near her, lest she might hear too much. When they sat down to
supper, therefore, she considered it a most unlucky perverseness
which placed them within one of each other; and deeply was she
vexed to find that her mother was talking to that one person
(Lady Lucas) freely, openly, and of nothing else but her
expectation that Jane would soon be married to Mr. Bingley. It
was an animating subject, and Mrs. Bennet seemed incapable of
fatigue while enumerating the advantages of the match. His
being such a charming young man, and so rich, and living but
three miles from them, were the first points of self-gratulation;
and then it was such a comfort to think how fond the two sisters
were of Jane, and to be certain that they must desire the
connection as much as she could do. It was, moreover, such a
promising thing for her younger daughters, as Jane's marrying so
greatly must throw them in the way of other rich men; and lastly,
it was so pleasant at her time of life to be able to consign her
single daughters to the care of their sister, that she might not
be obliged to go into company more than she liked. It was
necessary to make this circumstance a matter of pleasure,
because on such occasions it is the etiquette; but no one was less
likely than Mrs. Bennet to find comfort in staying home at any
period of her life. She concluded with many good wishes that
Lady Lucas might soon be equally fortunate, though evidently
and triumphantly believing there was no chance of it.
In vain did Elizabeth endeavour to check the rapidity of her
mother's words, or persuade her to describe her felicity in a
less audible whisper; for, to her inexpressible vexation, she
could perceive that the chief of it was overheard by Mr. Darcy,
who sat opposite to them. Her mother only scolded her for
"What is Mr. Darcy to me, pray, that I should be afraid of him?
I am sure we owe him no such particular civility as to be obliged
to say nothing _he_ may not like to hear."
"For heaven's sake, madam, speak lower. What advantage can
it be for you to offend Mr. Darcy? You will never recommend
yourself to his friend by so doing!"
Nothing that she could say, however, had any influence. Her
mother would talk of her views in the same intelligible tone.
Elizabeth blushed and blushed again with shame and vexation.
She could not help frequently glancing her eye at Mr. Darcy,
though every glance convinced her of what she dreaded; for
though he was not always looking at her mother, she was
convinced that his attention was invariably fixed by her.
The expression of his face changed gradually from indignant
contempt to a composed and steady gravity.
At length, however, Mrs. Bennet had no more to say; and Lady
Lucas, who had been long yawning at the repetition of delights
which she saw no likelihood of sharing, was left to the comforts
of cold ham and chicken. Elizabeth now began to revive. But
not long was the interval of tranquillity; for, when supper was
over, singing was talked of, and she had the mortification of
seeing Mary, after very little entreaty, preparing to oblige the
company. By many significant looks and silent entreaties, did
she endeavour to prevent such a proof of complaisance, but in
vain; Mary would not understand them; such an opportunity of
exhibiting was delightful to her, and she began her song.
Elizabeth's eyes were fixed on her with most painful sensations,
and she watched her progress through the several stanzas with
an impatience which was very ill rewarded at their close; for
Mary, on receiving, amongst the thanks of the table, the hint of
a hope that she might be prevailed on to favour them again, after
the pause of half a minute began another. Mary's powers were
by no means fitted for such a display; her voice was weak, and
her manner affected. Elizabeth was in agonies. She looked at
Jane, to see how she bore it; but Jane was very composedly
talking to Bingley. She looked at his two sisters, and saw
them making signs of derision at each other, and at Darcy, who
continued, however, imperturbably grave. She looked at her
father to entreat his interference, lest Mary should be singing all
night. He took the hint, and when Mary had finished her second
song, said aloud, "That will do extremely well, child. You have
delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time
Mary, though pretending not to hear, was somewhat disconcerted;
and Elizabeth, sorry for her, and sorry for her father's speech,
was afraid her anxiety had done no good. Others of the party
were now applied to.
"If I," said Mr. Collins, "were so fortunate as to be able to sing,
I should have great pleasure, I am sure, in obliging the company
with an air; for I consider music as a very innocent diversion,
and perfectly compatible with the profession of a clergyman. I do
not mean, however, to assert that we can be justified in devoting
too much of our time to music, for there are certainly other things
to be attended to. The rector of a parish has much to do. In the
first place, he must make such an agreement for tithes as may be
beneficial to himself and not offensive to his patron. He must
write his own sermons; and the time that remains will not be too
much for his parish duties, and the care and improvement of his
dwelling, which he cannot be excused from making as comfortable
as possible. And I do not think it of light importance that he
should have attentive and conciliatory manner towards everybody,
especially towards those to whom he owes his preferment. I
cannot acquit him of that duty; nor could I think well of the
man who should omit an occasion of testifying his respect
towards anybody connected with the family." And with a bow to
Mr. Darcy, he concluded his speech, which had been spoken so
loud as to be heard by half the room. Many stared - many smiled;
but no one looked more amused than Mr. Bennet himself, while
his wife seriously commended Mr. Collins for having spoken so
sensibly, and observed in a half-whisper to Lady Lucas, that he
was a remarkably clever, good kind of young man.
To Elizabeth it appeared that, had her family made an agreement
to expose themselves as much as they could during the
evening, it would have been impossible for them to play their
parts with more spirit or finer success; and happy did she think
it for Bingley and her sister that some of the exhibition had
escaped his notice, and that his feelings were not of a sort to
be much distressed by the folly which he must have witnessed.
That his two sisters and Mr. Darcy, however, should have such
an opportunity of ridiculing her relations, was bad enough, and
she could not determine whether the silent contempt of the
gentleman, or the insolent smiles of the ladies, were more
The rest of the evening brought her little amusement. She was
teased by Mr. Collins, who continued most perseveringly by her
side, and though he could not prevail on her to dance with him
again, put it out of her power to dance with others. In vain
did she entreat him to stand up with somebody else, and offer to
introduce him to any young lady in the room. He assured her,
that as to dancing, he was perfectly indifferent to it; that his
chief object was by delicate attentions to recommend himself to
her and that he should therefore make a point of remaining close
to her the whole evening. There was no arguing upon such a
project. She owed her greatest relief to her friend Miss Lucas,
who often joined them, and good-naturedly engaged Mr. Collins's
conversation to herself.
She was at least free from the offense of Mr. Darcy's further
notice; though often standing within a very short distance of her,
quite disengaged, he never came near enough to speak. She felt
it to be the probable consequence of her allusions to Mr. Wickham,
and rejoiced in it.
The Longbourn party were the last of all the company to depart,
and, by a manoeuvre of Mrs. Bennet, had to wait for their
carriage a quarter of an hour after everybody else was gone,
which gave them time to see how heartily they were wished
away by some of the family. Mrs. Hurst and her sister scarcely
opened their mouths, except to complain of fatigue, and were
evidently impatient to have the house to themselves. They
repulsed every attempt of Mrs. Bennet at conversation, and by
so doing threw a languor over the whole party, which was very
little relieved by the long speeches of Mr. Collins, who was
complimenting Mr. Bingley and his sisters on the elegance of
their entertainment, and the hospitality and politeness which had
marked their behaviour to their guests. Darcy said nothing at all.
Mr. Bennet, in equal silence, was enjoying the scene. Mr.
Bingley and Jane were standing together, a little detached from
the rest, and talked only to each other. Elizabeth preserved as
steady a silence as either Mrs. Hurst or Miss Bingley; and even
Lydia was too much fatigued to utter more than the occasional
exclamation of "Lord, how tired I am!" accompanied by a
When at length they arose to take leave, Mrs. Bennet was most
pressingly civil in her hope of seeing the whole family soon
at Longbourn, and addressed herself especially to Mr. Bingley,
to assure him how happy he would make them by eating a family
dinner with them at any time, without the ceremony of a formal
invitation. Bingley was all grateful pleasure, and he readily
engaged for taking the earliest opportunity of waiting on her,
after his return from London, whither he was obliged to go the
next day for a short time.
Mrs. Bennet was perfectly satisfied, and quitted the house under
the delightful persuasion that, allowing for the necessary
preparations of settlements, new carriages, and wedding clothes,
she should undoubtedly see her daughter settled at Netherfield in
the course of three or four months. Of having another daughter
married to Mr. Collins, she thought with equal certainty, and
with considerable, though not equal, pleasure. Elizabeth was the
least dear to her of all her children; and though the man and the
match were quite good enough for _her_, the worth of each was
eclipsed by Mr. Bingley and Netherfield.
The next day opened a new scene at Longbourn. Mr. Collins
made his declaration in form. Having resolved to do it without
loss of time, as his leave of absence extended only to the
following Saturday, and having no feelings of diffidence to make
it distressing to himself even at the moment, he set about it
in a very orderly manner, with all the observances, which
he supposed a regular part of the business. On finding Mrs.
Bennet, Elizabeth, and one of the younger girls together, soon
after breakfast, he addressed the mother in these words:
"May I hope, madam, for your interest with your fair daughter
Elizabeth, when I solicit for the honour of a private audience
with her in the course of this morning?"
Before Elizabeth had time for anything but a blush of surprise,
Mrs. Bennet answered instantly, "Oh dear! - yes - certainly. I
am sure Lizzy will be very happy - I am sure she can have no
objection. Come, Kitty, I want you upstairs." And, gathering
her work together, she was hastening away, when Elizabeth
"Dear madam, do not go. I beg you will not go. Mr. Collins
must excuse me. He can have nothing to say to me that anybody
need not hear. I am going away myself."
"No, no, nonsense, Lizzy. I desire you to stay where you are."
And upon Elizabeth's seeming really, with vexed and embarrassed
looks, about to escape, she added: "Lizzy, I _insist_ upon your
staying and hearing Mr. Collins."
Elizabeth would not oppose such an injunction - and a moment's
consideration making her also sensible that it would be wisest to
get it over as soon and as quietly as possible, she sat down again
and tried to conceal, by incessant employment the feelings which
were divided between distress and diversion. Mrs. Bennet and Kitty
walked off, and as soon as they were gone, Mr. Collins began.
"Believe me, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that your modesty, so far
from doing you any disservice, rather adds to your other
perfections. You would have been less amiable in my eyes had
there _not_ been this little unwillingness; but allow me to assure
you, that I have your respected mother's permission for this
address. You can hardly doubt the purport of my discourse,
however your natural delicacy may lead you to dissemble; my
attentions have been too marked to be mistaken. Almost as soon
as I entered the house, I singled you out as the companion of
my future life. But before I am run away with by my feelings on
this subject, perhaps it would be advisable for me to state my
reasons for marrying - and, moreover, for coming into Hertfordshire
with the design of selecting a wife, as I certainly did."
The idea of Mr. Collins, with all his solemn composure, being
run away with by his feelings, made Elizabeth so near laughing,
that she could not use the short pause he allowed in any attempt
to stop him further, and he continued:
"My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right
thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to
set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am
convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and
thirdly - which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that
it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble
lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness. Twice has
she condescended to give me her opinion (unasked too!) on this
subject; and it was but the very Saturday night before I left
Hunsford - between our pools at quadrille, while Mrs. Jenkinson
was arranging Miss de Bourgh's footstool, that she said, 'Mr.
Collins, you must marry. A clergyman like you must marry.
Choose properly, choose a gentlewoman for _my_ sake; and for
your _own_, let her be an active, useful sort of person, not brought
up high, but able to make a small income go a good way. This is
my advice. Find such a woman as soon as you can, bring her to
Hunsford, and I will visit her.' Allow me, by the way, to
observe, my fair cousin, that I do not reckon the notice and
kindness of Lady Catherine de Bourgh as among the least of the
advantages in my power to offer. You will find her manners
beyond anything I can describe; and your wit and vivacity, I
think, must be acceptable to her, especially when tempered with
the silence and respect which her rank will inevitably excite.
Thus much for my general intention in favour of matrimony;
it remains to be told why my views were directed towards
Longbourn instead of my own neighbourhood, where I can
assure you there are many amiable young women. But the fact
is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of
your honoured father (who, however, may live many years
longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose a
wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as
little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place - which,
however, as I have already said, may not be for several years.
This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it
will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remains
for me but to assure you in the most animated language of the
violence of my affection. To fortune I am perfectly indifferent,
and shall make no demand of that nature on your father, since I
am well aware that it could not be complied with; and that one
thousand pounds in the four per cents, which will not be yours
till after your mother's decease, is all that you may ever be
entitled to. On that head, therefore, I shall be uniformly silent;
and you may assure yourself that no ungenerous reproach shall
ever pass my lips when we are married."
It was absolutely necessary to interrupt him now.
"You are too hasty, sir," she cried. "You forget that I have
made no answer. Let me do it without further loss of time.
Accept my thanks for the compliment you are paying me. I am
very sensible of the honour of your proposals, but it is
impossible for me to do otherwise than to decline them."
"I am not now to learn," replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave
of the hand, "that it is usual with young ladies to reject the
addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when
he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal
is repeated a second, or even a third time. I am therefore by no
means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to
lead you to the altar ere long."
"Upon my word, sir," cried Elizabeth, "your hope is a rather
extraordinary one after my declaration. I do assure you that I
am not one of those young ladies (if such young ladies there are)
who are so daring as to risk their happiness on the chance of
being asked a second time. I am perfectly serious in my refusal.
You could not make _me_ happy, and I am convinced that I am
the last woman in the world who could make you so. Nay, were
your friend Lady Catherine to know me, I am persuaded she
would find me in every respect ill qualified for the situation."
"Were it certain that Lady Catherine would think so," said Mr.
Collins very gravely - "but I cannot imagine that her ladyship
would at all disapprove of you. And you may be certain when I
have the honour of seeing her again, I shall speak in the very
highest terms of your modesty, economy, and other amiable
"Indeed, Mr. Collins, all praise of me will be unnecessary.
You must give me leave to judge for myself, and pay me the
compliment of believing what I say. I wish you very happy and
very rich, and by refusing your hand, do all in my power to
prevent your being otherwise. In making me the offer, you must
have satisfied the delicacy of your feelings with regard to my
family, and may take possession of Longbourn estate whenever
it falls, without any self-reproach. This matter may be
considered, therefore, as finally settled." And rising as she
thus spoke, she would have quitted the room, had Mr. Collins
not thus addressed her:
"When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on the
subject, I shall hope to receive a more favourable answer than
you have now given me; though I am far from accusing you of
cruelty at present, because I know it to be the established
custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application, and
perhaps you have even now said as much to encourage my suit
as would be consistent with the true delicacy of the female
"Really, Mr. Collins," cried Elizabeth with some warmth, "you
puzzle me exceedingly. If what I have hitherto said can appear
to you in the form of encouragement, I know not how to express
my refusal in such a way as to convince you of its being one."
"You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin, that
your refusal of my addresses is merely words of course. My
reasons for believing it are briefly these: It does not appear
to me that my hand is unworthy your acceptance, or that the
establishment I can offer would be any other than highly
desirable. My situation in life, my connections with the family
of de Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances
highly in my favour; and you should take it into further
consideration, that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is
by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be
made you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in
all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable
qualifications. As I must therefore conclude that you are not
serious in your rejection of me, I shall choose to attribute it
to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the
usual practice of elegant females."
"I do assure you, sir, that I have no pretensions whatever to that
kind of elegance which consists in tormenting a respectable man.
I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere.
I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in
your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible. My
feelings in every respect forbid it. Can I speak plainer? Do not
consider me now as an elegant female, intending to plague you,
but as a rational creature, speaking the truth from her heart."
"You are uniformly charming!" cried he, with an air of awkward
gallantry; "and I am persuaded that when sanctioned by the
express authority of both your excellent parents, my proposals
will not fail of being acceptable."
To such perseverance in wilful self-deception Elizabeth would
make no reply, and immediately and in silence withdrew;
determined, if he persisted in considering her repeated
refusals as flattering encouragement, to apply to her father,
whose negative might be uttered in such a manner as to be
decisive, and whose behavior at least could not be mistaken
for the affectation and coquetry of an elegant female.
Mr. Collins was not left long to the silent contemplation of his
successful love; for Mrs. Bennet, having dawdled about in the
vestibule to watch for the end of the conference, no sooner saw
Elizabeth open the door and with quick step pass her towards
the staircase, than she entered the breakfast-room, and
congratulated both him and herself in warm terms on the happy
prospect or their nearer connection. Mr. Collins received and
returned these felicitations with equal pleasure, and then
proceeded to relate the particulars of their interview, with the
result of which he trusted he had every reason to be satisfied,
since the refusal which his cousin had steadfastly given him
would naturally flow from her bashful modesty and the genuine
delicacy of her character.
This information, however, startled Mrs. Bennet; she would
have been glad to be equally satisfied that her daughter had
meant to encourage him by protesting against his proposals,
but she dared not believe it, and could not help saying so.
"But, depend upon it, Mr. Collins," she added, "that Lizzy shall
be brought to reason. I will speak to her about it directly.
She is a very headstrong, foolish girl, and does not know her
own interest but I will _make_ her know it."
"Pardon me for interrupting you, madam," cried Mr. Collins;
"but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether
she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my
situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage
state. If therefore she actually persists in rejecting my suit,
perhaps it were better not to force her into accepting me,
because if liable to such defects of temper, she could not
contribute much to my felicity."
"Sir, you quite misunderstand me," said Mrs. Bennet, alarmed.
"Lizzy is only headstrong in such matters as these. In everything
else she is as good-natured a girl as ever lived. I will go
directly to Mr. Bennet, and we shall very soon settle it with her,
I am sure."
She would not give him time to reply, but hurrying instantly to
her husband, called out as she entered the library, "Oh! Mr.
Bennet, you are wanted immediately; we are all in an uproar.
You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, for she vows
she will not have him, and if you do not make haste he will
change his mind and not have _her_."
Mr. Bennet raised his eyes from his book as she entered, and
fixed them on her face with a calm unconcern which was not in
the least altered by her communication.
"I have not the pleasure of understanding you," said he, when
she had finished her speech. "Of what are you talking?"
"Of Mr. Collins and Lizzy. Lizzy declares she will not have
Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins begins to say that he will not
"And what am I to do on the occasion? It seems an hopeless
"Speak to Lizzy about it yourself. Tell her that you insist upon
her marrying him."
"Let her be called down. She shall hear my opinion."
Mrs. Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to
"Come here, child," cried her father as she appeared. "I have
sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr.
Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?" Elizabeth
replied that it was. "Very well - and this offer of marriage you
"I have, sir."
"Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists
upon your accepting it. Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?"
"Yes, or I will never see her again."
"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day
you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will