Sense and sensibility, p.52
Sense and Sensibility, p.52Jane Austen
After a proper resistance on the part of Mrs. Ferrars, just so violentand so steady as to preserve her from that reproach which she alwaysseemed fearful of incurring, the reproach of being too amiable, Edwardwas admitted to her presence, and pronounced to be again her son.
Her family had of late been exceedingly fluctuating. For many years ofher life she had had two sons; but the crime and annihilation ofEdward a few weeks ago, had robbed her of one; the similarannihilation of Robert had left her for a fortnight without any; andnow, by the resuscitation of Edward, she had one again.
In spite of his being allowed once more to live, however, he did notfeel the continuance of his existence secure, till he had revealed hispresent engagement; for the publication of that circumstance, hefeared, might give a sudden turn to his constitution, and carry himoff as rapidly as before. With apprehensive caution therefore it wasrevealed, and he was listened to with unexpected calmness. Mrs.Ferrars at first reasonably endeavoured to dissuade him from marryingMiss Dashwood, by every argument in her power; told him, that in MissMorton he would have a woman of higher rank and larger fortune; andenforced the assertion, by observing that Miss Morton was the daughterof a nobleman with thirty thousand pounds, while Miss Dashwood wasonly the daughter of a private gentleman with no more than _three_;but when she found that, though perfectly admitting the truth of herrepresentation, he was by no means inclined to be guided by it, shejudged it wisest, from the experience of the past, to submit; andtherefore, after such an ungracious delay as she owed to her owndignity, and as served to prevent every suspicion of good-will, sheissued her decree of consent to the marriage of Edward and Elinor.
What she would engage to do towards augmenting their income was nextto be considered; and here it plainly appeared, that though Edward wasnow her only son, he was by no means her eldest; for while Robert wasinevitably endowed with a thousand pounds a-year, not the smallestobjection was made against Edward's taking orders for the sake of twohundred and fifty at the utmost; nor was anything promised either forthe present or in future, beyond the ten thousand pounds, which hadbeen given with Fanny.
It was as much, however, as was desired, and more than was expected,by Edward and Elinor; and Mrs. Ferrars herself, by her shufflingexcuses, seemed the only person surprised at her not giving more.
With an income quite sufficient to their wants thus secured to them,they had nothing to wait for after Edward was in possession of theliving, but the readiness of the house, to which Colonel Brandon, withan eager desire for the accommodation of Elinor, was makingconsiderable improvements; and after waiting some time for theircompletion, after experiencing, as usual, a thousand disappointmentsand delays from the unaccountable dilatoriness of the workmen, Elinor,as usual, broke through the first positive resolution of not marryingtill every thing was ready, and the ceremony took place in Bartonchurch early in the autumn.
The first month after their marriage was spent with their friend atthe Mansion-house; from whence they could superintend the progress ofthe Parsonage, and direct every thing as they liked on thespot;--could choose papers, project shrubberies, and invent a sweep.Mrs. Jennings's prophecies, though rather jumbled together, werechiefly fulfilled; for she was able to visit Edward and his wife intheir Parsonage by Michaelmas, and she found in Elinor and herhusband, as she really believed, one of the happiest couples in theworld. They had in fact nothing to wish for, but the marriage ofColonel Brandon and Marianne, and rather better pasturage for theircows.
They were visited on their first settling by almost all theirrelations and friends. Mrs. Ferrars came to inspect the happinesswhich she was almost ashamed of having authorised; and even theDashwoods were at the expense of a journey from Sussex to do themhonour.
"I will not say that I am disappointed, my dear sister," said John, asthey were walking together one morning before the gates of DelafordHouse, "_that_ would be saying too much, for certainly you have beenone of the most fortunate young women in the world, as it is. But, Iconfess, it would give me great pleasure to call Colonel Brandonbrother. His property here, his place, his house,--every thing is insuch respectable and excellent condition! And his woods,--I have notseen such timber any where in Dorsetshire, as there is now standing inDelaford Hanger! And though, perhaps, Marianne may not seem exactlythe person to attract him, yet I think it would altogether beadvisable for you to have them now frequently staying with you, for asColonel Brandon seems a great deal at home, nobody can tell what mayhappen; for, when people are much thrown together, and see little ofanybody else,--and it will always be in your power to set her off toadvantage, and so forth. In short, you may as well give her a chance;You understand me."
But though Mrs. Ferrars _did_ come to see them, and always treatedthem with the make-believe of decent affection, they were neverinsulted by her real favour and preference. _That_ was due to thefolly of Robert, and the cunning of his wife; and it was earned bythem before many months had passed away. The selfish sagacity of thelatter, which had at first drawn Robert into the scrape, was theprincipal instrument of his deliverance from it; for her respectfulhumility, assiduous attentions, and endless flatteries, as soon as thesmallest opening was given for their exercise, reconciled Mrs. Ferrarsto his choice, and re-established him completely in her favour.
_Everything in such respectable condition_]
The whole of Lucy's behaviour in the affair, and the prosperity whichcrowned it, therefore, may be held forth as a most encouraginginstance of what an earnest, an unceasing attention to self-interest,however its progress may be apparently obstructed, will do in securingevery advantage of fortune, with no other sacrifice than that of timeand conscience. When Robert first sought her acquaintance, andprivately visited her in Bartlett's Buildings, it was only with theview imputed to him by his brother. He merely meant to persuade her togive up the engagement; and as there could be nothing to overcome butthe affection of both, he naturally expected that one or twointerviews would settle the matter. In that point, however, and thatonly, he erred; for though Lucy soon gave him hopes that his eloquencewould convince her in _time_, another visit, another conversation, wasalways wanted to produce this conviction. Some doubts always lingeredin her mind when they parted, which could only be removed by anotherhalf hour's discourse with himself. His attendance was by this meanssecured, and the rest followed in course. Instead of talking ofEdward, they came gradually to talk only of Robert,--a subject onwhich he had always more to say than on any other, and in which shesoon betrayed an interest even equal to his own; and in short, itbecame speedily evident to both, that he had entirely supplanted hisbrother. He was proud of his conquest, proud of tricking Edward, andvery proud of marrying privately without his mother's consent. Whatimmediately followed is known. They passed some months in greathappiness at Dawlish; for she had many relations and old acquaintancesto cut--and he drew several plans for magnificent cottages; and fromthence returning to town, procured the forgiveness of Mrs. Ferrars, bythe simple expedient of asking it, which, at Lucy's instigation, wasadopted. The forgiveness, at first, indeed, as was reasonable,comprehended only Robert; and Lucy, who had owed his mother no dutyand therefore could have transgressed none, still remained some weekslonger unpardoned. But perseverance in humility of conduct andmessages, in self-condemnation for Robert's offence, and gratitude forthe unkindness she was treated with, procured her in time the haughtynotice which overcame her by its graciousness, and led soonafterwards, by rapid degrees, to the highest state of affection andinfluence. Lucy became as necessary to Mrs. Ferrars, as either Robertor Fanny; and while Edward was never cordially forgiven for havingonce intended to marry her, and Elinor, though superior to her infortune and birth, was spoken of as an intruder, _she_ was in everything considered, and always openly acknowledged, to be a favouritechild. They settled in town, received very liberal assistance fromMrs. Ferrars, were on the best terms imaginable with the Dashwoods;and setting aside the jealousies and ill-will continually subsistingbetween Fanny a
What Edward had done to forfeit the right of eldest son, might havepuzzled many people to find out; and what Robert had done to succeedto it, might have puzzled them still more. It was an arrangement,however, justified in its effects, if not in its cause; for nothingever appeared in Robert's style of living or of talking to give asuspicion of his regretting the extent of his income, as eitherleaving his brother too little, or bringing himself too much;--and ifEdward might be judged from the ready discharge of his duties in everyparticular, from an increasing attachment to his wife and his home,and from the regular cheerfulness of his spirits, he might be supposedno less contented with his lot, no less free from every wish of anexchange.
Elinor's marriage divided her as little from her family as could wellbe contrived, without rendering the cottage at Barton entirelyuseless, for her mother and sisters spent much more than half theirtime with her. Mrs. Dashwood was acting on motives of policy as wellas pleasure in the frequency of her visits at Delaford; for her wishof bringing Marianne and Colonel Brandon together was hardly lessearnest, though rather more liberal than what John had expressed. Itwas now her darling object. Precious as was the company of herdaughter to her, she desired nothing so much as to give up itsconstant enjoyment to her valued friend; and to see Marianne settledat the mansion-house was equally the wish of Edward and Elinor. Theyeach felt his sorrows, and their own obligations, and Marianne, bygeneral consent, was to be the reward of all.
With such a confederacy against her--with a knowledge so intimate ofhis goodness--with a conviction of his fond attachment to herself,which at last, though long after it was observable to everybodyelse--burst on her--what could she do?
Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born todiscover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by herconduct, her most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome anaffection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with nosentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarilyto give her hand to another!--and _that_ other, a man who had sufferedno less than herself under the event of a former attachment, whom, twoyears before, she had considered too old to be married,--and who stillsought the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!
But so it was. Instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistiblepassion, as once she had fondly flattered herself with expecting,instead of remaining even for ever with her mother, and finding heronly pleasures in retirement and study, as afterwards in her more calmand sober judgment she had determined on,--she found herself atnineteen, submitting to new attachments, entering on new duties,placed in a new home, a wife, the mistress of a family, and thepatroness of a village.
Colonel Brandon was now as happy, as all those who best loved him,believed he deserved to be;--in Marianne he was consoled for everypast affliction;--her regard and her society restored his mind toanimation, and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne foundher own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion anddelight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves;and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband,as it had once been to Willoughby.
Willoughby could not hear of her marriage without a pang; and hispunishment was soon afterwards complete in the voluntary forgivenessof Mrs. Smith, who, by stating his marriage with a woman of character,as the source of her clemency, gave him reason for believing that hadhe behaved with honour towards Marianne, he might at once have beenhappy and rich. That his repentance of misconduct, which thus broughtits own punishment, was sincere, need not be doubted;--nor that helong thought of Colonel Brandon with envy, and of Marianne withregret. But that he was for ever inconsolable, that he fled fromsociety, or contracted an habitual gloom of temper, or died of abroken heart, must not be depended on--for he did neither. He lived toexert, and frequently to enjoy himself. His wife was not always out ofhumour, nor his home always uncomfortable; and in his breed of horsesand dogs, and in sporting of every kind, he found no inconsiderabledegree of domestic felicity.
For Marianne, however, in spite of his incivility in surviving herloss, he always retained that decided regard which interested him inevery thing that befell her, and made her his secret standard ofperfection in woman; and many a rising beauty would be slighted by himin after-days as bearing no comparison with Mrs. Brandon.
Mrs. Dashwood was prudent enough to remain at the cottage, withoutattempting a removal to Delaford; and fortunately for Sir John andMrs. Jennings, when Marianne was taken from them, Margaret hadreached an age highly suitable for dancing, and not very ineligiblefor being supposed to have a lover.
Between Barton and Delaford, there was that constant communicationwhich strong family affection would naturally dictate;--and among themerits and the happiness of Elinor and Marianne, let it not be rankedas the least considerable, that though sisters, and living almostwithin sight of each other, they could live without disagreementbetween themselves, or producing coolness between their husbands.
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