few days after this visit, Mr. Bingley called again, and alone. His friend had left him that morning for
London, but was to return home in ten days time. He sat with them above an hour, and was in remarkably good spirits. Mrs. Bennet invited him to dine
with them; but, with many expressions of concern, he confessed himself engaged elsewhere.
УNext time you call,Ф said she, УI hope we shall be more lucky.Ф
He should be particularly happy at any time, &c. &c.; and if she would give him leave, would take an early opportunity
of waiting on them.
УCan you come to-morrow?Ф
Yes, he had no engagement at all for to-morrow; and her invitation was accepted with alacrity.
He came, and in such very good time that the ladies were none of them dressed. In ran Mrs. Bennet to her
daughterТs room, in her dressing gown, and with her hair half finished, crying out,
УMy dear Jane, make haste and hurry down. He is come Ч Mr. Bingley is come. Ч He is, indeed. Make haste,
make haste. Here, Sarah, come to Miss Bennet this moment, and help her on with her gown. Never mind Miss LizzyТs hair.Ф
УWe will be down as soon as we can,Ф said Jane; Уbut I dare say Kitty is forwarder than either of us, for she went up
stairs half an hour ago.Ф
УOh! hang Kitty! what has she to do with it? Come be quick, be quick! Where is your sash, my dear?Ф
But when her mother was gone, Jane would not be prevailed on to go down without one of her sisters.
The same anxiety to get them by themselves was visible again in the evening. After tea, Mr. Bennet retired to
the library, as was his custom, and Mary went up stairs to her instrument. Two obstacles of the five being thus removed, Mrs. Bennet sat looking and winking at Elizabeth and Catherine for a considerable time, without making any impression on them. Elizabeth would not observe her; and
when at last Kitty did, she very innocently said, УWhat is the matter mamma? What do you keep winking at me for? What am I to do?Ф
УNothing child, nothing. I did not wink at you.Ф She then sat still five minutes longer; but unable to waste such a
precious occasion, she suddenly got up, and saying to Kitty, УCome here, my love, I want to speak to you,Ф took her out of the room. Jane instantly gave a look at Elizabeth which spoke her distress at such premeditation, and her intreaty that she would not give in to it. In a few minutes, Mrs.
Bennet half-opened the door and called out,
УLizzy, my dear, I want to speak with you.Ф
Elizabeth was forced to go.
УWe may as well leave them by themselves you know;Ф said her mother, as soon as she was in the hall. УKitty and I
are going up stairs to sit in my dressing room.Ф
Elizabeth made no attempt to reason with her mother, but remained quietly in the hall, till she and Kitty were out
of sight, then returned into the drawing room.
Mrs. BennetТs schemes for this day were ineffectual.
Bingley was every thing that was charming, except the professed lover of her daughter. His ease and cheerfulness rendered
him a most agreeable addition to their evening party; and he bore with the ill-judged officiousness of the mother, and heard all her silly remarks with a forbearance and command of countenance particularly grateful to the daughter.
He scarcely needed an invitation to stay supper; and before he went away, an engagement was formed, chiefly
through his own and Mrs. BennetТs means, for his coming next morning to shoot with her husband.
After this day, Jane said no more of her indifference. Not a word passed between the sisters concerning Bingley;
but Elizabeth went to bed in the happy belief that all must speedily be concluded, unless Mr. Darcy returned within the stated time. Seriously, however, she felt tolerably persuaded that all this must have taken place with that gentlemanТs concurrence.
Bingley was punctual to his appointment; and he and Mr. Bennet spent the morning together, as had been agreed
on. The latter was much more agreeable than his companion expected. There was nothing of presumption or folly in Bingley that could provoke his ridicule, or disgust him into silence; and he was more communicative, and less eccentric, than the other had ever seen him. Bingley of course returned
with him to dinner; and in the evening Mrs. BennetТs invention was again at work to get every body away from him and her daughter. Elizabeth, who had a letter to write, went into the breakfast room for that purpose soon after tea; for as the others were all going to sit down to cards, she could
not be wanted to counteract her motherТs schemes.
But on returning to the drawing room, when her letter was finished, she saw, to her infinite surprise, there was reason
to fear that her mother had been too ingenious for her. On opening the door, she perceived her sister and Bingley standing together over the hearth, as if engaged in earnest conversation; and had this led to no suspicion, the faces of both, as they hastily turned round and moved away from
each other, would have told it all. Their situation was awkward enough; but herТs she thought was still worse. Not a syllable was uttered by either; and Elizabeth was on the point of going away again, when Bingley, who as well as the other had sat down, suddenly rose, and whispering a few
words to her sister, ran out of the room.
Jane could have no reserves from Elizabeth, where confidence would give pleasure; and instantly embracing her,
acknowledged, with the liveliest emotion, that she was the happiest creature in the world.
УТTis too much!Ф she added, Уby far too much. I do not deserve it. Oh! why is not every body as happy?Ф
ElizabethТs congratulations were given with a sincerity, a warmth, a delight, which words could but poorly express.
Every sentence of kindness was a fresh source of happiness to Jane. But she would not allow herself to stay with her sister, or say half that remained to be said for the present.
УI must go instantly to my mother;Ф she cried. УI would not on any account trifle with her affectionate solicitude;
or allow her to hear it from any one but myself. He is gone to my father already. Oh! Lizzy, to know that what I have to relate will give such pleasure to all my dear family! how shall I bear so much happiness!Ф
She then hastened away to her mother, who had purposely broken up the card party, and was sitting up stairs
Elizabeth, who was left by herself, now smiled at the rapidity and ease with which an affair was finally settled,
that had given them so many previous months of suspense and vexation.
УAnd this,Ф said she, Уis the end of all his friendТs anxious circumspection! of all his sisterТs falsehood and contrivance!
the happiest, wisest, most reasonable end!Ф
In a few minutes she was joined by Bingley, whose conference with her father had been short and to the purpose.
УWhere is your sister?Ф said he hastily, as he opened the door.
УWith my mother up stairs. She will be down in a moment,
I dare say.Ф
He then shut the door, and, coming up to her, claimed the good wishes and affection of a sister. Elizabeth honestly
and heartily expressed her delight in the prospect of their relationship. They shook hands with great cordiality; and then, till her sister came down, she had to listen to all he had to say of his own happiness, and of JaneТs perfections; and in spite of his being a lover, Elizabeth really believed
all his expectations of felicity to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the excellent understanding, and super-excellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity of feeling and taste between her and himself.
It was an evening of no common delight to them all; the satisfaction of Miss BennetТs mind gave a glow of such
sweet animation to her face, as made her look handsomer than ever. Kitty simpered and smiled, and hoped her turn was coming soon. Mrs. Bennet could not give her consent or speak her approbation in terms warm enough to satisfy her feelings, though she talked to Bingley of nothing else
for half an hour; and when Mr. Bennet joined them at supper, his voice and manner plainly shewed how really happy he was.
Not a word, however, passed his lips in allusion to it, till their visitor took his leave for the night; but as soon as he
was gone, he turned to his daughter, and said,
УJane, I congratulate you. You will be a very happy
Jane went to him instantly, kissed him, and thanked
him for his goodness.
УYou are a good girl;Ф he replied, Уand I have great pleasure
in thinking you will be so happily settled. I have not
a doubt of your doing very well together. Your tempers are
by no means unlike. You are each of you so complying, that
nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant
will cheat you; and so generous, that you will always exceed
УI hope not so. Imprudence or thoughtlessness in money
matters would be unpardonable in me.Ф
УExceed their income! My dear Mr. Bennet,Ф cried his
wife, Уwhat are you talking of? Why, he has four or five
thousand a year, and very likely more.Ф Then addressing her
daughter, УOh! my dear, dear Jane, I am so happy! I am sure
I shanТt get a wink of sleep all night. I knew how it would
be. I always said it must be so, at last. I was sure you could
not be so beautiful for nothing! I remember, as soon as ever
I saw him, when he first came into Hertfordshire last year,
I thought how likely it was that you should come together.
Oh! he is the handsomest young man that ever was seen!Ф
Wickham, Lydia, were all forgotten. Jane was beyond
competition her favourite child. At that moment, she cared
for no other. Her younger sisters soon began to make interest
with her for objects of happiness which she might in
future be able to dispense.
Mary petitioned for the use of the library at Netherfield;
and Kitty begged very hard for a few balls there every winter.
Bingley, from this time, was of course a daily visitor
at Longbourn; coming frequently before breakfast, and
always remaining till after supper; unless when some barbarous
neighbour, who could not be enough detested, had
given him an invitation to dinner which he thought himself
obliged to accept.
Elizabeth had now but little time for conversation with
her sister; for while he was present, Jane had no attention to
bestow on any one else; but she found herself considerably
useful to both of them in those hours of separation that
must sometimes occur. In the absence of Jane, he always
attached himself to Elizabeth, for the pleasure of talking of
her; and when Bingley was gone, Jane constantly sought the
same means of relief.
УHe has made me so happy,Ф said she, one evening, Уby
telling me that he was totally ignorant of my being in town
last spring! I had not believed it possible.Ф
УI suspected as much,Ф replied Elizabeth. УBut how did
he account for it?Ф
УIt must have been his sisterТs doing. They were certainly
no friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot
wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously
in many respects. But when they see, as I trust
they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will
learn to be contented, and we shall be on good terms again;
though we can never be what we once were to each other.Ф
УThat is the most unforgiving speech,Ф said Elizabeth,
Уthat I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It would vex me, indeed,
to see you again the dupe of Miss BingleyТs pretended
УWould you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town
last November, he really loved me, and nothing but a persuasion
of my being indifferent would have prevented his
coming down again!Ф
УHe made a little mistake to be sure; but it is to the
credit of his modesty.Ф
This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his
diffidence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities.
Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed
the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most
generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a
circumstance which must prejudice her against him.
УI am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!Ф
cried Jane. УOh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from
my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you
as happy! If there were but such another man for you!Ф
УIf you were to give me forty such men, I never could be
so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness,
I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for
myself; and, perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet
with another Mr. Collins in time.Ф
The situation of affairs in the Longbourn family could
not be long a secret. Mrs. Bennet was privileged to whisper
it to Mrs. Philips, and she ventured, without any permission,
to do the same by all her neighbours in Meryton.
The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest
family in the world, though only a few weeks before,
when Lydia had first run away, they had been generally
proved to be marked out for misfortune.
ne morning, about a week after BingleyТs engagement with Jane had been formed, as he and the females of the family were sitting together in the dining room, their attention was suddenly drawn to the window, by the sound of a carriage; and they perceived a chaise and four driving up the lawn. It
was too early in the morning for visitors, and besides, the equipage did not answer to that of any of their neighbours. The horses were post; and neither the carriage, nor the livery of the servant who preceded it, were familiar to them. As it was certain, however, that somebody was coming, Bingley
instantly prevailed on Miss Bennet to avoid the confinement of such an intrusion, and walk away with him into the shrubbery. They both set off, and the conjectures of the remaining three continued, though with little satisfaction, till the door was thrown open and their visitor entered. It
was Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
They were of course all intending to be surprised; but
their astonishment was beyond their expectation; and on
the part of Mrs. Bennet and Kitty, though she was perfectly
unknown to them, even inferior to what Elizabeth felt.
She entered the room with an air more than usually
ungracious, made no other reply to ElizabethТs salutation
than a slight inclination of the head, and sat down without
saying a word. Elizabeth had mentioned her name to her
mother on her ladyshipТs entrance, though no request of introduction
had been made.
Mrs. Bennet, all amazement, though flattered by having
a guest of such high importance, received her with the
utmost politeness. After sitting for a moment in silence, she
said very stiffly to Elizabeth,
УI hope you are well, Miss Bennet. That lady, I suppose,
is your mother.Ф
Elizabeth replied very concisely that she was.
УAnd that I suppose is one of your sisters.Ф
УYes, madam,Ф said Mrs. Bennet, delighted to speak to
a Lady Catherine. УShe is my youngest girl but one. My
youngest of all is lately married, and my eldest is somewhere
about the grounds, walking with a young man who, I believe,
will soon become a part of the family.Ф
УYou have a very small park here,Ф returned Lady
Catherine after a short silence.
УIt is nothing in comparison of Rosings, my lady, I dare
say; but I assure you it is much larger than Sir William
УThis must be a most inconvenient sitting room for the
evening, in summer; the windows are full west.Ф
Mrs. Bennet assured her that they never sat there after
dinner, and then added,
УMay I take the liberty of asking your ladyship whether
you left Mr. and Mrs. Collins well.Ф
УYes, very well. I saw them the night before last.Ф
Elizabeth now expected that she would produce a letter
for her from Charlotte, as it seemed the only probable
motive for her calling. But no letter appeared, and she was
Mrs. Bennet, with great civility, begged her ladyship to
take some refreshment; but Lady Catherine very resolutely,
and not very politely, declined eating any thing; and then,
rising up, said to Elizabeth,
УMiss Bennet, there seemed to be a prettyish kind of a
little wilderness on one side of your lawn. I should be glad
to take a turn in it, if you will favour me with your company.Ф
УGo, my dear,Ф cried her mother, Уand shew her ladyship
about the different walks. I think she will be pleased with
Elizabeth obeyed, and running into her own room for
her parasol, attended her noble guest down stairs. As they
passed through the hall, Lady Catherine opened the doors
into the dining-parlour and drawing-room, and pronouncing
them, after a short survey, to be decent looking rooms,
walked on. Her carriage remained at the door, and Elizabeth
saw that her waiting-woman was in it. They proceeded in
silence along the gravel walk that led to the copse; Elizabeth
was determined to make no effort for conversation with a
woman who was now more than usually insolent and disagreeable.
УHow could I ever think her like her nephew?Ф said she,
as she looked in her face.
As soon as they entered the copse, Lady Catherine began
in the following manner: Ч
УYou can be at no loss, Miss Bennet, to understand the
reason of my journey hither. Your own heart, your own
conscience, must tell you why I come.Ф
Elizabeth looked with unaffected astonishment.
УIndeed, you are mistaken, Madam. I have not been at
all able to account for the honour of seeing you here.Ф
УMiss Bennet,Ф replied her ladyship, in an angry tone,
Уyou ought to know, that I am not to be trifled with. But
however insincere you may choose to be, you shall not find
me so. My character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity
and frankness, and in a cause of such moment as this, I
shall certainly not depart from it. A report of a most alarming
nature reached me two days ago. I was told that not only
your sister was on the point of being most advantageously
married, but that you, that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, would,
in all likelihood, be soon afterwards united to my nephew,
my own nephew, Mr. Darcy. Though I know it must be a
scandalous falsehood, though I would not injure him so
much as to suppose the truth of it possible, I instantly resolved
on setting off for this place, that I might make my
sentiments known to you.Ф
УIf you believed it impossible to be true,Ф said Elizabeth,
colouring with astonishment and disdain, УI wonder you
took the trouble of coming so far. What could your ladyship
propose by it?Ф
УAt once to insist upon having such a report universally
УYour coming to Longbourn, to see me and my family,Ф
said Elizabeth coolly, Уwill be rather a confirmation of it; if,
indeed, such a report is in existence.Ф
УIf! Do you then pretend to be ignorant of it? Has it
not been industriously circulated by yourselves? Do you not
know that such a report is spread abroad?Ф
УI never heard that it was.Ф
УAnd can you likewise declare, that there is no foundation
УI do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your
ladyship. You may ask questions which I shall not choose
УThis is not to be borne. Miss Bennet, I insist on being
satisfied. Has he, has my nephew, made you an offer of
УYour ladyship has declared it to be impossible.Ф
УIt ought to be so; it must be so, while he retains the use
of his reason. But your arts and allurements may, in a moment
of infatuation, have made him forget what he owes to
himself and to all his family. You may have drawn him in.Ф
УIf I have, I shall be the last person to confess it.Ф
УMiss Bennet, do you know who I am? I have not been
accustomed to such language as this. I am almost the nearest
relation he has in the world, and am entitled to know all
his dearest concerns.Ф
УBut you are not entitled to know mine; nor will such
behaviour as this, ever induce me to be explicit.Ф
УLet me be rightly understood. This match, to which
you have the presumption to aspire, can never take place.
No, never. Mr. Darcy is engaged to my daughter. Now what
have you to say?Ф
УOnly this; that if he is so, you can have no reason to
suppose he will make an offer to me.Ф
Lady Catherine hesitated for a moment, and then replied,
УThe engagement between them is of a peculiar kind.
From their infancy, they have been intended for each other.
It was the favourite wish of his mother, as well as of herТs.
While in their cradles, we planned the union: and now, at
the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished
in their marriage, to be prevented by a young
woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and
wholly unallied to the family! Do you pay no regard to the
wishes of his friends? To his tacit engagement with Miss
De Bourgh? Are you lost to every feeling of propriety and
delicacy? Have you not heard me say that from his earliest
hours he was destined for his cousin?Ф
УYes, and I had heard it before. But what is that to me?
If there is no other objection to my marrying your nephew,
I shall certainly not be kept from it by knowing that his
mother and aunt wished him to marry Miss De Bourgh.
You both did as much as you could in planning the marriage.
Its completion depended on others. If Mr. Darcy is
neither by honour nor inclination confined to his cousin,
why is not he to make another choice? And if I am that
choice, why may not I accept him?Ф
УBecause honour, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid
it. Yes, Miss Bennet, interest; for do not expect to be
noticed by his family or friends, if you wilfully act against
the inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and
despised, by every one connected with him. Your alliance
will be a disgrace; your name will never even be mentioned
by any of us.Ф
УThese are heavy misfortunes,Ф replied Elizabeth. УBut
the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources
of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she
could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine.Ф
УObstinate, headstrong girl! I am ashamed of you! Is
this your gratitude for my attentions to you last spring? Is
nothing due to me on that score? Let us sit down. You are
to understand, Miss Bennet, that I came here with the determined
resolution of carrying my purpose; nor will I be
dissuaded from it. I have not been used to submit to any
personТs whims. I have not been in the habit of brooking
УThat will make your ladyshipТs situation at present more
pitiable; but it will have no effect on me.Ф
УI will not be interrupted. Hear me in silence. My
daughter and my nephew are formed for each other. They
are descended, on the maternal side, from the same noble
line; and, on the fatherТs, from respectable, honourable, and
ancient Ч though untitled Ч families. Their fortune on both
sides is splendid. They are destined for each other by the
voice of every member of their respective houses; and what
is to divide them? The upstart pretensions of a young woman
without family, connections, or fortune. Is this to be
endured! But it must not, shall not be. If you were sensible
of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere in
which you have been brought up.Ф
УIn marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself
as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentlemanТs
daughter; so far we are equal.Ф
УTrue. You are a gentlemanТs daughter. But who was your
mother? Who are your uncles and aunts? Do not imagine
me ignorant of their condition.Ф
УWhatever my connections may be,Ф said Elizabeth, Уif
your nephew does not object to them, they can be nothing
УTell me once for all, are you engaged to him?Ф
Though Elizabeth would not, for the mere purpose of
obliging Lady Catherine, have answered this question, she
could not but say, after a momentТs deliberation,
УI am not.Ф
Lady Catherine seemed pleased.
УAnd will you promise me, never to enter into such an
УI will make no promise of the kind.Ф
УMiss Bennet I am shocked and astonished. I expected
to find a more reasonable young woman. But do not deceive
yourself into a belief that I will ever recede. I shall not go
away till you have given me the assurance I require.Ф
УAnd I certainly never shall give it. I am not to be intimidated into anything so wholly unreasonable. Your ladyship
wants Mr. Darcy to marry your daughter; but would my giving you the wished-for promise make their marriage at all more probable? Supposing him to be attached to me, would my refusing to accept his hand make him wish to bestow it on his cousin? Allow me to say, Lady Catherine, that
the arguments with which you have supported this extraordinary application have been as frivolous as the application was ill-judged. You have widely mistaken my character, if you think I can be worked on by such persuasions as these. How far your nephew might approve of your interference
in his affairs, I cannot tell; but you have certainly no right to concern yourself in mine. I must beg, therefore, to be importuned no farther on the subject.Ф
УNot so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still another
to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sisterТs infamous elopement. I know it all; that the young manТs marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expence of your father and uncles. And is such a girl to be my nephewТs sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late
fatherТs steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth!Ч of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?Ф
УYou can now have nothing farther to say,Ф she resentfully answered. УYou have insulted me in every possible
method. I must beg to return to the house.Ф
And she rose as she spoke. Lady Catherine rose also, and they turned back. Her ladyship was highly incensed.
УYou have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you not consider
that a connection with you must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody?Ф
УLady Catherine, I have nothing farther to say. You know my sentiments.Ф
УYou are then resolved to have him?Ф
УI have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so
wholly unconnected with me.Ф
УIt is well. You refuse, then, to oblige me. You refuse to obey the claims of duty, honour, and gratitude. You are determined
to ruin him in the opinion of all his friends, and make him the contempt of the world.Ф
УNeither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude,Ф replied Elizabeth, Уhave any possible claim on me, in the present
instance. No principle of either would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one momentТs concern Ч and the world in general would
have too much sense to join in the scorn.Ф
УAnd this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine,
Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but, depend
upon it, I will carry my point.Ф
In this manner Lady Catherine talked on, till they were
at the door of the carriage, when, turning hastily round, she added, УI take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no compliments
to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am most seriously displeased.Ф
Elizabeth made no answer; and without attempting to persuade her ladyship to return into the house, walked
quietly into it herself. She heard the carriage drive away as she proceeded up stairs. Her mother impatiently met her at the door of the dressing-room, to ask why Lady Catherine would not come in again and rest herself.
УShe did not choose it,Ф said her daughter, Уshe would go.Ф
УShe is a very fine-looking woman! and her calling here was prodigiously civil! for she only came, I suppose, to tell
us the Collinses were well. She is on her road somewhere, I dare say, and so, passing through Meryton, thought she
might as well call on you. I suppose she had nothing particular to say to you, Lizzy?Ф
Elizabeth was forced to give into a little falsehood here; for to acknowledge the substance of their conversation was
he discomposure of spirits which this extraordinary visit threw Elizabeth into, could not be easily overcome; nor could she, for many hours, learn
to think of it less than incessantly. Lady Catherine, it appeared, had actually taken the trouble of this journey from Rosings, for the sole purpose of breaking off her supposed engagement with Mr. Darcy. It was a rational scheme, to be sure! but from what the report of their engagement
could originate, Elizabeth was at a loss to imagine; till she recollected that his being the intimate friend of Bingley, and her being the sister of Jane, was enough, at a time when the expectation of one wedding made every body eager for another, to supply the idea. She had not herself forgotten to
feel that the marriage of her sister must bring them more frequently together. And her neighbours at Lucas lodge, therefore (for through their communication with the Collinses, the report, she concluded, had reached lady Catherine), had only set that down as almost certain and immediate, which
she had looked forward to as possible at some future time.
In revolving Lady CatherineТs expressions, however, she could not help feeling some uneasiness as to the possible
consequence of her persisting in this interference. From what she had said of her resolution to prevent their marriage, it occurred to Elizabeth that she must meditate an application to her nephew; and how he might take a similar representation of the evils attached to a connection with her, she
dared not pronounce. She knew not the exact degree of his affection for his aunt, or his dependence on her judgment, but it was natural to suppose that he thought much higher of her ladyship than she could do; and it was certain that, in enumerating the miseries of a marriage with one whose immediate
connections were so unequal to his own, his aunt would address him on his weakest side. With his notions of dignity, he would probably feel that the arguments, which to Elizabeth had appeared weak and ridiculous, contained much good sense and solid reasoning.
If he had been wavering before as to what he should do, which had often seemed likely, the advice and intreaty of so
near a relation might settle every doubt, and determine him at once to be as happy as dignity unblemished could make him. In that case he would return no more. Lady Catherine might see him in her way through town; and his engagement to Bingley of coming again to Netherfield must give way.
УIf, therefore, an excuse for not keeping his promise should come to his friend within a few days,Ф she added, УI
shall know how to understand it. I shall then give over every expectation, every wish of his constancy. If he is satisfied with only regretting me, when he might have obtained my affections and hand, I shall soon cease to regret him at all.Ф
The surprise of the rest of the family, on hearing who
their visitor had been, was very great; but they obligingly
satisfied it, with the same kind of supposition which had
appeased Mrs. BennetТs curiosity; and Elizabeth was spared
from much teazing on the subject.
The next morning, as she was going down stairs, she
was met by her father, who came out of his library with a
letter in his hand.
УLizzy,Ф said he, УI was going to look for you; come into
She followed him thither; and her curiosity to know
what he had to tell her was heightened by the supposition
of its being in some manner connected with the letter he
held. It suddenly struck her that it might be from Lady
Catherine; and she anticipated with dismay all the consequent
She followed her father to the fire place, and they both
sat down. He then said,
УI have received a letter this morning that has astonished me exceedingly. As it principally concerns yourself,
you ought to know its contents. I did not know before, that I had two daughters on the brink of matrimony. Let me
congratulate you on a very important conquest.Ф
The colour now rushed into ElizabethТs cheeks in the instantaneous conviction of its being a letter from the nephew,
instead of the aunt; and she was undetermined whether most to be pleased that he explained himself at all, or offended that his letter was not rather addressed to herself; when her father continued,
УYou look conscious. Young ladies have great penetration in such matters as these; but I think I may defy even
your sagacity, to discover the name of your admirer. This letter is from Mr. Collins.Ф
УFrom Mr. Collins! and what can he have to say?Ф
УSomething very much to the purpose of course. He begins with congratulations on the approaching nuptials of my eldest daughter, of which, it seems, he has been told by
some of the good-natured, gossiping Lucases. I shall not sport with your impatience, by reading what he says on that
point. What relates to yourself, is as follows.Ф
УHaving thus offered you the sincere congratulations of Mrs. Collins and myself on this happy event, let me now
add a short hint on the subject of another; of which we have been advertised by the same authority. Your daughter Elizabeth, it is presumed, will not long bear the name of Bennet, after her elder sister has resigned it, and the chosen partner of her fate may be reasonably looked up to as one of
the most illustrious personages in this land.Ф
УCan you possibly guess, Lizzy, who is meant by this?Ф УThis young gentleman is blessed, in a peculiar way, with
every thing the heart of mortal can most desire, Ч splendid property, noble kindred, and extensive patronage. Yet in spite of all these temptations, let me warn my cousin Elizabeth, and yourself, of what evils you may incur by a precipitate closure with this gentlemanТs proposals, which,
of course, you will be inclined to take immediate advantage of.Ф
УHave you any idea, Lizzy, who this gentleman is? But now it comes out.Ф
УMy motive for cautioning you is as follows. We have reason to imagine that his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh,
does not look on the match with a friendly eye.Ф
УMr. Darcy, you see, is the man! Now, Lizzy, I think I have surprised you. Could he, or the Lucases, have pitched on any man within the circle of our acquaintance, whose name would have given the lie more effectually to what they
related? Mr. Darcy, who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish, and who probably never looked at you in his life! It is admirable!Ф
Elizabeth tried to join in her fatherТs pleasantry, but could only force one most reluctant smile. Never had his
wit been directed in a manner so little agreeable to her.
УAre you not diverted?Ф
УOh! yes. Pray read on.Ф
УAfter mentioning the likelihood of this marriage to her ladyship last night, she immediately, with her usual condescension,
expressed what she felt on the occasion; when it become apparent, that on the score of some family objections on the part of my cousin, she would never give
her consent to what she termed so disgraceful a match. I thought it my duty to give the speediest intelligence of this to my cousin, that she and her noble admirer may be aware of what they are about, and not run hastily into a marriage which has not been properly sanctioned.Ф
УMr. Collins moreover adds,Ф
УI am truly rejoiced that my cousin LydiaТs sad business has been so well hushed up, and am only concerned that
their living together before the marriage took place should be so generally known. I must not, however, neglect the duties of my station, or refrain from declaring my amazement at hearing that you received the young couple into your house as soon as they were married. It was an encouragement
of vice; and had I been the rector of Longbourn, I should very strenuously have opposed it. You ought certainly to forgive them as a Christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing.Ф
УThat is his notion of Christian forgiveness! The rest of his letter is only about his dear CharlotteТs situation, and his expectation of a young olive-branch. But, Lizzy, you look as if you did not enjoy it. You are not going to be Missish,
I hope, and pretend to be affronted at an idle report. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?Ф
УOh!Ф cried Elizabeth, УI am excessively diverted. But it is so strange!Ф
УYes Ч that is what makes it amusing. Had they fixed on any other man it would have been nothing; but his perfect indifference, and your pointed dislike, make it so delightfully absurd! Much as I abominate writing, I would not give up Mr. CollinsТs correspondence for any consideration. Nay,
when I read a letter of his, I cannot help giving him the preference even over Wickham, much as I value the impudence and hypocrisy of my son-in-law. And pray, Lizzy, what said Lady Catherine about this report? Did she call to refuse her consent?Ф
To this question his daughter replied only with a laugh; and as it had been asked without the least suspicion, she was not distressed by his repeating it. Elizabeth had never
been more at a loss to make her feelings appear what they were not. It was necessary to laugh, when she would rather have cried. Her father had most cruelly mortified her, by what he said of Mr. DarcyТs indifference, and she could do nothing but wonder at such a want of penetration, or fear
that perhaps, instead of his seeing too little, she might have fancied too much.