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|Chapter 50 (Vol. III, Chap. VIII)|
|(Vol. III, Chap. 7)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. III, Chap. 9)|
|Chapter 50 (Vol. III, Chap. VIII)
|Mr. Bennet had very often wished, before this period of his
life, that, instead of spending his whole income, he had laid
by an annual sum for the better provision of his children, and
of his wife, if she survived him. He now wished it more than
ever. Had he done his duty in that respect, Lydia need not
have been indebted to her uncle for whatever of honour or
credit could now be purchased for her. The satisfaction of
prevailing on one of the most worthless young men in Great
Britain to be her husband might then have rested in its proper
|He was seriously concerned that a cause of so little advantage
to any one should be forwarded at the sole expence of his
brother-in-law, and he was determined, if possible, to find out
the extent of his assistance, and to discharge the obligation
as soon as he could.
|When first Mr. Bennet had married, economy was held to be
perfectly useless; for, of course, they were to have a son.
This son was to join in cutting off the entail, as soon as he
should be of age, and the widow and younger children would by
that means be provided for. Five daughters successively
entered the world, but yet the son was to come; and
Mrs. Bennet, for many years after Lydia's birth, had been
certain that he would. This event had at last been despaired
of, but it was then too late to be saving. Mrs. Bennet had no
turn for economy, and her husband's love of independence had
alone prevented their exceeding their income.
|Five thousand pounds was settled by marriage articles on
Mrs. Bennet and the children. But in what proportions it
should be divided amongst the latter depended on the will of
the parents. This was one point, with regard to Lydia at
least, which was now to be settled, and Mr. Bennet could have
no hesitation in acceding to the proposal before him. In terms
of grateful acknowledgment for the kindness of his brother,
though expressed most concisely, he then delivered on paper his
perfect approbation of all that was done, and his willingness
to fulfill the engagements that had been made for him. He had
never before supposed that, could Wickham be prevailed on to
marry his daughter, it would be done with so little
inconvenience to himself as by the present arrangement. He
would scarcely be ten pounds a year the loser, by the hundred
that was to be paid them; for, what with her board and pocket
allowance, and the continual presents in money which passed to
her through her mother's hands, Lydia's expences had been very
little within that sum.
|That it would be done with such trifling exertion on his side,
too, was another very welcome surprise; for his chief wish at
present was to have as little trouble in the business as
possible. When the first transports of rage which had produced
his activity in seeking her were over, he naturally returned to
all his former indolence. His letter was soon dispatched; for
though dilatory in undertaking business, he was quick in its
execution. He begged to know farther particulars of what he
was indebted to his brother; but was too angry with Lydia to
send any message to her.
|The good news quickly spread through the house; and with
proportionate speed through the neighbourhood. It was borne in
the latter with decent philosophy. To be sure, it would have
been more for the advantage of conversation, had Miss Lydia
Bennet come upon the town; or, as the happiest alternative,
been secluded from the world in some distant farm house.
But there was much to be talked of in marrying her; and the
good-natured wishes for her well-doing, which had proceeded
before from all the spiteful old ladies in Meryton, lost but
little of their spirit in this change of circumstances, because
with such an husband, her misery was considered certain.
|It was a fortnight since Mrs. Bennet had been down stairs, but
on this happy day she again took her seat at the head of her
table, and in spirits oppressively high. No sentiment of shame
gave a damp to her triumph. The marriage of a daughter, which
had been the first object of her wishes since Jane was sixteen,
was now on the point of accomplishment, and her thoughts and
her words ran wholly on those attendants of elegant nuptials,
fine muslins, new carriages, and servants. She was busily
searching through the neighbourhood for a "proper situation"
for her daughter, and, without knowing or considering what
their income might be, rejected many as deficient in size and
|"Haye-Park might do," said she, "if the Gouldings would quit
it, or the great house at Stoke, if the drawing-room were
larger; but Ashworth is too far off! I could not bear to have
her ten miles from me; and as for Purvis Lodge, the attics are
|Her husband allowed her to talk on without interruption while
the servants remained. But when they had withdrawn, he said
to her, "Mrs. Bennet, before you take any or all of these
houses for your son and daughter, let us come to a right
understanding. Into one house in this neighbourhood, they
shall never have admittance. I will not encourage the
impudence of either by receiving them at Longbourn."
|A long dispute followed this declaration, but Mr. Bennet was
firm; it soon led to another, and Mrs. Bennet found, with
amazement and horror, that her husband would not advance a
guinea to buy clothes for his daughter. He protested that she
should receive from him no mark of affection whatever on the
occasion. Mrs. Bennet could hardly comprehend it. That his
anger could be carried to such a point of inconceivable
resentment, as to refuse his daughter a privilege without which
her marriage would scarcely seem valid, exceeded all that she
could believe possible. She was more alive to the disgrace
which the want of new clothes must reflect on her daughter's
nuptials, than to any sense of shame at her eloping and living
with Wickham a fortnight before they took place.
|Elizabeth was now most heartily sorry that she had, from the
distress of the moment, been led to make Mr. Darcy acquainted
with their fears for her sister; for since her marriage would
so shortly give the proper termination to the elopement, they
might hope to conceal its unfavourable beginning from all those
who were not immediately on the spot.
|She had no fear of its spreading farther through his means.
There were few people on whose secrecy she would have more
confidently depended; but at the same time, there was no one
whose knowledge of a sister's frailty would have mortified her
so much. Not, however, from any fear of disadvantage from it
individually to herself; for at any rate, there seemed a gulf
impassable between them. Had Lydia's marriage been concluded
on the most honourable terms, it was not to be supposed that
Mr. Darcy would connect himself with a family where, to every
other objection would now be added an alliance and relationship
of the nearest kind with the man whom he so justly scorned.
|From such a connection she could not wonder that he should
shrink. The wish of procuring her regard, which she had
assured herself of his feeling in Derbyshire, could not in
rational expectation survive such a blow as this. She was
humbled, she was grieved; she repented, though she hardly knew
of what. She became jealous of his esteem, when she could no
longer hope to be benefited by it. She wanted to hear of him,
when there seemed the least chance of gaining intelligence.
She was convinced that she could have been happy with him, when
it was no longer likely they should meet.
|What a triumph for him, as she often thought, could he know
that the proposals which she had proudly spurned only four
months ago, would now have been gladly and gratefully received!
He was as generous, she doubted not, as the most generous of
his sex. But while he was mortal, there must be a triumph.
|She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who,
in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His
understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have
answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been
to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind
might have been softened, his manners improved, and from his
judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must
have received benefit of greater importance. But no such happy
marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial
felicity really was. An union of a different tendency, and
precluding the possibility of the other, was soon to be formed
in their family.
|How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable
independence, she could not imagine. But how little of
permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only
brought together because their passions were stronger than
their virtue, she could easily conjecture.
|Mr. Gardiner soon wrote again to his brother. To Mr. Bennet's
acknowledgments he briefly replied, with assurances of his
eagerness to promote the welfare of any of his family, and
concluded with entreaties that the subject might never be a
mentioned to him again. The principal purport of his letter
was to inform them that Mr. Wickham had resolved on quitting
|"It was greatly my wish that he should do so," he added, "as
soon as his marriage was fixed on. And I think you will agree
with me in considering a removal from that corps as highly
advisable, both on his account and my niece's. It is Mr.
Wickham's intention to go into the regulars; and, among his
former friends, there are still some who are able and willing
to assist him in the army. He has the promise of an ensigncy
in General ----'s regiment, now quartered in the North. It is
an advantage to have it so far from this part of the kingdom.
He promises fairly; and, I hope, among different people, where
they may each have a character to preserve, they will both be
more prudent. I have written to Colonel Forster, to inform him
of our present arrangements, and to request that he will
satisfy the various creditors of Mr. Wickham in and near
Brighton with assurances of speedy payment, for which I have
pledged myself. And will you give yourself the trouble of
carrying similar assurances to his creditors in Meryton, of
whom I shall subjoin a list, according to his information.
He has given in all his debts; I hope at least he has not
deceived us. Haggerston has our directions, and all will be
completed in a week. They will then join his regiment, unless
they are first invited to Longbourn; and I understand from
Mrs. Gardiner that my niece is very desirous of seeing you all,
before she leaves the South. She is well, and begs to be
dutifully remembered to you and her mother. -- Your's, &c.
|Mr. Bennet and his daughters saw all the advantages of
Wickham's removal from the ----shire as clearly as Mr. Gardiner
could do. But Mrs. Bennet was not so well pleased with it.
Lydia's being settled in the North, just when she had expected
most pleasure and pride in her company -- for she had by no
means given up her plan of their residing in Hertfordshire --
was a severe disappointment; and besides, it was such a pity
that Lydia should be taken from a regiment where she was
acquainted with every body, and had so many favourites.
|"She is so fond of Mrs. Forster," said she, "it will be quite
shocking to send her away! And there are several of the young
men, too, that she likes very much. The officers may not be so
pleasant in General ----'s regiment."
|His daughter's request, for such it might be considered, of
being admitted into her family again before she set off for the
North, received at first an absolute negative. But Jane and
Elizabeth, who agreed in wishing, for the sake of their
sister's feelings and consequence, that she should be noticed
on her marriage by her parents, urged him so earnestly, yet so
rationally and so mildly, to receive her and her husband at
Longbourn as soon as they were married, that he was prevailed
on to think as they thought, and act as they wished. And their
mother had the satisfaction of knowing that she should be able
to show her married daughter in the neighbourhood, before she
was banished to the North. When Mr. Bennet wrote again to his
brother, therefore, he sent his permission for them to come;
and it was settled that, as soon as the ceremony was over, they
should proceed to Longbourn. Elizabeth was surprised, however,
that Wickham should consent to such a scheme; and, had she
consulted only her own inclination, any meeting with him would
have been the last object of her wishes.
|(Vol. III, Chap. 7)
||Table of Contents
||(Vol. III, Chap. 9)|
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in English and Chinese