Pride and Prejudice
Part 1 out of 8
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
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
"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 week."
"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
"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."
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 news.
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
"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?"
"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 daughters 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,
"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 extracts."
Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not how.
"While Mary is adjusting her ideas," he continued, "let us return
to Mr. Bingley."
"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 now."
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.
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
second-hand 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 horse.
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
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 me."
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
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 events 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. O that he had sprained
his ankle in the first place!"
"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.
"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."
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,
good-humoured, 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
"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
"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 think."
"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 trade.
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
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
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 friend.
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
"YOU began the evening well, Charlotte," said Mrs. Bennet with
civil self-command to Miss Lucas. "YOU were Mr. Bingley's
"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
"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 you."
"I believe, ma'am, I may safely promise you NEVER to dance
"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
self-complacency 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
"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.
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 women 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
"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 deal."
"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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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.
"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?"
"Do you not think it would be a proper compliment to the
"It is a compliment which I never pay to any place if I can
"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
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
"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 them!"
"You 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.
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 headquarters.
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
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 convinced."
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 London.
"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,
"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
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.
"MY DEAR FRIEND,--
"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 tete-a-tete 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:
"MY DEAREST LIZZY,--
"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 orders."
"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 an 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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."
"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
"It shows an affection for her sister that is very pleasing," said
"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 a 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 on
"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
"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 into."
Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with
those in the room.
"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. Darcy!"
"It ought to be good," he replied, "it has been the work of many
"And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are
always buying books."
"I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days
"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
"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 taller."
"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 accomplished."
"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
"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 reading."
"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 subject.
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.
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
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
daughter 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 us."
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
"That is exactly what I should have supposed of you," said
"You begin to comprehend me, do you?" cried he, turning
"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
your were a studier of character. It must be an amusing study."
"Yes, but intricate characters are the MOST amusing. They
have at least that advantage."
"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 society."
"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
"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
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 had 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
"I have been used to consider poetry as the FOOD of love," said
"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
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
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
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
"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 determine."
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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 himself."
"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
"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 nonsense.
"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 sure 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
"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
"It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression, but their
colour and shape, and the eyelashes, so remarkably fine, might
At that moment they were met from another walk by Mrs. Hurst
and Elizabeth herself.
"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 avenue."
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. Good-bye."
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.
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,
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