Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
by Jane Austen.
About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven
thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of
Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised
to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences
of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the
greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her
to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to
it. She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of
their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as
handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with
almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of
large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them.
Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to
be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law,
with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse.
Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not
contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an
income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their
career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a
year. But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her
family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education,
fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. She could hardly have
made a more untoward choice. Sir Thomas Bertram had interest, which,
from principle as well as pride--from a general wish of doing right,
and a desire of seeing all that were connected with him in situations
of respectability, he would have been glad to exert for the advantage
of Lady Bertram's sister; but her husband's profession was such as no
interest could reach; and before he had time to devise any other method
of assisting them, an absolute breach between the sisters had taken
place. It was the natural result of the conduct of each party, and
such as a very imprudent marriage almost always produces. To save
herself from useless remonstrance, Mrs. Price never wrote to her family
on the subject till actually married. Lady Bertram, who was a woman of
very tranquil feelings, and a temper remarkably easy and indolent,
would have contented herself with merely giving up her sister, and
thinking no more of the matter; but Mrs. Norris had a spirit of
activity, which could not be satisfied till she had written a long and
angry letter to Fanny, to point out the folly of her conduct, and
threaten her with all its possible ill consequences. Mrs. Price, in
her turn, was injured and angry; and an answer, which comprehended each
sister in its bitterness, and bestowed such very disrespectful
reflections on the pride of Sir Thomas as Mrs. Norris could not
possibly keep to herself, put an end to all intercourse between them
for a considerable period.
Their homes were so distant, and the circles in which they moved so
distinct, as almost to preclude the means of ever hearing of each
other's existence during the eleven following years, or, at least, to
make it very wonderful to Sir Thomas that Mrs. Norris should ever have
it in her power to tell them, as she now and then did, in an angry
voice, that Fanny had got another child. By the end of eleven years,
however, Mrs. Price could no longer afford to cherish pride or
resentment, or to lose one connexion that might possibly assist her. A
large and still increasing family, an husband disabled for active
service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very
small income to supply their wants, made her eager to regain the
friends she had so carelessly sacrificed; and she addressed Lady
Bertram in a letter which spoke so much contrition and despondence,
such a superfluity of children, and such a want of almost everything
else, as could not but dispose them all to a reconciliation. She was
preparing for her ninth lying-in; and after bewailing the circumstance,
and imploring their countenance as sponsors to the expected child, she
could not conceal how important she felt they might be to the future
maintenance of the eight already in being. Her eldest was a boy of ten
years old, a fine spirited fellow, who longed to be out in the world;
but what could she do? Was there any chance of his being hereafter
useful to Sir Thomas in the concerns of his West Indian property? No
situation would be beneath him; or what did Sir Thomas think of
Woolwich? or how could a boy be sent out to the East?
The letter was not unproductive. It re-established peace and kindness.
Sir Thomas sent friendly advice and professions, Lady Bertram
dispatched money and baby-linen, and Mrs. Norris wrote the letters.
Such were its immediate effects, and within a twelvemonth a more
important advantage to Mrs. Price resulted from it. Mrs. Norris was
often observing to the others that she could not get her poor sister
and her family out of her head, and that, much as they had all done for
her, she seemed to be wanting to do more; and at length she could not
but own it to be her wish that poor Mrs. Price should be relieved from
the charge and expense of one child entirely out of her great number.
"What if they were among them to undertake the care of her eldest
daughter, a girl now nine years old, of an age to require more
attention than her poor mother could possibly give? The trouble and
expense of it to them would be nothing, compared with the benevolence
of the action." Lady Bertram agreed with her instantly. "I think we
cannot do better," said she; "let us send for the child."
Sir Thomas could not give so instantaneous and unqualified a consent.
He debated and hesitated;--it was a serious charge;--a girl so brought
up must be adequately provided for, or there would be cruelty instead
of kindness in taking her from her family. He thought of his own four
children, of his two sons, of cousins in love, etc.;--but no sooner had
he deliberately begun to state his objections, than Mrs. Norris
interrupted him with a reply to them all, whether stated or not.
"My dear Sir Thomas, I perfectly comprehend you, and do justice to the
generosity and delicacy of your notions, which indeed are quite of a
piece with your general conduct; and I entirely agree with you in the
main as to the propriety of doing everything one could by way of
providing for a child one had in a manner taken into one's own hands;
and I am sure I should be the last person in the world to withhold my
mite upon such an occasion. Having no children of my own, who should I
look to in any little matter I may ever have to bestow, but the
children of my sisters?--and I am sure Mr. Norris is too just--but you
know I am a woman of few words and professions. Do not let us be
frightened from a good deed by a trifle. Give a girl an education, and
introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the
means of settling well, without farther expense to anybody. A niece of
ours, Sir Thomas, I may say, or at least of "yours", would not grow up
in this neighbourhood without many advantages. I don't say she would
be so handsome as her cousins. I dare say she would not; but she would
be introduced into the society of this country under such very
favourable circumstances as, in all human probability, would get her a
creditable establishment. You are thinking of your sons--but do not
you know that, of all things upon earth, "that" is the least likely to
happen, brought up as they would be, always together like brothers and
sisters? It is morally impossible. I never knew an instance of it.
It is, in fact, the only sure way of providing against the connexion.
Suppose her a pretty girl, and seen by Tom or Edmund for the first time
seven years hence, and I dare say there would be mischief. The very
idea of her having been suffered to grow up at a distance from us all
in poverty and neglect, would be enough to make either of the dear,
sweet-tempered boys in love with her. But breed her up with them from
this time, and suppose her even to have the beauty of an angel, and she
will never be more to either than a sister."
"There is a great deal of truth in what you say," replied Sir Thomas,
"and far be it from me to throw any fanciful impediment in the way of a
plan which would be so consistent with the relative situations of each.
I only meant to observe that it ought not to be lightly engaged in, and
that to make it really serviceable to Mrs. Price, and creditable to
ourselves, we must secure to the child, or consider ourselves engaged
to secure to her hereafter, as circumstances may arise, the provision
of a gentlewoman, if no such establishment should offer as you are so
sanguine in expecting."
"I thoroughly understand you," cried Mrs. Norris, "you are everything
that is generous and considerate, and I am sure we shall never disagree
on this point. Whatever I can do, as you well know, I am always ready
enough to do for the good of those I love; and, though I could never
feel for this little girl the hundredth part of the regard I bear your
own dear children, nor consider her, in any respect, so much my own, I
should hate myself if I were capable of neglecting her. Is not she a
sister's child? and could I bear to see her want while I had a bit of
bread to give her? My dear Sir Thomas, with all my faults I have a
warm heart; and, poor as I am, would rather deny myself the necessaries
of life than do an ungenerous thing. So, if you are not against it, I
will write to my poor sister tomorrow, and make the proposal; and, as
soon as matters are settled, "I" will engage to get the child to
Mansfield; "you" shall have no trouble about it. My own trouble, you
know, I never regard. I will send Nanny to London on purpose, and she
may have a bed at her cousin the saddler's, and the child be appointed
to meet her there. They may easily get her from Portsmouth to town by
the coach, under the care of any creditable person that may chance to
be going. I dare say there is always some reputable tradesman's wife
or other going up."
Except to the attack on Nanny's cousin, Sir Thomas no longer made any
objection, and a more respectable, though less economical rendezvous
being accordingly substituted, everything was considered as settled,
and the pleasures of so benevolent a scheme were already enjoyed. The
division of gratifying sensations ought not, in strict justice, to have
been equal; for Sir Thomas was fully resolved to be the real and
consistent patron of the selected child, and Mrs. Norris had not the
least intention of being at any expense whatever in her maintenance.
As far as walking, talking, and contriving reached, she was thoroughly
benevolent, and nobody knew better how to dictate liberality to others;
but her love of money was equal to her love of directing, and she knew
quite as well how to save her own as to spend that of her friends.
Having married on a narrower income than she had been used to look
forward to, she had, from the first, fancied a very strict line of
economy necessary; and what was begun as a matter of prudence, soon
grew into a matter of choice, as an object of that needful solicitude
which there were no children to supply. Had there been a family to
provide for, Mrs. Norris might never have saved her money; but having
no care of that kind, there was nothing to impede her frugality, or
lessen the comfort of making a yearly addition to an income which they
had never lived up to. Under this infatuating principle, counteracted
by no real affection for her sister, it was impossible for her to aim
at more than the credit of projecting and arranging so expensive a
charity; though perhaps she might so little know herself as to walk
home to the Parsonage, after this conversation, in the happy belief of
being the most liberal-minded sister and aunt in the world.
When the subject was brought forward again, her views were more fully
explained; and, in reply to Lady Bertram's calm inquiry of "Where shall
the child come to first, sister, to you or to us?" Sir Thomas heard
with some surprise that it would be totally out of Mrs. Norris's power
to take any share in the personal charge of her. He had been
considering her as a particularly welcome addition at the Parsonage, as
a desirable companion to an aunt who had no children of her own; but he
found himself wholly mistaken. Mrs. Norris was sorry to say that the
little girl's staying with them, at least as things then were, was
quite out of the question. Poor Mr. Norris's indifferent state of
health made it an impossibility: he could no more bear the noise of a
child than he could fly; if, indeed, he should ever get well of his
gouty complaints, it would be a different matter: she should then be
glad to take her turn, and think nothing of the inconvenience; but just
now, poor Mr. Norris took up every moment of her time, and the very
mention of such a thing she was sure would distract him.
"Then she had better come to us," said Lady Bertram, with the utmost
composure. After a short pause Sir Thomas added with dignity, "Yes,
let her home be in this house. We will endeavour to do our duty by
her, and she will, at least, have the advantage of companions of her
own age, and of a regular instructress."
"Very true," cried Mrs. Norris, "which are both very important
considerations; and it will be just the same to Miss Lee whether she
has three girls to teach, or only two--there can be no difference. I
only wish I could be more useful; but you see I do all in my power. I
am not one of those that spare their own trouble; and Nanny shall fetch
her, however it may put me to inconvenience to have my chief counsellor
away for three days. I suppose, sister, you will put the child in the
little white attic, near the old nurseries. It will be much the best
place for her, so near Miss Lee, and not far from the girls, and close
by the housemaids, who could either of them help to dress her, you
know, and take care of her clothes, for I suppose you would not think
it fair to expect Ellis to wait on her as well as the others. Indeed,
I do not see that you could possibly place her anywhere else."
Lady Bertram made no opposition.
"I hope she will prove a well-disposed girl," continued Mrs. Norris,
"and be sensible of her uncommon good fortune in having such friends."
"Should her disposition be really bad," said Sir Thomas, "we must not,
for our own children's sake, continue her in the family; but there is
no reason to expect so great an evil. We shall probably see much to
wish altered in her, and must prepare ourselves for gross ignorance,
some meanness of opinions, and very distressing vulgarity of manner;
but these are not incurable faults; nor, I trust, can they be dangerous
for her associates. Had my daughters been "younger" than herself, I
should have considered the introduction of such a companion as a matter
of very serious moment; but, as it is, I hope there can be nothing to
fear for "them", and everything to hope for "her", from the
"That is exactly what I think," cried Mrs. Norris, "and what I was
saying to my husband this morning. It will be an education for the
child, said I, only being with her cousins; if Miss Lee taught her
nothing, she would learn to be good and clever from "them"."
"I hope she will not tease my poor pug," said Lady Bertram; "I have but
just got Julia to leave it alone."
"There will be some difficulty in our way, Mrs. Norris," observed Sir
Thomas, "as to the distinction proper to be made between the girls as
they grow up: how to preserve in the minds of my "daughters" the
consciousness of what they are, without making them think too lowly of
their cousin; and how, without depressing her spirits too far, to make
her remember that she is not a "Miss Bertram". I should wish to see
them very good friends, and would, on no account, authorise in my girls
the smallest degree of arrogance towards their relation; but still they
cannot be equals. Their rank, fortune, rights, and expectations will
always be different. It is a point of great delicacy, and you must
assist us in our endeavours to choose exactly the right line of
Mrs. Norris was quite at his service; and though she perfectly agreed
with him as to its being a most difficult thing, encouraged him to hope
that between them it would be easily managed.
It will be readily believed that Mrs. Norris did not write to her
sister in vain. Mrs. Price seemed rather surprised that a girl should
be fixed on, when she had so many fine boys, but accepted the offer
most thankfully, assuring them of her daughter's being a very
well-disposed, good-humoured girl, and trusting they would never have
cause to throw her off. She spoke of her farther as somewhat delicate
and puny, but was sanguine in the hope of her being materially better
for change of air. Poor woman! she probably thought change of air
might agree with many of her children.
The little girl performed her long journey in safety; and at
Northampton was met by Mrs. Norris, who thus regaled in the credit of
being foremost to welcome her, and in the importance of leading her in
to the others, and recommending her to their kindness.
Fanny Price was at this time just ten years old, and though there might
not be much in her first appearance to captivate, there was, at least,
nothing to disgust her relations. She was small of her age, with no
glow of complexion, nor any other striking beauty; exceedingly timid
and shy, and shrinking from notice; but her air, though awkward, was
not vulgar, her voice was sweet, and when she spoke her countenance was
pretty. Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram received her very kindly; and Sir
Thomas, seeing how much she needed encouragement, tried to be all that
was conciliating: but he had to work against a most untoward gravity
of deportment; and Lady Bertram, without taking half so much trouble,
or speaking one word where he spoke ten, by the mere aid of a
good-humoured smile, became immediately the less awful character of the
The young people were all at home, and sustained their share in the
introduction very well, with much good humour, and no embarrassment, at
least on the part of the sons, who, at seventeen and sixteen, and tall
of their age, had all the grandeur of men in the eyes of their little
cousin. The two girls were more at a loss from being younger and in
greater awe of their father, who addressed them on the occasion with
rather an injudicious particularity. But they were too much used to
company and praise to have anything like natural shyness; and their
confidence increasing from their cousin's total want of it, they were
soon able to take a full survey of her face and her frock in easy
They were a remarkably fine family, the sons very well-looking, the
daughters decidedly handsome, and all of them well-grown and forward of
their age, which produced as striking a difference between the cousins
in person, as education had given to their address; and no one would
have supposed the girls so nearly of an age as they really were. There
were in fact but two years between the youngest and Fanny. Julia
Bertram was only twelve, and Maria but a year older. The little
visitor meanwhile was as unhappy as possible. Afraid of everybody,
ashamed of herself, and longing for the home she had left, she knew not
how to look up, and could scarcely speak to be heard, or without
crying. Mrs. Norris had been talking to her the whole way from
Northampton of her wonderful good fortune, and the extraordinary degree
of gratitude and good behaviour which it ought to produce, and her
consciousness of misery was therefore increased by the idea of its
being a wicked thing for her not to be happy. The fatigue, too, of so
long a journey, became soon no trifling evil. In vain were the
well-meant condescensions of Sir Thomas, and all the officious
prognostications of Mrs. Norris that she would be a good girl; in vain
did Lady Bertram smile and make her sit on the sofa with herself and
pug, and vain was even the sight of a gooseberry tart towards giving
her comfort; she could scarcely swallow two mouthfuls before tears
interrupted her, and sleep seeming to be her likeliest friend, she was
taken to finish her sorrows in bed.
"This is not a very promising beginning," said Mrs. Norris, when Fanny
had left the room. "After all that I said to her as we came along, I
thought she would have behaved better; I told her how much might depend
upon her acquitting herself well at first. I wish there may not be a
little sulkiness of temper--her poor mother had a good deal; but we
must make allowances for such a child--and I do not know that her being
sorry to leave her home is really against her, for, with all its
faults, it "was" her home, and she cannot as yet understand how much
she has changed for the better; but then there is moderation in all
It required a longer time, however, than Mrs. Norris was inclined to
allow, to reconcile Fanny to the novelty of Mansfield Park, and the
separation from everybody she had been used to. Her feelings were very
acute, and too little understood to be properly attended to. Nobody
meant to be unkind, but nobody put themselves out of their way to
secure her comfort.
The holiday allowed to the Miss Bertrams the next day, on purpose to
afford leisure for getting acquainted with, and entertaining their
young cousin, produced little union. They could not but hold her cheap
on finding that she had but two sashes, and had never learned French;
and when they perceived her to be little struck with the duet they were
so good as to play, they could do no more than make her a generous
present of some of their least valued toys, and leave her to herself,
while they adjourned to whatever might be the favourite holiday sport
of the moment, making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper.
Fanny, whether near or from her cousins, whether in the schoolroom, the
drawing-room, or the shrubbery, was equally forlorn, finding something
to fear in every person and place. She was disheartened by Lady
Bertram's silence, awed by Sir Thomas's grave looks, and quite overcome
by Mrs. Norris's admonitions. Her elder cousins mortified her by
reflections on her size, and abashed her by noticing her shyness: Miss
Lee wondered at her ignorance, and the maid-servants sneered at her
clothes; and when to these sorrows was added the idea of the brothers
and sisters among whom she had always been important as playfellow,
instructress, and nurse, the despondence that sunk her little heart was
The grandeur of the house astonished, but could not console her. The
rooms were too large for her to move in with ease: whatever she touched
she expected to injure, and she crept about in constant terror of
something or other; often retreating towards her own chamber to cry;
and the little girl who was spoken of in the drawing-room when she left
it at night as seeming so desirably sensible of her peculiar good
fortune, ended every day's sorrows by sobbing herself to sleep. A week
had passed in this way, and no suspicion of it conveyed by her quiet
passive manner, when she was found one morning by her cousin Edmund,
the youngest of the sons, sitting crying on the attic stairs.
"My dear little cousin," said he, with all the gentleness of an
excellent nature, "what can be the matter?" And sitting down by her,
he was at great pains to overcome her shame in being so surprised, and
persuade her to speak openly. Was she ill? or was anybody angry with
her? or had she quarrelled with Maria and Julia? or was she puzzled
about anything in her lesson that he could explain? Did she, in short,
want anything he could possibly get her, or do for her? For a long
while no answer could be obtained beyond a "no, no--not at all--no,
thank you"; but he still persevered; and no sooner had he begun to
revert to her own home, than her increased sobs explained to him where
the grievance lay. He tried to console her.
"You are sorry to leave Mama, my dear little Fanny," said he, "which
shows you to be a very good girl; but you must remember that you are
with relations and friends, who all love you, and wish to make you
happy. Let us walk out in the park, and you shall tell me all about
your brothers and sisters."
On pursuing the subject, he found that, dear as all these brothers and
sisters generally were, there was one among them who ran more in her
thoughts than the rest. It was William whom she talked of most, and
wanted most to see. William, the eldest, a year older than herself,
her constant companion and friend; her advocate with her mother (of
whom he was the darling) in every distress. "William did not like she
should come away; he had told her he should miss her very much indeed."
"But William will write to you, I dare say." "Yes, he had promised he
would, but he had told "her" to write first." "And when shall you do
it?" She hung her head and answered hesitatingly, "she did not know;
she had not any paper."
"If that be all your difficulty, I will furnish you with paper and
every other material, and you may write your letter whenever you
choose. Would it make you happy to write to William?"
"Then let it be done now. Come with me into the breakfast-room, we
shall find everything there, and be sure of having the room to
"But, cousin, will it go to the post?"
"Yes, depend upon me it shall: it shall go with the other letters;
and, as your uncle will frank it, it will cost William nothing."
"My uncle!" repeated Fanny, with a frightened look.
"Yes, when you have written the letter, I will take it to my father to
Fanny thought it a bold measure, but offered no further resistance; and
they went together into the breakfast-room, where Edmund prepared her
paper, and ruled her lines with all the goodwill that her brother could
himself have felt, and probably with somewhat more exactness. He
continued with her the whole time of her writing, to assist her with
his penknife or his orthography, as either were wanted; and added to
these attentions, which she felt very much, a kindness to her brother
which delighted her beyond all the rest. He wrote with his own hand
his love to his cousin William, and sent him half a guinea under the
seal. Fanny's feelings on the occasion were such as she believed
herself incapable of expressing; but her countenance and a few artless
words fully conveyed all their gratitude and delight, and her cousin
began to find her an interesting object. He talked to her more, and,
from all that she said, was convinced of her having an affectionate
heart, and a strong desire of doing right; and he could perceive her to
be farther entitled to attention by great sensibility of her situation,
and great timidity. He had never knowingly given her pain, but he now
felt that she required more positive kindness; and with that view
endeavoured, in the first place, to lessen her fears of them all, and
gave her especially a great deal of good advice as to playing with
Maria and Julia, and being as merry as possible.
From this day Fanny grew more comfortable. She felt that she had a
friend, and the kindness of her cousin Edmund gave her better spirits
with everybody else. The place became less strange, and the people
less formidable; and if there were some amongst them whom she could not
cease to fear, she began at least to know their ways, and to catch the
best manner of conforming to them. The little rusticities and
awkwardnesses which had at first made grievous inroads on the
tranquillity of all, and not least of herself, necessarily wore away,
and she was no longer materially afraid to appear before her uncle, nor
did her aunt Norris's voice make her start very much. To her cousins
she became occasionally an acceptable companion. Though unworthy, from
inferiority of age and strength, to be their constant associate, their
pleasures and schemes were sometimes of a nature to make a third very
useful, especially when that third was of an obliging, yielding temper;
and they could not but own, when their aunt inquired into her faults,
or their brother Edmund urged her claims to their kindness, that "Fanny
was good-natured enough."
Edmund was uniformly kind himself; and she had nothing worse to endure
on the part of Tom than that sort of merriment which a young man of
seventeen will always think fair with a child of ten. He was just
entering into life, full of spirits, and with all the liberal
dispositions of an eldest son, who feels born only for expense and
enjoyment. His kindness to his little cousin was consistent with his
situation and rights: he made her some very pretty presents, and
laughed at her.
As her appearance and spirits improved, Sir Thomas and Mrs. Norris
thought with greater satisfaction of their benevolent plan; and it was
pretty soon decided between them that, though far from clever, she
showed a tractable disposition, and seemed likely to give them little
trouble. A mean opinion of her abilities was not confined to "them".
Fanny could read, work, and write, but she had been taught nothing
more; and as her cousins found her ignorant of many things with which
they had been long familiar, they thought her prodigiously stupid, and
for the first two or three weeks were continually bringing some fresh
report of it into the drawing-room. "Dear mama, only think, my cousin
cannot put the map of Europe together--or my cousin cannot tell the
principal rivers in Russia--or, she never heard of Asia Minor--or she
does not know the difference between water-colours and crayons!-- How
strange!--Did you ever hear anything so stupid?"
"My dear," their considerate aunt would reply, "it is very bad, but you
must not expect everybody to be as forward and quick at learning as
"But, aunt, she is really so very ignorant!--Do you know, we asked her
last night which way she would go to get to Ireland; and she said, she
should cross to the Isle of Wight. She thinks of nothing but the Isle
of Wight, and she calls it "the" "Island", as if there were no other
island in the world. I am sure I should have been ashamed of myself,
if I had not known better long before I was so old as she is. I cannot
remember the time when I did not know a great deal that she has not the
least notion of yet. How long ago it is, aunt, since we used to repeat
the chronological order of the kings of England, with the dates of
their accession, and most of the principal events of their reigns!"
"Yes," added the other; "and of the Roman emperors as low as Severus;
besides a great deal of the heathen mythology, and all the metals,
semi-metals, planets, and distinguished philosophers."
"Very true indeed, my dears, but you are blessed with wonderful
memories, and your poor cousin has probably none at all. There is a
vast deal of difference in memories, as well as in everything else, and
therefore you must make allowance for your cousin, and pity her
deficiency. And remember that, if you are ever so forward and clever
yourselves, you should always be modest; for, much as you know already,
there is a great deal more for you to learn."
"Yes, I know there is, till I am seventeen. But I must tell you
another thing of Fanny, so odd and so stupid. Do you know, she says
she does not want to learn either music or drawing."
"To be sure, my dear, that is very stupid indeed, and shows a great
want of genius and emulation. But, all things considered, I do not
know whether it is not as well that it should be so, for, though you
know (owing to me) your papa and mama are so good as to bring her up
with you, it is not at all necessary that she should be as accomplished
as you are;--on the contrary, it is much more desirable that there
should be a difference."
Such were the counsels by which Mrs. Norris assisted to form her
nieces' minds; and it is not very wonderful that, with all their
promising talents and early information, they should be entirely
deficient in the less common acquirements of self-knowledge, generosity
and humility. In everything but disposition they were admirably
taught. Sir Thomas did not know what was wanting, because, though a
truly anxious father, he was not outwardly affectionate, and the
reserve of his manner repressed all the flow of their spirits before
To the education of her daughters Lady Bertram paid not the smallest
attention. She had not time for such cares. She was a woman who spent
her days in sitting, nicely dressed, on a sofa, doing some long piece
of needlework, of little use and no beauty, thinking more of her pug
than her children, but very indulgent to the latter when it did not put
herself to inconvenience, guided in everything important by Sir Thomas,
and in smaller concerns by her sister. Had she possessed greater
leisure for the service of her girls, she would probably have supposed
it unnecessary, for they were under the care of a governess, with
proper masters, and could want nothing more. As for Fanny's being
stupid at learning, "she could only say it was very unlucky, but some
people "were" stupid, and Fanny must take more pains: she did not know
what else was to be done; and, except her being so dull, she must add
she saw no harm in the poor little thing, and always found her very
handy and quick in carrying messages, and fetching what she wanted."
Fanny, with all her faults of ignorance and timidity, was fixed at
Mansfield Park, and learning to transfer in its favour much of her
attachment to her former home, grew up there not unhappily among her
cousins. There was no positive ill-nature in Maria or Julia; and
though Fanny was often mortified by their treatment of her, she thought
too lowly of her own claims to feel injured by it.
From about the time of her entering the family, Lady Bertram, in
consequence of a little ill-health, and a great deal of indolence, gave
up the house in town, which she had been used to occupy every spring,
and remained wholly in the country, leaving Sir Thomas to attend his
duty in Parliament, with whatever increase or diminution of comfort
might arise from her absence. In the country, therefore, the Miss
Bertrams continued to exercise their memories, practise their duets,
and grow tall and womanly: and their father saw them becoming in
person, manner, and accomplishments, everything that could satisfy his
anxiety. His eldest son was careless and extravagant, and had already
given him much uneasiness; but his other children promised him nothing
but good. His daughters, he felt, while they retained the name of
Bertram, must be giving it new grace, and in quitting it, he trusted,
would extend its respectable alliances; and the character of Edmund,
his strong good sense and uprightness of mind, bid most fairly for
utility, honour, and happiness to himself and all his connexions. He
was to be a clergyman.
Amid the cares and the complacency which his own children suggested,
Sir Thomas did not forget to do what he could for the children of Mrs.
Price: he assisted her liberally in the education and disposal of her
sons as they became old enough for a determinate pursuit; and Fanny,
though almost totally separated from her family, was sensible of the
truest satisfaction in hearing of any kindness towards them, or of
anything at all promising in their situation or conduct. Once, and
once only, in the course of many years, had she the happiness of being
with William. Of the rest she saw nothing: nobody seemed to think of
her ever going amongst them again, even for a visit, nobody at home
seemed to want her; but William determining, soon after her removal, to
be a sailor, was invited to spend a week with his sister in
Northamptonshire before he went to sea. Their eager affection in
meeting, their exquisite delight in being together, their hours of
happy mirth, and moments of serious conference, may be imagined; as
well as the sanguine views and spirits of the boy even to the last, and
the misery of the girl when he left her. Luckily the visit happened in
the Christmas holidays, when she could directly look for comfort to her
cousin Edmund; and he told her such charming things of what William was
to do, and be hereafter, in consequence of his profession, as made her
gradually admit that the separation might have some use. Edmund's
friendship never failed her: his leaving Eton for Oxford made no change
in his kind dispositions, and only afforded more frequent opportunities
of proving them. Without any display of doing more than the rest, or
any fear of doing too much, he was always true to her interests, and
considerate of her feelings, trying to make her good qualities
understood, and to conquer the diffidence which prevented their being
more apparent; giving her advice, consolation, and encouragement.
Kept back as she was by everybody else, his single support could not
bring her forward; but his attentions were otherwise of the highest
importance in assisting the improvement of her mind, and extending its
pleasures. He knew her to be clever, to have a quick apprehension as
well as good sense, and a fondness for reading, which, properly
directed, must be an education in itself. Miss Lee taught her French,
and heard her read the daily portion of history; but he recommended the
books which charmed her leisure hours, he encouraged her taste, and
corrected her judgment: he made reading useful by talking to her of
what she read, and heightened its attraction by judicious praise. In
return for such services she loved him better than anybody in the world
except William: her heart was divided between the two.
The first event of any importance in the family was the death of Mr.
Norris, which happened when Fanny was about fifteen, and necessarily
introduced alterations and novelties. Mrs. Norris, on quitting the
Parsonage, removed first to the Park, and afterwards to a small house
of Sir Thomas's in the village, and consoled herself for the loss of
her husband by considering that she could do very well without him; and
for her reduction of income by the evident necessity of stricter
The living was hereafter for Edmund; and, had his uncle died a few
years sooner, it would have been duly given to some friend to hold till
he were old enough for orders. But Tom's extravagance had, previous to
that event, been so great as to render a different disposal of the next
presentation necessary, and the younger brother must help to pay for
the pleasures of the elder. There was another family living actually
held for Edmund; but though this circumstance had made the arrangement
somewhat easier to Sir Thomas's conscience, he could not but feel it to
be an act of injustice, and he earnestly tried to impress his eldest
son with the same conviction, in the hope of its producing a better
effect than anything he had yet been able to say or do.
"I blush for you, Tom," said he, in his most dignified manner; "I blush
for the expedient which I am driven on, and I trust I may pity your
feelings as a brother on the occasion. You have robbed Edmund for ten,
twenty, thirty years, perhaps for life, of more than half the income
which ought to be his. It may hereafter be in my power, or in yours (I
hope it will), to procure him better preferment; but it must not be
forgotten that no benefit of that sort would have been beyond his
natural claims on us, and that nothing can, in fact, be an equivalent
for the certain advantage which he is now obliged to forego through the
urgency of your debts."
Tom listened with some shame and some sorrow; but escaping as quickly
as possible, could soon with cheerful selfishness reflect, firstly,
that he had not been half so much in debt as some of his friends;
secondly, that his father had made a most tiresome piece of work of it;
and, thirdly, that the future incumbent, whoever he might be, would, in
all probability, die very soon.
On Mr. Norris's death the presentation became the right of a Dr. Grant,
who came consequently to reside at Mansfield; and on proving to be a
hearty man of forty-five, seemed likely to disappoint Mr. Bertram's
calculations. But "no, he was a short-necked, apoplectic sort of
fellow, and, plied well with good things, would soon pop off."
He had a wife about fifteen years his junior, but no children; and they
entered the neighbourhood with the usual fair report of being very
respectable, agreeable people.
The time was now come when Sir Thomas expected his sister-in-law to
claim her share in their niece, the change in Mrs. Norris's situation,
and the improvement in Fanny's age, seeming not merely to do away any
former objection to their living together, but even to give it the most
decided eligibility; and as his own circumstances were rendered less
fair than heretofore, by some recent losses on his West India estate,
in addition to his eldest son's extravagance, it became not undesirable
to himself to be relieved from the expense of her support, and the
obligation of her future provision. In the fullness of his belief that
such a thing must be, he mentioned its probability to his wife; and the
first time of the subject's occurring to her again happening to be when
Fanny was present, she calmly observed to her, "So, Fanny, you are
going to leave us, and live with my sister. How shall you like it?"
Fanny was too much surprised to do more than repeat her aunt's words,
"Going to leave you?"
"Yes, my dear; why should you be astonished? You have been five years
with us, and my sister always meant to take you when Mr. Norris died.
But you must come up and tack on my patterns all the same."
The news was as disagreeable to Fanny as it had been unexpected. She
had never received kindness from her aunt Norris, and could not love
"I shall be very sorry to go away," said she, with a faltering voice.
"Yes, I dare say you will; "that's" natural enough. I suppose you have
had as little to vex you since you came into this house as any creature
in the world."
"I hope I am not ungrateful, aunt," said Fanny modestly.
"No, my dear; I hope not. I have always found you a very good girl."
"And am I never to live here again?"
"Never, my dear; but you are sure of a comfortable home. It can make
very little difference to you, whether you are in one house or the
Fanny left the room with a very sorrowful heart; she could not feel the
difference to be so small, she could not think of living with her aunt
with anything like satisfaction. As soon as she met with Edmund she
told him her distress.
"Cousin," said she, "something is going to happen which I do not like
at all; and though you have often persuaded me into being reconciled to
things that I disliked at first, you will not be able to do it now. I
am going to live entirely with my aunt Norris."
"Yes; my aunt Bertram has just told me so. It is quite settled. I am
to leave Mansfield Park, and go to the White House, I suppose, as soon
as she is removed there."
"Well, Fanny, and if the plan were not unpleasant to you, I should call
it an excellent one."
"It has everything else in its favour. My aunt is acting like a
sensible woman in wishing for you. She is choosing a friend and
companion exactly where she ought, and I am glad her love of money does
not interfere. You will be what you ought to be to her. I hope it
does not distress you very much, Fanny?"
"Indeed it does: I cannot like it. I love this house and everything
in it: I shall love nothing there. You know how uncomfortable I feel
"I can say nothing for her manner to you as a child; but it was the
same with us all, or nearly so. She never knew how to be pleasant to
children. But you are now of an age to be treated better; I think she
is behaving better already; and when you are her only companion, you
"must" be important to her."
"I can never be important to any one."
"What is to prevent you?"
"Everything. My situation, my foolishness and awkwardness."
"As to your foolishness and awkwardness, my dear Fanny, believe me, you
never have a shadow of either, but in using the words so improperly.
There is no reason in the world why you should not be important where
you are known. You have good sense, and a sweet temper, and I am sure
you have a grateful heart, that could never receive kindness without
wishing to return it. I do not know any better qualifications for a
friend and companion."
"You are too kind," said Fanny, colouring at such praise; "how shall I
ever thank you as I ought, for thinking so well of me. Oh! cousin, if
I am to go away, I shall remember your goodness to the last moment of
"Why, indeed, Fanny, I should hope to be remembered at such a distance
as the White House. You speak as if you were going two hundred miles
off instead of only across the park; but you will belong to us almost
as much as ever. The two families will be meeting every day in the
year. The only difference will be that, living with your aunt, you
will necessarily be brought forward as you ought to be. "Here" there
are too many whom you can hide behind; but with "her" you will be
forced to speak for yourself."
"Oh! I do not say so."
"I must say it, and say it with pleasure. Mrs. Norris is much better
fitted than my mother for having the charge of you now. She is of a
temper to do a great deal for anybody she really interests herself
about, and she will force you to do justice to your natural powers."
Fanny sighed, and said, "I cannot see things as you do; but I ought to
believe you to be right rather than myself, and I am very much obliged
to you for trying to reconcile me to what must be. If I could suppose
my aunt really to care for me, it would be delightful to feel myself of
consequence to anybody. "Here", I know, I am of none, and yet I love
the place so well."
"The place, Fanny, is what you will not quit, though you quit the
house. You will have as free a command of the park and gardens as
ever. Even "your" constant little heart need not take fright at such a
nominal change. You will have the same walks to frequent, the same
library to choose from, the same people to look at, the same horse to
"Very true. Yes, dear old grey pony! Ah! cousin, when I remember how
much I used to dread riding, what terrors it gave me to hear it talked
of as likely to do me good (oh! how I have trembled at my uncle's
opening his lips if horses were talked of), and then think of the kind
pains you took to reason and persuade me out of my fears, and convince
me that I should like it after a little while, and feel how right you
proved to be, I am inclined to hope you may always prophesy as well."
"And I am quite convinced that your being with Mrs. Norris will be as
good for your mind as riding has been for your health, and as much for
your ultimate happiness too."
So ended their discourse, which, for any very appropriate service it
could render Fanny, might as well have been spared, for Mrs. Norris had
not the smallest intention of taking her. It had never occurred to
her, on the present occasion, but as a thing to be carefully avoided.
To prevent its being expected, she had fixed on the smallest habitation
which could rank as genteel among the buildings of Mansfield parish,
the White House being only just large enough to receive herself and her
servants, and allow a spare room for a friend, of which she made a very
particular point. The spare rooms at the Parsonage had never been
wanted, but the absolute necessity of a spare room for a friend was now
never forgotten. Not all her precautions, however, could save her from
being suspected of something better; or, perhaps, her very display of
the importance of a spare room might have misled Sir Thomas to suppose
it really intended for Fanny. Lady Bertram soon brought the matter to
a certainty by carelessly observing to Mrs. Norris--
"I think, sister, we need not keep Miss Lee any longer, when Fanny goes
to live with you."
Mrs. Norris almost started. "Live with me, dear Lady Bertram! what do
"Is she not to live with you? I thought you had settled it with Sir
"Me! never. I never spoke a syllable about it to Sir Thomas, nor he to
me. Fanny live with me! the last thing in the world for me to think
of, or for anybody to wish that really knows us both. Good heaven!
what could I do with Fanny? Me! a poor, helpless, forlorn widow, unfit
for anything, my spirits quite broke down; what could I do with a girl
at her time of life? A girl of fifteen! the very age of all others to
need most attention and care, and put the cheerfullest spirits to the
test! Sure Sir Thomas could not seriously expect such a thing! Sir
Thomas is too much my friend. Nobody that wishes me well, I am sure,
would propose it. How came Sir Thomas to speak to you about it?"
"Indeed, I do not know. I suppose he thought it best."
"But what did he say? He could not say he "wished" me to take Fanny.
I am sure in his heart he could not wish me to do it."
"No; he only said he thought it very likely; and I thought so too. We
both thought it would be a comfort to you. But if you do not like it,
there is no more to be said. She is no encumbrance here."
"Dear sister, if you consider my unhappy state, how can she be any
comfort to me? Here am I, a poor desolate widow, deprived of the best
of husbands, my health gone in attending and nursing him, my spirits
still worse, all my peace in this world destroyed, with hardly enough
to support me in the rank of a gentlewoman, and enable me to live so as
not to disgrace the memory of the dear departed--what possible comfort
could I have in taking such a charge upon me as Fanny? If I could wish
it for my own sake, I would not do so unjust a thing by the poor girl.
She is in good hands, and sure of doing well. I must struggle through
my sorrows and difficulties as I can."
"Then you will not mind living by yourself quite alone?"
"Lady Bertram, I do not complain. I know I cannot live as I have done,
but I must retrench where I can, and learn to be a better manager. I
"have" "been" a liberal housekeeper enough, but I shall not be ashamed
to practise economy now. My situation is as much altered as my income.
A great many things were due from poor Mr. Norris, as clergyman of the
parish, that cannot be expected from me. It is unknown how much was
consumed in our kitchen by odd comers and goers. At the White House,
matters must be better looked after. I "must" live within my income,
or I shall be miserable; and I own it would give me great satisfaction
to be able to do rather more, to lay by a little at the end of the
"I dare say you will. You always do, don't you?"
"My object, Lady Bertram, is to be of use to those that come after me.
It is for your children's good that I wish to be richer. I have nobody
else to care for, but I should be very glad to think I could leave a
little trifle among them worth their having."
"You are very good, but do not trouble yourself about them. They are
sure of being well provided for. Sir Thomas will take care of that."
"Why, you know, Sir Thomas's means will be rather straitened if the
Antigua estate is to make such poor returns."
"Oh! "that" will soon be settled. Sir Thomas has been writing about
it, I know."
"Well, Lady Bertram," said Mrs. Norris, moving to go, "I can only say
that my sole desire is to be of use to your family: and so, if Sir
Thomas should ever speak again about my taking Fanny, you will be able
to say that my health and spirits put it quite out of the question;
besides that, I really should not have a bed to give her, for I must
keep a spare room for a friend."
Lady Bertram repeated enough of this conversation to her husband to
convince him how much he had mistaken his sister-in-law's views; and
she was from that moment perfectly safe from all expectation, or the
slightest allusion to it from him. He could not but wonder at her
refusing to do anything for a niece whom she had been so forward to
adopt; but, as she took early care to make him, as well as Lady
Bertram, understand that whatever she possessed was designed for their
family, he soon grew reconciled to a distinction which, at the same
time that it was advantageous and complimentary to them, would enable
him better to provide for Fanny himself.
Fanny soon learnt how unnecessary had been her fears of a removal; and
her spontaneous, untaught felicity on the discovery, conveyed some
consolation to Edmund for his disappointment in what he had expected to
be so essentially serviceable to her. Mrs. Norris took possession of
the White House, the Grants arrived at the Parsonage, and these events
over, everything at Mansfield went on for some time as usual.
The Grants showing a disposition to be friendly and sociable, gave
great satisfaction in the main among their new acquaintance. They had
their faults, and Mrs. Norris soon found them out. The Doctor was very
fond of eating, and would have a good dinner every day; and Mrs. Grant,
instead of contriving to gratify him at little expense, gave her cook
as high wages as they did at Mansfield Park, and was scarcely ever seen
in her offices. Mrs. Norris could not speak with any temper of such
grievances, nor of the quantity of butter and eggs that were regularly
consumed in the house. "Nobody loved plenty and hospitality more than
herself; nobody more hated pitiful doings; the Parsonage, she believed,
had never been wanting in comforts of any sort, had never borne a bad
character in "her" "time", but this was a way of going on that she
could not understand. A fine lady in a country parsonage was quite out
of place. "Her" store-room, she thought, might have been good enough
for Mrs. Grant to go into. Inquire where she would, she could not find
out that Mrs. Grant had ever had more than five thousand pounds."
Lady Bertram listened without much interest to this sort of invective.
She could not enter into the wrongs of an economist, but she felt all
the injuries of beauty in Mrs. Grant's being so well settled in life
without being handsome, and expressed her astonishment on that point
almost as often, though not so diffusely, as Mrs. Norris discussed the
These opinions had been hardly canvassed a year before another event
arose of such importance in the family, as might fairly claim some
place in the thoughts and conversation of the ladies. Sir Thomas found
it expedient to go to Antigua himself, for the better arrangement of
his affairs, and he took his eldest son with him, in the hope of
detaching him from some bad connexions at home. They left England with
the probability of being nearly a twelvemonth absent.
The necessity of the measure in a pecuniary light, and the hope of its
utility to his son, reconciled Sir Thomas to the effort of quitting the
rest of his family, and of leaving his daughters to the direction of
others at their present most interesting time of life. He could not
think Lady Bertram quite equal to supply his place with them, or
rather, to perform what should have been her own; but, in Mrs. Norris's
watchful attention, and in Edmund's judgment, he had sufficient
confidence to make him go without fears for their conduct.
Lady Bertram did not at all like to have her husband leave her; but she
was not disturbed by any alarm for his safety, or solicitude for his
comfort, being one of those persons who think nothing can be dangerous,
or difficult, or fatiguing to anybody but themselves.
The Miss Bertrams were much to be pitied on the occasion: not for their
sorrow, but for their want of it. Their father was no object of love
to them; he had never seemed the friend of their pleasures, and his
absence was unhappily most welcome. They were relieved by it from all
restraint; and without aiming at one gratification that would probably
have been forbidden by Sir Thomas, they felt themselves immediately at
their own disposal, and to have every indulgence within their reach.
Fanny's relief, and her consciousness of it, were quite equal to her
cousins'; but a more tender nature suggested that her feelings were
ungrateful, and she really grieved because she could not grieve. "Sir
Thomas, who had done so much for her and her brothers, and who was gone
perhaps never to return! that she should see him go without a tear! it
was a shameful insensibility." He had said to her, moreover, on the
very last morning, that he hoped she might see William again in the
course of the ensuing winter, and had charged her to write and invite
him to Mansfield as soon as the squadron to which he belonged should be
known to be in England. "This was so thoughtful and kind!" and would
he only have smiled upon her, and called her "my dear Fanny," while he
said it, every former frown or cold address might have been forgotten.
But he had ended his speech in a way to sink her in sad mortification,
by adding, "If William does come to Mansfield, I hope you may be able
to convince him that the many years which have passed since you parted
have not been spent on your side entirely without improvement; though,
I fear, he must find his sister at sixteen in some respects too much
like his sister at ten." She cried bitterly over this reflection when
her uncle was gone; and her cousins, on seeing her with red eyes, set
her down as a hypocrite.
Tom Bertram had of late spent so little of his time at home that he
could be only nominally missed; and Lady Bertram was soon astonished to
find how very well they did even without his father, how well Edmund
could supply his place in carving, talking to the steward, writing to
the attorney, settling with the servants, and equally saving her from
all possible fatigue or exertion in every particular but that of
directing her letters.
The earliest intelligence of the travellers' safe arrival at Antigua,
after a favourable voyage, was received; though not before Mrs. Norris
had been indulging in very dreadful fears, and trying to make Edmund
participate them whenever she could get him alone; and as she depended
on being the first person made acquainted with any fatal catastrophe,
she had already arranged the manner of breaking it to all the others,
when Sir Thomas's assurances of their both being alive and well made it
necessary to lay by her agitation and affectionate preparatory speeches
for a while.
The winter came and passed without their being called for; the accounts
continued perfectly good; and Mrs. Norris, in promoting gaieties for
her nieces, assisting their toilets, displaying their accomplishments,
and looking about for their future husbands, had so much to do as, in
addition to all her own household cares, some interference in those of
her sister, and Mrs. Grant's wasteful doings to overlook, left her very
little occasion to be occupied in fears for the absent.
The Miss Bertrams were now fully established among the belles of the
neighbourhood; and as they joined to beauty and brilliant acquirements
a manner naturally easy, and carefully formed to general civility and
obligingness, they possessed its favour as well as its admiration.
Their vanity was in such good order that they seemed to be quite free
from it, and gave themselves no airs; while the praises attending such
behaviour, secured and brought round by their aunt, served to
strengthen them in believing they had no faults.
Lady Bertram did not go into public with her daughters. She was too
indolent even to accept a mother's gratification in witnessing their
success and enjoyment at the expense of any personal trouble, and the
charge was made over to her sister, who desired nothing better than a
post of such honourable representation, and very thoroughly relished
the means it afforded her of mixing in society without having horses to
Fanny had no share in the festivities of the season; but she enjoyed
being avowedly useful as her aunt's companion when they called away the
rest of the family; and, as Miss Lee had left Mansfield, she naturally
became everything to Lady Bertram during the night of a ball or a
party. She talked to her, listened to her, read to her; and the
tranquillity of such evenings, her perfect security in such a
"tete-a-tete" from any sound of unkindness, was unspeakably welcome to
a mind which had seldom known a pause in its alarms or embarrassments.
As to her cousins' gaieties, she loved to hear an account of them,
especially of the balls, and whom Edmund had danced with; but thought
too lowly of her own situation to imagine she should ever be admitted
to the same, and listened, therefore, without an idea of any nearer
concern in them. Upon the whole, it was a comfortable winter to her;
for though it brought no William to England, the never-failing hope of
his arrival was worth much.
The ensuing spring deprived her of her valued friend, the old grey
pony; and for some time she was in danger of feeling the loss in her
health as well as in her affections; for in spite of the acknowledged
importance of her riding on horse-back, no measures were taken for
mounting her again, "because," as it was observed by her aunts, "she
might ride one of her cousin's horses at any time when they did not
want them," and as the Miss Bertrams regularly wanted their horses
every fine day, and had no idea of carrying their obliging manners to
the sacrifice of any real pleasure, that time, of course, never came.
They took their cheerful rides in the fine mornings of April and May;
and Fanny either sat at home the whole day with one aunt, or walked
beyond her strength at the instigation of the other: Lady Bertram
holding exercise to be as unnecessary for everybody as it was
unpleasant to herself; and Mrs. Norris, who was walking all day,
thinking everybody ought to walk as much. Edmund was absent at this
time, or the evil would have been earlier remedied. When he returned,
to understand how Fanny was situated, and perceived its ill effects,
there seemed with him but one thing to be done; and that "Fanny must
have a horse" was the resolute declaration with which he opposed
whatever could be urged by the supineness of his mother, or the economy
of his aunt, to make it appear unimportant. Mrs. Norris could not help
thinking that some steady old thing might be found among the numbers
belonging to the Park that would do vastly well; or that one might be
borrowed of the steward; or that perhaps Dr. Grant might now and then
lend them the pony he sent to the post. She could not but consider it
as absolutely unnecessary, and even improper, that Fanny should have a
regular lady's horse of her own, in the style of her cousins. She was
sure Sir Thomas had never intended it: and she must say that, to be
making such a purchase in his absence, and adding to the great expenses
of his stable, at a time when a large part of his income was unsettled,
seemed to her very unjustifiable. "Fanny must have a horse," was
Edmund's only reply. Mrs. Norris could not see it in the same light.
Lady Bertram did: she entirely agreed with her son as to the necessity
of it, and as to its being considered necessary by his father; she only
pleaded against there being any hurry; she only wanted him to wait till
Sir Thomas's return, and then Sir Thomas might settle it all himself.
He would be at home in September, and where would be the harm of only
waiting till September?
Though Edmund was much more displeased with his aunt than with his
mother, as evincing least regard for her niece, he could not help
paying more attention to what she said; and at length determined on a
method of proceeding which would obviate the risk of his father's
thinking he had done too much, and at the same time procure for Fanny
the immediate means of exercise, which he could not bear she should be
without. He had three horses of his own, but not one that would carry
a woman. Two of them were hunters; the third, a useful road-horse:
this third he resolved to exchange for one that his cousin might ride;
he knew where such a one was to be met with; and having once made up
his mind, the whole business was soon completed. The new mare proved a
treasure; with a very little trouble she became exactly calculated for
the purpose, and Fanny was then put in almost full possession of her.
She had not supposed before that anything could ever suit her like the
old grey pony; but her delight in Edmund's mare was far beyond any
former pleasure of the sort; and the addition it was ever receiving in
the consideration of that kindness from which her pleasure sprung, was
beyond all her words to express. She regarded her cousin as an example
of everything good and great, as possessing worth which no one but
herself could ever appreciate, and as entitled to such gratitude from
her as no feelings could be strong enough to pay. Her sentiments
towards him were compounded of all that was respectful, grateful,
confiding, and tender.
As the horse continued in name, as well as fact, the property of
Edmund, Mrs. Norris could tolerate its being for Fanny's use; and had
Lady Bertram ever thought about her own objection again, he might have
been excused in her eyes for not waiting till Sir Thomas's return in
September, for when September came Sir Thomas was still abroad, and
without any near prospect of finishing his business. Unfavourable
circumstances had suddenly arisen at a moment when he was beginning to
turn all his thoughts towards England; and the very great uncertainty
in which everything was then involved determined him on sending home
his son, and waiting the final arrangement by himself. Tom arrived
safely, bringing an excellent account of his father's health; but to
very little purpose, as far as Mrs. Norris was concerned. Sir Thomas's
sending away his son seemed to her so like a parent's care, under the
influence of a foreboding of evil to himself, that she could not help
feeling dreadful presentiments; and as the long evenings of autumn came
on, was so terribly haunted by these ideas, in the sad solitariness of
her cottage, as to be obliged to take daily refuge in the dining-room
of the Park. The return of winter engagements, however, was not
without its effect; and in the course of their progress, her mind
became so pleasantly occupied in superintending the fortunes of her
eldest niece, as tolerably to quiet her nerves. "If poor Sir Thomas
were fated never to return, it would be peculiarly consoling to see
their dear Maria well married," she very often thought; always when
they were in the company of men of fortune, and particularly on the
introduction of a young man who had recently succeeded to one of the
largest estates and finest places in the country.
Mr. Rushworth was from the first struck with the beauty of Miss
Bertram, and, being inclined to marry, soon fancied himself in love.
He was a heavy young man, with not more than common sense; but as there
was nothing disagreeable in his figure or address, the young lady was
well pleased with her conquest. Being now in her twenty-first year,
Maria Bertram was beginning to think matrimony a duty; and as a
marriage with Mr. Rushworth would give her the enjoyment of a larger
income than her father's, as well as ensure her the house in town,
which was now a prime object, it became, by the same rule of moral
obligation, her evident duty to marry Mr. Rushworth if she could. Mrs.
Norris was most zealous in promoting the match, by every suggestion and
contrivance likely to enhance its desirableness to either party; and,
among other means, by seeking an intimacy with the gentleman's mother,
who at present lived with him, and to whom she even forced Lady Bertram
to go through ten miles of indifferent road to pay a morning visit. It
was not long before a good understanding took place between this lady
and herself. Mrs. Rushworth acknowledged herself very desirous that
her son should marry, and declared that of all the young ladies she had
ever seen, Miss Bertram seemed, by her amiable qualities and
accomplishments, the best adapted to make him happy. Mrs. Norris
accepted the compliment, and admired the nice discernment of character
which could so well distinguish merit. Maria was indeed the pride and
delight of them all--perfectly faultless--an angel; and, of course, so
surrounded by admirers, must be difficult in her choice: but yet, as
far as Mrs. Norris could allow herself to decide on so short an
acquaintance, Mr. Rushworth appeared precisely the young man to deserve
and attach her.
After dancing with each other at a proper number of balls, the young
people justified these opinions, and an engagement, with a due
reference to the absent Sir Thomas, was entered into, much to the
satisfaction of their respective families, and of the general
lookers-on of the neighbourhood, who had, for many weeks past, felt the
expediency of Mr. Rushworth's marrying Miss Bertram.
It was some months before Sir Thomas's consent could be received; but,
in the meanwhile, as no one felt a doubt of his most cordial pleasure
in the connexion, the intercourse of the two families was carried on
without restraint, and no other attempt made at secrecy than Mrs.
Norris's talking of it everywhere as a matter not to be talked of at
Edmund was the only one of the family who could see a fault in the
business; but no representation of his aunt's could induce him to find
Mr. Rushworth a desirable companion. He could allow his sister to be
the best judge of her own happiness, but he was not pleased that her
happiness should centre in a large income; nor could he refrain from
often saying to himself, in Mr. Rushworth's company--"If this man had
not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow."
Sir Thomas, however, was truly happy in the prospect of an alliance so
unquestionably advantageous, and of which he heard nothing but the
perfectly good and agreeable. It was a connexion exactly of the right
sort--in the same county, and the same interest--and his most hearty
concurrence was conveyed as soon as possible. He only conditioned that
the marriage should not take place before his return, which he was
again looking eagerly forward to. He wrote in April, and had strong
hopes of settling everything to his entire satisfaction, and leaving
Antigua before the end of the summer.
Such was the state of affairs in the month of July; and Fanny had just
reached her eighteenth year, when the society of the village received
an addition in the brother and sister of Mrs. Grant, a Mr. and Miss
Crawford, the children of her mother by a second marriage. They were
young people of fortune. The son had a good estate in Norfolk, the
daughter twenty thousand pounds. As children, their sister had been
always very fond of them; but, as her own marriage had been soon
followed by the death of their common parent, which left them to the
care of a brother of their father, of whom Mrs. Grant knew nothing, she
had scarcely seen them since. In their uncle's house they had found a
kind home. Admiral and Mrs. Crawford, though agreeing in nothing else,
were united in affection for these children, or, at least, were no
farther adverse in their feelings than that each had their favourite,
to whom they showed the greatest fondness of the two. The Admiral
delighted in the boy, Mrs. Crawford doted on the girl; and it was the
lady's death which now obliged her "protegee", after some months'
further trial at her uncle's house, to find another home. Admiral
Crawford was a man of vicious conduct, who chose, instead of retaining
his niece, to bring his mistress under his own roof; and to this Mrs.
Grant was indebted for her sister's proposal of coming to her, a
measure quite as welcome on one side as it could be expedient on the
other; for Mrs. Grant, having by this time run through the usual
resources of ladies residing in the country without a family of
children--having more than filled her favourite sitting-room with
pretty furniture, and made a choice collection of plants and
poultry--was very much in want of some variety at home. The arrival,
therefore, of a sister whom she had always loved, and now hoped to
retain with her as long as she remained single, was highly agreeable;
and her chief anxiety was lest Mansfield should not satisfy the habits
of a young woman who had been mostly used to London.
Miss Crawford was not entirely free from similar apprehensions, though
they arose principally from doubts of her sister's style of living and
tone of society; and it was not till after she had tried in vain to
persuade her brother to settle with her at his own country house, that
she could resolve to hazard herself among her other relations. To
anything like a permanence of abode, or limitation of society, Henry
Crawford had, unluckily, a great dislike: he could not accommodate his
sister in an article of such importance; but he escorted her, with the
utmost kindness, into Northamptonshire, and as readily engaged to fetch
her away again, at half an hour's notice, whenever she were weary of
The meeting was very satisfactory on each side. Miss Crawford found a
sister without preciseness or rusticity, a sister's husband who looked
the gentleman, and a house commodious and well fitted up; and Mrs.
Grant received in those whom she hoped to love better than ever a young
man and woman of very prepossessing appearance. Mary Crawford was
remarkably pretty; Henry, though not handsome, had air and countenance;
the manners of both were lively and pleasant, and Mrs. Grant
immediately gave them credit for everything else. She was delighted
with each, but Mary was her dearest object; and having never been able
to glory in beauty of her own, she thoroughly enjoyed the power of
being proud of her sister's. She had not waited her arrival to look out
for a suitable match for her: she had fixed on Tom Bertram; the eldest
son of a baronet was not too good for a girl of twenty thousand pounds,
with all the elegance and accomplishments which Mrs. Grant foresaw in
her; and being a warm-hearted, unreserved woman, Mary had not been
three hours in the house before she told her what she had planned.
Miss Crawford was glad to find a family of such consequence so very
near them, and not at all displeased either at her sister's early care,
or the choice it had fallen on. Matrimony was her object, provided she
could marry well: and having seen Mr. Bertram in town, she knew that
objection could no more be made to his person than to his situation in
life. While she treated it as a joke, therefore, she did not forget to
think of it seriously. The scheme was soon repeated to Henry.
"And now," added Mrs. Grant, "I have thought of something to make it
complete. I should dearly love to settle you both in this country; and
therefore, Henry, you shall marry the youngest Miss Bertram, a nice,
handsome, good-humoured, accomplished girl, who will make you very
Henry bowed and thanked her.
"My dear sister," said Mary, "if you can persuade him into anything of
the sort, it will be a fresh matter of delight to me to find myself
allied to anybody so clever, and I shall only regret that you have not
half a dozen daughters to dispose of. If you can persuade Henry to
marry, you must have the address of a Frenchwoman. All that English
abilities can do has been tried already. I have three very particular
friends who have been all dying for him in their turn; and the pains
which they, their mothers (very clever women), as well as my dear aunt
and myself, have taken to reason, coax, or trick him into marrying, is
inconceivable! He is the most horrible flirt that can be imagined. If
your Miss Bertrams do not like to have their hearts broke, let them
"My dear brother, I will not believe this of you."
"No, I am sure you are too good. You will be kinder than Mary. You
will allow for the doubts of youth and inexperience. I am of a
cautious temper, and unwilling to risk my happiness in a hurry. Nobody
can think more highly of the matrimonial state than myself. I consider
the blessing of a wife as most justly described in those discreet lines
of the poet--'Heaven's "last" best gift.'"
"There, Mrs. Grant, you see how he dwells on one word, and only look at
his smile. I assure you he is very detestable; the Admiral's lessons
have quite spoiled him."
"I pay very little regard," said Mrs. Grant, "to what any young person
says on the subject of marriage. If they profess a disinclination for
it, I only set it down that they have not yet seen the right person."
Dr. Grant laughingly congratulated Miss Crawford on feeling no
disinclination to the state herself.
"Oh yes! I am not at all ashamed of it. I would have everybody marry
if they can do it properly: I do not like to have people throw
themselves away; but everybody should marry as soon as they can do it
The young people were pleased with each other from the first. On each
side there was much to attract, and their acquaintance soon promised as
early an intimacy as good manners would warrant. Miss Crawford's
beauty did her no disservice with the Miss Bertrams. They were too
handsome themselves to dislike any woman for being so too, and were
almost as much charmed as their brothers with her lively dark eye,
clear brown complexion, and general prettiness. Had she been tall,
full formed, and fair, it might have been more of a trial: but as it
was, there could be no comparison; and she was most allowably a sweet,
pretty girl, while they were the finest young women in the country.
Her brother was not handsome: no, when they first saw him he was
absolutely plain, black and plain; but still he was the gentleman, with
a pleasing address. The second meeting proved him not so very plain:
he was plain, to be sure, but then he had so much countenance, and his
teeth were so good, and he was so well made, that one soon forgot he
was plain; and after a third interview, after dining in company with
him at the Parsonage, he was no longer allowed to be called so by
anybody. He was, in fact, the most agreeable young man the sisters had
ever known, and they were equally delighted with him. Miss Bertram's
engagement made him in equity the property of Julia, of which Julia was
fully aware; and before he had been at Mansfield a week, she was quite
ready to be fallen in love with.
Maria's notions on the subject were more confused and indistinct. She
did not want to see or understand. "There could be no harm in her
liking an agreeable man--everybody knew her situation--Mr. Crawford
must take care of himself." Mr. Crawford did not mean to be in any
danger! the Miss Bertrams were worth pleasing, and were ready to be
pleased; and he began with no object but of making them like him. He
did not want them to die of love; but with sense and temper which ought
to have made him judge and feel better, he allowed himself great
latitude on such points.
"I like your Miss Bertrams exceedingly, sister," said he, as he
returned from attending them to their carriage after the said dinner
visit; "they are very elegant, agreeable girls."
"So they are indeed, and I am delighted to hear you say it. But you
like Julia best."
"Oh yes! I like Julia best."
"But do you really? for Miss Bertram is in general thought the
"So I should suppose. She has the advantage in every feature, and I
prefer her countenance; but I like Julia best; Miss Bertram is
certainly the handsomest, and I have found her the most agreeable, but
I shall always like Julia best, because you order me."
"I shall not talk to you, Henry, but I know you "will" like her best at
"Do not I tell you that I like her best "at" "first"?"
"And besides, Miss Bertram is engaged. Remember that, my dear brother.
Her choice is made."
"Yes, and I like her the better for it. An engaged woman is always
more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her
cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of
pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged: no harm
can be done."
"Why, as to that, Mr. Rushworth is a very good sort of young man, and
it is a great match for her."
"But Miss Bertram does not care three straws for him; "that" is your
opinion of your intimate friend. "I" do not subscribe to it. I am
sure Miss Bertram is very much attached to Mr. Rushworth. I could see
it in her eyes, when he was mentioned. I think too well of Miss
Bertram to suppose she would ever give her hand without her heart."
"Mary, how shall we manage him?"
"We must leave him to himself, I believe. Talking does no good. He
will be taken in at last."
"But I would not have him "taken" "in"; I would not have him duped; I
would have it all fair and honourable."
"Oh dear! let him stand his chance and be taken in. It will do just as
well. Everybody is taken in at some period or other."
"Not always in marriage, dear Mary."
"In marriage especially. With all due respect to such of the present
company as chance to be married, my dear Mrs. Grant, there is not one
in a hundred of either sex who is not taken in when they marry. Look
where I will, I see that it "is" so; and I feel that it "must" be so,
when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one in which
people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves."
"Ah! You have been in a bad school for matrimony, in Hill Street."
"My poor aunt had certainly little cause to love the state; but,
however, speaking from my own observation, it is a manoeuvring
business. I know so many who have married in the full expectation and
confidence of some one particular advantage in the connexion, or
accomplishment, or good quality in the person, who have found
themselves entirely deceived, and been obliged to put up with exactly
the reverse. What is this but a take in?"
"My dear child, there must be a little imagination here. I beg your
pardon, but I cannot quite believe you. Depend upon it, you see but
half. You see the evil, but you do not see the consolation. There
will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt
to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human
nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a
second better: we find comfort somewhere--and those evil-minded
observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in
and deceived than the parties themselves."
"Well done, sister! I honour your "esprit" "du" "corps". When I am a
wife, I mean to be just as staunch myself; and I wish my friends in
general would be so too. It would save me many a heartache."
"You are as bad as your brother, Mary; but we will cure you both.
Mansfield shall cure you both, and without any taking in. Stay with
us, and we will cure you."
The Crawfords, without wanting to be cured, were very willing to stay.
Mary was satisfied with the Parsonage as a present home, and Henry
equally ready to lengthen his visit. He had come, intending to spend
only a few days with them; but Mansfield promised well, and there was
nothing to call him elsewhere. It delighted Mrs. Grant to keep them
both with her, and Dr. Grant was exceedingly well contented to have it
so: a talking pretty young woman like Miss Crawford is always pleasant
society to an indolent, stay-at-home man; and Mr. Crawford's being his
guest was an excuse for drinking claret every day.
The Miss Bertrams' admiration of Mr. Crawford was more rapturous than
anything which Miss Crawford's habits made her likely to feel. She
acknowledged, however, that the Mr. Bertrams were very fine young men,
that two such young men were not often seen together even in London,
and that their manners, particularly those of the eldest, were very
good. "He" had been much in London, and had more liveliness and
gallantry than Edmund, and must, therefore, be preferred; and, indeed,
his being the eldest was another strong claim. She had felt an early
presentiment that she "should" like the eldest best. She knew it was
Tom Bertram must have been thought pleasant, indeed, at any rate; he
was the sort of young man to be generally liked, his agreeableness was
of the kind to be oftener found agreeable than some endowments of a
higher stamp, for he had easy manners, excellent spirits, a large
acquaintance, and a great deal to say; and the reversion of Mansfield
Park, and a baronetcy, did no harm to all this. Miss Crawford soon
felt that he and his situation might do. She looked about her with due
consideration, and found almost everything in his favour: a park, a
real park, five miles round, a spacious modern-built house, so well
placed and well screened as to deserve to be in any collection of
engravings of gentlemen's seats in the kingdom, and wanting only to be
completely new furnished--pleasant sisters, a quiet mother, and an
agreeable man himself--with the advantage of being tied up from much
gaming at present by a promise to his father, and of being Sir Thomas
hereafter. It might do very well; she believed she should accept him;
and she began accordingly to interest herself a little about the horse
which he had to run at the B---- races.
These races were to call him away not long after their acquaintance
began; and as it appeared that the family did not, from his usual
goings on, expect him back again for many weeks, it would bring his
passion to an early proof. Much was said on his side to induce her to
attend the races, and schemes were made for a large party to them, with
all the eagerness of inclination, but it would only do to be talked of.
And Fanny, what was "she" doing and thinking all this while? and what
was "her" opinion of the newcomers? Few young ladies of eighteen could
be less called on to speak their opinion than Fanny. In a quiet way,
very little attended to, she paid her tribute of admiration to Miss
Crawford's beauty; but as she still continued to think Mr. Crawford
very plain, in spite of her two cousins having repeatedly proved the
contrary, she never mentioned "him". The notice, which she excited
herself, was to this effect. "I begin now to understand you all,
except Miss Price," said Miss Crawford, as she was walking with the Mr.
Bertrams. "Pray, is she out, or is she not? I am puzzled. She dined
at the Parsonage, with the rest of you, which seemed like being "out";
and yet she says so little, that I can hardly suppose she "is"."
Edmund, to whom this was chiefly addressed, replied, "I believe I know
what you mean, but I will not undertake to answer the question. My
cousin is grown up. She has the age and sense of a woman, but the outs
and not outs are beyond me."
"And yet, in general, nothing can be more easily ascertained. The
distinction is so broad. Manners as well as appearance are, generally
speaking, so totally different. Till now, I could not have supposed it
possible to be mistaken as to a girl's being out or not. A girl not
out has always the same sort of dress: a close bonnet, for instance;
looks very demure, and never says a word. You may smile, but it is so,
I assure you; and except that it is sometimes carried a little too far,
it is all very proper. Girls should be quiet and modest. The most
objectionable part is, that the alteration of manners on being
introduced into company is frequently too sudden. They sometimes pass
in such very little time from reserve to quite the opposite--to
confidence! "That" is the faulty part of the present system. One does
not like to see a girl of eighteen or nineteen so immediately up to
every thing--and perhaps when one has seen her hardly able to speak the
year before. Mr. Bertram, I dare say "you" have sometimes met with
"I believe I have, but this is hardly fair; I see what you are at. You
are quizzing me and Miss Anderson."
"No, indeed. Miss Anderson! I do not know who or what you mean. I am
quite in the dark. But I "will" quiz you with a great deal of
pleasure, if you will tell me what about."
"Ah! you carry it off very well, but I cannot be quite so far imposed
on. You must have had Miss Anderson in your eye, in describing an
altered young lady. You paint too accurately for mistake. It was
exactly so. The Andersons of Baker Street. We were speaking of them
the other day, you know. Edmund, you have heard me mention Charles
Anderson. The circumstance was precisely as this lady has represented
it. When Anderson first introduced me to his family, about two years
ago, his sister was not "out", and I could not get her to speak to me.
I sat there an hour one morning waiting for Anderson, with only her and
a little girl or two in the room, the governess being sick or run away,
and the mother in and out every moment with letters of business, and I
could hardly get a word or a look from the young lady--nothing like a
civil answer--she screwed up her mouth, and turned from me with such an
air! I did not see her again for a twelvemonth. She was then "out".
I met her at Mrs. Holford's, and did not recollect her. She came up to
me, claimed me as an acquaintance, stared me out of countenance; and
talked and laughed till I did not know which way to look. I felt that
I must be the jest of the room at the time, and Miss Crawford, it is
plain, has heard the story."
"And a very pretty story it is, and with more truth in it, I dare say,
than does credit to Miss Anderson. It is too common a fault. Mothers
certainly have not yet got quite the right way of managing their
daughters. I do not know where the error lies. I do not pretend to
set people right, but I do see that they are often wrong."
"Those who are showing the world what female manners "should" be," said
Mr. Bertram gallantly, "are doing a great deal to set them right."
"The error is plain enough," said the less courteous Edmund; "such
girls are ill brought up. They are given wrong notions from the
beginning. They are always acting upon motives of vanity, and there is
no more real modesty in their behaviour "before" they appear in public
"I do not know," replied Miss Crawford hesitatingly. "Yes, I cannot
agree with you there. It is certainly the modestest part of the
business. It is much worse to have girls not out give themselves the
same airs and take the same liberties as if they were, which I have
seen done. That is worse than anything--quite disgusting!"
"Yes, "that" is very inconvenient indeed," said Mr. Bertram. "It leads
one astray; one does not know what to do. The close bonnet and demure
air you describe so well (and nothing was ever juster), tell one what
is expected; but I got into a dreadful scrape last year from the want
of them. I went down to Ramsgate for a week with a friend last
September, just after my return from the West Indies. My friend
Sneyd--you have heard me speak of Sneyd, Edmund--his father, and
mother, and sisters, were there, all new to me. When we reached Albion
Place they were out; we went after them, and found them on the pier:
Mrs. and the two Miss Sneyds, with others of their acquaintance. I
made my bow in form; and as Mrs. Sneyd was surrounded by men, attached
myself to one of her daughters, walked by her side all the way home,
and made myself as agreeable as I could; the young lady perfectly easy
in her manners, and as ready to talk as to listen. I had not a
suspicion that I could be doing anything wrong. They looked just the
same: both well-dressed, with veils and parasols like other girls; but
I afterwards found that I had been giving all my attention to the
youngest, who was not "out", and had most excessively offended the
eldest. Miss Augusta ought not to have been noticed for the next six
months; and Miss Sneyd, I believe, has never forgiven me."
"That was bad indeed. Poor Miss Sneyd. Though I have no younger
sister, I feel for her. To be neglected before one's time must be very
vexatious; but it was entirely the mother's fault. Miss Augusta should
have been with her governess. Such half-and-half doings never prosper.
But now I must be satisfied about Miss Price. Does she go to balls?
Does she dine out every where, as well as at my sister's?"
"No," replied Edmund; "I do not think she has ever been to a ball. My
mother seldom goes into company herself, and dines nowhere but with
Mrs. Grant, and Fanny stays at home with "her"."
"Oh! then the point is clear. Miss Price is not out."
Mr. Bertram set off for--------, and Miss Crawford was prepared to find
a great chasm in their society, and to miss him decidedly in the
meetings which were now becoming almost daily between the families; and
on their all dining together at the Park soon after his going, she
retook her chosen place near the bottom of the table, fully expecting
to feel a most melancholy difference in the change of masters. It
would be a very flat business, she was sure. In comparison with his
brother, Edmund would have nothing to say. The soup would be sent
round in a most spiritless manner, wine drank without any smiles or
agreeable trifling, and the venison cut up without supplying one
pleasant anecdote of any former haunch, or a single entertaining story,
about "my friend such a one." She must try to find amusement in what
was passing at the upper end of the table, and in observing Mr.
Rushworth, who was now making his appearance at Mansfield for the first
time since the Crawfords' arrival. He had been visiting a friend in
the neighbouring county, and that friend having recently had his
grounds laid out by an improver, Mr. Rushworth was returned with his
head full of the subject, and very eager to be improving his own place
in the same way; and though not saying much to the purpose, could talk
of nothing else. The subject had been already handled in the
drawing-room; it was revived in the dining-parlour. Miss Bertram's
attention and opinion was evidently his chief aim; and though her
deportment showed rather conscious superiority than any solicitude to
oblige him, the mention of Sotherton Court, and the ideas attached to
it, gave her a feeling of complacency, which prevented her from being
"I wish you could see Compton," said he; "it is the most complete
thing! I never saw a place so altered in my life. I told Smith I did
not know where I was. The approach "now", is one of the finest things
in the country: you see the house in the most surprising manner. I
declare, when I got back to Sotherton yesterday, it looked like a
prison--quite a dismal old prison."
"Oh, for shame!" cried Mrs. Norris. "A prison indeed? Sotherton Court
is the noblest old place in the world."
"It wants improvement, ma'am, beyond anything. I never saw a place
that wanted so much improvement in my life; and it is so forlorn that I
do not know what can be done with it."
"No wonder that Mr. Rushworth should think so at present," said Mrs.
Grant to Mrs. Norris, with a smile; "but depend upon it, Sotherton will
have "every" improvement in time which his heart can desire."
"I must try to do something with it," said Mr. Rushworth, "but I do not
know what. I hope I shall have some good friend to help me."
"Your best friend upon such an occasion," said Miss Bertram calmly,
"would be Mr. Repton, I imagine."
"That is what I was thinking of. As he has done so well by Smith, I
think I had better have him at once. His terms are five guineas a day."
"Well, and if they were "ten"," cried Mrs. Norris, "I am sure "you"
need not regard it. The expense need not be any impediment. If I were
you, I should not think of the expense. I would have everything done
in the best style, and made as nice as possible. Such a place as
Sotherton Court deserves everything that taste and money can do. You
have space to work upon there, and grounds that will well reward you.
For my own part, if I had anything within the fiftieth part of the size
of Sotherton, I should be always planting and improving, for naturally
I am excessively fond of it. It would be too ridiculous for me to
attempt anything where I am now, with my little half acre. It would be
quite a burlesque. But if I had more room, I should take a prodigious
delight in improving and planting. We did a vast deal in that way at
the Parsonage: we made it quite a different place from what it was
when we first had it. You young ones do not remember much about it,
perhaps; but if dear Sir Thomas were here, he could tell you what
improvements we made: and a great deal more would have been done, but
for poor Mr. Norris's sad state of health. He could hardly ever get
out, poor man, to enjoy anything, and "that" disheartened me from doing
several things that Sir Thomas and I used to talk of. If it had not
been for "that", we should have carried on the garden wall, and made
the plantation to shut out the churchyard, just as Dr. Grant has done.
We were always doing something as it was. It was only the spring
twelvemonth before Mr. Norris's death that we put in the apricot
against the stable wall, which is now grown such a noble tree, and
getting to such perfection, sir," addressing herself then to Dr. Grant.
"The tree thrives well, beyond a doubt, madam," replied Dr. Grant.
"The soil is good; and I never pass it without regretting that the
fruit should be so little worth the trouble of gathering."
"Sir, it is a Moor Park, we bought it as a Moor Park, and it cost
us--that is, it was a present from Sir Thomas, but I saw the bill--and
I know it cost seven shillings, and was charged as a Moor Park."
"You were imposed on, ma'am," replied Dr. Grant: "these potatoes have
as much the flavour of a Moor Park apricot as the fruit from that tree.
It is an insipid fruit at the best; but a good apricot is eatable,
which none from my garden are."
"The truth is, ma'am," said Mrs. Grant, pretending to whisper across
the table to Mrs. Norris, "that Dr. Grant hardly knows what the natural
taste of our apricot is: he is scarcely ever indulged with one, for it
is so valuable a fruit; with a little assistance, and ours is such a
remarkably large, fair sort, that what with early tarts and preserves,
my cook contrives to get them all."
Mrs. Norris, who had begun to redden, was appeased; and, for a little
while, other subjects took place of the improvements of Sotherton. Dr.
Grant and Mrs. Norris were seldom good friends; their acquaintance had
begun in dilapidations, and their habits were totally dissimilar.
After a short interruption Mr. Rushworth began again. "Smith's place
is the admiration of all the country; and it was a mere nothing before
Repton took it in hand. I think I shall have Repton."
"Mr. Rushworth," said Lady Bertram, "if I were you, I would have a very
pretty shrubbery. One likes to get out into a shrubbery in fine
Mr. Rushworth was eager to assure her ladyship of his acquiescence, and
tried to make out something complimentary; but, between his submission
to "her" taste, and his having always intended the same himself, with
the superadded objects of professing attention to the comfort of ladies
in general, and of insinuating that there was one only whom he was
anxious to please, he grew puzzled, and Edmund was glad to put an end
to his speech by a proposal of wine. Mr. Rushworth, however, though
not usually a great talker, had still more to say on the subject next
his heart. "Smith has not much above a hundred acres altogether in his
grounds, which is little enough, and makes it more surprising that the
place can have been so improved. Now, at Sotherton we have a good
seven hundred, without reckoning the water meadows; so that I think, if
so much could be done at Compton, we need not despair. There have been
two or three fine old trees cut down, that grew too near the house, and
it opens the prospect amazingly, which makes me think that Repton, or
anybody of that sort, would certainly have the avenue at Sotherton
down: the avenue that leads from the west front to the top of the
hill, you know," turning to Miss Bertram particularly as he spoke. But
Miss Bertram thought it most becoming to reply--
"The avenue! Oh! I do not recollect it. I really know very little of
Fanny, who was sitting on the other side of Edmund, exactly opposite
Miss Crawford, and who had been attentively listening, now looked at
him, and said in a low voice--
"Cut down an avenue! What a pity! Does it not make you think of
Cowper? 'Ye fallen avenues, once more I mourn your fate unmerited.'"
He smiled as he answered, "I am afraid the avenue stands a bad chance,
"I should like to see Sotherton before it is cut down, to see the place
as it is now, in its old state; but I do not suppose I shall."
"Have you never been there? No, you never can; and, unluckily, it is
out of distance for a ride. I wish we could contrive it."
"Oh! it does not signify. Whenever I do see it, you will tell me how
it has been altered."
"I collect," said Miss Crawford, "that Sotherton is an old place, and a
place of some grandeur. In any particular style of building?"
"The house was built in Elizabeth's time, and is a large, regular,
brick building; heavy, but respectable looking, and has many good
rooms. It is ill placed. It stands in one of the lowest spots of the
park; in that respect, unfavourable for improvement. But the woods are
fine, and there is a stream, which, I dare say, might be made a good
deal of. Mr. Rushworth is quite right, I think, in meaning to give it
a modern dress, and I have no doubt that it will be all done extremely
Miss Crawford listened with submission, and said to herself, "He is a
well-bred man; he makes the best of it."
"I do not wish to influence Mr. Rushworth," he continued; "but, had I a
place to new fashion, I should not put myself into the hands of an
improver. I would rather have an inferior degree of beauty, of my own
choice, and acquired progressively. I would rather abide by my own
blunders than by his."
""You" would know what you were about, of course; but that would not
suit "me". I have no eye or ingenuity for such matters, but as they
are before me; and had I a place of my own in the country, I should be
most thankful to any Mr. Repton who would undertake it, and give me as
much beauty as he could for my money; and I should never look at it
till it was complete."
"It would be delightful to "me" to see the progress of it all," said
"Ay, you have been brought up to it. It was no part of my education;
and the only dose I ever had, being administered by not the first
favourite in the world, has made me consider improvements "in" "hand"
as the greatest of nuisances. Three years ago the Admiral, my honoured
uncle, bought a cottage at Twickenham for us all to spend our summers
in; and my aunt and I went down to it quite in raptures; but it being
excessively pretty, it was soon found necessary to be improved, and for
three months we were all dirt and confusion, without a gravel walk to
step on, or a bench fit for use. I would have everything as complete
as possible in the country, shrubberies and flower-gardens, and rustic
seats innumerable: but it must all be done without my care. Henry is
different; he loves to be doing."
Edmund was sorry to hear Miss Crawford, whom he was much disposed to
admire, speak so freely of her uncle. It did not suit his sense of
propriety, and he was silenced, till induced by further smiles and
liveliness to put the matter by for the present.
"Mr. Bertram," said she, "I have tidings of my harp at last. I am
assured that it is safe at Northampton; and there it has probably been
these ten days, in spite of the solemn assurances we have so often
received to the contrary." Edmund expressed his pleasure and surprise.
"The truth is, that our inquiries were too direct; we sent a servant,
we went ourselves: this will not do seventy miles from London; but
this morning we heard of it in the right way. It was seen by some
farmer, and he told the miller, and the miller told the butcher, and
the butcher's son-in-law left word at the shop."
"I am very glad that you have heard of it, by whatever means, and hope
there will be no further delay."
"I am to have it to-morrow; but how do you think it is to be conveyed?
Not by a wagon or cart: oh no! nothing of that kind could be hired in
the village. I might as well have asked for porters and a handbarrow."
"You would find it difficult, I dare say, just now, in the middle of a
very late hay harvest, to hire a horse and cart?"
"I was astonished to find what a piece of work was made of it! To want
a horse and cart in the country seemed impossible, so I told my maid to
speak for one directly; and as I cannot look out of my dressing-closet
without seeing one farmyard, nor walk in the shrubbery without passing
another, I thought it would be only ask and have, and was rather
grieved that I could not give the advantage to all. Guess my surprise,
when I found that I had been asking the most unreasonable, most
impossible thing in the world; had offended all the farmers, all the
labourers, all the hay in the parish! As for Dr. Grant's bailiff, I
believe I had better keep out of "his" way; and my brother-in-law
himself, who is all kindness in general, looked rather black upon me
when he found what I had been at."
"You could not be expected to have thought on the subject before; but
when you "do" think of it, you must see the importance of getting in
the grass. The hire of a cart at any time might not be so easy as you
suppose: our farmers are not in the habit of letting them out; but, in
harvest, it must be quite out of their power to spare a horse."
"I shall understand all your ways in time; but, coming down with the
true London maxim, that everything is to be got with money, I was a
little embarrassed at first by the sturdy independence of your country
customs. However, I am to have my harp fetched to-morrow. Henry, who
is good-nature itself, has offered to fetch it in his barouche. Will
it not be honourably conveyed?"
Edmund spoke of the harp as his favourite instrument, and hoped to be
soon allowed to hear her. Fanny had never heard the harp at all, and
wished for it very much.
"I shall be most happy to play to you both," said Miss Crawford; "at
least as long as you can like to listen: probably much longer, for I
dearly love music myself, and where the natural taste is equal the
player must always be best off, for she is gratified in more ways than
one. Now, Mr. Bertram, if you write to your brother, I entreat you to
tell him that my harp is come: he heard so much of my misery about it.
And you may say, if you please, that I shall prepare my most plaintive
airs against his return, in compassion to his feelings, as I know his
horse will lose."
"If I write, I will say whatever you wish me; but I do not, at present,
foresee any occasion for writing."
"No, I dare say, nor if he were to be gone a twelvemonth, would you
ever write to him, nor he to you, if it could be helped. The occasion
would never be foreseen. What strange creatures brothers are! You
would not write to each other but upon the most urgent necessity in the
world; and when obliged to take up the pen to say that such a horse is
ill, or such a relation dead, it is done in the fewest possible words.
You have but one style among you. I know it perfectly. Henry, who is
in every other respect exactly what a brother should be, who loves me,
consults me, confides in me, and will talk to me by the hour together,
has never yet turned the page in a letter; and very often it is nothing
more than--'Dear Mary, I am just arrived. Bath seems full, and
everything as usual. Yours sincerely.' That is the true manly style;
that is a complete brother's letter."
"When they are at a distance from all their family," said Fanny,
colouring for William's sake, "they can write long letters."
"Miss Price has a brother at sea," said Edmund, "whose excellence as a
correspondent makes her think you too severe upon us."
"At sea, has she? In the king's service, of course?"
Fanny would rather have had Edmund tell the story, but his determined
silence obliged her to relate her brother's situation: her voice was
animated in speaking of his profession, and the foreign stations he had
been on; but she could not mention the number of years that he had been
absent without tears in her eyes. Miss Crawford civilly wished him an
"Do you know anything of my cousin's captain?" said Edmund; "Captain
Marshall? You have a large acquaintance in the navy, I conclude?"
"Among admirals, large enough; but," with an air of grandeur, "we know
very little of the inferior ranks. Post-captains may be very good sort
of men, but they do not belong to "us". Of various admirals I could
tell you a great deal: of them and their flags, and the gradation of
their pay, and their bickerings and jealousies. But, in general, I can
assure you that they are all passed over, and all very ill used.
Certainly, my home at my uncle's brought me acquainted with a circle of
admirals. Of "Rears" and "Vices" I saw enough. Now do not be
suspecting me of a pun, I entreat."
Edmund again felt grave, and only replied, "It is a noble profession."
"Yes, the profession is well enough under two circumstances: if it make
the fortune, and there be discretion in spending it; but, in short, it
is not a favourite profession of mine. It has never worn an amiable
form to "me"."
Edmund reverted to the harp, and was again very happy in the prospect
of hearing her play.
The subject of improving grounds, meanwhile, was still under
consideration among the others; and Mrs. Grant could not help
addressing her brother, though it was calling his attention from Miss
"My dear Henry, have "you" nothing to say? You have been an improver
yourself, and from what I hear of Everingham, it may vie with any place
in England. Its natural beauties, I am sure, are great. Everingham,
as it "used" to be, was perfect in my estimation: such a happy fall of
ground, and such timber! What would I not give to see it again?"
"Nothing could be so gratifying to me as to hear your opinion of it,"
was his answer; "but I fear there would be some disappointment: you
would not find it equal to your present ideas. In extent, it is a mere
nothing; you would be surprised at its insignificance; and, as for
improvement, there was very little for me to do--too little: I should
like to have been busy much longer."
"You are fond of the sort of thing?" said Julia.
"Excessively; but what with the natural advantages of the ground, which
pointed out, even to a very young eye, what little remained to be done,
and my own consequent resolutions, I had not been of age three months
before Everingham was all that it is now. My plan was laid at
Westminster, a little altered, perhaps, at Cambridge, and at
one-and-twenty executed. I am inclined to envy Mr. Rushworth for
having so much happiness yet before him. I have been a devourer of my
"Those who see quickly, will resolve quickly, and act quickly," said
Julia. ""You" can never want employment. Instead of envying Mr.
Rushworth, you should assist him with your opinion."
Mrs. Grant, hearing the latter part of this speech, enforced it warmly,
persuaded that no judgment could be equal to her brother's; and as Miss
Bertram caught at the idea likewise, and gave it her full support,
declaring that, in her opinion, it was infinitely better to consult
with friends and disinterested advisers, than immediately to throw the
business into the hands of a professional man, Mr. Rushworth was very
ready to request the favour of Mr. Crawford's assistance; and Mr.
Crawford, after properly depreciating his own abilities, was quite at
his service in any way that could be useful. Mr. Rushworth then began
to propose Mr. Crawford's doing him the honour of coming over to
Sotherton, and taking a bed there; when Mrs. Norris, as if reading in
her two nieces' minds their little approbation of a plan which was to
take Mr. Crawford away, interposed with an amendment.
"There can be no doubt of Mr. Crawford's willingness; but why should
not more of us go? Why should not we make a little party? Here are
many that would be interested in your improvements, my dear Mr.
Rushworth, and that would like to hear Mr. Crawford's opinion on the
spot, and that might be of some small use to you with "their" opinions;
and, for my own part, I have been long wishing to wait upon your good
mother again; nothing but having no horses of my own could have made me
so remiss; but now I could go and sit a few hours with Mrs. Rushworth,
while the rest of you walked about and settled things, and then we
could all return to a late dinner here, or dine at Sotherton, just as
might be most agreeable to your mother, and have a pleasant drive home
by moonlight. I dare say Mr. Crawford would take my two nieces and me
in his barouche, and Edmund can go on horseback, you know, sister, and
Fanny will stay at home with you."
Lady Bertram made no objection; and every one concerned in the going
was forward in expressing their ready concurrence, excepting Edmund,
who heard it all and said nothing.
"Well, Fanny, and how do you like Miss Crawford "now"?" said Edmund the
next day, after thinking some time on the subject himself. "How did
you like her yesterday?"
"Very well--very much. I like to hear her talk. She entertains me;
and she is so extremely pretty, that I have great pleasure in looking
"It is her countenance that is so attractive. She has a wonderful play
of feature! But was there nothing in her conversation that struck you,
Fanny, as not quite right?"
"Oh yes! she ought not to have spoken of her uncle as she did. I was
quite astonished. An uncle with whom she has been living so many
years, and who, whatever his faults may be, is so very fond of her
brother, treating him, they say, quite like a son. I could not have
"I thought you would be struck. It was very wrong; very indecorous."
"And very ungrateful, I think."
"Ungrateful is a strong word. I do not know that her uncle has any
claim to her "gratitude"; his wife certainly had; and it is the warmth
of her respect for her aunt's memory which misleads her here. She is
awkwardly circumstanced. With such warm feelings and lively spirits it
must be difficult to do justice to her affection for Mrs. Crawford,
without throwing a shade on the Admiral. I do not pretend to know
which was most to blame in their disagreements, though the Admiral's
present conduct might incline one to the side of his wife; but it is
natural and amiable that Miss Crawford should acquit her aunt entirely.
I do not censure her "opinions"; but there certainly "is" impropriety
in making them public."
"Do not you think," said Fanny, after a little consideration, "that
this impropriety is a reflection itself upon Mrs. Crawford, as her
niece has been entirely brought up by her? She cannot have given her
right notions of what was due to the Admiral."
"That is a fair remark. Yes, we must suppose the faults of the niece
to have been those of the aunt; and it makes one more sensible of the
disadvantages she has been under. But I think her present home must do
her good. Mrs. Grant's manners are just what they ought to be. She
speaks of her brother with a very pleasing affection."
"Yes, except as to his writing her such short letters. She made me
almost laugh; but I cannot rate so very highly the love or good-nature
of a brother who will not give himself the trouble of writing anything
worth reading to his sisters, when they are separated. I am sure
William would never have used "me" so, under any circumstances. And
what right had she to suppose that "you" would not write long letters
when you were absent?"
"The right of a lively mind, Fanny, seizing whatever may contribute to
its own amusement or that of others; perfectly allowable, when
untinctured by ill-humour or roughness; and there is not a shadow of
either in the countenance or manner of Miss Crawford: nothing sharp,
or loud, or coarse. She is perfectly feminine, except in the instances
we have been speaking of. There she cannot be justified. I am glad
you saw it all as I did."
Having formed her mind and gained her affections, he had a good chance
of her thinking like him; though at this period, and on this subject,
there began now to be some danger of dissimilarity, for he was in a
line of admiration of Miss Crawford, which might lead him where Fanny
could not follow. Miss Crawford's attractions did not lessen. The
harp arrived, and rather added to her beauty, wit, and good-humour; for
she played with the greatest obligingness, with an expression and taste
which were peculiarly becoming, and there was something clever to be
said at the close of every air. Edmund was at the Parsonage every day,
to be indulged with his favourite instrument: one morning secured an
invitation for the next; for the lady could not be unwilling to have a
listener, and every thing was soon in a fair train.
A young woman, pretty, lively, with a harp as elegant as herself, and
both placed near a window, cut down to the ground, and opening on a
little lawn, surrounded by shrubs in the rich foliage of summer, was
enough to catch any man's heart. The season, the scene, the air, were
all favourable to tenderness and sentiment. Mrs. Grant and her tambour
frame were not without their use: it was all in harmony; and as
everything will turn to account when love is once set going, even the
sandwich tray, and Dr. Grant doing the honours of it, were worth
looking at. Without studying the business, however, or knowing what he
was about, Edmund was beginning, at the end of a week of such
intercourse, to be a good deal in love; and to the credit of the lady
it may be added that, without his being a man of the world or an elder
brother, without any of the arts of flattery or the gaieties of small
talk, he began to be agreeable to her. She felt it to be so, though
she had not foreseen, and could hardly understand it; for he was not
pleasant by any common rule: he talked no nonsense; he paid no
compliments; his opinions were unbending, his attentions tranquil and
simple. There was a charm, perhaps, in his sincerity, his steadiness,
his integrity, which Miss Crawford might be equal to feel, though not
equal to discuss with herself. She did not think very much about it,
however: he pleased her for the present; she liked to have him near
her; it was enough.
Fanny could not wonder that Edmund was at the Parsonage every morning;
she would gladly have been there too, might she have gone in uninvited
and unnoticed, to hear the harp; neither could she wonder that, when
the evening stroll was over, and the two families parted again, he
should think it right to attend Mrs. Grant and her sister to their
home, while Mr. Crawford was devoted to the ladies of the Park; but she
thought it a very bad exchange; and if Edmund were not there to mix the
wine and water for her, would rather go without it than not. She was a
little surprised that he could spend so many hours with Miss Crawford,
and not see more of the sort of fault which he had already observed,
and of which "she" was almost always reminded by a something of the
same nature whenever she was in her company; but so it was. Edmund was
fond of speaking to her of Miss Crawford, but he seemed to think it
enough that the Admiral had since been spared; and she scrupled to
point out her own remarks to him, lest it should appear like
ill-nature. The first actual pain which Miss Crawford occasioned her
was the consequence of an inclination to learn to ride, which the
former caught, soon after her being settled at Mansfield, from the
example of the young ladies at the Park, and which, when Edmund's
acquaintance with her increased, led to his encouraging the wish, and
the offer of his own quiet mare for the purpose of her first attempts,
as the best fitted for a beginner that either stable could furnish. No
pain, no injury, however, was designed by him to his cousin in this
offer: "she" was not to lose a day's exercise by it. The mare was
only to be taken down to the Parsonage half an hour before her ride
were to begin; and Fanny, on its being first proposed, so far from
feeling slighted, was almost over-powered with gratitude that he should
be asking her leave for it.
Miss Crawford made her first essay with great credit to herself, and no
inconvenience to Fanny. Edmund, who had taken down the mare and
presided at the whole, returned with it in excellent time, before
either Fanny or the steady old coachman, who always attended her when
she rode without her cousins, were ready to set forward. The second
day's trial was not so guiltless. Miss Crawford's enjoyment of riding
was such that she did not know how to leave off. Active and fearless,
and though rather small, strongly made, she seemed formed for a
horsewoman; and to the pure genuine pleasure of the exercise, something
was probably added in Edmund's attendance and instructions, and
something more in the conviction of very much surpassing her sex in
general by her early progress, to make her unwilling to dismount.
Fanny was ready and waiting, and Mrs. Norris was beginning to scold her
for not being gone, and still no horse was announced, no Edmund
appeared. To avoid her aunt, and look for him, she went out.
The houses, though scarcely half a mile apart, were not within sight of
each other; but, by walking fifty yards from the hall door, she could
look down the park, and command a view of the Parsonage and all its
demesnes, gently rising beyond the village road; and in Dr. Grant's
meadow she immediately saw the group--Edmund and Miss Crawford both on
horse-back, riding side by side, Dr. and Mrs. Grant, and Mr. Crawford,
with two or three grooms, standing about and looking on. A happy party
it appeared to her, all interested in one object: cheerful beyond a
doubt, for the sound of merriment ascended even to her. It was a sound
which did not make "her" cheerful; she wondered that Edmund should
forget her, and felt a pang. She could not turn her eyes from the
meadow; she could not help watching all that passed. At first Miss
Crawford and her companion made the circuit of the field, which was not
small, at a foot's pace; then, at "her" apparent suggestion, they rose
into a canter; and to Fanny's timid nature it was most astonishing to
see how well she sat. After a few minutes they stopped entirely.
Edmund was close to her; he was speaking to her; he was evidently
directing her management of the bridle; he had hold of her hand; she
saw it, or the imagination supplied what the eye could not reach. She
must not wonder at all this; what could be more natural than that
Edmund should be making himself useful, and proving his good-nature by
any one? She could not but think, indeed, that Mr. Crawford might as
well have saved him the trouble; that it would have been particularly
proper and becoming in a brother to have done it himself; but Mr.
Crawford, with all his boasted good-nature, and all his coachmanship,
probably knew nothing of the matter, and had no active kindness in
comparison of Edmund. She began to think it rather hard upon the mare
to have such double duty; if she were forgotten, the poor mare should
Her feelings for one and the other were soon a little tranquillised by
seeing the party in the meadow disperse, and Miss Crawford still on
horseback, but attended by Edmund on foot, pass through a gate into the
lane, and so into the park, and make towards the spot where she stood.
She began then to be afraid of appearing rude and impatient; and walked
to meet them with a great anxiety to avoid the suspicion.
"My dear Miss Price," said Miss Crawford, as soon as she was at all
within hearing, "I am come to make my own apologies for keeping you
waiting; but I have nothing in the world to say for myself--I knew it
was very late, and that I was behaving extremely ill; and therefore, if
you please, you must forgive me. Selfishness must always be forgiven,
you know, because there is no hope of a cure."
Fanny's answer was extremely civil, and Edmund added his conviction
that she could be in no hurry. "For there is more than time enough for
my cousin to ride twice as far as she ever goes," said he, "and you
have been promoting her comfort by preventing her from setting off half
an hour sooner: clouds are now coming up, and she will not suffer from
the heat as she would have done then. I wish "you" may not be fatigued
by so much exercise. I wish you had saved yourself this walk home."
"No part of it fatigues me but getting off this horse, I assure you,"
said she, as she sprang down with his help; "I am very strong. Nothing
ever fatigues me but doing what I do not like. Miss Price, I give way
to you with a very bad grace; but I sincerely hope you will have a
pleasant ride, and that I may have nothing but good to hear of this
dear, delightful, beautiful animal."
The old coachman, who had been waiting about with his own horse, now
joining them, Fanny was lifted on hers, and they set off across another
part of the park; her feelings of discomfort not lightened by seeing,
as she looked back, that the others were walking down the hill together
to the village; nor did her attendant do her much good by his comments
on Miss Crawford's great cleverness as a horse-woman, which he had been
watching with an interest almost equal to her own.
"It is a pleasure to see a lady with such a good heart for riding!"
said he. "I never see one sit a horse better. She did not seem to
have a thought of fear. Very different from you, miss, when you first
began, six years ago come next Easter. Lord bless you! how you did
tremble when Sir Thomas first had you put on!"
In the drawing-room Miss Crawford was also celebrated. Her merit in
being gifted by Nature with strength and courage was fully appreciated
by the Miss Bertrams; her delight in riding was like their own; her
early excellence in it was like their own, and they had great pleasure
in praising it.
"I was sure she would ride well," said Julia; "she has the make for it.
Her figure is as neat as her brother's."
"Yes," added Maria, "and her spirits are as good, and she has the same
energy of character. I cannot but think that good horsemanship has a
great deal to do with the mind."
When they parted at night Edmund asked Fanny whether she meant to ride
the next day.
"No, I do not know--not if you want the mare," was her answer.
"I do not want her at all for myself," said he; "but whenever you are
next inclined to stay at home, I think Miss Crawford would be glad to
have her a longer time--for a whole morning, in short. She has a
great desire to get as far as Mansfield Common: Mrs. Grant has been
telling her of its fine views, and I have no doubt of her being
perfectly equal to it. But any morning will do for this. She would be
extremely sorry to interfere with you. It would be very wrong if she
did. "She" rides only for pleasure; "you" for health."
"I shall not ride to-morrow, certainly," said Fanny; "I have been out
very often lately, and would rather stay at home. You know I am strong
enough now to walk very well."
Edmund looked pleased, which must be Fanny's comfort, and the ride to
Mansfield Common took place the next morning: the party included all
the young people but herself, and was much enjoyed at the time, and
doubly enjoyed again in the evening discussion. A successful scheme of
this sort generally brings on another; and the having been to Mansfield
Common disposed them all for going somewhere else the day after. There
were many other views to be shewn; and though the weather was hot,
there were shady lanes wherever they wanted to go. A young party is
always provided with a shady lane. Four fine mornings successively
were spent in this manner, in shewing the Crawfords the country, and
doing the honours of its finest spots. Everything answered; it was all
gaiety and good-humour, the heat only supplying inconvenience enough to
be talked of with pleasure--till the fourth day, when the happiness of
one of the party was exceedingly clouded. Miss Bertram was the one.
Edmund and Julia were invited to dine at the Parsonage, and "she" was
excluded. It was meant and done by Mrs. Grant, with perfect
good-humour, on Mr. Rushworth's account, who was partly expected at the
Park that day; but it was felt as a very grievous injury, and her good
manners were severely taxed to conceal her vexation and anger till she
reached home. As Mr. Rushworth did "not" come, the injury was
increased, and she had not even the relief of shewing her power over
him; she could only be sullen to her mother, aunt, and cousin, and
throw as great a gloom as possible over their dinner and dessert.
Between ten and eleven Edmund and Julia walked into the drawing-room,
fresh with the evening air, glowing and cheerful, the very reverse of
what they found in the three ladies sitting there, for Maria would
scarcely raise her eyes from her book, and Lady Bertram was
half-asleep; and even Mrs. Norris, discomposed by her niece's
ill-humour, and having asked one or two questions about the dinner,
which were not immediately attended to, seemed almost determined to say
no more. For a few minutes the brother and sister were too eager in
their praise of the night and their remarks on the stars, to think
beyond themselves; but when the first pause came, Edmund, looking
around, said, "But where is Fanny? Is she gone to bed?"
"No, not that I know of," replied Mrs. Norris; "she was here a moment
Her own gentle voice speaking from the other end of the room, which was
a very long one, told them that she was on the sofa. Mrs. Norris began
"That is a very foolish trick, Fanny, to be idling away all the evening
upon a sofa. Why cannot you come and sit here, and employ yourself as
"we" do? If you have no work of your own, I can supply you from the
poor basket. There is all the new calico, that was bought last week,
not touched yet. I am sure I almost broke my back by cutting it out.
You should learn to think of other people; and, take my word for it, it
is a shocking trick for a young person to be always lolling upon a
Before half this was said, Fanny was returned to her seat at the table,
and had taken up her work again; and Julia, who was in high
good-humour, from the pleasures of the day, did her the justice of
exclaiming, "I must say, ma'am, that Fanny is as little upon the sofa
as anybody in the house."
"Fanny," said Edmund, after looking at her attentively, "I am sure you
have the headache."
She could not deny it, but said it was not very bad.
"I can hardly believe you," he replied; "I know your looks too well.
How long have you had it?"
"Since a little before dinner. It is nothing but the heat."
"Did you go out in the heat?"
"Go out! to be sure she did," said Mrs. Norris: "would you have her
stay within such a fine day as this? Were not we "all" out? Even your
mother was out to-day for above an hour."
"Yes, indeed, Edmund," added her ladyship, who had been thoroughly
awakened by Mrs. Norris's sharp reprimand to Fanny; "I was out above an
hour. I sat three-quarters of an hour in the flower-garden, while
Fanny cut the roses; and very pleasant it was, I assure you, but very
hot. It was shady enough in the alcove, but I declare I quite dreaded
the coming home again."
"Fanny has been cutting roses, has she?"
"Yes, and I am afraid they will be the last this year. Poor thing!
"She" found it hot enough; but they were so full-blown that one could
"There was no help for it, certainly," rejoined Mrs. Norris, in a
rather softened voice; "but I question whether her headache might not
be caught "then", sister. There is nothing so likely to give it as
standing and stooping in a hot sun; but I dare say it will be well
to-morrow. Suppose you let her have your aromatic vinegar; I always
forget to have mine filled."
"She has got it," said Lady Bertram; "she has had it ever since she
came back from your house the second time."
"What!" cried Edmund; "has she been walking as well as cutting roses;
walking across the hot park to your house, and doing it twice, ma'am?
No wonder her head aches."
Mrs. Norris was talking to Julia, and did not hear.
"I was afraid it would be too much for her," said Lady Bertram; "but
when the roses were gathered, your aunt wished to have them, and then
you know they must be taken home."
"But were there roses enough to oblige her to go twice?"
"No; but they were to be put into the spare room to dry; and,
unluckily, Fanny forgot to lock the door of the room and bring away the
key, so she was obliged to go again."
Edmund got up and walked about the room, saying, "And could nobody be
employed on such an errand but Fanny? Upon my word, ma'am, it has been
a very ill-managed business."
"I am sure I do not know how it was to have been done better," cried
Mrs. Norris, unable to be longer deaf; "unless I had gone myself,
indeed; but I cannot be in two places at once; and I was talking to Mr.
Green at that very time about your mother's dairymaid, by "her" desire,
and had promised John Groom to write to Mrs. Jefferies about his son,
and the poor fellow was waiting for me half an hour. I think nobody
can justly accuse me of sparing myself upon any occasion, but really I
cannot do everything at once. And as for Fanny's just stepping down to
my house for me--it is not much above a quarter of a mile--I cannot
think I was unreasonable to ask it. How often do I pace it three times
a day, early and late, ay, and in all weathers too, and say nothing
"I wish Fanny had half your strength, ma'am."
"If Fanny would be more regular in her exercise, she would not be
knocked up so soon. She has not been out on horseback now this long
while, and I am persuaded that, when she does not ride, she ought to
walk. If she had been riding before, I should not have asked it of
her. But I thought it would rather do her good after being stooping
among the roses; for there is nothing so refreshing as a walk after a
fatigue of that kind; and though the sun was strong, it was not so very
hot. Between ourselves, Edmund," nodding significantly at his mother,
"it was cutting the roses, and dawdling about in the flower-garden,
that did the mischief."
"I am afraid it was, indeed," said the more candid Lady Bertram, who
had overheard her; "I am very much afraid she caught the headache
there, for the heat was enough to kill anybody. It was as much as I
could bear myself. Sitting and calling to Pug, and trying to keep him
from the flower-beds, was almost too much for me."
Edmund said no more to either lady; but going quietly to another table,
on which the supper-tray yet remained, brought a glass of Madeira to
Fanny, and obliged her to drink the greater part. She wished to be
able to decline it; but the tears, which a variety of feelings created,
made it easier to swallow than to speak.
Vexed as Edmund was with his mother and aunt, he was still more angry
with himself. His own forgetfulness of her was worse than anything
which they had done. Nothing of this would have happened had she been
properly considered; but she had been left four days together without
any choice of companions or exercise, and without any excuse for
avoiding whatever her unreasonable aunts might require. He was ashamed
to think that for four days together she had not had the power of
riding, and very seriously resolved, however unwilling he must be to
check a pleasure of Miss Crawford's, that it should never happen again.
Fanny went to bed with her heart as full as on the first evening of her
arrival at the Park. The state of her spirits had probably had its
share in her indisposition; for she had been feeling neglected, and
been struggling against discontent and envy for some days past. As she
leant on the sofa, to which she had retreated that she might not be
seen, the pain of her mind had been much beyond that in her head; and
the sudden change which Edmund's kindness had then occasioned, made her
hardly know how to support herself.
Fanny's rides recommenced the very next day; and as it was a pleasant
fresh-feeling morning, less hot than the weather had lately been,
Edmund trusted that her losses, both of health and pleasure, would be
soon made good. While she was gone Mr. Rushworth arrived, escorting
his mother, who came to be civil and to shew her civility especially,
in urging the execution of the plan for visiting Sotherton, which had
been started a fortnight before, and which, in consequence of her
subsequent absence from home, had since lain dormant. Mrs. Norris and
her nieces were all well pleased with its revival, and an early day was
named and agreed to, provided Mr. Crawford should be disengaged: the
young ladies did not forget that stipulation, and though Mrs. Norris
would willingly have answered for his being so, they would neither
authorise the liberty nor run the risk; and at last, on a hint from
Miss Bertram, Mr. Rushworth discovered that the properest thing to be
done was for him to walk down to the Parsonage directly, and call on
Mr. Crawford, and inquire whether Wednesday would suit him or not.
Before his return Mrs. Grant and Miss Crawford came in. Having been
out some time, and taken a different route to the house, they had not
met him. Comfortable hopes, however, were given that he would find Mr.
Crawford at home. The Sotherton scheme was mentioned of course. It
was hardly possible, indeed, that anything else should be talked of,
for Mrs. Norris was in high spirits about it; and Mrs. Rushworth, a
well-meaning, civil, prosing, pompous woman, who thought nothing of
consequence, but as it related to her own and her son's concerns, had
not yet given over pressing Lady Bertram to be of the party. Lady
Bertram constantly declined it; but her placid manner of refusal made
Mrs. Rushworth still think she wished to come, till Mrs. Norris's more
numerous words and louder tone convinced her of the truth.
"The fatigue would be too much for my sister, a great deal too much, I
assure you, my dear Mrs. Rushworth. Ten miles there, and ten back, you
know. You must excuse my sister on this occasion, and accept of our
two dear girls and myself without her. Sotherton is the only place
that could give her a "wish" to go so far, but it cannot be, indeed.
She will have a companion in Fanny Price, you know, so it will all do
very well; and as for Edmund, as he is not here to speak for himself, I
will answer for his being most happy to join the party. He can go on
horseback, you know."
Mrs. Rushworth being obliged to yield to Lady Bertram's staying at
home, could only be sorry. "The loss of her ladyship's company would
be a great drawback, and she should have been extremely happy to have
seen the young lady too, Miss Price, who had never been at Sotherton
yet, and it was a pity she should not see the place."
"You are very kind, you are all kindness, my dear madam," cried Mrs.
Norris; "but as to Fanny, she will have opportunities in plenty of
seeing Sotherton. She has time enough before her; and her going now is
quite out of the question. Lady Bertram could not possibly spare her."
"Oh no! I cannot do without Fanny."
Mrs. Rushworth proceeded next, under the conviction that everybody must
be wanting to see Sotherton, to include Miss Crawford in the
invitation; and though Mrs. Grant, who had not been at the trouble of
visiting Mrs. Rushworth, on her coming into the neighbourhood, civilly
declined it on her own account, she was glad to secure any pleasure for
her sister; and Mary, properly pressed and persuaded, was not long in
accepting her share of the civility. Mr. Rushworth came back from the
Parsonage successful; and Edmund made his appearance just in time to
learn what had been settled for Wednesday, to attend Mrs. Rushworth to
her carriage, and walk half-way down the park with the two other ladies.
On his return to the breakfast-room, he found Mrs. Norris trying to
make up her mind as to whether Miss Crawford's being of the party were
desirable or not, or whether her brother's barouche would not be full
without her. The Miss Bertrams laughed at the idea, assuring her that
the barouche would hold four perfectly well, independent of the box, on
which "one" might go with him.
"But why is it necessary," said Edmund, "that Crawford's carriage, or
his "only", should be employed? Why is no use to be made of my
mother's chaise? I could not, when the scheme was first mentioned the
other day, understand why a visit from the family were not to be made
in the carriage of the family."
"What!" cried Julia: "go boxed up three in a postchaise in this
weather, when we may have seats in a barouche! No, my dear Edmund,
that will not quite do."
"Besides," said Maria, "I know that Mr. Crawford depends upon taking
us. After what passed at first, he would claim it as a promise."
"And, my dear Edmund," added Mrs. Norris, "taking out "two" carriages
when "one" will do, would be trouble for nothing; and, between
ourselves, coachman is not very fond of the roads between this and
Sotherton: he always complains bitterly of the narrow lanes scratching
his carriage, and you know one should not like to have dear Sir Thomas,
when he comes home, find all the varnish scratched off."
"That would not be a very handsome reason for using Mr. Crawford's,"
said Maria; "but the truth is, that Wilcox is a stupid old fellow, and
does not know how to drive. I will answer for it that we shall find no
inconvenience from narrow roads on Wednesday."
"There is no hardship, I suppose, nothing unpleasant," said Edmund, "in
going on the barouche box."
"Unpleasant!" cried Maria: "oh dear! I believe it would be generally
thought the favourite seat. There can be no comparison as to one's
view of the country. Probably Miss Crawford will choose the
"There can be no objection, then, to Fanny's going with you; there can
be no doubt of your having room for her."
"Fanny!" repeated Mrs. Norris; "my dear Edmund, there is no idea of her
going with us. She stays with her aunt. I told Mrs. Rushworth so.
She is not expected."
"You can have no reason, I imagine, madam," said he, addressing his
mother, "for wishing Fanny "not" to be of the party, but as it relates
to yourself, to your own comfort. If you could do without her, you
would not wish to keep her at home?"
"To be sure not, but I "cannot" do without her."
"You can, if I stay at home with you, as I mean to do."
There was a general cry out at this. "Yes," he continued, "there is no
necessity for my going, and I mean to stay at home. Fanny has a great
desire to see Sotherton. I know she wishes it very much. She has not
often a gratification of the kind, and I am sure, ma'am, you would be
glad to give her the pleasure now?"
"Oh yes! very glad, if your aunt sees no objection."
Mrs. Norris was very ready with the only objection which could
remain--their having positively assured Mrs. Rushworth that Fanny could
not go, and the very strange appearance there would consequently be in
taking her, which seemed to her a difficulty quite impossible to be got
over. It must have the strangest appearance! It would be something so
very unceremonious, so bordering on disrespect for Mrs. Rushworth,
whose own manners were such a pattern of good-breeding and attention,
that she really did not feel equal to it. Mrs. Norris had no affection
for Fanny, and no wish of procuring her pleasure at any time; but her
opposition to Edmund "now", arose more from partiality for her own
scheme, because it "was" her own, than from anything else. She felt
that she had arranged everything extremely well, and that any
alteration must be for the worse. When Edmund, therefore, told her in
reply, as he did when she would give him the hearing, that she need not
distress herself on Mrs. Rushworth's account, because he had taken the
opportunity, as he walked with her through the hall, of mentioning Miss
Price as one who would probably be of the party, and had directly
received a very sufficient invitation for his cousin, Mrs. Norris was
too much vexed to submit with a very good grace, and would only say,
"Very well, very well, just as you chuse, settle it your own way, I am
sure I do not care about it."
"It seems very odd," said Maria, "that you should be staying at home
instead of Fanny."
"I am sure she ought to be very much obliged to you," added Julia,
hastily leaving the room as she spoke, from a consciousness that she
ought to offer to stay at home herself.
"Fanny will feel quite as grateful as the occasion requires," was
Edmund's only reply, and the subject dropt.
Fanny's gratitude, when she heard the plan, was, in fact, much greater
than her pleasure. She felt Edmund's kindness with all, and more than
all, the sensibility which he, unsuspicious of her fond attachment,
could be aware of; but that he should forego any enjoyment on her
account gave her pain, and her own satisfaction in seeing Sotherton
would be nothing without him.
The next meeting of the two Mansfield families produced another
alteration in the plan, and one that was admitted with general
approbation. Mrs. Grant offered herself as companion for the day to
Lady Bertram in lieu of her son, and Dr. Grant was to join them at
dinner. Lady Bertram was very well pleased to have it so, and the
young ladies were in spirits again. Even Edmund was very thankful for
an arrangement which restored him to his share of the party; and Mrs.
Norris thought it an excellent plan, and had it at her tongue's end,
and was on the point of proposing it, when Mrs. Grant spoke.
Wednesday was fine, and soon after breakfast the barouche arrived, Mr.
Crawford driving his sisters; and as everybody was ready, there was
nothing to be done but for Mrs. Grant to alight and the others to take
their places. The place of all places, the envied seat, the post of
honour, was unappropriated. To whose happy lot was it to fall? While
each of the Miss Bertrams were meditating how best, and with the most
appearance of obliging the others, to secure it, the matter was settled
by Mrs. Grant's saying, as she stepped from the carriage, "As there are
five of you, it will be better that one should sit with Henry; and as
you were saying lately that you wished you could drive, Julia, I think
this will be a good opportunity for you to take a lesson."
Happy Julia! Unhappy Maria! The former was on the barouche-box in a
moment, the latter took her seat within, in gloom and mortification;
and the carriage drove off amid the good wishes of the two remaining
ladies, and the barking of Pug in his mistress's arms.
Their road was through a pleasant country; and Fanny, whose rides had
never been extensive, was soon beyond her knowledge, and was very happy
in observing all that was new, and admiring all that was pretty. She
was not often invited to join in the conversation of the others, nor
did she desire it. Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually
her best companions; and, in observing the appearance of the country,
the bearings of the roads, the difference of soil, the state of the
harvest, the cottages, the cattle, the children, she found
entertainment that could only have been heightened by having Edmund to
speak to of what she felt. That was the only point of resemblance
between her and the lady who sat by her: in everything but a value for
Edmund, Miss Crawford was very unlike her. She had none of Fanny's
delicacy of taste, of mind, of feeling; she saw Nature, inanimate
Nature, with little observation; her attention was all for men and
women, her talents for the light and lively. In looking back after
Edmund, however, when there was any stretch of road behind them, or
when he gained on them in ascending a considerable hill, they were
united, and a "there he is" broke at the same moment from them both,
more than once.
For the first seven miles Miss Bertram had very little real comfort:
her prospect always ended in Mr. Crawford and her sister sitting side
by side, full of conversation and merriment; and to see only his
expressive profile as he turned with a smile to Julia, or to catch the
laugh of the other, was a perpetual source of irritation, which her own
sense of propriety could but just smooth over. When Julia looked back,
it was with a countenance of delight, and whenever she spoke to them,
it was in the highest spirits: "her view of the country was charming,
she wished they could all see it," etc.; but her only offer of exchange
was addressed to Miss Crawford, as they gained the summit of a long
hill, and was not more inviting than this: "Here is a fine burst of
country. I wish you had my seat, but I dare say you will not take it,
let me press you ever so much;" and Miss Crawford could hardly answer
before they were moving again at a good pace.
When they came within the influence of Sotherton associations, it was
better for Miss Bertram, who might be said to have two strings to her
bow. She had Rushworth feelings, and Crawford feelings, and in the
vicinity of Sotherton the former had considerable effect. Mr.
Rushworth's consequence was hers. She could not tell Miss Crawford
that "those woods belonged to Sotherton," she could not carelessly
observe that "she believed that it was now all Mr. Rushworth's property
on each side of the road," without elation of heart; and it was a
pleasure to increase with their approach to the capital freehold
mansion, and ancient manorial residence of the family, with all its
rights of court-leet and court-baron.
"Now we shall have no more rough road, Miss Crawford; our difficulties
are over. The rest of the way is such as it ought to be. Mr.
Rushworth has made it since he succeeded to the estate. Here begins
the village. Those cottages are really a disgrace. The church spire
is reckoned remarkably handsome. I am glad the church is not so close
to the great house as often happens in old places. The annoyance of
the bells must be terrible. There is the parsonage: a tidy-looking
house, and I understand the clergyman and his wife are very decent
people. Those are almshouses, built by some of the family. To the
right is the steward's house; he is a very respectable man. Now we are
coming to the lodge-gates; but we have nearly a mile through the park
still. It is not ugly, you see, at this end; there is some fine
timber, but the situation of the house is dreadful. We go down hill to
it for half a mile, and it is a pity, for it would not be an
ill-looking place if it had a better approach."
Miss Crawford was not slow to admire; she pretty well guessed Miss
Bertram's feelings, and made it a point of honour to promote her
enjoyment to the utmost. Mrs. Norris was all delight and volubility;
and even Fanny had something to say in admiration, and might be heard
with complacency. Her eye was eagerly taking in everything within her
reach; and after being at some pains to get a view of the house, and
observing that "it was a sort of building which she could not look at
but with respect," she added, "Now, where is the avenue? The house
fronts the east, I perceive. The avenue, therefore, must be at the
back of it. Mr. Rushworth talked of the west front."
"Yes, it is exactly behind the house; begins at a little distance, and
ascends for half a mile to the extremity of the grounds. You may see
something of it here--something of the more distant trees. It is oak
Miss Bertram could now speak with decided information of what she had
known nothing about when Mr. Rushworth had asked her opinion; and her
spirits were in as happy a flutter as vanity and pride could furnish,
when they drove up to the spacious stone steps before the principal
Mr. Rushworth was at the door to receive his fair lady; and the whole
party were welcomed by him with due attention. In the drawing-room
they were met with equal cordiality by the mother, and Miss Bertram had
all the distinction with each that she could wish. After the business
of arriving was over, it was first necessary to eat, and the doors were
thrown open to admit them through one or two intermediate rooms into
the appointed dining-parlour, where a collation was prepared with
abundance and elegance. Much was said, and much was ate, and all went
well. The particular object of the day was then considered. How would
Mr. Crawford like, in what manner would he chuse, to take a survey of
the grounds? Mr. Rushworth mentioned his curricle. Mr. Crawford
suggested the greater desirableness of some carriage which might convey
more than two. "To be depriving themselves of the advantage of other
eyes and other judgments, might be an evil even beyond the loss of
Mrs. Rushworth proposed that the chaise should be taken also; but this
was scarcely received as an amendment: the young ladies neither smiled
nor spoke. Her next proposition, of shewing the house to such of them
as had not been there before, was more acceptable, for Miss Bertram was
pleased to have its size displayed, and all were glad to be doing
The whole party rose accordingly, and under Mrs. Rushworth's guidance
were shewn through a number of rooms, all lofty, and many large, and
amply furnished in the taste of fifty years back, with shining floors,
solid mahogany, rich damask, marble, gilding, and carving, each
handsome in its way. Of pictures there were abundance, and some few
good, but the larger part were family portraits, no longer anything to
anybody but Mrs. Rushworth, who had been at great pains to learn all
that the housekeeper could teach, and was now almost equally well
qualified to shew the house. On the present occasion she addressed
herself chiefly to Miss Crawford and Fanny, but there was no comparison
in the willingness of their attention; for Miss Crawford, who had seen
scores of great houses, and cared for none of them, had only the
appearance of civilly listening, while Fanny, to whom everything was
almost as interesting as it was new, attended with unaffected
earnestness to all that Mrs. Rushworth could relate of the family in
former times, its rise and grandeur, regal visits and loyal efforts,
delighted to connect anything with history already known, or warm her
imagination with scenes of the past.
The situation of the house excluded the possibility of much prospect
from any of the rooms; and while Fanny and some of the others were
attending Mrs. Rushworth, Henry Crawford was looking grave and shaking
his head at the windows. Every room on the west front looked across a
lawn to the beginning of the avenue immediately beyond tall iron
palisades and gates.
Having visited many more rooms than could be supposed to be of any
other use than to contribute to the window-tax, and find employment for
housemaids, "Now," said Mrs. Rushworth, "we are coming to the chapel,
which properly we ought to enter from above, and look down upon; but as
we are quite among friends, I will take you in this way, if you will
They entered. Fanny's imagination had prepared her for something
grander than a mere spacious, oblong room, fitted up for the purpose of
devotion: with nothing more striking or more solemn than the profusion
of mahogany, and the crimson velvet cushions appearing over the ledge
of the family gallery above. "I am disappointed," said she, in a low
voice, to Edmund. "This is not my idea of a chapel. There is nothing
awful here, nothing melancholy, nothing grand. Here are no aisles, no
arches, no inscriptions, no banners. No banners, cousin, to be 'blown
by the night wind of heaven.' No signs that a 'Scottish monarch sleeps
"You forget, Fanny, how lately all this has been built, and for how
confined a purpose, compared with the old chapels of castles and
monasteries. It was only for the private use of the family. They have
been buried, I suppose, in the parish church. "There" you must look
for the banners and the achievements."
"It was foolish of me not to think of all that; but I am disappointed."
Mrs. Rushworth began her relation. "This chapel was fitted up as you
see it, in James the Second's time. Before that period, as I
understand, the pews were only wainscot; and there is some reason to
think that the linings and cushions of the pulpit and family seat were
only purple cloth; but this is not quite certain. It is a handsome
chapel, and was formerly in constant use both morning and evening.
Prayers were always read in it by the domestic chaplain, within the
memory of many; but the late Mr. Rushworth left it off."
"Every generation has its improvements," said Miss Crawford, with a
smile, to Edmund.
Mrs. Rushworth was gone to repeat her lesson to Mr. Crawford; and
Edmund, Fanny, and Miss Crawford remained in a cluster together.
"It is a pity," cried Fanny, "that the custom should have been
discontinued. It was a valuable part of former times. There is
something in a chapel and chaplain so much in character with a great
house, with one's ideas of what such a household should be! A whole
family assembling regularly for the purpose of prayer is fine!"
"Very fine indeed," said Miss Crawford, laughing. "It must do the
heads of the family a great deal of good to force all the poor
housemaids and footmen to leave business and pleasure, and say their
prayers here twice a day, while they are inventing excuses themselves
for staying away."
""That" is hardly Fanny's idea of a family assembling," said Edmund.
"If the master and mistress do "not" attend themselves, there must be
more harm than good in the custom."
"At any rate, it is safer to leave people to their own devices on such
subjects. Everybody likes to go their own way--to chuse their own time
and manner of devotion. The obligation of attendance, the formality,
the restraint, the length of time--altogether it is a formidable thing,
and what nobody likes; and if the good people who used to kneel and
gape in that gallery could have foreseen that the time would ever come
when men and women might lie another ten minutes in bed, when they woke
with a headache, without danger of reprobation, because chapel was
missed, they would have jumped with joy and envy. Cannot you imagine
with what unwilling feelings the former belles of the house of
Rushworth did many a time repair to this chapel? The young Mrs.
Eleanors and Mrs. Bridgets--starched up into seeming piety, but with
heads full of something very different--especially if the poor chaplain
were not worth looking at--and, in those days, I fancy parsons were
very inferior even to what they are now."
For a few moments she was unanswered. Fanny coloured and looked at
Edmund, but felt too angry for speech; and he needed a little
recollection before he could say, "Your lively mind can hardly be
serious even on serious subjects. You have given us an amusing sketch,
and human nature cannot say it was not so. We must all feel "at"
"times" the difficulty of fixing our thoughts as we could wish; but if
you are supposing it a frequent thing, that is to say, a weakness grown
into a habit from neglect, what could be expected from the "private"
devotions of such persons? Do you think the minds which are suffered,
which are indulged in wanderings in a chapel, would be more collected
in a closet?"
"Yes, very likely. They would have two chances at least in their
favour. There would be less to distract the attention from without,
and it would not be tried so long."
"The mind which does not struggle against itself under "one"
circumstance, would find objects to distract it in the "other", I
believe; and the influence of the place and of example may often rouse
better feelings than are begun with. The greater length of the
service, however, I admit to be sometimes too hard a stretch upon the
mind. One wishes it were not so; but I have not yet left Oxford long
enough to forget what chapel prayers are."
While this was passing, the rest of the party being scattered about the
chapel, Julia called Mr. Crawford's attention to her sister, by saying,
"Do look at Mr. Rushworth and Maria, standing side by side, exactly as
if the ceremony were going to be performed. Have not they completely
the air of it?"
Mr. Crawford smiled his acquiescence, and stepping forward to Maria,
said, in a voice which she only could hear, "I do not like to see Miss
Bertram so near the altar."
Starting, the lady instinctively moved a step or two, but recovering
herself in a moment, affected to laugh, and asked him, in a tone not
much louder, "If he would give her away?"
"I am afraid I should do it very awkwardly," was his reply, with a look
Julia, joining them at the moment, carried on the joke.
"Upon my word, it is really a pity that it should not take place
directly, if we had but a proper licence, for here we are altogether,
and nothing in the world could be more snug and pleasant." And she
talked and laughed about it with so little caution as to catch the
comprehension of Mr. Rushworth and his mother, and expose her sister to
the whispered gallantries of her lover, while Mrs. Rushworth spoke with
proper smiles and dignity of its being a most happy event to her
whenever it took place.
"If Edmund were but in orders!" cried Julia, and running to where he
stood with Miss Crawford and Fanny: "My dear Edmund, if you were but in
orders now, you might perform the ceremony directly. How unlucky that
you are not ordained; Mr. Rushworth and Maria are quite ready."
Miss Crawford's countenance, as Julia spoke, might have amused a
disinterested observer. She looked almost aghast under the new idea
she was receiving. Fanny pitied her. "How distressed she will be at
what she said just now," passed across her mind.
"Ordained!" said Miss Crawford; "what, are you to be a clergyman?"
"Yes; I shall take orders soon after my father's return--probably at
Miss Crawford, rallying her spirits, and recovering her complexion,
replied only, "If I had known this before, I would have spoken of the
cloth with more respect," and turned the subject.
The chapel was soon afterwards left to the silence and stillness which
reigned in it, with few interruptions, throughout the year. Miss
Bertram, displeased with her sister, led the way, and all seemed to
feel that they had been there long enough.
The lower part of the house had been now entirely shewn, and Mrs.
Rushworth, never weary in the cause, would have proceeded towards the
principal staircase, and taken them through all the rooms above, if her
son had not interposed with a doubt of there being time enough. "For
if," said he, with the sort of self-evident proposition which many a
clearer head does not always avoid, "we are "too" long going over the
house, we shall not have time for what is to be done out of doors. It
is past two, and we are to dine at five."
Mrs. Rushworth submitted; and the question of surveying the grounds,
with the who and the how, was likely to be more fully agitated, and
Mrs. Norris was beginning to arrange by what junction of carriages and
horses most could be done, when the young people, meeting with an
outward door, temptingly open on a flight of steps which led
immediately to turf and shrubs, and all the sweets of pleasure-grounds,
as by one impulse, one wish for air and liberty, all walked out.
"Suppose we turn down here for the present," said Mrs. Rushworth,
civilly taking the hint and following them. "Here are the greatest
number of our plants, and here are the curious pheasants."
"Query," said Mr. Crawford, looking round him, "whether we may not find
something to employ us here before we go farther? I see walls of great
promise. Mr. Rushworth, shall we summon a council on this lawn?"
"James," said Mrs. Rushworth to her son, "I believe the wilderness will
be new to all the party. The Miss Bertrams have never seen the
No objection was made, but for some time there seemed no inclination to
move in any plan, or to any distance. All were attracted at first by
the plants or the pheasants, and all dispersed about in happy
independence. Mr. Crawford was the first to move forward to examine
the capabilities of that end of the house. The lawn, bounded on each
side by a high wall, contained beyond the first planted area a
bowling-green, and beyond the bowling-green a long terrace walk, backed
by iron palisades, and commanding a view over them into the tops of the
trees of the wilderness immediately adjoining. It was a good spot for
fault-finding. Mr. Crawford was soon followed by Miss Bertram and Mr.
Rushworth; and when, after a little time, the others began to form into
parties, these three were found in busy consultation on the terrace by
Edmund, Miss Crawford, and Fanny, who seemed as naturally to unite, and
who, after a short participation of their regrets and difficulties,
left them and walked on. The remaining three, Mrs. Rushworth, Mrs.
Norris, and Julia, were still far behind; for Julia, whose happy star
no longer prevailed, was obliged to keep by the side of Mrs. Rushworth,
and restrain her impatient feet to that lady's slow pace, while her
aunt, having fallen in with the housekeeper, who was come out to feed
the pheasants, was lingering behind in gossip with her. Poor Julia,
the only one out of the nine not tolerably satisfied with their lot,
was now in a state of complete penance, and as different from the Julia
of the barouche-box as could well be imagined. The politeness which
she had been brought up to practise as a duty made it impossible for
her to escape; while the want of that higher species of self-command,
that just consideration of others, that knowledge of her own heart,
that principle of right, which had not formed any essential part of her
education, made her miserable under it.
"This is insufferably hot," said Miss Crawford, when they had taken one
turn on the terrace, and were drawing a second time to the door in the
middle which opened to the wilderness. "Shall any of us object to
being comfortable? Here is a nice little wood, if one can but get into
it. What happiness if the door should not be locked! but of course it
is; for in these great places the gardeners are the only people who can
go where they like."
The door, however, proved not to be locked, and they were all agreed in
turning joyfully through it, and leaving the unmitigated glare of day
behind. A considerable flight of steps landed them in the wilderness,
which was a planted wood of about two acres, and though chiefly of
larch and laurel, and beech cut down, and though laid out with too much
regularity, was darkness and shade, and natural beauty, compared with
the bowling-green and the terrace. They all felt the refreshment of
it, and for some time could only walk and admire. At length, after a
short pause, Miss Crawford began with, "So you are to be a clergyman,
Mr. Bertram. This is rather a surprise to me."
"Why should it surprise you? You must suppose me designed for some
profession, and might perceive that I am neither a lawyer, nor a
soldier, nor a sailor."
"Very true; but, in short, it had not occurred to me. And you know
there is generally an uncle or a grandfather to leave a fortune to the
"A very praiseworthy practice," said Edmund, "but not quite universal.
I am one of the exceptions, and "being" one, must do something for
"But why are you to be a clergyman? I thought "that" was always the
lot of the youngest, where there were many to chuse before him."
"Do you think the church itself never chosen, then?"
""Never" is a black word. But yes, in the "never" of conversation,
which means "not" "very" "often", I do think it. For what is to be
done in the church? Men love to distinguish themselves, and in either
of the other lines distinction may be gained, but not in the church. A
clergyman is nothing."
"The "nothing" of conversation has its gradations, I hope, as well as
the "never". A clergyman cannot be high in state or fashion. He must
not head mobs, or set the ton in dress. But I cannot call that
situation nothing which has the charge of all that is of the first
importance to mankind, individually or collectively considered,
temporally and eternally, which has the guardianship of religion and
morals, and consequently of the manners which result from their
influence. No one here can call the "office" nothing. If the man who
holds it is so, it is by the neglect of his duty, by foregoing its just
importance, and stepping out of his place to appear what he ought not
""You" assign greater consequence to the clergyman than one has been
used to hear given, or than I can quite comprehend. One does not see
much of this influence and importance in society, and how can it be
acquired where they are so seldom seen themselves? How can two sermons
a week, even supposing them worth hearing, supposing the preacher to
have the sense to prefer Blair's to his own, do all that you speak of?
govern the conduct and fashion the manners of a large congregation for
the rest of the week? One scarcely sees a clergyman out of his pulpit."
""You" are speaking of London, "I" am speaking of the nation at large."
"The metropolis, I imagine, is a pretty fair sample of the rest."
"Not, I should hope, of the proportion of virtue to vice throughout the
kingdom. We do not look in great cities for our best morality. It is
not there that respectable people of any denomination can do most good;
and it certainly is not there that the influence of the clergy can be
most felt. A fine preacher is followed and admired; but it is not in
fine preaching only that a good clergyman will be useful in his parish
and his neighbourhood, where the parish and neighbourhood are of a size
capable of knowing his private character, and observing his general
conduct, which in London can rarely be the case. The clergy are lost
there in the crowds of their parishioners. They are known to the
largest part only as preachers. And with regard to their influencing
public manners, Miss Crawford must not misunderstand me, or suppose I
mean to call them the arbiters of good-breeding, the regulators of
refinement and courtesy, the masters of the ceremonies of life. The
"manners" I speak of might rather be called "conduct", perhaps, the
result of good principles; the effect, in short, of those doctrines
which it is their duty to teach and recommend; and it will, I believe,
be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought
to be, so are the rest of the nation."
"Certainly," said Fanny, with gentle earnestness.
"There," cried Miss Crawford, "you have quite convinced Miss Price
"I wish I could convince Miss Crawford too."
"I do not think you ever will," said she, with an arch smile; "I am
just as much surprised now as I was at first that you should intend to
take orders. You really are fit for something better. Come, do change
your mind. It is not too late. Go into the law."
"Go into the law! With as much ease as I was told to go into this
"Now you are going to say something about law being the worst
wilderness of the two, but I forestall you; remember, I have
"You need not hurry when the object is only to prevent my saying a
"bon" "mot", for there is not the least wit in my nature. I am a very
matter-of-fact, plain-spoken being, and may blunder on the borders of a
repartee for half an hour together without striking it out."
A general silence succeeded. Each was thoughtful. Fanny made the
first interruption by saying, "I wonder that I should be tired with
only walking in this sweet wood; but the next time we come to a seat,
if it is not disagreeable to you, I should be glad to sit down for a
"My dear Fanny," cried Edmund, immediately drawing her arm within his,
"how thoughtless I have been! I hope you are not very tired.
Perhaps," turning to Miss Crawford, "my other companion may do me the
honour of taking an arm."
"Thank you, but I am not at all tired." She took it, however, as she
spoke, and the gratification of having her do so, of feeling such a
connexion for the first time, made him a little forgetful of Fanny.
"You scarcely touch me," said he. "You do not make me of any use.
What a difference in the weight of a woman's arm from that of a man!
At Oxford I have been a good deal used to have a man lean on me for the
length of a street, and you are only a fly in the comparison."
"I am really not tired, which I almost wonder at; for we must have
walked at least a mile in this wood. Do not you think we have?"
"Not half a mile," was his sturdy answer; for he was not yet so much in
love as to measure distance, or reckon time, with feminine lawlessness.
"Oh! you do not consider how much we have wound about. We have taken
such a very serpentine course, and the wood itself must be half a mile
long in a straight line, for we have never seen the end of it yet since
we left the first great path."
"But if you remember, before we left that first great path, we saw
directly to the end of it. We looked down the whole vista, and saw it
closed by iron gates, and it could not have been more than a furlong in
"Oh! I know nothing of your furlongs, but I am sure it is a very long
wood, and that we have been winding in and out ever since we came into
it; and therefore, when I say that we have walked a mile in it, I must
speak within compass."
"We have been exactly a quarter of an hour here," said Edmund, taking
out his watch. "Do you think we are walking four miles an hour?"
"Oh! do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or
too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch."
A few steps farther brought them out at the bottom of the very walk
they had been talking of; and standing back, well shaded and sheltered,
and looking over a ha-ha into the park, was a comfortable-sized bench,
on which they all sat down.
"I am afraid you are very tired, Fanny," said Edmund, observing her;
"why would not you speak sooner? This will be a bad day's amusement
for you if you are to be knocked up. Every sort of exercise fatigues
her so soon, Miss Crawford, except riding."
"How abominable in you, then, to let me engross her horse as I did all
last week! I am ashamed of you and of myself, but it shall never
""Your" attentiveness and consideration makes me more sensible of my
own neglect. Fanny's interest seems in safer hands with you than with
"That she should be tired now, however, gives me no surprise; for there
is nothing in the course of one's duties so fatiguing as what we have
been doing this morning: seeing a great house, dawdling from one room
to another, straining one's eyes and one's attention, hearing what one
does not understand, admiring what one does not care for. It is
generally allowed to be the greatest bore in the world, and Miss Price
has found it so, though she did not know it."
"I shall soon be rested," said Fanny; "to sit in the shade on a fine
day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment."
After sitting a little while Miss Crawford was up again. "I must
move," said she; "resting fatigues me. I have looked across the ha-ha
till I am weary. I must go and look through that iron gate at the same
view, without being able to see it so well."
Edmund left the seat likewise. "Now, Miss Crawford, if you will look
up the walk, you will convince yourself that it cannot be half a mile
long, or half half a mile."
"It is an immense distance," said she; "I see "that" with a glance."
He still reasoned with her, but in vain. She would not calculate, she
would not compare. She would only smile and assert. The greatest
degree of rational consistency could not have been more engaging, and
they talked with mutual satisfaction. At last it was agreed that they
should endeavour to determine the dimensions of the wood by walking a
little more about it. They would go to one end of it, in the line they
were then in--for there was a straight green walk along the bottom by
the side of the ha-ha--and perhaps turn a little way in some other
direction, if it seemed likely to assist them, and be back in a few
minutes. Fanny said she was rested, and would have moved too, but this
was not suffered. Edmund urged her remaining where she was with an
earnestness which she could not resist, and she was left on the bench
to think with pleasure of her cousin's care, but with great regret that
she was not stronger. She watched them till they had turned the
corner, and listened till all sound of them had ceased.
A quarter of an hour, twenty minutes, passed away, and Fanny was still
thinking of Edmund, Miss Crawford, and herself, without interruption
from any one. She began to be surprised at being left so long, and to
listen with an anxious desire of hearing their steps and their voices
again. She listened, and at length she heard; she heard voices and
feet approaching; but she had just satisfied herself that it was not
those she wanted, when Miss Bertram, Mr. Rushworth, and Mr. Crawford
issued from the same path which she had trod herself, and were before
"Miss Price all alone" and "My dear Fanny, how comes this?" were the
first salutations. She told her story. "Poor dear Fanny," cried her
cousin, "how ill you have been used by them! You had better have staid
Then seating herself with a gentleman on each side, she resumed the
conversation which had engaged them before, and discussed the
possibility of improvements with much animation. Nothing was fixed on;
but Henry Crawford was full of ideas and projects, and, generally
speaking, whatever he proposed was immediately approved, first by her,
and then by Mr. Rushworth, whose principal business seemed to be to
hear the others, and who scarcely risked an original thought of his own
beyond a wish that they had seen his friend Smith's place.
After some minutes spent in this way, Miss Bertram, observing the iron
gate, expressed a wish of passing through it into the park, that their
views and their plans might be more comprehensive. It was the very
thing of all others to be wished, it was the best, it was the only way
of proceeding with any advantage, in Henry Crawford's opinion; and he
directly saw a knoll not half a mile off, which would give them exactly
the requisite command of the house. Go therefore they must to that
knoll, and through that gate; but the gate was locked. Mr. Rushworth
wished he had brought the key; he had been very near thinking whether
he should not bring the key; he was determined he would never come
without the key again; but still this did not remove the present evil.
They could not get through; and as Miss Bertram's inclination for so
doing did by no means lessen, it ended in Mr. Rushworth's declaring
outright that he would go and fetch the key. He set off accordingly.
"It is undoubtedly the best thing we can do now, as we are so far from
the house already," said Mr. Crawford, when he was gone.
"Yes, there is nothing else to be done. But now, sincerely, do not you
find the place altogether worse than you expected?"
"No, indeed, far otherwise. I find it better, grander, more complete
in its style, though that style may not be the best. And to tell you
the truth," speaking rather lower, "I do not think that "I" shall ever
see Sotherton again with so much pleasure as I do now. Another summer
will hardly improve it to me."
After a moment's embarrassment the lady replied, "You are too much a
man of the world not to see with the eyes of the world. If other
people think Sotherton improved, I have no doubt that you will."
"I am afraid I am not quite so much the man of the world as might be
good for me in some points. My feelings are not quite so evanescent,
nor my memory of the past under such easy dominion as one finds to be
the case with men of the world."
This was followed by a short silence. Miss Bertram began again. "You
seemed to enjoy your drive here very much this morning. I was glad to
see you so well entertained. You and Julia were laughing the whole
"Were we? Yes, I believe we were; but I have not the least
recollection at what. Oh! I believe I was relating to her some
ridiculous stories of an old Irish groom of my uncle's. Your sister
loves to laugh."
"You think her more light-hearted than I am?"
"More easily amused," he replied; "consequently, you know," smiling,
"better company. I could not have hoped to entertain you with Irish
anecdotes during a ten miles' drive."
"Naturally, I believe, I am as lively as Julia, but I have more to
think of now."
"You have, undoubtedly; and there are situations in which very high
spirits would denote insensibility. Your prospects, however, are too
fair to justify want of spirits. You have a very smiling scene before
"Do you mean literally or figuratively? Literally, I conclude. Yes,
certainly, the sun shines, and the park looks very cheerful. But
unluckily that iron gate, that ha-ha, give me a feeling of restraint
and hardship. 'I cannot get out,' as the starling said." As she
spoke, and it was with expression, she walked to the gate: he followed
her. "Mr. Rushworth is so long fetching this key!"
"And for the world you would not get out without the key and without
Mr. Rushworth's authority and protection, or I think you might with
little difficulty pass round the edge of the gate, here, with my
assistance; I think it might be done, if you really wished to be more
at large, and could allow yourself to think it not prohibited."
"Prohibited! nonsense! I certainly can get out that way, and I will.
Mr. Rushworth will be here in a moment, you know; we shall not be out
"Or if we are, Miss Price will be so good as to tell him that he will
find us near that knoll: the grove of oak on the knoll."
Fanny, feeling all this to be wrong, could not help making an effort to
prevent it. "You will hurt yourself, Miss Bertram," she cried; "you
will certainly hurt yourself against those spikes; you will tear your
gown; you will be in danger of slipping into the ha-ha. You had better
Her cousin was safe on the other side while these words were spoken,
and, smiling with all the good-humour of success, she said, "Thank you,
my dear Fanny, but I and my gown are alive and well, and so good-bye."
Fanny was again left to her solitude, and with no increase of pleasant
feelings, for she was sorry for almost all that she had seen and heard,
astonished at Miss Bertram, and angry with Mr. Crawford. By taking a
circuitous route, and, as it appeared to her, very unreasonable
direction to the knoll, they were soon beyond her eye; and for some
minutes longer she remained without sight or sound of any companion.
She seemed to have the little wood all to herself. She could almost
have thought that Edmund and Miss Crawford had left it, but that it was
impossible for Edmund to forget her so entirely.
She was again roused from disagreeable musings by sudden footsteps:
somebody was coming at a quick pace down the principal walk. She
expected Mr. Rushworth, but it was Julia, who, hot and out of breath,
and with a look of disappointment, cried out on seeing her, "Heyday!
Where are the others? I thought Maria and Mr. Crawford were with you."
"A pretty trick, upon my word! I cannot see them anywhere," looking
eagerly into the park. "But they cannot be very far off, and I think I
am equal to as much as Maria, even without help."
"But, Julia, Mr. Rushworth will be here in a moment with the key. Do
wait for Mr. Rushworth."
"Not I, indeed. I have had enough of the family for one morning. Why,
child, I have but this moment escaped from his horrible mother. Such a
penance as I have been enduring, while you were sitting here so
composed and so happy! It might have been as well, perhaps, if you had
been in my place, but you always contrive to keep out of these scrapes."
This was a most unjust reflection, but Fanny could allow for it, and
let it pass: Julia was vexed, and her temper was hasty; but she felt
that it would not last, and therefore, taking no notice, only asked her
if she had not seen Mr. Rushworth.
"Yes, yes, we saw him. He was posting away as if upon life and death,
and could but just spare time to tell us his errand, and where you all
"It is a pity he should have so much trouble for nothing."
""That" is Miss Maria's concern. I am not obliged to punish myself for
"her" sins. The mother I could not avoid, as long as my tiresome aunt
was dancing about with the housekeeper, but the son I "can" get away
And she immediately scrambled across the fence, and walked away, not
attending to Fanny's last question of whether she had seen anything of
Miss Crawford and Edmund. The sort of dread in which Fanny now sat of
seeing Mr. Rushworth prevented her thinking so much of their continued
absence, however, as she might have done. She felt that he had been
very ill-used, and was quite unhappy in having to communicate what had
passed. He joined her within five minutes after Julia's exit; and
though she made the best of the story, he was evidently mortified and
displeased in no common degree. At first he scarcely said anything;
his looks only expressed his extreme surprise and vexation, and he
walked to the gate and stood there, without seeming to know what to do.
"They desired me to stay--my cousin Maria charged me to say that you
would find them at that knoll, or thereabouts."
"I do not believe I shall go any farther," said he sullenly; "I see
nothing of them. By the time I get to the knoll they may be gone
somewhere else. I have had walking enough."
And he sat down with a most gloomy countenance by Fanny.
"I am very sorry," said she; "it is very unlucky." And she longed to
be able to say something more to the purpose.
After an interval of silence, "I think they might as well have staid
for me," said he.
"Miss Bertram thought you would follow her."
"I should not have had to follow her if she had staid."
This could not be denied, and Fanny was silenced. After another pause,
he went on--"Pray, Miss Price, are you such a great admirer of this Mr.
Crawford as some people are? For my part, I can see nothing in him."
"I do not think him at all handsome."
"Handsome! Nobody can call such an undersized man handsome. He is not
five foot nine. I should not wonder if he is not more than five foot
eight. I think he is an ill-looking fellow. In my opinion, these
Crawfords are no addition at all. We did very well without them."
A small sigh escaped Fanny here, and she did not know how to contradict
"If I had made any difficulty about fetching the key, there might have
been some excuse, but I went the very moment she said she wanted it."
"Nothing could be more obliging than your manner, I am sure, and I dare
say you walked as fast as you could; but still it is some distance, you
know, from this spot to the house, quite into the house; and when
people are waiting, they are bad judges of time, and every half minute
seems like five."
He got up and walked to the gate again, and "wished he had had the key
about him at the time." Fanny thought she discerned in his standing
there an indication of relenting, which encouraged her to another
attempt, and she said, therefore, "It is a pity you should not join
them. They expected to have a better view of the house from that part
of the park, and will be thinking how it may be improved; and nothing
of that sort, you know, can be settled without you."
She found herself more successful in sending away than in retaining a
companion. Mr. Rushworth was worked on. "Well," said he, "if you
really think I had better go: it would be foolish to bring the key for
nothing." And letting himself out, he walked off without farther
Fanny's thoughts were now all engrossed by the two who had left her so
long ago, and getting quite impatient, she resolved to go in search of
them. She followed their steps along the bottom walk, and had just
turned up into another, when the voice and the laugh of Miss Crawford
once more caught her ear; the sound approached, and a few more windings
brought them before her. They were just returned into the wilderness
from the park, to which a sidegate, not fastened, had tempted them very
soon after their leaving her, and they had been across a portion of the
park into the very avenue which Fanny had been hoping the whole morning
to reach at last, and had been sitting down under one of the trees.
This was their history. It was evident that they had been spending
their time pleasantly, and were not aware of the length of their
absence. Fanny's best consolation was in being assured that Edmund had
wished for her very much, and that he should certainly have come back
for her, had she not been tired already; but this was not quite
sufficient to do away with the pain of having been left a whole hour,
when he had talked of only a few minutes, nor to banish the sort of
curiosity she felt to know what they had been conversing about all that
time; and the result of the whole was to her disappointment and
depression, as they prepared by general agreement to return to the
On reaching the bottom of the steps to the terrace, Mrs. Rushworth and
Mrs. Norris presented themselves at the top, just ready for the
wilderness, at the end of an hour and a half from their leaving the
house. Mrs. Norris had been too well employed to move faster.
Whatever cross-accidents had occurred to intercept the pleasures of her
nieces, she had found a morning of complete enjoyment; for the
housekeeper, after a great many courtesies on the subject of pheasants,
had taken her to the dairy, told her all about their cows, and given
her the receipt for a famous cream cheese; and since Julia's leaving
them they had been met by the gardener, with whom she had made a most
satisfactory acquaintance, for she had set him right as to his
grandson's illness, convinced him that it was an ague, and promised him
a charm for it; and he, in return, had shewn her all his choicest
nursery of plants, and actually presented her with a very curious
specimen of heath.
On this "rencontre" they all returned to the house together, there to
lounge away the time as they could with sofas, and chit-chat, and
Quarterly Reviews, till the return of the others, and the arrival of
dinner. It was late before the Miss Bertrams and the two gentlemen
came in, and their ramble did not appear to have been more than
partially agreeable, or at all productive of anything useful with
regard to the object of the day. By their own accounts they had been
all walking after each other, and the junction which had taken place at
last seemed, to Fanny's observation, to have been as much too late for
re-establishing harmony, as it confessedly had been for determining on
any alteration. She felt, as she looked at Julia and Mr. Rushworth,
that hers was not the only dissatisfied bosom amongst them: there was
gloom on the face of each. Mr. Crawford and Miss Bertram were much
more gay, and she thought that he was taking particular pains, during
dinner, to do away any little resentment of the other two, and restore
Dinner was soon followed by tea and coffee, a ten miles' drive home
allowed no waste of hours; and from the time of their sitting down to
table, it was a quick succession of busy nothings till the carriage
came to the door, and Mrs. Norris, having fidgeted about, and obtained
a few pheasants' eggs and a cream cheese from the housekeeper, and made
abundance of civil speeches to Mrs. Rushworth, was ready to lead the
way. At the same moment Mr. Crawford, approaching Julia, said, "I hope
I am not to lose my companion, unless she is afraid of the evening air
in so exposed a seat." The request had not been foreseen, but was very
graciously received, and Julia's day was likely to end almost as well
as it began. Miss Bertram had made up her mind to something different,
and was a little disappointed; but her conviction of being really the
one preferred comforted her under it, and enabled her to receive Mr.
Rushworth's parting attentions as she ought. He was certainly better
pleased to hand her into the barouche than to assist her in ascending
the box, and his complacency seemed confirmed by the arrangement.
"Well, Fanny, this has been a fine day for you, upon my word," said
Mrs. Norris, as they drove through the park. "Nothing but pleasure
from beginning to end! I am sure you ought to be very much obliged to
your aunt Bertram and me for contriving to let you go. A pretty good
day's amusement you have had!"
Maria was just discontented enough to say directly, "I think "you" have
done pretty well yourself, ma'am. Your lap seems full of good things,
and here is a basket of something between us which has been knocking my
"My dear, it is only a beautiful little heath, which that nice old
gardener would make me take; but if it is in your way, I will have it
in my lap directly. There, Fanny, you shall carry that parcel for me;
take great care of it: do not let it fall; it is a cream cheese, just
like the excellent one we had at dinner. Nothing would satisfy that
good old Mrs. Whitaker, but my taking one of the cheeses. I stood out
as long as I could, till the tears almost came into her eyes, and I
knew it was just the sort that my sister would be delighted with. That
Mrs. Whitaker is a treasure! She was quite shocked when I asked her
whether wine was allowed at the second table, and she has turned away
two housemaids for wearing white gowns. Take care of the cheese,
Fanny. Now I can manage the other parcel and the basket very well."
"What else have you been spunging?" said Maria, half-pleased that
Sotherton should be so complimented.
"Spunging, my dear! It is nothing but four of those beautiful
pheasants' eggs, which Mrs. Whitaker would quite force upon me: she
would not take a denial. She said it must be such an amusement to me,
as she understood I lived quite alone, to have a few living creatures
of that sort; and so to be sure it will. I shall get the dairymaid to
set them under the first spare hen, and if they come to good I can have
them moved to my own house and borrow a coop; and it will be a great
delight to me in my lonely hours to attend to them. And if I have good
luck, your mother shall have some."
It was a beautiful evening, mild and still, and the drive was as
pleasant as the serenity of Nature could make it; but when Mrs. Norris
ceased speaking, it was altogether a silent drive to those within.
Their spirits were in general exhausted; and to determine whether the
day had afforded most pleasure or pain, might occupy the meditations of
The day at Sotherton, with all its imperfections, afforded the Miss
Bertrams much more agreeable feelings than were derived from the
letters from Antigua, which soon afterwards reached Mansfield. It was
much pleasanter to think of Henry Crawford than of their father; and to
think of their father in England again within a certain period, which
these letters obliged them to do, was a most unwelcome exercise.
November was the black month fixed for his return. Sir Thomas wrote of
it with as much decision as experience and anxiety could authorise.
His business was so nearly concluded as to justify him in proposing to
take his passage in the September packet, and he consequently looked
forward with the hope of being with his beloved family again early in
Maria was more to be pitied than Julia; for to her the father brought a
husband, and the return of the friend most solicitous for her happiness
would unite her to the lover, on whom she had chosen that happiness
should depend. It was a gloomy prospect, and all she could do was to
throw a mist over it, and hope when the mist cleared away she should
see something else. It would hardly be "early" in November, there were
generally delays, a bad passage or "something"; that favouring
"something" which everybody who shuts their eyes while they look, or
their understandings while they reason, feels the comfort of. It would
probably be the middle of November at least; the middle of November was
three months off. Three months comprised thirteen weeks. Much might
happen in thirteen weeks.
Sir Thomas would have been deeply mortified by a suspicion of half that
his daughters felt on the subject of his return, and would hardly have
found consolation in a knowledge of the interest it excited in the
breast of another young lady. Miss Crawford, on walking up with her
brother to spend the evening at Mansfield Park, heard the good news;
and though seeming to have no concern in the affair beyond politeness,
and to have vented all her feelings in a quiet congratulation, heard it
with an attention not so easily satisfied. Mrs. Norris gave the
particulars of the letters, and the subject was dropt; but after tea,
as Miss Crawford was standing at an open window with Edmund and Fanny
looking out on a twilight scene, while the Miss Bertrams, Mr.
Rushworth, and Henry Crawford were all busy with candles at the
pianoforte, she suddenly revived it by turning round towards the group,
and saying, "How happy Mr. Rushworth looks! He is thinking of
Edmund looked round at Mr. Rushworth too, but had nothing to say.
"Your father's return will be a very interesting event."
"It will, indeed, after such an absence; an absence not only long, but
including so many dangers."
"It will be the forerunner also of other interesting events: your
sister's marriage, and your taking orders."
"Don't be affronted," said she, laughing, "but it does put me in mind
of some of the old heathen heroes, who, after performing great exploits
in a foreign land, offered sacrifices to the gods on their safe return."
"There is no sacrifice in the case," replied Edmund, with a serious
smile, and glancing at the pianoforte again; "it is entirely her own
"Oh yes I know it is. I was merely joking. She has done no more than
what every young woman would do; and I have no doubt of her being
extremely happy. My other sacrifice, of course, you do not understand."
"My taking orders, I assure you, is quite as voluntary as Maria's
"It is fortunate that your inclination and your father's convenience
should accord so well. There is a very good living kept for you, I
"Which you suppose has biassed me?"
"But "that" I am sure it has not," cried Fanny.
"Thank you for your good word, Fanny, but it is more than I would
affirm myself. On the contrary, the knowing that there was such a
provision for me probably did bias me. Nor can I think it wrong that
it should. There was no natural disinclination to be overcome, and I
see no reason why a man should make a worse clergyman for knowing that
he will have a competence early in life. I was in safe hands. I hope
I should not have been influenced myself in a wrong way, and I am sure
my father was too conscientious to have allowed it. I have no doubt
that I was biased, but I think it was blamelessly."
"It is the same sort of thing," said Fanny, after a short pause, "as
for the son of an admiral to go into the navy, or the son of a general
to be in the army, and nobody sees anything wrong in that. Nobody
wonders that they should prefer the line where their friends can serve
them best, or suspects them to be less in earnest in it than they
"No, my dear Miss Price, and for reasons good. The profession, either
navy or army, is its own justification. It has everything in its
favour: heroism, danger, bustle, fashion. Soldiers and sailors are
always acceptable in society. Nobody can wonder that men are soldiers
"But the motives of a man who takes orders with the certainty of
preferment may be fairly suspected, you think?" said Edmund. "To be
justified in your eyes, he must do it in the most complete uncertainty
of any provision."
"What! take orders without a living! No; that is madness indeed;
"Shall I ask you how the church is to be filled, if a man is neither to
take orders with a living nor without? No; for you certainly would not
know what to say. But I must beg some advantage to the clergyman from
your own argument. As he cannot be influenced by those feelings which
you rank highly as temptation and reward to the soldier and sailor in
their choice of a profession, as heroism, and noise, and fashion, are
all against him, he ought to be less liable to the suspicion of wanting
sincerity or good intentions in the choice of his."
"Oh! no doubt he is very sincere in preferring an income ready made, to
the trouble of working for one; and has the best intentions of doing
nothing all the rest of his days but eat, drink, and grow fat. It is
indolence, Mr. Bertram, indeed. Indolence and love of ease; a want of
all laudable ambition, of taste for good company, or of inclination to
take the trouble of being agreeable, which make men clergymen. A
clergyman has nothing to do but be slovenly and selfish--read the
newspaper, watch the weather, and quarrel with his wife. His curate
does all the work, and the business of his own life is to dine."
"There are such clergymen, no doubt, but I think they are not so common
as to justify Miss Crawford in esteeming it their general character. I
suspect that in this comprehensive and (may I say) commonplace censure,
you are not judging from yourself, but from prejudiced persons, whose
opinions you have been in the habit of hearing. It is impossible that
your own observation can have given you much knowledge of the clergy.
You can have been personally acquainted with very few of a set of men
you condemn so conclusively. You are speaking what you have been told
at your uncle's table."
"I speak what appears to me the general opinion; and where an opinion
is general, it is usually correct. Though "I" have not seen much of
the domestic lives of clergymen, it is seen by too many to leave any
deficiency of information."
"Where any one body of educated men, of whatever denomination, are
condemned indiscriminately, there must be a deficiency of information,
or (smiling) of something else. Your uncle, and his brother admirals,
perhaps knew little of clergymen beyond the chaplains whom, good or
bad, they were always wishing away."
"Poor William! He has met with great kindness from the chaplain of the
Antwerp," was a tender apostrophe of Fanny's, very much to the purpose
of her own feelings if not of the conversation.
"I have been so little addicted to take my opinions from my uncle,"
said Miss Crawford, "that I can hardly suppose--and since you push me
so hard, I must observe, that I am not entirely without the means of
seeing what clergymen are, being at this present time the guest of my
own brother, Dr. Grant. And though Dr. Grant is most kind and obliging
to me, and though he is really a gentleman, and, I dare say, a good
scholar and clever, and often preaches good sermons, and is very
respectable, "I" see him to be an indolent, selfish "bon" "vivant", who
must have his palate consulted in everything; who will not stir a
finger for the convenience of any one; and who, moreover, if the cook
makes a blunder, is out of humour with his excellent wife. To own the
truth, Henry and I were partly driven out this very evening by a
disappointment about a green goose, which he could not get the better
of. My poor sister was forced to stay and bear it."
"I do not wonder at your disapprobation, upon my word. It is a great
defect of temper, made worse by a very faulty habit of self-indulgence;
and to see your sister suffering from it must be exceedingly painful to
such feelings as yours. Fanny, it goes against us. We cannot attempt
to defend Dr. Grant."
"No," replied Fanny, "but we need not give up his profession for all
that; because, whatever profession Dr. Grant had chosen, he would have
taken a--not a good temper into it; and as he must, either in the navy
or army, have had a great many more people under his command than he
has now, I think more would have been made unhappy by him as a sailor
or soldier than as a clergyman. Besides, I cannot but suppose that
whatever there may be to wish otherwise in Dr. Grant would have been in
a greater danger of becoming worse in a more active and worldly
profession, where he would have had less time and obligation--where he
might have escaped that knowledge of himself, the "frequency", at
least, of that knowledge which it is impossible he should escape as he
is now. A man--a sensible man like Dr. Grant, cannot be in the habit
of teaching others their duty every week, cannot go to church twice
every Sunday, and preach such very good sermons in so good a manner as
he does, without being the better for it himself. It must make him
think; and I have no doubt that he oftener endeavours to restrain
himself than he would if he had been anything but a clergyman."
"We cannot prove to the contrary, to be sure; but I wish you a better
fate, Miss Price, than to be the wife of a man whose amiableness
depends upon his own sermons; for though he may preach himself into a
good-humour every Sunday, it will be bad enough to have him quarrelling
about green geese from Monday morning till Saturday night."
"I think the man who could often quarrel with Fanny," said Edmund
affectionately, "must be beyond the reach of any sermons."
Fanny turned farther into the window; and Miss Crawford had only time
to say, in a pleasant manner, "I fancy Miss Price has been more used to
deserve praise than to hear it"; when, being earnestly invited by the
Miss Bertrams to join in a glee, she tripped off to the instrument,
leaving Edmund looking after her in an ecstasy of admiration of all her
many virtues, from her obliging manners down to her light and graceful
"There goes good-humour, I am sure," said he presently. "There goes a
temper which would never give pain! How well she walks! and how
readily she falls in with the inclination of others! joining them the
moment she is asked. What a pity," he added, after an instant's
reflection, "that she should have been in such hands!"
Fanny agreed to it, and had the pleasure of seeing him continue at the
window with her, in spite of the expected glee; and of having his eyes
soon turned, like hers, towards the scene without, where all that was
solemn, and soothing, and lovely, appeared in the brilliancy of an
unclouded night, and the contrast of the deep shade of the woods.
Fanny spoke her feelings. "Here's harmony!" said she; "here's repose!
Here's what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what
poetry only can attempt to describe! Here's what may tranquillise
every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a
night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor
sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the
sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more
out of themselves by contemplating such a scene."
"I like to hear your enthusiasm, Fanny. It is a lovely night, and they
are much to be pitied who have not been taught to feel, in some degree,
as you do; who have not, at least, been given a taste for Nature in
early life. They lose a great deal."
""You" taught me to think and feel on the subject, cousin."
"I had a very apt scholar. There's Arcturus looking very bright."
"Yes, and the Bear. I wish I could see Cassiopeia."
"We must go out on the lawn for that. Should you be afraid?"
"Not in the least. It is a great while since we have had any
"Yes; I do not know how it has happened." The glee began. "We will
stay till this is finished, Fanny," said he, turning his back on the
window; and as it advanced, she had the mortification of seeing him
advance too, moving forward by gentle degrees towards the instrument,
and when it ceased, he was close by the singers, among the most urgent
in requesting to hear the glee again.
Fanny sighed alone at the window till scolded away by Mrs. Norris's
threats of catching cold.
Sir Thomas was to return in November, and his eldest son had duties to
call him earlier home. The approach of September brought tidings of
Mr. Bertram, first in a letter to the gamekeeper and then in a letter
to Edmund; and by the end of August he arrived himself, to be gay,
agreeable, and gallant again as occasion served, or Miss Crawford
demanded; to tell of races and Weymouth, and parties and friends, to
which she might have listened six weeks before with some interest, and
altogether to give her the fullest conviction, by the power of actual
comparison, of her preferring his younger brother.
It was very vexatious, and she was heartily sorry for it; but so it
was; and so far from now meaning to marry the elder, she did not even
want to attract him beyond what the simplest claims of conscious beauty
required: his lengthened absence from Mansfield, without anything but
pleasure in view, and his own will to consult, made it perfectly clear
that he did not care about her; and his indifference was so much more
than equalled by her own, that were he now to step forth the owner of
Mansfield Park, the Sir Thomas complete, which he was to be in time,
she did not believe she could accept him.
The season and duties which brought Mr. Bertram back to Mansfield took
Mr. Crawford into Norfolk. Everingham could not do without him in the
beginning of September. He went for a fortnight--a fortnight of such
dullness to the Miss Bertrams as ought to have put them both on their
guard, and made even Julia admit, in her jealousy of her sister, the
absolute necessity of distrusting his attentions, and wishing him not
to return; and a fortnight of sufficient leisure, in the intervals of
shooting and sleeping, to have convinced the gentleman that he ought to
keep longer away, had he been more in the habit of examining his own
motives, and of reflecting to what the indulgence of his idle vanity
was tending; but, thoughtless and selfish from prosperity and bad
example, he would not look beyond the present moment. The sisters,
handsome, clever, and encouraging, were an amusement to his sated mind;
and finding nothing in Norfolk to equal the social pleasures of
Mansfield, he gladly returned to it at the time appointed, and was
welcomed thither quite as gladly by those whom he came to trifle with
Maria, with only Mr. Rushworth to attend to her, and doomed to the
repeated details of his day's sport, good or bad, his boast of his
dogs, his jealousy of his neighbours, his doubts of their
qualifications, and his zeal after poachers, subjects which will not
find their way to female feelings without some talent on one side or
some attachment on the other, had missed Mr. Crawford grievously; and
Julia, unengaged and unemployed, felt all the right of missing him much
more. Each sister believed herself the favourite. Julia might be
justified in so doing by the hints of Mrs. Grant, inclined to credit
what she wished, and Maria by the hints of Mr. Crawford himself.
Everything returned into the same channel as before his absence; his
manners being to each so animated and agreeable as to lose no ground
with either, and just stopping short of the consistence, the
steadiness, the solicitude, and the warmth which might excite general
Fanny was the only one of the party who found anything to dislike; but
since the day at Sotherton, she could never see Mr. Crawford with
either sister without observation, and seldom without wonder or
censure; and had her confidence in her own judgment been equal to her
exercise of it in every other respect, had she been sure that she was
seeing clearly, and judging candidly, she would probably have made some
important communications to her usual confidant. As it was, however,
she only hazarded a hint, and the hint was lost. "I am rather
surprised," said she, "that Mr. Crawford should come back again so
soon, after being here so long before, full seven weeks; for I had
understood he was so very fond of change and moving about, that I
thought something would certainly occur, when he was once gone, to take
him elsewhere. He is used to much gayer places than Mansfield."
"It is to his credit," was Edmund's answer; "and I dare say it gives
his sister pleasure. She does not like his unsettled habits."
"What a favourite he is with my cousins!"
"Yes, his manners to women are such as must please. Mrs. Grant, I
believe, suspects him of a preference for Julia; I have never seen much
symptom of it, but I wish it may be so. He has no faults but what a
serious attachment would remove."
"If Miss Bertram were not engaged," said Fanny cautiously, "I could
sometimes almost think that he admired her more than Julia."
"Which is, perhaps, more in favour of his liking Julia best, than you,
Fanny, may be aware; for I believe it often happens that a man, before
he has quite made up his own mind, will distinguish the sister or
intimate friend of the woman he is really thinking of more than the
woman herself. Crawford has too much sense to stay here if he found
himself in any danger from Maria; and I am not at all afraid for her,
after such a proof as she has given that her feelings are not strong."
Fanny supposed she must have been mistaken, and meant to think
differently in future; but with all that submission to Edmund could do,
and all the help of the coinciding looks and hints which she
occasionally noticed in some of the others, and which seemed to say
that Julia was Mr. Crawford's choice, she knew not always what to
think. She was privy, one evening, to the hopes of her aunt Norris on
the subject, as well as to her feelings, and the feelings of Mrs.
Rushworth, on a point of some similarity, and could not help wondering
as she listened; and glad would she have been not to be obliged to
listen, for it was while all the other young people were dancing, and
she sitting, most unwillingly, among the chaperons at the fire, longing
for the re-entrance of her elder cousin, on whom all her own hopes of a
partner then depended. It was Fanny's first ball, though without the
preparation or splendour of many a young lady's first ball, being the
thought only of the afternoon, built on the late acquisition of a
violin player in the servants' hall, and the possibility of raising
five couple with the help of Mrs. Grant and a new intimate friend of
Mr. Bertram's just arrived on a visit. It had, however, been a very
happy one to Fanny through four dances, and she was quite grieved to be
losing even a quarter of an hour. While waiting and wishing, looking
now at the dancers and now at the door, this dialogue between the two
above-mentioned ladies was forced on her--
"I think, ma'am," said Mrs. Norris, her eyes directed towards Mr.
Rushworth and Maria, who were partners for the second time, "we shall
see some happy faces again now."
"Yes, ma'am, indeed," replied the other, with a stately simper, "there
will be some satisfaction in looking on "now", and I think it was
rather a pity they should have been obliged to part. Young folks in
their situation should be excused complying with the common forms. I
wonder my son did not propose it."
"I dare say he did, ma'am. Mr. Rushworth is never remiss. But dear
Maria has such a strict sense of propriety, so much of that true
delicacy which one seldom meets with nowadays, Mrs. Rushworth--that
wish of avoiding particularity! Dear ma'am, only look at her face at
this moment; how different from what it was the two last dances!"
Miss Bertram did indeed look happy, her eyes were sparkling with
pleasure, and she was speaking with great animation, for Julia and her
partner, Mr. Crawford, were close to her; they were all in a cluster
together. How she had looked before, Fanny could not recollect, for
she had been dancing with Edmund herself, and had not thought about her.
Mrs. Norris continued, "It is quite delightful, ma'am, to see young
people so properly happy, so well suited, and so much the thing! I
cannot but think of dear Sir Thomas's delight. And what do you say,
ma'am, to the chance of another match? Mr. Rushworth has set a good
example, and such things are very catching."
Mrs. Rushworth, who saw nothing but her son, was quite at a loss.
"The couple above, ma'am. Do you see no symptoms there?"
"Oh dear! Miss Julia and Mr. Crawford. Yes, indeed, a very pretty
match. What is his property?"
"Four thousand a year."
"Very well. Those who have not more must be satisfied with what they
have. Four thousand a year is a pretty estate, and he seems a very
genteel, steady young man, so I hope Miss Julia will be very happy."
"It is not a settled thing, ma'am, yet. We only speak of it among
friends. But I have very little doubt it "will" be. He is growing
extremely particular in his attentions."
Fanny could listen no farther. Listening and wondering were all
suspended for a time, for Mr. Bertram was in the room again; and though
feeling it would be a great honour to be asked by him, she thought it
must happen. He came towards their little circle; but instead of
asking her to dance, drew a chair near her, and gave her an account of
the present state of a sick horse, and the opinion of the groom, from
whom he had just parted. Fanny found that it was not to be, and in the
modesty of her nature immediately felt that she had been unreasonable
in expecting it. When he had told of his horse, he took a newspaper
from the table, and looking over it, said in a languid way, "If you
want to dance, Fanny, I will stand up with you." With more than equal
civility the offer was declined; she did not wish to dance. "I am glad
of it," said he, in a much brisker tone, and throwing down the
newspaper again, "for I am tired to death. I only wonder how the good
people can keep it up so long. They had need be "all" in love, to find
any amusement in such folly; and so they are, I fancy. If you look at
them you may see they are so many couple of lovers--all but Yates and
Mrs. Grant--and, between ourselves, she, poor woman, must want a lover
as much as any one of them. A desperate dull life hers must be with
the doctor," making a sly face as he spoke towards the chair of the
latter, who proving, however, to be close at his elbow, made so
instantaneous a change of expression and subject necessary, as Fanny,
in spite of everything, could hardly help laughing at. "A strange
business this in America, Dr. Grant! What is your opinion? I always
come to you to know what I am to think of public matters."
"My dear Tom," cried his aunt soon afterwards, "as you are not dancing,
I dare say you will have no objection to join us in a rubber; shall
you?" Then leaving her seat, and coming to him to enforce the
proposal, added in a whisper, "We want to make a table for Mrs.
Rushworth, you know. Your mother is quite anxious about it, but cannot
very well spare time to sit down herself, because of her fringe. Now,
you and I and Dr. Grant will just do; and though "we" play but
half-crowns, you know, you may bet half-guineas with "him"."
"I should be most happy," replied he aloud, and jumping up with
alacrity, "it would give me the greatest pleasure; but that I am this
moment going to dance." Come, Fanny, taking her hand, "do not be
dawdling any longer, or the dance will be over."
Fanny was led off very willingly, though it was impossible for her to
feel much gratitude towards her cousin, or distinguish, as he certainly
did, between the selfishness of another person and his own.
"A pretty modest request upon my word," he indignantly exclaimed as
they walked away. "To want to nail me to a card-table for the next two
hours with herself and Dr. Grant, who are always quarrelling, and that
poking old woman, who knows no more of whist than of algebra. I wish
my good aunt would be a little less busy! And to ask me in such a way
too! without ceremony, before them all, so as to leave me no
possibility of refusing. "That" is what I dislike most particularly.
It raises my spleen more than anything, to have the pretence of being
asked, of being given a choice, and at the same time addressed in such
a way as to oblige one to do the very thing, whatever it be! If I had
not luckily thought of standing up with you I could not have got out of
it. It is a great deal too bad. But when my aunt has got a fancy in
her head, nothing can stop her."
The Honourable John Yates, this new friend, had not much to recommend
him beyond habits of fashion and expense, and being the younger son of
a lord with a tolerable independence; and Sir Thomas would probably
have thought his introduction at Mansfield by no means desirable. Mr.
Bertram's acquaintance with him had begun at Weymouth, where they had
spent ten days together in the same society, and the friendship, if
friendship it might be called, had been proved and perfected by Mr.
Yates's being invited to take Mansfield in his way, whenever he could,
and by his promising to come; and he did come rather earlier than had
been expected, in consequence of the sudden breaking-up of a large
party assembled for gaiety at the house of another friend, which he had
left Weymouth to join. He came on the wings of disappointment, and
with his head full of acting, for it had been a theatrical party; and
the play in which he had borne a part was within two days of
representation, when the sudden death of one of the nearest connexions
of the family had destroyed the scheme and dispersed the performers.
To be so near happiness, so near fame, so near the long paragraph in
praise of the private theatricals at Ecclesford, the seat of the Right
Hon. Lord Ravenshaw, in Cornwall, which would of course have
immortalised the whole party for at least a twelvemonth! and being so
near, to lose it all, was an injury to be keenly felt, and Mr. Yates
could talk of nothing else. Ecclesford and its theatre, with its
arrangements and dresses, rehearsals and jokes, was his never-failing
subject, and to boast of the past his only consolation.
Happily for him, a love of the theatre is so general, an itch for
acting so strong among young people, that he could hardly out-talk the
interest of his hearers. From the first casting of the parts to the
epilogue it was all bewitching, and there were few who did not wish to
have been a party concerned, or would have hesitated to try their
skill. The play had been Lovers' Vows, and Mr. Yates was to have been
Count Cassel. "A trifling part," said he, "and not at all to my taste,
and such a one as I certainly would not accept again; but I was
determined to make no difficulties. Lord Ravenshaw and the duke had
appropriated the only two characters worth playing before I reached
Ecclesford; and though Lord Ravenshaw offered to resign his to me, it
was impossible to take it, you know. I was sorry for "him" that he
should have so mistaken his powers, for he was no more equal to the
Baron--a little man with a weak voice, always hoarse after the first
ten minutes. It must have injured the piece materially; but "I" was
resolved to make no difficulties. Sir Henry thought the duke not equal
to Frederick, but that was because Sir Henry wanted the part himself;
whereas it was certainly in the best hands of the two. I was surprised
to see Sir Henry such a stick. Luckily the strength of the piece did
not depend upon him. Our Agatha was inimitable, and the duke was
thought very great by many. And upon the whole, it would certainly
have gone off wonderfully."
"It was a hard case, upon my word"; and, "I do think you were very much
to be pitied," were the kind responses of listening sympathy.
"It is not worth complaining about; but to be sure the poor old dowager
could not have died at a worse time; and it is impossible to help
wishing that the news could have been suppressed for just the three
days we wanted. It was but three days; and being only a grandmother,
and all happening two hundred miles off, I think there would have been
no great harm, and it was suggested, I know; but Lord Ravenshaw, who I
suppose is one of the most correct men in England, would not hear of
"An afterpiece instead of a comedy," said Mr. Bertram. "Lovers' Vows
were at an end, and Lord and Lady Ravenshaw left to act My Grandmother
by themselves. Well, the jointure may comfort "him"; and perhaps,
between friends, he began to tremble for his credit and his lungs in
the Baron, and was not sorry to withdraw; and to make "you" amends,
Yates, I think we must raise a little theatre at Mansfield, and ask you
to be our manager."
This, though the thought of the moment, did not end with the moment;
for the inclination to act was awakened, and in no one more strongly
than in him who was now master of the house; and who, having so much
leisure as to make almost any novelty a certain good, had likewise such
a degree of lively talents and comic taste, as were exactly adapted to
the novelty of acting. The thought returned again and again. "Oh for
the Ecclesford theatre and scenery to try something with." Each sister
could echo the wish; and Henry Crawford, to whom, in all the riot of
his gratifications it was yet an untasted pleasure, was quite alive at
the idea. "I really believe," said he, "I could be fool enough at this
moment to undertake any character that ever was written, from Shylock
or Richard III down to the singing hero of a farce in his scarlet coat
and cocked hat. I feel as if I could be anything or everything; as if
I could rant and storm, or sigh or cut capers, in any tragedy or comedy
in the English language. Let us be doing something. Be it only half a
play, an act, a scene; what should prevent us? Not these countenances,
I am sure," looking towards the Miss Bertrams; "and for a theatre, what
signifies a theatre? We shall be only amusing ourselves. Any room in
this house might suffice."
"We must have a curtain," said Tom Bertram; "a few yards of green baize
for a curtain, and perhaps that may be enough."
"Oh, quite enough," cried Mr. Yates, "with only just a side wing or two
run up, doors in flat, and three or four scenes to be let down; nothing
more would be necessary on such a plan as this. For mere amusement
among ourselves we should want nothing more."
"I believe we must be satisfied with "less"," said Maria. "There would
not be time, and other difficulties would arise. We must rather adopt
Mr. Crawford's views, and make the "performance", not the "theatre",
our object. Many parts of our best plays are independent of scenery."
"Nay," said Edmund, who began to listen with alarm. "Let us do nothing
by halves. If we are to act, let it be in a theatre completely fitted
up with pit, boxes, and gallery, and let us have a play entire from
beginning to end; so as it be a German play, no matter what, with a
good tricking, shifting afterpiece, and a figure-dance, and a hornpipe,
and a song between the acts. If we do not outdo Ecclesford, we do
"Now, Edmund, do not be disagreeable," said Julia. "Nobody loves a
play better than you do, or can have gone much farther to see one."
"True, to see real acting, good hardened real acting; but I would
hardly walk from this room to the next to look at the raw efforts of
those who have not been bred to the trade: a set of gentlemen and
ladies, who have all the disadvantages of education and decorum to
After a short pause, however, the subject still continued, and was
discussed with unabated eagerness, every one's inclination increasing
by the discussion, and a knowledge of the inclination of the rest; and
though nothing was settled but that Tom Bertram would prefer a comedy,
and his sisters and Henry Crawford a tragedy, and that nothing in the
world could be easier than to find a piece which would please them all,
the resolution to act something or other seemed so decided as to make
Edmund quite uncomfortable. He was determined to prevent it, if
possible, though his mother, who equally heard the conversation which
passed at table, did not evince the least disapprobation.
The same evening afforded him an opportunity of trying his strength.
Maria, Julia, Henry Crawford, and Mr. Yates were in the billiard-room.
Tom, returning from them into the drawing-room, where Edmund was
standing thoughtfully by the fire, while Lady Bertram was on the sofa
at a little distance, and Fanny close beside her arranging her work,
thus began as he entered--"Such a horribly vile billiard-table as ours
is not to be met with, I believe, above ground. I can stand it no
longer, and I think, I may say, that nothing shall ever tempt me to it
again; but one good thing I have just ascertained: it is the very room
for a theatre, precisely the shape and length for it; and the doors at
the farther end, communicating with each other, as they may be made to
do in five minutes, by merely moving the bookcase in my father's room,
is the very thing we could have desired, if we had sat down to wish for
it; and my father's room will be an excellent greenroom. It seems to
join the billiard-room on purpose."
"You are not serious, Tom, in meaning to act?" said Edmund, in a low
voice, as his brother approached the fire.
"Not serious! never more so, I assure you. What is there to surprise
you in it?"
"I think it would be very wrong. In a "general" light, private
theatricals are open to some objections, but as "we" are circumstanced,
I must think it would be highly injudicious, and more than injudicious
to attempt anything of the kind. It would shew great want of feeling
on my father's account, absent as he is, and in some degree of constant
danger; and it would be imprudent, I think, with regard to Maria, whose
situation is a very delicate one, considering everything, extremely
"You take up a thing so seriously! as if we were going to act three
times a week till my father's return, and invite all the country. But
it is not to be a display of that sort. We mean nothing but a little
amusement among ourselves, just to vary the scene, and exercise our
powers in something new. We want no audience, no publicity. We may be
trusted, I think, in chusing some play most perfectly unexceptionable;
and I can conceive no greater harm or danger to any of us in conversing
in the elegant written language of some respectable author than in
chattering in words of our own. I have no fears and no scruples. And
as to my father's being absent, it is so far from an objection, that I
consider it rather as a motive; for the expectation of his return must
be a very anxious period to my mother; and if we can be the means of
amusing that anxiety, and keeping up her spirits for the next few
weeks, I shall think our time very well spent, and so, I am sure, will
he. It is a "very" anxious period for her."
As he said this, each looked towards their mother. Lady Bertram, sunk
back in one corner of the sofa, the picture of health, wealth, ease,
and tranquillity, was just falling into a gentle doze, while Fanny was
getting through the few difficulties of her work for her.
Edmund smiled and shook his head.
"By Jove! this won't do," cried Tom, throwing himself into a chair with
a hearty laugh. "To be sure, my dear mother, your anxiety--I was
"What is the matter?" asked her ladyship, in the heavy tone of one
half-roused; "I was not asleep."
"Oh dear, no, ma'am, nobody suspected you! Well, Edmund," he
continued, returning to the former subject, posture, and voice, as soon
as Lady Bertram began to nod again, "but "this" I "will" maintain, that
we shall be doing no harm."
"I cannot agree with you; I am convinced that my father would totally
"And I am convinced to the contrary. Nobody is fonder of the exercise
of talent in young people, or promotes it more, than my father, and for
anything of the acting, spouting, reciting kind, I think he has always
a decided taste. I am sure he encouraged it in us as boys. How many a
time have we mourned over the dead body of Julius Caesar, and to "be'd"
and not "to" "be'd", in this very room, for his amusement? And I am
sure, "my" "name" "was" "Norval", every evening of my life through one
"It was a very different thing. You must see the difference yourself.
My father wished us, as schoolboys, to speak well, but he would never
wish his grown-up daughters to be acting plays. His sense of decorum
"I know all that," said Tom, displeased. "I know my father as well as
you do; and I'll take care that his daughters do nothing to distress
him. Manage your own concerns, Edmund, and I'll take care of the rest
of the family."
"If you are resolved on acting," replied the persevering Edmund, "I
must hope it will be in a very small and quiet way; and I think a
theatre ought not to be attempted. It would be taking liberties with
my father's house in his absence which could not be justified."
"For everything of that nature I will be answerable," said Tom, in a
decided tone. "His house shall not be hurt. I have quite as great an
interest in being careful of his house as you can have; and as to such
alterations as I was suggesting just now, such as moving a bookcase, or
unlocking a door, or even as using the billiard-room for the space of a
week without playing at billiards in it, you might just as well suppose
he would object to our sitting more in this room, and less in the
breakfast-room, than we did before he went away, or to my sister's
pianoforte being moved from one side of the room to the other.
"The innovation, if not wrong as an innovation, will be wrong as an
"Yes, the expense of such an undertaking would be prodigious! Perhaps
it might cost a whole twenty pounds. Something of a theatre we must
have undoubtedly, but it will be on the simplest plan: a green curtain
and a little carpenter's work, and that's all; and as the carpenter's
work may be all done at home by Christopher Jackson himself, it will be
too absurd to talk of expense; and as long as Jackson is employed,
everything will be right with Sir Thomas. Don't imagine that nobody in
this house can see or judge but yourself. Don't act yourself, if you
do not like it, but don't expect to govern everybody else."
"No, as to acting myself," said Edmund, ""that" I absolutely protest
Tom walked out of the room as he said it, and Edmund was left to sit
down and stir the fire in thoughtful vexation.
Fanny, who had heard it all, and borne Edmund company in every feeling
throughout the whole, now ventured to say, in her anxiety to suggest
some comfort, "Perhaps they may not be able to find any play to suit
them. Your brother's taste and your sisters' seem very different."
"I have no hope there, Fanny. If they persist in the scheme, they will
find something. I shall speak to my sisters and try to dissuade
"them", and that is all I can do."
"I should think my aunt Norris would be on your side."
"I dare say she would, but she has no influence with either Tom or my
sisters that could be of any use; and if I cannot convince them myself,
I shall let things take their course, without attempting it through
her. Family squabbling is the greatest evil of all, and we had better
do anything than be altogether by the ears."
His sisters, to whom he had an opportunity of speaking the next
morning, were quite as impatient of his advice, quite as unyielding to
his representation, quite as determined in the cause of pleasure, as
Tom. Their mother had no objection to the plan, and they were not in
the least afraid of their father's disapprobation. There could be no
harm in what had been done in so many respectable families, and by so
many women of the first consideration; and it must be scrupulousness
run mad that could see anything to censure in a plan like theirs,
comprehending only brothers and sisters and intimate friends, and which
would never be heard of beyond themselves. Julia "did" seem inclined
to admit that Maria's situation might require particular caution and
delicacy--but that could not extend to "her"--she was at liberty; and
Maria evidently considered her engagement as only raising her so much
more above restraint, and leaving her less occasion than Julia to
consult either father or mother. Edmund had little to hope, but he was
still urging the subject when Henry Crawford entered the room, fresh
from the Parsonage, calling out, "No want of hands in our theatre, Miss
Bertram. No want of understrappers: my sister desires her love, and
hopes to be admitted into the company, and will be happy to take the
part of any old duenna or tame confidante, that you may not like to do
Maria gave Edmund a glance, which meant, "What say you now? Can we be
wrong if Mary Crawford feels the same?" And Edmund, silenced, was
obliged to acknowledge that the charm of acting might well carry
fascination to the mind of genius; and with the ingenuity of love, to
dwell more on the obliging, accommodating purport of the message than
on anything else.
The scheme advanced. Opposition was vain; and as to Mrs. Norris, he
was mistaken in supposing she would wish to make any. She started no
difficulties that were not talked down in five minutes by her eldest
nephew and niece, who were all-powerful with her; and as the whole
arrangement was to bring very little expense to anybody, and none at
all to herself, as she foresaw in it all the comforts of hurry, bustle,
and importance, and derived the immediate advantage of fancying herself
obliged to leave her own house, where she had been living a month at
her own cost, and take up her abode in theirs, that every hour might be
spent in their service, she was, in fact, exceedingly delighted with
Fanny seemed nearer being right than Edmund had supposed. The business
of finding a play that would suit everybody proved to be no trifle; and
the carpenter had received his orders and taken his measurements, had
suggested and removed at least two sets of difficulties, and having
made the necessity of an enlargement of plan and expense fully evident,
was already at work, while a play was still to seek. Other
preparations were also in hand. An enormous roll of green baize had
arrived from Northampton, and been cut out by Mrs. Norris (with a
saving by her good management of full three-quarters of a yard), and
was actually forming into a curtain by the housemaids, and still the
play was wanting; and as two or three days passed away in this manner,
Edmund began almost to hope that none might ever be found.
There were, in fact, so many things to be attended to, so many people
to be pleased, so many best characters required, and, above all, such a
need that the play should be at once both tragedy and comedy, that
there did seem as little chance of a decision as anything pursued by
youth and zeal could hold out.
On the tragic side were the Miss Bertrams, Henry Crawford, and Mr.
Yates; on the comic, Tom Bertram, not "quite" alone, because it was
evident that Mary Crawford's wishes, though politely kept back,
inclined the same way: but his determinateness and his power seemed to
make allies unnecessary; and, independent of this great irreconcilable
difference, they wanted a piece containing very few characters in the
whole, but every character first-rate, and three principal women. All
the best plays were run over in vain. Neither Hamlet, nor Macbeth, nor
Othello, nor Douglas, nor The Gamester, presented anything that could
satisfy even the tragedians; and The Rivals, The School for Scandal,
Wheel of Fortune, Heir at Law, and a long et cetera, were successively
dismissed with yet warmer objections. No piece could be proposed that
did not supply somebody with a difficulty, and on one side or the other
it was a continual repetition of, "Oh no, "that" will never do! Let us
have no ranting tragedies. Too many characters. Not a tolerable
woman's part in the play. Anything but "that", my dear Tom. It would
be impossible to fill it up. One could not expect anybody to take such
a part. Nothing but buffoonery from beginning to end. "That" might
do, perhaps, but for the low parts. If I "must" give my opinion, I
have always thought it the most insipid play in the English language.
"I" do not wish to make objections; I shall be happy to be of any use,
but I think we could not chuse worse."
Fanny looked on and listened, not unamused to observe the selfishness
which, more or less disguised, seemed to govern them all, and wondering
how it would end. For her own gratification she could have wished that
something might be acted, for she had never seen even half a play, but
everything of higher consequence was against it.
"This will never do," said Tom Bertram at last. "We are wasting time
most abominably. Something must be fixed on. No matter what, so that
something is chosen. We must not be so nice. A few characters too
many must not frighten us. We must "double" them. We must descend a
little. If a part is insignificant, the greater our credit in making
anything of it. From this moment I make no difficulties. I take any
part you chuse to give me, so as it be comic. Let it but be comic, I
condition for nothing more."
For about the fifth time he then proposed the Heir at Law, doubting
only whether to prefer Lord Duberley or Dr. Pangloss for himself; and
very earnestly, but very unsuccessfully, trying to persuade the others
that there were some fine tragic parts in the rest of the dramatis
The pause which followed this fruitless effort was ended by the same
speaker, who, taking up one of the many volumes of plays that lay on
the table, and turning it over, suddenly exclaimed--"Lovers' Vows! And
why should not Lovers' Vows do for "us" as well as for the Ravenshaws?
How came it never to be thought of before? It strikes me as if it
would do exactly. What say you all? Here are two capital tragic parts
for Yates and Crawford, and here is the rhyming Butler for me, if
nobody else wants it; a trifling part, but the sort of thing I should
not dislike, and, as I said before, I am determined to take anything
and do my best. And as for the rest, they may be filled up by anybody.
It is only Count Cassel and Anhalt."
The suggestion was generally welcome. Everybody was growing weary of
indecision, and the first idea with everybody was, that nothing had
been proposed before so likely to suit them all. Mr. Yates was
particularly pleased: he had been sighing and longing to do the Baron
at Ecclesford, had grudged every rant of Lord Ravenshaw's, and been
forced to re-rant it all in his own room. The storm through Baron
Wildenheim was the height of his theatrical ambition; and with the
advantage of knowing half the scenes by heart already, he did now, with
the greatest alacrity, offer his services for the part. To do him
justice, however, he did not resolve to appropriate it; for remembering
that there was some very good ranting-ground in Frederick, he professed
an equal willingness for that. Henry Crawford was ready to take
either. Whichever Mr. Yates did not chuse would perfectly satisfy him,
and a short parley of compliment ensued. Miss Bertram, feeling all the
interest of an Agatha in the question, took on her to decide it, by
observing to Mr. Yates that this was a point in which height and figure
ought to be considered, and that "his" being the tallest, seemed to fit
him peculiarly for the Baron. She was acknowledged to be quite right,
and the two parts being accepted accordingly, she was certain of the
proper Frederick. Three of the characters were now cast, besides Mr.
Rushworth, who was always answered for by Maria as willing to do
anything; when Julia, meaning, like her sister, to be Agatha, began to
be scrupulous on Miss Crawford's account.
"This is not behaving well by the absent," said she. "Here are not
women enough. Amelia and Agatha may do for Maria and me, but here is
nothing for your sister, Mr. Crawford."
Mr. Crawford desired "that" might not be thought of: he was very sure
his sister had no wish of acting but as she might be useful, and that
she would not allow herself to be considered in the present case. But
this was immediately opposed by Tom Bertram, who asserted the part of
Amelia to be in every respect the property of Miss Crawford, if she
would accept it. "It falls as naturally, as necessarily to her," said
he, "as Agatha does to one or other of my sisters. It can be no
sacrifice on their side, for it is highly comic."
A short silence followed. Each sister looked anxious; for each felt
the best claim to Agatha, and was hoping to have it pressed on her by
the rest. Henry Crawford, who meanwhile had taken up the play, and
with seeming carelessness was turning over the first act, soon settled
"I must entreat Miss "Julia" Bertram," said he, "not to engage in the
part of Agatha, or it will be the ruin of all my solemnity. You must
not, indeed you must not" (turning to her). "I could not stand your
countenance dressed up in woe and paleness. The many laughs we have
had together would infallibly come across me, and Frederick and his
knapsack would be obliged to run away."
Pleasantly, courteously, it was spoken; but the manner was lost in the
matter to Julia's feelings. She saw a glance at Maria which confirmed
the injury to herself: it was a scheme, a trick; she was slighted,
Maria was preferred; the smile of triumph which Maria was trying to
suppress shewed how well it was understood; and before Julia could
command herself enough to speak, her brother gave his weight against
her too, by saying, "Oh yes! Maria must be Agatha. Maria will be the
best Agatha. Though Julia fancies she prefers tragedy, I would not
trust her in it. There is nothing of tragedy about her. She has not
the look of it. Her features are not tragic features, and she walks
too quick, and speaks too quick, and would not keep her countenance.
She had better do the old countrywoman: the Cottager's wife; you had,
indeed, Julia. Cottager's wife is a very pretty part, I assure you.
The old lady relieves the high-flown benevolence of her husband with a
good deal of spirit. You shall be Cottager's wife."
"Cottager's wife!" cried Mr. Yates. "What are you talking of? The
most trivial, paltry, insignificant part; the merest commonplace; not a
tolerable speech in the whole. Your sister do that! It is an insult
to propose it. At Ecclesford the governess was to have done it. We
all agreed that it could not be offered to anybody else. A little more
justice, Mr. Manager, if you please. You do not deserve the office, if
you cannot appreciate the talents of your company a little better."
"Why, as to "that", my good friend, till I and my company have really
acted there must be some guesswork; but I mean no disparagement to
Julia. We cannot have two Agathas, and we must have one Cottager's
wife; and I am sure I set her the example of moderation myself in being
satisfied with the old Butler. If the part is trifling she will have
more credit in making something of it; and if she is so desperately
bent against everything humorous, let her take Cottager's speeches
instead of Cottager's wife's, and so change the parts all through; "he"
is solemn and pathetic enough, I am sure. It could make no difference
in the play, and as for Cottager himself, when he has got his wife's
speeches, "I" would undertake him with all my heart."
"With all your partiality for Cottager's wife," said Henry Crawford,
"it will be impossible to make anything of it fit for your sister, and
we must not suffer her good-nature to be imposed on. We must not
"allow" her to accept the part. She must not be left to her own
complaisance. Her talents will be wanted in Amelia. Amelia is a
character more difficult to be well represented than even Agatha. I
consider Amelia is the most difficult character in the whole piece. It
requires great powers, great nicety, to give her playfulness and
simplicity without extravagance. I have seen good actresses fail in
the part. Simplicity, indeed, is beyond the reach of almost every
actress by profession. It requires a delicacy of feeling which they
have not. It requires a gentlewoman--a Julia Bertram. You "will"
undertake it, I hope?" turning to her with a look of anxious entreaty,
which softened her a little; but while she hesitated what to say, her
brother again interposed with Miss Crawford's better claim.
"No, no, Julia must not be Amelia. It is not at all the part for her.
She would not like it. She would not do well. She is too tall and
robust. Amelia should be a small, light, girlish, skipping figure. It
is fit for Miss Crawford, and Miss Crawford only. She looks the part,
and I am persuaded will do it admirably."
Without attending to this, Henry Crawford continued his supplication.
"You must oblige us," said he, "indeed you must. When you have studied
the character, I am sure you will feel it suit you. Tragedy may be
your choice, but it will certainly appear that comedy chuses "you".
You will be to visit me in prison with a basket of provisions; you will
not refuse to visit me in prison? I think I see you coming in with
The influence of his voice was felt. Julia wavered; but was he only
trying to soothe and pacify her, and make her overlook the previous
affront? She distrusted him. The slight had been most determined. He
was, perhaps, but at treacherous play with her. She looked
suspiciously at her sister; Maria's countenance was to decide it: if
she were vexed and alarmed--but Maria looked all serenity and
satisfaction, and Julia well knew that on this ground Maria could not
be happy but at her expense. With hasty indignation, therefore, and a
tremulous voice, she said to him, "You do not seem afraid of not
keeping your countenance when I come in with a basket of
provisions--though one might have supposed--but it is only as Agatha
that I was to be so overpowering!" She stopped--Henry Crawford looked
rather foolish, and as if he did not know what to say. Tom Bertram
"Miss Crawford must be Amelia. She will be an excellent Amelia."
"Do not be afraid of "my" wanting the character," cried Julia, with
angry quickness: "I am "not" to be Agatha, and I am sure I will do
nothing else; and as to Amelia, it is of all parts in the world the
most disgusting to me. I quite detest her. An odious, little, pert,
unnatural, impudent girl. I have always protested against comedy, and
this is comedy in its worst form." And so saying, she walked hastily
out of the room, leaving awkward feelings to more than one, but
exciting small compassion in any except Fanny, who had been a quiet
auditor of the whole, and who could not think of her as under the
agitations of "jealousy" without great pity.
A short silence succeeded her leaving them; but her brother soon
returned to business and Lovers' Vows, and was eagerly looking over the
play, with Mr. Yates's help, to ascertain what scenery would be
necessary--while Maria and Henry Crawford conversed together in an
under-voice, and the declaration with which she began of, "I am sure I
would give up the part to Julia most willingly, but that though I shall
probably do it very ill, I feel persuaded "she" would do it worse," was
doubtless receiving all the compliments it called for.
When this had lasted some time, the division of the party was completed
by Tom Bertram and Mr. Yates walking off together to consult farther in
the room now beginning to be called "the" "Theatre", and Miss Bertram's
resolving to go down to the Parsonage herself with the offer of Amelia
to Miss Crawford; and Fanny remained alone.
The first use she made of her solitude was to take up the volume which
had been left on the table, and begin to acquaint herself with the play
of which she had heard so much. Her curiosity was all awake, and she
ran through it with an eagerness which was suspended only by intervals
of astonishment, that it could be chosen in the present instance, that
it could be proposed and accepted in a private theatre! Agatha and
Amelia appeared to her in their different ways so totally improper for
home representation--the situation of one, and the language of the
other, so unfit to be expressed by any woman of modesty, that she could
hardly suppose her cousins could be aware of what they were engaging
in; and longed to have them roused as soon as possible by the
remonstrance which Edmund would certainly make.
Miss Crawford accepted the part very readily; and soon after Miss
Bertram's return from the Parsonage, Mr. Rushworth arrived, and another
character was consequently cast. He had the offer of Count Cassel and
Anhalt, and at first did not know which to chuse, and wanted Miss
Bertram to direct him; but upon being made to understand the different
style of the characters, and which was which, and recollecting that he
had once seen the play in London, and had thought Anhalt a very stupid
fellow, he soon decided for the Count. Miss Bertram approved the
decision, for the less he had to learn the better; and though she could
not sympathise in his wish that the Count and Agatha might be to act
together, nor wait very patiently while he was slowly turning over the
leaves with the hope of still discovering such a scene, she very kindly
took his part in hand, and curtailed every speech that admitted being
shortened; besides pointing out the necessity of his being very much
dressed, and chusing his colours. Mr. Rushworth liked the idea of his
finery very well, though affecting to despise it; and was too much
engaged with what his own appearance would be to think of the others,
or draw any of those conclusions, or feel any of that displeasure which
Maria had been half prepared for.
Thus much was settled before Edmund, who had been out all the morning,
knew anything of the matter; but when he entered the drawing-room
before dinner, the buzz of discussion was high between Tom, Maria, and
Mr. Yates; and Mr. Rushworth stepped forward with great alacrity to
tell him the agreeable news.
"We have got a play," said he. "It is to be Lovers' Vows; and I am to
be Count Cassel, and am to come in first with a blue dress and a pink
satin cloak, and afterwards am to have another fine fancy suit, by way
of a shooting-dress. I do not know how I shall like it."
Fanny's eyes followed Edmund, and her heart beat for him as she heard
this speech, and saw his look, and felt what his sensations must be.
"Lovers' Vows!" in a tone of the greatest amazement, was his only reply
to Mr. Rushworth, and he turned towards his brother and sisters as if
hardly doubting a contradiction.
"Yes," cried Mr. Yates. "After all our debatings and difficulties, we
find there is nothing that will suit us altogether so well, nothing so
unexceptionable, as Lovers' Vows. The wonder is that it should not
have been thought of before. My stupidity was abominable, for here we
have all the advantage of what I saw at Ecclesford; and it is so useful
to have anything of a model! We have cast almost every part."
"But what do you do for women?" said Edmund gravely, and looking at
Maria blushed in spite of herself as she answered, "I take the part
which Lady Ravenshaw was to have done, and" (with a bolder eye) "Miss
Crawford is to be Amelia."
"I should not have thought it the sort of play to be so easily filled
up, with "us"," replied Edmund, turning away to the fire, where sat his
mother, aunt, and Fanny, and seating himself with a look of great
Mr. Rushworth followed him to say, "I come in three times, and have
two-and-forty speeches. That's something, is not it? But I do not
much like the idea of being so fine. I shall hardly know myself in a
blue dress and a pink satin cloak."
Edmund could not answer him. In a few minutes Mr. Bertram was called
out of the room to satisfy some doubts of the carpenter; and being
accompanied by Mr. Yates, and followed soon afterwards by Mr.
Rushworth, Edmund almost immediately took the opportunity of saying, "I
cannot, before Mr. Yates, speak what I feel as to this play, without
reflecting on his friends at Ecclesford; but I must now, my dear Maria,
tell "you", that I think it exceedingly unfit for private
representation, and that I hope you will give it up. I cannot but
suppose you "will" when you have read it carefully over. Read only the
first act aloud to either your mother or aunt, and see how you can
approve it. It will not be necessary to send you to your "father's"
judgment, I am convinced."
"We see things very differently," cried Maria. "I am perfectly
acquainted with the play, I assure you; and with a very few omissions,
and so forth, which will be made, of course, I can see nothing
objectionable in it; and "I" am not the "only" young woman you find who
thinks it very fit for private representation."
"I am sorry for it," was his answer; "but in this matter it is "you"
who are to lead. "You" must set the example. If others have
blundered, it is your place to put them right, and shew them what true
delicacy is. In all points of decorum "your" conduct must be law to
the rest of the party."
This picture of her consequence had some effect, for no one loved
better to lead than Maria; and with far more good-humour she answered,
"I am much obliged to you, Edmund; you mean very well, I am sure: but
I still think you see things too strongly; and I really cannot
undertake to harangue all the rest upon a subject of this kind.
"There" would be the greatest indecorum, I think."
"Do you imagine that I could have such an idea in my head? No; let
your conduct be the only harangue. Say that, on examining the part,
you feel yourself unequal to it; that you find it requiring more
exertion and confidence than you can be supposed to have. Say this
with firmness, and it will be quite enough. All who can distinguish
will understand your motive. The play will be given up, and your
delicacy honoured as it ought."
"Do not act anything improper, my dear," said Lady Bertram. "Sir
Thomas would not like it.--Fanny, ring the bell; I must have my
dinner.--To be sure, Julia is dressed by this time."
"I am convinced, madam," said Edmund, preventing Fanny, "that Sir
Thomas would not like it."
"There, my dear, do you hear what Edmund says?"
"If I were to decline the part," said Maria, with renewed zeal, "Julia
would certainly take it."
"What!" cried Edmund, "if she knew your reasons!"
"Oh! she might think the difference between us--the difference in our
situations--that "she" need not be so scrupulous as "I" might feel
necessary. I am sure she would argue so. No; you must excuse me; I
cannot retract my consent; it is too far settled, everybody would be so
disappointed, Tom would be quite angry; and if we are so very nice, we
shall never act anything."
"I was just going to say the very same thing," said Mrs. Norris. "If
every play is to be objected to, you will act nothing, and the
preparations will be all so much money thrown away, and I am sure
"that" would be a discredit to us all. I do not know the play; but, as
Maria says, if there is anything a little too warm (and it is so with
most of them) it can be easily left out. We must not be over-precise,
Edmund. As Mr. Rushworth is to act too, there can be no harm. I only
wish Tom had known his own mind when the carpenters began, for there
was the loss of half a day's work about those side-doors. The curtain
will be a good job, however. The maids do their work very well, and I
think we shall be able to send back some dozens of the rings. There is
no occasion to put them so very close together. I "am" of some use, I
hope, in preventing waste and making the most of things. There should
always be one steady head to superintend so many young ones. I forgot
to tell Tom of something that happened to me this very day. I had been
looking about me in the poultry-yard, and was just coming out, when who
should I see but Dick Jackson making up to the servants' hall-door with
two bits of deal board in his hand, bringing them to father, you may be
sure; mother had chanced to send him of a message to father, and then
father had bid him bring up them two bits of board, for he could not no
how do without them. I knew what all this meant, for the servants'
dinner-bell was ringing at the very moment over our heads; and as I
hate such encroaching people (the Jacksons are very encroaching, I have
always said so: just the sort of people to get all they can), I said
to the boy directly (a great lubberly fellow of ten years old, you
know, who ought to be ashamed of himself), '"I'll" take the boards to
your father, Dick, so get you home again as fast as you can.' The boy
looked very silly, and turned away without offering a word, for I
believe I might speak pretty sharp; and I dare say it will cure him of
coming marauding about the house for one while. I hate such
greediness--so good as your father is to the family, employing the man
all the year round!"
Nobody was at the trouble of an answer; the others soon returned; and
Edmund found that to have endeavoured to set them right must be his
Dinner passed heavily. Mrs. Norris related again her triumph over Dick
Jackson, but neither play nor preparation were otherwise much talked
of, for Edmund's disapprobation was felt even by his brother, though he
would not have owned it. Maria, wanting Henry Crawford's animating
support, thought the subject better avoided. Mr. Yates, who was trying
to make himself agreeable to Julia, found her gloom less impenetrable
on any topic than that of his regret at her secession from their
company; and Mr. Rushworth, having only his own part and his own dress
in his head, had soon talked away all that could be said of either.
But the concerns of the theatre were suspended only for an hour or two:
there was still a great deal to be settled; and the spirits of evening
giving fresh courage, Tom, Maria, and Mr. Yates, soon after their being
reassembled in the drawing-room, seated themselves in committee at a
separate table, with the play open before them, and were just getting
deep in the subject when a most welcome interruption was given by the
entrance of Mr. and Miss Crawford, who, late and dark and dirty as it
was, could not help coming, and were received with the most grateful
"Well, how do you go on?" and "What have you settled?" and "Oh! we can
do nothing without you," followed the first salutations; and Henry
Crawford was soon seated with the other three at the table, while his
sister made her way to Lady Bertram, and with pleasant attention was
complimenting "her". "I must really congratulate your ladyship," said
she, "on the play being chosen; for though you have borne it with
exemplary patience, I am sure you must be sick of all our noise and
difficulties. The actors may be glad, but the bystanders must be
infinitely more thankful for a decision; and I do sincerely give you
joy, madam, as well as Mrs. Norris, and everybody else who is in the
same predicament," glancing half fearfully, half slyly, beyond Fanny to
She was very civilly answered by Lady Bertram, but Edmund said nothing.
His being only a bystander was not disclaimed. After continuing in
chat with the party round the fire a few minutes, Miss Crawford
returned to the party round the table; and standing by them, seemed to
interest herself in their arrangements till, as if struck by a sudden
recollection, she exclaimed, "My good friends, you are most composedly
at work upon these cottages and alehouses, inside and out; but pray let
me know my fate in the meanwhile. Who is to be Anhalt? What gentleman
among you am I to have the pleasure of making love to?"
For a moment no one spoke; and then many spoke together to tell the
same melancholy truth, that they had not yet got any Anhalt. "Mr.
Rushworth was to be Count Cassel, but no one had yet undertaken Anhalt."
"I had my choice of the parts," said Mr. Rushworth; "but I thought I
should like the Count best, though I do not much relish the finery I am
"You chose very wisely, I am sure," replied Miss Crawford, with a
brightened look; "Anhalt is a heavy part."
""The" "Count" has two-and-forty speeches," returned Mr. Rushworth,
"which is no trifle."
"I am not at all surprised," said Miss Crawford, after a short pause,
"at this want of an Anhalt. Amelia deserves no better. Such a forward
young lady may well frighten the men."
"I should be but too happy in taking the part, if it were possible,"
cried Tom; "but, unluckily, the Butler and Anhalt are in together. I
will not entirely give it up, however; I will try what can be done--I
will look it over again."
"Your "brother" should take the part," said Mr. Yates, in a low voice.
"Do not you think he would?"
""I" shall not ask him," replied Tom, in a cold, determined manner.
Miss Crawford talked of something else, and soon afterwards rejoined
the party at the fire.
"They do not want me at all," said she, seating herself. "I only
puzzle them, and oblige them to make civil speeches. Mr. Edmund
Bertram, as you do not act yourself, you will be a disinterested
adviser; and, therefore, I apply to "you". What shall we do for an
Anhalt? Is it practicable for any of the others to double it? What is
"My advice," said he calmly, "is that you change the play."
""I" should have no objection," she replied; "for though I should not
particularly dislike the part of Amelia if well supported, that is, if
everything went well, I shall be sorry to be an inconvenience; but as
they do not chuse to hear your advice at "that" "table"" (looking
round), "it certainly will not be taken."
Edmund said no more.
"If "any" part could tempt "you" to act, I suppose it would be Anhalt,"
observed the lady archly, after a short pause; "for he is a clergyman,
""That" circumstance would by no means tempt me," he replied, "for I
should be sorry to make the character ridiculous by bad acting. It
must be very difficult to keep Anhalt from appearing a formal, solemn
lecturer; and the man who chuses the profession itself is, perhaps, one
of the last who would wish to represent it on the stage."
Miss Crawford was silenced, and with some feelings of resentment and
mortification, moved her chair considerably nearer the tea-table, and
gave all her attention to Mrs. Norris, who was presiding there.
"Fanny," cried Tom Bertram, from the other table, where the conference
was eagerly carrying on, and the conversation incessant, "we want your
Fanny was up in a moment, expecting some errand; for the habit of
employing her in that way was not yet overcome, in spite of all that
Edmund could do.
"Oh! we do not want to disturb you from your seat. We do not want your
"present" services. We shall only want you in our play. You must be
"Me!" cried Fanny, sitting down again with a most frightened look.
"Indeed you must excuse me. I could not act anything if you were to
give me the world. No, indeed, I cannot act."
"Indeed, but you must, for we cannot excuse you. It need not frighten
you: it is a nothing of a part, a mere nothing, not above half a dozen
speeches altogether, and it will not much signify if nobody hears a
word you say; so you may be as creep-mouse as you like, but we must
have you to look at."
"If you are afraid of half a dozen speeches," cried Mr. Rushworth,
"what would you do with such a part as mine? I have forty-two to
"It is not that I am afraid of learning by heart," said Fanny, shocked
to find herself at that moment the only speaker in the room, and to
feel that almost every eye was upon her; "but I really cannot act."
"Yes, yes, you can act well enough for "us". Learn your part, and we
will teach you all the rest. You have only two scenes, and as I shall
be Cottager, I'll put you in and push you about, and you will do it
very well, I'll answer for it."
"No, indeed, Mr. Bertram, you must excuse me. You cannot have an idea.
It would be absolutely impossible for me. If I were to undertake it, I
should only disappoint you."
"Phoo! Phoo! Do not be so shamefaced. You'll do it very well. Every
allowance will be made for you. We do not expect perfection. You must
get a brown gown, and a white apron, and a mob cap, and we must make
you a few wrinkles, and a little of the crowsfoot at the corner of your
eyes, and you will be a very proper, little old woman."
"You must excuse me, indeed you must excuse me," cried Fanny, growing
more and more red from excessive agitation, and looking distressfully
at Edmund, who was kindly observing her; but unwilling to exasperate
his brother by interference, gave her only an encouraging smile. Her
entreaty had no effect on Tom: he only said again what he had said
before; and it was not merely Tom, for the requisition was now backed
by Maria, and Mr. Crawford, and Mr. Yates, with an urgency which
differed from his but in being more gentle or more ceremonious, and
which altogether was quite overpowering to Fanny; and before she could
breathe after it, Mrs. Norris completed the whole by thus addressing
her in a whisper at once angry and audible--"What a piece of work here
is about nothing: I am quite ashamed of you, Fanny, to make such a
difficulty of obliging your cousins in a trifle of this sort--so kind
as they are to you! Take the part with a good grace, and let us hear
no more of the matter, I entreat."
"Do not urge her, madam," said Edmund. "It is not fair to urge her in
this manner. You see she does not like to act. Let her chuse for
herself, as well as the rest of us. Her judgment may be quite as
safely trusted. Do not urge her any more."
"I am not going to urge her," replied Mrs. Norris sharply; "but I shall
think her a very obstinate, ungrateful girl, if she does not do what
her aunt and cousins wish her--very ungrateful, indeed, considering
who and what she is."
Edmund was too angry to speak; but Miss Crawford, looking for a moment
with astonished eyes at Mrs. Norris, and then at Fanny, whose tears
were beginning to shew themselves, immediately said, with some
keenness, "I do not like my situation: this "place" is too hot for
me," and moved away her chair to the opposite side of the table, close
to Fanny, saying to her, in a kind, low whisper, as she placed herself,
"Never mind, my dear Miss Price, this is a cross evening: everybody is
cross and teasing, but do not let us mind them"; and with pointed
attention continued to talk to her and endeavour to raise her spirits,
in spite of being out of spirits herself. By a look at her brother she
prevented any farther entreaty from the theatrical board, and the
really good feelings by which she was almost purely governed were
rapidly restoring her to all the little she had lost in Edmund's favour.
Fanny did not love Miss Crawford; but she felt very much obliged to her
for her present kindness; and when, from taking notice of her work, and
wishing "she" could work as well, and begging for the pattern, and
supposing Fanny was now preparing for her "appearance", as of course
she would come out when her cousin was married, Miss Crawford proceeded
to inquire if she had heard lately from her brother at sea, and said
that she had quite a curiosity to see him, and imagined him a very fine
young man, and advised Fanny to get his picture drawn before he went to
sea again--she could not help admitting it to be very agreeable
flattery, or help listening, and answering with more animation than she
The consultation upon the play still went on, and Miss Crawford's
attention was first called from Fanny by Tom Bertram's telling her,
with infinite regret, that he found it absolutely impossible for him to
undertake the part of Anhalt in addition to the Butler: he had been
most anxiously trying to make it out to be feasible, but it would not
do; he must give it up. "But there will not be the smallest difficulty
in filling it," he added. "We have but to speak the word; we may pick
and chuse. I could name, at this moment, at least six young men within
six miles of us, who are wild to be admitted into our company, and
there are one or two that would not disgrace us: I should not be afraid
to trust either of the Olivers or Charles Maddox. Tom Oliver is a very
clever fellow, and Charles Maddox is as gentlemanlike a man as you will
see anywhere, so I will take my horse early to-morrow morning and ride
over to Stoke, and settle with one of them."
While he spoke, Maria was looking apprehensively round at Edmund in
full expectation that he must oppose such an enlargement of the plan as
this: so contrary to all their first protestations; but Edmund said
nothing. After a moment's thought, Miss Crawford calmly replied, "As
far as I am concerned, I can have no objection to anything that you all
think eligible. Have I ever seen either of the gentlemen? Yes, Mr.
Charles Maddox dined at my sister's one day, did not he, Henry? A
quiet-looking young man. I remember him. Let "him" be applied to, if
you please, for it will be less unpleasant to me than to have a perfect
Charles Maddox was to be the man. Tom repeated his resolution of going
to him early on the morrow; and though Julia, who had scarcely opened
her lips before, observed, in a sarcastic manner, and with a glance
first at Maria and then at Edmund, that "the Mansfield theatricals
would enliven the whole neighbourhood exceedingly," Edmund still held
his peace, and shewed his feelings only by a determined gravity.
"I am not very sanguine as to our play," said Miss Crawford, in an
undervoice to Fanny, after some consideration; "and I can tell Mr.
Maddox that I shall shorten some of "his" speeches, and a great many of
"my" "own", before we rehearse together. It will be very disagreeable,
and by no means what I expected."
It was not in Miss Crawford's power to talk Fanny into any real
forgetfulness of what had passed. When the evening was over, she went
to bed full of it, her nerves still agitated by the shock of such an
attack from her cousin Tom, so public and so persevered in, and her
spirits sinking under her aunt's unkind reflection and reproach. To be
called into notice in such a manner, to hear that it was but the
prelude to something so infinitely worse, to be told that she must do
what was so impossible as to act; and then to have the charge of
obstinacy and ingratitude follow it, enforced with such a hint at the
dependence of her situation, had been too distressing at the time to
make the remembrance when she was alone much less so, especially with
the superadded dread of what the morrow might produce in continuation
of the subject. Miss Crawford had protected her only for the time; and
if she were applied to again among themselves with all the
authoritative urgency that Tom and Maria were capable of, and Edmund
perhaps away, what should she do? She fell asleep before she could
answer the question, and found it quite as puzzling when she awoke the
next morning. The little white attic, which had continued her
sleeping-room ever since her first entering the family, proving
incompetent to suggest any reply, she had recourse, as soon as she was
dressed, to another apartment more spacious and more meet for walking
about in and thinking, and of which she had now for some time been
almost equally mistress. It had been their school-room; so called till
the Miss Bertrams would not allow it to be called so any longer, and
inhabited as such to a later period. There Miss Lee had lived, and
there they had read and written, and talked and laughed, till within
the last three years, when she had quitted them. The room had then
become useless, and for some time was quite deserted, except by Fanny,
when she visited her plants, or wanted one of the books, which she was
still glad to keep there, from the deficiency of space and
accommodation in her little chamber above: but gradually, as her value
for the comforts of it increased, she had added to her possessions, and
spent more of her time there; and having nothing to oppose her, had so
naturally and so artlessly worked herself into it, that it was now
generally admitted to be hers. The East room, as it had been called
ever since Maria Bertram was sixteen, was now considered Fanny's,
almost as decidedly as the white attic: the smallness of the one
making the use of the other so evidently reasonable that the Miss
Bertrams, with every superiority in their own apartments which their
own sense of superiority could demand, were entirely approving it; and
Mrs. Norris, having stipulated for there never being a fire in it on
Fanny's account, was tolerably resigned to her having the use of what
nobody else wanted, though the terms in which she sometimes spoke of
the indulgence seemed to imply that it was the best room in the house.
The aspect was so favourable that even without a fire it was habitable
in many an early spring and late autumn morning to such a willing mind
as Fanny's; and while there was a gleam of sunshine she hoped not to be
driven from it entirely, even when winter came. The comfort of it in
her hours of leisure was extreme. She could go there after anything
unpleasant below, and find immediate consolation in some pursuit, or
some train of thought at hand. Her plants, her books--of which she
had been a collector from the first hour of her commanding a
shilling--her writing-desk, and her works of charity and ingenuity,
were all within her reach; or if indisposed for employment, if nothing
but musing would do, she could scarcely see an object in that room
which had not an interesting remembrance connected with it. Everything
was a friend, or bore her thoughts to a friend; and though there had
been sometimes much of suffering to her; though her motives had often
been misunderstood, her feelings disregarded, and her comprehension
undervalued; though she had known the pains of tyranny, of ridicule,
and neglect, yet almost every recurrence of either had led to something
consolatory: her aunt Bertram had spoken for her, or Miss Lee had been
encouraging, or, what was yet more frequent or more dear, Edmund had
been her champion and her friend: he had supported her cause or
explained her meaning, he had told her not to cry, or had given her
some proof of affection which made her tears delightful; and the whole
was now so blended together, so harmonised by distance, that every
former affliction had its charm. The room was most dear to her, and
she would not have changed its furniture for the handsomest in the
house, though what had been originally plain had suffered all the
ill-usage of children; and its greatest elegancies and ornaments were a
faded footstool of Julia's work, too ill done for the drawing-room,
three transparencies, made in a rage for transparencies, for the three
lower panes of one window, where Tintern Abbey held its station between
a cave in Italy and a moonlight lake in Cumberland, a collection of
family profiles, thought unworthy of being anywhere else, over the
mantelpiece, and by their side, and pinned against the wall, a small
sketch of a ship sent four years ago from the Mediterranean by William,
with H.M.S. Antwerp at the bottom, in letters as tall as the mainmast.
To this nest of comforts Fanny now walked down to try its influence on
an agitated, doubting spirit, to see if by looking at Edmund's profile
she could catch any of his counsel, or by giving air to her geraniums
she might inhale a breeze of mental strength herself. But she had more
than fears of her own perseverance to remove: she had begun to feel
undecided as to what she "ought" "to" "do"; and as she walked round the
room her doubts were increasing. Was she "right" in refusing what was
so warmly asked, so strongly wished for--what might be so essential to
a scheme on which some of those to whom she owed the greatest
complaisance had set their hearts? Was it not ill-nature, selfishness,
and a fear of exposing herself? And would Edmund's judgment, would his
persuasion of Sir Thomas's disapprobation of the whole, be enough to
justify her in a determined denial in spite of all the rest? It would
be so horrible to her to act that she was inclined to suspect the truth
and purity of her own scruples; and as she looked around her, the
claims of her cousins to being obliged were strengthened by the sight
of present upon present that she had received from them. The table
between the windows was covered with work-boxes and netting-boxes which
had been given her at different times, principally by Tom; and she grew
bewildered as to the amount of the debt which all these kind
remembrances produced. A tap at the door roused her in the midst of
this attempt to find her way to her duty, and her gentle "Come in" was
answered by the appearance of one, before whom all her doubts were wont
to be laid. Her eyes brightened at the sight of Edmund.
"Can I speak with you, Fanny, for a few minutes?" said he.
"I want to consult. I want your opinion."
"My opinion!" she cried, shrinking from such a compliment, highly as it
"Yes, your advice and opinion. I do not know what to do. This acting
scheme gets worse and worse, you see. They have chosen almost as bad a
play as they could, and now, to complete the business, are going to ask
the help of a young man very slightly known to any of us. This is the
end of all the privacy and propriety which was talked about at first.
I know no harm of Charles Maddox; but the excessive intimacy which must
spring from his being admitted among us in this manner is highly
objectionable, the "more" than intimacy--the familiarity. I cannot
think of it with any patience; and it does appear to me an evil of such
magnitude as must, "if" "possible", be prevented. Do not you see it in
the same light?"
"Yes; but what can be done? Your brother is so determined."
"There is but "one" thing to be done, Fanny. I must take Anhalt
myself. I am well aware that nothing else will quiet Tom."
Fanny could not answer him.
"It is not at all what I like," he continued. "No man can like being
driven into the "appearance" of such inconsistency. After being known
to oppose the scheme from the beginning, there is absurdity in the face
of my joining them "now", when they are exceeding their first plan in
every respect; but I can think of no other alternative. Can you,
"No," said Fanny slowly, "not immediately, but--"
"But what? I see your judgment is not with me. Think it a little
over. Perhaps you are not so much aware as I am of the mischief that
"may", of the unpleasantness that "must" arise from a young man's being
received in this manner: domesticated among us; authorised to come at
all hours, and placed suddenly on a footing which must do away all
restraints. To think only of the licence which every rehearsal must
tend to create. It is all very bad! Put yourself in Miss Crawford's
place, Fanny. Consider what it would be to act Amelia with a stranger.
She has a right to be felt for, because she evidently feels for
herself. I heard enough of what she said to you last night to
understand her unwillingness to be acting with a stranger; and as she
probably engaged in the part with different expectations--perhaps
without considering the subject enough to know what was likely to be--
it would be ungenerous, it would be really wrong to expose her to it.
Her feelings ought to be respected. Does it not strike you so, Fanny?
"I am sorry for Miss Crawford; but I am more sorry to see you drawn in
to do what you had resolved against, and what you are known to think
will be disagreeable to my uncle. It will be such a triumph to the
"They will not have much cause of triumph when they see how infamously
I act. But, however, triumph there certainly will be, and I must brave
it. But if I can be the means of restraining the publicity of the
business, of limiting the exhibition, of concentrating our folly, I
shall be well repaid. As I am now, I have no influence, I can do
nothing: I have offended them, and they will not hear me; but when I
have put them in good-humour by this concession, I am not without hopes
of persuading them to confine the representation within a much smaller
circle than they are now in the high road for. This will be a material
gain. My object is to confine it to Mrs. Rushworth and the Grants.
Will not this be worth gaining?"
"Yes, it will be a great point."
"But still it has not your approbation. Can you mention any other
measure by which I have a chance of doing equal good?"
"No, I cannot think of anything else."
"Give me your approbation, then, Fanny. I am not comfortable without
"If you are against me, I ought to distrust myself, and yet--But it is
absolutely impossible to let Tom go on in this way, riding about the
country in quest of anybody who can be persuaded to act--no matter
whom: the look of a gentleman is to be enough. I thought "you" would
have entered more into Miss Crawford's feelings."
"No doubt she will be very glad. It must be a great relief to her,"
said Fanny, trying for greater warmth of manner.
"She never appeared more amiable than in her behaviour to you last
night. It gave her a very strong claim on my goodwill."
"She "was" very kind, indeed, and I am glad to have her spared"...
She could not finish the generous effusion. Her conscience stopt her
in the middle, but Edmund was satisfied.
"I shall walk down immediately after breakfast," said he, "and am sure
of giving pleasure there. And now, dear Fanny, I will not interrupt
you any longer. You want to be reading. But I could not be easy till
I had spoken to you, and come to a decision. Sleeping or waking, my
head has been full of this matter all night. It is an evil, but I am
certainly making it less than it might be. If Tom is up, I shall go to
him directly and get it over, and when we meet at breakfast we shall be
all in high good-humour at the prospect of acting the fool together
with such unanimity. "You", in the meanwhile, will be taking a trip
into China, I suppose. How does Lord Macartney go on?"--opening a
volume on the table and then taking up some others. "And here are
Crabbe's Tales, and the Idler, at hand to relieve you, if you tire of
your great book. I admire your little establishment exceedingly; and
as soon as I am gone, you will empty your head of all this nonsense of
acting, and sit comfortably down to your table. But do not stay here
to be cold."
He went; but there was no reading, no China, no composure for Fanny.
He had told her the most extraordinary, the most inconceivable, the
most unwelcome news; and she could think of nothing else. To be
acting! After all his objections--objections so just and so public!
After all that she had heard him say, and seen him look, and known him
to be feeling. Could it be possible? Edmund so inconsistent! Was he
not deceiving himself? Was he not wrong? Alas! it was all Miss
Crawford's doing. She had seen her influence in every speech, and was
miserable. The doubts and alarms as to her own conduct, which had
previously distressed her, and which had all slept while she listened
to him, were become of little consequence now. This deeper anxiety
swallowed them up. Things should take their course; she cared not how
it ended. Her cousins might attack, but could hardly tease her. She
was beyond their reach; and if at last obliged to yield--no matter--it
was all misery now.
It was, indeed, a triumphant day to Mr. Bertram and Maria. Such a
victory over Edmund's discretion had been beyond their hopes, and was
most delightful. There was no longer anything to disturb them in their
darling project, and they congratulated each other in private on the
jealous weakness to which they attributed the change, with all the glee
of feelings gratified in every way. Edmund might still look grave, and
say he did not like the scheme in general, and must disapprove the play
in particular; their point was gained: he was to act, and he was
driven to it by the force of selfish inclinations only. Edmund had
descended from that moral elevation which he had maintained before, and
they were both as much the better as the happier for the descent.
They behaved very well, however, to "him" on the occasion, betraying no
exultation beyond the lines about the corners of the mouth, and seemed
to think it as great an escape to be quit of the intrusion of Charles
Maddox, as if they had been forced into admitting him against their
inclination. "To have it quite in their own family circle was what
they had particularly wished. A stranger among them would have been
the destruction of all their comfort"; and when Edmund, pursuing that
idea, gave a hint of his hope as to the limitation of the audience,
they were ready, in the complaisance of the moment, to promise
anything. It was all good-humour and encouragement. Mrs. Norris
offered to contrive his dress, Mr. Yates assured him that Anhalt's last
scene with the Baron admitted a good deal of action and emphasis, and
Mr. Rushworth undertook to count his speeches.
"Perhaps," said Tom, "Fanny may be more disposed to oblige us now.
Perhaps you may persuade "her"."
"No, she is quite determined. She certainly will not act."
"Oh! very well." And not another word was said; but Fanny felt herself
again in danger, and her indifference to the danger was beginning to
fail her already.
There were not fewer smiles at the Parsonage than at the Park on this
change in Edmund; Miss Crawford looked very lovely in hers, and entered
with such an instantaneous renewal of cheerfulness into the whole
affair as could have but one effect on him. "He was certainly right in
respecting such feelings; he was glad he had determined on it." And the
morning wore away in satisfactions very sweet, if not very sound. One
advantage resulted from it to Fanny: at the earnest request of Miss
Crawford, Mrs. Grant had, with her usual good-humour, agreed to
undertake the part for which Fanny had been wanted; and this was all
that occurred to gladden "her" heart during the day; and even this,
when imparted by Edmund, brought a pang with it, for it was Miss
Crawford to whom she was obliged--it was Miss Crawford whose kind
exertions were to excite her gratitude, and whose merit in making them
was spoken of with a glow of admiration. She was safe; but peace and
safety were unconnected here. Her mind had been never farther from
peace. She could not feel that she had done wrong herself, but she was
disquieted in every other way. Her heart and her judgment were equally
against Edmund's decision: she could not acquit his unsteadiness, and
his happiness under it made her wretched. She was full of jealousy and
agitation. Miss Crawford came with looks of gaiety which seemed an
insult, with friendly expressions towards herself which she could
hardly answer calmly. Everybody around her was gay and busy,
prosperous and important; each had their object of interest, their
part, their dress, their favourite scene, their friends and
confederates: all were finding employment in consultations and
comparisons, or diversion in the playful conceits they suggested. She
alone was sad and insignificant: she had no share in anything; she
might go or stay; she might be in the midst of their noise, or retreat
from it to the solitude of the East room, without being seen or missed.
She could almost think anything would have been preferable to this.
Mrs. Grant was of consequence: "her" good-nature had honourable
mention; her taste and her time were considered; her presence was
wanted; she was sought for, and attended, and praised; and Fanny was at
first in some danger of envying her the character she had accepted.
But reflection brought better feelings, and shewed her that Mrs. Grant
was entitled to respect, which could never have belonged to "her"; and
that, had she received even the greatest, she could never have been
easy in joining a scheme which, considering only her uncle, she must
Fanny's heart was not absolutely the only saddened one amongst them, as
she soon began to acknowledge to herself. Julia was a sufferer too,
though not quite so blamelessly.
Henry Crawford had trifled with her feelings; but she had very long
allowed and even sought his attentions, with a jealousy of her sister
so reasonable as ought to have been their cure; and now that the
conviction of his preference for Maria had been forced on her, she
submitted to it without any alarm for Maria's situation, or any
endeavour at rational tranquillity for herself. She either sat in
gloomy silence, wrapt in such gravity as nothing could subdue, no
curiosity touch, no wit amuse; or allowing the attentions of Mr. Yates,
was talking with forced gaiety to him alone, and ridiculing the acting
of the others.
For a day or two after the affront was given, Henry Crawford had
endeavoured to do it away by the usual attack of gallantry and
compliment, but he had not cared enough about it to persevere against a
few repulses; and becoming soon too busy with his play to have time for
more than one flirtation, he grew indifferent to the quarrel, or rather
thought it a lucky occurrence, as quietly putting an end to what might
ere long have raised expectations in more than Mrs. Grant. She was not
pleased to see Julia excluded from the play, and sitting by
disregarded; but as it was not a matter which really involved her
happiness, as Henry must be the best judge of his own, and as he did
assure her, with a most persuasive smile, that neither he nor Julia had
ever had a serious thought of each other, she could only renew her
former caution as to the elder sister, entreat him not to risk his
tranquillity by too much admiration there, and then gladly take her
share in anything that brought cheerfulness to the young people in
general, and that did so particularly promote the pleasure of the two
so dear to her.
"I rather wonder Julia is not in love with Henry," was her observation
"I dare say she is," replied Mary coldly. "I imagine both sisters are."
"Both! no, no, that must not be. Do not give him a hint of it. Think
of Mr. Rushworth!"
"You had better tell Miss Bertram to think of Mr. Rushworth. It may do
"her" some good. I often think of Mr. Rushworth's property and
independence, and wish them in other hands; but I never think of him.
A man might represent the county with such an estate; a man might
escape a profession and represent the county."
"I dare say he "will" be in parliament soon. When Sir Thomas comes, I
dare say he will be in for some borough, but there has been nobody to
put him in the way of doing anything yet."
"Sir Thomas is to achieve many mighty things when he comes home," said
Mary, after a pause. "Do you remember Hawkins Browne's 'Address to
Tobacco,' in imitation of Pope?--
Blest leaf! whose aromatic gales dispense
To Templars modesty, to Parsons sense.
I will parody them--
Blest Knight! whose dictatorial looks dispense
To Children affluence, to Rushworth sense.
Will not that do, Mrs. Grant? Everything seems to depend upon Sir
"You will find his consequence very just and reasonable when you see
him in his family, I assure you. I do not think we do so well without
him. He has a fine dignified manner, which suits the head of such a
house, and keeps everybody in their place. Lady Bertram seems more of
a cipher now than when he is at home; and nobody else can keep Mrs.
Norris in order. But, Mary, do not fancy that Maria Bertram cares for
Henry. I am sure "Julia" does not, or she would not have flirted as
she did last night with Mr. Yates; and though he and Maria are very
good friends, I think she likes Sotherton too well to be inconstant."
"I would not give much for Mr. Rushworth's chance if Henry stept in
before the articles were signed."
"If you have such a suspicion, something must be done; and as soon as
the play is all over, we will talk to him seriously and make him know
his own mind; and if he means nothing, we will send him off, though he
is Henry, for a time."
Julia "did" suffer, however, though Mrs. Grant discerned it not, and
though it escaped the notice of many of her own family likewise. She
had loved, she did love still, and she had all the suffering which a
warm temper and a high spirit were likely to endure under the
disappointment of a dear, though irrational hope, with a strong sense
of ill-usage. Her heart was sore and angry, and she was capable only of
angry consolations. The sister with whom she was used to be on easy
terms was now become her greatest enemy: they were alienated from each
other; and Julia was not superior to the hope of some distressing end
to the attentions which were still carrying on there, some punishment
to Maria for conduct so shameful towards herself as well as towards Mr.
Rushworth. With no material fault of temper, or difference of opinion,
to prevent their being very good friends while their interests were the
same, the sisters, under such a trial as this, had not affection or
principle enough to make them merciful or just, to give them honour or
compassion. Maria felt her triumph, and pursued her purpose, careless
of Julia; and Julia could never see Maria distinguished by Henry
Crawford without trusting that it would create jealousy, and bring a
public disturbance at last.
Fanny saw and pitied much of this in Julia; but there was no outward
fellowship between them. Julia made no communication, and Fanny took
no liberties. They were two solitary sufferers, or connected only by
The inattention of the two brothers and the aunt to Julia's
discomposure, and their blindness to its true cause, must be imputed to
the fullness of their own minds. They were totally preoccupied. Tom
was engrossed by the concerns of his theatre, and saw nothing that did
not immediately relate to it. Edmund, between his theatrical and his
real part, between Miss Crawford's claims and his own conduct, between
love and consistency, was equally unobservant; and Mrs. Norris was too
busy in contriving and directing the general little matters of the
company, superintending their various dresses with economical
expedient, for which nobody thanked her, and saving, with delighted
integrity, half a crown here and there to the absent Sir Thomas, to
have leisure for watching the behaviour, or guarding the happiness of
Everything was now in a regular train: theatre, actors, actresses, and
dresses, were all getting forward; but though no other great
impediments arose, Fanny found, before many days were past, that it was
not all uninterrupted enjoyment to the party themselves, and that she
had not to witness the continuance of such unanimity and delight as had
been almost too much for her at first. Everybody began to have their
vexation. Edmund had many. Entirely against "his" judgment, a
scene-painter arrived from town, and was at work, much to the increase
of the expenses, and, what was worse, of the eclat of their
proceedings; and his brother, instead of being really guided by him as
to the privacy of the representation, was giving an invitation to every
family who came in his way. Tom himself began to fret over the
scene-painter's slow progress, and to feel the miseries of waiting. He
had learned his part--all his parts, for he took every trifling one
that could be united with the Butler, and began to be impatient to be
acting; and every day thus unemployed was tending to increase his sense
of the insignificance of all his parts together, and make him more
ready to regret that some other play had not been chosen.
Fanny, being always a very courteous listener, and often the only
listener at hand, came in for the complaints and the distresses of most
of them. "She" knew that Mr. Yates was in general thought to rant
dreadfully; that Mr. Yates was disappointed in Henry Crawford; that Tom
Bertram spoke so quick he would be unintelligible; that Mrs. Grant
spoiled everything by laughing; that Edmund was behindhand with his
part, and that it was misery to have anything to do with Mr. Rushworth,
who was wanting a prompter through every speech. She knew, also, that
poor Mr. Rushworth could seldom get anybody to rehearse with him: "his"
complaint came before her as well as the rest; and so decided to her
eye was her cousin Maria's avoidance of him, and so need
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