trance. The schemes and structures of the group – family, community, society – tend to coerce and even predetermine the volition and aspirations of the self. No novelist could have valued consciousness more than Jane Austen, and some of the dialogue between Elizabeth (in particu­ lar) and Darcy requires a very high degree of alertness of con­ sciousness. Indeed, this is just the point, that in this society linguistic experience is stressed almost to the exclusion of bodily experience. True, the men hunt, the women go for walks, and the sexes may come together at a ball. But all the important transactions (and most of the unimportant or vexatious ones) take place through language. When Darcy makes his second, and now welcome, proposal we read of Elizabeth – ‘though she could not look, she could listen, and he told of feelings which . . . made his affection every moment more valuable’. At this crucial moment ‘love’ has been transformed into a completely linguistic experience. This is quite appropriate in a society set­ ting a high value on consciousness. Intimate physical contacts and experiences, while not denied, are minimized. Hands may meet, though it is more likely to be


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the eyes which come together across a distinct social space. Faces may be turned towards, or away from, other faces, and Elizabeth is prone to a good deal of blushing (allowing that the body has its own language, it is perhaps not entirely irrelevant to note that Norman O. Brown, following Freud, suggests that blushing is a sort of mild erection of the head). In general we are more likely to be shown dresses than bodies, public greetings than private embraces. It is interesting to compare, for instance, Jane Austen’s description of an important ball with Tolstoy’s. In Jane Austen the dancing (which from her letters we know she thoroughly enjoyed) is almost exclusively an occasion for conversation; indeed it is a social ritual which permits something approaching private conversation in public, and there are some important exchanges between Darcy and Elizabeth while danc­ ing. There is movement, there is grouping; there are longueurs and excitements. (In The Watsons, interestingly, Jane Austen describes what it is like for a young girl to enter a ball – the sweeping of dresses on the floor, the cold and empty room in which conversation is stiffly started, the noise of approaching carriages, and so on – a rather unusual excursion into private sensations which is not, however, taken very far.) What we do not get is the physicality of a ball. The following passage from Anna Karenina is, for instance, inconceivable in Jane Austen. Kitty is watching Anna and Vronsky at the moment when they are falling in love with each other: She saw that they felt as if they were alone in the crowded ballroom. And she was struck by the bewildered look of submission on Vronsky’s face, usually so firm and self-possessed – an expression like that of an intelligent dog conscious of having done wrong. If Anna smiled, he smiled in reply. If she grew thoughtful, he looked serious. Some supernatural force drew Kitty’s eyes to Anna’s face. She was charming in her simple black gown, her rounded arms were charming with their bracelets, charming the firm neck with the string of pearls, charming the unruly curls, charming the graceful, easy move­ ments of her little hands and feet, charming the lovely, animated face: but in that charm there was something terrible and cruel.

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Kitty is ‘sure that the blow had fallen’. At this decisive moment when the blow falls which will determine the rest of their lives, there is no language. It is Anna’s body which is speaking to Vronsky, and speaking a language which Kitty can also read. Rational consciousness is drowned in an intensity of purely physical, sensory awareness and response. We have moved a long way from the sparkling dialogue maintained by Elizabeth with her partners, and are indeed approaching something like a state of trance, each dancer almost drugged just by the presence and proximity of the other. This is not intended as any indict­ ment of Jane Austen’s novel, for who would wish it other than it is. It is pointing to something characteristic of the society she wrote out of and in turn portrays – namely, the minimizing of a whole range of physical experiences which can often change lives more forcibly than rational reflection. As we have mentioned, Jane Austen is particularly suspicious of the immediacy of sexual attraction. It is worth asking, then, what is ‘love’ as it emerges from the book. And we should notice first that if Jane Austen’s society minimizes the bodily dimension, so it does the possibility of a transcendental one. Her concern is with conduct, almost never with religious experi­ ence.10 Her society is secular and materialistic, and the terms need not be pejorative. It was a society which valued objects and the actual edifices which made up its structure; it was quite capable of sustaining a fairly nominal or unexamined piety towards the Unknown, but at its best it concentrated on how man and woman may best live in harmony with each other. (What may happen in such a society when it is not at its best Jane Austen unsparingly reveals.) All of this obviously influenced the notion of ‘love’ and its relationship to marriage. Mrs Gardiner complains to Elizabeth that ‘that expression of ‘‘violently in love’’ is so hackneyed, so doubtful, so indefinite, that it gives me very little idea’, and Elizabeth duly rephrases her reading of Bingley’s attitude towards Jane as a ‘promising inclination’. Early in the book Charlotte and Elizabeth discuss the conscious strategies that a woman must deploy to secure the attachment of a man, and Charlotte of course demonstrates the complete triumph of conscious calculation over spontaneous emotion by


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her decision to marry Mr Collins. She admits that she is ‘not romantic’ and asks only for ‘a comfortable home’. Of course Mr Collins’s company is ‘irksome’ but, in her eyes, the state of marriage, as a ‘preservative from want’, is much more important than the actual man who makes up the marriage. As Elizabeth realizes when she sees them married, Charlotte will survive by having recourse to selective inattention, deriving satisfaction from the house and screening out as far as possible the man who provided it. Elizabeth’s spontaneous reaction when told of their coming marriage is – ‘impossible’, but her remark is not only indecorous, it is excessive. In such a society, the need for an ‘establishment’ is a very real one, and in putting prudence before passion, Charlotte is only doing what the economic realities of her society – as Jane Austen makes abundantly clear – all but force her to do. Indeed passion, as such, is hardly differentiated from folly in the terms of the book. Lydia’s elopement is seen as thoughtless and foolish and selfish, rather than a grande passion; while Mr Bennet’s premature captivation by Mrs Bennet’s youth and beauty is ‘imprudence’. This is a key word. Mrs Gardiner warns Elizabeth against becoming involved with the impoverished Wickham, yet when it seems he will marry a Miss King for her money, she describes him as ‘mercenary’. As Elizabeth asks ‘what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the mer­ cenary motive and the prudent motive?’ Elizabeth will simply not accept Charlotte’s solution as a model of true ‘prudence’, nor will we. There must be something between that kind of prudence and her father’s imprudence. And one of the things the book sets out to do is to define a rationally based ‘mode of attachment’ – something between the exclusively sexual and the entirely mercenary. Thus words like ‘gratitude’ and ‘esteem’ are used to describe Elizabeth’s growing feeling for Darcy. She comes to feel that their union would have been ‘to the advantage of both: by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have softened, his manners improved; and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance’. A word to note there is ‘advantage’; consciousness has penetrated so far into emotions that love

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follows calculations and reflections. What differentiates Eliza­ beth’s choice from Charlotte’s is not its greater impetuosity – indeed it is Charlotte who is the more precipitate. It is the fact that it is a free choice which is not dictated by economic pressure (though Pemberley is a great attraction as she readily admits); and it is a choice which is based on more awareness, knowledge, and intelligence than Charlotte brings to her cool but instant capitulation. Elizabeth loves for the best reasons, and there are always reasons for loving in Jane Austen’s world. Consider this sentence from Tolstoy’s Resurrection. ‘Nekhludov’s offer of marriage was based on generosity and knowledge of what had happened in the past, but Simonson loved her as he found her; he loved her simply because he loved her.’ (My italics.) Tolstoy takes in a far wider world than Jane Austen, both socially and emotionally. He knew that there are feelings of such intensity, directness, and tenacity, that they reduce language to tautology when it attempts to evoke them. The kind of emotion pointed to in the remarkable clause I have italicized – not to be confused with lust, for this is far from being a purely sexual attraction – is a kind of emotion which is not conceived of, or taken into account, in Jane Austen’s world. This is not to censure Jane Austen for blinkered vision. It is, rather, to point out that in her books, and thus in the society they reflect, emotion is either rational – capable of being both conceptualized and verbalized – or it is folly. And yet we sense that there is a capacity for depths and animations of feeling in Elizabeth which is not allowed for in the above description of the ‘rationally founded’ emotions preferred by Jane Austen. It is that extra something which dances through her words conveying an emotional as well as a semantic energy; it is what glows from her eyes and brings the blood to her cheeks so often; it is what sends her running across the fields and jumping over stiles when she hears that Jane is ill at Netherfield. After this last piece of anxious exertion she is said to look ‘almost wild’ and there in fact we have the beginning of a problem. The word ‘wild’ is applied to Elizabeth – and to Lydia, and to Wickham. In the case of the last two named, ‘wildness’ obviously has nothing to recommend it and is seen as


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totally and reprehensibly anti-social. Elizabeth’s special quality is more often referred to as ‘liveliness’; this is what Darcy is said to lack (his understanding – i.e. rational consciousness – is apparently impeccable), and it is the main quality that Elizabeth will bring to the marriage. It is a fine point, and not perhaps a fixed one, at which liveliness becomes wildness, yet the latter is a menace to society, while without the former society is merely dull. Elizabeth is also often described as laughing (she differen­ tiates her state from Jane’s by saying ‘she only smiles, I laugh’) and laughter is also potentially anarchic as it can act as a negation of the principles and presuppositions, the rules and rituals, which sustain society. (Her famous declaration: ‘I hope I never ridicule what is wise and good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can’ puts her in the line of eighteenth-century satirists who worked to uphold certain values and principles by drawing comic attention to deviations from them. But Eliza­ beth’s love of laughter goes beyond the satisfactions of a satirical wit, and she admits to a love of ‘absurdities’. A sense of the absurd in life can be very undermining of a belief in society’s self-estimation.) With her liveliness and laughter it is not at first clear that Elizabeth will consent to be contained within the highly structured social space available to her. There is a suggestive episode when Mrs Hurst leaves Elizabeth and joins Darcy and Miss Bingley on a walk. The path only allows three to walk abreast and Darcy is aware of the rudeness of leaving Elizabeth out in this way. He suggests they go to a wider avenue, but Elizabeth laughingly answered – ‘No, no; stay where you are. – You are charm­ ingly group’d, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth. Good-bye.’ She then ran gaily off, rejoicing as she rambled about . . .

Social rules, like aesthetic prescriptions, tend to fix people in groups. Elizabeth is happy to leave the group, laughing, ram­ bling, rejoicing. It is only a passing incident, but it aptly suggests

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an independence and liveliness of temperament which will not readily submit to any grouping found to be unacceptably restricting. Marriage is part of the social grouping and is also a restriction. The dream aspect of Pemberley is that it presumably offers an amplitude which, while still social, is large enough to offer a maximum field for expansion of both liveliness and understanding in which they can complement rather than con­ strain each other, and in which liveliness need never seek to express itself as anti-social wildness. At one point Elizabeth is said to pass beyond the ‘bounds of decorum’ and it is part of her attraction that her energy and vitality seem to keep her right on that boundary where the constrained threatens to give way to something less willingly controlled. It is, indeed, just this that attracts Darcy to her, for while the cold ‘critical eye’ which he casts on society immediately detects failures of ‘perfect symmetry in her form’, he is ‘caught’ by the ‘easy playfulness’ of her manners, and he stays caught by it. Where there is what Darcy calls ‘real superiority of mind’ he maintains that ‘pride will always be under good regulation’, and throughout his behaviour is a model of regulation. But ‘good regulation’ is not sufficient for a good society; it is what we expect from an efficient machine and the danger in the sort of society portrayed by Jane Austen is a tendency away from the organic towards the mechanical. (Thus Elizabeth finds out that the ‘civilities’ of Sir William Lucas are ‘worn out, like his infor­ mation’. With his empty repetitions Sir William is a dim adum­ bration of some of Dickens’s more memorable automata.) In a society that is still alive there will always be some awareness of, and pull towards, those qualities which that society has had to exclude in order to maintain itself. Ralph Ellison puts the idea in its sharpest form when the narrator of the Invisible Man asserts that ‘the mind that has conceived a plan of living must never lose sight of the chaos against which that pattern was conceived.’ It would be foolish indeed to pronounce Elizabeth as a spirit of chaos with Darcy as the incarnation of pattern. (Indeed in many ways Elizabeth is the best citizen, for she brings real life to the values and principles to which too many of the other only pay lip service, or mechanically observe in a spirit of


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torpid conformity.) But in their gradual coming together and Darcy’s persistent desire for Elizabeth we do witness the peren­ nial yearning of perfect symmetry for the asymmetrical, the appeal which ‘playfulness’ has for ‘regulation’, the irresistible attraction of the freely rambling individual for the rigidified upholder of the group. Indeed it could be said that it is on the tension between playfulness and regulation that society depends, and it is the fact that they are so happily ‘united’ by the end of the book which generates the satisfaction produced by the match. ‘Uniting them’ are the last two words of the book, and we do, I suggest, witness apparently mutually exclusive qualities coming into unity during the course of the book. Elizabeth at one point, in the presence of the insupportable Mr Collins, is said to try to ‘unite truth and civility in a few short sentences’. The casual phrase is a passing reminder that civility is so often a matter of considerate lying, and another part of Elizabeth’s appeal is her determination to hold on to what she refers to as ‘the meaning of principle and integrity’. As Jane Austen shows, it is not always possible to unite civility and truth in this society, and the fact that there is often a dichotomy between the two produces that mixture of outward conformity and inner anguish experienced by her more sensitive characters. Pemberley is, once again, that dream place where such unities are possible. Given the importance of Elizabeth’s ‘playfulness’ – for Darcy, for society, for the book – there is perhaps something too abject in her self-accusing retraction and apology to Darcy near the end. Although Darcy concedes to Elizabeth that ‘By you I was prop­ erly humbled’, we may feel that she is somewhat too willing to abandon her ‘playfulness’. (For example, she redefines her ‘liveliness’ of mind as ‘impertinence’.) There is the famous moment near the end when Elizabeth is about to make an ironical remark at Darcy’s expense, ‘but she checked herself. She remembered that he had yet to learn to be laughed at, and it was rather too early to begin’. One might be prompted to speculate whether Darcy will learn to laugh at himself (as the sentence half promises) or whether this is just the first of many and more serious checks and repressions which Elizabeth will

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be obliged to impose on herself as she takes her place in the social group. But this is a happy book and we are not shown the wilting of playfulness under the force of regulation, but rather a felicitous ‘uniting’ of both. In 1813 Jane Austen wrote to Cassandra about Pride and Prejudice: I had had some fits of disgust . . . The work is rather too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants shade, it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long chapter of sense, if it could be had; if not, of solemn specious nonsense, about something unconnected with the story; an essay on writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or the history of Buonaparte´ or anything that would form a contrast, and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and epigrammatism of the general style. I doubt your quite agreeing with me here. I know your starched notions.

Some critics have taken this as indicating Jane Austen’s repudi­ ation of her own light, bright, sparkling qualities; and it is true that in going on to write about Fanny Price in Mansfield Park Jane Austen turned to a heroine, not only in a different plight, but of a very different disposition, while giving all the ‘playful­ ness’ to the socially unreliable and ultimately undesirable Mary Crawford. And there is no doubt that there is a diminishing of playfulness, a growing suspicion of unsocialized energy, in Jane Austen’s subsequent work. Nevertheless I do not think this letter should be taken too seriously as an omen of repression to come. It is in fact ironical at the expense of books stuffed with the sort of sententiousness which Mary Bennet delights to quote, or the meandering digressions which could be found in many of the less well formed works of the day. Jane Austen’s disparagement of playfulness is here, surely, mock-disparagement. She is herself still being ‘sparkling’, and if her later works grow more sombre in tone we may yet be glad that she gave us this one novel in which the brightness and the sparkle of the heroine’s individu­ ality are not sacrificed to the exacting decorums or the manipu­ lative persuasions of the social group. Elizabeth Bennet says she is humbled, but we will always remember her as laughing.


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As it can be seen we are in the proximity of a major problem here, namely that of the relationship and adjustment between individual energy and social forms. If one were to make a single binary reduction about literature one could say that there are works which stress the existence of, and need for, boundaries; and works which concentrate on everything within the indi­ vidual – from the sexual to the imaginative and the religious – which conspires to negate or transcend boundaries. Looking back at the terms of Charlotte Bronte¨’s criticisms of Pride and Prejudice quoted at the start of this introduction we notice a preponderant vocabulary of boundaries – ‘accurate’, ‘carefully fenced, highly cultivated gardens’, ‘neat borders’, ‘elegant but confined houses’. Her own impulse is towards the ‘open country’ and the boundless ‘air’ as the whole progress of her aptly named Jane Eyre reveals.11 In the eighteenth century however, the stress was on the need for, or inevitability of, boundaries. Thus Locke in the first chapter of his Essay Concerning Human Under­ standing: I suspected we began at the wrong end, and in vain sought for satisfaction in a quiet and sure possession of truths that most concerned us, while we let loose our thoughts into the vast ocean of Being; as if all that boundless extent were the natural and undoubted possession of our understandings, wherein there was nothing exempt from its decisions, or that escaped its comprehension . . . Whereas, were the capacities of our understandings well considered, the extent of our knowledge once discovered, and the horizon found which sets the bounds between the enlightened and dark parts of things – between what is and what is not comprehensible by us – men would perhaps with less scruple acquiesce in the avowed ignorance of the one, and employ their thoughts and discourse with more advantage and satisfac­ tion in the other.

And thus Hume: Nothing, at first view, may seem more unbounded than the thought of man, which not only escapes all human power and authority, but is not even restrained within the limits of nature and reality . . . And

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while the body is confined to one planet, along which it creeps with pain and difficulty; the thought can in an instant transport us into the most distant regions of the universe; or even beyond the universe, into the unbounded chaos, where nature is supposed to lie in total confusion . . . But though our thought seems to possess this unbounded liberty, we shall find, upon a nearer examination, that it is really confined within very narrow limits, and that all this creative power of the mind amounts to no more than the faculty of compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the senses and experience.

By turning the negative words in these passages into positive ones, and vice versa, one could begin to establish a basic vocabu­ lary to describe the very different kind of epistemology posited by the whole movement we know as Romantic. ‘The vast ocean of Being’, ‘the most distant regions of the universe’, even ‘the unbounded chaos, where nature is supposed to lie in total con­ fusion’ – these were the very realms the Romantic imagination set out to explore; for it did claim for itself ‘unbounded liberty’ and refused to accept the notion that man and his mind are ‘really confined within very narrow limits’. Locke invites us, in the interests of sanity, to recognize and accept the ‘horizon’ which ‘sets the bounds between the enlightened and dark parts of things’. Blake took the word ‘horizon’, transformed it into ‘Urizen’ and made that figure the evil symbol of all that restricted and restrained man. He thus stood the Enlightenment on its head, and if it was at the cost of his sanity, then, like other Romantics, he preferred to enjoy the visionary intensities of his ‘madness’ rather than subscribe to the accepted notions of mental health. Other Romantics too have preferred to cross that horizon and boundary and explore ‘the dark parts of things’ and often they have found this sphere to be full of dazzling illuminations. This is not the place to embark on a summary of the Romantic movement. The point is that Jane Austen was brought up on eighteenth-century thought and was fundamentally loyal to the respect for limits, definition, and clear ideas which it inculcated. Yet among writers who published work the same year as Pride


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and Prejudice were Byron, Coleridge, Scott, and Shelley; the lyrical Ballads were already over a decade old, and Keats would publish four years later. Jane Austen was writing at a time when a major shift of sensibility was taking place, as indeed major social changes were taking place or were imminent, and to some extent she was certainly aware of this. She had depicted at least one incipient Romantic in the figure of Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, and her treatment is a rather ambiguous mixture of sympathy and satire. In the figure of Elizabeth Bennet she shows us energy attempting to find a valid mode of existence within society. One more quotation from Blake will enable me to conclude the point I am trying to make. In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake writes: ‘Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outward circumfer­ ence of Energy. Energy is eternal Delight.’ As I have said, I think that Jane Austen’s suspicion of energy increased in her later work. But in Pride and Prejudice she shows us energy and reason coming together, not so much as a reconciliation of opposites, but as a marriage of complementaries. She makes it seem as if it is possible for playfulness and regulation – energy and boundaries – to be united in fruitful harmony, without the one being sacrificed to the other. Since to stress one at the expense of the other can either way mean loss, both to the self and to society, the picture of achieved congruence between them offered in Pride and Prejudice is of unfading relevance. It is perhaps no wonder that it has also proved capable of giving eternal delight. (1972) Notes 1. For further discussion of the influence of Sir Charles Grandison on Jane Austen, who was of course steeped in Richardson’s work which she admired so much, see Frank Bradbrook’s helpful book Jane Austen and her Predecessors. 2. It is interesting to speculate which painters Jane Austen might have been looking at in London in 1813, apart from Reynolds. The possibilities could include Gainsborough and George Romney, though more recent portraits would have been done by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1825), Sir Henry Raeburn (1756–1823), John Hoppner (1758–

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1810), and Johan Zoffany (1723–1810). Lawrence regarded himself as a loyal adherent of Reynolds’s Discourses, though he did once say that Reynolds ‘was of a cold Temperament, a philosopher from absence of the Passions’. There is still a somewhat generalized sweetness and purity in some of Lawrence’s portraits of fashionable ladies, though it is not perhaps the true neo-classic generality. Hoppner was also popular as a painter of beautiful women and, probably more in competitive envy than genuine outrage, once made the strange declaration that ‘the ladies of Lawrence show a gaudy dissoluteness of taste, and sometimes trespass on moral, as well as professional chastity.’ Perhaps Raeburn – ‘the Scottish Velasquez’ – achieves somewhat more individuality in his portraits than Lawrence. Sir Walter Armstrong in 1901 wrote of his work: ‘His pictures are always well focused. Our eye is invariably led at once to the most worthy centre, where the sitter’s personality sits enthroned among the accidents of his condition . . .’ Lawrence’s beauties may have been too fashionable for Jane Austen to have found Mrs Bingley among them. Hoppner and Raeburn seem to have taken in a wider range of ladies, from a class point of view, and it is not inconceivable that in front of one of their portraits Jane Austen found a faithful image of her own created character. 3. See Jane Austen: Twentieth Century Views, edited by Ian Watt. 4. Jane Austen: A Study of her Artistic Development. 5. The work of the sociologist Erving Goffman is relevant here. See in particular his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, the first chapter of which is, indeed, headed ‘Performances’. 6. It is Lydia’s precipitous elopement, in addition to the more remote but not dissimilar marriage of her father, that provokes Jane Austen into her most direct attack on first impressions. She is justifying Eliza­ beth’s change of mind about Darcy. ‘If gratitude and esteem are good foundations of affection, Eliza­ beth’s change of sentiment will be neither improbable nor faulty. But if otherwise – if the regard springing from such sources is unreasonable or unnatural, in comparison of what is so often described as arising on a first interview with its object, and even before two words have been exchanged – nothing can be said in her defense except that she had given somewhat of a trial of the latter method in her partiality for Wickham, and that its ill success might, perhaps authorize her to seek the other less interesting mode of attachment.’ It is fairly clear here that Jane Austen is showing her particular suspicion of the pre-verbal immediacy of sexual attraction. In this area in particular, she obviously thought that to act on first impressions could only be disastrous. For some interesting observations on Jane


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Austen’s suspicions of sex, see Marvin Mudrick’s Jane Austen: Irony as Defense and Discovery. 7. See ‘Character and Caricature in Jane Austen’ in Critical Essays on Jane Austen, edited by B. C. Southam. 8. cf. Basil Bernstein’s work in socio-linguistics in which he differen­ tiates between a restricted speech code and an elaborated speech code, the former determined by a person’s particular position in the social structure, while the latter is not thus restricted. 9. ‘It was the favourite wish of his mother, as well as of hers. While in their cradles, we planned the union: and now, at the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished in their marriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the family!’ The spectacle of Elizabeth holding out against the wishes, plans, schemes of society – positional control – is one which helps to sustain our belief in the possibility of some degree of individual autonomy. (It is a tolerably savage comment on this society’s power to enforce connections based on respectability, that it is felt to be a blessing by the Bennets when it is announced that Wickham is to marry Lydia after the elopement. ‘And they must marry! Yet he is such a man! . . . How strange this is! And for this we are to be thankful.’ Elizabeth’s characteristically penetrating sense of the ironies in her society sees at once the strangeness of a marriage which is at once undesirable, in view of the character of the bridegroom, and absolutely essential, in view of society’s rigid rules. Public propriety entirely pre-empts private felicity. The fact of the connection has become more important than the individuals who will compose it.) 10. Gilbert Ryle points out in his interesting essay, ‘Jane Austen and the Moralists’, in which he argues that Shaftesbury’s ideas influenced Jane Austen’s ethics/aesthetics, that while she often uses the word ‘Mind’ she almost never uses the word ‘soul’. 11. It is worth noting the names of the various places which Jane Eyre goes to and leaves; they form a suggestive progression – Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Moorhouse, Marshend, Ferndean, and in her flight towards Rochester she finally finds herself in a trackless forest. From an initially very repressive house, in which she shows her rebellion by losing consciousness and passing out as though her ‘head’ had been too tightly ‘gated’, she makes her way to the uncharted spaces of nature – from behind ‘gates’ to beyond social boundaries. However, is it not an unambiguous progression, and in fact Jane Eyre finally recognizes the need for boundaries – only they will be ones of her own drawing and dictating. But this is another story.

Emendations to the Text

See also Note on the Text, p. xl. p. 8, l. 27: ‘‘When is your next ball to be, Lizzy?’’: the first and subsequent editions give this speech to Kitty, but as Chapman notes,1 it clearly belongs to Mr Bennet. In the first edition, it begins a new line which should also have been indented. p. 9, l. 34: ‘‘my dear Mr. Bennet?’’ 1st ed.: ‘‘my dear Mr. Bennet!’’ A common printer’s error. The emended text follows Chapman. p. 45, l. 29: daughter 1st ed.: daughters follows the third edition and Chapman. Both Kitty and Lydia are present. p. 65, l. 28: up stairs.’’ 1st ed.: up stairs. Though inverted commas are sometimes used for indirect speech, there is no indication here of where they should open, so it seems more likely to be a printer’s error. Not corrected in Chapman. p. 88, l. 11: Bingley’s 1st ed.: Bingleys’ follows the second and third editions and Chapman. p. 126, l. 10: proceeds 1st ed.: proceeded follows Chapman. p. 143, l. 34: Lucy 1st ed.: Lucas. p. 162, l. 31: impertinence? 1st ed.: impertinence. follows Chapman. p. 210, ll. 14–16: ‘‘A great many . . . have to tell!’’: printed as one speech in first edition. Emendation follows the third edition and Chapman. It is clearly Maria, not Elizabeth, who is concerned with the number of dinners. p. 226, l. 34: her 1st ed.: his corrected in second and subsequent editions. p. 229, l. 31: my carrying 1st ed.: by carrying follows Chapman. ‘By carrying’ seems more likely, because more elegantly concise, than ‘by my carrying’, which Chapman suggests as the probably correct reading, though he does not himself adopt it.2


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p. 268, l. 11: risk? 1st ed.: risk. follows the third edition and Chapman. p. 324, ll. 9–10: ‘‘How hard it is . . . impossible in others!’’: printed as one paragraph in the first, second and third editions. Austen noted the error in a letter to Cassandra (4 February 1813), commenting on her copy of the first editon: ‘The greatest blunder in the Printing that I have met with is in Page 220—Vol. 3 where two speeches are made into one.’3 p. 330, l. 35: friends 1st ed.: friend follows Chapman. The context makes clear that Elizabeth can have only Darcy in mind. p. 336, l. 5: family? 1st ed: family! follows third edition and Chapman. p. 342, l. 25: had resigned 1st ed.: has resigned it follows second and subsequent editions. p. 351, l. 4: made her here 1st ed.: made here. I have adopted the correction from Cassandra Austen’s copy of the first edition, given the likelihood of a printer’s error due to the repetition of ‘her’ in the previous line. R. W. Chapman’s approval of the correction in his article on Cassandra Austen’s editions is also a persuasive reminder that ‘her here’ would be uncharacteristically inaccurate: ‘Darcy had done nothing so improper as to make a visit to Miss Bennett [sic] in her mother’s house.’ p. 353, l. 26: be be serious 1st ed.: be serious. The correction in Cassandra Austen’s copy of the first edition again seems right, given the likelihood of a printer’s error due to the italics, Chapman4 suggests that ‘the repetition might be intended’, but such a repetition would be atypical. p. 359, l. 26: know 1st ed.: knew follows Chapman. The whole interchange refers to the past. References R. W. Chapman (ed.), Pride and Prejudice, Vol. II of The Novels of Jane Austen, 5 vols. (1923); 3rd edition (London, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1965) Jane Austen’s Letters, 3rd edition, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995) Also cited: R. W. Chapman, ‘Jane Austen’s text: authoritative manuscript corrections’, TLS, 13 February 1937, p. 116

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Notes 1. Chapman, p. 391. 2. Ibid., p. 393. 3. Letters, p. 203. 4. Chapman, p. 373.



The previous Penguin edition of Pride and Prejudice (1972), edited with an excellent Introduction by Tony Tanner, had only four explanatory notes. Tanner argued that extensive notes were unnecessary since ‘references to topical events or other writers, are almost totally sup­ pressed’, and that this meant that the novel achieved an ‘element of timelessness . . . even though it unmistakably reflects a certain kind of society at a certain historical moment’ (Pride and Prejudice, Har­ mondsworth: Penguin, 1972, p. 397). But a full enjoyment and under­ standing of Austen’s ‘timeless’ comedy depends on being able to understand and interpret telling social details, effortlessly familiar to a contemporary audience from that ‘certain kind of society’ – a society which is increasingly unfamiliar and alien to modern readers. The culture in which Austen’s heroines make their choices is one of social aspiration and consumerism, and in which social aspiration and con­ sumerism are themselves live moral and political issues – particularly for women. Reading that culture, and those debates, depends on an alertness to significant details: of language, of behaviour, of dress, of ‘lifestyle’. I have therefore made the explanatory notes to this edition as full as possible in an attempt to give modern readers the opportunity to ‘read’ Austen’s characters and social fabric in the way that (often without realizing it) we are constantly engaged in reading our own social environment. I should like to acknowledge The Jane Austen Handbook, edited by J. David Grey (London: The Athlone Press, 1986), which has been invaluable in preparing the Notes.


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GENERAL NOTES 1. Social Class It is accurate to describe Jane Austen as writing about the gentry only if that term is being used very loosely. If the term ‘gentry’ is used more precisely, to refer to the class of established, landowning families, then Austen’s main characters come mainly from the very bottom rungs of that class or from its margins. Various commentators have coined terms to refer to this more marginal, heterogeneous group. Nancy Armstrong, for example, writes of a ‘middle-class aristocracy’1; and David Spring adopts Alan Everitt’s useful term ‘pseudo-gentry’2 to describe a group comprising trade and professions, who aspired to the lifestyle of the traditional rural gentry, and whose growing incomes often meant that they could afford to buy into it by acquiring property – as the Bingleys are seeking to do at the beginning of the novel. As Edward Copeland points out, Austen quotes even land-based wealth such as Darcy’s in terms of annual income: a symptom of a class intensely interested in income as a means to, and sign of, status – and survival. For women, of course, upward social mobility could be achieved only through marriage. Contemporary commentators were very much aware of shifts in the definitions of the social order, an awareness often made evident through anxious attempts to define a status quo rather than by welcoming change. Clara Reeve, for example, in her Plans of Education, published in 1792, described the following hierarchy, arguing that ‘the gradations of rank and fortune’ should be observed in educating children: The nobility of this land are rich and powerful, but there is a distinction between the different degrees and titles, and also between the old and new nobility, which the old families well understand. The next order, are the old families of wealth and consequence; some of whom have refused titles that they thought it beneath them to accept; whose families are older, and their fortunes superior to many of the nobility. In the third class, I would place those who have acquired great wealth by any profession or calling, and whose wealth, however gained, stands in lieu of birth, merit, and accomplishments, to the world, and also to themselves. I mean only those overgrown and enormous fortunes which we have seen in our days; . . . Fourthly, I would reckon the inferior gentry, who can only count hundreds, where the above classes number thousands a year. In this class every real blessing and comfort of life is to be found, and those who know how to enjoy


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them, with virtue and moderation, are the wisest and happiest of mankind. – But there is a canker-worm which too frequently destroys their fortunes and their happiness; a foolish ambition to imitate their superiors, in manners, in vanity, in experience. But, fifthly, the men of genteel professions, law, physic, and divinity; to these may be added, those employed in the public offices under government, and the officers of the army and navy. In this class I would include all merchants of eminence. The character of a British merchant, is one of the most respectable of any in the world . . . There are many of this honourable profession who can afford to spend with any of the classes abovementioned; but they are the best and wisest men, who provide for their families, and avoid all useless and impertinent display of their wealth.3

Austen’s novels are interventions, from a comparable point of view, in this situation of upward mobility and contested hierarchy and, like Reeve, Austen is particularly interested in the responsible professional and merchant class – the new meritocracy represented in Pride and Prejudice by the Gardiners. References Armstrong, Nancy, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1987) Butler, Marilyn, ‘History, Politics, and Religion’, in Grey, pp. 190– 208 Copeland, Edward, ‘Jane Austen and the Consumer Revolution’, in Grey, pp. 77–92 Reeve, Clara, Plans of Education; with Remarks on the Systems of Other Writers (London, 1792) Spring, David, ‘Interpreters of Jane Austen’s Social World: Literary Critics and Historians’, in Janet Todd (ed.), Jane Austen: New Perspectives, Women and Literature 3 (New York and London: Holmes and Meier, 1983), pp. 53–72 Notes 1. Armstrong, p. 160. 2. Spring, p. 60. 3. Reeve, pp. 64–7.


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2. Literary Allusions

The relationship between Pride and Prejudice and other literary texts is broadly, rather than specifically, allusive, so it seems more appropri­ ate to deal with it in a general note (and see also the Introduction on the political resonance of women’s fiction in the period). Austen wrote to Cassandra in 1798: ‘our family . . . are great Novel­ readers & not ashamed of being so’ (18 December 1798),1 and, as other letters show, Austen read and re-read a huge amount of contemporary fiction. So although, as Tanner pointed out, Austen does not refer explicitly to other writers in Pride and Prejudice (with one exception: see note I, xiv: 5), the novel is steeped in the characters, situations and plot structures of contemporary fiction – particularly the novels of Samuel Richardson and post-Richardsonian fiction by women. The most direct allusion is the title itself, clearly taken from the end of Frances Burney’s Cecilia (1782), and Darcy’s first proposal recalls Mortimer Delville’s proposal to the heroine in that novel. Darcy can also be seen as a version of the reformable Mr B. in Richardson’s Pamela (1740), as well as being a much more attractive rewriting of the ideal hero in Sir Charles Grandison (1753–4) – one of Austen’s favourite novels. See Butler, Marilyn, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (1975; repr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987) Doody, Margaret Anne, ‘Jane Austen’s Reading’, in Grey, pp. 347–63 Harris, Jocelyn, Jane Austen’s Art of Memory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) Johnson, Claudia, Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1988) Kelly, Gary, ‘Jane Austen and the English Novel of the 1790s’, in Mary Anne Schofield and Cecilia Macheski (eds.), Fetter’d or Free? British Women Novelists 1670–1815 (Athens, Ohio and London: Ohio University Press, 1986), pp. 285–306 Lascelles, Mary, ‘Reading and Response’, in Jane Austen and Her Art (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1939), pp. 41–83 Moler, Kenneth L., Jane Austen’s Art of Allusion (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1968)


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Notes 1. Letters, p. 26.

3. Language Shifts in the meanings of words can be one of the main difficulties for a modern reader of Austen. Where changes in meaning made it seem particularly necessary, I have given eighteenth-century definitions of individual words in the notes. See Phillipps, K. C., Jane Austen’s English (London: Andre´ Deutsch, 1970) Stokes, Myra, The Language of Jane Austen (London: Macmillan, 1991)

EXPLANATORY NOTES Volume One C HA PT ER I 1. chaise and four: A four-wheeled closed carriage usually drawn by two or four horses, the chaise was the regular family carriage. It held three people who all faced in the direction of travel. An income of at least £800, and preferably £1,000, a year was needed to keep a carriage. Here the carriage itself, but also the number of horses, are indicators of Bingley’s wealth. (See note I, iv: 2.) 2. Michaelmas: 29 September, the feast of St Michael and a quarter-day. 3. parts: In the now largely obsolete sense of OED definition 12: ‘a personal quality or attribute . . . esp. of an intellectual kind . . . Abilities, capacities, talents’. 4. nervous: Definitions and cases of ‘nervous’ disorders proliferated during the eighteenth century, due partly to developments in physio­ logical experiment and theory, partly to developments in a vocabulary of sensibility and self-consciousness. They were associated particularly with women, who were believed to be more delicate, and thus more susceptible, emotionally and physically, than men. Austen’s suggestion that Mrs Bennet actually suffers from self-centred hypochondria is a rather unsympathetic version of, for example, Mary Wollstonecraft’s view that women were socially manipulated into thinking of themselves as nervous creatures of sensibility. (See also I, xx.)


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C HA PT ER II 1. assemblies: Public balls, funded usually by subscription and held in assembly rooms which were sometimes purpose-built but often, in market towns like Meryton, attached to inns. (See note I, iii: 4.) 2. neices: I have followed R. W. Chapman in retaining Austen’s charac­ teristic spelling of words with ‘ie’ (cf. Love and Freindship), when that spelling appears in the first edition of the novel. (See also Note on the Text.) 3. forms of introduction: The strict hierarchical rules which governed social intercourse and stipulated that individuals had to be formally introduced. (Cf. pp. 6, 95, where Mr Collins inappropriately assumes the right to address Darcy; and 332, when Lady Catherine arrives at Longbourn.) 4. make extracts: A reference to the common practice of copying passages from reading into a commonplace book, and an example of the novel’s recurrent interest in female accomplishments. (See also notes I, viii: 9, 11; I, ix: 1.) C HA PT ER II I 1. intelligence: News, information. 2. Ten thousand a year: Darcy’s income puts him among the 400 wealthiest families in the country, (See G. E. Mingay, English Landed Society in the Eighteenth Century, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963, pp. 19–24; and General Note 1, above.) For the spelling of ‘mein’, see note I, ii: 2. 3. disgust: Meanings range in this period between mild dislike and, as now, very strong aversion. 4. obliged . . . to sit down for two dances: The rules governing balls and assemblies were based originally on Beau Nash’s ‘Rules to be observ’d at Bath’, drawn up in 1706 to regulate public gatherings. Partners were changed (if at all – and some assembly rooms insisted on it) after two dances, and same-sex couples were not allowed ‘without permission of the Master of the Ceremonies; nor can permission be given while there are an equal number of Ladies and Gentlemen’ (Thomas Wilson, A Companion to the Ball Room, 1816, p. 222). Darcy’s refusal to dance is therefore particularly unfriendly. Having refused an invitation to dance, it was considered very rude for a woman to accept an offer for the same dance from anyone else – as Frances Burney’s heroine discovers in Evelina (Vol. I, Letter XI). (Cf. pp. 26– 7, 88–9.) 5. Boulanger: A lively dance imported from France and danced, like


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most country dances, in a long set of couples. During the nineteenth century it was commonly the fifth and final dance in the quadrille. 6. excessively: In Johnson’s Dictionary (1755), defined simply as: ‘exceedingly; eminently; in a great degree’, but the meaning shifted during the eighteenth century towards the modern suggestion of a transgression of appropriate limits. As used here by Mrs Bennet, it falls into the category of one of the ‘common cant intensifiers of the day’ (Myra Stokes, The Language of Jane Austen, London: Macmillan, 1991, p. 17). C HA PT ER IV 1. candour: As Elizabeth’s description suggests, ‘candour’ and ‘candid’ imply more than simply frankness. Johnson defines ‘candour’ as ‘sweet­ ness of temper; purity of mind; openness; ingenuity; kindness’. 2. very fine ladies: The Bingleys are very wealthy. The Bingley sisters’ independent fortunes of £20,000 would yield a disposable income of £1,000 a year (in comparison with the Bennet sisters’ £1,000 capital); Bingley’s fortune of ‘nearly an hundred thousand pounds’ would yield £5,000 per year, an income comparable with those in Mingay’s cate­ gory of ‘wealthy gentry’. But this money has been made in trade, and the Bingleys are looking to consolidate their fortune and secure respectability by buying into land. (See G. E. Mingay, English Landed Society in the Eighteenth Century, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963, pp. 19–24; and General Note 1, above.) 3. one of the first private seminaries in town: Boarding schools for girls proliferated during the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. Fees varied from around £12 to £100 a year, and the typical curriculum was limited to a range of ‘polite’ accomplishments: English, French, geography, sometimes history, writing, drawing, dancing and music. Such schools were frequently criticized in treatises on female education for encouraging inappropriate aspirations in lower-class girls whose parents could afford to pay for their education, and as exposing girls to ‘the pernicious society of those who are not so well principled as themselves’ – which was seen as including teachers as well as other pupils (Thomas Gisborne, An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex, 1797, 6th edition 1805, p. 38). (See also notes I, ix: 1 and II, vi: 2.) 4. liberty of a manor: The right to shoot game.


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C HA PT ER V 1. to the King, during his mayoralty: King George III (ruled 1760– 1811, d. 1820). The mayor was the head of a municipal corporation or the ruling body of a borough, usually elected annually by councillors from among their own number. Before the local government reform of 1835, boroughs varied hugely in size and in political procedures, and the office of mayor had, according to Jeremy Bentham’s Constitutional Code, ‘in the English chaos about as many different functions attached as there are towns in which a functionary of this denomination is to be found’ (Works, ed. John Bowring, Edinburgh, William Tait, Vol. IX, 1843, p. 613). An example of Austen’s precise, and satirical, eye for mechanisms of social mobility: the standard royal acknowledgement of Sir Wil­ liam’s local influence and importance as a tradesman encourages him to seek membership of the ‘pseudo-gentry’ (see General Note 1, above). 2. St. James’s: Presentation at court to receive his knighthood. 3. hack chaise: A hired carriage. Again, transport is used as an indicator of wealth – or, here, the comparative lack of it. 4. a pack of foxhounds: An interesting example of masculine consumer aspiration. Packs of hounds dedicated to foxhunting were a compara­ tively recent phenomenon, dating from around 1750. C HA PT ER VI 1. waited on: Visited. 2. impertinent: In the sense of Johnson’s second definition: ‘importu­ nate; intrusive; meddling’. 3. conceals her affection: The question of whether it was seemly, or prudent, for women to acknowledge affection was a frequent preoccu­ pation in advice literature; for example, John Gregory’s A Father’s Legacy to his Daughters (1774), one of the most popular conduct books of the time: ‘If you love him, let me advise you never to discover to him the full extent of your love, no not although you marry him. That sufficiently shews your preference, which is all he is intitled to know’ (pp. 87–8). 4. Vingt-un . . . Commerce: Card games. In both, players have to lay stakes on their chance of making the best hand from cards dealt or available in a pool. Vingt-un involves more risk and requires less strategic attention to others’ moves. But any significance in the com­ parison might lie simply in a play on the associations of ‘Commerce’. Alistair M. Duckworth has argued that in Pride and Prejudice card games ‘are deftly integrated into the novel’s antithetical structure so as


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to expose extremes of social conformity and individual freedom’, with games carefully chosen to fit the families that play them (‘ ‘‘Spillikins, Paper Ships, Riddles, Conundrums, and Cards’’: Games in Jane Austen’s Life and Fiction’, in John Halperin (ed.), Jane Austen: Bicen­ tenary Essays, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975, p. 283). 5. continue: In the first edition of the novel which belonged to Cas­ sandra Austen, ‘continue’ is corrected to ‘contrive’ (see Note on the Text), but it seems unnecessary to emend the more subtle expression of the original. 6. keep your breath to cool your porridge: Elizabeth’s idiom, like her behaviour, moves between polite speech and a more colloquial mode – what Caroline Bingley would call ‘a most country town indifference to decorum’ (I, viii). 7. complaisance, complacency: The two words could be synonymous in this period. The OED defines ‘complaisance’ as ‘the action or habit of making oneself agreeable; desire and care to please; compliance with, or deference to, the wishes of others’. It gives ‘disposition or wish to please, or comply with the wishes of others’ as a now obsolete meaning of ‘complacency’. Other definitions of ‘complacency’ possible at the time include simply ‘the fact or state of being pleased with a thing or person; tranquil pleasure or satisfaction in something or some one’. It could, but did not yet necessarily, carry the negative modern implication of self-satisfaction. The proximity of these closely associated terms, one used by Sir William, one by the authorial voice, is typical of Austen’s witty and finely discriminating use of language and demands careful judgement of Darcy’s feelings and behaviour. C HA PT ER VI I 1. entailed in default of heirs male: An entail is any settlement which restricts the terms by which an estate can be bequeathed in subsequent generations. The Bennet estate is entailed ‘in fee tail male’, a frequent common-law arrangement which ensured that only males could inherit. In many cases, complex conveyancing contracts were drawn up to prevent full freehold inheritance by remote relatives such as Mr Collins. 2. Phillips: See Note on the Text on the retention of first-edition variant spellings of proper names. 3. clerk to their father . . . respectable line of trade: Mrs Bennet is from the upwardly mobile professional class. Her brother and brother-in­ law, the businessman and the lawyer, exemplify respectability earned by merit. In contrast, promotion for the army officers with whom Mr

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Philips is on visiting terms would be dependent largely on patronage or social status. 4. milliner’s shop: Originally meaning an inhabitant of Milan, a milliner was a vendor not just of hats but of ‘fancy’ goods and articles of clothing such as might have come from Milan – ribbons, gloves, etc. 5. militia regiment: For most of Austen’s adult life (1793–1815), England was at war with post-revolutionary France. The militia were a mobile military force, established in response to the fear of invasion, that moved from place to place, largely in the south of England. They were thus distinct from the ‘regulars’ who had fixed camps throughout the country. This new practice of extensive billeting of troops came in for considerable criticism. 6. regimentals of an ensign: The military uniform of an officer. An ensign was the lowest grade of commissioned officer in an infantry regiment. 7. effusions: In the sense of Johnson’s third definition: ‘the act of pouring out words’. 8. sensible: This word carried a wide range of meanings in the eigh­ teenth and early nineteenth centuries, from simply physical to intellec­ tual or moral awareness. Here it is used as the equivalent of the modern ‘aware of ’ or ‘alert to’. 9. five or six thousand a year: Typically, Mrs Bennet’s estimate of a colonel’s income is somewhat exaggerated. 10. Clarke’s library: Presumably a private subscription or ‘circulating’ library, from which books (particularly novels) could be borrowed for an annual membership fee. 11. coach: A covered carriage which had two facing seats, so could hold six people. The Bennets cannot afford to keep dedicated coach horses. The contention over the use of horses for work or private pleasure anticipates Mary Crawford’s failure to appreciate that horses are needed for the harvest when she wants her harp transported (Mans­ field Park, chapter 6). 12. apothecary: Someone who prescribed drugs as well as preparing and selling them, functions later divided between the pharmacist and the medical practitioner. In 1815 an Act of Parliament gave the apothe­ caries’ society the power to examine and license apothecaries in Eng­ land and Wales, and only those licensed were allowed to practise: this, together with the gradual splitting of the prescribing and dispensing functions, exemplifies the growth at this period of a professional culture. 13. draughts: Doses of medicine.


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C HA PT ER VI II 1. at half past six . . . dinner: In keeping with eighteenth-century practice, Elizabeth has had no meal since breakfast. It was usual to have a substantial late breakfast at around ten in the morning, having already got well on with the day’s tasks, and to have dinner in the mid-afternoon. But from the late eighteenth century mealtimes slowly changed, and the Bingleys follow the custom in fashionable circles of having a later dinner at six thirty. As the gap between breakfast and dinner lengthened, ‘luncheon’ – usually a cold buffet – emerged. Dinner was an elaborate meal, followed by cards, music and conversation and then supper. (See also note I, xxi: 3.) 2. complacency: Here, simply, ‘the fact or state of being pleased with a thing or person’ (OED). (See also note I, vi: 7.) 3. ragout: ‘A dish usually consisting of meat cut in small pieces, stewed with vegetables and highly seasoned’ (OED). One of several examples of the Hursts’ sophisticated metropolitan tastes. 4. blowsy: The OED gives two meanings which might be relevant here: 1. ‘red and coarse complexioned; flushed-looking’; 2. ‘dishevelled, frowsy, slatternly’. 5. petticoat . . . gown . . . let down to hide it: The petticoat, worn under a gown or overskirt, was meant to be seen. Elizabeth is probably wearing the standard day-dress of the period, made of one of the new cotton fabrics, muslin or cambric, high-waisted and with an overskirt that fell open in a V-shaped gap from a wrap-over waist, showing a usually matching petticoat. 6. Cheapside: In the City of London and therefore unfashionable and associated with trade. The implicit contrast is with the new residential areas around Oxford Street. 7. sat with her till summoned to coffee: I.e., when the men have left the dining-room to join the ladies. 8. loo: A card game rather like whist, but various numbers can play and not all the cards are dealt. The ‘loo’ is the sum forfeited by any player who fails to win a trick. (See also note I, vi: 4.) 9. paint tables, cover skreens and net purses: Typical decorative (and, by implication, trivial and useless) feminine ‘accomplishments’. Cf. the Bertram sisters in Mansfield Park, whose pastimes include ‘making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper’ (chapter 2). 10. comprehend: In the sense of Johnson’s first definition: ‘to comprise; to include; to contain; to imply’. 11. a woman must have a thorough knowledge of . . . to deserve the word: This whole discussion is very obviously central to the novel’s


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recurrent interest in the form and content of female education. (See also notes I, ii: 4; I, iv: 3; I, ix: 1; II, vi: 2.) 12. physicians: Professional medical practitioners, as opposed to local apothecaries. (See note I, vii: 12.) C HA PT ER IX 1. brought up differently: Mrs Bennet’s social aspirations are abund­ antly clear in her suggestion that her daughters have been educated in the expectation of a leisured existence. Anxieties about inappropriately educated girls, unable to fend for themselves, abound in advice and educational literature of the period. See, for example, Clara Reeve in Plans of Education (1792): ‘What numbers of young ladies . . . are turned into the world to seek their fortunes; boasting of their good education, ignorant of everything useful, disdaining to match with their equals, aspiring to their superiors, with little or no fortune, unable or unwilling to work for themselves’ (pp. 61–2). 2. the food of love: Cf. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act I, sc. 1: ‘If music be the food of love, play on,/Give me excess of it . . .’ C HA PT ER X 1. piquet: A complicated card game played by two people, using thirty-two cards. (See also note I, vi: 4.) 2. reel: A lively dance, associated with Scotland and sometimes Ireland, usually danced by two couples facing each other and describing a series of figures of eight. 3. the picturesque would be spoilt: Elizabeth refers jokingly to the contemporary cult of the picturesque, a fashion in both landscape appreciation and garden design which emphasized a painterly aesthetic – ‘natural’, asymmetrical lines rather than classical symmetry – and which took particular pleasure in, for example, ivy-clad ruins. It is particularly associated with the travel writings of William Gilpin (see notes II, iv: 1 and II, xix: 1). The allusion here is to Gilpin’s Observa­ tions, Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty . . . particularly the Moun­ tains, and Lakes of Cumberland, and Westmorland (1786), where, in his comments on the prints included in the book, he explains pictur­ esque principles through his ‘doctrine of grouping larger cattle’: ‘Two will hardly combine . . . But with three, you are almost sure of a good group . . . Four introduce a new difficulty in grouping . . . The only way in which they will group well, is to unite three . . . and to remove the fourth’ (‘Explanation of the Prints’, Vol. II, pp. xii–xiii).


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C HA PT ER XI 1. white soup: Made from meat stock, egg yolks, ground almonds and cream, and served strengthened with negus (hot sweetened wine and water) as a warming and intoxicating refreshment at balls. C HA PT ER XI I 1. thorough bass: A bass line with figures indicating the harmonies which the player must realize by improvisation in the upper part. The term came also to mean the study of harmony in general. C HA PT ER XI II 1. entailed away from your own children: See note I, vii: 1. 2. preferred: To be granted a parish of ‘living’ (see note I, xv: 2). 3. demean: Austen plays, perhaps, with the two possible meanings recorded by Johnson: ‘1. to behave; to carry one’s self. 2. to lessen; to debase; to undervalue’. 4. se’night: Also ‘se’nnight’. Johnson: ‘the space of seven days and nights; a week’. C HA PT ER XI V 1. aspect: In the sense of Johnson’s second definition: ‘Countenance; look’. 2. quadrille: Card game played by four people with a pack of forty cards. Quadrille is a variation of ombre, which Belinda plays with the Baron in Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, and gave way in turn to whist. (See also note I, vi: 4.) 3. phaeton: A four-wheeled open carriage with an elevated seat for the driver and one passenger. 4. presented: To the king and so to the highest society. Mrs Bennet will be working from the Court List rather than personal knowledge. 5. Fordyce’s Sermons: James Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, first published in 1766, was a popular conduct book, frequently reprinted between 1790 and 1810. Like Mr Collins, Fordyce is particularly vehement about the majority of novels: ‘there seem to be very few, in the style of Novel, that you can read with safety, and yet fewer that you can read with advantage. – What shall we say of certain books, which we are assured (for we have not read them) are in their nature so shameful, in their tendency so pestiferous, and contain such rank treason against the royalty of Virtue, such horrible violation of all decorum, that she who can bear to peruse them must in her soul be a prostitute, let her reputation in life be what it will. But can it be true –


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say, ye chaste stars, that with innumerable eyes inspect the midnight behaviour of mortals – can it be true, that any young woman, pre­ tending to decency, should endure for a moment to look on this infernal brood of futility and lewdness?’ (3rd edition 1766, Vol. I, pp. 148–9). Mary Wollstonecraft attacks Fordyce’s Sermons in Vindication of the Rights of Woman. C HA PT ER XV 1. belonged to one of the universities . . . necessary terms: It was virtually impossible to be ordained without a degree from either Oxford or Cambridge but increasingly difficult to gain admission to the universities as the practice of giving free board and lodging to poor scholars was becoming less common. Once admitted, getting a degree demanded little more than fulfilling residence requirements, and many young men used university mainly as an opportunity to make useful contacts. 2. living: The benefice, or position and property, of a Church of England clergyman. At the end of the eighteenth century there were 11,600 benefices in England and Wales, over half of which were in the gift of private landowners or the Crown. Livings were often secured through family relationships, and the Church was a useful career (rather than a vocation) for well-born younger sons – as Austen was well aware: her father and two of her brothers were clergymen. A living meant a house and an annual income derived from tithes (see note I, xviii: 1), or from the glebe land belonging to the church, which could vary from £100 to nearer £1,000 a year. Many clergymen held more than one living, and the clergy increasingly acted as a rural managerial class for the landed gentry. The wealthier ones were themselves typical members of the ‘pseudo-gentry’ (see General Note 1, above). 3. one of the largest folios in the collection: A folio is a book printed on large-size paper and therefore expensive. 4. a really new muslin: A fairly new fabric at the time, a product of Britain’s rule in India, muslin was finely woven cotton, came in a variety of textures and patterns and washed well. The end of the eighteenth century saw a shift from stiff and richly coloured silks to light, thin cottons and linens in white or pale colours and to simple, high-waisted dresses inspired by the draperies of classical statues. The muslin in question would be a length of cloth bought to be made up. 5. commission: As an officer. We learn in I, xv that he is a lieutenant, a subaltern officer ranking next below a captain. 6. lottery tickets: ‘A round game at cards, in which prizes are obtained by the holders of certain cards’ (OED). (See also note I, vi: 4.)


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C HA PT ER XV I 1. chimney-piece: £800 was a fabulous price for a chimney-piece. It must have been commissioned from the great chimney-piece maker Carter, whose clients included the Adam brothers. 2. their own indifferent imitations of china: Decorative feminine accomplishments included painting plain crockery with imitations of the designs on fine china. C HA PT ER XV II 1. Interested: In the sense of OED definition 2: ‘influenced by consider­ ations of personal advantage; moved by self-interest’. 2. shrubbery: An increasingly popular feature of garden design, shrub­ beries provided different walks on gravel paths and allowed privacy while still close to the social world of the house. In Mansfield Park, Fanny praises a new shrubbery as combining utility and ornament (chapter 22). (See also note III, i: 2.) 3. venturing to dance: Though he is sanctimonious, Mr Collins is not of the strict Evangelical persuasion which became increasingly influential within the Church in the early nineteenth century and which would have frowned on dancing and card-playing. 4. shoe-roses: Decorations for dancing shoes. C HA PT ER XV II I 1. tythes: Also spelt ‘tithes’ – a tenth of the gross income from all cultivated land within a parish, to which clergymen were entitled. By the early nineteenth century the negotiation of tithes with landowners and tenant farmers could be a complex and time-consuming business. 2. settlements: Legal agreements granting money or property. Here, arrangements for a wife’s dowry and personal income. C HA PT ER XI X 1. one thousand pounds in the 4 per cents.: The ‘four per cents’ were government funds yielding interest which provided an annual disposable income – in this case of very modest proportions. See Edward Copeland, ‘What is a Competence? Jane Austen, Her Sister Novelists, and the 5%s’, Modern Language Studies 9:3 (1979), 161–8. 2. economy: In the sense of Johnson’s first definition: ‘the management of a family; the government of a household’. 3. rational creature: Cf. Mary Wollstonecraft in Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792): ‘My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating


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graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual child­ hood, unable to stand alone’ (ed. Miriam Brody, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996, p. 81). C HA PT ER XX I 1. hot pressed paper: Fine, expensive writing paper which had gone through the extra production process of hot pressing to make it smooth. 2. Grosvenor street: Just south of Oxford Street, in the fashionable residential area of London. 3. two full courses: Dinner could be a very elaborate meal. A full course involved not just the main dish but also a large number of ‘removes’ – i.e., dishes which were changed while the rest of the course remained. C HA PT ER XX II 1. coming out: A young girl’s official entry into society and, therefore, marriageability.

Volume Two C HA PT ER II 1. Gracechurch Street: In the City of London, the commercial area about two miles east of the fashionable residential area where the Hursts live. C HA PT ER IV 1. the Lakes: The Lake District in the north-west of England, already a popular tourist destination by the late eighteenth century, and the subject of many picturesque travel guides, most famously William Gilpin’s Observations, Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty, Made in the Year 1772, on several parts of England; particularly the Moun­ tains, and Lakes of Cumberland, and Westmoreland (1786). (See notes I, x: 3 and II, xix: 1.) 2. transport: In the sense of Johnson’s third definition: ‘rapture; ecstasy’. Elizabeth’s outburst in favour of nature rather than humanity is, perhaps, a relic of First Impressions, which might have been a more explicitly satirical novel along the lines of Northanger Abbey. C HA PT ER VI 1. placing a screen in the proper direction: To shield her from the direct heat of the fire. 2. you must have been neglected: This exchange between Elizabeth


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and Lady Catherine alludes to a number of contentious issues in contemporary debates about female education. As befits her class, and in common with many contemporary commentators, Lady Catherine prefers a private education at home to boarding school (see note I, iv: 3) and is alarmed at the prospect of girls being allowed any degree of freedom. Her suggestion that their mother must have been a ‘slave’ to the Bennet girls’ education reflects on both women, however. Cf. J. L. Chirol, An Enquiry into the Best System of Female Education; or, Boarding School and Home Education Attentively Considered (1809): ‘What! is the most sacred duty – a duty imposed upon every mother by nature, religion, society, and private interest – a duty, on the strict performance of which depend the constitution, the temper, the disposition, the happiness of your daughters in this world, and in the world to come – a duty, the performance of which is attended with the most exquisite and permanent pleasure, – is this duty, slavery?’ (p. 157). 3. well placed out: The position of governess, like that of paid com­ panion, was one of very few jobs available for educated women who needed to support themselves, and it could be very difficult. Within a household, the governess was neither a member of the family nor, strictly, a servant, and she was often poorly paid. Chirol, for example (see previous note), makes a plea for proper remuneration and for the establishing of a seminary for training governesses. Cf. Emma, where Emma’s governess Miss Taylor (Mrs Weston) has been an important positive influence and a close friend but where Jane Fairfax dreads the prospect of becoming a governess. 4. cassino: A card game in which the ten of diamonds (the great cassino) counts for two points and the two of spades (the little cassino) counts one; the aim is to score 11. (See also note I, vi: 4.) C HA PT ER VI I 1. gig: An open two-wheeled carriage with a seat for the driver and one passenger and sometimes a groom’s seat behind. 2. commission of the peace: Made up of magistrates (distinct from justices) appointed by special commission from among the rural landed gentry to keep the peace. C HA PT ER XI I 1. Ramsgate: A fashionable seaside resort on the south coast of Kent.


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C HA PT ER XI V 1. Barouche box: The barouche was a four-wheeled carriage with a collapsible top. The box was where the driver sat. 2. travelling post: i.e., in the carriages that carried the mail, changing at designated stations en route. C HA PT ER XV I 1. the sentinel on guard: Another sign of the military presence in southern England in response to the perceived threat of a French invasion. 2. Brighton: A very fashionable move. Brighton was dominated for almost forty years, from 1783 until 1820, by the Prince Regent and his entourage. The reference to the military camp gives a flavour of the late eighteenth century, when the novel was first drafted: in 1793, 1794 and 1795 Brighton was the site of one of the largest militia camps on the south coast. C HA PT ER XV II I 1. exposed herself: Made an exhibition of herself. Cf. Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women (see note I, xiv: 5): ‘The beauty that obtrudes itself, how considerable soever, will either disgust, or at most excite but inferior desires . . . The retiring graces have been always the most attractive’ (Vol. I, p. 96). 2. peculiar: In the now infrequent sense of ‘particular, individual’. C HA PT ER XI X 1. Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak: All described in Gilpin’s Observations, Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty (see note II, iv: 1). In the ‘Biographical Notice of the Author’ prefacing the posthumous publication of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in 1818, Jane Austen’s brother Henry records that ‘at a very early age she was enamoured of Gilpin on the Picturesque’. But the text here is more interested in personal histories (Mrs Gardiner’s home town and the visit to Pemberley) than in conventional tourist routes, giving the lie to Elizabeth’s earlier Romantic outburst in favour of ‘rocks and moun­ tains’ rather than ‘men’ (II, iv). Gilpin describes Dovedale as ‘a calm, sequestered scene; and yet not wholly the haunt of solitude, and con­ templation’ (Vol. II, p. 231). 2. a few petrified spars: Specimens of fossilized wood. 3. teaching them, playing with them, and loving them: Jane’s ‘sense and sweetness of temper’ make her an ideal practitioner of a liberal,


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Rousseauistic, educational regime balancing learning, play and affection. 4. Oxford, Blenheim, etc.: The Gardiners follow closely Gilpin’s route in Observations, Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty (see note II, xix: 1), except that from Birmingham he goes north through Man­ chester and Lancaster to the Lakes, returning via Chatsworth, Matlock and Dovedale. 5. great houses: Far from being a modern phenomenon, tourist visits to ‘stately homes’ became popular in the eighteenth century, and guide books, illustrated with prints and giving details of the owners, were published. See, for example, Seats of the Nobility and Gentry in Great Britain and Wales, Engraved by W. Angus. From Pictures and Draw­ ings by the most Eminent Artists (London, 1787).

Volume Three C HA PT ER I 1. abruptness: Of landscape, ‘roughness, cragginess’ ( Johnson). 2. so little counteracted by an awkward taste: Critics have argued about whether Pemberley is meant to suggest Chatsworth, but it seems unlikely, since Chatsworth is listed separately as one of the places visited by the Gardiner party, and Gilpin’s description (see note II, xix: 1) of eighteenth-century Chatsworth is unenthusiastic: ‘Chatsworth was the glory of the last age, when trim parterres, and formal water­ works were in fashion . . . when we saw it, it’s invirons [sic] had not kept pace with the improvements of the times. Many of the old formalities remained’ (Vol. II, p. 220). After the construction of a water-garden at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the landscape gardening at Chatsworth was carried out largely in the mid-nineteenth century. But the difference between Chatsworth’s formal gardens and the picturesque garden design, attentive to natural forms, which charac­ terizes Pemberley raises questions more interesting than those of mere factual identification. In describing Pemberley Austen draws on a vast eighteenth-century tradition of moralized landscape design in which an appropriate balance of nature and art, beauty and use is the sign of a properly responsible moral outlook. Significant literary examples include Pope’s fourth Moral Essay, ‘Epistle to Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington’ (1731), and Samuel Richardson’s description of Sir Charles’s taste in Sir Charles Grandison (1733–4): ‘he studies situation and convenience; and pretends not to level hills, or to force and distort


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nature; but to help it, as he finds it, without letting art be seen in his works, where he can possibly avoid it’ (Part 2, Vol. III, Letter XXIII, Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 1986, pp. 160–61). Cf. Mansfield Park, where Fanny is horrified by Mr Rushworth’s plans to ‘improve’ his estate, particularly to cut down an avenue of ancient oak trees, with no sensitivity to nature or history (chapter 6). 3. neither gaudy nor uselessly fine: The taste with which the interior of Pemberley is decorated is in keeping with the grounds, and there might well be another contrast, besides that with Rosings, implicit here: Pemberley’s elegant family interior is very different from the dazzling display of European art treasures, collected by the fifth Duke of Devon­ shire, which could be seen at Chatsworth. 4. said Mrs Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures: The name of Pemberley’s housekeeper, who paints such an important verbal portrait of Darcy, and who shows the family portraits to the visitors, is perhaps a jokey allusion to Sir Joshua Reynolds, the great eighteenth­ century portrait painter, whose Discourses on Art (1769–90) were extremely influential in the development of aesthetic theory and artistic taste. 5. gratitude: Cf. pp. 253, 265. According to John Gregory (see note I, vi: 3), gratitude was the most likely basis of love for a woman: ‘What is commonly called love among you is rather gratitude, and a partiality to the man who prefers you to the rest of your sex; . . . this gratitude rises into a preference, and this preference perhaps at last advances to some degree of attachment, especially if it meets with crosses and difficulties . . . If attachment was not excited in your sex in this manner, there is not one of a million of you that could ever marry with any degree of Love’ (A Father’s Legacy, pp. 80–83). C HA PT ER II 1. curricle: Like a gig, an open carriage with two wheels and a seat for the driver and one passenger. C HA PT ER II I 1. grapes, nectarines, and peaches: Luxuries which would be grown in greenhouses on the estate. 2. brown and coarse: Pale complexions were most fashionable at this period.


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C HA PT ER IV 1. an express: ‘A messenger sent on purpose’ ( Johnson). 2. to Scotland: i.e., she has eloped to Gretna Green, the first town beyond the Scottish border. Marriage in Scotland was not subject to residence requirements as in England. (See also notes III, iv: 5 and III, xvii: 3.) 3. Clapham: Then a village outside London to the south. 4. no such people had been seen to pass through: Colonel Forster’s attempt to trace Wickham and Lydia through their use of public transport anticipates more extensive narrative uses of such detective tactics in, particularly, nineteenth-century novels. Chaises and hackney coaches could be privately hired, but both would use the ‘post’ stations (usually inns in towns or villages) where horses were changed. 5. married privately: i.e., by securing a bishop’s licence. After ‘Hard­ wicke’s’ Marriage Act of 1753 marriages were valid only if performed with parental consent for those under the age of twenty-one, and by an ordained Anglican clergyman after the calling of banns or the purchase of a licence from a bishop or his surrogate. In both cases, at least one of the couple had to be resident for at least three weeks in the parish concerned. (See also note III, xvii: 3, and John R. Gillis, For Better, For Worse: British Marriages, 1600 to the Present, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, pp. 140–42.). C HA PT ER V 1. more economically, though less expeditiously: See previous note. 2. terrific: ‘Dreadful; causing terrour’ ( Johnson). 3. the undeserving of the other sex: Mary intones platitudes which might have come verbatim from any number of conduct books. 4. postilions: A postilion was ‘one who guides a post chaise’ ( Johnson). C HA PT ER VI 1. duel: The various characters’ reactions to Lydia’s elopement and seduction play off against versions of this very common narrative motif in fictional and moral writing. Mrs Bennet’s melodramatic concern that Mr Bennet might be killed in a duel is typically inappropriate – both in view of his character and given the fact that duels, though still practised, were frowned upon and associated primarily with the aristocracy. (Cf. note III, viii: 1.) 2. powdering gown: A loose dressing-gown-like garment worn when the hair or wig was being powdered.


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C HA PT ER VI I 1. Monday, August 2: There has been much controversy about the dating of this letter. In his edition of the novel, R. W. Chapman argues that the novel’s chronology is consistent with the calendars for 1811 and 1812, using this as evidence that Austen revised the novel at that period. According to his scheme, Austen confused the date of Mr Gardiner’s letter with that of Colonel Forster’s express to Longbourn, and this letter should have been dated 17 August (which was a Monday in 1812), consistent with Lydia’s claim to have stayed a fortnight at the Gardiners’ before her wedding. Other commentators have been less concerned to fit the novel absolutely with 1811–12, suggesting that the internal dates are a mixture of the original and the revised texts. (See Ralph Nash, ‘The Time Scheme for Pride and Prejudice’, Modern Language Notes 4 (1966–7), pp. 194–8.) 2. distressed himself: i.e., financially. C HA PT ER VI II 1. come upon the town . . . distant farm house: A fall into prostitution (‘coming upon the town’) or retirement from society were standard popular fictional alternatives for a woman who had lost her virtue. 2. a gulf impossible: The second and subsequent editions of the novel emend this to ‘a gulf impassable’, but since the phrase makes perfect sense (and might even be a buried quotation, though I have been unable to find a source), I have retained the first-edition reading. 3. regulars: See note I, vii: 5. 4. ensigncy: See note I, vii: 6. C HA PT ER IX 1. first of September: The first day of partridge shooting. 2. in that parish: See note III, iv: 5. 3. the little Theatre: Built in 1720, the Little Theatre occupied the site immediately north of the present Haymarket Theatre. It was demol­ ished in 1821. 4. beyond the hour: At this period marriages had to be solemnized between the hours of eight in the morning and twelve noon. C HA PT ER X 1. Edward-street: In the fashionable area of London, on the site of the present Langham Place. In Lady Susan, it is the address of the heroine’s bosom friend. 2. in some other country: In another area.


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C HA PT ER XI 1. covies: A covey is a ‘brood or hatch of partridges; a family of partridges keeping together during the first season’ (OED). 2. two courses: See note I, xxi: 3. C HA PT ER XI I 1. Scarborough: On the north-east coast of England, Scarborough was a fashionable spa town from the mid-seventeenth century. C HA PT ER XI II 1. as well as the others: Chapman accepts ‘other’ here, which is the reading of the second and third editions, but this would be a very odd way to refer to Jane and it is unlikely that Bingley would as yet feel himself intimate enough to sit if Elizabeth were standing. I have therefore retained the first-edition reading. C HA PT ER XI V 1. The horses were post: i.e., supplied by post-stations for general hire (see note II, xiv: 2). 2. hermitage: Gardens often included summerhouses, etc., designed as replicas of rustic buildings or caves. C HA PT ER XV I 1. ignorance: In Cassandra Austen’s copy of the novel, ‘ignorance’ is corrected to ‘innocence’, but it is much more likely that Austen intended the play on ignorance and knowledge that runs throughout the text. C HA PT ER XV II 1. entered the room: In Cassandra Austen’s copy ‘the’ is corrected to ‘their’, suggesting that Elizabeth first met Jane in their own room. 2. pin-money: ‘Money allowed to a wife for her private expences without account’ ( Johnson). 3. special licence: For someone like Mrs Bennet, marriage by special licence (and therefore private) would be considered a sign of social status: it was universal practice among the aristocracy and therefore often adopted by the gentry and urban middle class. (See also note III, iv: 5.)


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C HA PT ER XI X 1. the restoration of peace: This might refer to the temporary cessation of hostilities with France at the Treaty of Amiens of March 1802, which lasted until May 1803. This would set the main action of the novel in the 1790s, and the reference has been used by some commentators as evidence for Austen having substantially revised the novel in 1802. (See P. B. S. Andrews, ‘The Date of Pride and Prejudice’, Notes and Queries 213 (1968), pp. 338–42.) R. W. Chapman, who believes that the novel was revised in 1811–12, argues that ‘the peace’ might simply be a hopeful anticipation of the end of the Napoleonic Wars, which occurred in 1815.

Navigation Guide

One of the features exclusive to Penguin Enhanced e-Book Classics is links that take the reader from the text to end notes and illustrations. Below you’ll find instructions on how to use these links based on the file format you’re using. Due to the number of portable electronic devices available, we are unable to provide specific instructions for every device/software scenario. If you should have further questions please contact the device or software manufacturer. Adobe Reader x To select an end note, click on the numbered link on the screen. x To return to where you were in the story, press Alt+Left Arrow on a PC or Option+Left Arrow on a Mac. Adobe Digital Editions x Before you link to an end note, you’ll need to create a bookmark so that you can return to where you were in the story. To do so click on the bookmark icon at the top of your window. You will have the option to enter a descriptive comment, but it is not required. x To select an end note, click on the numbered link on the screen x To return to where you were in the story, click on the bookmark you created. Note: The order of the bookmarks corresponds to where they appear in the text. However if you do not attach descriptive comments, it may become difficult to distinguish between them. Amazon Kindle x To access an end note, use the select wheel to highlight the line that contains the numbered link then push the select wheel. You will see a new screen that offers an option to view the end note. Push the select wheel again to view the note. x To returnto where you were in the story, press the Back button. eReader x To select an end note, click on the numbered link on the screen. x The eReader platform displays notes and illustrations in two ways: 1. Hyperlinks. Notes from the Penguin Classics print edition and illustrations exclusive to the e-book edition are

displayed through hyperlinks. Clicking on the numbered link will take you to another area of the text. To return to where you were in the story, click on the back arrow icon in the lower left hand corner of your screen. 2. Pop-up Windows. Notes exclusive to the e-book edition are displayed in pop-up windows. Clicking on the numbered creates a new window on top of the text you are reading. Click OK to return to where you were in the story. Microsoft Reader x To select an end note, click on the numbered link on the screen. x The Microsoft Reader platform displays notes and illustrations in two ways: 1. Hyperlinks. Notes from the Penguin Classics print edition and illustrations exclusive to the e-book edition are displayed through hyperlinks. Clicking on the numbered link will take you to another area of the text. To return to where you were in the story, press Alt+R. 2. Pop-up Windows. Notes exclusive to the e-book edition are displayed in pop-up windows. Clicking on the numbered link creates a new window on top of the text you are reading. To return to where you were in the story, press Alt+R. Mobipocket x To select an end note, click on the numbered link on the screen. x To go back to where you were in the story, click on the back arrow icon in the upper left of the screen. Sony Reader x To select a note, highlight it using the arrow controls on the lower right button. Push the button at the center of the arrow controls to view the note. x To go back to where you were in the story, push the left arrow button.


Pride and Prejudice was the first, and for many decades the only, Jane Austen novel adapted to the screen as a feature film. Greer Garson starred as Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Olivier as Darcy in the 1940 MGM Pride and Prejudice, directed by Robert Z. Leonard from a script cowritten by Aldous Huxley and Jane Murfin. Shot in black and white, the film notoriously featured highly anachronistic costumes: Elizabeth and her sisters, attired in hoop skirts and enormous sleeves, look as if they would be more at home in Gone with the Wind. The story goes that the film’s costume designer, Adrian, asked the director’s permission to set the story in the Victorian period because the dress styles of Austen’s era were insufficiently visually impressive. The film won an Academy Award for Best Black-and-White Interior Decoration and earned both popular and critical praise. This 1940 adaptation is best appreciated in the context of other romantic or screwball comedies of its era rather than in terms of its vision of the novel. The film’s humor is much broader than Austen’s, and it is little concerned with the nuances of propriety that preoccupy her, with the result that all the Bennet sisters, even Jane, appear rather bold and flirtatious. While Garson and Olivier’s acting was in general admired, many viewers considered Garson too old to be convincing as a twenty-year-old. Both popular and critically praised, the film has had some degree of influence on successive screen adaptations of Austen’s novels: a version of the film’s archery scene, for instance, recurs in Douglas McGrath’s 1996 Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Though Pride and Prejudice would not return as a feature film until Joe Wright’s 2005 version (starring Keira Knightley), it was regularly adapted to television in the meantime. The NBC Philco Television Playhouse presented a one-hour version in 1949; the BBC twice produced a six-part miniseries from one script, which was broadcast with different casts in 1952 and 1958; and two further miniseries versions by the BBC appeared in 1967 and 1980. Of these adaptations, only the one from 1980 remains widely available and much

remembered by Austen fans. Unusually long—226 minutes, as opposed to 180 for the BBC’s earlier versions—it permitted the inclusion of more of Austen’s plot and dialogue. The portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet by actress Elizabeth Garvie drew particular admiration. To call the BBC’s 1995 miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which starred Colin Firth as Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth, the most popular version to date is an understatement. Both in Britain and in the United States (where it was broadcast in 1996 on the A&E network), the sixpart series became a national phenomenon. Viewers who were riveted by the unfolding romance, and especially by Firth’s magnetic portrayal of Darcy, found the series’ three hundred– minute overall length not a moment too much. Equally enjoyed were the performances of actors in supporting roles, including Julia Sawalha as an earthy, exuberant Lydia; Crispin Bonham-Carter as a shy but sweet Bingley; and David Bamber as an exceptionally unctuous Mr. Collins. Directed by Simon Langton, the series’ script was by Andrew Davies, who went on to adapt for television Austen’s Emma (1996), Northanger Abbey (first broadcast in 2007), and Sense and Sensibility (2008). Characteristic of Davies’s style—and well displayed in his Pride and Prejudice script—is fidelity to Austen’s plotting, generous use of her own dialogue, and a willingness to highlight aspects of her novels that especially appeal to present-day viewers, including but not limited to sexuality. Widely available on videotape and then DVD, this Firth/Ehle Pride and Prejudice can take credit, or blame, for igniting and fanning the Austen fervor that reigned throughout the 1990s and has resurged again in the 2000s. (The series was rebroadcast in the United States in 2008 as part of the Complete Jane Austen presentation by Masterpiece Classics on public television.) Well-loved as some of the other 1990s film adaptations of Austen’s novels were—e.g., Sense and Sensibility (1995)—they did not enter the popular imagination to the same extent. In large part through Helen Fielding’s 1996 novel Bridget Jones’s Diary, Pride and Prejudice also became a lasting influence on the new genre of women’s fiction known as “chick lit.” Not only did Fielding base the outline of her plot on Austen’s novel, but she depicts Bridget and her

friends obsessively watching and rewatching the 1995 miniseries, especially the sexiest scenes featuring Firth. That Firth himself portrayed Fielding’s hero Mark Darcy in the film version of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) added a further link, as did the hiring of Andrew Davies to write the screenplay for the film version of Fielding’s sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). So iconic did this 1995 adaptation remain that many of its partisans balked when Joe Wright’s feature film version of the novel was announced for release in 2005. Who else could incarnate Darcy but Colin Firth? And why was a new version necessary so soon (or, depending on who was speaking, at all)? The casting of the film raised anxieties as well among Austen aficionados. Keira Knightley was, at the time, best known for her roles in Bend It Like Beckham (2002) and the Pirates of the Caribbean series (beginning 2003); she has since starred in and earned considerable acclaim for Wright’s second film, Atonement (2007). Matthew Macfadyen— Wright’s Darcy—commanded no international name recognition at all. That this film was the first for Wright as a director and for Deborah Moggach as a screenwriter also created an impression that it could not help but fall short of the 1995 version. Wright and his team wisely chose a very different approach to adapting the novel from that taken by Langton and Davies. Wright opted to set his film in the 1790s, during the period when Austen originally drafted First Impressions, a decision that ensured that this adaptation would be visually distinctive from all of the other recent Austen films. At the same time, he did not shy away from intensifying the romance of Austen’s story, incorporating scenes that some viewers judged more appropriate to the Brontës than to Austen. Wright has also cited as an influence the 1980s teen comedies with which he grew up; e.g., Sixteen Candles (1984), whose atmosphere of charged flirtation he sought to recreate especially in the dance scenes of his own film. The result is a Pride and Prejudice that held particular appeal to a younger generation of viewers, although it also earned considerable critical praise (including Academy Award nominations for Knightley as Best Actress,

as well as for Art Direction, Costume, and Original Music Score). Between the Langton/Davies miniseries in 1995 and Wright’s feature film in 2005, two other adaptations reached the screen. In 2003, a present-day Pride and Prejudice, directed by Andrew Black, had a limited, regional theatrical release in the United States; it is now available on DVD. Black recasts Austen’s novel as a chick flick, in the mode of Amy Heckerling’s Clueless (1995), but with the twist of setting it in Provo, Utah, amidst Brigham Young University and the Mormon Church (of which Black and the majority of his filmmaking team are members). Much more widely recognized than Black’s film was another adaptation set in the new millennium, Gurinder Chadha’s 2004 Bride & Prejudice, which adopted (often with a wink) the styles and conventions of Bollywood cinema and rendered international the identities of Austen’s characters and the settings of the story. In Chadha’s handling, Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn becomes Lalita Bakshi of Amritsar (portrayed by the former Miss World Aishwarya Rai), Darcy (played by Martin Henderson) is an American hotel magnate, and scenes take place in London and Los Angeles as well as Amritsar and the resort town of Goa. Colorful and vibrant, especially in its major dance numbers, the film demonstrates the capacity of Austen’s novel to retain much of its essential appeal even when transposed across great distances of time and geography.

Nineteenth-Century Reviews

From the British Critic, February 1813: It is very far superior to almost all the publications of the kind which have lately come before us. It has a very unexceptionable tendency, the story is well told, the characters remarkably well drawn and supported, and written with great spirit as well as vigour. The story has no great variety, it is simply this. The hero is a young man of large fortune and fashionable manners, whose distinguishing characteristic is personal pride. The heroine, on the first introduction, conceives a most violent prejudice against Darcy, which a variety of circumstances well imagined and happily represented, tend to strengthen and confirm. The under plot is an attachment between the friend of Darcy and the elder sister of the principal female character; other personages, of greater or less interest and importance, complete the dramatis personae, some of whose characters are exceedingly well drawn. Explanations of the different perplexities and seeming contrarieties, are gradually unfolded, and the two principal performers are happily united. Of the characters, Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine, is supported with great spirit and consistency throughout; there seems no defect in the portrait; this is not precisely the case with Darcy her lover; his easy unconcern and fashionable indifference, somewhat abruptly changes to the ardent lover. The character of Mr. Collins, the obsequious rector, is excellent. Fancy presents us with many such, who consider the patron of exalted rank as the model of all that is excellent on earth, and the patron’s smiles and condescension as the sum of human happiness. Mr. Bennet, the father of Elizabeth, presents us with some novelty of character; a reserved, acute, and satirical, but indolent personage, who sees and laughs at the follies and indiscretions of his dependents, without making any exertions to correct them. The picture of the younger Miss Bennets, their perpetual visits to the market town where officers are quartered, and the result, is perhaps exemplified in every provincial town in the kingdom.

It is unnecessary to add, that we have perused these volumes with much satisfaction and amusement, and entertain very little doubt that their successful circulation will induce the author to similar exertions. From the Critical Review, March 1813: Instead of the whole interest of the tale hanging upon one or two characters, as is generally the case in novels, the fair author of the present introduces us, at once, to a whole family, every individual of which excites the interest, and very agreeably divides the attention of the reader. Mr. Bennet, the father of this family, is represented as a man of abilities, but of a sarcastic humour, and combining a good deal of caprice and reserve in his composition. . . . His views of domestic comfort being overthrown, he seeks consolation for a disappointment, which he had brought upon himself, by indulging his fondness for a country life and his love for study. Being, as we said, a man of abilities and sense, though with some peculiarities and eccentricities, he contrives not to be out of temper with the follies which his wife discovers, and is contented to laugh and be amused with her want of decorum and propriety. . . . Jane, the eldest daughter, is very beautiful, and possesses great feeling, good sense, equanimity, cheerfulness, and elegance of manners. Elizabeth, the second, is represented as combining quickness of perception and strength of mind, with a playful vivacity something like that of her father, joined with a handsome person. Mary is a female pedant, affecting great wisdom, though saturated with stupidity. . . . Kitty is weak­ spirited and fretful, but Miss Lydia, the youngest, . . . is mad after the officers who are quartered at Meryton; and from the attentions of these beaux garçons, Miss Lydia becomes a most decided flirt. Although these young ladies claim a great share of the reader’s interest and attention, none calls forth our admiration so much as Elizabeth, whose archness and sweetness of manner render her a very attractive object in the familypiece. She is in fact the Beatrice of the tale; and falls in love on much the same principles of contrariety. . . .

Mr. Darcy, who has, in his manners, the greatest reserve and hauteur, and a prodigious quantity of family pride, becomes, in spite of his determination to the contrary, captivated with the lively and sensible Elizabeth; who, thinking him the proudest of his species, takes great delight in playing the Beatrice upon him; and, finding his manners so very unbending, sets him down as a most disagreeable man. . . . On the character of Elizabeth, the main interest of the novel depends; and the fair author has shewn considerable ingenuity in the mode of bringing about the final éclaircissement between her and Darcy. Elizabeth’s sense and conduct are of a superior order to those of the common heroines of novels. From her independence of character, which is kept within the proper line of decorum, and her well-timed sprightliness, she teaches the man of Family-Pride to know himself. . . . An excellent lesson may be learned from the elopement of Lydia:—the work also shows the folly of letting young girls have their own way, and the danger which they incur in associating with the officers, who may be quartered in or near their residence. . . . Many such silly women as Mrs. Bennet may be found; and numerous parsons like Mr. Collins, who are every thing to every body; and servile in the extreme to their superiors. Mr. Collins is indeed a notable object. The sentiments, which are dispersed over the work, do great credit to the sense and sensibility of the authoress. The line she draws between the prudent and the mercenary in matrimonial concerns, may be useful to our fair readers. . . . We cannot conclude, without repeating our approbation of this performance, which rises very superior to any novel we have lately met with in the delineation of domestic scenes. Nor is there one character which appears flat, or obtrudes itself upon the notice of the reader with troublesome impertinence. There is not one person in the drama with whom we could readily dispense;—they have all their proper place; and fill their several stations, with great credit to themselves, and much satisfaction to the reader. From a review of Emma by Sir Walter Scott in the Quarterly Review, 1816:

We, therefore, bestow no mean compliment upon the author of Emma, when we say that, keeping close to common incidents, and to such characters as occupy the ordinary walks of life, she has produced sketches of such spirit and originality, that we never miss the excitation which depends upon a narrative of uncommon events, arising from the consideration of minds, manners, and sentiments, greatly above our own. In this class she stands almost alone. . . . [T]he author of Emma confines herself chiefly to the middling classes of society; her most distinguished characters do not rise greatly above well-bred country gentlemen and ladies; and those which are sketched with most originality and precision, belong to a class rather below that standard. The narrative of all her novels is composed of such common occurrences as may have fallen under the observation of most folks; and her dramatis personæ conduct themselves upon the motives and principles which the readers may recognize as ruling their own and that of most of their acquaintances. The kind of moral, also, which these novels inculcate, applies equally to the paths of common life, as will best appear from a short notice of the author’s former works. . . . In Pride and Prejudice the author presents us with a family of young women, bred up under a foolish and vulgar mother, and a father whose good abilities lay hid under such a load of indolence and insensibility, that he had become contented to make the foibles and follies of his wife and daughters the subject of dry and humorous sarcasm, rather than of admonition, or restraint. This is one of the portraits from ordinary life which shews our author’s talents in a very strong point of view. A friend of ours, whom the author never saw or heard of, was at once recognized by his own family as the original of Mr. Bennet, and we do not know if he has yet got rid of the nickname. A Mr. Collins, too, a formal, conceited, yet servile young sprig of divinity, is drawn with the same force and precision. The story of the piece consists chiefly in the fates of the second sister, to whom a man of high birth, large fortune, but haughty and reserved manners, becomes attached, in spite of the discredit thrown upon the object of his affection by the vulgarity and ill-conduct of her relations. The lady, on the contrary, hurt at the contempt of her connections,

which the lover does not even attempt to suppress, and prejudiced against him on other accounts, refuses the hand which he ungraciously offers, and does not perceive that she has done a foolish thing until she accidentally visits a very handsome seat and grounds belonging to her admirer. They chance to meet exactly as her prudence had begun to subdue her prejudice; and after some essential services rendered to her family, the lover becomes encouraged to renew his addresses, and the novel ends happily. From “The Novels of Jane Austen” by George Henry Lewes in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 1859: We may picture her [Jane Austen] as something like her own sprightly, natural, but by no means perfect Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice, one of the few heroines one would seriously like to marry. . . . Miss Austen is like Shakespeare: she makes her very noodles inexhaustibly amusing, yet accurately real. They become equal to actual experiences. They live with us, and form perpetual topics of comment. . . . The heroines—at least Elizabeth, Emma, and Catherine Morland—are truly lovable, flesh-and-blood young women; and the good people are all really good, without being goody. . . . Miss Austen was a thorough mistress in the knowledge of human character; how it is acted upon by education and circumstance, and how, when once formed, it shows itself through every hour of every day, and in every speech of every person. Her conversations would be tiresome but for this; and her personages, the fellows to whom may be met in the streets, or drank tea with at half an hour’s notice, would excite no interest; but in Miss Austen’s hands we see into their hearts and hopes, their motives, their struggles within themselves. . . . The reader who has yet to make acquaintance with these novels, is advised to begin with Pride and Prejudice or Mansfield Park; and if these do not captivate him, he may fairly leave the others unread. In Pride and Prejudice there is the best story, and the greatest variety of character: the whole Bennet family is inimitable: Mr Bennet, caustic, quietly, indolently selfish, but honourable, and in some respects amiable; his wife, the perfect type of a gossiping, weak­

headed, fussy mother; Jane a sweet creature; Elizabeth a sprightly and fascinating flesh-and-blood heroine; Lydia a pretty, but vain and giddy girl; and Mary, plain and pedantic, studying “thorough bass and human nature.” Then there is Mr Collins, and Sir William Lucas, and the proud foolish old lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Darcy, Bingley, and Wickham, all admirable. From the first chapter to the last there is a succession of scenes of high comedy, and the interest is unflagging.


1775 Jane Austen born on December 16 at Steventon (Hampshire) to Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Leigh Austen. She is their sixth child and second daughter. 1776 In the American colonies, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence. 1781 The British army, led by Lord Cornwallis, surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia. 1783 Jane’s brother Edward (born in 1767) is adopted by the wealthy Knight family. Jane, her sister Cassandra (born in 1773), and a cousin go to Oxford to attend a school for girls directed by a Mrs. Cawley; they return home after several months. The Treaty of Paris establishes American independence; the Treaty of Versailles establishes the borders of the new country. 1785 Jane and Cassandra attend the Abbey House School in Reading until the end of 1786. 1786 Death of Frederick the Great, king of Prussia. 1787 Jane begins writing the stories and sketches now known as her Juvenilia. 1788 Death of Charles Wesley, hymn writer and cofounder of Methodism. Establishment of the first penal colony in Australia, at Botany Bay. 1789 The United States adopts its Constitution; George Washington becomes the new country’s first president. The French Revolution begins with the fall of the Bastille; the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is issued. 1792 Cassandra becomes engaged to Reverend Tom Fowle. Publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Proclamation of the French Republic. 1793 Jane writes the last of her juvenilia.

Execution of King Louis XVI of France; Maximilien Robespierre initiates the Reign of Terror. 1794 Jane composes the unfinished novel known as Lady Susan. In the United States, Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin. 1795 Jane writes the first version of Sense and Sensibility, which she titles Elinor and Marianne. 1796 Jane begins writing the first version of Pride and Prejudice, which she titles First Impressions; she finishes this draft the next year. 1797 Cassandra’s fiancé, Tom Fowle, dies while posted to San Domingo (the present-day Dominican Republic). Jane’s father writes to the publisher Thomas Cadell to offer the manuscript of First Impressions; the publisher declines by return of post. Jane begins revising Elinor and Marianne. 1798 Jane begins writing the first version of Northanger Abbey, which she titles Susan; she finishes it the next year. 1799 Napoléon Bonaparte seizes power in France. Discovery of the Rosetta stone in Egypt. 1800 Jane’s father retires and decides to move the family to Bath; the move takes place in May 1801. 1802 Jane receives a proposal of marriage from Harris BiggWither, a wealthy family friend several years younger than she. She at first accepts then changes her mind and declines the next day. 1803 After revising Susan, Jane sells the manuscript to the publishing firm of Crosby & Son of London for the sum of ten pounds. In North America, the Louisiana Purchase doubles the size of the United States. 1804 Jane composes the unfinished novel known as The Watsons. In the United States, Lewis and Clark begin their exploration of the Louisiana Territory. Napoléon codifies legal and property rights for male citizens. 1805 Jane’s father dies in Bath. Jane, Cassandra, and their mother move to less-expensive lodgings in Bath before

relocating to Southampton, where Jane’s brother Frank lives, the next year. Battle of Austerlitz: Napoléon defeats Russia and Austria. Battle of Trafalgar: Britain’s Lord Nelson defeats Franco-Spanish fleets, thereby preventing a French invasion of Britain. Death of Lord Nelson. 1806 Noah Webster publishes the first American dictionary. 1807 The slave trade is abolished within the British Empire. 1809 Jane writes to Crosby & Son to inquire why Susan has not yet been published; the publisher offers to re-sell her the copyright for ten pounds, which she cannot afford. Jane’s brother Edward Knight offers his mother, Cassandra, and Jane a house on one of his estates in Chawton, to which they move. 1810 The publisher Thomas Egerton accepts Sense and Sensibility for publication. 1811 Sense and Sensibility is published by Egerton. Jane begins planning Mansfield Park, which she completes in mid-1813, and revises First Impressions. 1812 Jane sells the copyright of Pride and Prejudice to Egerton. Beginning of the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain. Publication of Children’s and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm. Napoléon invades Russia. 1813 Pride and Prejudice is published by Egerton. 1814 Jane begins writing Emma, which she completes in mid-1815. Mansfield Park is published by Egerton. 1815 Jane begins writing Persuasion, which she completes in mid-1816. Emma is published by John Murray. Defeat of Napoléon at the Battle of Waterloo by armies led by the Duke of Wellington. Napoléon subsequently goes into exile on Saint Helena.

1816 Jane’s brother Henry buys back the copyright of Susan, which Jane further revises. 1817 Jane begins composing her uncompleted novel Sanditon. Jane’s health declines; she makes her will and moves to Winchester to be closer to her physician before dying on July 18. Thanks to Henry, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are published together by John Murray, with a “Biographical Notice” contributed by Henry.

Further Reading

Scholarly Editions of Pride and Prejudice Austen, Jane. The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. Edited by David M. Shapard. 2004. New York: Anchor Books, 2007. ——. Pride and Prejudice. Edited by Pat Rogers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Biographies and Letters of Jane Austen Austen, Jane. Jane Austen’s Letters. 3rd ed. Edited by Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Le Faye, Deirdre. Jane Austen: A Family Record. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Shields, Carol. Jane Austen. New York: Viking Press, 2001. Spence, Jon. Becoming Jane Austen. London: Hambledon Continuum, 2007. Tomalin, Claire. Jane Austen: A Life. 1997. New York: Vintage Books, 1999. Introductions to Austen, Her World, and Her Legacy Auerbach, Emily. Searching for Jane Austen. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004. Black, Maggie, and Deirdre Le Faye. The Jane Austen Cookbook. London: British Museum Press, 1995. Copeland, Edward, and Juliet McMaster, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Crusie, Jennifer, ed. Flirting with Pride & Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece. Dallas: BenBella Books, 2005. Lynch, Deidre, ed. Janeites: Austen’s Disciples and Devotees. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. Ray, Joan Klingel. Jane Austen for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006. Ross, Josephine. Jane Austen: A Companion. 2002. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006. ——. Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders. Illustrated by Henrietta Webb. New York: Bloomsbury, 2006.

Sullivan, Margaret C. The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2007. Todd, Janet. The Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. ——, ed. Jane Austen in Context. New ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Wilson, Kim. Tea with Jane Austen. Madison, WI: Jones Books, 2004. Literary Criticism Jenkyns, Richard. A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen. 2004. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Southam, B. C., ed. Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage. 2 vols. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968–87. Sutherland, Kathryn. Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood. 2005. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Waldron, Mary. Jane Austen and the Fiction of Her Time. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Criticism of Screen Adaptations Ford, Susan Allen, and Jen Camden, eds. Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal On-Line 27, no. 2 (2007). Special issue: Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice (2005).­ line/vol27no2/index.html. Macdonald, Gina, and Andrew F. Macdonald, eds. Jane Austen on Screen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Parrill, Sue. Jane Austen on Film and Television: A Critical Study of the Adaptations. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002. Pucci, Suzanne R., and James Thompson, eds. Jane Austen and Co.: Remaking the Past in Contemporary Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003. Troost, Linda, and Sayre Greenfield, eds. Jane Austen in Hollywood. 2nd ed. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001. Popular Sequels, Updates. and New Versions Aidan, Pamela. The Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, trilogy: An Assembly Such as This, Duty and Desire, and These

Three Remain. 2003-2005. New York: Touchstone, 2006– 07. Aylmer, Janet. Darcy’s Story. 1996. New York: Harper, 2006. Bebris, Carrie. The Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series: Pride & Prescience (Or, A Truth Universally Acknowledged), Sense & Susceptibility (Or, First Impressions Revisited), North by Northanger (Or, The Shades of Pemberley). New York: Forge Books, 2004–07. Brinton, Sybil J. Old Friends and New Fancies: The Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen. 1913. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2007. Cohen, Paula Marantz. Jane Austen in Boca. New York: St. Martin’s, 2001. Eckstut, Arielle and Dennis Ashton. Pride and Promiscuity: The Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen. New York: Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 2001. Fenton, Kate. Vanity and Vexation: A Novel of Pride and Prejudice. (Originally published in 1995 as Lions and Liquorice.) New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2005. Fielding, Helen. Bridget Jones’s Diary. 1996. New York: Viking, 1998. Fowler, Karen Joy. The Jane Austen Book Club. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004. Grange, Amanda. Mr. Darcy’s Diary. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2007. Hale, Shannon. Austenland. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007. Hannon, Patrice. Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s Guide to Life and Love. New York: Plume, 2007. Nathan, Melissa. Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field. New York: Avon/Harper Collins, 2000. Newgarden, Anne. Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen. New York: Miramax Books, 2007. O’Rourke, Sally Smith. The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. New York: Kensington, 2006. Potter, Alexandra. Me and Mr. Darcy. New York: Ballantine Books, 2007. Rigler, Laurie Viera. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. New York: Plume, 2008. Webster, Emma Campbell. Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure. New York: Riverhead, 2007.

What Austen Ate

In Jane Austen’s surviving letters, she often mentions what she has been served in company, but she seems to have been neither especially a gourmet nor an enthusiastic cook or gardener. Her sister Cassandra kept bees, and their mother oversaw the kitchen gardens and fruit trees both at Steventon, where the family lived until 1801, and at Chawton, beginning in 1809. Martha Lloyd, Jane’s close friend who lived with Mrs. Austen, Cassandra, and Jane as of 1805, brought with her a manuscript book of recipes—well over one hundred in all— which she presumably put to use while in the Austen household. Jane, as we know from the memoirs of her niece Caroline Austen, was responsible for preparing the family’s breakfast in this period: that, recalls Caroline, “was her part of the household work.” Mealtimes in Austen’s day were typically rather different from our own. Breakfast tended to be later: Austen sat down with her mother, sister, and Martha to a nine o’clock breakfast, which allowed her to fit in some time at the pianoforte beforehand; and fashionable London families might breakfast an hour or two later yet. Most families did not have a set hour for lunch, though refreshments would be offered to visitors or, if in town, taken as needed at a shop. Dinner hours varied somewhat according to a household’s level of fashion (a later hour being the more fashionable), with the meal typically beginning between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. Evening parties or balls would include later meals, called either dinner or supper, to sustain participants in what could be very late nights. In chapter 11 of Pride and Prejudice, Austen mentions one sort of food customarily served during such evenings: “white soup.” Not only the timing of meals but their nature has changed substantially between Austen’s time and our own. The most striking difference, for present-day readers, is in what constituted dinner. A single “course” would consist of multiple distinct dishes laid out on the table together, ranging widely among meats, fish, vegetables, and pastry. As Vivien Jones points out in her note to chapter 21 of Pride and Prejudice, the

“two full courses” Mrs. Bennet resolves to offer Mr. Bingley when he comes to dinner would add up to quite an elaborate repast. Recipes published in Austen’s era tend to be much vaguer about quantities and methods than those we are accustomed to in modern cookbooks. Considerable interpretation, not to mention trial and error, is sometimes required in order to achieve success in a present-day kitchen. Below are the original instructions (including the original spellings) for five recipes from a cookbook published during Austen’s lifetime. Onion Soup Take a pound of lean ham cut small, put it at the bottom of a stew-pan, three pounds of lean beef and two pounds of lean veal, cut small and put over the ham, fix onions, four heads of cellery, four leeks, two turneps, and one carrot, well washed and cut small, put them over the meat, with a bundle of sweet herbs and a dozen corns of all-spice, put in half a pint of water, and sweat it for half an hour over a slow fire (take care it does not burn) then pour four quarts of boiling water over it, skim it well and season with salt; boil it gently for three hours, then strain it off into a clean pan to settle, skim the fat off, and pour it from the settlings into a soup-pot; peel four dozen of small button onions and put them in the soup, and boil it gently half an hour; put it into a tureen, with crispt French bread at the top. Boiling pheasants Pick and truss your pheasants, singe them, lay them in cold water, wash them out, put them in a large pot of boiling soft water, skim them clean, and boil them half an hour; when done put them in a dish, put white cellery sauce over them, and garnish with lemon. Mutton the Turkish Way Take a leg or neck of mutton and cut it into thin slices, then wash it in vinegar, put it into a pot that has a close cover to it, put in to a leg three quarts of water, a quarter of a pound of rice, a little whole pepper, and three or four onions; to a neck, two quarts of water, three ounces of rice, a little whole pepper,

and onions; cover it close, stew it gently, and allow a quarter of an hour for every pound of meat; skim it frequently, and when done take out the onions, season it with salt to your palate, put in a quarter of a pound of butter, stir it well round, and take care the rice does not burn to the bottom; put the meat in the dish, and pour the rice and the gravy over it. You may put in a little mace and a bundle of sweet herbs if you think proper. Welsh Rabbit Cut a slice of bread a little wider than the cheese, cut off the crust, and toast it on both sides; cut a slice of cheese moderately thick, put it in a cheese-toaster, and toast one side; then put the toasted side downwards on the bread, and toast the other side; put pepper, salt, and mustard over it, cut it in pieces about an inch long, and send it up quick. Rhubarb Tarts Take the stalks off the rhubarb that grows in the garden, peel the skin off, and cut them the size of a gooseberry, put them into china or earthenware patty-pans, with sugar over them, and put on a paste either puff or tart, ice them, and bake them the same as green gooseberries, and they will eat like them. For more information on the role of food in Austen’s novels, as well as recipes selected from Martha Lloyd’s cookbook and adapted for modern use, see Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye’s The Jane Austen Cookbook (1995).

How to Prepare Tea

Tea drinking is one activity practiced by Austen’s characters—and by Austen herself—that is easy and enjoyable for present-day readers to share. In Pride and Prejudice, we see tea served at several times during the day and on different social occasions. Tea, as well as coffee, was traditionally served after dinner, both for a family at home and at more formal gatherings. In chapter 55, for example, Mr. Bennet retires to his library “after tea,” while the serving of tea marks a stage in a social evening at Netherfield in chapter 11 and the point at which everyone has had enough of Mr. Collins in chapter 14. Tea was also commonly drunk in the afternoon, though not in connection with the elaborate meal (high tea) with which you may be familiar; that custom evolved later in the nineteenth century. In chapter 33, Elizabeth excuses herself from going with Charlotte and Mr. Collins to Rosings, where they “were engaged to drink tea,” while an afternoon teatime allows Elizabeth to speak intimately with her father at the end of chapter 48. Tea would also have been a typical breakfast drink, though Austen does not specify this in any mention of her characters’ morning meals in this novel. The frequency of tea drinking in Pride and Prejudice reflects English custom of the day. Trade with tea-producing countries, especially China and India (much of which was under English rule), was robust. That tea was a highly taxed commodity will seem familiar to American readers who learned about the Boston Tea Party as schoolchildren. In fact, tea was very expensive to buy: approximately six to twenty shillings per pound in this period (fourteen to forty-six pounds in today’s currency). As a result, tea was kept under lock and key by the mistress of a house, with servants usually not entrusted to have access to it, as was sugar, another expensive commodity (and one often involved in tea drinking). From the recollections of Caroline Austen in her memoirs, we know that her aunt Jane was, in fact, the keeper of the tea in her household: “The tea and sugar stores were under her charge.” The very high price of tea also led, not surprisingly, to

smuggling, adulteration, and even fraudulent resale of used tea (dried out and perhaps recolored) as new. Fortunately, the price of good loose tea (tea leaves rather than tea bags) is now much lower than in Austen’s lifetime, and tea drinkers of today have a very wide range of types of tea from which to choose. We also have the advantage of knowing, thanks to recent medical research, that tea is a rich source of beneficial antioxidants and thus gives more than a merely psychological lift. To make tea as Jane Austen would have, begin by assembling your supplies. You will need: • A teapot made of china, glass, or earthenware. For maximum authenticity, choose one made by Wedgwood, a maker patronized by the Austen family. If your tastes run to more modern design, you can also use a French press, which means you won’t need the infuser mentioned below; be sure, though, that the press has not previously been used to make coffee. • A teacup and saucer for each tea drinker, again of china, glass, or earthenware. Very thin bone china is often preferred by connoisseurs. • An infuser for the loose tea. Though you can simply spoon the tea leaves into the pot, it’s preferable to have a mess-free way to remove them once they have properly brewed. Reusable infusers are commonly made of metal mesh or unbleached cotton; you can also use a disposable sack made of unbleached paper. • Fresh or filtered water and a means of boiling it. Many tea drinkers swear by plug-in electric kettles, though a kettle on the stove will also work fine. Avoid heating water for tea in the microwave or in the glass vessel of a coffeemaker (which will impart an unwanted coffee flavor). • Good-quality loose tea. In general, the larger the leaves you see (which may be folded or furled), the better the quality of tea. Emulate Austen by drinking black or green tea (known as India and China tea, respectively, in her day), or choose a tisane (an herbal, caffeine-free blend of flowers and herbs).

• A teaspoon to measure the tea, as well as spoons to stir the cups. • Lemon slices, sugar, honey, and milk (in a pitcher) for those who desire them. Milk, rather than cream, imparts the best flavor to tea, though milk should not be drunk with Asian teas or with some citrus-flavored tisanes. • Optional: a tea cozy for keeping the heat in your pot. Some teapots, especially glass ones, come with a base that incorporates a votive candle, which also works quite well to keep tea hot. Avoid placing a teapot or teacup on a plug-in mug warmer such as office workers use for coffee cups. To make tea, boil your fresh (or filtered) water. Warm the pot by flushing it with boiled water; then spoon the tea leaves into the infuser (or French press). A good rule of thumb is to use one level teaspoon per person, plus one for the pot; you may find that your own preference, as well as the kind of tea you’re using, will lead you in future to use somewhat less or somewhat more tea for your own ideal brew. On average, loose tea should be steeped for three to five minutes; some tea shops will recommend precise brewing times and water temperatures for given kinds of tea. Remove the infuser, if you’re using one, at the end of that period (or depress the plunger on the French press). Pour your tea, keep the teapot warm, and enjoy! If you’re interested in finding out more about tea and tea drinking in Austen’s time, see Kim Wilson’s Tea with Jane Austen (2004), a very accessible account that also points the enthusiastic reader toward historical and more academic sources.

Austen Sites to Visit in England Chawton, Hampshire The most important site for admirers of Jane Austen’s writing, the town of Chawton contains the house where Austen lived, together with her mother and sister Cassandra, for the final eight years of her life. Her brother Edward, who had been adopted by the wealthy Knight family, owned the local manor house (Chawton House) as well as a smaller and more modest building that, a few years after Austen’s father’s death, he offered to his mother and sisters as a place to live. This seventeenth-century house was long known as Chawton Cottage and is now the Jane Austen’s House Museum. While Austen lived here, she revised Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice and wrote Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. Permanent exhibits include clothing worn by Austen and her family, furniture associated with them, and other family heirlooms. The volunteer staff is very knowledgeable about the Austens and happy to answer queries; the gift shop is also well stocked with Austen-related books and merchandise. While in Chawton, you should also make the short walk to St. Nicholas Church, near Chawton House. Cassandra Austen and Mrs. Austen are buried in the churchyard. Chawton House itself has recently been splendidly restored and is now the Chawton House Library, a nonprofit organization that collects and promotes the work of women writers from 1600 to 1830. It is open for tours by appointment, and its collections are available (again by appointment) for any interested reader to consult. For more information on Jane Austen’s House Museum, see For more information on Chawton House Library, see Steventon, Hampshire The small village where Jane Austen was born, and where she spent her first twenty-five years very happily, Steventon now offers general atmosphere and scenery to tempt the

Austen pilgrim. Although the parsonage in which Austen lived with her family was taken down in the early 1820s, her father’s church, which dates from the twelfth century, still stands. You can take walks around the Steventon area that are very close to Austen’s own favorite routes: Anne-Marie Edwards’s In the Steps of Jane Austen: Walking Tours of Austen’s England (2003) is an excellent guidebook. Steventon is twelve miles from Chawton; for advice on traveling between the sites, see chapter 19 of Joan Klingel Ray’s Jane Austen for Dummies (2006). Bath Austen visited the spa city of Bath in 1797 and 1799 and lived there, after her father’s retirement, from 1801 to 1806. She did not write while in residence, a fact that leads most scholars to agree that her years in Bath seem not to have been happy ones. (In contrast, she wrote prolifically while living at Steventon, until 1801, and at Chawton, from 1809 until her death.) Until her father died, in 1805, the family lived at No. 4 Sydney Place, a terraced house that is not now open to visitors but does commemorate her residence with a wall plaque. You can also see the outside of the house, at No. 1 The Paragon, where Austen’s aunt and uncle the Leigh-Perrots were longtime residents; No. 25 Gay Street, where the Austens lived briefly in 1805; and Trim Street, where Austen, her mother, and Cassandra lived before Edward offered them Chawton Cottage. You can also visit St. Swithin’s Church, Walcot, where Austen’s parents were married. Austen set portions of two novels—Northanger Abbey and Persuasion—in Bath, making use of many of the locations well known to her. You can visit the Pump Room at the Roman Baths; the Upper Rooms (now called the Assembly Rooms and housing a magnificent Museum of Costume); and Camden Crescent, where Sir Walter Elliot rents a house in Persuasion. You can also trace walks taken by her characters in the novels, for instance the walk up Beechen Cliff (to the south of the city) featured in Northanger Abbey. Austen­ themed guided walking tours are available, which mix commentary on Austen with a general introduction to Bath;

you can also guide yourself using Katharine Reeve’s Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City (2006). Another location in Bath of interest to Austen lovers is the Jane Austen Centre, located on Gay Street a few houses down from where the Austens lived. The center features rotating exhibits related to Austen and her legacy, publishes a bimonthly color magazine titled Jane Austen’s Regency World, distributes an electronic newsletter about Austen, and sponsors an annual ten-day Jane Austen Festival in September that brings together Austen enthusiasts from around the world. For more information on the Jane Austen Centre, visit Lyme Regis Of all the real places mentioned in Austen’s novels, perhaps the most rewarding to visit—aside from Bath—is Lyme Regis, a charming town on the southern coast of England. Austen herself visited Lyme in 1804 and set an important episode of Persuasion there, including a mishap on the famous Cobb (a curving wall, leading out into the sea), which will be familiar to viewers of film versions of the novel. The town has recently commemorated Austen by planting a lovely terraced garden on the steep slope overlooking the bay. Winchester The largest city near to Chawton, Winchester was where Austen sought medical treatment and lived during the last few months of her life. The house at which she lodged, which is located near the cathedral, features a plaque commemorating her (but is not open to the public). The cathedral itself is essential to visit, both for its beauty and because it contains Austen’s grave (in the north nave) and the memorial installed by her brother Henry after her death. Famously, the memorial makes no mention of her writing. For advice on traveling to Winchester, see chapter 19 of Joan Klingel Ray’s Jane Austen for Dummies (2006).



Scarborough York



London KENT A R E A O F D E TA I L



Oxford Clapham Bath


Steventon Winchester Southampton


Bromley Epsom KENT Chawton Brighton East Bourne

Behaving Yourself: Etiquette and

Dancing in Austen’s Day

Reading Pride and Prejudice, or indeed any Austen novel, were governed by codes of propriety. Austen rarely spells out what these codes require, since she would have expected readers in her own age to be familiar with them, either from their own experience or from reading. For us, as for Austen’s contemporaries, knowledge of such social codes can be gleaned from novels as well as from so-called conduct books: manuals of advice that instructed would-be gentlemen and ladies how to comport themselves. (The etiquette manuals of our own day, such as those by Emily Post and Miss Manners, are descendents of these conduct books.) It’s important to remember that all these sources aimed to express shared but unwritten assumptions about what constituted proper behavior. A crucial issue of etiquette throughout Pride and Prejudice has to do with the performance of introductions. Recall Mrs. Bennet’s anxiety in chapter 1 about how her daughters can be introduced to the eligible Mr. Bingley, as well as the procedure Bingley himself suggests in chapter 3 for introducing his friend Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet. Austen makes clear in these instances how introductions should proceed and who is the proper person to make them. Remember, too, how appalled Elizabeth is in chapter 18 when Mr. Collins announces that he will introduce himself to Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth tries to remind Mr. Collins that “it must belong to Mr. Darcy, the superior in consequence, to begin the acquaintance.” Here is how an etiquette guide from the period articulates the social rules associated with introductions: “In general, a person of inferior rank ought to be introduced to one of superior, unless when there is marked discrepancy in age, or the inferior is distinguished by extraordinary talents or virtues. In introducing parties of opposite sexes to each other, the gentleman is always introduced to the lady, whatever be the difference of rank. Between parties of equal rank, a lady, entering the room, is introduced to those whom she may find

there assembled.” We can imagine that Mr. Collins thinks himself entitled to perform his own introduction to Mr. Darcy because of possessing “extraordinary talents and virtues,” if an acquaintance with Lady Catherine can be considered a kind of virtue (in Mr. Collins’s mind, anyway). Other points of etiquette concerned the kinds of behavior proper to different sorts of social gatherings. Austen often mentions in passing that Elizabeth is occupied with “work,” meaning needlework, while in company: for instance, at the beginning of chapter 11, when she is visiting Netherfield during Jane’s illness. Such decorative pursuits were considered especially appropriate for ladies and could be continued in the presence of others without causing offense. The same etiquette guide quoted above remarks that when receiving visitors, “it is not necessary that the lady should lay aside the employment in which she may be engaged, particularly if it consist in light or ornamental needle-work. Politeness, however, requires that music, drawing, or any occupation, which would completely engross the attention, be at once abandoned.” For example, it would be a breach of propriety for Mary Bennet to practice the piano in the presence of visitors. While Mary doesn’t commit this particular faux pas, her enthusiasm for showing off at the piano does lead her to behave inappropriately in other ways. Remember the episode in chapter 18 in which Mary is eager to continue singing in spite of Elizabeth’s efforts to telegraph to her that she should stop. Mary, Austen tells us in chapter 6, has “worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, [and] was always impatient for display.” Conduct books of Austen’s days were unanimous in condemning such impulses to show off one’s talents: as one author asserted, “The female character should possess the mild and retiring virtues rather than the bold and dazzling ones.” In some ways, the precepts of Christianity can be seen at work in the social code of Austen’s day. Austen makes plain, for example, that Elizabeth Bennet cannot openly challenge her parents’ views and behavior: to do so would be to fail to honor her mother and father as both religion and propriety require. When Elizabeth does challenge her father on the question of Lydia’s going to Brighton, in chapter 41, she does

so in private and very carefully—and, as Austen writes, Elizabeth is “forced to be content” with her father’s continued insistence on allowing Lydia to go. If you’re interested in knowing more about what constituted proper behavior in Austen’s day, see Josephine Ross’s Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders (2006), which is written as if for a young woman living in the early nineteenth century, or Margaret C. Sullivan’s The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World (2007), which summarizes for present-day readers the behaviors considered appropriate in Austen’s novels. Joan Klingel Ray’s Jane Austen for Dummies (2006) is another good resource for understanding the unwritten code of propriety; it also contains a chapter on the importance of dancing. To dance well was considered essential for both gentlemen and ladies in Austen’s period. Remember that a knowledge of dancing is on Miss Bingley’s list, in chapter 8, of what a woman must have in order to be “really esteemed accomplished.” Mr. Collins’s awkward and poor dancing in chapter 18 marks him as significantly less well bred, for all his elaborate formality of manner, than such characters as Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy (who, though he is reluctant to dance at the Meryton assembly rooms in chapter 3, later proves that he is a very competent dancer). The kind of dancing Austen writes about, and enthusiastically practiced herself, is performed in a group rather than by isolated couples. One would have a partner, certainly, as we can tell from the male characters’ invitations to the female characters to give them their “hands” for particular dances. And, as Elizabeth and Darcy demonstrate in chapter 18, partners would have ample opportunity while executing their steps to carry on a conversation. Partners would not, however, engage in the kind of intimate physical contact that we tend to associate with social dancing. Nevertheless, hands would touch, bodies would pass near each other, and exercise would brighten cheeks and eyes. Dancing was most commonly learned through a combination of observation and direct instruction, often from a so-called dancing master. If you lacked access to such training,

you could try to teach yourself from one of the very many published guides to dancing, many of which were accompanied by elaborate diagrams showing the placement and movement of couples through various dance steps. A quotation from one dancing guide of Austen’s era will indicate the challenge of learning in this abstract manner: “The top couple at A, join hands and move in the line F, while the bottom couple at D, move in the direction C; the top couple continue to move in the line F E, and the bottom in C B, by which they will pass round each other twice, and change situations.” Present-day readers who are curious about what dancing was like in Austen’s era can get a good sense of it from watching recent film adaptations, most of which incorporate well-researched depictions of popular dancing. It’s also possible to learn the steps yourself and take part, by joining one of the many societies worldwide that promote English country dancing.

Illustrations of Fashion, Home Decor,

Architecture, and Transportation


His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion


She was received, however, very politely by them;


Miss Bennet had slept ill, and though up, was very feverish and not well enough to leave her room:


I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud,


on entering the drawing-room


to stretch himself on one of the sophas and go to sleep.


seated himself at another table


The two first dances, however, brought a return of distress;


to admire every article of furniture in the room, from the sideboard to the fender,


a low phaeton



his daughter, frightened almost out of her senses, sat on the the edge of her chair


placing a screen in the proper direction before her eyes .


his gig, I15

More than once did Elizabeth in her ramble within the Park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy.


Barouche box,


At length the chaise arrived,


The rooms were lofty and handsome,


a curricle,


when he joined them at tea,


tea was kept under lock and key

Explanatory Notes

Volume One

CHAPTER I e1. There are several things to notice about this very famous opening of the novel. The first is the assumption that Austen states in the voice of the members of the society about which she’s writing. This is a “truth universally acknowledged” by them—by the “surrounding families”—rather than something that the narrator sees as a truth. Also notice the way that change comes to this society: a new man “enter[s] a neighbourhood.” This may not seem to us like a major event, but, as we’ll see, Austen relies again and again on introducing a stranger—usually a man—to spice things up in her fictional village. Finally, notice the way Austen plays with the ideas of “good fortune” and “property”—this wordplay still makes perfect sense given our understandings of these terms. The “good fortune” her single man has is money and property (in the sense of land); of course, it would be “good fortune” (in the sense of good luck) for a woman in search of a husband to secure him as her own “property.” e2. The name of this estate is a clue to its extent. A “park” is the landscaped grounds surrounding a stately house, grounds that could be quite extensive. e3. It’s characteristic of Austen’s style of writing dialogue that she gives us no explanation here of who Mrs. Long is. Mrs. Bennet wouldn’t need to explain it to Mr. Bennet, so she doesn’t to us. It’s our job to pay attention and remember who has been mentioned—sometimes these passing mentions develop into fuller characterizations, but often they don’t.

e4. Austen usually expresses her characters’ wealth in terms of their yearly incomes, as here. Sometimes, especially when describing how much money a marriageable woman would bring to her husband, Austen instead gives the total extent of the fortune. Yearly income, as Austen estimates it, is approximately 5 percent of total wealth. By one measure of the change in money’s value from Austen’s day to ours, Bingley’s £4,000–£5,000 a year would be worth approximately £180,000–£230,000 a year today. e5. Austen makes clear here, as in Mr. Bennet’s typically flippant reply, that the task of initiating an acquaintance with a new gentleman of fortune properly falls to the male head of a family. Mrs. Bennet underlines this later in the dialogue when she reminds her husband that “it will be impossible for us to visit him, if you do not.” e6. We will hear at the beginning of chapter 5 how Sir William received his title. A man who has been knighted, as Sir William has, is not a member of the nobility. He uses the title Sir in conjunction with his first name (Sir William), while his wife is called by the title Lady and her last name (Lady Lucas). A woman called by the title Lady and her first name has inherited a noble title from her own family; her father holds a minimum rank of earl. e7. This is Austen’s earliest indication that Lizzy (Elizabeth) is the heroine of the novel, and the one we—like Mr. Bennet— will find most appealing. Already in this short dialogue, though, we see that Mr. Bennet’s attitude toward serious subjects tends to be inappropriately light, which may make us wonder whether we should share his preference for Lizzy. e8. “Quickness” in the sense of wit, though as we’ll see, Lizzy also tends to move faster than her sisters, enjoying walking and running. e9. Here Austen’s narrator confirms what we have already sensed from the dialogue about Mr. Bennet’s wittiness and

lack of seriousness. This is a typical description for Austen of a character’s psychology: it is trenchant but brief. e10. Austen’s use of the word “business” reminds us that many of her characters don’t work in the sense that we would expect today. A wealthy man like Mr. Bingley would not have a profession; his time would be spent overseeing his holdings and playing the social role expected of him. We don’t yet know for sure what the Bennets’ wealth or social status is, but we will eventually discover that Mr. Bennet, too, is sufficiently well off to need no profession. In Austen’s world, a woman works for money only if there is no other way for her needs to be met.

CHAPTER II e1. As in the first chapter, Austen reminds us of the social customs that governed introductions. Here, we see that if the Bennet daughters attended the public gatherings called “assemblies,” they could be introduced to Mr. Bingley by someone—even a woman—already acquainted with him; they would not need their father’s intervention. However, as Mrs. Bennet points out later in the dialogue, Mrs. Long will be able to effect an introduction only if she herself has already properly made Mr. Bingley’s acquaintance. e2. Austen tips us off here that wisdom, in this novel, is not something that comes from effort or study. Mary, for all her reading, lacks wit and sense, qualities that we will associate strongly with Elizabeth.

CHAPTER III e1. In this novel as in all of Austen’s fiction, dancing is a crucial opportunity for men and women to meet, flirt, and assess one another; it is also a significant way in which women can enjoy the pleasure of physical movement. Austen herself loved to dance and did so well after she was considered to be of marriageable age.

e2. That is, Mr. Bingley doesn’t behave with great formality but instead speaks courteously and in a friendly manner even to his social inferiors. Austen values ease in social manners and often remarks upon characters who possess it or who (like Darcy) notably lack it. e3. Both parts of this description of Bingley’s sisters suggest not only what the women look like but how they act. They are finely dressed, presumably wearing the latest London fashions, which provincial women like the Bennets would not yet have adopted. The “air of decided fashion” that the sisters possess indicates that they not only look different from the other women at the assembly but consider themselves superior. e4. That is, twice as much as Bingley, so close to half a million pounds sterling. e5. This is another way of achieving an introduction at a ball: Bingley is dancing with Jane and so can ask Jane to introduce a woman known to her. e6. Notice that Austen portrays Elizabeth here as a narrator in her own right. An interesting question to consider is the extent to which Elizabeth’s qualities of “liveliness and playfulness” and her “delight in anything ridiculous” are shared by Austen’s narrator. e7. According to social custom, a man could properly dance with a woman more than twice in a single evening only if they were engaged to be married. By dancing with Jane twice, Mr. Bingley has signaled his considerable interest in her. e8. Here Austen gives us a clue to the Bennets’ social status, though not a very precise one. It would not necessarily take exceptionally wealthy or prominent people to be the “principal inhabitants” of a village. e9. The style of dancing practiced in Austen’s day involved periodic promenades by each couple between the lines formed

by the other couples. As Jane promenades, or “goes down” between the lines, she would be especially visible to the other dancers. e10. In terms of descriptions of dress, Austen the novelist has more sympathy with Mr. Bennet than with Mrs. Bennet. She rarely describes in detail what her characters are wearing, and she tends to satirize those characters who do go on about the nature and cost of their attire. In her private letters, in contrast, Austen frequently discussed her clothing purchases if she felt her correspondent would be interested in them.

CHAPTER IV e1. That is, unlike their judgment of Jane, Elizabeth’s judgment of Miss Bingley and her sister is not influenced by the efforts they have made to ingratiate themselves with her. e2. Close to a million pounds in today’s currency. Note that Austen expresses this wealth in a lump sum rather than in terms of yearly income. e3. That is, the Bingley siblings have inherited money that was gained through business rather than being passed down through a prominent family for centuries. In Austen’s era, inherited wealth connoted much greater respectability than earned money. Thus she signals us that the Bingley sisters, for all their fine airs, cannot claim a long lineage of respectability. e4. A man would come of age at twenty-one and would inherit at that time. Thus Bingley is not quite twenty-three when he rents Netherfield. e5. That is, his tractability, his capability of being influenced.

CHAPTER V e1. Note that Sir William’s title, while certainly an honor, does

not elevate him to the nobility. And, while he preens himself

on the title, it does not connote a longtime respectability of family as would a title passed down over generations. e2. Bear in mind this description of Charlotte Lucas as the story unfolds. It’s important to remember how positive Austen’s initial characterization of Charlotte is. e3. Austen never answers the question of why Charlotte and Elizabeth should be so close in spite of the difference in their ages. (We don’t yet know Elizabeth’s age but find out later that she is twenty.) We’re left to guess that the Longbourn area is not exactly bursting with intelligent young women for Elizabeth to befriend. It’s also worth knowing that Austen herself counted as intimate friends some women who were considerably older than herself. One other point about Charlotte’s age: at twenty-seven, she is on the far edge of being considered marriageable. e4. Mrs. Bennet’s choice of words here reminds us of the wordplay at the very opening of the novel. According to her judgment of Mr. Darcy at this stage, his wealth, even though vast, would not be sufficient to make marriage to him a “good fortune” for one of her daughters. e5. Mrs. Bennet is not speaking ungrammatically; “ate up” rather than “eaten up” was an acceptable usage in this era. e6. Mary’s commentary here—a rare pertinent remark from her—actually raises two very important questions for the novel: Which of its characters are proud and in what way? And how is vanity related to pride? Though it’s tempting to identify Darcy as the proud one and Elizabeth as the prejudiced, in fact Austen has more subtle things to say about the nature of each one’s pride and vanity.

CHAPTER VI e1. That is, when she has received from him a proposal of

marriage. In Austen’s era, it was considered dangerous for a

woman of good family to admit feeling love until she had already been proposed to. Notice, later in this novel, how Austen avoids having either Jane or Elizabeth claim—even to themselves and to each other—that they are in love. e2. Charlotte’s declaration here invites comparison with the marriages Austen depicts among her characters, especially that of the Bennet parents. Although Elizabeth subsequently accuses her friend of not speaking seriously, in fact Charlotte is raising an issue of substantial concern for Austen: can two young people beginning a marriage have any certainty that they will achieve more happiness than those they see around them? e3. The terms in which Austen describes Darcy’s evaluation of Elizabeth here are tantalizingly vague; she leaves us to imagine where Elizabeth’s shape falls short of symmetry, as well as what it means for a figure to be “light and pleasing.” What we can tell for certain is that Darcy is paying close attention to Elizabeth’s body, which reminds us that Austen, though she doesn’t depict explicit scenes of romantic intimacy or describe sexual feelings, was fully aware that they existed. e4. Note Austen’s emphasis on the different kinds of manners appropriate to different times and places. Elizabeth does not behave with formal politeness, as would the self-consciously fashionable Miss Bingley, but instead with ease, similar to that displayed by Mr. Bingley. That Elizabeth manages to be both correct and “playful” in her manners is unique to her, and—as Austen makes clear here—a major attraction to Darcy. e5. Though Elizabeth may not be speaking wholly seriously here, she nevertheless raises an intriguing rationale for her insistence on speaking forthrightly to Darcy. We will see later in the novel that his formidable presence and lofty social significance do indeed strike a kind of fear in other characters, including even Mr. Bennet. e6. Notice how the narrator names characters differently on different occasions. Earlier in this chapter, it is Charlotte (not

Miss Lucas) in dialogue with Elizabeth; now, when the characters are in a s