Pride And Prejudice

Chapter 1
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 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 you not 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 Netherfield is taken by a
young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on
Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it,
that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before
Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next
“What is his name?”
“Is he married or single?”
“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 may 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 anything 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 establishment 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 newcomers. 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 whichever he chooses 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 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 for 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 last 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
“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, sarcastic humour, reserve,
and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient
to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to
develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and
uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The
business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and

Chapter 2
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, mamma,” said Elizabeth, “that we shall meet him at the
assemblies, and that Mrs. Long promised to introduce him.”
“I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing. She has two nieces 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.”
“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 acquainted with him
myself; how can you be so teasing?”
“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 nieces 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, “Nonsense, nonsense!”
“What can be the meaning of that emphatic exclamation?” cried he. “Do you
consider the forms of introduction, 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
Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not how.
“While Mary is adjusting her ideas,” he continued, “let us return to Mr.
“I am sick of Mr. Bingley,” cried his wife.
“I am sorry to hear that; but why did not you tell me that 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
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.”
“Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you choose,” 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 acquaintances every day; but for your sakes, we would do anything.
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 3
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 secondhand intelligence of their neighbour, Lady Lucas. Her report was highly
favourable. Sir William had been delighted with him. He was quite young,
wonderfully handsome, extremely 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
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
following day, and, consequently, unable to accept the honour of their invitation,
etc. 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 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 mien, and the report which was in
general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten
thousand a year. 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 disgust
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 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 disagreeable man in
the world, and everybody 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 gentlemen, to sit down
for two dances; and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near
enough for her to hear 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 Mr. 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; I am in no humour at present to
give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better
return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with
Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth
remained with no very cordial feelings toward him. She told the story, however,
with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition,
which delighted in anything 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 never to be 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 his wife’s views on the stranger would be disappointed; but he soon found
out that he had a 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. Everybody 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 inquired 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 with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth
with Lizzy, and the Boulanger—”
“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 ankle in the first dance!”
“Oh! my dear, I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome!
And his sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw anything 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 4
When Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in
her praise of Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her sister just how very much she
admired him.
“He is just what a young man ought to be,” said she, “sensible, goodhumoured, 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 anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I
never heard you speak ill of a human being in your life.”
“I would not wish to be hasty in censuring anyone; but I always speak what I
“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
candour is common enough—one meets with it everywhere. But to be candid
without ostentation or design—to take the good of everybody’s character 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 judgement
too unassailed by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed to approve
them. They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when
they were pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable when they
chose it, but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been
educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, 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
memories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired by
Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly a 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, 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 generation to purchase.
His sisters were anxious for his having an estate of his own; but, though he
was now only established as a tenant, Miss Bingley was by no means unwilling
to preside at his table—nor 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 great
opposition of character. Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness,
openness, and 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
judgement 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 offense.
The manner in which they spoke of the Meryton assembly was sufficiently
characteristic. Bingley had never met with more pleasant people or prettier girls
in his life; everybody 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 would not
object to know more of. Miss Bennet was therefore established as a sweet girl,
and their brother felt authorized by such commendation to think of her as he

Chapter 5
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 tolerable fortune, and risen to the honour of knighthood by
an address to the king during his mayoralty. 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, in 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 everybody. By nature inoffensive, friendly, and
obliging, his presentation at St. James’s 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
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 selfcommand to Miss Lucas. “You were Mr. Bingley’s first choice.”
“Yes; but he seemed to like his second better.”
“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 answering 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 is 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 Netherfield, and he could
not help answering her; but she said he seemed quite angry at being spoke to.”
“Miss Bingley told me,” said Jane, “that he never speaks much, unless among
his intimate acquaintances. 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; everybody says
that he is eat 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.”
“I do not mind his not talking to Mrs. Long,” said Miss Lucas, “but I wish he
had danced with Eliza.”
“Another time, Lizzy,” said her mother, “I would not dance with him, if I were
“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, everything 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 selfcomplacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and
pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. 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,
and drink a bottle of wine a 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 6
The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield. The visit was
soon returned in due form. Miss Bennet’s pleasing manners grew on the
goodwill 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 everybody, 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 cheerfulness of manner which
would guard her from the suspicions of the impertinent. 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 affection 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 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 show 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 more leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses.”
“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 Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own
house, and has since dined with him in company 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 also been spent together—and four evenings may do a great
“Yes; these four evenings have enabled them to ascertain that they both like
Vingt-un better than Commerce; but with respect to any other leading
characteristic, I do not imagine that much has been unfolded.”
“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 continue 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 hardly had 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 nowhere, 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.”
“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 you not think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself uncommonly well just
now, when I was teasing Colonel Forster to give us a ball at Meryton?”
“With great energy; but it is always a subject which makes a lady energetic.”
“You are severe on us.”
“It will be her turn soon to be teased,” 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 anybody and everybody! 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 everybody here is of course familiar with: ‘Keep your breath to
cool your porridge’; 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 consequence 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, 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
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 society.”
“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 had some thought 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 action of doing a very gallant thing, and called out to her:
“My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not 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, 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
self-importance of all those people! What would I give to hear your strictures on
“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 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 serious about it, I shall consider the matter is absolutely
settled. You will be having a charming mother-in-law, indeed; and, of course, she
will always be at Pemberley with you.”
He listened to her with perfect indifference while she chose to entertain
herself in this manner; and as his composure convinced her that all was safe, her
wit flowed long.

Chapter 7
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, 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, 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.
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 shop 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 regiment in the
neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole winter, and Meryton was the
Their visits to Mrs. Phillips were now productive of the most interesting
intelligence. Every day added something to their knowledge of the officers’
names and connections. Their lodgings were not long a secret, and at length they
began to know the officers themselves. Mr. Phillips visited them all, and this
opened to his nieces a store of felicity unknown before. They could talk of
nothing but officers; and Mr. Bingley’s large fortune, the mention of which gave
animation to their mother, was worthless in their eyes when opposed to the
regimentals of an ensign.
After listening one morning to their effusions 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
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
“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 anybody’s
children, it should not be of my own, however.”
“If my children are silly, I must hope to be always sensible 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, 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.”
“Mamma,” 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.”
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.
“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 tête-à-tête between two women can never end without a
quarrel. Come as soon as you can on receipt of this. My brother and the
gentlemen are to dine with the officers.—Yours ever,
“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.”
“But, my dear, your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure. They are wanted
in the farm, Mr. Bennet, are they not?”
“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
were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted. The rain continued the whole
evening without intermission; Jane certainly 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:
“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 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 headache, there is not
much the matter with me.—Yours, etc.”
“Well, my dear,” said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, “if
your daughter should have a dangerous 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
“Oh! I am not 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 horsewoman, 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 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, “perhaps 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 ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise.
She was shown 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 admiration of the brilliancy
which exercise had given to her complexion, and doubt as to the occasion’s
justifying her coming so far alone. The latter was thinking only of his breakfast.
Her inquiries 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, to much conversation, and when Miss Bingley left
them together, could attempt little besides 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
showed for Jane. The apothecary came, and having examined his patient, said, as
might be supposed, 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. 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 to 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 8
At five o’clock the two ladies retired to dress, and at half-past six Elizabeth
was summoned to dinner. To the civil inquiries 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 former dislike.
Their brother, indeed, was the only one of the party whom she could regard
with any complacency. 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 to prefer a
plain dish to a ragout, 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 style, no beauty. Mrs. Hurst thought the same, and added:
“She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being 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!”
“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 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
ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! What could she mean by it? It seems to me
to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town
indifference to decorum.”
“It shows 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 admiration of her fine eyes.”
“Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.” A short pause
followed this speech, and Mrs. Hurst began again:
“I have an excessive regard for Miss 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.”
“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 returned to her room on leaving
the dining-parlour, and sat with her till summoned to coffee. She was still very
poorly, and Elizabeth would not quit her at all, till late in the evening, when she
had the comfort of seeing her sleep, and when it seemed to her rather right than
pleasant that she should go downstairs herself. On entering the drawing-room
she found the whole party at loo, 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 anything else.”
“I deserve neither such praise nor such censure,” cried Elizabeth; “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 be soon increased by seeing her quite well.”
Elizabeth thanked him from her heart, and then walked towards the 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 looked
Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the
“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.
“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
“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 with 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
“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 pianoforte 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 screens, and net purses. I
scarcely know anyone 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 screen. 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
“Nor I, I am sure,” said Miss Bingley.
“Then,” observed Elizabeth, “you must comprehend 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; 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
“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished 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 injustice 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.
“Elizabeth Bennet,” said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed 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 a 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
Elizabeth joined them again only to say that her sister was worse, and that she
could not leave her. Bingley urged Mr. Jones 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. 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 attention
might be paid to the sick lady and her sister.

Chapter 9
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 inquiries which
she very early received from Mr. Bingley by a housemaid, 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 judgement of her situation. The note
was immediately dispatched, 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.”
“You may depend upon it, Madam,” said Miss Bingley, with cold civility,
“that Miss Bennet will receive every possible attention while she remains with
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 have 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 the 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 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
“The country,” said Darcy, “can in general supply but a few subjects for such
a study. In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying
“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.”
Everybody 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
it not, 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, Mamma, you are mistaken,” said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother.
“You quite mistook Mr. Darcy. He only meant that there was not such a variety
of people to be met with in the country as in the 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 eyes towards Mr.
Darcy with a very expressive smile. Elizabeth, 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 easy! He
has always something to say to everybody. That is my idea of good breeding;
and those persons who fancy themselves very important, and never open their
mouths, quite mistake the matter.”
“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 very differently. But everybody is to judge for
themselves, and the Lucases are a 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.”
“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 anybody better looking. It is
what everybody says. I do not trust my own partiality. When she was only
fifteen, there was a man 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.
“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything 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
satisfied, 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 attention of the officers, to whom her
uncle’s good dinners, and her own easy manners recommended 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 when 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
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 10
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, 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 handwriting, 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 union 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 a year!
Letters of business, too! How odious I should think them!”
“It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of 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.”
“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
“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 style 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 appearance 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 anything with quickness is always prized much
by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the
performance. When you told Mrs. Bennet this morning that if you ever resolved
upon 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 anyone 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 believe 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 show off before the
“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 dependent 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 shown him off now much more than he
did himself.”
“I am exceedingly gratified,” said Bingley, “by your converting 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 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 intentions as
atoned for by your obstinacy in adhering to it?”
“Upon my word, I cannot exactly explain the matter; Darcy must speak for
“You expect me to account for opinions which you choose 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 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 understanding 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
speaking 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 awful 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
“I see your design, Bingley,” said his friend. “You dislike an argument, and
want to silence this.”
“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 an
indulgence of some music. Miss Bingley moved with some alacrity to the
pianoforte; 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
something 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?”
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 immediately 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.”
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 advantage of holding her tongue; and if you can compass it,
do cure the younger girls of running after 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 anything else to propose for my domestic felicity?”
“Oh! yes. Do let the portraits of your uncle and aunt Phillips 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 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 eyelashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied.”
At that moment they were met from another walk by Mrs. Hurst and Elizabeth
“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, “running away without
telling us that you were coming out.”
Then taking the disengaged arm of Mr. Darcy, she left Elizabeth 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
But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them,
laughingly answered:
“No, no; stay where you are. You are charmingly grouped, and appear to
uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth.
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 11
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 toward Darcy, and she had something to say
to him before he had advanced many steps. He addressed himself 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 attention. 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 fireplace, that she might be further
from the door. He then sat down by her, and talked scarcely to anyone 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 intelligence 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 nothing to do, but to stretch
himself on one of the sofas and go to sleep. Darcy took up a book; Miss Bingley
did the same; and Mrs. Hurst, principally occupied in playing with her bracelets
and rings, joined now and then in her brother’s conversation with Miss Bennet.
Miss Bingley’s attention was quite as much engaged in watching 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 anything than of a book!
When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent
No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and
cast her eyes round the room in quest for some amusement; when hearing her
brother mentioning a ball to Miss Bennet, she turned suddenly towards him and
“By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at
Netherfield? I would advise you, before you determine 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 chooses,
before it begins—but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as
Nicholls has made white soup 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 were 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 she got up 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
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
choosing 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 anything,
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 choose 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 would 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 anything so abominable.
How shall we punish him for such a speech?”
“Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination,” said Elizabeth. “We can all
plague and punish one another. Tease him—laugh at him. Intimate as you are,
you must know how it is to be done.”
“But upon my honour, I do not. I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet
taught me that. Tease calmness of manner 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 acquaintances. I dearly love a laugh.”
“Miss Bingley,” said he, “has given me more credit 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 and 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 anyone. 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 offenses
against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move
them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost,
is lost forever.”
“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 education can overcome.”
“And your defect is to hate everybody.”
“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is willfully to misunderstand 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 had not the smallest objection, and the pianoforte 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 12
In consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth wrote the next
morning to their 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
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 teasing 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 agreeable 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 of 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-bass and human
nature; and had some extracts to admire, and some new observations of
threadbare 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 13
“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! 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 his 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 the hardest thing in the world, that
your estate should be entailed away from your own children; 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 tried to explain to her the nature of an entail. They had
often attempted to do 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
“No, that I am sure I shall not; and I think it is very impertinent of him to
write to you at all, and very hypocritical. I hate such false friends. Why could he
not keep on quarreling 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
anyone 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 preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish,
where it shall be my earnest endeavour to demean 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 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 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 apologise 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
satisfaction 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’ennight following, which I can do without any
inconvenience, 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,
“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 by his extraordinary deference for Lady
Catherine, and his kind intention of christening, 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 style.—And what can he mean by apologising
for being next in the entail?—We cannot suppose he would help it if he could.—
Could 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 self-importance in his letter, which promises
well. I am impatient to see him.”
“In point of composition,” said Mary, “the letter does not seem defective. The
idea of the olive-branch perhaps is not wholly new, yet I think it is well
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 fiveand-twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal. He
had not been long seated before he complimented 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 disposed of in marriage. This gallantry was not much
to the taste of some of his hearers; but Mrs. Bennet, who quarreled with no
compliments, answered most readily.
“You are very kind, 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 knowing how estates will go when once they come to be
“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 everything 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 excellency of its cooking was owing. But he was set right there
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 14
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 aspect 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 of 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 quadrille in the
evening. Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people he knew, but he
had never seen anything 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 the 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 closet up stairs.”
“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 only one daughter, the heiress of Rosings, and of very extensive
“Ah!” said 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 lady of
distinguished birth. She is unfortunately of a sickly constitution, which has
prevented her from making that progress in many accomplishments which she
could not have otherwise 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 condescends to drive by my humble abode in her little
phaeton and ponies.”
“Has she been presented? I do not remember her name among the ladies at
“Her indifferent state of health unhappily prevents her being in town; and by
that means, as I told Lady Catherine 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 daughter 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
ladyship, and it is a sort of attention which I conceive myself peculiarly bound to
“You judge very properly,” said Mr. Bennet, “and it is happy 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
“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 everything 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. 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, mamma, that my uncle Phillips 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 antagonist at
backgammon. Mr. Bennet accepted the challenge, observing that he acted very
wisely in leaving the girls to their own trifling amusements. Mrs. Bennet and her
daughters apologised 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 15
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,
without 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 counteracted 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
living 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 right as a rector, made him
altogether a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, self-importance and humility.
Having now a good house and a 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 choose 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 suitableness, 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 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 tête-à-tête with Mrs. Bennet
before breakfast, a conversation beginning with his parsonage-house, and
leading naturally to the avowal of his hopes, that a mistress might be found for it
at Longbourn, produced from her, amid very complaisant smiles and general
encouragement, 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, 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 of 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
pleased to close his large book, and go.
In pompous nothings on his side, and civil assents on that of 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 muslin in a shop window, could recall 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 another
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 pretense 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 entreated
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 commission 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 Longbourn 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 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.
Phillip’s house, and then made their bows, in spite of Miss Lydia’s pressing
entreaties that they should come in, and even in spite of Mrs. Phillips’s throwing
up the parlour window and loudly seconding the invitation.
Mrs. Phillips 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.
Phillips was quite awed by such an excess of good breeding; but her
contemplation of one stranger was soon put to an end 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 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 Phillipses the next
day, and 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. Phillips protested that they would have a
nice comfortable noisy game of lottery tickets, 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 quitting 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 in the wrong, she could no more explain such
behaviour than her sister.
Mr. Collins on his return highly gratified Mrs. Bennet by admiring Mrs.
Phillips’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 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 16
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.
Phillips 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, 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. Phillips 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
examine their own indifferent imitations of china on the mantelpiece, 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 Phillips,
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, 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 to sink into insignificance; to the young ladies he certainly was
nothing; but he had still at intervals a kind listener in Mrs. Phillips, and was by
her watchfulness, most abundantly supplied with coffee and muffin. When the
card-tables were placed, he had the opportunity of obliging her in turn, 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 in life—” Mrs. Phillips was very glad 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 interested in
the game, too eager in making bets and exclaiming after prizes to have attention
for anyone in particular. Allowing for 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 a 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 Mr. 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 very 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.
Everybody is disgusted with his pride. You will not find him more favourably
spoken of by anyone.”
“I cannot pretend to be sorry,” said Wickham, after a short interruption, “that
he or that any man should not be estimated 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 chooses 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 before 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 scandalous; but
I verily believe I could forgive him anything and everything, 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 further inquiry.
Mr. Wickham began to speak on more general topics, Meryton, the
neighbourhood, the society, appearing highly pleased with all that he had yet
seen, and speaking of the latter 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 further by his
account of their present quarters, and the very great attentions and excellent
acquaintances Meryton had procured them. Society, I own, is necessary to me. I
have been a disappointed man, and my spirits 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.”
“Yes—the late Mr. Darcy bequeathed me the next presentation 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 you not 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 anything 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 anything to deserve to lose it. I have a warm,
unguarded temper, and I may have spoken my opinion of him, and to him, too
freely. I can recall 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 disgraced.”
“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 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
“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 implacability 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 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. Phillips, appears to do so much credit to—but
he gave up everything 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
superintendence, 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 his affection to myself.”
“How strange!” cried Elizabeth. “How abominable! I 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 had often been his best friend. It has connected him nearer
with virtue than with 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 affection, 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 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 superintends 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?”
“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 chooses. 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. Phillips. 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. Phillips 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 that she would not make herself uneasy.
“I know very well, madam,” said he, “that when persons sit down to a cardtable, they must take their chances 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 was 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 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 for another.
“Mr. Collins,” said she, “speaks highly both of Lady Catherine 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 for her nephew, who chooses that everyone 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 satisfaction 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. Phillips’s supper party, but
his manners recommended him to everybody. Whatever he said, was said well;
and whatever he did, done gracefully. Elizabeth 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. Phillips, protesting that
he did not in the least regard his losses at whist, enumerating all the dishes at
supper, and repeatedly fearing that he crowded his cousins, had more to say than
he could well manage before the carriage stopped at Longbourn House.

Chapter 17
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 endured such unkindness,
was enough to interest all her tender feelings; and nothing remained therefore 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
“They have both,” said she, “been deceived, I dare say, in some way or other,
of which we can form no idea. Interested 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
“Very true, indeed; and now, my dear Jane, what have you got to say on 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 choose, 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.”
“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, everything 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 shrubbery, where this
conversation passed, by the arrival 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 everything in Mr. Darcy’s look and
behaviour. The happiness anticipated by Catherine and Lydia depended less on
any single event, or any particular person, for though they each, like Elizabeth,
meant to dance half the evening with Mr. Wickham, he was by no means the
only partner who could satisfy them, and 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
is 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 amusement as desirable for everybody.”
Elizabeth’s spirits were so high on this 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 Archbishop, or Lady Catherine de
Bourgh, by venturing to dance.
“I am by no means of the opinion, I assure you,” said he, “that a ball of this
kind, given by a young man of character, to respectable 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 proposed being
engaged by Mr. Wickham for those very dances; and to have Mr. Collins instead!
her liveliness had never been worse timed. There was no help for it, however.
Mr. Wickham’s happiness and her own were perforce 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 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 toward herself,
and heard his frequent attempt at a compliment on her wit and vivacity; and
though 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 extremely agreeable to her. Elizabeth, however, did not choose 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 very 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-roses 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 18
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 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 wanted 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. Attendance, forbearance, patience with
Darcy, was injury to Wickham. She was resolved against any sort of
conversation with him, and turned away with a degree of ill-humour which she
could not wholly surmount even in speaking to Mr. Bingley, whose blind
partiality 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 first two 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
without 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 ecstasy.
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 immediately, 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 cautioning 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 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 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 again silent.
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 sort of remark on the size of the room, or the number of
He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be
“Very well. That reply will do for the present. Perhaps by and by 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 éclat 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 affirmative, and, unable to resist the temptation,
added, “When you met us there the other day, we had just been forming a new
The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his features,
but he said not a word, and Elizabeth, 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
“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 stopped 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 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 expression 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
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
“What think you of books?” said he, smiling.
“Books—oh! no. I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same
“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 reports 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
“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; and on
each side dissatisfied, though not to an equal degree, for in Darcy’s breast there
was a tolerably 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 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 quite forgot to tell you, among his other
communication, 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 always been 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 that 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 Wickham, resentment against his enemies, and everything
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 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 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
defense 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 to still 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 Mr. 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 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 the 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 entreat 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 in your
excellent judgement 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 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 speaking 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 observations 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 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
her expectation that Jane would soon be 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 home at any period of her
life. She concluded with many good wishes that Lady Lucas might soon be
equally fortunate, though evidently 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
“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 for you to
offend Mr. Darcy? You will never recommend yourself to his friend by so
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. 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 contempt 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,
imperturbably 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 disconcerted; 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.
“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 tithes 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 everybody, 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
anybody 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 agreement 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 teased by Mr.
Collins, who continued most perseveringly by her side, and though he could not
prevail on 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
remaining 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 good-naturedly engaged Mr. Collins’s conversation to herself.
She was at least free from the offense of Mr. Darcy’s further 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 carriage a quarter of an hour
after everybody 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 most pressingly
civil in her hope of seeing the whole family soon at Longbourn, and addressed
herself especially 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, 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 19
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 following 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 daughter Elizabeth,
when I solicit for the honour of a private audience with her in the course of this
Before Elizabeth had time for anything but a blush of surprise, Mrs. Bennet
answered instantly, “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 madam, do not go. I beg you will not go. Mr. Collins must excuse me.
He can have nothing to say to me that anybody need not hear. I am going away
“No, no, nonsense, Lizzy. I desire you to 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 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 permission 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 would 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 further, 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 that 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 footstool, that she said, ‘Mr. Collins, you must
marry. A clergyman like you must marry. Choose properly, choose 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, 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 anything 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 inevitably excite. Thus much for my general intention in
favour of matrimony; it remains to be told why my views were directed towards
Longbourn instead of my own neighbourhood, where I can 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 choose 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 four per cents, 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 further 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 to 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 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 a rather 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 could 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
“Were it certain that Lady Catherine would think so,” said Mr. Collins very
gravely—“but I cannot imagine that her ladyship would at all disapprove of you.
And you may be certain when I have the honour of seeing her again, I shall
speak in the very highest terms of your modesty, economy, and other amiable
“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 considered, therefore, as finally settled.” And rising as she
thus spoke, she would have quitted the room, had Mr. Collins not thus addressed
“When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on the 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.”
“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 to
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 of your acceptance, or
that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable. 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 further consideration, 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 choose to attribute it to your wish of
increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant
“I do assure you, sir, that I have no pretensions 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
creature, speaking the truth from her heart.”
“You are uniformly charming!” cried he, with an air of awkward 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; determined, if he persisted in
considering her repeated refusals as flattering encouragement, to apply to her
father, whose negative might be uttered in such a manner as to be decisive, and
whose behaviour at least could not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry
of an elegant female.

Chapter 20
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 congratulated
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 proceeded 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 steadfastly given him would naturally flow from her
bashful modesty and the genuine delicacy 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 proposals, but she dared not 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 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 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 everything 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
“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
“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 it not so, Mrs. Bennet?”
“Yes, or I will never see her again.”
“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this 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, in talking 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 husband, 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, sometimes 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 motives 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 hardly had 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 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, 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
anybody. 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 her or soothe 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 the room 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 me and Mr. Collins have a little conversation
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 voice Mrs. Bennet 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 showing 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 21
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 allusions 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 attentions 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
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 everybody, was well talked over. To
Elizabeth, 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 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. The envelope contained a sheet of elegant, little, hot-pressed paper,
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 up stairs. 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
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 in Grosvenor Street, where Mr. Hurst had a house. The next was
in these words: “I do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave in Hertfordshire,
except your society, my dearest friend; but we will hope, at some future period,
to enjoy many returns of that delightful intercourse we have known, and in the
meanwhile may lessen the pain of separation by a very frequent and most
unreserved correspondence. I depend on you for that.” To these highflown
expressions Elizabeth listened with all the insensibility 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 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 sisters? 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 acquaintances are already there for the winter; I wish that I
could hear that you, my dearest friend, had any intention of making one of the
crowd—but of that I despair. I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hertfordshire
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 that 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 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 entertain of her being hereafter our sister. I do not know
whether I ever before mentioned 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 do you think 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 a 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 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 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 anyone; and all that I can hope in this case is that
she is deceiving 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
“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
“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 everyone.
She represented to her sister as forcibly as possible what she 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 overcame 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 departure 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 that Mr. Bingley would be soon down again and soon dining
at Longbourn, 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.

Chapter 22
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 else than to secure her
from any return of Mr. Collins’s addresses, by engaging them towards herself.
Such was Miss Lucas’s scheme; and appearances were so favourable, that when
they parted at night, she would have felt almost secure 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 admirable 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
might 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.
In as short a time as Mr. Collins’s long speeches would allow, everything 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 waived 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 continuance; 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
out 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 satisfactory. Mr. Collins, to be
sure, was neither sensible nor agreeable; 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 matrimony, marriage had always been her
object; it was the only provision for well-educated young women of small
fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest
preservative 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 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 a
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 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
“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 concurrence.”
“You cannot be too much upon your guard. Risk anything 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.”
“Believe me, my dear sir, my gratitude is warmly excited by such affectionate
attention; and depend upon it, you will speedily receive from me a letter of
thanks for this, and 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
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 reflections 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 hers, 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 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 with tolerable firmness 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 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, connection, 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
strangeness 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 had not
supposed it to be 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 23
Elizabeth was sitting with her mother and sisters, reflecting on what she had
heard, and doubting whether she was 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 incredulous; 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 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 Elizabeth was the real cause of the mischief; and the other that
she herself had been barbarously misused by them all; and on these two points
she principally dwelt during the rest of the day. Nothing could console and
nothing could 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 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 more 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 indifferent—but that his
sisters would be successful in keeping him away. Unwilling as she was to admit
an idea so destructive of Jane’s happiness, and so dishonorable to the stability of
her lover, she could not prevent its frequently occurring. The united efforts of his
two unfeeling sisters and of his overpowering friend, assisted by the attractions
of Miss Darcy and the amusements of London might be too much, she feared,
for the strength of his attachment.
As for Jane, her anxiety under this suspense was, of course, more painful than
Elizabeth’s, but whatever she felt she was desirous of concealing, and between
herself and Elizabeth, therefore, 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 would 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 Monday fortnight, 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 anything
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 concluded her to be anticipating the
hour of possession; and whenever 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 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 her 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 anything at all.”
“Let us be thankful that you are preserved from a state of such insensibility.”
“I never can be thankful, Mr. Bennet, for anything about the entail. How
anyone 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

Chapter 24
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 accomplishment 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 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 of his own
happiness to the caprice of their inclination. Had his own happiness, however,
been the only sacrifice, he might have been allowed to sport with it in whatever
manner he thought best, 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; whatever 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
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 anyone 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 anybody. I only want to think you
perfect, and you set yourself against it. 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 dependence that can be placed on the appearance of 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 steady, prudent
character. 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 everybody’s sake, that she may
feel something like regard and esteem for our cousin.”
“To oblige you, I would try to believe almost anything, 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 married 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 prudence, 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 something else. You mentioned two instances. I
cannot misunderstand you, but I entreat 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 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 saying 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 choose 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 everybody 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 light, it is nothing in comparison of what I should feel
in thinking ill of 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 was 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
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 a little in love now and then. It is something to think of, and it
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 in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country.
Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you
“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 befall you, you have an affectionate mother who will 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 everybody was pleased to know how much they had
always disliked Mr. Darcy before they had known anything 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 25
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 alleviated on his side, by preparations for the
reception of his bride; as he had reason to hope, that shortly after his 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. Phillips, was an amiable, intelligent,
elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her Longbourn nieces. Between
the two eldest and herself especially, there subsisted a 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 she last
saw her sister. Two of her girls had been upon 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 it not been for her own perverseness. He
made her an offer in this very room, and she refused him. The consequence of it
is, that Lady Lucas will have a daughter married before I have, and that the
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 inconsistencies
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 a 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 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 upon 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 that 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, 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 his 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 solicitude on the subject which convinced her, on examination,
that she did not consider it entirely hopeless. It was possible, and 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
Miss Bennet accepted her aunt’s invitation with pleasure; and the Bingleys
were no otherwise in her thoughts at the same time, than as she hoped 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 stayed a week at Longbourn; and what with the Phillipses, 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, narrowly observed them both.
Without supposing them, from what she saw, to be very seriously 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 considerable time in that very part of Derbyshire to
which he belonged. They had, therefore, many acquaintances in common; and
though Wickham had been little there since the death of Darcy’s father, 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 character of
its late possessor, she was delighting both him and herself. On being made
acquainted with the present Mr. Darcy’s treatment of him, she tried to remember
some of that gentleman’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 26
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 honour, and I should
be miserable to forfeit it. My father, however, 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 the
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 wonderful 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
repeatedly to say, in an ill-natured tone, that she “wished they might be happy.”
Thursday was to be the wedding day, and on Wednesday 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,
accompanied her out of the room. As they went downstairs together, Charlotte
“I shall depend on hearing from you very often, Eliza.”
“That you certainly shall.”
“And I have another favour to ask you. 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 coming to me in March,” added Charlotte, “and I
hope you will consent to be of the party. Indeed, Eliza, you will be as welcome
as either of them.”
The wedding took place; the bride and bridegroom set off for Kent from the
church door, and everybody 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 determined 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, neighbourhood, 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 Elizabeth 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, Elizabeth hoped it would be in her power
to say something of the Bingleys.
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 inquired 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 see them soon 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 judgement, at my expense, 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 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 meantime. 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 must 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 ago. He knows of my being in town, I am certain, from
something she said herself; and yet it would 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.—Yours, etc.”
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 a renewal of
his 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 this 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 convinced, 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 certainly should be a more
interesting object to all my acquaintances 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 world, and not yet
open to the mortifying conviction that handsome young men must have
something to live on as well as the plain.”

Chapter 27
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. Everything, 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 every
enjoyment, reminding her of what she was to expect in Lady Catherine de
Bourgh, and trusting their opinion of her—their opinion of everybody—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
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 object was her sister;
and she was more grieved than astonished to hear, in reply to her minute
inquiries, that though Jane always struggled to support her spirits, there were
periods of dejection. It was reasonable, however, to hope that they would not
continue long. Mrs. Gardiner gave her the particulars also of Miss Bingley’s visit
in Gracechurch Street, and repeated conversations occurring at different times
between Jane and herself, which proved that the former had, from her heart,
given up the acquaintance.
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 mercenary.”
“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
“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 grandfather’s death made
her mistress of this fortune.”
“No—why should he? If it were 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 an 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 shows 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 sense
to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all.”
“Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment.”
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 determined how far it shall carry us,” said Mrs. Gardiner, “but,
perhaps, to the Lakes.”
No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance
of the invitation was most ready and grateful. “Oh, my dear, dear aunt,” she
rapturously cried, “what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and
vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are young men to rocks and
mountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return,
it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea
of anything. We will know where we have gone—we will recollect what we have
seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be jumbled together in our
imaginations; nor when we attempt to describe any particular scene, will we
begin quarreling about its relative situation. Let our first effusions be less
insupportable than those of the generality of travellers.”

Chapter 28
Every object in the next day’s journey was new and interesting to Elizabeth;
and her spirits were in a state of 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 palings of
Rosings Park was their boundary 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, everything 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 inquiries 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
Elizabeth was prepared to see him in his glory; and she could not help in
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 everything 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 anything 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 this 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 country or kingdom could boast, none were to be
compared 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 opportunity
of showing it without her husband’s help. It was rather small, but well built and
convenient; and everything 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 an air of great comfort throughout, and by
Charlotte’s evident enjoyment of it, Elizabeth supposed he must be often
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,
“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 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 already been 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 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 nothing 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 that 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
doorway, in earnest contemplation 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

Chapter 29
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 anything was talked of the whole day or next morning 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 apparel. Lady
Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes
herself and her daughter. I would advise you merely to put on whatever of your
clothes is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything 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 introduction 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 or 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 the finished ornaments, they followed the servants
through an ante-chamber, 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 hers, 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 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 handsome.
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 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 direction before her
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
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 now enough recovered to echo whatever his sonin-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 was 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 judgement controverted. She inquired
into Charlotte’s domestic concerns familiarly and minutely, gave her a great deal
of advice as to the management of them all; told her how everything ought to be
regulated in so small a family as hers, 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 impertinence of her questions but answered them very
composedly. Lady Catherine then observed,
“Your father’s estate is entailed on Mr. Collins, I think. For 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 yours. 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
“Then, who taught you? who attended to you? Without a governess, you must
have been neglected.”
“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 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. 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 Metcalf’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 ones 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, the two girls had the
honour of 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 everything 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 broken 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 30
Sir William stayed 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 morning to driving
him out in his gig, and showing him the country; but when he went away, the
whole family returned to their usual employments, 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 the window in his own
book-room, which fronted the road. The room in which the ladies sat was
backwards. Elizabeth had at first rather wondered that Charlotte should not
prefer the dining-parlour for common use; it was a better sized room, and had a
more pleasant 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 upon to get out.
Very few days passed in which Mr. Collins did not walk to Rosings, and not
many in which his wife did not think it necessary 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
Elizabeth soon perceived, that though this great lady was not in commission
of the peace of 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 differences, 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 entertainment was the counterpart of the first. Their other
engagements were few, as the style of living in the neighbourhood in general
was beyond Mr. Collins’s reach. This, however, was no evil to Elizabeth, and
upon the whole she spent her time comfortably enough; there were half-hours of
pleasant conversation 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 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 acquaintances whom she did not prefer,
his coming would furnish one comparatively 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 opening 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 compliment, 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 Hertfordshire—paid his
compliments, with his usual reserve, to Mrs. Collins, and whatever might be his
feelings toward 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 the readiness and
ease of a well-bred man, and talked very pleasantly; but his cousin, after having
addressed a slight observation on the house and garden to Mrs. Collins, sat for
some time without speaking to anybody. At length, however, his civility was so
far awakened as to inquire 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 31
Colonel Fitzwilliam’s manners were very much admired at the Parsonage, and
the ladies all felt that he must add considerably to the pleasures 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
necessary; and it was not till Easter-day, almost a week after the gentlemen’s
arrival, that they were honoured by such an attention, 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 Lady Catherine or her daughter. Colonel Fitzwilliam had
called at the Parsonage more than once during the time, but Mr. Darcy they had
seen only 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 company 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
Colonel Fitzwilliam seemed really glad to see them; anything 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 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
“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 delightfully. How does Georgiana get on, Darcy?”
Mr. Darcy spoke with affectionate praise of his sister’s proficiency.
“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
practice a good 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 pianoforte
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
When coffee was over, Colonel Fitzwilliam reminded Elizabeth of having
promised to play to him; and she sat down directly to the instrument. He drew a
chair near her. Lady Catherine listened to half a song, and then talked, as before,
to her other nephew; till the latter walked away from her, and making with his
usual deliberation towards the pianoforte 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? 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 at every attempt to intimidate me.”
“I shall not say 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
occasionally 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 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
“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 Hertfordshire, you must know, was at a ball
—and at this ball, what do you think he did? He danced only four dances, though
gentlemen were scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more 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 instrument 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 will 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 privilege of hearing you can think anything
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 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 performance, 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

Chapter 32
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 apologised for his
intrusion by letting her know that he had understood all the ladies were to be
They then sat down, and when her inquiries 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 Hertfordshire, 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 November, 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
“I think I have understood that Mr. Bingley has not much idea of ever
returning to Netherfield again?”
“I have never heard him say so; but it is probable that he may spend very little
of his time there in the future. He has many friends, and 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 it 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 determined 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
“I believe she did—and I am sure she could not have bestowed her kindness
on a more grateful object.”
“Mr. Collins appears to be 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 for 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. Anything 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 expenses 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
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 her walk. The tête-à-tête 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 anybody, 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 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 anything 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 always be within doors; 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 occasionally 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 liked to have believed this change the effect
of love, and the object of that love her friend Eliza, she set herself seriously to
work to find it out. She watched him whenever they were at Rosings, and
whenever he came to Hunsford; 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, steadfast 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
In her kind schemes for Elizabeth, she sometimes planned her marrying
Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was beyond comparison the most pleasant man; he
certainly admired her, and his situation in life was most eligible; but, to
counterbalance these advantages, Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the
church, and his cousin could have none at all.

Chapter 33
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 inquiries 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 anything, 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 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 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 intend to close it with a call at the Parsonage. Are you going much
“No, I should have turned in a moment.”
And accordingly she did turn, and they walked towards the Parsonage
“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 pleasure
in the great power of choice. I do not know anybody 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 anything 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 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 expense make us too dependent, 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, “And pray, what is the usual price of an
earl’s younger son? Unless 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 someone 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 gentlemanlike 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.”
“What is it you mean?”
“It is a circumstance which Darcy could not wish to be generally known,
because if it were to get round to the lady’s family, it would be an unpleasant
“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 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
“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 judgement alone, he was to determine
and direct in what manner his 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 a lessening of
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 talked on indifferent matters until 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 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 those 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 understanding excellent, her mind
improved, and her manners captivating. Neither could anything be urged against
my father, who, though with some peculiarities, has abilities Mr. Darcy himself
need not disdain, and respectability which he will probably never reach.” When
she thought of her mother, 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 headache;
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 unwell,
did not press her to go and as much as possible prevented 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 34
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 characterise her
style, and which, proceeding from the serenity of a mind at ease with itself and
kindly disposed towards everyone, had been scarcely ever clouded. Elizabeth
noticed every sentence conveying the idea of uneasiness, 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 remembering that his
cousin was to go with him; but Colonel Fitzwilliam 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 doorbell, 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 inquire particularly after her. But this idea was soon banished, and
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
inquiry 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 I have 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 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
In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible 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:
“In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense
of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however 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 anyone. 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 mantelpiece 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, with 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 inquire,” replied she, “why with so evident a desire 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 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
“I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. No motive can excuse the
unjust and ungenerous part you acted 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 to the censure of the world for caprice and instability,
and 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 everything 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
misfortune with contempt and ridicule.”
“And this,” cried Darcy, as he walked with quick steps across 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
offenses 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
everything. 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 gentlemanlike
She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she continued:
“You could not have made 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 the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding
events have built so immovable 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 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 abominable 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 agitated 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.

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Pride And Prejudice