towards her so soon after this event."
"A man in distressed circumstances has not time for all those
elegant decorums which other people may observe. If _she_ does
not object to it, why should _we_?"
"_Her_ not objecting does not justify _him_. It only shows her
being deficient in something herself - sense or feeling."
"Well," cried Elizabeth, "have it as you choose. _He_ shall be
mercenary, and _she_ shall be foolish."
"No, Lizzy, that is what I do _not_ choose. I should be sorry,
you know, to think ill of a young man who has lived so long in
"Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men
who live in Derbyshire; and their intimate friends who live
in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick of them all.
Thank Heaven! I am going to-morrow where I shall find a man
who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor
sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth
knowing, after all."
"Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment."
Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play, she
had the unexpected happiness of an invitation to accompany her
uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure which they proposed taking
in the summer.
"We have not determined how far it shall carry us," said Mrs.
Gardiner, "but, perhaps, to the Lakes."
No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and
her acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful.
"Oh, my dear, dear aunt," she rapturously cried, "what delight!
what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to
disappointment and spleen. What are young men to rocks and
mountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And
when we _do_ return, it shall not be like other travellers,
without being able to give one accurate idea of anything. We
_will_ know where we have gone - we _will_ recollect what we have
seen. Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be jumbled together
in our imaginations; nor when we attempt to describe any
particular scene, will we begin quarreling about its relative
situation. Let _our_ first effusions be less insupportable than
those of the generality of travellers."
Every object in the next day's journey was new and interesting
to Elizabeth; and her spirits were in a state of enjoyment; for
she had seen her sister looking so well as to banish all fear for
her health, and the prospect of her northern tour was a constant
source of delight.
When they left the high road for the lane to Hunsford, every eye
was in search of the Parsonage, and every turning expected to
bring it in view. The palings of Rosings Park was their boundary
on one side. Elizabeth smiled at the recollection of all that she
had heard of its inhabitants.
At length the Parsonage was discernible. The garden sloping to
the road, the house standing in it, the green pales, and the laurel
hedge, everything declared they were arriving. Mr. Collins and
Charlotte appeared at the door, and the carriage stopped at the
small gate which led by a short gravel walk to the house, amidst
the nods and smiles of the whole party. In a moment they were
all out of the chaise, rejoicing at the sight of each other.
Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure,
and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming when she
found herself so affectionately received. She saw instantly that
her cousin's manners were not altered by his marriage; his formal
civility was just what it had been, and he detained her some
minutes at the gate to hear and satisfy his inquiries after
all her family. They were then, with no other delay than his
pointing out the neatness of the entrance, taken into the house;
and as soon as they were in the parlour, he welcomed them a
second time, with ostentatious formality to his humble abode,
and punctually repeated all his wife's offers of refreshment.
Elizabeth was prepared to see him in his glory; and she could
not help in fancying that in displaying the good proportion of
the room, its aspect and its furniture, he addressed himself
particularly to her, as if wishing to make her feel what she
had lost in refusing him. But though everything seemed neat
and comfortable, she was not able to gratify him by any sigh of
repentance, and rather looked with wonder at her friend that
she could have so cheerful an air with such a companion. When
Mr. Collins said anything of which his wife might reasonably be
ashamed, which certainly was not unseldom, she involuntarily
turned her eye on Charlotte. Once or twice she could discern
a faint blush; but in general Charlotte wisely did not hear.
After sitting long enough to admire every article of furniture in
the room, from the sideboard to the fender, to give an account
of their journey, and of all that had happened in London, Mr.
Collins invited them to take a stroll in the garden, which was
large and well laid out, and to the cultivation of which he
attended himself. To work in this garden was one of his most
respectable pleasures; and Elizabeth admired the command of
countenance with which Charlotte talked of the healthfulness of
the exercise, and owned she encouraged it as much as possible.
Here, leading the way through every walk and cross walk, and
scarcely allowing them an interval to utter the praises he asked
for, every view was pointed out with a minuteness which left
beauty entirely behind. He could number the fields in every
direction, and could tell how many tress there were in the most
distant clump. But of all the views which his garden, or which
the country or kingdom could boast, none were to be compared
with the prospect of Rosings, afforded by an opening in the trees
that bordered the park nearly opposite the front of his house. It
was a handsome modern building, well situated on rising ground.
From his garden, Mr. Collins would have led them round his two
meadows; but the ladies, not having shoes to encounter the
remains of a white frost, turned back; and while Sir William
accompanied him, Charlotte took her sister and friend over the
house, extremely well pleased, probably, to have the opportunity
of showing it without her husband's help. It was rather small,
but well built and convenient; and everything was fitted up and
arranged with a neatness and consistency of which Elizabeth
gave Charlotte all the credit. When Mr. Collins could be
forgotten, there was really an air of great comfort throughout,
and by Charlotte's evident enjoyment of it, Elizabeth supposed
he must be often forgotten.
She had already learnt that Lady Catherine was still in the
country. It was spoken of again while they were at dinner,
when Mr. Collins joining in, observed:
"Yes, Miss Elizabeth, you will have the honour of seeing Lady
Catherine de Bourgh on the ensuing Sunday at church, and I
need not say you will be delighted with her. She is all affability
and condescension, and I doubt not but you will be honoured
with some portion of her notice when service is over. I have
scarcely any hesitation in saying she will include you and my
sister Maria in every invitation with which she honours us during
your stay here. Her behaviour to my dear Charlotte is charming.
We dine at Rosings twice every week, and are never allowed to
walk home. Her ladyship's carriage is regularly ordered for us.
I _should_ say, one of her ladyship's carriages, for she has
"Lady Catherine is a very respectable, sensible woman indeed,"
added Charlotte, "and a most attentive neighbour."
"Very true, my dear, that is exactly what I say. She is the sort
of woman whom one cannot regard with too much deference."
The evening was spent chiefly in talking over Hertfordshire
news, and telling again what had already been written; and when
it closed, Elizabeth, in the solitude of her chamber, had to
meditate upon Charlotte's degree of contentment, to understand
her address in guiding, and composure in bearing with, her
husband, and to acknowledge that it was all done very well. She
had also to anticipate how her visit would pass, the quiet tenor
of their usual employments, the vexatious interruptions of Mr.
Collins, and the gaieties of their intercourse with Rosings.
A lively imagination soon settled it all.
About the middle of the next day, as she was in her room getting
ready for a walk, a sudden noise below seemed to speak the
whole house in confusion; and, after listening a moment, she
heard somebody running upstairs in a violent hurry, and calling
loudly after her. She opened the door and met Maria in the
landing place, who, breathless with agitation, cried out -
"Oh, my dear Eliza! pray make haste and come into the dining-room,
for there is such a sight to be seen! I will not tell you what
it is. Make haste, and come down this moment."
Elizabeth asked questions in vain; Maria would tell her nothing
more, and down they ran into the dining-room, which fronted
the lane, in quest of this wonder; It was two ladies stopping in
a low phaeton at the garden gate.
"And is this all?" cried Elizabeth. "I expected at least that the
pigs were got into the garden, and here is nothing but Lady
Catherine and her daughter."
"La! my dear," said Maria, quite shocked at the mistake, "it is
not Lady Catherine. The old lady is Mrs. Jenkinson, who lives
with them; the other is Miss de Bourgh. Only look at her. She
is quite a little creature. Who would have thought that she could
be so thin and small?"
"She is abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this
wind. Why does she not come in?"
"Oh, Charlotte says she hardly ever does. It is the greatest of
favours when Miss de Bourgh comes in."
"I like her appearance," said Elizabeth, struck with other ideas.
"She looks sickly and cross. Yes, she will do for him very well.
She will make him a very proper wife."
Mr. Collins and Charlotte were both standing at the gate in
conversation with the ladies; and Sir William, to Elizabeth's
high diversion, was stationed in the doorway, in earnest
contemplation of the greatness before him, and constantly
bowing whenever Miss de Bourgh looked that way.
At length there was nothing more to be said; the ladies drove on,
and the others returned into the house. Mr. Collins no sooner
saw the two girls than he began to congratulate them on their
good fortune, which Charlotte explained by letting them know
that the whole party was asked to dine at Rosings the next day.
Mr. Collins's triumph, in consequence of this invitation, was
complete. The power of displaying the grandeur of his patroness
to his wondering visitors, and of letting them see her civility
towards himself and his wife, was exactly what he had wished
for; and that an opportunity of doing it should be given so soon,
was such an instance of Lady Catherine's condescension, as he
knew not how to admire enough.
"I confess," said he, "that I should not have been at all surprised
by her ladyship's asking us on Sunday to drink tea and spend the
evening at Rosings. I rather expected, from my knowledge of
her affability, that it would happen. But who could have
foreseen such an attention as this? Who could have imagined
that we should receive an invitation to dine there (an invitation,
moreover, including the whole party) so immediately after your
"I am the less surprised at what has happened," replied Sir
William, "from that knowledge of what the manners of the great
really are, which my situation in life has allowed me to acquire.
About the court, such instances of elegant breeding are not
Scarcely anything was talked of the whole day or next morning
but their visit to Rosings. Mr. Collins was carefully instructing
them in what they were to expect, that the sight of such rooms,
so many servants, and so splendid a dinner, might not wholly
When the ladies were separating for the toilette, he said to
"Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your
apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of
dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter. I would
advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior
to the rest - there is no occasion for anything more. Lady
Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply
dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved."
While they were dressing, he came two or three times to their
different doors, to recommend their being quick, as Lady
Catherine very much objected to be kept waiting for her dinner.
Such formidable accounts of her ladyship, and her manner of
living, quite frightened Maria Lucas who had been little used to
company, and she looked forward to her introduction at Rosings
with as much apprehension as her father had done to his
presentation at St. James's.
As the weather was fine, they had a pleasant walk of about half
a mile across the park. Every park has its beauty and its
prospects; and Elizabeth saw much to be pleased with, though
she could not be in such raptures as Mr. Collins expected the
scene to inspire, and was but slightly affected by his enumeration
of the windows in front of the house, and his relation of what the
glazing altogether had originally cost Sir Lewis de Bourgh.
When they ascended the steps to the hall, Maria's alarm was
every moment increasing, and even Sir William did not look
perfectly calm. Elizabeth's courage did not fail her. She had
heard nothing of Lady Catherine that spoke her awful from any
extraordinary talents or miraculous virtue, and the mere
stateliness of money or rank she thought she could witness
From the entrance-hall, of which Mr. Collins pointed out, with a
rapturous air, the fine proportion and the finished ornaments,
they followed the servants through an ante-chamber, to the room
where Lady Catherine, her daughter, and Mrs. Jenkinson were
sitting. Her ladyship, with great condescension, arose to receive
them; and as Mrs. Collins had settled it with her husband that the
office of introduction should be hers, it was performed in a
proper manner, without any of those apologies and thanks which
he would have thought necessary.
In spite of having been at St. James's Sir William was so
completely awed by the grandeur surrounding him, that he had
but just courage enough to make a very low bow, and take his
seat without saying a word; and his daughter, frightened almost
out of her senses, sat on the edge of her chair, not knowing
which way to look. Elizabeth found herself quite equal to the
scene, and could observe the three ladies before her composedly.
Lady Catherine was a tall, large woman, with strongly-marked
features, which might once have been handsome. Her air was
not conciliating, nor was her manner of receiving them such as
to make her visitors forget their inferior rank. She was not
rendered formidable by silence; but whatever she said was
spoken in so authoritative a tone, as marked her self-importance,
and brought Mr. Wickham immediately to Elizabeth's mind; and
from the observation of the day altogether, she believed Lady
Catherine to be exactly what he represented.
When, after examining the mother, in whose countenance and
deportment she soon found some resemblance of Mr. Darcy, she
turned her eyes on the daughter, she could almost have joined
in Maria's astonishment at her being so thin and so small. There
was neither in figure nor face any likeness between the ladies.
Miss de Bourgh was pale and sickly; her features, though not
plain, were insignificant; and she spoke very little, except in
a low voice, to Mrs. Jenkinson, in whose appearance there was
nothing remarkable, and who was entirely engaged in listening to
what she said, and placing a screen in the proper direction before
After sitting a few minutes, they were all sent to one of the
windows to admire the view, Mr. Collins attending them to
point out its beauties, and Lady Catherine kindly informing
them that it was much better worth looking at in the summer.
The dinner was exceedingly handsome, and there were all the
servants and all the articles of plate which Mr. Collins had
promised; and, as he had likewise foretold, he took his seat at
the bottom of the table, by her ladyship's desire, and looked as
if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater. He carved,
and ate, and praised with delighted alacrity; and every dish was
commended, first by him and then by Sir William, who was now
enough recovered to echo whatever his son-in-law said, in a
manner which Elizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could bear.
But Lady Catherine seemed gratified by their excessive admiration,
and gave most gracious smiles, especially when any dish on the
table proved a novelty to them. The party did not supply much
conversation. Elizabeth was ready to speak whenever there was
an opening, but she was seated between Charlotte and Miss de
Bourgh - the former of whom was engaged in listening to Lady
Catherine, and the latter said not a word to her all dinner-time.
Mrs. Jenkinson was chiefly employed in watching how little Miss
de Bourgh ate, pressing her to try some other dish, and fearing
she was indisposed. Maria thought speaking out of the question,
and the gentlemen did nothing but eat and admire.
When the ladies returned to the drawing-room, there was little
to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did
without any intermission till coffee came in, delivering her
opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner, as proved
that she was not used to have her judgement controverted. She
inquired into Charlotte's domestic concerns familiarly and
minutely, gave her a great deal of advice as to the management
of them all; told her how everything ought to be regulated in so
small a family as hers, and instructed her as to the care of her
cows and her poultry. Elizabeth found that nothing was beneath
this great lady's attention, which could furnish her with an
occasion of dictating to others. In the intervals of her discourse
with Mrs. Collins, she addressed a variety of questions to Maria
and Elizabeth, but especially to the latter, of whose connections
she knew the least, and who she observed to Mrs. Collins was a
very genteel, pretty kind of girl. She asked her, at different
times, how many sisters she had, whether they were older or
younger than herself, whether any of them were likely to be
married, whether they were handsome, where they had been
educated, what carriage her father kept, and what had been her
mother's maiden name? Elizabeth felt all the impertinence of her
questions but answered them very composedly. Lady Catherine
"Your father's estate is entailed on Mr. Collins, I think. For
your sake," turning to Charlotte, "I am glad of it; but otherwise I
see no occasion for entailing estates from the female line. It was
not thought necessary in Sir Lewis de Bourgh's family. Do you
play and sing, Miss Bennet?"
"Oh! then - some time or other we shall be happy to hear you.
Our instrument is a capital one, probably superior to - - You
shall try it some day. Do your sisters play and sing?"
"One of them does."
"Why did not you all learn? You ought all to have learned. The
Miss Webbs all play, and their father has not so good an income
as yours. Do you draw?"
"No, not at all."
"What, none of you?"
"That is very strange. But I suppose you had no opportunity.
Your mother should have taken you to town every spring for the
benefit of masters."
"My mother would have had no objection, but my father hates
"Has your governess left you?"
"We never had any governess."
"No governess! How was that possible? Five daughters brought
up at home without a governess! I never heard of such a thing.
Your mother must have been quite a slave to your education."
Elizabeth could hardly help smiling as she assured her that had
not been the case.
"Then, who taught you? who attended to you? Without a
governess, you must have been neglected."
"Compared with some families, I believe we were; but such of us
as wished to learn never wanted the means. We were always
encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary.
Those who chose to be idle, certainly might."
"Aye, no doubt; but that is what a governess will prevent, and
if I had known your mother, I should have advised her most
strenuously to engage one. I always say that nothing is to be
done in education without steady and regular instruction, and
nobody but a governess can give it. It is wonderful how many
families I have been the means of supplying in that way. I am
always glad to get a young person well placed out. Four nieces
of Mrs. Jenkinson are most delightfully situated through my
means; and it was but the other day that I recommended another
young person, who was merely accidentally mentioned to me,
and the family are quite delighted with her. Mrs. Collins, did I
tell you of Lady Metcalf's calling yesterday to thank me? She
finds Miss Pope a treasure. 'Lady Catherine,' said she, 'you
have given me a treasure.' Are any of your younger sisters out,
"Yes, ma'am, all."
"All! What, all five out at once? Very odd! And you only
the second. The younger ones out before the elder ones are
married! Your younger sisters must be very young?"
"Yes, my youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps _she_ is full young to
be much in company. But really, ma'am, I think it would be
very hard upon younger sisters, that they should not have their
share of society and amusement, because the elder may not have
the means or inclination to marry early. The last-born has as
good a right to the pleasures of youth at the first. And to be
kept back on _such_ a motive! I think it would not be very likely
to promote sisterly affection or delicacy of mind."
"Upon my word," said her ladyship, "you give your opinion very
decidedly for so young a person. Pray, what is your age?"
"With three younger sisters grown up," replied Elizabeth,
smiling, "your ladyship can hardly expect me to own it."
Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct
answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature
who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence.
"You cannot be more than twenty, I am sure, therefore you need
not conceal your age."
"I am not one-and-twenty."
When the gentlemen had joined them, and tea was over, the
card-tables were placed. Lady Catherine, Sir William, and Mr.
and Mrs. Collins sat down to quadrille; and as Miss de Bourgh
chose to play at cassino, the two girls had the honour of
assisting Mrs. Jenkinson to make up her party. Their table was
superlatively stupid. Scarcely a syllable was uttered that did
not relate to the game, except when Mrs. Jenkinson expressed her
fears of Miss de Bourgh's being too hot or too cold, or having
too much or too little light. A great deal more passed at the
other table. Lady Catherine was generally speaking - stating
the mistakes of the three others, or relating some anecdote of
herself. Mr. Collins was employed in agreeing to everything
her ladyship said, thanking her for every fish he won, and
apologising if he thought he won too many. Sir William did not
say much. He was storing his memory with anecdotes and noble
When Lady Catherine and her daughter had played as long as
they chose, the tables were broken up, the carriage was offered
to Mrs. Collins, gratefully accepted and immediately ordered.
The party then gathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine
determine what weather they were to have on the morrow. From
these instructions they were summoned by the arrival of the
coach; and with many speeches of thankfulness on Mr. Collins's
side and as many bows on Sir William's they departed. As soon
as they had driven from the door, Elizabeth was called on by her
cousin to give her opinion of all that she had seen at Rosings,
which, for Charlotte's sake, she made more favourable than it
really was. But her commendation, though costing her some
trouble, could by no means satisfy Mr. Collins, and he was very
soon obliged to take her ladyship's praise into his own hands.
Sir William stayed only a week at Hunsford, but his visit was
long enough to convince him of his daughter's being most
comfortably settled, and of her possessing such a husband and
such a neighbour as were not often met with. While Sir William