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|Chapter 25 (Vol. II, Chap. II)|
|(Vol. II, Chap. 1)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 3)|
|Chapter 25 (Vol. II, Chap. II)
|After a week spent in professions of love and schemes of
felicity, Mr. Collins was called from his amiable Charlotte by
the arrival of Saturday. The pain of separation, however,
might be alleviated on his side, by preparations for the
reception of his bride, as he had reason to hope that shortly
after his next return into Hertfordshire, the day would be
fixed that was to make him the happiest of men. He took leave
of his relations at Longbourn with as much solemnity as before;
wished his fair cousins health and happiness again, and
promised their father another letter of thanks.
|On the following Monday, Mrs. Bennet had the pleasure of
receiving her brother and his wife, who came as usual to spend
the Christmas at Longbourn. Mr. Gardiner was a sensible,
gentlemanlike man, greatly superior to his sister, as well by
nature as education. The Netherfield ladies would have had
difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and
within view of his own warehouses, could have been so well bred
and agreeable. Mrs. Gardiner, who was several years younger
than Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Philips, was an amiable, intelligent,
elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her Longbourn
nieces. Between the two eldest and herself especially, there
subsisted a very particular regard. They had frequently been
staying with her in town.
|The first part of Mrs. Gardiner's business on her arrival, was
to distribute her presents and describe the newest fashions.
When this was done, she had a less active part to play. It
became her turn to listen. Mrs. Bennet had many grievances to
relate, and much to complain of. They had all been very
ill-used since she last saw her sister. Two of her girls had
been on the point of marriage, and after all there was nothing
|"I do not blame Jane," she continued, "for Jane would have got
Mr. Bingley, if she could. But, Lizzy! Oh, sister! it is
very hard to think that she might have been Mr. Collins's wife
by this time, had not it been for her own perverseness. He
made her an offer in this very room, and she refused him. The
consequence of it is, that Lady Lucas will have a daughter
married before I have, and that Longbourn estate is just as
much entailed as ever. The Lucases are very artful people
indeed, sister. They are all for what they can get. I am
sorry to say it of them, but so it is. It makes me very
nervous and poorly, to be thwarted so in my own family, and to
have neighbours who think of themselves before anybody else.
However, your coming just at this time is the greatest of
comforts, and I am very glad to hear what you tell us, of long
|Mrs. Gardiner, to whom the chief of this news had been given
before, in the course of Jane and Elizabeth's correspondence
with her, made her sister a slight answer, and, in compassion
to her nieces, turned the conversation.
|When alone with Elizabeth afterwards, she spoke more on the
subject. "It seems likely to have been a desirable match for
Jane," said she. "I am sorry it went off. But these things
happen so often! A young man, such as you describe
Mr. Bingley, so easily falls in love with a pretty girl for a
few weeks, and when accident separates them, so easily forgets
her, that these sort of inconstancies are very frequent."
|"An excellent consolation in its way," said Elizabeth, "but it
will not do for us. We do not suffer by accident. It does
not often happen that the interference of friends will persuade
a young man of independent fortune to think no more of a girl,
whom he was violently in love with only a few days before."
|"But that expression of ``violently in love'' is so hackneyed,
so doubtful, so indefinite, that it gives me very little idea.
It is as often applied to feelings which arise from an
half-hour's acquaintance, as to a real, strong attachment.
Pray, how violent was Mr. Bingley's love?"
|"I never saw a more promising inclination. He was growing
quite inattentive to other people, and wholly engrossed by her.
Every time they met, it was more decided and remarkable. At
his own ball he offended two or three young ladies by not
asking them to dance, and I spoke to him twice myself without
receiving an answer. Could there be finer symptoms? Is not
general incivility the very essence of love?"
|"Oh, yes! -- of that kind of love which I suppose him to have
felt. Poor Jane! I am sorry for her, because, with her
disposition, she may not get over it immediately. It had
better have happened to you, Lizzy; you would have laughed
yourself out of it sooner. But do you think she would be
prevailed on to go back with us? Change of scene might be of
service -- and perhaps a little relief from home, may be as
useful as anything."
|Elizabeth was exceedingly pleased with this proposal, and felt
persuaded of her sister's ready acquiescence.
|"I hope," added Mrs. Gardiner, "that no consideration with
regard to this young man will influence her. We live in so
different a part of town, all our connections are so different,
and, as you well know, we go out so little, that it is very
improbable they should meet at all, unless he really comes to
|"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 the sister? She will not be
able to help calling."
|"She will drop the acquaintance entirely."
|But in spite of the certainty in which Elizabeth affected to
place this point, as well as the still more interesting one of
Bingley's being withheld from seeing Jane, she felt a
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 re-animated, and the influence of his
friends successfully combated by the more natural influence of
|Miss Bennet accepted her aunt's invitation with pleasure; and
the Bingleys were no otherwise in her thoughts at the time,
than as she hoped that, by Caroline's not living in the same
house with her brother, she might occasionally spend a morning
with her, without any danger of seeing him.
|The Gardiners stayed a week at Longbourn; and what with the
Philipses, the Lucases, and the officers, there was not a day
without its engagement. Mrs. Bennet had so carefully provided
for the entertainment of her brother and sister, that they did
not once sit down to a family dinner. When the engagement was
for home, some of the officers always made part of it, of which
officers Mr. Wickham was sure to be one; and on these
occasions, Mrs. Gardiner, rendered suspicious by Elizabeth's
warm commendation of him, narrowly observed them both. Without
supposing them, from what she saw, to be very 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 acquaintance in common; and, though
Wickham had been little there since the death of Darcy's
father, five years before, it was yet in his power to give her
fresher intelligence of her former friends, than she had been
in the way of procuring.
|Mrs. Gardiner had seen Pemberley, and known the late Mr. Darcy
by character perfectly well. Here, consequently, was an
inexhaustible subject of discourse. In comparing her
recollection of Pemberley with the minute description which
Wickham could give, and in bestowing her tribute of praise on
the 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 something
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.
|(Vol. II, Chap. 1)
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||(Vol. II, Chap. 3)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese