Mrs. Dashwood was surprised only for a moment at seeing him; for his coming t_arton was, in her opinion, of all things the most natural. Her joy an_xpression of regard long outlived her wonder. He received the kindest welcom_rom her; and shyness, coldness, reserve could not stand against such _eception. They had begun to fail him before he entered the house, and the_ere quite overcome by the captivating manners of Mrs. Dashwood. Indeed a ma_ould not very well be in love with either of her daughters, without extendin_he passion to her; and Elinor had the satisfaction of seeing him soon becom_ore like himself. His affections seemed to reanimate towards them all, an_is interest in their welfare again became perceptible. He was not in spirits, however; he praised their house, admired its prospect, was attentive, an_ind; but still he was not in spirits. The whole family perceived it, and Mrs.
Dashwood, attributing it to some want of liberality in his mother, sat down t_able indignant against all selfish parents.
"What are Mrs. Ferrars's views for you at present, Edward?" said she, whe_inner was over and they had drawn round the fire; "are you still to be _reat orator in spite of yourself?"
"No. I hope my mother is now convinced that I have no more talents tha_nclination for a public life!"
"But how is your fame to be established? for famous you must be to satisfy al_our family; and with no inclination for expense, no affection for strangers, no profession, and no assurance, you may find it a difficult matter."
"I shall not attempt it. I have no wish to be distinguished; and have ever_eason to hope I never shall. Thank Heaven! I cannot be forced into genius an_loquence."
"You have no ambition, I well know. Your wishes are all moderate."
"As moderate as those of the rest of the world, I believe. I wish as well a_very body else to be perfectly happy; but, like every body else it must be i_y own way. Greatness will not make me so."
"Strange that it would!" cried Marianne. "What have wealth or grandeur to d_ith happiness?"
"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth has much to do with it."
"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness where ther_s nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no rea_atisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. YOU_ompetence and MY wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, a_he world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfor_ust be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than mine. Come, what is you_ompetence?"
"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than THAT."
Elinor laughed. "TWO thousand a year! ONE is my wealth! I guessed how it woul_nd."
"And yet two thousand a-year is a very moderate income," said Marianne. "_amily cannot well be maintained on a smaller. I am sure I am not extravagan_n my demands. A proper establishment of servants, a carriage, perhaps two, and hunters, cannot be supported on less."
Elinor smiled again, to hear her sister describing so accurately their futur_xpenses at Combe Magna.
"Hunters!" repeated Edward—"but why must you have hunters? Every body does no_unt."
Marianne coloured as she replied, "But most people do."
"I wish," said Margaret, striking out a novel thought, "that somebody woul_ive us all a large fortune apiece!"
"Oh that they would!" cried Marianne, her eyes sparkling with animation, an_er cheeks glowing with the delight of such imaginary happiness.
"We are all unanimous in that wish, I suppose," said Elinor, "in spite of th_nsufficiency of wealth."
"Oh dear!" cried Margaret, "how happy I should be! I wonder what I should d_ith it!"
Marianne looked as if she had no doubt on that point.
"I should be puzzled to spend so large a fortune myself," said Mrs. Dashwood,
"if my children were all to be rich my help."
"You must begin your improvements on this house," observed Elinor, "and you_ifficulties will soon vanish."
"What magnificent orders would travel from this family to London," sai_dward, "in such an event! What a happy day for booksellers, music-sellers, and print-shops! You, Miss Dashwood, would give a general commission for ever_ew print of merit to be sent you—and as for Marianne, I know her greatness o_oul, there would not be music enough in London to content her. An_ooks!—Thomson, Cowper, Scott—she would buy them all over and over again: sh_ould buy up every copy, I believe, to prevent their falling into unworth_ands; and she would have every book that tells her how to admire an ol_wisted tree. Should not you, Marianne? Forgive me, if I am very saucy. But _as willing to shew you that I had not forgot our old disputes."
"I love to be reminded of the past, Edward—whether it be melancholy or gay, _ove to recall it—and you will never offend me by talking of former times. Yo_re very right in supposing how my money would be spent—some of it, a_east—my loose cash would certainly be employed in improving my collection o_usic and books."
"And the bulk of your fortune would be laid out in annuities on the authors o_heir heirs."
"No, Edward, I should have something else to do with it."
"Perhaps, then, you would bestow it as a reward on that person who wrote th_blest defence of your favourite maxim, that no one can ever be in love mor_han once in their life—your opinion on that point is unchanged, I presume?"
"Undoubtedly. At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed. It is no_ikely that I should now see or hear any thing to change them."
"Marianne is as steadfast as ever, you see," said Elinor, "she is not at al_ltered."
"She is only grown a little more grave than she was."
"Nay, Edward," said Marianne, "you need not reproach me. You are not very ga_ourself."
"Why should you think so!" replied he, with a sigh. "But gaiety never was _art of MY character."
"Nor do I think it a part of Marianne's," said Elinor; "I should hardly cal_er a lively girl—she is very earnest, very eager in all she does—sometime_alks a great deal and always with animation—but she is not often reall_erry."
"I believe you are right," he replied, "and yet I have always set her down a_ lively girl."
"I have frequently detected myself in such kind of mistakes," said Elinor, "i_ total misapprehension of character in some point or other: fancying peopl_o much more gay or grave, or ingenious or stupid than they really are, and _an hardly tell why or in what the deception originated. Sometimes one i_uided by what they say of themselves, and very frequently by what othe_eople say of them, without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge."
"But I thought it was right, Elinor," said Marianne, "to be guided wholly b_he opinion of other people. I thought our judgments were given us merely t_e subservient to those of neighbours. This has always been your doctrine, _m sure."
"No, Marianne, never. My doctrine has never aimed at the subjection of th_nderstanding. All I have ever attempted to influence has been the behaviour.
You must not confound my meaning. I am guilty, I confess, of having ofte_ished you to treat our acquaintance in general with greater attention; bu_hen have I advised you to adopt their sentiments or to conform to thei_udgment in serious matters?"
"You have not been able to bring your sister over to your plan of genera_ivility," said Edward to Elinor, "Do you gain no ground?"
"Quite the contrary," replied Elinor, looking expressively at Marianne.
"My judgment," he returned, "is all on your side of the question; but I a_fraid my practice is much more on your sister's. I never wish to offend, bu_ am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept bac_y my natural awkwardness. I have frequently thought that I must have bee_ntended by nature to be fond of low company, I am so little at my ease amon_trangers of gentility!"
"Marianne has not shyness to excuse any inattention of hers," said Elinor.
"She knows her own worth too well for false shame," replied Edward. "Shynes_s only the effect of a sense of inferiority in some way or other. If I coul_ersuade myself that my manners were perfectly easy and graceful, I should no_e shy."
"But you would still be reserved," said Marianne, "and that is worse."
Edward started—"Reserved! Am I reserved, Marianne?"
"I do not understand you," replied he, colouring. "Reserved!—how, in wha_anner? What am I to tell you? What can you suppose?"
Elinor looked surprised at his emotion; but trying to laugh off the subject, she said to him, "Do not you know my sister well enough to understand what sh_eans? Do not you know she calls every one reserved who does not talk as fast, and admire what she admires as rapturously as herself?"
Edward made no answer. His gravity and thoughtfulness returned on him in thei_ullest extent—and he sat for some time silent and dull.