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|Chapter 29 (Vol. II, Chap. VI)|
|(Vol. II, Chap. 5)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 7)|
|Chapter 29 (Vol. II, Chap. VI)
|Mr. Collins's triumph in consequence of this invitation was
complete. The power of displaying the grandeur of his
patroness to his wondering visitors, and of letting them see
her civility towards himself and his wife, was exactly what he
had wished for; and that an opportunity of doing it should be
given so soon was such an instance of Lady Catherine's
condescension as he knew not how to admire enough.
|"I confess," said he, "that I should not have been at all
surprised by her Ladyship's asking us on Sunday to drink tea
and spend the evening at Rosings. I rather expected, from my
knowledge of her affability, that it would happen. But who
could have foreseen such an attention as this? Who could have
imagined that we should receive an invitation to dine there (an
invitation moreover including the whole party) so immediately
after your arrival!"
|"I am the less surprised at what has happened," replied Sir
William, "from that knowledge of what the manners of the great
really are, which my situation in life has allowed me to
acquire. About the Court, such instances of elegant breeding
are not uncommon."
|Scarcely any thing was talked of the whole day, or next
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
|"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 daughter. I would
advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is
superior to the rest, there is no occasion for any thing more.
Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply
dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved."
|While they were dressing, he came two or three times to their
different doors, to recommend their being quick, as Lady
Catherine very much objected to be kept waiting for her
dinner. -- Such formidable accounts of her ladyship, and her
manner of living, quite frightened Maria Lucas, who had been
little used to company, and she looked forward to her
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.
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|When they ascended the steps to the hall, Maria's alarm was
every moment increasing, and even Sir William did not look
perfectly calm. -- Elizabeth's courage did not fail her. She
had heard nothing of Lady Catherine that spoke her awful from
any extraordinary talents or miraculous virtue, and the mere
stateliness of money and rank she thought she could witness
|From the entrance hall, of which Mr. Collins pointed out, with
a rapturous air, the fine proportion and finished ornaments,
they followed the servants through an 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 her's, it was
performed in a proper manner, without any of those apologies
and thanks which he would have thought necessary.
|In spite of having been at St. James's, Sir William was so
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
|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 eyes.
|After sitting a few minutes, they were all sent to one of the
windows to admire the view, Mr. Collins attending them to point
out its beauties, and Lady Catherine kindly informing them that
it was much better worth looking at in the summer.
|The dinner was exceedingly handsome, and there were all the
servants, and all the articles of plate which Mr. Collins had
promised; and, as he had likewise foretold, he took his seat at
the bottom of the table, by her ladyship's desire, and looked
as if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater. -- He
carved, and ate, and praised with delighted alacrity; and every
dish was commended, first by him, and then by Sir William, who
was now enough recovered to echo whatever his son in law said,
in a manner which Elizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could bear.
But Lady Catherine seemed gratified by their excessive
admiration, and gave most gracious smiles, especially when any
dish on the table proved a novelty to them. The party did not
supply much conversation. Elizabeth was ready to speak
whenever there was an opening, but she was seated between
Charlotte and Miss De Bourgh -- the former of whom was engaged
in listening to Lady Catherine, and the latter said not a word
to her all dinner time. Mrs. Jenkinson was chiefly employed in
watching how little Miss De Bourgh ate, pressing her to try
some other dish, and fearing she were indisposed. Maria
thought speaking out of the question, and the gentlemen did
nothing but eat and admire.
|When the ladies returned to the drawing room, there was little
to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did
without any intermission till coffee came in, delivering her
opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that
she was not used to have her judgment controverted. She
enquired into Charlotte's domestic concerns familiarly and
minutely, and gave her a great deal of advice as to the
management of them all; told her how every thing ought to be
regulated in so small a family as her's, and instructed her as
to the care of her cows and her poultry. Elizabeth found that
nothing was beneath this great lady's attention, which could
furnish her with an occasion of dictating to others. In the
intervals of her discourse with Mrs. Collins, she addressed a
variety of questions to Maria and Elizabeth, but especially to
the latter, of whose connections she knew the least, and who,
she observed to Mrs. Collins, was a very genteel, pretty kind
of girl. She asked her at different times, how many sisters
she had, whether they were older or younger than herself,
whether any of them were likely to be married, whether they
were handsome, where they had been educated, what carriage her
father kept, and what had been her mother's maiden name? --
Elizabeth felt all the 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?"
|"Oh! then -- some time or other we shall be happy to hear you.
Our instrument is a capital one, probably superior to -- You
shall try it some day. -- Do your sisters play and sing?"
|"One of them does."
|"Why did not you all learn? -- You ought all to have learned.
The Miss Webbs all play, and their father has not so good an
income as your's. -- Do you draw?"
|"No, not at all."
|"What, none of you?"
|"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
|"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
|Elizabeth could hardly help smiling, as she assured her that
had not been the case.
|"Then, who taught you? who attended to you? Without a
governess you must have been neglected."
|"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 Metcalfe's calling yesterday to thank me? She
finds Miss Pope a treasure. ``Lady Catherine,'' said she,
``you have given me a treasure.'' Are any of your younger
sisters out, Miss Bennet?"
|"Yes, Ma'am, all."
|"All! -- What, all five out at once? Very odd! -- And you
only the second. -- The younger ones out before the elder are
married! -- Your younger sisters must be very young?"
|"Yes, my youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps she is full young
to be much in company. But really, Ma'am, I think it would be
very hard upon younger sisters, that they should not have their
share of society and amusement because the elder may not have
the means or inclination to marry early. -- The last born has
as good a right to the pleasures of youth, as the first. And
to be kept back on such a motive! -- I think it would not be
very likely to promote sisterly affection or delicacy of mind."
|"Upon my word," said her ladyship, "you give your opinion very
decidedly for so young a person. -- Pray, what is your age?"
|"With three younger sisters grown up," replied Elizabeth
smiling, "your Ladyship can hardly expect me to own it."
|Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a
direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first
creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified
|"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
every thing her Ladyship said, thanking her for every fish he
won, and apologising if he thought he won too many. Sir
William did not say much. He was storing his memory with
anecdotes and noble names.
|When Lady Catherine and her daughter had played as long as they
chose, the tables were broke up, the carriage was offered to
Mrs. Collins, gratefully accepted, and immediately ordered.
The party then gathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine
determine what weather they were to have on the morrow. From
these instructions they were summoned by the arrival of the
coach, and with many speeches of thankfulness on Mr. Collins's
side, and as many bows on Sir William's, they departed. As
soon as they had driven from the door, Elizabeth was called on
by her cousin to give her opinion of all that she had seen at
Rosings, which, for Charlotte's sake, she made more favourable
than it really was. But her commendation, though costing her
some trouble, could by no means satisfy Mr. Collins, and he was
very soon obliged to take her ladyship's praise into his own
|(Vol. II, Chap. 5)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. II, Chap. 7)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese