Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 39

  • Could Sir Thomas have seen all his niece's feelings, when she wrote her firs_etter to her aunt, he would not have despaired; for though a good night'_est, a pleasant morning, the hope of soon seeing William again, and th_omparatively quiet state of the house, from Tom and Charles being gone t_chool, Sam on some project of his own, and her father on his usual lounges,
  • enabled her to express herself cheerfully on the subject of home, there wer_till, to her own perfect consciousness, many drawbacks suppressed. Could h_ave seen only half that she felt before the end of a week, he would hav_hought Mr. Crawford sure of her, and been delighted with his own sagacity.
  • Before the week ended, it was all disappointment. In the first place, Willia_as gone. The Thrush had had her orders, the wind had changed, and he wa_ailed within four days from their reaching Portsmouth; and during those day_he had seen him only twice, in a short and hurried way, when he had com_shore on duty. There had been no free conversation, no walk on the ramparts,
  • no visit to the dockyard, no acquaintance with the Thrush, nothing of all tha_hey had planned and depended on. Everything in that quarter failed her,
  • except William's affection. His last thought on leaving home was for her. H_tepped back again to the door to say, "Take care of Fanny, mother. She i_ender, and not used to rough it like the rest of us. I charge you, take car_f Fanny."
  • William was gone: and the home he had left her in was, Fanny could not concea_t from herself, in almost every respect the very reverse of what she coul_ave wished. It was the abode of noise, disorder, and impropriety. Nobody wa_n their right place, nothing was done as it ought to be. She could no_espect her parents as she had hoped. On her father, her confidence had no_een sanguine, but he was more negligent of his family, his habits were worse,
  • and his manners coarser, than she had been prepared for. He did not wan_bilities but he had no curiosity, and no information beyond his profession;
  • he read only the newspaper and the navy-list; he talked only of the dockyard,
  • the harbour, Spithead, and the Motherbank; he swore and he drank, he was dirt_nd gross. She had never been able to recall anything approaching t_enderness in his former treatment of herself. There had remained only _eneral impression of roughness and loudness; and now he scarcely ever notice_er, but to make her the object of a coarse joke.
  • Her disappointment in her mother was greater: there she had hoped much, an_ound almost nothing. Every flattering scheme of being of consequence to he_oon fell to the ground. Mrs. Price was not unkind; but, instead of gaining o_er affection and confidence, and becoming more and more dear, her daughte_ever met with greater kindness from her than on the first day of her arrival.
  • The instinct of nature was soon satisfied, and Mrs. Price's attachment had n_ther source. Her heart and her time were already quite full; she had neithe_eisure nor affection to bestow on Fanny. Her daughters never had been much t_er. She was fond of her sons, especially of William, but Betsey was the firs_f her girls whom she had ever much regarded. To her she was mos_njudiciously indulgent. William was her pride; Betsey her darling; and John,
  • Richard, Sam, Tom, and Charles occupied all the rest of her materna_olicitude, alternately her worries and her comforts. These shared her heart:
  • her time was given chiefly to her house and her servants. Her days were spen_n a kind of slow bustle; all was busy without getting on, always behindhan_nd lamenting it, without altering her ways; wishing to be an economist,
  • without contrivance or regularity; dissatisfied with her servants, withou_kill to make them better, and whether helping, or reprimanding, or indulgin_hem, without any power of engaging their respect.
  • Of her two sisters, Mrs. Price very much more resembled Lady Bertram than Mrs.
  • Norris. She was a manager by necessity, without any of Mrs. Norris'_nclination for it, or any of her activity. Her disposition was naturally eas_nd indolent, like Lady Bertram's; and a situation of similar affluence an_o-nothingness would have been much more suited to her capacity than th_xertions and self-denials of the one which her imprudent marriage had place_er in. She might have made just as good a woman of consequence as Lad_ertram, but Mrs. Norris would have been a more respectable mother of nin_hildren on a small income.
  • Much of all this Fanny could not but be sensible of. She might scruple to mak_se of the words, but she must and did feel that her mother was a partial,
  • ill-judging parent, a dawdle, a slattern, who neither taught nor restraine_er children, whose house was the scene of mismanagement and discomfort fro_eginning to end, and who had no talent, no conversation, no affection toward_erself; no curiosity to know her better, no desire of her friendship, and n_nclination for her company that could lessen her sense of such feelings.
  • Fanny was very anxious to be useful, and not to appear above her home, or i_ny way disqualified or disinclined, by her foreign education, fro_ontributing her help to its comforts, and therefore set about working for Sa_mmediately; and by working early and late, with perseverance and grea_espatch, did so much that the boy was shipped off at last, with more tha_alf his linen ready. She had great pleasure in feeling her usefulness, bu_ould not conceive how they would have managed without her.
  • Sam, loud and overbearing as he was, she rather regretted when he went, for h_as clever and intelligent, and glad to be employed in any errand in the town;
  • and though spurning the remonstrances of Susan, given as they were, thoug_ery reasonable in themselves, with ill-timed and powerless warmth, wa_eginning to be influenced by Fanny's services and gentle persuasions; and sh_ound that the best of the three younger ones was gone in him: Tom and Charle_eing at least as many years as they were his juniors distant from that age o_eeling and reason, which might suggest the expediency of making friends, an_f endeavouring to be less disagreeable. Their sister soon despaired of makin_he smallest impression on them; they were quite untameable by any means o_ddress which she had spirits or time to attempt. Every afternoon brought _eturn of their riotous games all over the house; and she very early learne_o sigh at the approach of Saturday's constant half-holiday.
  • Betsey, too, a spoiled child, trained up to think the alphabet her greates_nemy, left to be with the servants at her pleasure, and then encouraged t_eport any evil of them, she was almost as ready to despair of being able t_ove or assist; and of Susan's temper she had many doubts. Her continua_isagreements with her mother, her rash squabbles with Tom and Charles, an_etulance with Betsey, were at least so distressing to Fanny that, thoug_dmitting they were by no means without provocation, she feared th_isposition that could push them to such length must be far from amiable, an_rom affording any repose to herself.
  • Such was the home which was to put Mansfield out of her head, and teach her t_hink of her cousin Edmund with moderated feelings. On the contrary, she coul_hink of nothing but Mansfield, its beloved inmates, its happy ways.
  • Everything where she now was in full contrast to it. The elegance, propriety,
  • regularity, harmony, and perhaps, above all, the peace and tranquillity o_ansfield, were brought to her remembrance every hour of the day, by th_revalence of everything opposite to them here.
  • The living in incessant noise was, to a frame and temper delicate and nervou_ike Fanny's, an evil which no superadded elegance or harmony could hav_ntirely atoned for. It was the greatest misery of all. At Mansfield, n_ounds of contention, no raised voice, no abrupt bursts, no tread of violence,
  • was ever heard; all proceeded in a regular course of cheerful orderliness;
  • everybody had their due importance; everybody's feelings were consulted. I_enderness could be ever supposed wanting, good sense and good breedin_upplied its place; and as to the little irritations sometimes introduced b_unt Norris, they were short, they were trifling, they were as a drop of wate_o the ocean, compared with the ceaseless tumult of her present abode. Her_verybody was noisy, every voice was loud (excepting, perhaps, her mother's,
  • which resembled the soft monotony of Lady Bertram's, only worn int_retfulness). Whatever was wanted was hallooed for, and the servants hallooe_ut their excuses from the kitchen. The doors were in constant banging, th_tairs were never at rest, nothing was done without a clatter, nobody sa_till, and nobody could command attention when they spoke.
  • In a review of the two houses, as they appeared to her before the end of _eek, Fanny was tempted to apply to them Dr. Johnson's celebrated judgment a_o matrimony and celibacy, and say, that though Mansfield Park might have som_ains, Portsmouth could have no pleasures.