Part 1 out of 5
by Jane Austen (1803)
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE AUTHORESS, TO NORTHANGER ABBEY
THIS little work was finished in the year 1803, and intended for
immediate publication. It was disposed of to a bookseller, it was
even advertised, and why the business proceeded no farther, the
author has never been able to learn. That any bookseller should
think it worth-while to purchase what he did not think it worth-while
to publish seems extraordinary. But with this, neither the author
nor the public have any other concern than as some observation is
necessary upon those parts of the work which thirteen years have
made comparatively obsolete. The public are entreated to bear in
mind that thirteen years have passed since it was finished, many more
since it was begun, and that during that period, places, manners,
books, and opinions have undergone considerable changes.
No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would
have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the
character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition,
were all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, without
being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though
his name was Richard -- and he had never been handsome. He had a
considerable independence besides two good livings -- and he was
not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother
was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what
is more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sons
before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the
latter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still lived
on -- lived to have six children more -- to see them growing up
around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family of
ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are
heads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlands
had little other right to the word, for they were in general very
plain, and Catherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any.
She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark
lank hair, and strong features -- so much for her person; and not
less unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind. She was fond of
all boy's plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls,
but to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse,
feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush. Indeed she had no
taste for a garden; and if she gathered flowers at all, it was chiefly
for the pleasure of mischief -- at least so it was conjectured from
her always preferring those which she was forbidden to take. Such
were her propensities -- her abilities were quite as extraordinary.
She never could learn or understand anything before she was taught;
and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, and
occasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in teaching her
only to repeat the "Beggar's Petition"; and after all, her next
sister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherine
was always stupid -- by no means; she learnt the fable of "The Hare
and Many Friends" as quickly as any girl in England. Her mother
wished her to learn music; and Catherine was sure she should like
it, for she was very fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlorn
spinner; so, at eight years old she began. She learnt a year,
and could not bear it; and Mrs. Morland, who did not insist on her
daughters being accomplished in spite of incapacity or distaste,
allowed her to leave off. The day which dismissed the music-master
was one of the happiest of Catherine's life. Her taste for drawing
was not superior; though whenever she could obtain the outside of
a letter from her mother or seize upon any other odd piece of paper,
she did what she could in that way, by drawing houses and trees,
hens and chickens, all very much like one another. Writing and
accounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: her
proficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked her
lessons in both whenever she could. What a strange, unaccountable
character! -- for with all these symptoms of profligacy at ten
years old, she had neither a bad heart nor a bad temper, was seldom
stubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome, and very kind to the little
ones, with few interruptions of tyranny; she was moreover noisy
and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so
well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of
Such was Catherine Morland at ten. At fifteen, appearances were
mending; she began to curl her hair and long for balls; her complexion
improved, her features were softened by plumpness and colour, her
eyes gained more animation, and her figure more consequence. Her
love of dirt gave way to an inclination for finery, and she grew
clean as she grew smart; she had now the pleasure of sometimes
hearing her father and mother remark on her personal improvement.
"Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl -- she is almost pretty
today," were words which caught her ears now and then; and how
welcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty is an acquisition
of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first
fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever
Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children
everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in
lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters
were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very
wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about
her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and
running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books -- or
at least books of information -- for, provided that nothing like
useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were
all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books
at all. But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a
heroine; she read all such works as heroines must read to supply
their memories with those quotations which are so serviceable and
so soothing in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives.
From Pope, she learnt to censure those who
"bear about the mockery of woe."
From Gray, that
"Many a flower is born to blush unseen,
"And waste its fragrance on the desert air."
From Thompson, that --
"It is a delightful task
"To teach the young idea how to shoot."
And from Shakespeare she gained a great store of information --
amongst the rest, that --
"Trifles light as air,
"Are, to the jealous, confirmation strong,
"As proofs of Holy Writ."
"The poor beetle, which we tread upon,
"In corporal sufferance feels a pang as great
"As when a giant dies."
And that a young woman in love always looks --
"like Patience on a monument
"Smiling at Grief."
So far her improvement was sufficient -- and in many other points she
came on exceedingly well; for though she could not write sonnets,
she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed no
chance of her throwing a whole party into raptures by a prelude on
the pianoforte, of her own composition, she could listen to other
people's performance with very little fatigue. Her greatest
deficiency was in the pencil -- she had no notion of drawing --
not enough even to attempt a sketch of her lover's profile, that
she might be detected in the design. There she fell miserably
short of the true heroic height. At present she did not know her
own poverty, for she had no lover to portray. She had reached the
age of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who could
call forth her sensibility, without having inspired one real passion,
and without having excited even any admiration but what was very
moderate and very transient. This was strange indeed! But strange
things may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairly
searched out. There was not one lord in the neighbourhood; no --
not even a baronet. There was not one family among their acquaintance
who had reared and supported a boy accidentally found at their door
-- not one young man whose origin was unknown. Her father had no
ward, and the squire of the parish no children.
But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty
surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will
happen to throw a hero in her way.
Mr. Allen, who owned the chief of the property about Fullerton,
the village in Wiltshire where the Morlands lived, was ordered to
Bath for the benefit of a gouty constitution -- and his lady, a
good-humoured woman, fond of Miss Morland, and probably aware that
if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she
must seek them abroad, invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs.
Morland were all compliance, and Catherine all happiness.
In addition to what has been already said of Catherine Morland's
personal and mental endowments, when about to be launched into all
the difficulties and dangers of a six weeks' residence in Bath,
it may be stated, for the reader's more certain information, lest
the following pages should otherwise fail of giving any idea of
what her character is meant to be, that her heart was affectionate;
her disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affectation
of any kind -- her manners just removed from the awkwardness and
shyness of a girl; her person pleasing, and, when in good looks,
pretty -- and her mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the
female mind at seventeen usually is.
When the hour of departure drew near, the maternal anxiety of Mrs.
Morland will be naturally supposed to be most severe. A thousand
alarming presentiments of evil to her beloved Catherine from this
terrific separation must oppress her heart with sadness, and drown
her in tears for the last day or two of their being together; and
advice of the most important and applicable nature must of course
flow from her wise lips in their parting conference in her closet.
Cautions against the violence of such noblemen and baronets as
delight in forcing young ladies away to some remote farm-house,
must, at such a moment, relieve the fulness of her heart. Who
would not think so? But Mrs. Morland knew so little of lords
and baronets, that she entertained no notion of their general
mischievousness, and was wholly unsuspicious of danger to
her daughter from their machinations. Her cautions were confined
to the following points. "I beg, Catherine, you will always wrap
yourself up very warm about the throat, when you come from the
rooms at night; and I wish you would try to keep some account of
the money you spend; I will give you this little book on purpose. "
Sally, or rather Sarah (for what young lady of common gentility
will reach the age of sixteen without altering her name as far as
she can?), must from situation be at this time the intimate friend
and confidante of her sister. It is remarkable, however, that she
neither insisted on Catherine's writing by every post, nor exacted
her promise of transmitting the character of every new acquaintance,
nor a detail of every interesting conversation that Bath might
produce. Everything indeed relative to this important journey was
done, on the part of the Morlands, with a degree of moderation and
composure, which seemed rather consistent with the common feelings
of common life, than with the refined susceptibilities, the tender
emotions which the first separation of a heroine from her family
ought always to excite. Her father, instead of giving her an
unlimited order on his banker, or even putting an hundred pounds
bank-bill into her hands, gave her only ten guineas, and promised
her more when she wanted it.
Under these unpromising auspices, the parting took place, and
the journey began. It was performed with suitable quietness and
uneventful safety. Neither robbers nor tempests befriended them,
nor one lucky overturn to introduce them to the hero. Nothing more
alarming occurred than a fear, on Mrs. Allen's side, of having once
left her clogs behind her at an inn, and that fortunately proved
to be groundless.
They arrived at Bath. Catherine was all eager delight -- her eyes were
here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking
environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted
them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy
They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Pulteney Street.
It is now expedient to give some description of Mrs. Allen, that
the reader may be able to judge in what manner her actions will
hereafter tend to promote the general distress of the work, and
how she will, probably, contribute to reduce poor Catherine to all
the desperate wretchedness of which a last volume is capable --
whether by her imprudence, vulgarity, or jealousy -- whether by
intercepting her letters, ruining her character, or turning her
out of doors.
Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society
can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in
the world who could like them well enough to marry them. She had
neither beauty, genius, accomplishment, nor manner. The air of
a gentlewoman, a great deal of quiet, inactive good temper, and
a trifling turn of mind were all that could account for her being
the choice of a sensible, intelligent man like Mr. Allen. In one
respect she was admirably fitted to introduce a young lady into
public, being as fond of going everywhere and seeing everything
herself as any young lady could be. Dress was her passion. She
had a most harmless delight in being fine; and our heroine's entree
into life could not take place till after three or four days had
been spent in learning what was mostly worn, and her chaperone was
provided with a dress of the newest fashion. Catherine too made
some purchases herself, and when all these matters were arranged,
the important evening came which was to usher her into the Upper
Rooms. Her hair was cut and dressed by the best hand, her clothes
put on with care, and both Mrs. Allen and her maid declared she
looked quite as she should do. With such encouragement, Catherine
hoped at least to pass uncensured through the crowd. As for
admiration, it was always very welcome when it came, but she did
not depend on it.
Mrs. Allen was so long in dressing that they did not enter the
ballroom till late. The season was full, the room crowded, and the
two ladies squeezed in as well as they could. As for Mr. Allen,
he repaired directly to the card-room, and left them to enjoy a
mob by themselves. With more care for the safety of her new gown
than for the comfort of her protegee, Mrs. Allen made her way
through the throng of men by the door, as swiftly as the necessary
caution would allow; Catherine, however, kept close at her side,
and linked her arm too firmly within her friend's to be torn asunder
by any common effort of a struggling assembly. But to her utter
amazement she found that to proceed along the room was by no means
the way to disengage themselves from the crowd; it seemed rather to
increase as they went on, whereas she had imagined that when once
fairly within the door, they should easily find seats and be able
to watch the dances with perfect convenience. But this was far
from being the case, and though by unwearied diligence they gained
even the top of the room, their situation was just the same; they
saw nothing of the dancers but the high feathers of some of the
ladies. Still they moved on -- something better was yet in view;
and by a continued exertion of strength and ingenuity they found
themselves at last in the passage behind the highest bench. Here
there was something less of crowd than below; and hence Miss Morland
had a comprehensive view of all the company beneath her, and of all
the dangers of her late passage through them. It was a splendid
sight, and she began, for the first time that evening, to feel herself
at a ball: she longed to dance, but she had not an acquaintance
in the room. Mrs. Allen did all that she could do in such a case
by saying very placidly, every now and then, "I wish you could
dance, my dear -- I wish you could get a partner." For some time
her young friend felt obliged to her for these wishes; but they
were repeated so often, and proved so totally ineffectual, that
Catherine grew tired at last, and would thank her no more.
They were not long able, however, to enjoy the repose of the eminence
they had so laboriously gained. Everybody was shortly in motion
for tea, and they must squeeze out like the rest. Catherine began
to feel something of disappointment -- she was tired of being
continually pressed against by people, the generality of whose
faces possessed nothing to interest, and with all of whom she was
so wholly unacquainted that she could not relieve the irksomeness
of imprisonment by the exchange of a syllable with any of her fellow
captives; and when at last arrived in the tea-room, she felt yet
more the awkwardness of having no party to join, no acquaintance
to claim, no gentleman to assist them. They saw nothing of Mr.
Allen; and after looking about them in vain for a more eligible
situation, were obliged to sit down at the end of a table, at which
a large party were already placed, without having anything to do
there, or anybody to speak to, except each other.
Mrs. Allen congratulated herself, as soon as they were seated, on
having preserved her gown from injury. "It would have been very
shocking to have it torn," said she, "would not it? It is such a
delicate muslin. For my part I have not seen anything I like so
well in the whole room, I assure you."
"How uncomfortable it is," whispered Catherine, "not to have a
single acquaintance here!"
"Yes, my dear," replied Mrs. Allen, with perfect serenity, "it is
very uncomfortable indeed."
"What shall we do? The gentlemen and ladies at this table look
as if they wondered why we came here -- we seem forcing ourselves
into their party."
"Aye, so we do. That is very disagreeable. I wish we had a large
"I wish we had any -- it would be somebody to go to."
"Very true, my dear; and if we knew anybody we would join them
directly. The Skinners were here last year -- I wish they were
"Had not we better go away as it is? Here are no tea-things for
us, you see."
"No more there are, indeed. How very provoking! But I think we
had better sit still, for one gets so tumbled in such a crowd! How
is my head, my dear? Somebody gave me a push that has hurt it, I
"No, indeed, it looks very nice. But, dear Mrs. Allen, are you
sure there is nobody you know in all this multitude of people? I
think you must know somebody."
"I don't, upon my word -- I wish I did. I wish I had a large
acquaintance here with all my heart, and then I should get you
a partner. I should be so glad to have you dance. There goes
a strange-looking woman! What an odd gown she has got on! How
old-fashioned it is! Look at the back."
After some time they received an offer of tea from one of their
neighbours; it was thankfully accepted, and this introduced a light
conversation with the gentleman who offered it, which was the only
time that anybody spoke to them during the evening, till they were
discovered and joined by Mr. Allen when the dance was over.
"Well, Miss Morland," said he, directly, "I hope you have had an
"Very agreeable indeed," she replied, vainly endeavouring to hide
a great yawn.
"I wish she had been able to dance," said his wife; "I wish we could
have got a partner for her. I have been saying how glad I should
be if the Skinners were here this winter instead of last; or if
the Parrys had come, as they talked of once, she might have danced
with George Parry. I am so sorry she has not had a partner!"
"We shall do better another evening I hope," was Mr. Allen's
The company began to disperse when the dancing was over -- enough
to leave space for the remainder to walk about in some comfort;
and now was the time for a heroine, who had not yet played a very
distinguished part in the events of the evening, to be noticed and
admired. Every five minutes, by removing some of the crowd, gave
greater openings for her charms. She was now seen by many young
men who had not been near her before. Not one, however, started
with rapturous wonder on beholding her, no whisper of eager inquiry
ran round the room, nor was she once called a divinity by anybody.
Yet Catherine was in very good looks, and had the company only seen
her three years before, they would now have thought her exceedingly
She was looked at, however, and with some admiration; for, in her
own hearing, two gentlemen pronounced her to be a pretty girl. Such
words had their due effect; she immediately thought the evening
pleasanter than she had found it before -- her humble vanity was
contented -- she felt more obliged to the two young men for this
simple praise than a true-quality heroine would have been for fifteen
sonnets in celebration of her charms, and went to her chair in good
humour with everybody, and perfectly satisfied with her share of
Every morning now brought its regular duties -- shops were to be
visited; some new part of the town to be looked at; and the pump-room
to be attended, where they paraded up and down for an hour, looking
at everybody and speaking to no one. The wish of a numerous
acquaintance in Bath was still uppermost with Mrs. Allen, and she
repeated it after every fresh proof, which every morning brought,
of her knowing nobody at all.
They made their appearance in the Lower Rooms; and here fortune
was more favourable to our heroine. The master of the ceremonies
introduced to her a very gentlemanlike young man as a partner; his
name was Tilney. He seemed to be about four or five and twenty,
was rather tall, had a pleasing countenance, a very intelligent
and lively eye, and, if not quite handsome, was very near it. His
address was good, and Catherine felt herself in high luck. There
was little leisure for speaking while they danced; but when they
were seated at tea, she found him as agreeable as she had already
given him credit for being. He talked with fluency and spirit
-- and there was an archness and pleasantry in his manner which
interested, though it was hardly understood by her. After chatting
some time on such matters as naturally arose from the objects around
them, he suddenly addressed her with -- "I have hitherto been very
remiss, madam, in the proper attentions of a partner here; I have
not yet asked you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were
ever here before; whether you have been at the Upper Rooms, the
theatre, and the concert; and how you like the place altogether. I
have been very negligent -- but are you now at leisure to satisfy
me in these particulars? If you are I will begin directly."
"You need not give yourself that trouble, sir."
"No trouble, I assure you, madam." Then forming his features into
a set smile, and affectedly softening his voice, he added, with a
simpering air, "Have you been long in Bath, madam?"
"About a week, sir," replied Catherine, trying not to laugh.
"Really!" with affected astonishment.
"Why should you be surprised, sir?"
"Why, indeed!" said he, in his natural tone. "But some emotion
must appear to be raised by your reply, and surprise is more easily
assumed, and not less reasonable than any other. Now let us go
on. Were you never here before, madam?"
"Indeed! Have you yet honoured the Upper Rooms?"
"Yes, sir, I was there last Monday."
"Have you been to the theatre?"
"Yes, sir, I was at the play on Tuesday."
"To the concert?"
"Yes, sir, on Wednesday."
"And are you altogether pleased with Bath?"
"Yes -- I like it very well."
"Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again."
Catherine turned away her head, not knowing whether she might
venture to laugh. "I see what you think of me," said he gravely
-- "I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow."
"Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower
Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings -- plain
black shoes -- appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed
by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and
distressed me by his nonsense."
"Indeed I shall say no such thing."
"Shall I tell you what you ought to say?"
"If you please."
"I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced by Mr.
King; had a great deal of conversation with him -- seems a most
extraordinary genius -- hope I may know more of him. That, madam,
is what I wish you to say."
"But, perhaps, I keep no journal."
"Perhaps you are not sitting in this room, and I am not sitting by
you. These are points in which a doubt is equally possible. Not
keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the
tenour of your life in Bath without one? How are the civilities and
compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless
noted down every evening in a journal? How are your various dresses
to be remembered, and the particular state of your complexion, and
curl of your hair to be described in all their diversities, without
having constant recourse to a journal? My dear madam, I am not
so ignorant of young ladies' ways as you wish to believe me; it is
this delightful habit of journaling which largely contributes to
form the easy style of writing for which ladies are so generally
celebrated. Everybody allows that the talent of writing agreeable
letters is peculiarly female. Nature may have done something,
but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of
keeping a journal."
"I have sometimes thought," said Catherine, doubtingly, "whether
ladies do write so much better letters than gentlemen! That is --
I should not think the superiority was always on our side."
"As far as I have had opportunity of judging, it appears to me that
the usual style of letter-writing among women is faultless, except
in three particulars."
"And what are they?"
"A general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops,
and a very frequent ignorance of grammar."
"Upon my word! I need not have been afraid of disclaiming the
compliment. You do not think too highly of us in that way."
"I should no more lay it down as a general rule that women write
better letters than men, than that they sing better duets, or draw
better landscapes. In every power, of which taste is the foundation,
excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes."
They were interrupted by Mrs. Allen: "My dear Catherine," said
she, "do take this pin out of my sleeve; I am afraid it has torn
a hole already; I shall be quite sorry if it has, for this is a
favourite gown, though it cost but nine shillings a yard."
"That is exactly what I should have guessed it, madam," said Mr.
Tilney, looking at the muslin.
"Do you understand muslins, sir?"
"Particularly well; I always buy my own cravats, and am allowed to
be an excellent judge; and my sister has often trusted me in the
choice of a gown. I bought one for her the other day, and it was
pronounced to be a prodigious bargain by every lady who saw it. I
gave but five shillings a yard for it, and a true Indian muslin."
Mrs. Allen was quite struck by his genius. "Men commonly take
so little notice of those things," said she; "I can never get Mr.
Allen to know one of my gowns from another. You must be a great
comfort to your sister, sir."
"I hope I am, madam."
"And pray, sir, what do you think of Miss Morland's gown?"
"It is very pretty, madam," said he, gravely examining it; "but I
do not think it will wash well; I am afraid it will fray."
"How can you," said Catherine, laughing, "be so -- " She had almost
"I am quite of your opinion, sir," replied Mrs. Allen; "and so I
told Miss Morland when she bought it."
"But then you know, madam, muslin always turns to some account or
other; Miss Morland will get enough out of it for a handkerchief,
or a cap, or a cloak. Muslin can never be said to be wasted. I have
heard my sister say so forty times, when she has been extravagant
in buying more than she wanted, or careless in cutting it to pieces."
"Bath is a charming place, sir; there are so many good shops here.
We are sadly off in the country; not but what we have very good
shops in Salisbury, but it is so far to go -- eight miles is a
long way; Mr. Allen says it is nine, measured nine; but I am sure
it cannot be more than eight; and it is such a fag -- I come back
tired to death. Now, here one can step out of doors and get a
thing in five minutes."
Mr. Tilney was polite enough to seem interested in what she
said; and she kept him on the subject of muslins till the dancing
recommenced. Catherine feared, as she listened to their discourse,
that he indulged himself a little too much with the foibles of
others. "What are you thinking of so earnestly?" said he, as they
walked back to the ballroom; "not of your partner, I hope, for, by
that shake of the head, your meditations are not satisfactory."
Catherine coloured, and said, "I was not thinking of anything."
"That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at
once that you will not tell me."
"Well then, I will not."
"Thank you; for now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized
to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the
world advances intimacy so much."
They danced again; and, when the assembly closed, parted, on the
lady's side at least, with a strong inclination for continuing the
acquaintance. Whether she thought of him so much, while she drank
her warm wine and water, and prepared herself for bed, as to dream
of him when there, cannot be ascertained; but I hope it was no more
than in a slight slumber, or a morning doze at most; for if it be
true, as a celebrated writer has maintained, that no young lady
can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman's love is
declared,* it must be very improper that a young lady should dream
of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt
of her. How proper Mr. Tilney might be as a dreamer or a lover
had not yet perhaps entered Mr. Allen's head, but that he was not
objectionable as a common acquaintance for his young charge he was
on inquiry satisfied; for he had early in the evening taken pains
to know who her partner was, and had been assured of Mr. Tilney's
being a clergyman, and of a very respectable family in Gloucestershire.
With more than usual eagerness did Catherine hasten to the pump-room
the next day, secure within herself of seeing Mr. Tilney there
before the morning were over, and ready to meet him with a smile;
but no smile was demanded -- Mr. Tilney did not appear. Every
creature in Bath, except himself, was to be seen in the room at
different periods of the fashionable hours; crowds of people were
every moment passing in and out, up the steps and down; people
whom nobody cared about, and nobody wanted to see; and he only was
absent. "What a delightful place Bath is," said Mrs. Allen as they
sat down near the great clock, after parading the room till they
were tired; "and how pleasant it would be if we had any acquaintance
This sentiment had been uttered so often in vain that Mrs. Allen
had no particular reason to hope it would be followed with more
advantage now; but we are told to "despair of nothing we would
attain," as "unwearied diligence our point would gain"; and the
unwearied diligence with which she had every day wished for the
same thing was at length to have its just reward, for hardly had
she been seated ten minutes before a lady of about her own age,
who was sitting by her, and had been looking at her attentively
for several minutes, addressed her with great complaisance in these
words: "I think, madam, I cannot be mistaken; it is a long time
since I had the pleasure of seeing you, but is not your name Allen?"
This question answered, as it readily was, the stranger pronounced
hers to be Thorpe; and Mrs. Allen immediately recognized the
features of a former schoolfellow and intimate, whom she had seen
only once since their respective marriages, and that many years
ago. Their joy on this meeting was very great, as well it might,
since they had been contented to know nothing of each other for the
last fifteen years. Compliments on good looks now passed; and,
after observing how time had slipped away since they were last
together, how little they had thought of meeting in Bath, and what
a pleasure it was to see an old friend, they proceeded to make
inquiries and give intelligence as to their families, sisters,
and cousins, talking both together, far more ready to give than to
receive information, and each hearing very little of what the other
said. Mrs. Thorpe, however, had one great advantage as a talker,
over Mrs. Allen, in a family of children; and when she expatiated
on the talents of her sons, and the beauty of her daughters, when
she related their different situations and views -- that John was
at Oxford, Edward at Merchant Taylors', and William at sea -- and
all of them more beloved and respected in their different station
than any other three beings ever were, Mrs. Allen had no similar
information to give, no similar triumphs to press on the unwilling
and unbelieving ear of her friend, and was forced to sit and appear
to listen to all these maternal effusions, consoling herself,
however, with the discovery, which her keen eye soon made, that the
lace on Mrs. Thorpe's pelisse was not half so handsome as that on
"Here come my dear girls," cried Mrs. Thorpe, pointing at three
smart-looking females who, arm in arm, were then moving towards
her. "My dear Mrs. Allen, I long to introduce them; they will be
so delighted to see you: the tallest is Isabella, my eldest; is
not she a fine young woman? The others are very much admired too,
but I believe Isabella is the handsomest."
The Miss Thorpes were introduced; and Miss Morland, who had been for
a short time forgotten, was introduced likewise. The name seemed
to strike them all; and, after speaking to her with great civility,
the eldest young lady observed aloud to the rest, "How excessively
like her brother Miss Morland is!"
"The very picture of him indeed!" cried the mother -- and "I should
have known her anywhere for his sister!" was repeated by them all,
two or three times over. For a moment Catherine was surprised;
but Mrs. Thorpe and her daughters had scarcely begun the history
of their acquaintance with Mr. James Morland, before she remembered
that her eldest brother had lately formed an intimacy with a young
man of his own college, of the name of Thorpe; and that he had
spent the last week of the Christmas vacation with his family, near
The whole being explained, many obliging things were said by the
Miss Thorpes of their wish of being better acquainted with her; of
being considered as already friends, through the friendship of their
brothers, etc., which Catherine heard with pleasure, and answered
with all the pretty expressions she could command; and, as the first
proof of amity, she was soon invited to accept an arm of the eldest
Miss Thorpe, and take a turn with her about the room. Catherine was
delighted with this extension of her Bath acquaintance, and almost
forgot Mr. Tilney while she talked to Miss Thorpe. Friendship is
certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.
Their conversation turned upon those subjects, of which the free
discussion has generally much to do in perfecting a sudden intimacy
between two young ladies: such as dress, balls, flirtations, and
quizzes. Miss Thorpe, however, being four years older than Miss
Morland, and at least four years better informed, had a very decided
advantage in discussing such points; she could compare the balls
of Bath with those of Tunbridge, its fashions with the fashions
of London; could rectify the opinions of her new friend in many
articles of tasteful attire; could discover a flirtation between
any gentleman and lady who only smiled on each other; and point
out a quiz through the thickness of a crowd. These powers received
due admiration from Catherine, to whom they were entirely new;
and the respect which they naturally inspired might have been too
great for familiarity, had not the easy gaiety of Miss Thorpe's
manners, and her frequent expressions of delight on this acquaintance
with her, softened down every feeling of awe, and left nothing
but tender affection. Their increasing attachment was not to be
satisfied with half a dozen turns in the pump-room, but required,
when they all quitted it together, that Miss Thorpe should accompany
Miss Morland to the very door of Mr. Allen's house; and that they
should there part with a most affectionate and lengthened shake
of hands, after learning, to their mutual relief, that they should
see each other across the theatre at night, and say their prayers
in the same chapel the next morning. Catherine then ran directly
upstairs, and watched Miss Thorpe's progress down the street from
the drawing-room window; admired the graceful spirit of her walk,
the fashionable air of her figure and dress; and felt grateful, as
well she might, for the chance which had procured her such a friend.
Mrs. Thorpe was a widow, and not a very rich one; she was
a good-humoured, well-meaning woman, and a very indulgent mother.
Her eldest daughter had great personal beauty, and the younger
ones, by pretending to be as handsome as their sister, imitating
her air, and dressing in the same style, did very well.
This brief account of the family is intended to supersede the
necessity of a long and minute detail from Mrs. Thorpe herself,
of her past adventures and sufferings, which might otherwise be
expected to occupy the three or four following chapters; in which
the worthlessness of lords and attornies might be set forth, and
conversations, which had passed twenty years before, be minutely
Catherine was not so much engaged at the theatre that evening, in
returning the nods and smiles of Miss Thorpe, though they certainly
claimed much of her leisure, as to forget to look with an inquiring
eye for Mr. Tilney in every box which her eye could reach; but
she looked in vain. Mr. Tilney was no fonder of the play than the
pump-room. She hoped to be more fortunate the next day; and when
her wishes for fine weather were answered by seeing a beautiful
morning, she hardly felt a doubt of it; for a fine Sunday in Bath
empties every house of its inhabitants, and all the world appears
on such an occasion to walk about and tell their acquaintance what
a charming day it is.
As soon as divine service was over, the Thorpes and Allens eagerly
joined each other; and after staying long enough in the pump-room
to discover that the crowd was insupportable, and that there was not
a genteel face to be seen, which everybody discovers every Sunday
throughout the season, they hastened away to the Crescent, to breathe
the fresh air of better company. Here Catherine and Isabella,
arm in arm, again tasted the sweets of friendship in an unreserved
conversation; they talked much, and with much enjoyment; but again
was Catherine disappointed in her hope of reseeing her partner.
He was nowhere to be met with; every search for him was equally
unsuccessful, in morning lounges or evening assemblies; neither
at the Upper nor Lower Rooms, at dressed or undressed balls,
was he perceivable; nor among the walkers, the horsemen, or the
curricle-drivers of the morning. His name was not in the pump-room
book, and curiosity could do no more. He must be gone from Bath.
Yet he had not mentioned that his stay would be so short! This
sort of mysteriousness, which is always so becoming in a hero,
threw a fresh grace in Catherine's imagination around his person
and manners, and increased her anxiety to know more of him. From
the Thorpes she could learn nothing, for they had been only two
days in Bath before they met with Mrs. Allen. It was a subject,
however, in which she often indulged with her fair friend, from whom
she received every possible encouragement to continue to think of
him; and his impression on her fancy was not suffered therefore to
weaken. Isabella was very sure that he must be a charming young
man, and was equally sure that he must have been delighted with
her dear Catherine, and would therefore shortly return. She liked
him the better for being a clergyman, "for she must confess herself
very partial to the profession"; and something like a sigh escaped
her as she said it. Perhaps Catherine was wrong in not demanding
the cause of that gentle emotion -- but she was not experienced
enough in the finesse of love, or the duties of friendship, to know
when delicate raillery was properly called for, or when a confidence
should be forced.
Mrs. Allen was now quite happy -- quite satisfied with Bath. She
had found some acquaintance, had been so lucky too as to find in
them the family of a most worthy old friend; and, as the completion
of good fortune, had found these friends by no means so expensively
dressed as herself. Her daily expressions were no longer, "I wish
we had some acquaintance in Bath!" They were changed into, "How
glad I am we have met with Mrs. Thorpe!" and she was as eager in
promoting the intercourse of the two families, as her young charge
and Isabella themselves could be; never satisfied with the day
unless she spent the chief of it by the side of Mrs. Thorpe, in
what they called conversation, but in which there was scarcely ever
any exchange of opinion, and not often any resemblance of subject,
for Mrs. Thorpe talked chiefly of her children, and Mrs. Allen of
The progress of the friendship between Catherine and Isabella was
quick as its beginning had been warm, and they passed so rapidly
through every gradation of increasing tenderness that there
was shortly no fresh proof of it to be given to their friends or
themselves. They called each other by their Christian name, were
always arm in arm when they walked, pinned up each other's train
for the dance, and were not to be divided in the set; and if a
rainy morning deprived them of other enjoyments, they were still
resolute in meeting in defiance of wet and dirt, and shut themselves
up, to read novels together. Yes, novels; for I will not adopt
that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel-writers,
of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances,
to the number of which they are themselves adding -- joining with
their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such
works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own
heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn
over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one
novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can
she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us
leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their
leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of
the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one
another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have
afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any
other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition
has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our
foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities
of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of
the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines
of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and
a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens -- there
seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing
the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances
which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. "I am
no novel-reader -- I seldom look into novels -- Do not imagine that
I often read novels -- It is really very well for a novel." Such
is the common cant. "And what are you reading, Miss -- ?" "Oh!
It is only a novel!" replies the young lady, while she lays down
her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. "It
is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda"; or, in short, only some
work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in
which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest
delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and
humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language. Now,
had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of the Spectator,
instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book,
and told its name; though the chances must be against her being
occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either
the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste:
the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement
of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics
of conversation which no longer concern anyone living; and their
language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable
idea of the age that could endure it.
The following conversation, which took place between the two friends
in the pump-room one morning, after an acquaintance of eight or
nine days, is given as a specimen of their very warm attachment, and
of the delicacy, discretion, originality of thought, and literary
taste which marked the reasonableness of that attachment.
They met by appointment; and as Isabella had arrived nearly five
minutes before her friend, her first address naturally was, "My
dearest creature, what can have made you so late? I have been
waiting for you at least this age!"
"Have you, indeed! I am very sorry for it; but really I thought
I was in very good time. It is but just one. I hope you have not
been here long?"
"Oh! These ten ages at least. I am sure I have been here this
half hour. But now, let us go and sit down at the other end of
the room, and enjoy ourselves. I have an hundred things to say
to you. In the first place, I was so afraid it would rain this
morning, just as I wanted to set off; it looked very showery, and
that would have thrown me into agonies! Do you know, I saw the
prettiest hat you can imagine, in a shop window in Milsom Street
just now -- very like yours, only with coquelicot ribbons instead
of green; I quite longed for it. But, my dearest Catherine, what
have you been doing with yourself all this morning? Have you gone
on with Udolpho?"
"Yes, I have been reading it ever since I woke; and I am got to
the black veil."
"Are you, indeed? How delightful! Oh! I would not tell you what
is behind the black veil for the world! Are not you wild to know?"
"Oh! Yes, quite; what can it be? But do not tell me -- I would
not be told upon any account. I know it must be a skeleton, I am
sure it is Laurentina's skeleton. Oh! I am delighted with the book!
I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you,
if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it
for all the world."
"Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have
finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have
made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you."
"Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?"
"I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my
pocketbook. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings,
Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine,
and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time."
"Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are
"Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews,
a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read
every one of them. I wish you knew Miss Andrews, you would be
delighted with her. She is netting herself the sweetest cloak you
can conceive. I think her as beautiful as an angel, and I am so
vexed with the men for not admiring her! I scold them all amazingly
"Scold them! Do you scold them for not admiring her?"
"Yes, that I do. There is nothing I would not do for those who are
really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves;
it is not my nature. My attachments are always excessively strong.
I told Captain Hunt at one of our assemblies this winter that if
he was to tease me all night, I would not dance with him, unless
he would allow Miss Andrews to be as beautiful as an angel. The
men think us incapable of real friendship, you know, and I am
determined to show them the difference. Now, if I were to hear
anybody speak slightingly of you, I should fire up in a moment:
but that is not at all likely, for you are just the kind of girl
to be a great favourite with the men."
"Oh, dear!" cried Catherine, colouring. "How can you say so?"
"I know you very well; you have so much animation, which is exactly
what Miss Andrews wants, for I must confess there is something
amazingly insipid about her. Oh! I must tell you, that just after
we parted yesterday, I saw a young man looking at you so earnestly
-- I am sure he is in love with you." Catherine coloured, and
disclaimed again. Isabella laughed. "It is very true, upon my
honour, but I see how it is; you are indifferent to everybody's
admiration, except that of one gentleman, who shall be nameless.
Nay, I cannot blame you" -- speaking more seriously -- "your feelings
are easily understood. Where the heart is really attached, I know
very well how little one can be pleased with the attention of anybody
else. Everything is so insipid, so uninteresting, that does not
relate to the beloved object! I can perfectly comprehend your
"But you should not persuade me that I think so very much about
Mr. Tilney, for perhaps I may never see him again."
"Not see him again! My dearest creature, do not talk of it. I am
sure you would be miserable if you thought so!"
"No, indeed, I should not. I do not pretend to say that I was
not very much pleased with him; but while I have Udolpho to read,
I feel as if nobody could make me miserable. Oh! The dreadful
black veil! My dear Isabella, I am sure there must be Laurentina's
skeleton behind it."
"It is so odd to me, that you should never have read Udolpho before;
but I suppose Mrs. Morland objects to novels."
"No, she does not. She very often reads Sir Charles Grandison
herself; but new books do not fall in our way."
"Sir Charles Grandison! That is an amazing horrid book, is it not?
I remember Miss Andrews could not get through the first volume."
"It is not like Udolpho at all; but yet I think it is very
"Do you indeed! You surprise me; I thought it had not been readable.
But, my dearest Catherine, have you settled what to wear on your
head tonight? I am determined at all events to be dressed exactly
like you. The men take notice of that sometimes, you know."
"But it does not signify if they do," said Catherine, very innocently.
"Signify! Oh, heavens! I make it a rule never to mind what they
say. They are very often amazingly impertinent if you do not treat
them with spirit, and make them keep their distance."
"Are they? Well, I never observed that. They always behave very
well to me."
"Oh! They give themselves such airs. They are the most conceited
creatures in the world, and think themselves of so much importance!
By the by, though I have thought of it a hundred times, I have always
forgot to ask you what is your favourite complexion in a man. Do
you like them best dark or fair?"
"I hardly know. I never much thought about it. Something between
both, I think. Brown -- not fair, and -- and not very dark."
"Very well, Catherine. That is exactly he. I have not forgot
your description of Mr. Tilney -- 'a brown skin, with dark eyes,
and rather dark hair.' Well, my taste is different. I prefer
light eyes, and as to complexion -- do you know -- I like a sallow
better than any other. You must not betray me, if you should ever
meet with one of your acquaintance answering that description."
"Betray you! What do you mean?"
"Nay, do not distress me. I believe I have said too much. Let us
drop the subject."
Catherine, in some amazement, complied, and after remaining a few
moments silent, was on the point of reverting to what interested
her at that time rather more than anything else in the world,
Laurentina's skeleton, when her friend prevented her, by saying,
"For heaven's sake! Let us move away from this end of the room.
Do you know, there are two odious young men who have been staring
at me this half hour. They really put me quite out of countenance.
Let us go and look at the arrivals. They will hardly follow us
Away they walked to the book; and while Isabella examined the
names, it was Catherine's employment to watch the proceedings of
these alarming young men.
"They are not coming this way, are they? I hope they are not so
impertinent as to follow us. Pray let me know if they are coming.
I am determined I will not look up."
In a few moments Catherine, with unaffected pleasure, assured her
that she need not be longer uneasy, as the gentlemen had just left
"And which way are they gone?" said Isabella, turning hastily
round. "One was a very good-looking young man."
"They went towards the church-yard."
"Well, I am amazingly glad I have got rid of them! And now, what
say you to going to Edgar's Buildings with me, and looking at my
new hat? You said you should like to see it."
Catherine readily agreed. "Only," she added, "perhaps we may
overtake the two young men."
"Oh! Never mind that. If we make haste, we shall pass by them
presently, and I am dying to show you my hat."
"But if we only wait a few minutes, there will be no danger of our
seeing them at all."
"I shall not pay them any such compliment, I assure you. I have
no notion of treating men with such respect. That is the way to
Catherine had nothing to oppose against such reasoning; and therefore,
to show the independence of Miss Thorpe, and her resolution of
humbling the sex, they set off immediately as fast as they could
walk, in pursuit of the two young men.
Half a minute conducted them through the pump-yard to the archway,
opposite Union Passage; but here they were stopped. Everybody
acquainted with Bath may remember the difficulties of crossing
Cheap Street at this point; it is indeed a street of so impertinent
a nature, so unfortunately connected with the great London and
Oxford roads, and the principal inn of the city, that a day never
passes in which parties of ladies, however important their business,
whether in quest of pastry, millinery, or even (as in the present
case) of young men, are not detained on one side or other by
carriages, horsemen, or carts. This evil had been felt and lamented,
at least three times a day, by Isabella since her residence in Bath;
and she was now fated to feel and lament it once more, for at the
very moment of coming opposite to Union Passage, and within view
of the two gentlemen who were proceeding through the crowds, and
threading the gutters of that interesting alley, they were prevented
crossing by the approach of a gig, driven along on bad pavement by
a most knowing-looking coachman with all the vehemence that could
most fitly endanger the lives of himself, his companion, and his
"Oh, these odious gigs!" said Isabella, looking up. "How I
detest them." But this detestation, though so just, was of short
duration, for she looked again and exclaimed, "Delightful! Mr.
Morland and my brother!"
"Good heaven! 'Tis James!" was uttered at the same moment by
Catherine; and, on catching the young men's eyes, the horse was
immediately checked with a violence which almost threw him on his
haunches, and the servant having now scampered up, the gentlemen
jumped out, and the equipage was delivered to his care.
Catherine, by whom this meeting was wholly unexpected, received
her brother with the liveliest pleasure; and he, being of a very
amiable disposition, and sincerely attached to her, gave every proof
on his side of equal satisfaction, which he could have leisure to
do, while the bright eyes of Miss Thorpe were incessantly challenging
his notice; and to her his devoirs were speedily paid, with a mixture
of joy and embarrassment which might have informed Catherine, had
she been more expert in the development of other people's feelings,
and less simply engrossed by her own, that her brother thought her
friend quite as pretty as she could do herself.
John Thorpe, who in the meantime had been giving orders about the
horses, soon joined them, and from him she directly received the
amends which were her due; for while he slightly and carelessly
touched the hand of Isabella, on her he bestowed a whole scrape
and half a short bow. He was a stout young man of middling height,
who, with a plain face and ungraceful form, seemed fearful of being
too handsome unless he wore the dress of a groom, and too much
like a gentleman unless he were easy where he ought to be civil,
and impudent where he might be allowed to be easy. He took out
his watch: "How long do you think we have been running it from
Tetbury, Miss Morland?"
"I do not know the distance." Her brother told her that it was
"Three and twenty!" cried Thorpe. "Five and twenty if it is an
inch." Morland remonstrated, pleaded the authority of road-books,
innkeepers, and milestones; but his friend disregarded them all; he
had a surer test of distance. "I know it must be five and twenty,"
said he, "by the time we have been doing it. It is now half after
one; we drove out of the inn-yard at Tetbury as the town clock struck
eleven; and I defy any man in England to make my horse go less than
ten miles an hour in harness; that makes it exactly twenty-five."
"You have lost an hour," said Morland; "it was only ten o'clock
when we came from Tetbury."
"Ten o'clock! It was eleven, upon my soul! I counted every
stroke. This brother of yours would persuade me out of my senses,
Miss Morland; do but look at my horse; did you ever see an animal
so made for speed in your life?" (The servant had just mounted
the carriage and was driving off.) "Such true blood! Three hours
and and a half indeed coming only three and twenty miles! Look at
that creature, and suppose it possible if you can."
"He does look very hot, to be sure."
"Hot! He had not turned a hair till we came to Walcot Church; but
look at his forehand; look at his loins; only see how he moves; that
horse cannot go less than ten miles an hour: tie his legs and he
will get on. What do you think of my gig, Miss Morland? A neat
one, is not it? Well hung; town-built; I have not had it a month.
It was built for a Christchurch man, a friend of mine, a very
good sort of fellow; he ran it a few weeks, till, I believe, it
was convenient to have done with it. I happened just then to be
looking out for some light thing of the kind, though I had pretty
well determined on a curricle too; but I chanced to meet him on
Magdalen Bridge, as he was driving into Oxford, last term: 'Ah!
Thorpe,' said he, 'do you happen to want such a little thing as
this? It is a capital one of the kind, but I am cursed tired of
it.' 'Oh! D -- ,' said I; 'I am your man; what do you ask?' And
how much do you think he did, Miss Morland?"
"I am sure I cannot guess at all."
"Curricle-hung, you see; seat, trunk, sword-case, splashing-board,
lamps, silver moulding, all you see complete; the iron-work as
good as new, or better. He asked fifty guineas; I closed with him
directly, threw down the money, and the carriage was mine."
"And I am sure," said Catherine, "I know so little of such things
that I cannot judge whether it was cheap or dear."
"Neither one nor t'other; I might have got it for less, I dare say;
but I hate haggling, and poor Freeman wanted cash."
"That was very good-natured of you," said Catherine, quite pleased.
"Oh! D -- it, when one has the means of doing a kind thing by a
friend, I hate to be pitiful."
An inquiry now took place into the intended movements of the young
ladies; and, on finding whither they were going, it was decided
that the gentlemen should accompany them to Edgar's Buildings, and
pay their respects to Mrs. Thorpe. James and Isabella led the way;
and so well satisfied was the latter with her lot, so contentedly
was she endeavouring to ensure a pleasant walk to him who brought
the double recommendation of being her brother's friend, and
her friend's brother, so pure and uncoquettish were her feelings,
that, though they overtook and passed the two offending young men
in Milsom Street, she was so far from seeking to attract their
notice, that she looked back at them only three times.
John Thorpe kept of course with Catherine, and, after a few minutes'
silence, renewed the conversation about his gig. "You will find,
however, Miss Morland, it would be reckoned a cheap thing by some
people, for I might have sold it for ten guineas more the next
day; Jackson, of Oriel, bid me sixty at once; Morland was with me
at the time."
"Yes," said Morland, who overheard this; "but you forget that your
horse was included."
"My horse! Oh, d -- it! I would not sell my horse for a hundred.
Are you fond of an open carriage, Miss Morland?"
"Yes, very; I have hardly ever an opportunity of being in one; but
I am particularly fond of it."
"I am glad of it; I will drive you out in mine every day."
"Thank you," said Catherine, in some distress, from a doubt of the
propriety of accepting such an offer.
"I will drive you up Lansdown Hill tomorrow."
"Thank you; but will not your horse want rest?"
"Rest! He has only come three and twenty miles today; all nonsense;
nothing ruins horses so much as rest; nothing knocks them up so
soon. No, no; I shall exercise mine at the average of four hours
every day while I am here."
"Shall you indeed!" said Catherine very seriously. "That will be
forty miles a day."
"Forty! Aye, fifty, for what I care. Well, I will drive you up
Lansdown tomorrow; mind, I am engaged."
"How delightful that will be!" cried Isabella, turning round. "My
dearest Catherine, I quite envy you; but I am afraid, brother, you
will not have room for a third."
"A third indeed! No, no; I did not come to Bath to drive my sisters
about; that would be a good joke, faith! Morland must take care
This brought on a dialogue of civilities between the other two;
but Catherine heard neither the particulars nor the result. Her
companion's discourse now sunk from its hitherto animated pitch to
nothing more than a short decisive sentence of praise or condemnation
on the face of every woman they met; and Catherine, after listening
and agreeing as long as she could, with all the civility and deference
of the youthful female mind, fearful of hazarding an opinion of its
own in opposition to that of a self-assured man, especially where
the beauty of her own sex is concerned, ventured at length to vary
the subject by a question which had been long uppermost in her
thoughts; it was, "Have you ever read Udolpho, Mr. Thorpe?"
"Udolpho! Oh, Lord! Not I; I never read novels; I have something
else to do."
Catherine, humbled and ashamed, was going to apologize for her
question, but he prevented her by saying, "Novels are all so full
of nonsense and stuff; there has not been a tolerably decent one
come out since Tom Jones, except The Monk; I read that t'other day;
but as for all the others, they are the stupidest things in creation."
"I think you must like Udolpho, if you were to read it; it is so
"Not I, faith! No, if I read any, it shall be Mrs. Radcliffe's;
her novels are amusing enough; they are worth reading; some fun
and nature in them."
"Udolpho was written by Mrs. Radcliffe," said Catherine, with some
hesitation, from the fear of mortifying him.
"No sure; was it? Aye, I remember, so it was; I was thinking of
that other stupid book, written by that woman they make such a fuss
about, she who married the French emigrant."
"I suppose you mean Camilla?"
"Yes, that's the book; such unnatural stuff! An old man playing
at see-saw, I took up the first volume once and looked it over, but
I soon found it would not do; indeed I guessed what sort of stuff
it must be before I saw it: as soon as I heard she had married an
emigrant, I was sure I should never be able to get through it."
"I have never read it."
"You had no loss, I assure you; it is the horridest nonsense you
can imagine; there is nothing in the world in it but an old man's
playing at see-saw and learning Latin; upon my soul there is not."
This critique, the justness of which was unfortunately lost on poor
Catherine, brought them to the door of Mrs. Thorpe's lodgings, and
the feelings of the discerning and unprejudiced reader of Camilla
gave way to the feelings of the dutiful and affectionate son,
as they met Mrs. Thorpe, who had descried them from above, in the
passage. "Ah, Mother! How do you do?" said he, giving her a
hearty shake of the hand. "Where did you get that quiz of a hat?
It makes you look like an old witch. Here is Morland and I come
to stay a few days with you, so you must look out for a couple of
good beds somewhere near." And this address seemed to satisfy all
the fondest wishes of the mother's heart, for she received him with
the most delighted and exulting affection. On his two younger sisters
he then bestowed an equal portion of his fraternal tenderness, for
he asked each of them how they did, and observed that they both
looked very ugly.
These manners did not please Catherine; but he was James's friend
and Isabella's brother; and her judgment was further bought off
by Isabella's assuring her, when they withdrew to see the new hat,
that John thought her the most charming girl in the world, and
by John's engaging her before they parted to dance with him that
evening. Had she been older or vainer, such attacks might have
done little; but, where youth and diffidence are united, it requires
uncommon steadiness of reason to resist the attraction of being
called the most charming girl in the world, and of being so very
early engaged as a partner; and the consequence was that, when the
two Morlands, after sitting an hour with the Thorpes, set off to
walk together to Mr. Allen's, and James, as the door was closed on
them, said, "Well, Catherine, how do you like my friend Thorpe?"
instead of answering, as she probably would have done, had there
been no friendship and no flattery in the case, "I do not like him
at all," she directly replied, "I like him very much; he seems very
"He is as good-natured a fellow as ever lived; a little of a rattle;
but that will recommend him to your sex, I believe: and how do
you like the rest of the family?"
"Very, very much indeed: Isabella particularly."
"I am very glad to hear you say so; she is just the kind of young
woman I could wish to see you attached to; she has so much good sense,
and is so thoroughly unaffected and amiable; I always wanted you
to know her; and she seems very fond of you. She said the highest
things in your praise that could possibly be; and the praise of
such a girl as Miss Thorpe even you, Catherine," taking her hand
with affection, "may be proud of."
"Indeed I am," she replied; "I love her exceedingly, and am delighted
to find that you like her too. You hardly mentioned anything of
her when you wrote to me after your visit there."
"Because I thought I should soon see you myself. I hope you will
be a great deal together while you are in Bath. She is a most amiable
girl; such a superior understanding! How fond all the family are
of her; she is evidently the general favourite; and how much she
must be admired in such a place as this -- is not she?"
"Yes, very much indeed, I fancy; Mr. Allen thinks her the prettiest
girl in Bath."
"I dare say he does; and I do not know any man who is a better
judge of beauty than Mr. Allen. I need not ask you whether you are
happy here, my dear Catherine; with such a companion and friend as
Isabella Thorpe, it would be impossible for you to be otherwise;
and the Allens, I am sure, are very kind to you?"
"Yes, very kind; I never was so happy before; and now you are come
it will be more delightful than ever; how good it is of you to come
so far on purpose to see me."
James accepted this tribute of gratitude, and qualified his conscience
for accepting it too, by saying with perfect sincerity, "Indeed,
Catherine, I love you dearly."
Inquiries and communications concerning brothers and sisters,
the situation of some, the growth of the rest, and other family
matters now passed between them, and continued, with only one small
digression on James's part, in praise of Miss Thorpe, till they
reached Pulteney Street, where he was welcomed with great kindness
by Mr. and Mrs. Allen, invited by the former to dine with them,
and summoned by the latter to guess the price and weigh the merits
of a new muff and tippet. A pre-engagement in Edgar's Buildings
prevented his accepting the invitation of one friend, and obliged
him to hurry away as soon as he had satisfied the demands of the
other. The time of the two parties uniting in the Octagon Room
being correctly adjusted, Catherine was then left to the luxury of
a raised, restless, and frightened imagination over the pages of
Udolpho, lost from all worldly concerns of dressing and dinner,
incapable of soothing Mrs. Allen's fears on the delay of an expected
dressmaker, and having only one minute in sixty to bestow even on
the reflection of her own felicity, in being already engaged for
In spite of Udolpho and the dressmaker, however, the party from
Pulteney Street reached the Upper Rooms in very good time. The
Thorpes and James Morland were there only two minutes before them;
and Isabella having gone through the usual ceremonial of meeting
her friend with the most smiling and affectionate haste, of admiring
the set of her gown, and envying the curl of her hair, they followed
their chaperones, arm in arm, into the ballroom, whispering to each
other whenever a thought occurred, and supplying the place of many
ideas by a squeeze of the hand or a smile of affection.
The dancing began within a few minutes after they were seated; and
James, who had been engaged quite as long as his sister, was very
importunate with Isabella to stand up; but John was gone into the
card-room to speak to a friend, and nothing, she declared, should
induce her to join the set before her dear Catherine could join it
too. "I assure you," said she, "I would not stand up without your
dear sister for all the world; for if I did we should certainly
be separated the whole evening." Catherine accepted this kindness
with gratitude, and they continued as they were for three minutes
longer, when Isabella, who had been talking to James on the other
side of her, turned again to his sister and whispered, "My dear
creature, I am afraid I must leave you, your brother is so amazingly
impatient to begin; I know you will not mind my going away, and
I dare say John will be back in a moment, and then you may easily
find me out." Catherine, though a little disappointed, had too
much good nature to make any opposition, and the others rising up,
Isabella had only time to press her friend's hand and say, "Good-bye,
my dear love," before they hurried off. The younger Miss Thorpes
being also dancing, Catherine was left to the mercy of Mrs. Thorpe
and Mrs. Allen, between whom she now remained. She could not help
being vexed at the non-appearance of Mr. Thorpe, for she not only
longed to be dancing, but was likewise aware that, as the real
dignity of her situation could not be known, she was sharing with
the scores of other young ladies still sitting down all the discredit
of wanting a partner. To be disgraced in the eye of the world, to
wear the appearance of infamy while her heart is all purity, her
actions all innocence, and the misconduct of another the true source
of her debasement, is one of those circumstances which peculiarly
belong to the heroine's life, and her fortitude under it what
particularly dignifies her character. Catherine had fortitude too;
she suffered, but no murmur passed her lips.
From this state of humiliation, she was roused, at the end of ten
minutes, to a pleasanter feeling, by seeing, not Mr. Thorpe, but Mr.
Tilney, within three yards of the place where they sat; he seemed
to be moving that way, but he did not see her, and therefore the smile
and the blush, which his sudden reappearance raised in Catherine,
passed away without sullying her heroic importance. He looked as
handsome and as lively as ever, and was talking with interest to
a fashionable and pleasing-looking young woman, who leant on his
arm, and whom Catherine immediately guessed to be his sister; thus
unthinkingly throwing away a fair opportunity of considering him
lost to her forever, by being married already. But guided only by
what was simple and probable, it had never entered her head that
Mr. Tilney could be married; he had not behaved, he had not talked,
like the married men to whom she had been used; he had never
mentioned a wife, and he had acknowledged a sister. From these
circumstances sprang the instant conclusion of his sister's now
being by his side; and therefore, instead of turning of a deathlike
paleness and falling in a fit on Mrs. Allen's bosom, Catherine
sat erect, in the perfect use of her senses, and with cheeks only
a little redder than usual.
Mr. Tilney and his companion, who continued, though slowly,
to approach, were immediately preceded by a lady, an acquaintance
of Mrs. Thorpe; and this lady stopping to speak to her, they, as
belonging to her, stopped likewise, and Catherine, catching Mr.
Tilney's eye, instantly received from him the smiling tribute of
recognition. She returned it with pleasure, and then advancing
still nearer, he spoke both to her and Mrs. Allen, by whom he was
very civilly acknowledged. "I am very happy to see you again,
sir, indeed; I was afraid you had left Bath." He thanked her for
her fears, and said that he had quitted it for a week, on the very
morning after his having had the pleasure of seeing her.
"Well, sir, and I dare say you are not sorry to be back again, for
it is just the place for young people -- and indeed for everybody
else too. I tell Mr. Allen, when he talks of being sick of it,
that I am sure he should not complain, for it is so very agreeable
a place, that it is much better to be here than at home at this
dull time of year. I tell him he is quite in luck to be sent here
for his health."
"And I hope, madam, that Mr. Allen will be obliged to like the
place, from finding it of service to him."
"Thank you, sir. I have no doubt that he will. A neighbour of
ours, Dr. Skinner, was here for his health last winter, and came
away quite stout."
"That circumstance must give great encouragement."
"Yes, sir -- and Dr. Skinner and his family were here three months;
so I tell Mr. Allen he must not be in a hurry to get away."
Here they were interrupted by a request from Mrs. Thorpe to Mrs.
Allen, that she would move a little to accommodate Mrs. Hughes and
Miss Tilney with seats, as they had agreed to join their party.
This was accordingly done, Mr. Tilney still continuing standing
before them; and after a few minutes' consideration, he asked
Catherine to dance with him. This compliment, delightful as it
was, produced severe mortification to the lady; and in giving her
denial, she expressed her sorrow on the occasion so very much as if
she really felt it that had Thorpe, who joined her just afterwards,
been half a minute earlier, he might have thought her sufferings
rather too acute. The very easy manner in which he then told her
that he had kept her waiting did not by any means reconcile her
more to her lot; nor did the particulars which he entered into
while they were standing up, of the horses and dogs of the friend
whom he had just left, and of a proposed exchange of terriers
between them, interest her so much as to prevent her looking very
often towards that part of the room where she had left Mr. Tilney.
Of her dear Isabella, to whom she particularly longed to point
out that gentleman, she could see nothing. They were in different
sets. She was separated from all her party, and away from all her
acquaintance; one mortification succeeded another, and from the
whole she deduced this useful lesson, that to go previously engaged
to a ball does not necessarily increase either the dignity or
enjoyment of a young lady. From such a moralizing strain as this,
she was suddenly roused by a touch on the shoulder, and turning
round, perceived Mrs. Hughes directly behind her, attended by Miss
Tilney and a gentleman. "I beg your pardon, Miss Morland," said
she, "for this liberty -- but I cannot anyhow get to Miss Thorpe,
and Mrs. Thorpe said she was sure you would not have the least
objection to letting in this young lady by you." Mrs. Hughes could
not have applied to any creature in the room more happy to oblige
her than Catherine. The young ladies were introduced to each
other, Miss Tilney expressing a proper sense of such goodness, Miss
Morland with the real delicacy of a generous mind making light of
the obligation; and Mrs. Hughes, satisfied with having so respectably
settled her young charge, returned to her party.
Miss Tilney had a good figure, a pretty face, and a very agreeable
countenance; and her air, though it had not all the decided pretension,
the resolute stylishness of Miss Thorpe's, had more real elegance.
Her manners showed good sense and good breeding; they were neither
shy nor affectedly open; and she seemed capable of being young,
attractive, and at a ball without wanting to fix the attention of
every man near her, and without exaggerated feelings of ecstatic
delight or inconceivable vexation on every little trifling
occurrence. Catherine, interested at once by her appearance and
her relationship to Mr. Tilney, was desirous of being acquainted
with her, and readily talked therefore whenever she could think of
anything to say, and had courage and leisure for saying it. But
the hindrance thrown in the way of a very speedy intimacy, by the
frequent want of one or more of these requisites, prevented their
doing more than going through the first rudiments of an acquaintance,
by informing themselves how well the other liked Bath, how much she
admired its buildings and surrounding country, whether she drew,
or played, or sang, and whether she was fond of riding on horseback.
The two dances were scarcely concluded before Catherine found her
arm gently seized by her faithful Isabella, who in great spirits
exclaimed, "At last I have got you. My dearest creature, I have
been looking for you this hour. What could induce you to come
into this set, when you knew I was in the other? I have been quite
wretched without you."
"My dear Isabella, how was it possible for me to get at you? I
could not even see where you were."
"So I told your brother all the time -- but he would not believe
me. Do go and see for her, Mr. Morland, said I -- but all in vain
-- he would not stir an inch. Was not it so, Mr. Morland? But
you men are all so immoderately lazy! I have been scolding him to
such a degree, my dear Catherine, you would be quite amazed. You
know I never stand upon ceremony with such people."
"Look at that young lady with the white beads round her head,"
whispered Catherine, detaching her friend from James. "It is Mr.
"Oh! Heavens! You don't say so! Let me look at her this moment.
What a delightful girl! I never saw anything half so beautiful!
But where is her all-conquering brother? Is he in the room? Point
him out to me this instant, if he is. I die to see him. Mr.
Morland, you are not to listen. We are not talking about you."
"But what is all this whispering about? What is going on?"
"There now, I knew how it would be. You men have such restless
curiosity! Talk of the curiosity of women, indeed! 'Tis nothing.
But be satisfied, for you are not to know anything at all of the
"And is that likely to satisfy me, do you think?"
"Well, I declare I never knew anything like you. What can it signify
to you, what we are talking of. Perhaps we are talking about you;
therefore I would advise you not to listen, or you may happen to
hear something not very agreeable."
In this commonplace chatter, which lasted some time, the original
subject seemed entirely forgotten; and though Catherine was very
well pleased to have it dropped for a while, she could not avoid a
little suspicion at the total suspension of all Isabella's impatient
desire to see Mr. Tilney. When the orchestra struck up a fresh
dance, James would have led his fair partner away, but she resisted.
"I tell you, Mr. Morland," she cried, "I would not do such a thing
for all the world. How can you be so teasing; only conceive, my
dear Catherine, what your brother wants me to do. He wants me to
dance with him again, though I tell him that it is a most improper
thing, and entirely against the rules. It would make us the talk
of the place, if we were not to change partners."
"Upon my honour," said James, "in these public assemblies, it is
as often done as not."
"Nonsense, how can you say so? But when you men have a point to
carry, you never stick at anything. My sweet Catherine, do support
me; persuade your brother how impossible it is. Tell him that it
would quite shock you to see me do such a thing; now would not it?"
"No, not at all; but if you think it wrong, you had much better
"There," cried Isabella, "you hear what your sister says, and yet
you will not mind her. Well, remember that it is not my fault,
if we set all the old ladies in Bath in a bustle. Come along,
my dearest Catherine, for heaven's sake, and stand by me." And
off they went, to regain their former place. John Thorpe, in the
meanwhile, had walked away; and Catherine, ever willing to give
Mr. Tilney an opportunity of repeating the agreeable request which
had already flattered her once, made her way to Mrs. Allen and Mrs.
Thorpe as fast as she could, in the hope of finding him still with
them -- a hope which, when it proved to be fruitless, she felt to
have been highly unreasonable. "Well, my dear," said Mrs. Thorpe,
impatient for praise of her son, "I hope you have had an agreeable
"Very agreeable, madam."
"I am glad of it. John has charming spirits, has not he?"
"Did you meet Mr. Tilney, my dear?" said Mrs. Allen.
"No, where is he?"
"He was with us just now, and said he was so tired of lounging
about, that he was resolved to go and dance; so I thought perhaps
he would ask you, if he met with you."
"Where can he be?" said Catherine, looking round; but she had not
looked round long before she saw him leading a young lady to the
"Ah! He has got a partner; I wish he had asked you," said Mrs.
Allen; and after a short silence, she added, "he is a very agreeable
"Indeed he is, Mrs. Allen," said Mrs. Thorpe, smiling complacently;
"I must say it, though I am his mother, that there is not a more
agreeable young man in the world."
This inapplicable answer might have been too much for the
comprehension of many; but it did not puzzle Mrs. Allen, for after
only a moment's consideration, she said, in a whisper to Catherine,
"I dare say she thought I was speaking of her son."
Catherine was disappointed and vexed. She seemed to have missed by
so little the very object she had had in view; and this persuasion
did not incline her to a very gracious reply, when John Thorpe came
up to her soon afterwards and said, "Well, Miss Morland, I suppose
you and I are to stand up and jig it together again."
"Oh, no; I am much obliged to you, our two dances are over; and,
besides, I am tired, and do not mean to dance any more."
"Do not you? Then let us walk about and quiz people. Come along
with me, and I will show you the four greatest quizzers in the room;
my two younger sisters and their partners. I have been laughing
at them this half hour."
Again Catherine excused herself; and at last he walked off to quiz
his sisters by himself. The rest of the evening she found very
dull; Mr. Tilney was drawn away from their party at tea, to attend
that of his partner; Miss Tilney, though belonging to it, did
not sit near her, and James and Isabella were so much engaged in
conversing together that the latter had no leisure to bestow more on
her friend than one smile, one squeeze, and one "dearest Catherine."
The progress of Catherine's unhappiness from the events of the evening
was as follows. It appeared first in a general dissatisfaction
with everybody about her, while she remained in the rooms, which
speedily brought on considerable weariness and a violent desire to
go home. This, on arriving in Pulteney Street, took the direction
of extraordinary hunger, and when that was appeased, changed into
an earnest longing to be in bed; such was the extreme point of her
distress; for when there she immediately fell into a sound sleep
which lasted nine hours, and from which she awoke perfectly revived,
in excellent spirits, with fresh hopes and fresh schemes. The
first wish of her heart was to improve her acquaintance with Miss
Tilney, and almost her first resolution, to seek her for that
purpose, in the pump-room at noon. In the pump-room, one so newly
arrived in Bath must be met with, and that building she had already
found so favourable for the discovery of female excellence, and
the completion of female intimacy, so admirably adapted for secret
discourses and unlimited confidence, that she was most reasonably
encouraged to expect another friend from within its walls. Her
plan for the morning thus settled, she sat quietly down to her
book after breakfast, resolving to remain in the same place and the
same employment till the clock struck one; and from habitude very
little incommoded by the remarks and ejaculations of Mrs. Allen,
whose vacancy of mind and incapacity for thinking were such, that
as she never talked a great deal, so she could never be entirely
silent; and, therefore, while she sat at her work, if she lost her
needle or broke her thread, if she heard a carriage in the street,
or saw a speck upon her gown, she must observe it aloud, whether
there were anyone at leisure to answer her or not. At about half
past twelve, a remarkably loud rap drew her in haste to the window,
and scarcely had she time to inform Catherine of there being two
open carriages at the door, in the first only a servant, her brother
driving Miss Thorpe in the second, before John Thorpe came running
upstairs, calling out, "Well, Miss Morland, here I am. Have you
been waiting long? We could not come before; the old devil of a
coachmaker was such an eternity finding out a thing fit to be got
into, and now it is ten thousand to one but they break down before
we are out of the street. How do you do, Mrs. Allen? A famous
bag last night, was not it? Come, Miss Morland, be quick, for
the others are in a confounded hurry to be off. They want to get
their tumble over."
"What do you mean?" said Catherine. "Where are you all going to?"
"Going to? Why, you have not forgot our engagement! Did not we
agree together to take a drive this morning? What a head you have!
We are going up Claverton Down."
"Something was said about it, I remember," said Catherine, looking
at Mrs. Allen for her opinion; "but really I did not expect you."
"Not expect me! That's a good one! And what a dust you would have
made, if I had not come."
Catherine's silent appeal to her friend, meanwhile, was entirely
thrown away, for Mrs. Allen, not being at all in the habit of
conveying any expression herself by a look, was not aware of its
being ever intended by anybody else; and Catherine, whose desire
of seeing Miss Tilney again could at that moment bear a short delay
in favour of a drive, and who thought there could be no impropriety
in her going with Mr. Thorpe, as Isabella was going at the same
time with James, was therefore obliged to speak plainer. "Well,
ma'am, what do you say to it? Can you spare me for an hour or two?
Shall I go?"
"Do just as you please, my dear," replied Mrs. Allen, with the
most placid indifference. Catherine took the advice, and ran off
to get ready. In a very few minutes she reappeared, having scarcely
allowed the two others time enough to get through a few short
sentences in her praise, after Thorpe had procured Mrs. Allen's
admiration of his gig; and then receiving her friend's parting
good wishes, they both hurried downstairs. "My dearest creature,"
cried Isabella, to whom the duty of friendship immediately called
her before she could get into the carriage, "you have been at
least three hours getting ready. I was afraid you were ill. What
a delightful ball we had last night. I have a thousand things to
say to you; but make haste and get in, for I long to be off."
Catherine followed her orders and turned away, but not too soon
to hear her friend exclaim aloud to James, "What a sweet girl she
is! I quite dote on her."
"You will not be frightened, Miss Morland," said Thorpe, as he
handed her in, "if my horse should dance about a little at first
setting off. He will, most likely, give a plunge or two, and perhaps
take the rest for a minute; but he will soon know his master. He
is full of spirits, playful as can be, but there is no vice in
Catherine did not think the portrait a very inviting one, but
it was too late to retreat, and she was too young to own herself
frightened; so, resigning herself to her fate, and trusting to the
animal's boasted knowledge of its owner, she sat peaceably down,
and saw Thorpe sit down by her. Everything being then arranged,
the servant who stood at the horse's head was bid in an important
voice "to let him go," and off they went in the quietest manner
imaginable, without a plunge or a caper, or anything like one.
Catherine, delighted at so happy an escape, spoke her pleasure
aloud with grateful surprise; and her companion immediately made
the matter perfectly simple by assuring her that it was entirely
owing to the peculiarly judicious manner in which he had then held
the reins, and the singular discernment and dexterity with which
he had directed his whip. Catherine, though she could not help
wondering that with such perfect command of his horse, he should
think it necessary to alarm her with a relation of its tricks,
congratulated herself sincerely on being under the care of
so excellent a coachman; and perceiving that the animal continued
to go on in the same quiet manner, without showing the smallest
propensity towards any unpleasant vivacity, and (considering
its inevitable pace was ten miles an hour) by no means alarmingly
fast, gave herself up to all the enjoyment of air and exercise of
the most invigorating kind, in a fine mild day of February, with
the consciousness of safety. A silence of several minutes succeeded
their first short dialogue; it was broken by Thorpe's saying very
abruptly, "Old Allen is as rich as a Jew -- is not he?" Catherine
did not understand him -- and he repeated his question, adding in
explanation, "Old Allen, the man you are with."
"Oh! Mr. Allen, you mean. Yes, I believe, he is very rich."
"And no children at all?"
"No -- not any."
"A famous thing for his next heirs. He is your godfather, is not
"My godfather! No."
"But you are always very much with them."
"Yes, very much."
"Aye, that is what I meant. He seems a good kind of old fellow
enough, and has lived very well in his time, I dare say; he is not
gouty for nothing. Does he drink his bottle a day now?"
"His bottle a day! No. Why should you think of such a thing?
He is a very temperate man, and you could not fancy him in liquor
"Lord help you! You women are always thinking of men's being in
liquor. Why, you do not suppose a man is overset by a bottle? I
am sure of this -- that if everybody was to drink their bottle a
day, there would not be half the disorders in the world there are
now. It would be a famous good thing for us all."
"I cannot believe it."
"Oh! Lord, it would be the saving of thousands. There is not
the hundredth part of the wine consumed in this kingdom that there
ought to be. Our foggy climate wants help."
"And yet I have heard that there is a great deal of wine drunk in
"Oxford! There is no drinking at Oxford now, I assure you. Nobody
drinks there. You would hardly meet with a man who goes beyond
his four pints at the utmost. Now, for instance, it was reckoned
a remarkable thing, at the last party in my rooms, that upon an
average we cleared about five pints a head. It was looked upon as
something out of the common way. Mine is famous good stuff, to be
sure. You would not often meet with anything like it in Oxford --
and that may account for it. But this will just give you a notion
of the general rate of drinking there."
"Yes, it does give a notion," said Catherine warmly, "and that is,
that you all drink a great deal more wine than I thought you did.
However, I am sure James does not drink so much."
This declaration brought on a loud and overpowering reply, of
which no part was very distinct, except the frequent exclamations,
amounting almost to oaths, which adorned it, and Catherine was left,
when it ended, with rather a strengthened belief of there being a
great deal of wine drunk in Oxford, and the same happy conviction
of her brother's comparative sobriety.
Thorpe's ideas then all reverted to the merits of his own equipage,
and she was called on to admire the spirit and freedom with which
his horse moved along, and the ease which his paces, as well as the
excellence of the springs, gave the motion of the carriage. She
followed him in all his admiration as well as she could. To go
before or beyond him was impossible. His knowledge and her ignorance
of the subject, his rapidity of expression, and her diffidence of
herself put that out of her power; she could strike out nothing
new in commendation, but she readily echoed whatever he chose to
assert, and it was finally settled between them without any difficulty
that his equipage was altogether the most complete of its kind in
England, his carriage the neatest, his horse the best goer, and
himself the best coachman. "You do not really think, Mr. Thorpe,"
said Catherine, venturing after some time to consider the matter
as entirely decided, and to offer some little variation on the
subject, "that James's gig will break down?"
"Break down! Oh! Lord! Did you ever see such a little tittuppy
thing in your life? There is not a sound piece of iron about it.
The wheels have been fairly worn out these ten years at least --
and as for the body! Upon my soul, you might shake it to pieces
yourself with a touch. It is the most devilish little rickety
business I ever beheld! Thank God! we have got a better. I would
not be bound to go two miles in it for fifty thousand pounds."
"Good heavens!" cried Catherine, quite frightened. "Then pray let
us turn back; they will certainly meet with an accident if we go
on. Do let us turn back, Mr. Thorpe; stop and speak to my brother,
and tell him how very unsafe it is."
"Unsafe! Oh, lord! What is there in that? They will only get a
roll if it does break down; and there is plenty of dirt; it will
be excellent falling. Oh, curse it! The carriage is safe enough,
if a man knows how to drive it; a thing of that sort in good hands
will last above twenty years after it is fairly worn out. Lord
bless you! I would undertake for five pounds to drive it to York
and back again, without losing a nail."
Catherine listened with astonishment; she knew not how to reconcile
two such very different accounts of the same thing; for she had not
been brought up to understand the propensities of a rattle, nor to
know to how many idle assertions and impudent falsehoods the excess
of vanity will lead. Her own family were plain, matter-of-fact
people who seldom aimed at wit of any kind; her father, at the
utmost, being contented with a pun, and her mother with a proverb;
they were not in the habit therefore of telling lies to increase
their importance, or of asserting at one moment what they would
contradict the next. She reflected on the affair for some time in
much perplexity, and was more than once on the point of requesting
from Mr. Thorpe a clearer insight into his real opinion on the
subject; but she checked herself, because it appeared to her that
he did not excel in giving those clearer insights, in making those
things plain which he had before made ambiguous; and, joining to
this, the consideration that he would not really suffer his sister
and his friend to be exposed to a danger from which he might easily
preserve them, she concluded at last that he must know the carriage
to be in fact perfectly safe, and therefore would alarm herself
no longer. By him the whole matter seemed entirely forgotten; and
all the rest of his conversation, or rather talk, began and ended
with himself and his own concerns. He told her of horses which
he had bought for a trifle and sold for incredible sums; of racing
matches, in which his judgment had infallibly foretold the winner;
of shooting parties, in which he had killed more birds (though
without having one good shot) than all his companions together; and
described to her some famous day's sport, with the fox-hounds, in
which his foresight and skill in directing the dogs had repaired
the mistakes of the most experienced huntsman, and in which the
boldness of his riding, though it had never endangered his own life
for a moment, had been constantly leading others into difficulties,
which he calmly concluded had broken the necks of many.
Little as Catherine was in the habit of judging for herself, and
unfixed as were her general notions of what men ought to be, she
could not entirely repress a doubt, while she bore with the effusions
of his endless conceit, of his being altogether completely agreeable.
It was a bold surmise, for he was Isabella's brother; and she had
been assured by James that his manners would recommend him to all
her sex; but in spite of this, the extreme weariness of his company,
which crept over her before they had been out an hour, and which
continued unceasingly to increase till they stopped in Pulteney
Street again, induced her, in some small degree, to resist such high
authority, and to distrust his powers of giving universal pleasure.
When they arrived at Mrs. Allen's door, the astonishment of Isabella
was hardly to be expressed, on finding that it was too late in
the day for them to attend her friend into the house: "Past three
o'clock!" It was inconceivable, incredible, impossible! And she
would neither believe her own watch, nor her brother's, nor the
servant's; she would believe no assurance of it founded on reason
or reality, till Morland produced his watch, and ascertained the
fact; to have doubted a moment longer then would have been equally
inconceivable, incredible, and impossible; and she could only
protest, over and over again, that no two hours and a half had ever
gone off so swiftly before, as Catherine was called on to confirm;
Catherine could not tell a falsehood even to please Isabella; but
the latter was spared the misery of her friend's dissenting voice,
by not waiting for her answer. Her own feelings entirely engrossed
her; her wretchedness was most acute on finding herself obliged
to go directly home. It was ages since she had had a moment's
conversation with her dearest Catherine; and, though she had such
thousands of things to say to her, it appeared as if they were never
to be together again; so, with sniffles of most exquisite misery,
and the laughing eye of utter despondency, she bade her friend
adieu and went on.
Catherine found Mrs. Allen just returned from all the busy idleness
of the morning, and was immediately greeted with, "Well, my dear,
here you are," a truth which she had no greater inclination than
power to dispute; "and I hope you have had a pleasant airing?"
"Yes, ma'am, I thank you; we could not have had a nicer day."
"So Mrs. Thorpe said; she was vastly pleased at your all going."
"You have seen Mrs. Thorpe, then?"
"Yes, I went to the pump-room as soon as you were gone, and there
I met her, and we had a great deal of talk together. She says
there was hardly any veal to be got at market this morning, it is
so uncommonly scarce."
"Did you see anybody else of our acquaintance?"
"Yes; we agreed to take a turn in the Crescent, and there we met
Mrs. Hughes, and Mr. and Miss Tilney walking with her."