Within a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom
the Bennets were particularly intimate. Sir William Lucas
had been formerly in trade in Meryton, where he had made a
tolerable fortune, and risen to the honour of knighthood by an
address to the king during his mayoralty. The distinction had
perhaps been felt too strongly. It had given him a disgust
to his business, and to his residence in a small market town;
and, in quitting them both, he had removed with his family
to a house about a mile from Meryton, denominated from that
period Lucas Lodge, where he could think with pleasure of his
own importance, and, unshackled by business, occupy himself
solely in being civil to all the world. For, though elated by his
rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary, he was
all attention to everybody. By nature inoffensive, friendly, and
obliging, his presentation at St. James's had made him courteous.
Lady Lucas was a very good kind of woman, not too clever to
be a valuable neighbour to Mrs. Bennet. They had several
children. The eldest of them, a sensible, intelligent young
woman, about twenty-seven, was Elizabeth's intimate friend.
That the Miss Lucases and the Miss Bennets should meet to
talk over a ball was absolutely necessary; and the morning after
the assembly brought the former to Longbourn to hear and to
"_You_ began the evening well, Charlotte," said Mrs. Bennet with
civil self-command to Miss Lucas. "_You_ were Mr. Bingley's
"Yes; but he seemed to like his second better."
"Oh! you mean Jane, I suppose, because he danced with her
twice. To be sure that _did_ seem as if he admired her - indeed
I rather believe he _did_ - I heard something about it - but I
hardly know what - something about Mr. Robinson."
"Perhaps you mean what I overheard between him and Mr. Robinson;
did not I mention it to you? Mr. Robinson's asking him how he
liked our Meryton assemblies, and whether he did not think there
were a great many pretty women in the room, and _which_ he thought
the prettiest? and his answering immediately to the last
question: 'Oh! the eldest Miss Bennet, beyond a doubt; there
cannot be two opinions on that point.'"
"Upon my word! Well, that is very decided indeed - that does
seem as if - but, however, it may all come to nothing, you know."
"_My_ overhearings were more to the purpose than _yours_, Eliza,"
said Charlotte. "Mr. Darcy is not so well worth listening to
as his friend, is he? - poor Eliza! - to be only just _tolerable_."
"I beg you would not put it into Lizzy's head to be vexed by
his ill-treatment, for he is such a disagreeable man, that it
would be quite a misfortune to be liked by him. Mrs. Long
told me last night that he sat close to her for half-an-hour
without once opening his lips."
"Are you quite sure, ma'am? - is not there a little mistake?"
said Jane. "I certainly saw Mr. Darcy speaking to her."
"Aye - because she asked him at last how he liked Netherfield,
and he could not help answering her; but she said he seemed
quite angry at being spoke to."
"Miss Bingley told me," said Jane, "that he never speaks much,
unless among his intimate acquaintances. With _them_ he is
"I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very
agreeable, he would have talked to Mrs. Long. But I can guess
how it was; everybody says that he is eat up with pride, and I
dare say he had heard somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep
a carriage, and had come to the ball in a hack chaise."
"I do not mind his not talking to Mrs. Long," said Miss Lucas,
"but I wish he had danced with Eliza."
"Another time, Lizzy," said her mother, "I would not dance
with _him_, if I were you."
"I believe, ma'am, I may safely promise you _never_ to dance
"His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend _me_ so much as
pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot
wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune,
everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I
may so express it, he has a _right_ to be proud."
"That is very true," replied Elizabeth, "and I could easily
forgive _his_ pride, if he had not mortified _mine_."
"Pride," observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity
of her reflections, "is a very common failing, I believe. By
all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common
indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and
that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of
self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real
or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though
the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud
without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of
ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."
"If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy," cried a young Lucas, who
came with his sisters, "I should not care how proud I was. I
would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine a
"Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought," said
Mrs. Bennet; "and if I were to see you at it, I should take away
your bottle directly."
The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare
that she would, and the argument ended only with the visit.
The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield.
The visit was soon returned in due form. Miss Bennet's
pleasing manners grew on the goodwill of Mrs. Hurst and Miss
Bingley; and though the mother was found to be intolerable,
and the younger sisters not worth speaking to, a wish of
being better acquainted with _them_ was expressed towards
the two eldest. By Jane, this attention was received with the
greatest pleasure, but Elizabeth still saw superciliousness in
their treatment of everybody, hardly excepting even her sister,
and could not like them; though their kindness to Jane, such as it
was, had a value as arising in all probability from the influence
of their brother's admiration. It was generally evident
whenever they met, that he _did_ admire her and to _her_ it was
equally evident that Jane was yielding to the preference which
she had begun to entertain for him from the first, and was in a
way to be very much in love; but she considered with pleasure
that it was not likely to be discovered by the world in general,
since Jane united, with great strength of feeling, a composure
of temper and a uniform cheerfulness of manner which would
guard her from the suspicions of the impertinent. She
mentioned this to her friend Miss Lucas.
"It may perhaps be pleasant," replied Charlotte, "to be able to
impose on the public in such a case; but it is sometimes a
disadvantage to be so very guarded. If a woman conceals her
affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose
the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor
consolation to believe the world equally in the dark. There is
so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment, that
it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all _begin_ freely - a
slight preference is natural enough; but there are very few of us
who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement.
In nine cases out of ten a women had better show _more_ affection
than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he
may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on."
"But she does help him on, as much as her nature will allow.
If I can perceive her regard for him, he must be a simpleton,
indeed, not to discover it too."
"Remember, Eliza, that he does not know Jane's disposition as
"But if a woman is partial to a man, and does not endeavour to
conceal it, he must find it out."
"Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her. But, though
Bingley and Jane meet tolerably often, it is never for many
hours together; and, as they always see each other in large
mixed parties, it is impossible that every moment should be
employed in conversing together. Jane should therefore make
the most of every half-hour in which she can command his
attention. When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure
for falling in love as much as she chooses."
"Your plan is a good one," replied Elizabeth, "where nothing is
in question but the desire of being well married, and if I were
determined to get a rich husband, or any husband, I dare say I
should adopt it. But these are not Jane's feelings; she is not
acting by design. As yet, she cannot even be certain of the
degree of her own regard nor of its reasonableness. She has
known him only a fortnight. She danced four dances with him
at Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own house, and
has since dined with him in company four times. This is not
quite enough to make her understand his character."
"Not as you represent it. Had she merely _dined_ with him, she
might only have discovered whether he had a good appetite; but
you must remember that four evenings have also been spent
together - and four evenings may do a great deal."
"Yes; these four evenings have enabled them to ascertain that
they both like Vingt-un better than Commerce; but with respect
to any other leading characteristic, I do not imagine that much
has been unfolded."
"Well," said Charlotte, "I wish Jane success with all my heart;
and if she were married to him to-morrow, I should think she
had as good a chance of happiness as if she were to be studying
his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is
entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties
are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand,
it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always
continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their
share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible
of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."
"You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know
it is not sound, and that you would never act in this way
Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley's attentions to her sister,
Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming
an object of some interest in the eyes of his friend. Mr. Darcy
had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at
her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he
looked at her only to criticise. But no sooner had he made it
clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature
in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly
intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this
discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he
had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect
symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure
to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her
manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught
by their easy playfulness. Of this she was perfectly unaware;
to her he was only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere,
and who had not thought her handsome enough to dance with.
He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards
conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with
others. His doing so drew her notice. It was at Sir William
Lucas's, where a large party were assembled.
"What does Mr. Darcy mean," said she to Charlotte, "by
listening to my conversation with Colonel Forster?"
"That is a question which Mr. Darcy only can answer."
"But if he does it any more I shall certainly let him know that I
see what he is about. He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not
begin by being impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of
On his approaching them soon afterwards, though without
seeming to have any intention of speaking, Miss Lucas defied
her friend to mention such a subject to him; which immediately
provoking Elizabeth to do it, she turned to him and said:
"Did you not think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself
uncommonly well just now, when I was teasing Colonel Forster
to give us a ball at Meryton?"
"With great energy; but it is always a subject which makes a lady
"You are severe on us."
"It will be _her_ turn soon to be teased," said Miss Lucas. "I
am going to open the instrument, Eliza, and you know what
"You are a very strange creature by way of a friend! - always
wanting me to play and sing before anybody and everybody!
If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you would have been
invaluable; but as it is, I would really rather not sit down
before those who must be in the habit of hearing the very best
performers." On Miss Lucas's persevering, however, she added,
"Very well, if it must be so, it must." And gravely glancing at
Mr. Darcy, "There is a fine old saying, which everybody here is of
course familiar with: 'Keep your breath to cool your porridge';
and I shall keep mine to swell my song."
Her performance was pleasing, though by no means capital.
After a song or two, and before she could reply to the entreaties
of several that she would sing again, she was eagerly succeeded
at the instrument by her sister Mary, who having, in consequence
of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for
knowledge and accomplishments, was always impatient for
Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given
her application, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and
conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of
excellence than she had reached. Elizabeth, easy and unaffected,
had been listened to with much more pleasure, though not
playing half so well; and Mary, at the end of a long concerto,
was glad to purchase praise and gratitude by Scotch and Irish
airs, at the request of her younger sisters, who, with some of the
Lucases, and two or three officers, joined eagerly in dancing at
one end of the room.
Mr. Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode
of passing the evening, to the exclusion of all conversation, and
was too much engrossed by his thoughts to perceive that Sir
William Lucas was his neighbour, till Sir William thus began:
"What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy!
There is nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one
of the first refinements of polished society."
"Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue
amongst the less polished societies of the world. Every savage
Sir William only smiled. "Your friend performs delightfully," he
continued after a pause, on seeing Bingley join the group; "and I
doubt not that you are an adept in the science yourself, Mr.
"You saw me dance at Meryton, I believe, sir."
"Yes, indeed, and received no inconsiderable pleasure from the
sight. Do you often dance at St. James's?"
"Do you not think it would be a proper compliment to the
"It is a compliment which I never pay to any place if I can
"You have a house in town, I conclude?"
Mr. Darcy bowed.
"I had once had some thought of fixing in town myself - for I am
fond of superior society; but I did not feel quite certain that the
air of London would agree with Lady Lucas."
He paused in hopes of an answer; but his companion was not
disposed to make any; and Elizabeth at that instant moving
towards them, he was struck with the action of doing a very
gallant thing, and called out to her:
"My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not dancing? Mr. Darcy, you
must allow me to present this young lady to you as a very
desirable partner. You cannot refuse to dance, I am sure when
so much beauty is before you." And, taking her hand, he would
have given it to Mr. Darcy who, though extremely surprised,
was not unwilling to receive it, when she instantly drew back,
and said with some discomposure to Sir William:
"Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. I entreat
you not to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a
Mr. Darcy, with grave propriety, requested to be allowed the
honour of her hand, but in vain. Elizabeth was determined; nor
did Sir William at all shake her purpose by his attempt at
"You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza, that it is cruel to
deny me the happiness of seeing you; and though this gentleman
dislikes the amusement in general, he can have no objection, I
am sure, to oblige us for one half-hour."
"Mr. Darcy is all politeness," said Elizabeth, smiling.
"He is, indeed; but, considering the inducement, my dear Miss
Eliza, we cannot wonder at his complaisance - for who would
object to such a partner?"
Elizabeth looked archly, and turned away. Her resistance had
not injured her with the gentleman, and he was thinking of her
with some complacency, when thus accosted by Miss Bingley:
"I can guess the subject of your reverie."
"I should imagine not."
"You are considering how insupportable it would be to pass many
evenings in this manner - in such society; and indeed I am quite
of your opinion. I was never more annoyed! The insipidity, and
yet the noise - the nothingness, and yet the self-importance of all
those people! What would I give to hear your strictures on them!"
"You conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. My mind was
more agreeably engaged. I have been meditating on the very
great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty
woman can bestow."
Miss Bingley immediately fixed her eyes on his face, and desired
he would tell her what lady had the credit of inspiring such
reflections. Mr. Darcy replied with great intrepidity:
"Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
"Miss Elizabeth Bennet!" repeated Miss Bingley. "I am all
astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite? - and
pray, when am I to wish you joy?"
"That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A
lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to
love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would
be wishing me joy."
"Nay, if you are serious about it, I shall consider the matter is
absolutely settled. You will be having a charming mother-in-law,
indeed; and, of course, she will always be at Pemberley with you."
He listened to her with perfect indifference while she chose to
entertain herself in this manner; and as his composure convinced
her that all was safe, her wit flowed long.
Mr. Bennet's property consisted almost entirely in an estate of
two thousand a year, which, unfortunately for his daughters, was
entailed, in default of heirs male, on a distant relation; and their
mother's fortune, though ample for her situation in life, could
but ill supply the deficiency of his. Her father had been an
attorney in Meryton, and had left her four thousand pounds.
She had a sister married to a Mr. Phillips, who had been a clerk
to their father and succeeded him in the business, and a brother
settled in London in a respectable line of trade.
The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a
most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually
tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to
their aunt and to a milliner's shop just over the way. The two
youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly
frequent in these attentions; their minds were more vacant than
their sisters', and when nothing better offered, a walk to
Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and
furnish conversation for the evening; and however bare of news
the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn
some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were well
supplied both with news and happiness by the recent arrival of
a militia regiment in the neighbourhood; it was to remain the
whole winter, and Meryton was the headquarters.
Their visits to Mrs. Phillips were now productive of the most
interesting intelligence. Every day added something to their
knowledge of the officers' names and connections. Their
lodgings were not long a secret, and at length they began to
know the officers themselves. Mr. Phillips visited them all, and
this opened to his nieces a store of felicity unknown before.
They could talk of nothing but officers; and Mr. Bingley's large
fortune, the mention of which gave animation to their mother,
was worthless in their eyes when opposed to the regimentals of
After listening one morning to their effusions on this subject, Mr.
Bennet coolly observed:
"From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must
be two of the silliest girls in the country. I have suspected it
some time, but I am now convinced."
Catherine was disconcerted, and made no answer; but Lydia,
with perfect indifference, continued to express her admiration of
Captain Carter, and her hope of seeing him in the course of the
day, as he was going the next morning to London.
"I am astonished, my dear," said Mrs. Bennet, "that you should
be so ready to think your own children silly. If I wished to think
slightingly of anybody's children, it should not be of my own,
"If my children are silly, I must hope to be always sensible of it."
"Yes - but as it happens, they are all of them very clever."
"This is the only point, I flatter myself, on which we do not
agree. I had hoped that our sentiments coincided in every
particular, but I must so far differ from you as to think our two
youngest daughters uncommonly foolish."
"My dear Mr. Bennet, you must not expect such girls to have
the sense of their father and mother. When they get to our age, I
dare say they will not think about officers any more than we do.
I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well - and,
indeed, so I do still at my heart; and if a smart young colonel,
with five or six thousand a year, should want one of my girls I
shall not say nay to him; and I thought Colonel Forster looked
very becoming the other night at Sir William's in his regimentals."
"Mamma," cried Lydia, "my aunt says that Colonel Forster and
Captain Carter do not go so often to Miss Watson's as they did
when they first came; she sees them now very often standing in
Mrs. Bennet was prevented replying by the entrance of the
footman with a note for Miss Bennet; it came from Netherfield,
and the servant waited for an answer. Mrs. Bennet's eyes
sparkled with pleasure, and she was eagerly calling out, while
her daughter read,
"Well, Jane, who is it from? What is it about? What does he
say? Well, Jane, make haste and tell us; make haste, my love."
"It is from Miss Bingley," said Jane, and then read it aloud.
"MY DEAR FRIEND, -
"If you are not so compassionate as to dine to-day with Louisa
and me, we shall be in danger of hating each other for the rest
of our lives, for a whole day's tete-a-tete between two women
can never end without a quarrel. Come as soon as you can on
receipt of this. My brother and the gentlemen are to dine with
the officers. - Yours ever,
"With the officers!" cried Lydia. "I wonder my aunt did not tell
us of _that_."
"Dining out," said Mrs. Bennet, "that is very unlucky."
"Can I have the carriage?" said Jane.
"No, my dear, you had better go on horseback, because it seems
likely to rain; and then you must stay all night."
"That would be a good scheme," said Elizabeth, "if you were
sure that they would not offer to send her home."
"Oh! but the gentlemen will have Mr. Bingley's chaise to go to
Meryton, and the Hursts have no horses to theirs."
"I had much rather go in the coach."
"But, my dear, your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure.
They are wanted in the farm, Mr. Bennet, are they not?"
"They are wanted in the farm much oftener than I can get them."
"But if you have got them to-day," said Elizabeth, "my mother's
purpose will be answered."
She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that
the horses were engaged. Jane was therefore obliged to go on
horseback, and her mother attended her to the door with many
cheerful prognostics of a bad day. Her hopes were answered;
Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard. Her sisters
were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted. The rain
continued the whole evening without intermission; Jane certainly
could not come back.
"This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed!" said Mrs. Bennet more
than once, as if the credit of making it rain were all her own. Till