Part 1 out of 8
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
by Jane Austen
The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex.
Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park,
in the centre of their property, where, for many generations,
they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage
the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance.
The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived
to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life,
had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister.
But her death, which happened ten years before his own,
produced a great alteration in his home; for to supply
her loss, he invited and received into his house the family
of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor
of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended
to bequeath it. In the society of his nephew and niece,
and their children, the old Gentleman's days were
comfortably spent. His attachment to them all increased.
The constant attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood
to his wishes, which proceeded not merely from interest,
but from goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid
comfort which his age could receive; and the cheerfulness
of the children added a relish to his existence.
By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one
son: by his present lady, three daughters. The son,
a steady respectable young man, was amply provided
for by the fortune of his mother, which had been large,
and half of which devolved on him on his coming of age.
By his own marriage, likewise, which happened soon afterwards,
he added to his wealth. To him therefore the succession
to the Norland estate was not so really important as to
his sisters; for their fortune, independent of what might
arise to them from their father's inheriting that property,
could be but small. Their mother had nothing, and their
father only seven thousand pounds in his own disposal;
for the remaining moiety of his first wife's fortune was
also secured to her child, and he had only a life-interest
The old gentleman died: his will was read, and
like almost every other will, gave as much disappointment
as pleasure. He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful,
as to leave his estate from his nephew;--but he left it to him
on such terms as destroyed half the value of the bequest.
Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for the sake of his
wife and daughters than for himself or his son;--but to
his son, and his son's son, a child of four years old,
it was secured, in such a way, as to leave to himself
no power of providing for those who were most dear
to him, and who most needed a provision by any charge
on the estate, or by any sale of its valuable woods.
The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child, who,
in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland,
had so far gained on the affections of his uncle,
by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children
of two or three years old; an imperfect articulation,
an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks,
and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value
of all the attention which, for years, he had received
from his niece and her daughters. He meant not to
be unkind, however, and, as a mark of his affection
for the three girls, he left them a thousand pounds a-piece.
Mr. Dashwood's disappointment was, at first, severe;
but his temper was cheerful and sanguine; and he might
reasonably hope to live many years, and by living economically,
lay by a considerable sum from the produce of an estate
already large, and capable of almost immediate improvement.
But the fortune, which had been so tardy in coming, was his
only one twelvemonth. He survived his uncle no longer;
and ten thousand pounds, including the late legacies,
was all that remained for his widow and daughters.
His son was sent for as soon as his danger was known,
and to him Mr. Dashwood recommended, with all the strength
and urgency which illness could command, the interest
of his mother-in-law and sisters.
Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the
rest of the family; but he was affected by a recommendation
of such a nature at such a time, and he promised to do
every thing in his power to make them comfortable.
His father was rendered easy by such an assurance,
and Mr. John Dashwood had then leisure to consider how
much there might prudently be in his power to do for them.
He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to
be rather cold hearted and rather selfish is to be
ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected;
for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge
of his ordinary duties. Had he married a more amiable woman,
he might have been made still more respectable than he
was:--he might even have been made amiable himself; for he
was very young when he married, and very fond of his wife.
But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature of himself;--
more narrow-minded and selfish.
When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated
within himself to increase the fortunes of his sisters
by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece. He then
really thought himself equal to it. The prospect of four
thousand a-year, in addition to his present income,
besides the remaining half of his own mother's fortune,
warmed his heart, and made him feel capable of generosity.--
"Yes, he would give them three thousand pounds: it would
be liberal and handsome! It would be enough to make
them completely easy. Three thousand pounds! he could
spare so considerable a sum with little inconvenience."--
He thought of it all day long, and for many days successively,
and he did not repent.
No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John
Dashwood, without sending any notice of her intention to her
mother-in-law, arrived with her child and their attendants.
No one could dispute her right to come; the house was
her husband's from the moment of his father's decease;
but the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the greater,
and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, with only
common feelings, must have been highly unpleasing;--
but in HER mind there was a sense of honor so keen,
a generosity so romantic, that any offence of the kind,
by whomsoever given or received, was to her a source
of immoveable disgust. Mrs. John Dashwood had never
been a favourite with any of her husband's family;
but she had had no opportunity, till the present,
of shewing them with how little attention to the comfort
of other people she could act when occasion required it.
So acutely did Mrs. Dashwood feel this ungracious
behaviour, and so earnestly did she despise her
daughter-in-law for it, that, on the arrival of the latter,
she would have quitted the house for ever, had not the
entreaty of her eldest girl induced her first to reflect
on the propriety of going, and her own tender love for all
her three children determined her afterwards to stay,
and for their sakes avoid a breach with their brother.
Elinor, this eldest daughter, whose advice was
so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding,
and coolness of judgment, which qualified her,
though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother,
and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage
of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood
which must generally have led to imprudence. She had
an excellent heart;--her disposition was affectionate,
and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern
them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn;
and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.
Marianne's abilities were, in many respects,
quite equal to Elinor's. She was sensible and clever;
but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have
no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she
was everything but prudent. The resemblance between
her and her mother was strikingly great.
Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her
sister's sensibility; but by Mrs. Dashwood it was valued
and cherished. They encouraged each other now in the
violence of their affliction. The agony of grief
which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed,
was sought for, was created again and again. They gave
themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase
of wretchedness in every reflection that could afford it,
and resolved against ever admitting consolation
in future. Elinor, too, was deeply afflicted; but still
she could struggle, she could exert herself. She could
consult with her brother, could receive her sister-in-law
on her arrival, and treat her with proper attention;
and could strive to rouse her mother to similar exertion,
and encourage her to similar forbearance.
Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humored,
well-disposed girl; but as she had already imbibed
a good deal of Marianne's romance, without having
much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair
to equal her sisters at a more advanced period of life.
Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress
of Norland; and her mother and sisters-in-law were degraded
to the condition of visitors. As such, however, they were
treated by her with quiet civility; and by her husband
with as much kindness as he could feel towards anybody
beyond himself, his wife, and their child. He really
pressed them, with some earnestness, to consider Norland
as their home; and, as no plan appeared so eligible
to Mrs. Dashwood as remaining there till she could
accommodate herself with a house in the neighbourhood,
his invitation was accepted.
A continuance in a place where everything reminded
her of former delight, was exactly what suited her mind.
In seasons of cheerfulness, no temper could be more cheerful
than hers, or possess, in a greater degree, that sanguine
expectation of happiness which is happiness itself.
But in sorrow she must be equally carried away by her fancy,
and as far beyond consolation as in pleasure she was
Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her
husband intended to do for his sisters. To take three
thousand pounds from the fortune of their dear little boy
would be impoverishing him to the most dreadful degree.
She begged him to think again on the subject. How could
he answer it to himself to rob his child, and his only
child too, of so large a sum? And what possible claim
could the Miss Dashwoods, who were related to him only by
half blood, which she considered as no relationship at all,
have on his generosity to so large an amount. It was very
well known that no affection was ever supposed to exist
between the children of any man by different marriages;
and why was he to ruin himself, and their poor little Harry,
by giving away all his money to his half sisters?
"It was my father's last request to me," replied
her husband, "that I should assist his widow and daughters."
"He did not know what he was talking of, I dare say;
ten to one but he was light-headed at the time.
Had he been in his right senses, he could not have thought
of such a thing as begging you to give away half your
fortune from your own child."
"He did not stipulate for any particular sum,
my dear Fanny; he only requested me, in general terms,
to assist them, and make their situation more comfortable
than it was in his power to do. Perhaps it would
have been as well if he had left it wholly to myself.
He could hardly suppose I should neglect them.
But as he required the promise, I could not do less
than give it; at least I thought so at the time.
The promise, therefore, was given, and must be performed.
Something must be done for them whenever they leave Norland
and settle in a new home."
"Well, then, LET something be done for them;
but THAT something need not be three thousand pounds.
Consider," she added, "that when the money is once
parted with, it never can return. Your sisters will marry,
and it will be gone for ever. If, indeed, it could
be restored to our poor little boy--"
"Why, to be sure," said her husband, very gravely,
"that would make great difference. The time may come when
Harry will regret that so large a sum was parted with.
If he should have a numerous family, for instance, it would
be a very convenient addition."
"To be sure it would."
"Perhaps, then, it would be better for all parties,
if the sum were diminished one half.--Five hundred pounds
would be a prodigious increase to their fortunes!"
"Oh! beyond anything great! What brother on earth
would do half so much for his sisters, even if REALLY
his sisters! And as it is--only half blood!--But you
have such a generous spirit!"
"I would not wish to do any thing mean," he replied.
"One had rather, on such occasions, do too much than
too little. No one, at least, can think I have not
done enough for them: even themselves, they can hardly
"There is no knowing what THEY may expect,"
said the lady, "but we are not to think of their
expectations: the question is, what you can afford to do."
"Certainly--and I think I may afford to give them five
hundred pounds a-piece. As it is, without any addition
of mine, they will each have about three thousand pounds
on their mother's death--a very comfortable fortune
for any young woman."
"To be sure it is; and, indeed, it strikes me that
they can want no addition at all. They will have ten
thousand pounds divided amongst them. If they marry,
they will be sure of doing well, and if they do not,
they may all live very comfortably together on the interest
of ten thousand pounds."
"That is very true, and, therefore, I do not know whether,
upon the whole, it would not be more advisable to do
something for their mother while she lives, rather than
for them--something of the annuity kind I mean.--My sisters
would feel the good effects of it as well as herself.
A hundred a year would make them all perfectly comfortable."
His wife hesitated a little, however, in giving
her consent to this plan.
"To be sure," said she, "it is better than parting with
fifteen hundred pounds at once. But, then, if Mrs. Dashwood
should live fifteen years we shall be completely taken in."
"Fifteen years! my dear Fanny; her life cannot
be worth half that purchase."
"Certainly not; but if you observe, people always
live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them;
and she is very stout and healthy, and hardly forty.
An annuity is a very serious business; it comes over
and over every year, and there is no getting rid
of it. You are not aware of what you are doing.
I have known a great deal of the trouble of annuities;
for my mother was clogged with the payment of three
to old superannuated servants by my father's will,
and it is amazing how disagreeable she found it.
Twice every year these annuities were to be paid; and then
there was the trouble of getting it to them; and then one
of them was said to have died, and afterwards it turned
out to be no such thing. My mother was quite sick of it.
Her income was not her own, she said, with such perpetual
claims on it; and it was the more unkind in my father,
because, otherwise, the money would have been entirely at
my mother's disposal, without any restriction whatever.
It has given me such an abhorrence of annuities, that I am
sure I would not pin myself down to the payment of one for
all the world."
"It is certainly an unpleasant thing," replied Mr. Dashwood,
"to have those kind of yearly drains on one's income.
One's fortune, as your mother justly says, is NOT one's own.
To be tied down to the regular payment of such a sum,
on every rent day, is by no means desirable: it takes away
"Undoubtedly; and after all you have no thanks for it.
They think themselves secure, you do no more than what
is expected, and it raises no gratitude at all. If I were you,
whatever I did should be done at my own discretion entirely.
I would not bind myself to allow them any thing yearly.
It may be very inconvenient some years to spare a hundred,
or even fifty pounds from our own expenses."
"I believe you are right, my love; it will be better
that there should by no annuity in the case; whatever I
may give them occasionally will be of far greater assistance
than a yearly allowance, because they would only enlarge
their style of living if they felt sure of a larger income,
and would not be sixpence the richer for it at the end
of the year. It will certainly be much the best way.
A present of fifty pounds, now and then, will prevent
their ever being distressed for money, and will, I think,
be amply discharging my promise to my father."
"To be sure it will. Indeed, to say the truth,
I am convinced within myself that your father had no idea
of your giving them any money at all. The assistance
he thought of, I dare say, was only such as might be
reasonably expected of you; for instance, such as looking
out for a comfortable small house for them, helping them
to move their things, and sending them presents of fish
and game, and so forth, whenever they are in season.
I'll lay my life that he meant nothing farther; indeed,
it would be very strange and unreasonable if he did.
Do but consider, my dear Mr. Dashwood, how excessively
comfortable your mother-in-law and her daughters may live
on the interest of seven thousand pounds, besides the
thousand pounds belonging to each of the girls, which brings
them in fifty pounds a year a-piece, and, of course,
they will pay their mother for their board out of it.
Altogether, they will have five hundred a-year amongst them,
and what on earth can four women want for more than
that?--They will live so cheap! Their housekeeping will
be nothing at all. They will have no carriage, no horses,
and hardly any servants; they will keep no company,
and can have no expenses of any kind! Only conceive
how comfortable they will be! Five hundred a year! I am
sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it;
and as to your giving them more, it is quite absurd to think
of it. They will be much more able to give YOU something."
"Upon my word," said Mr. Dashwood, "I believe you
are perfectly right. My father certainly could mean
nothing more by his request to me than what you say.
I clearly understand it now, and I will strictly fulfil
my engagement by such acts of assistance and kindness
to them as you have described. When my mother removes
into another house my services shall be readily given
to accommodate her as far as I can. Some little present
of furniture too may be acceptable then."
"Certainly," returned Mrs. John Dashwood. "But, however,
ONE thing must be considered. When your father and mother
moved to Norland, though the furniture of Stanhill
was sold, all the china, plate, and linen was saved,
and is now left to your mother. Her house will therefore
be almost completely fitted up as soon as she takes it."
"That is a material consideration undoubtedly.
A valuable legacy indeed! And yet some of the plate would
have been a very pleasant addition to our own stock here."
"Yes; and the set of breakfast china is twice
as handsome as what belongs to this house. A great
deal too handsome, in my opinion, for any place THEY
can ever afford to live in. But, however, so it is.
Your father thought only of THEM. And I must say this:
that you owe no particular gratitude to him, nor attention
to his wishes; for we very well know that if he could,
he would have left almost everything in the world to THEM."
This argument was irresistible. It gave to his
intentions whatever of decision was wanting before; and he
finally resolved, that it would be absolutely unnecessary,
if not highly indecorous, to do more for the widow
and children of his father, than such kind of neighbourly
acts as his own wife pointed out.
Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months;
not from any disinclination to move when the sight of every
well known spot ceased to raise the violent emotion which it
produced for a while; for when her spirits began to revive,
and her mind became capable of some other exertion than that
of heightening its affliction by melancholy remembrances,
she was impatient to be gone, and indefatigable in her inquiries
for a suitable dwelling in the neighbourhood of Norland;
for to remove far from that beloved spot was impossible.
But she could hear of no situation that at once answered
her notions of comfort and ease, and suited the prudence
of her eldest daughter, whose steadier judgment rejected
several houses as too large for their income, which her
mother would have approved.
Mrs. Dashwood had been informed by her husband of the
solemn promise on the part of his son in their favour,
which gave comfort to his last earthly reflections.
She doubted the sincerity of this assurance no more than he
had doubted it himself, and she thought of it for her daughters'
sake with satisfaction, though as for herself she was
persuaded that a much smaller provision than 7000L would
support her in affluence. For their brother's sake, too,
for the sake of his own heart, she rejoiced; and she
reproached herself for being unjust to his merit before,
in believing him incapable of generosity. His attentive
behaviour to herself and his sisters convinced her that
their welfare was dear to him, and, for a long time,
she firmly relied on the liberality of his intentions.
The contempt which she had, very early in their acquaintance,
felt for her daughter-in-law, was very much increased
by the farther knowledge of her character, which half
a year's residence in her family afforded; and perhaps
in spite of every consideration of politeness or maternal
affection on the side of the former, the two ladies might
have found it impossible to have lived together so long,
had not a particular circumstance occurred to give
still greater eligibility, according to the opinions
of Mrs. Dashwood, to her daughters' continuance at Norland.
This circumstance was a growing attachment between
her eldest girl and the brother of Mrs. John Dashwood,
a gentleman-like and pleasing young man, who was introduced
to their acquaintance soon after his sister's establishment
at Norland, and who had since spent the greatest part
of his time there.
Some mothers might have encouraged the intimacy from
motives of interest, for Edward Ferrars was the eldest son
of a man who had died very rich; and some might have repressed
it from motives of prudence, for, except a trifling sum,
the whole of his fortune depended on the will of his mother.
But Mrs. Dashwood was alike uninfluenced by either consideration.
It was enough for her that he appeared to be amiable,
that he loved her daughter, and that Elinor returned
the partiality. It was contrary to every doctrine of
her's that difference of fortune should keep any couple
asunder who were attracted by resemblance of disposition;
and that Elinor's merit should not be acknowledged
by every one who knew her, was to her comprehension impossible.
Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good
opinion by any peculiar graces of person or address.
He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy
to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice
to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome,
his behaviour gave every indication of an open,
affectionate heart. His understanding was good,
and his education had given it solid improvement.
But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition
to answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed
to see him distinguished--as--they hardly knew what.
They wanted him to make a fine figure in the world in some
manner or other. His mother wished to interest him in
political concerns, to get him into parliament, or to see
him connected with some of the great men of the day.
Mrs. John Dashwood wished it likewise; but in the mean while,
till one of these superior blessings could be attained, it would
have quieted her ambition to see him driving a barouche.
But Edward had no turn for great men or barouches.
All his wishes centered in domestic comfort and the quiet
of private life. Fortunately he had a younger brother
who was more promising.
Edward had been staying several weeks in the house
before he engaged much of Mrs. Dashwood's attention;
for she was, at that time, in such affliction as rendered
her careless of surrounding objects. She saw only that he
was quiet and unobtrusive, and she liked him for it.
He did not disturb the wretchedness of her mind by
ill-timed conversation. She was first called to observe
and approve him farther, by a reflection which Elinor
chanced one day to make on the difference between him
and his sister. It was a contrast which recommended him
most forcibly to her mother.
"It is enough," said she; "to say that he is unlike
Fanny is enough. It implies everything amiable.
I love him already."
"I think you will like him," said Elinor, "when you
know more of him."
"Like him!" replied her mother with a smile.
"I feel no sentiment of approbation inferior to love."
"You may esteem him."
"I have never yet known what it was to separate
esteem and love."
Mrs. Dashwood now took pains to get acquainted with him.
Her manners were attaching, and soon banished his reserve.
She speedily comprehended all his merits; the persuasion
of his regard for Elinor perhaps assisted her penetration;
but she really felt assured of his worth: and even that
quietness of manner, which militated against all her
established ideas of what a young man's address ought to be,
was no longer uninteresting when she knew his heart to be
warm and his temper affectionate.
No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love
in his behaviour to Elinor, than she considered their
serious attachment as certain, and looked forward
to their marriage as rapidly approaching.
"In a few months, my dear Marianne." said she,
"Elinor will, in all probability be settled for life.
We shall miss her; but SHE will be happy."
"Oh! Mamma, how shall we do without her?"
"My love, it will be scarcely a separation.
We shall live within a few miles of each other, and shall
meet every day of our lives. You will gain a brother,
a real, affectionate brother. I have the highest opinion
in the world of Edward's heart. But you look grave,
Marianne; do you disapprove your sister's choice?"
"Perhaps," said Marianne, "I may consider it
with some surprise. Edward is very amiable, and I love
him tenderly. But yet--he is not the kind of young
man--there is something wanting--his figure is not striking;
it has none of that grace which I should expect
in the man who could seriously attach my sister.
His eyes want all that spirit, that fire, which at once
announce virtue and intelligence. And besides all this,
I am afraid, Mamma, he has no real taste. Music seems
scarcely to attract him, and though he admires Elinor's
drawings very much, it is not the admiration of a person
who can understand their worth. It is evident, in spite of
his frequent attention to her while she draws, that in fact
he knows nothing of the matter. He admires as a lover,
not as a connoisseur. To satisfy me, those characters
must be united. I could not be happy with a man whose
taste did not in every point coincide with my own.
He must enter into all my feelings; the same books,
the same music must charm us both. Oh! mama, how spiritless,
how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night!
I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it
with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it.
I could hardly keep my seat. To hear those beautiful lines
which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced
with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!"--
"He would certainly have done more justice to
simple and elegant prose. I thought so at the time;
but you WOULD give him Cowper."
"Nay, Mamma, if he is not to be animated by Cowper!--
but we must allow for difference of taste. Elinor has
not my feelings, and therefore she may overlook it, and
be happy with him. But it would have broke MY heart,
had I loved him, to hear him read with so little sensibility.
Mama, the more I know of the world, the more am I convinced
that I shall never see a man whom I can really love.
I require so much! He must have all Edward's virtues,
and his person and manners must ornament his goodness
with every possible charm."
"Remember, my love, that you are not seventeen.
It is yet too early in life to despair of such a happiness.
Why should you be less fortunate than your mother? In
one circumstance only, my Marianne, may your destiny be
different from her's!"
"What a pity it is, Elinor," said Marianne,
"that Edward should have no taste for drawing."
"No taste for drawing!" replied Elinor, "why should
you think so? He does not draw himself, indeed, but he has
great pleasure in seeing the performances of other people,
and I assure you he is by no means deficient in natural taste,
though he has not had opportunities of improving it.
Had he ever been in the way of learning, I think he would
have drawn very well. He distrusts his own judgment
in such matters so much, that he is always unwilling
to give his opinion on any picture; but he has an innate
propriety and simplicity of taste, which in general
direct him perfectly right."
Marianne was afraid of offending, and said no more
on the subject; but the kind of approbation which Elinor
described as excited in him by the drawings of other
people, was very far from that rapturous delight, which,
in her opinion, could alone be called taste. Yet, though
smiling within herself at the mistake, she honoured
her sister for that blind partiality to Edward which produced it.
"I hope, Marianne," continued Elinor, "you do not
consider him as deficient in general taste. Indeed, I think
I may say that you cannot, for your behaviour to him
is perfectly cordial, and if THAT were your opinion,
I am sure you could never be civil to him."
Marianne hardly knew what to say. She would
not wound the feelings of her sister on any account,
and yet to say what she did not believe was impossible.
At length she replied:
"Do not be offended, Elinor, if my praise of him
is not in every thing equal to your sense of his merits.
I have not had so many opportunities of estimating the minuter
propensities of his mind, his inclinations and tastes,
as you have; but I have the highest opinion in the world
of his goodness and sense. I think him every thing that is
worthy and amiable."
"I am sure," replied Elinor, with a smile,
"that his dearest friends could not be dissatisfied
with such commendation as that. I do not perceive
how you could express yourself more warmly."
Marianne was rejoiced to find her sister so easily pleased.
"Of his sense and his goodness," continued Elinor,
"no one can, I think, be in doubt, who has seen him
often enough to engage him in unreserved conversation.
The excellence of his understanding and his principles
can be concealed only by that shyness which too often
keeps him silent. You know enough of him to do justice
to his solid worth. But of his minuter propensities,
as you call them you have from peculiar circumstances
been kept more ignorant than myself. He and I have
been at times thrown a good deal together, while you
have been wholly engrossed on the most affectionate
principle by my mother. I have seen a great deal of him,
have studied his sentiments and heard his opinion on
subjects of literature and taste; and, upon the whole,
I venture to pronounce that his mind is well-informed,
enjoyment of books exceedingly great, his imagination lively,
his observation just and correct, and his taste delicate
and pure. His abilities in every respect improve
as much upon acquaintance as his manners and person.
At first sight, his address is certainly not striking;
and his person can hardly be called handsome, till the
expression of his eyes, which are uncommonly good,
and the general sweetness of his countenance, is perceived.
At present, I know him so well, that I think him
really handsome; or at least, almost so. What say you,
"I shall very soon think him handsome, Elinor, if I
do not now. When you tell me to love him as a brother,
I shall no more see imperfection in his face, than I now do
in his heart."
Elinor started at this declaration, and was sorry for
the warmth she had been betrayed into, in speaking of him.
She felt that Edward stood very high in her opinion.
She believed the regard to be mutual; but she required
greater certainty of it to make Marianne's conviction
of their attachment agreeable to her. She knew that
what Marianne and her mother conjectured one moment,
they believed the next--that with them, to wish was to hope,
and to hope was to expect. She tried to explain the real
state of the case to her sister.
"I do not attempt to deny," said she, "that I think
very highly of him--that I greatly esteem, that I like him."
Marianne here burst forth with indignation--
"Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh!
worse than cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise.
Use those words again, and I will leave the room this moment."
Elinor could not help laughing. "Excuse me,"
said she; "and be assured that I meant no offence to you,
by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings.
Believe them to be stronger than I have declared;
believe them, in short, to be such as his merit, and the
suspicion--the hope of his affection for me may warrant,
without imprudence or folly. But farther than this you must
not believe. I am by no means assured of his regard for me.
There are moments when the extent of it seems doubtful;
and till his sentiments are fully known, you cannot wonder
at my wishing to avoid any encouragement of my own partiality,
by believing or calling it more than it is. In my heart
I feel little--scarcely any doubt of his preference.
But there are other points to be considered besides
his inclination. He is very far from being independent.
What his mother really is we cannot know; but, from Fanny's
occasional mention of her conduct and opinions, we have
never been disposed to think her amiable; and I am very
much mistaken if Edward is not himself aware that there
would be many difficulties in his way, if he were to wish
to marry a woman who had not either a great fortune or
Marianne was astonished to find how much the imagination
of her mother and herself had outstripped the truth.
"And you really are not engaged to him!" said she.
"Yet it certainly soon will happen. But two advantages
will proceed from this delay. I shall not lose you so soon,
and Edward will have greater opportunity of improving
that natural taste for your favourite pursuit which must
be so indispensably necessary to your future felicity.
Oh! if he should be so far stimulated by your genius as to
learn to draw himself, how delightful it would be!"
Elinor had given her real opinion to her sister.
She could not consider her partiality for Edward
in so prosperous a state as Marianne had believed it.
There was, at times, a want of spirits about him which,
if it did not denote indifference, spoke of something almost
as unpromising. A doubt of her regard, supposing him
to feel it, need not give him more than inquietude.
It would not be likely to produce that dejection of mind
which frequently attended him. A more reasonable cause
might be found in the dependent situation which forbade
the indulgence of his affection. She knew that his mother
neither behaved to him so as to make his home comfortable
at present, nor to give him any assurance that he might form
a home for himself, without strictly attending to her views
for his aggrandizement. With such a knowledge as this,
it was impossible for Elinor to feel easy on the subject.
She was far from depending on that result of his preference
of her, which her mother and sister still considered
as certain. Nay, the longer they were together the more
doubtful seemed the nature of his regard; and sometimes,
for a few painful minutes, she believed it to be no more
But, whatever might really be its limits, it was enough,
when perceived by his sister, to make her uneasy,
and at the same time, (which was still more common,)
to make her uncivil. She took the first opportunity of
affronting her mother-in-law on the occasion, talking to
her so expressively of her brother's great expectations,
of Mrs. Ferrars's resolution that both her sons should
marry well, and of the danger attending any young woman
who attempted to DRAW HIM IN; that Mrs. Dashwood could
neither pretend to be unconscious, nor endeavor to be calm.
She gave her an answer which marked her contempt,
and instantly left the room, resolving that, whatever might
be the inconvenience or expense of so sudden a removal,
her beloved Elinor should not be exposed another week
to such insinuations.
In this state of her spirits, a letter was delivered
to her from the post, which contained a proposal
particularly well timed. It was the offer of a small house,
on very easy terms, belonging to a relation of her own,
a gentleman of consequence and property in Devonshire.
The letter was from this gentleman himself, and written
in the true spirit of friendly accommodation.
He understood that she was in need of a dwelling;
and though the house he now offered her was merely a cottage,
he assured her that everything should be done to it which
she might think necessary, if the situation pleased her.
He earnestly pressed her, after giving the particulars
of the house and garden, to come with her daughters to
Barton Park, the place of his own residence, from whence
she might judge, herself, whether Barton Cottage, for the
houses were in the same parish, could, by any alteration,
be made comfortable to her. He seemed really anxious to
accommodate them and the whole of his letter was written
in so friendly a style as could not fail of giving pleasure
to his cousin; more especially at a moment when she was
suffering under the cold and unfeeling behaviour of her
nearer connections. She needed no time for deliberation
or inquiry. Her resolution was formed as she read.
The situation of Barton, in a county so far distant from
Sussex as Devonshire, which, but a few hours before,
would have been a sufficient objection to outweigh every
possible advantage belonging to the place, was now its
first recommendation. To quit the neighbourhood of Norland
was no longer an evil; it was an object of desire;
it was a blessing, in comparison of the misery of continuing
her daughter-in-law's guest; and to remove for ever
from that beloved place would be less painful than to
inhabit or visit it while such a woman was its mistress.
She instantly wrote Sir John Middleton her acknowledgment
of his kindness, and her acceptance of his proposal;
and then hastened to shew both letters to her daughters,
that she might be secure of their approbation before her
answer were sent.
Elinor had always thought it would be more prudent
for them to settle at some distance from Norland,
than immediately amongst their present acquaintance.
On THAT head, therefore, it was not for her to oppose
her mother's intention of removing into Devonshire.
The house, too, as described by Sir John, was on so
simple a scale, and the rent so uncommonly moderate,
as to leave her no right of objection on either point;
and, therefore, though it was not a plan which brought
any charm to her fancy, though it was a removal from
the vicinity of Norland beyond her wishes, she made
no attempt to dissuade her mother from sending a letter
No sooner was her answer dispatched, than Mrs. Dashwood
indulged herself in the pleasure of announcing to her
son-in-law and his wife that she was provided with a house,
and should incommode them no longer than till every thing were
ready for her inhabiting it. They heard her with surprise.
Mrs. John Dashwood said nothing; but her husband civilly
hoped that she would not be settled far from Norland.
She had great satisfaction in replying that she was going
into Devonshire.--Edward turned hastily towards her,
on hearing this, and, in a voice of surprise and concern,
which required no explanation to her, repeated,
"Devonshire! Are you, indeed, going there? So far from hence!
And to what part of it?" She explained the situation.
It was within four miles northward of Exeter.
"It is but a cottage," she continued, "but I hope
to see many of my friends in it. A room or two can
easily be added; and if my friends find no difficulty
in travelling so far to see me, I am sure I will find
none in accommodating them."
She concluded with a very kind invitation to
Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood to visit her at Barton;
and to Edward she gave one with still greater affection.
Though her late conversation with her daughter-in-law had
made her resolve on remaining at Norland no longer than
was unavoidable, it had not produced the smallest effect
on her in that point to which it principally tended.
To separate Edward and Elinor was as far from being her
object as ever; and she wished to show Mrs. John Dashwood,
by this pointed invitation to her brother, how totally she
disregarded her disapprobation of the match.
Mr. John Dashwood told his mother again and again
how exceedingly sorry he was that she had taken a house at
such a distance from Norland as to prevent his being of any
service to her in removing her furniture. He really felt
conscientiously vexed on the occasion; for the very exertion
to which he had limited the performance of his promise to
his father was by this arrangement rendered impracticable.--
The furniture was all sent around by water. It chiefly
consisted of household linen, plate, china, and books,
with a handsome pianoforte of Marianne's. Mrs. John
Dashwood saw the packages depart with a sigh: she could
not help feeling it hard that as Mrs. Dashwood's income
would be so trifling in comparison with their own,
she should have any handsome article of furniture.
Mrs. Dashwood took the house for a twelvemonth; it was
ready furnished, and she might have immediate possession.
No difficulty arose on either side in the agreement; and she
waited only for the disposal of her effects at Norland,
and to determine her future household, before she set
off for the west; and this, as she was exceedingly rapid
in the performance of everything that interested her,
was soon done.--The horses which were left her by her husband
had been sold soon after his death, and an opportunity
now offering of disposing of her carriage, she agreed
to sell that likewise at the earnest advice of her
eldest daughter. For the comfort of her children, had she
consulted only her own wishes, she would have kept it;
but the discretion of Elinor prevailed. HER wisdom
too limited the number of their servants to three;
two maids and a man, with whom they were speedily provided
from amongst those who had formed their establishment
The man and one of the maids were sent off immediately
into Devonshire, to prepare the house for their mistress's
arrival; for as Lady Middleton was entirely unknown
to Mrs. Dashwood, she preferred going directly to the
cottage to being a visitor at Barton Park; and she relied
so undoubtingly on Sir John's description of the house,
as to feel no curiosity to examine it herself till she
entered it as her own. Her eagerness to be gone from Norland
was preserved from diminution by the evident satisfaction
of her daughter-in-law in the prospect of her removal;
a satisfaction which was but feebly attempted to be concealed
under a cold invitation to her to defer her departure.
Now was the time when her son-in-law's promise to his
father might with particular propriety be fulfilled.
Since he had neglected to do it on first coming to
the estate, their quitting his house might be looked
on as the most suitable period for its accomplishment.
But Mrs. Dashwood began shortly to give over every
hope of the kind, and to be convinced, from the general
drift of his discourse, that his assistance extended no
farther than their maintenance for six months at Norland.
He so frequently talked of the increasing expenses
of housekeeping, and of the perpetual demands upon his purse,
which a man of any consequence in the world was beyond
calculation exposed to, that he seemed rather to stand
in need of more money himself than to have any design of
giving money away.
In a very few weeks from the day which brought Sir
John Middleton's first letter to Norland, every thing was
so far settled in their future abode as to enable
Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters to begin their journey.
Many were the tears shed by them in their last
adieus to a place so much beloved. "Dear, dear Norland!"
said Marianne, as she wandered alone before the house,
on the last evening of their being there; "when shall I cease
to regret you!--when learn to feel a home elsewhere!--Oh!
happy house, could you know what I suffer in now viewing
you from this spot, from whence perhaps I may view
you no more!--And you, ye well-known trees!--but you
will continue the same.--No leaf will decay because we
are removed, nor any branch become motionless although we
can observe you no longer!--No; you will continue the same;
unconscious of the pleasure or the regret you occasion,
and insensible of any change in those who walk under your
shade!--But who will remain to enjoy you?"
The first part of their journey was performed in too
melancholy a disposition to be otherwise than tedious
and unpleasant. But as they drew towards the end of it,
their interest in the appearance of a country which they
were to inhabit overcame their dejection, and a view of
Barton Valley as they entered it gave them cheerfulness.
It was a pleasant fertile spot, well wooded, and rich
in pasture. After winding along it for more than a mile,
they reached their own house. A small green court was
the whole of its demesne in front; and a neat wicket gate
admitted them into it.
As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable
and compact; but as a cottage it was defective, for the
building was regular, the roof was tiled, the window
shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered
with honeysuckles. A narrow passage led directly through
the house into the garden behind. On each side of the
entrance was a sitting room, about sixteen feet square;
and beyond them were the offices and the stairs.
Four bed-rooms and two garrets formed the rest of the house.
It had not been built many years and was in good repair.
In comparison of Norland, it was poor and small indeed!--but
the tears which recollection called forth as they entered
the house were soon dried away. They were cheered
by the joy of the servants on their arrival, and each
for the sake of the others resolved to appear happy.
It was very early in September; the season was fine,
and from first seeing the place under the advantage
of good weather, they received an impression in its
favour which was of material service in recommending
it to their lasting approbation.
The situation of the house was good. High hills rose
immediately behind, and at no great distance on each side;
some of which were open downs, the others cultivated and woody.
The village of Barton was chiefly on one of these hills,
and formed a pleasant view from the cottage windows.
The prospect in front was more extensive; it commanded the
whole of the valley, and reached into the country beyond.
The hills which surrounded the cottage terminated
the valley in that direction; under another name,
and in another course, it branched out again between two
of the steepest of them.
With the size and furniture of the house Mrs. Dashwood
was upon the whole well satisfied; for though her former
style of life rendered many additions to the latter
indispensable, yet to add and improve was a delight to her;
and she had at this time ready money enough to supply all
that was wanted of greater elegance to the apartments.
"As for the house itself, to be sure," said she, "it is
too small for our family, but we will make ourselves
tolerably comfortable for the present, as it is too late
in the year for improvements. Perhaps in the spring,
if I have plenty of money, as I dare say I shall, we may
think about building. These parlors are both too small
for such parties of our friends as I hope to see often
collected here; and I have some thoughts of throwing the
passage into one of them with perhaps a part of the other,
and so leave the remainder of that other for an entrance;
this, with a new drawing room which may be easily added,
and a bed-chamber and garret above, will make it a very snug
little cottage. I could wish the stairs were handsome.
But one must not expect every thing; though I suppose it
would be no difficult matter to widen them. I shall see
how much I am before-hand with the world in the spring,
and we will plan our improvements accordingly."
In the mean time, till all these alterations could
be made from the savings of an income of five hundred
a-year by a woman who never saved in her life, they were
wise enough to be contented with the house as it was;
and each of them was busy in arranging their particular
concerns, and endeavoring, by placing around them books
and other possessions, to form themselves a home.
Marianne's pianoforte was unpacked and properly disposed of;
and Elinor's drawings were affixed to the walls of their
In such employments as these they were interrupted
soon after breakfast the next day by the entrance of
their landlord, who called to welcome them to Barton,
and to offer them every accommodation from his own house
and garden in which theirs might at present be deficient.
Sir John Middleton was a good looking man about forty.
He had formerly visited at Stanhill, but it was too long
for his young cousins to remember him. His countenance
was thoroughly good-humoured; and his manners were
as friendly as the style of his letter. Their arrival
seemed to afford him real satisfaction, and their comfort
to be an object of real solicitude to him. He said much
of his earnest desire of their living in the most sociable
terms with his family, and pressed them so cordially
to dine at Barton Park every day till they were better
settled at home, that, though his entreaties were carried
to a point of perseverance beyond civility, they could
not give offence. His kindness was not confined to words;
for within an hour after he left them, a large basket
full of garden stuff and fruit arrived from the park,
which was followed before the end of the day by a present
of game. He insisted, moreover, on conveying all their
letters to and from the post for them, and would not be
denied the satisfaction of sending them his newspaper
Lady Middleton had sent a very civil message by him,
denoting her intention of waiting on Mrs. Dashwood as soon as
she could be assured that her visit would be no inconvenience;
and as this message was answered by an invitation
equally polite, her ladyship was introduced to them the next day.
They were, of course, very anxious to see a person on
whom so much of their comfort at Barton must depend; and the
elegance of her appearance was favourable to their wishes.
Lady Middleton was not more than six or seven and twenty;
her face was handsome, her figure tall and striking,
and her address graceful. Her manners had all the elegance
which her husband's wanted. But they would have been
improved by some share of his frankness and warmth;
and her visit was long enough to detract something from
their first admiration, by shewing that, though perfectly
well-bred, she was reserved, cold, and had nothing to say
for herself beyond the most common-place inquiry or remark.
Conversation however was not wanted, for Sir John
was very chatty, and Lady Middleton had taken the wise
precaution of bringing with her their eldest child, a fine
little boy about six years old, by which means there was
one subject always to be recurred to by the ladies in case
of extremity, for they had to enquire his name and age,
admire his beauty, and ask him questions which his mother
answered for him, while he hung about her and held
down his head, to the great surprise of her ladyship,
who wondered at his being so shy before company, as he
could make noise enough at home. On every formal visit
a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision
for discourse. In the present case it took up ten minutes
to determine whether the boy were most like his father
or mother, and in what particular he resembled either,
for of course every body differed, and every body was
astonished at the opinion of the others.
An opportunity was soon to be given to the Dashwoods
of debating on the rest of the children, as Sir John
would not leave the house without securing their promise
of dining at the park the next day.
Barton Park was about half a mile from the cottage.
The ladies had passed near it in their way along the valley,
but it was screened from their view at home by the
projection of a hill. The house was large and handsome;
and the Middletons lived in a style of equal hospitality
and elegance. The former was for Sir John's gratification,
the latter for that of his lady. They were scarcely
ever without some friends staying with them in the house,
and they kept more company of every kind than any other
family in the neighbourhood. It was necessary to the
happiness of both; for however dissimilar in temper
and outward behaviour, they strongly resembled each other
in that total want of talent and taste which confined
their employments, unconnected with such as society produced,
within a very narrow compass. Sir John was a sportsman,
Lady Middleton a mother. He hunted and shot, and she
humoured her children; and these were their only resources.
Lady Middleton had the advantage of being able to spoil her
children all the year round, while Sir John's independent
employments were in existence only half the time.
Continual engagements at home and abroad, however,
supplied all the deficiencies of nature and education;
supported the good spirits of Sir John, and gave exercise
to the good breeding of his wife.
Lady Middleton piqued herself upon the elegance
of her table, and of all her domestic arrangements;
and from this kind of vanity was her greatest enjoyment
in any of their parties. But Sir John's satisfaction
in society was much more real; he delighted in collecting
about him more young people than his house would hold,
and the noisier they were the better was he pleased.
He was a blessing to all the juvenile part of the neighbourhood,
for in summer he was for ever forming parties to eat cold
ham and chicken out of doors, and in winter his private
balls were numerous enough for any young lady who was not
suffering under the unsatiable appetite of fifteen.
The arrival of a new family in the country was always
a matter of joy to him, and in every point of view he was
charmed with the inhabitants he had now procured for his
cottage at Barton. The Miss Dashwoods were young, pretty,
and unaffected. It was enough to secure his good opinion;
for to be unaffected was all that a pretty girl could
want to make her mind as captivating as her person.
The friendliness of his disposition made him happy in
accommodating those, whose situation might be considered,
in comparison with the past, as unfortunate. In showing
kindness to his cousins therefore he had the real satisfaction
of a good heart; and in settling a family of females only
in his cottage, he had all the satisfaction of a sportsman;
for a sportsman, though he esteems only those of his sex who
are sportsmen likewise, is not often desirous of encouraging
their taste by admitting them to a residence within his own
Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters were met at the door
of the house by Sir John, who welcomed them to Barton
Park with unaffected sincerity; and as he attended them
to the drawing room repeated to the young ladies the concern
which the same subject had drawn from him the day before,
at being unable to get any smart young men to meet them.
They would see, he said, only one gentleman there
besides himself; a particular friend who was staying at
the park, but who was neither very young nor very gay.
He hoped they would all excuse the smallness of the party,
and could assure them it should never happen so again.
He had been to several families that morning in hopes
of procuring some addition to their number, but it
was moonlight and every body was full of engagements.
Luckily Lady Middleton's mother had arrived at Barton
within the last hour, and as she was a very cheerful
agreeable woman, he hoped the young ladies would not find
it so very dull as they might imagine. The young ladies,
as well as their mother, were perfectly satisfied with
having two entire strangers of the party, and wished for
Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother, was a
good-humoured, merry, fat, elderly woman, who talked a
great deal, seemed very happy, and rather vulgar. She was full
of jokes and laughter, and before dinner was over had said
many witty things on the subject of lovers and husbands;
hoped they had not left their hearts behind them in Sussex,
and pretended to see them blush whether they did or not.
Marianne was vexed at it for her sister's sake, and turned
her eyes towards Elinor to see how she bore these attacks,
with an earnestness which gave Elinor far more pain than
could arise from such common-place raillery as Mrs. Jennings's.
Colonel Brandon, the friend of Sir John, seemed no
more adapted by resemblance of manner to be his friend,
than Lady Middleton was to be his wife, or Mrs. Jennings
to be Lady Middleton's mother. He was silent and grave.
His appearance however was not unpleasing, in spite
of his being in the opinion of Marianne and Margaret
an absolute old bachelor, for he was on the wrong side
of five and thirty; but though his face was not handsome,
his countenance was sensible, and his address was
There was nothing in any of the party which could
recommend them as companions to the Dashwoods; but the cold
insipidity of Lady Middleton was so particularly repulsive,
that in comparison of it the gravity of Colonel Brandon,
and even the boisterous mirth of Sir John and his
mother-in-law was interesting. Lady Middleton seemed
to be roused to enjoyment only by the entrance of her
four noisy children after dinner, who pulled her about,
tore her clothes, and put an end to every kind of discourse
except what related to themselves.
In the evening, as Marianne was discovered to be musical,
she was invited to play. The instrument was unlocked,
every body prepared to be charmed, and Marianne,
who sang very well, at their request went through the
chief of the songs which Lady Middleton had brought into
the family on her marriage, and which perhaps had lain
ever since in the same position on the pianoforte,
for her ladyship had celebrated that event by giving
up music, although by her mother's account, she had
played extremely well, and by her own was very fond of it.
Marianne's performance was highly applauded.
Sir John was loud in his admiration at the end of every song,
and as loud in his conversation with the others while every
song lasted. Lady Middleton frequently called him to order,
wondered how any one's attention could be diverted from music
for a moment, and asked Marianne to sing a particular song
which Marianne had just finished. Colonel Brandon alone,
of all the party, heard her without being in raptures.
He paid her only the compliment of attention; and she felt
a respect for him on the occasion, which the others had
reasonably forfeited by their shameless want of taste.
His pleasure in music, though it amounted not to that
ecstatic delight which alone could sympathize with her own,
was estimable when contrasted against the horrible
insensibility of the others; and she was reasonable enough
to allow that a man of five and thirty might well have
outlived all acuteness of feeling and every exquisite
power of enjoyment. She was perfectly disposed to make
every allowance for the colonel's advanced state of life
which humanity required.
Mrs. Jennings was a widow with an ample jointure.
She had only two daughters, both of whom she had lived
to see respectably married, and she had now therefore
nothing to do but to marry all the rest of the world.
In the promotion of this object she was zealously active,
as far as her ability reached; and missed no opportunity
of projecting weddings among all the young people
of her acquaintance. She was remarkably quick in the
discovery of attachments, and had enjoyed the advantage
of raising the blushes and the vanity of many a young
lady by insinuations of her power over such a young man;
and this kind of discernment enabled her soon after her
arrival at Barton decisively to pronounce that Colonel
Brandon was very much in love with Marianne Dashwood.
She rather suspected it to be so, on the very first
evening of their being together, from his listening
so attentively while she sang to them; and when the visit
was returned by the Middletons' dining at the cottage,
the fact was ascertained by his listening to her again.
It must be so. She was perfectly convinced of it.
It would be an excellent match, for HE was rich, and SHE
was handsome. Mrs. Jennings had been anxious to see
Colonel Brandon well married, ever since her connection
with Sir John first brought him to her knowledge;
and she was always anxious to get a good husband for every
The immediate advantage to herself was by no means
inconsiderable, for it supplied her with endless jokes
against them both. At the park she laughed at the colonel,
and in the cottage at Marianne. To the former her
raillery was probably, as far as it regarded only himself,
perfectly indifferent; but to the latter it was at
first incomprehensible; and when its object was understood,
she hardly knew whether most to laugh at its absurdity,
or censure its impertinence, for she considered it as an
unfeeling reflection on the colonel's advanced years,
and on his forlorn condition as an old bachelor.
Mrs. Dashwood, who could not think a man five years
younger than herself, so exceedingly ancient as he appeared
to the youthful fancy of her daughter, ventured to clear
Mrs. Jennings from the probability of wishing to throw
ridicule on his age.
"But at least, Mamma, you cannot deny the absurdity
of the accusation, though you may not think it intentionally
ill-natured. Colonel Brandon is certainly younger than
Mrs. Jennings, but he is old enough to be MY father;
and if he were ever animated enough to be in love,
must have long outlived every sensation of the kind.
It is too ridiculous! When is a man to be safe from such wit,
if age and infirmity will not protect him?"
"Infirmity!" said Elinor, "do you call Colonel Brandon
infirm? I can easily suppose that his age may appear much
greater to you than to my mother; but you can hardly
deceive yourself as to his having the use of his limbs!"
"Did not you hear him complain of the rheumatism?
and is not that the commonest infirmity of declining life?"
"My dearest child," said her mother, laughing,
"at this rate you must be in continual terror of MY decay;
and it must seem to you a miracle that my life has been
extended to the advanced age of forty."
"Mamma, you are not doing me justice. I know very well
that Colonel Brandon is not old enough to make his friends
yet apprehensive of losing him in the course of nature.
He may live twenty years longer. But thirty-five has
nothing to do with matrimony."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, "thirty-five and seventeen had
better not have any thing to do with matrimony together.
But if there should by any chance happen to be a woman
who is single at seven and twenty, I should not think
Colonel Brandon's being thirty-five any objection to his
"A woman of seven and twenty," said Marianne,
after pausing a moment, "can never hope to feel or inspire
affection again, and if her home be uncomfortable,
or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might
bring herself to submit to the offices of a nurse,
for the sake of the provision and security of a wife.
In his marrying such a woman therefore there would be
nothing unsuitable. It would be a compact of convenience,
and the world would be satisfied. In my eyes it would
be no marriage at all, but that would be nothing.
To me it would seem only a commercial exchange, in which
each wished to be benefited at the expense of the other."
"It would be impossible, I know," replied Elinor,
"to convince you that a woman of seven and twenty could
feel for a man of thirty-five anything near enough
to love, to make him a desirable companion to her.
But I must object to your dooming Colonel Brandon and
his wife to the constant confinement of a sick chamber,
merely because he chanced to complain yesterday (a
very cold damp day) of a slight rheumatic feel in one
of his shoulders."
"But he talked of flannel waistcoats," said Marianne;
"and with me a flannel waistcoat is invariably connected
with aches, cramps, rheumatisms, and every species of
ailment that can afflict the old and the feeble."
"Had he been only in a violent fever, you would not
have despised him half so much. Confess, Marianne, is not
there something interesting to you in the flushed cheek,
hollow eye, and quick pulse of a fever?"
Soon after this, upon Elinor's leaving the room,
"Mamma," said Marianne, "I have an alarm on the subject
of illness which I cannot conceal from you. I am sure
Edward Ferrars is not well. We have now been here almost
a fortnight, and yet he does not come. Nothing but real
indisposition could occasion this extraordinary delay.
What else can detain him at Norland?"
"Had you any idea of his coming so soon?"
said Mrs. Dashwood. "I had none. On the contrary,
if I have felt any anxiety at all on the subject, it has
been in recollecting that he sometimes showed a want
of pleasure and readiness in accepting my invitation,
when I talked of his coming to Barton. Does Elinor
expect him already?"
"I have never mentioned it to her, but of course
"I rather think you are mistaken, for when I
was talking to her yesterday of getting a new grate
for the spare bedchamber, she observed that there
was no immediate hurry for it, as it was not likely
that the room would be wanted for some time."
"How strange this is! what can be the meaning of it!
But the whole of their behaviour to each other has been
unaccountable! How cold, how composed were their last
adieus! How languid their conversation the last evening
of their being together! In Edward's farewell there was no
distinction between Elinor and me: it was the good wishes
of an affectionate brother to both. Twice did I leave
them purposely together in the course of the last morning,
and each time did he most unaccountably follow me out
of the room. And Elinor, in quitting Norland and Edward,
cried not as I did. Even now her self-command is invariable.
When is she dejected or melancholy? When does she try
to avoid society, or appear restless and dissatisfied
The Dashwoods were now settled at Barton with tolerable
comfort to themselves. The house and the garden, with all
the objects surrounding them, were now become familiar,
and the ordinary pursuits which had given to Norland
half its charms were engaged in again with far greater
enjoyment than Norland had been able to afford, since the
loss of their father. Sir John Middleton, who called
on them every day for the first fortnight, and who was
not in the habit of seeing much occupation at home,
could not conceal his amazement on finding them always employed.
Their visitors, except those from Barton Park,
were not many; for, in spite of Sir John's urgent entreaties
that they would mix more in the neighbourhood, and repeated
assurances of his carriage being always at their service,
the independence of Mrs. Dashwood's spirit overcame the
wish of society for her children; and she was resolute
in declining to visit any family beyond the distance
of a walk. There were but few who could be so classed;
and it was not all of them that were attainable.
About a mile and a half from the cottage, along the narrow
winding valley of Allenham, which issued from that of Barton,
as formerly described, the girls had, in one of their
earliest walks, discovered an ancient respectable looking
mansion which, by reminding them a little of Norland,
interested their imagination and made them wish to be
better acquainted with it. But they learnt, on enquiry,
that its possessor, an elderly lady of very good character,
was unfortunately too infirm to mix with the world,
and never stirred from home.
The whole country about them abounded in beautiful walks.
The high downs which invited them from almost every window
of the cottage to seek the exquisite enjoyment of air
on their summits, were a happy alternative when the dirt
of the valleys beneath shut up their superior beauties;
and towards one of these hills did Marianne and Margaret
one memorable morning direct their steps, attracted by the
partial sunshine of a showery sky, and unable longer to bear
the confinement which the settled rain of the two preceding
days had occasioned. The weather was not tempting enough
to draw the two others from their pencil and their book,
in spite of Marianne's declaration that the day would
be lastingly fair, and that every threatening cloud would
be drawn off from their hills; and the two girls set off
They gaily ascended the downs, rejoicing in their own
penetration at every glimpse of blue sky; and when they
caught in their faces the animating gales of a high
south-westerly wind, they pitied the fears which had prevented
their mother and Elinor from sharing such delightful sensations.
"Is there a felicity in the world," said Marianne,
"superior to this?--Margaret, we will walk here at least
Margaret agreed, and they pursued their way against
the wind, resisting it with laughing delight for about
twenty minutes longer, when suddenly the clouds united over
their heads, and a driving rain set full in their face.--
Chagrined and surprised, they were obliged, though unwillingly,
to turn back, for no shelter was nearer than their own house.
One consolation however remained for them, to which the
exigence of the moment gave more than usual propriety;
it was that of running with all possible speed down the steep
side of the hill which led immediately to their garden gate.
They set off. Marianne had at first the advantage,
but a false step brought her suddenly to the ground;
and Margaret, unable to stop herself to assist her,
was involuntarily hurried along, and reached the bottom
A gentleman carrying a gun, with two pointers
playing round him, was passing up the hill and within
a few yards of Marianne, when her accident happened.
He put down his gun and ran to her assistance. She had
raised herself from the ground, but her foot had been
twisted in her fall, and she was scarcely able to stand.
The gentleman offered his services; and perceiving that her
modesty declined what her situation rendered necessary,
took her up in his arms without farther delay, and carried
her down the hill. Then passing through the garden,
the gate of which had been left open by Margaret, he bore her
directly into the house, whither Margaret was just arrived,
and quitted not his hold till he had seated her in a chair
in the parlour.
Elinor and her mother rose up in amazement at
their entrance, and while the eyes of both were fixed
on him with an evident wonder and a secret admiration
which equally sprung from his appearance, he apologized
for his intrusion by relating its cause, in a manner
so frank and so graceful that his person, which was
uncommonly handsome, received additional charms from his voice
and expression. Had he been even old, ugly, and vulgar,
the gratitude and kindness of Mrs. Dashwood would
have been secured by any act of attention to her child;
but the influence of youth, beauty, and elegance,
gave an interest to the action which came home to her feelings.
She thanked him again and again; and, with a sweetness
of address which always attended her, invited him to
be seated. But this he declined, as he was dirty and wet.
Mrs. Dashwood then begged to know to whom she was obliged.
His name, he replied, was Willoughby, and his present
home was at Allenham, from whence he hoped she would
allow him the honour of calling tomorrow to enquire
after Miss Dashwood. The honour was readily granted,
and he then departed, to make himself still more interesting,
in the midst of a heavy rain.
His manly beauty and more than common gracefulness
were instantly the theme of general admiration,
and the laugh which his gallantry raised against Marianne
received particular spirit from his exterior attractions.--
Marianne herself had seen less of his person that the rest,
for the confusion which crimsoned over her face, on his
lifting her up, had robbed her of the power of regarding
him after their entering the house. But she had seen
enough of him to join in all the admiration of the others,
and with an energy which always adorned her praise.
His person and air were equal to what her fancy had ever
drawn for the hero of a favourite story; and in his carrying
her into the house with so little previous formality, there
was a rapidity of thought which particularly recommended
the action to her. Every circumstance belonging to him
was interesting. His name was good, his residence was in
their favourite village, and she soon found out that of all
manly dresses a shooting-jacket was the most becoming.
Her imagination was busy, her reflections were pleasant,
and the pain of a sprained ankle was disregarded.
Sir John called on them as soon as the next interval
of fair weather that morning allowed him to get out
of doors; and Marianne's accident being related to him,
he was eagerly asked whether he knew any gentleman
of the name of Willoughby at Allenham.
"Willoughby!" cried Sir John; "what, is HE
in the country? That is good news however; I will
ride over tomorrow, and ask him to dinner on Thursday."
"You know him then," said Mrs. Dashwood.
"Know him! to be sure I do. Why, he is down here
"And what sort of a young man is he?"
"As good a kind of fellow as ever lived, I assure you.
A very decent shot, and there is not a bolder rider
"And is that all you can say for him?" cried Marianne,
indignantly. "But what are his manners on more intimate
acquaintance? What his pursuits, his talents, and genius?"
Sir John was rather puzzled.
"Upon my soul," said he, "I do not know much about him
as to all THAT. But he is a pleasant, good humoured fellow,
and has got the nicest little black bitch of a pointer
I ever saw. Was she out with him today?"
But Marianne could no more satisfy him as to the
colour of Mr. Willoughby's pointer, than he could
describe to her the shades of his mind.
"But who is he?" said Elinor. "Where does he come
from? Has he a house at Allenham?"
On this point Sir John could give more certain intelligence;
and he told them that Mr. Willoughby had no property
of his own in the country; that he resided there only
while he was visiting the old lady at Allenham Court,
to whom he was related, and whose possessions he was
to inherit; adding, "Yes, yes, he is very well worth
catching I can tell you, Miss Dashwood; he has a pretty
little estate of his own in Somersetshire besides;
and if I were you, I would not give him up to my
younger sister, in spite of all this tumbling down hills.
Miss Marianne must not expect to have all the men to herself.
Brandon will be jealous, if she does not take care."
"I do not believe," said Mrs. Dashwood, with a
good humoured smile, "that Mr. Willoughby will be incommoded
by the attempts of either of MY daughters towards what
you call CATCHING him. It is not an employment to which
they have been brought up. Men are very safe with us,
let them be ever so rich. I am glad to find, however,
from what you say, that he is a respectable young man,
and one whose acquaintance will not be ineligible."
"He is as good a sort of fellow, I believe,
as ever lived," repeated Sir John. "I remember
last Christmas at a little hop at the park, he danced
from eight o'clock till four, without once sitting down."
"Did he indeed?" cried Marianne with sparkling eyes,
"and with elegance, with spirit?"
"Yes; and he was up again at eight to ride to covert."
"That is what I like; that is what a young man ought
to be. Whatever be his pursuits, his eagerness in them
should know no moderation, and leave him no sense of fatigue."
"Aye, aye, I see how it will be," said Sir John, "I see
how it will be. You will be setting your cap at him now,
and never think of poor Brandon."
"That is an expression, Sir John," said Marianne,
warmly, "which I particularly dislike. I abhor every
common-place phrase by which wit is intended; and 'setting
one's cap at a man,' or 'making a conquest,' are the most
odious of all. Their tendency is gross and illiberal;
and if their construction could ever be deemed clever,
time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity."
Sir John did not much understand this reproof;
but he laughed as heartily as if he did, and then replied,
"Ay, you will make conquests enough, I dare say,
one way or other. Poor Brandon! he is quite smitten already,
and he is very well worth setting your cap at, I can
tell you, in spite of all this tumbling about and spraining
Marianne's preserver, as Margaret, with more elegance
than precision, styled Willoughby, called at the cottage
early the next morning to make his personal enquiries.
He was received by Mrs. Dashwood with more than politeness;
with a kindness which Sir John's account of him and her own
gratitude prompted; and every thing that passed during
the visit tended to assure him of the sense, elegance,
mutual affection, and domestic comfort of the family
to whom accident had now introduced him. Of their
personal charms he had not required a second interview
to be convinced.
Miss Dashwood had a delicate complexion,
regular features, and a remarkably pretty figure.
Marianne was still handsomer. Her form, though not so
correct as her sister's, in having the advantage of height,
was more striking; and her face was so lovely, that when
in the common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful girl,
truth was less violently outraged than usually happens.
Her skin was very brown, but, from its transparency,
her complexion was uncommonly brilliant; her features
were all good; her smile was sweet and attractive;
and in her eyes, which were very dark, there was a life,
a spirit, an eagerness, which could hardily be seen
without delight. From Willoughby their expression was at
first held back, by the embarrassment which the remembrance
of his assistance created. But when this passed away,
when her spirits became collected, when she saw that to the
perfect good-breeding of the gentleman, he united frankness
and vivacity, and above all, when she heard him declare,
that of music and dancing he was passionately fond,
she gave him such a look of approbation as secured the
largest share of his discourse to herself for the rest
of his stay.
It was only necessary to mention any favourite
amusement to engage her to talk. She could not be
silent when such points were introduced, and she
had neither shyness nor reserve in their discussion.
They speedily discovered that their enjoyment of dancing
and music was mutual, and that it arose from a general
conformity of judgment in all that related to either.
Encouraged by this to a further examination of his opinions,
she proceeded to question him on the subject of books;
her favourite authors were brought forward and dwelt
upon with so rapturous a delight, that any young man of
five and twenty must have been insensible indeed, not to
become an immediate convert to the excellence of such works,
however disregarded before. Their taste was strikingly alike.
The same books, the same passages were idolized by each--
or if any difference appeared, any objection arose,
it lasted no longer than till the force of her arguments
and the brightness of her eyes could be displayed.
He acquiesced in all her decisions, caught all her enthusiasm;
and long before his visit concluded, they conversed
with the familiarity of a long-established acquaintance.
"Well, Marianne," said Elinor, as soon as he had left them,
"for ONE morning I think you have done pretty well.
You have already ascertained Mr. Willoughby's opinion in
almost every matter of importance. You know what he thinks
of Cowper and Scott; you are certain of his estimating
their beauties as he ought, and you have received every
assurance of his admiring Pope no more than is proper.
But how is your acquaintance to be long supported, under such
extraordinary despatch of every subject for discourse?
You will soon have exhausted each favourite topic.
Another meeting will suffice to explain his sentiments
on picturesque beauty, and second marriages, and then
you can have nothing farther to ask."--
"Elinor," cried Marianne, "is this fair? is this
just? are my ideas so scanty? But I see what you mean.
I have been too much at my ease, too happy, too frank.
I have erred against every common-place notion of decorum;
I have been open and sincere where I ought to have
been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful--had
I talked only of the weather and the roads, and had I
spoken only once in ten minutes, this reproach would have
"My love," said her mother, "you must not be offended
with Elinor--she was only in jest. I should scold
her myself, if she were capable of wishing to check
the delight of your conversation with our new friend."--
Marianne was softened in a moment.
Willoughby, on his side, gave every proof of his
pleasure in their acquaintance, which an evident wish
of improving it could offer. He came to them every day.
To enquire after Marianne was at first his excuse; but the
encouragement of his reception, to which every day gave
greater kindness, made such an excuse unnecessary before it
had ceased to be possible, by Marianne's perfect recovery.
She was confined for some days to the house; but never had
any confinement been less irksome. Willoughby was a young
man of good abilities, quick imagination, lively spirits,
and open, affectionate manners. He was exactly formed
to engage Marianne's heart, for with all this, he joined
not only a captivating person, but a natural ardour
of mind which was now roused and increased by the example
of her own, and which recommended him to her affection
beyond every thing else.
His society became gradually her most exquisite enjoyment.
They read, they talked, they sang together; his musical
talents were considerable; and he read with all the
sensibility and spirit which Edward had unfortunately wanted.
In Mrs. Dashwood's estimation he was as faultless
as in Marianne's; and Elinor saw nothing to censure in him
but a propensity, in which he strongly resembled and peculiarly
delighted her sister, of saying too much what he thought on
every occasion, without attention to persons or circumstances.
In hastily forming and giving his opinion of other people,
in sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment
of undivided attention where his heart was engaged,
and in slighting too easily the forms of worldly propriety,
he displayed a want of caution which Elinor could not approve,
in spite of all that he and Marianne could say in its support.
Marianne began now to perceive that the desperation
which had seized her at sixteen and a half, of ever
seeing a man who could satisfy her ideas of perfection,
had been rash and unjustifiable. Willoughby was all
that her fancy had delineated in that unhappy hour
and in every brighter period, as capable of attaching her;
and his behaviour declared his wishes to be in that respect
as earnest, as his abilities were strong.
Her mother too, in whose mind not one speculative
thought of their marriage had been raised, by his prospect
of riches, was led before the end of a week to hope and
expect it; and secretly to congratulate herself on having
gained two such sons-in-law as Edward and Willoughby.
Colonel Brandon's partiality for Marianne, which had
so early been discovered by his friends, now first became
perceptible to Elinor, when it ceased to be noticed
by them. Their attention and wit were drawn off to his
more fortunate rival; and the raillery which the other
had incurred before any partiality arose, was removed
when his feelings began really to call for the ridicule
so justly annexed to sensibility. Elinor was obliged,
though unwillingly, to believe that the sentiments which
Mrs. Jennings had assigned him for her own satisfaction,
were now actually excited by her sister; and that however
a general resemblance of disposition between the parties
might forward the affection of Mr. Willoughby, an equally
striking opposition of character was no hindrance to the
regard of Colonel Brandon. She saw it with concern;
for what could a silent man of five and thirty hope,
when opposed to a very lively one of five and twenty? and as
she could not even wish him successful, she heartily wished
him indifferent. She liked him--in spite of his gravity
and reserve, she beheld in him an object of interest.
His manners, though serious, were mild; and his reserve
appeared rather the result of some oppression of spirits
than of any natural gloominess of temper. Sir John
had dropped hints of past injuries and disappointments,
which justified her belief of his being an unfortunate man,
and she regarded him with respect and compassion.
Perhaps she pitied and esteemed him the more
because he was slighted by Willoughby and Marianne,
who, prejudiced against him for being neither lively
nor young, seemed resolved to undervalue his merits.
"Brandon is just the kind of man," said Willoughby
one day, when they were talking of him together,
"whom every body speaks well of, and nobody cares about;
whom all are delighted to see, and nobody remembers
to talk to."
"That is exactly what I think of him," cried Marianne.
"Do not boast of it, however," said Elinor, "for it
is injustice in both of you. He is highly esteemed
by all the family at the park, and I never see him myself
without taking pains to converse with him."
"That he is patronised by YOU," replied Willoughby,
"is certainly in his favour; but as for the esteem
of the others, it is a reproach in itself. Who would
submit to the indignity of being approved by such a woman
as Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, that could command
the indifference of any body else?"
"But perhaps the abuse of such people as yourself
and Marianne will make amends for the regard of Lady
Middleton and her mother. If their praise is censure,
your censure may be praise, for they are not more undiscerning,
than you are prejudiced and unjust."
"In defence of your protege you can even be saucy."
"My protege, as you call him, is a sensible man;
and sense will always have attractions for me.
Yes, Marianne, even in a man between thirty and forty.
He has seen a great deal of the world; has been abroad,
has read, and has a thinking mind. I have found him
capable of giving me much information on various subjects;
and he has always answered my inquiries with readiness of
good-breeding and good nature."
"That is to say," cried Marianne contemptuously,
"he has told you, that in the East Indies the climate is hot,
and the mosquitoes are troublesome."
"He WOULD have told me so, I doubt not, had I made
any such inquiries, but they happened to be points
on which I had been previously informed."
"Perhaps," said Willoughby, "his observations may
have extended to the existence of nabobs, gold mohrs,
"I may venture to say that HIS observations
have stretched much further than your candour.
But why should you dislike him?"
"I do not dislike him. I consider him, on the contrary,
as a very respectable man, who has every body's good word,
and nobody's notice; who, has more money than he can spend,
more time than he knows how to employ, and two new coats
"Add to which," cried Marianne, "that he has
neither genius, taste, nor spirit. That his understanding
has no brilliancy, his feelings no ardour, and his voice
"You decide on his imperfections so much in the mass,"
replied Elinor, "and so much on the strength of your
own imagination, that the commendation I am able to give
of him is comparatively cold and insipid. I can only
pronounce him to be a sensible man, well-bred, well-informed,
of gentle address, and, I believe, possessing an amiable heart."
"Miss Dashwood," cried Willoughby, "you are now using
me unkindly. You are endeavouring to disarm me by reason,
and to convince me against my will. But it will not do.
You shall find me as stubborn as you can be artful. I have
three unanswerable reasons for disliking Colonel Brandon;
he threatened me with rain when I wanted it to be fine;
he has found fault with the hanging of my curricle,
and I cannot persuade him to buy my brown mare. If it
will be any satisfaction to you, however, to be told,
that I believe his character to be in other respects
irreproachable, I am ready to confess it. And in return
for an acknowledgment, which must give me some pain,
you cannot deny me the privilege of disliking him as much
Little had Mrs. Dashwood or her daughters imagined
when they first came into Devonshire, that so many
engagements would arise to occupy their time as shortly
presented themselves, or that they should have such frequent
invitations and such constant visitors as to leave them little
leisure for serious employment. Yet such was the case.
When Marianne was recovered, the schemes of amusement at home
and abroad, which Sir John had been previously forming,
were put into execution. The private balls at the park
then began; and parties on the water were made and
accomplished as often as a showery October would allow.
In every meeting of the kind Willoughby was included;
and the ease and familiarity which naturally attended
these parties were exactly calculated to give increasing
intimacy to his acquaintance with the Dashwoods, to afford
him opportunity of witnessing the excellencies of Marianne,
of marking his animated admiration of her, and of receiving,
in her behaviour to himself, the most pointed assurance
of her affection.
Elinor could not be surprised at their attachment.
She only wished that it were less openly shewn; and once
or twice did venture to suggest the propriety of some
self-command to Marianne. But Marianne abhorred all
concealment where no real disgrace could attend unreserve;
and to aim at the restraint of sentiments which were not
in themselves illaudable, appeared to her not merely
an unnecessary effort, but a disgraceful subjection
of reason to common-place and mistaken notions.
Willoughby thought the same; and their behaviour at
all times, was an illustration of their opinions.
When he was present she had no eyes for any one else.
Every thing he did, was right. Every thing he said, was clever.
If their evenings at the park were concluded with cards,
he cheated himself and all the rest of the party to get
her a good hand. If dancing formed the amusement
of the night, they were partners for half the time;
and when obliged to separate for a couple of dances,
were careful to stand together and scarcely spoke a word
to any body else. Such conduct made them of course
most exceedingly laughed at; but ridicule could not shame,
and seemed hardly to provoke them.
Mrs. Dashwood entered into all their feelings with
a warmth which left her no inclination for checking this
excessive display of them. To her it was but the natural
consequence of a strong affection in a young and ardent mind.
This was the season of happiness to Marianne.
Her heart was devoted to Willoughby, and the fond attachment
to Norland, which she brought with her from Sussex,
was more likely to be softened than she had thought it
possible before, by the charms which his society bestowed
on her present home.
Elinor's happiness was not so great. Her heart was not
so much at ease, nor her satisfaction in their amusements
so pure. They afforded her no companion that could make
amends for what she had left behind, nor that could teach
her to think of Norland with less regret than ever.
Neither Lady Middleton nor Mrs. Jennings could supply
to her the conversation she missed; although the latter