Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 17

  • 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?"
  • "Yes, very."
  • "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.