There will be some difficulty in our way, Mrs. Norris…as to the distinction proper to be made between the girls as they grow up… how, without depressing her spirits too far, to make her remember that she is not a Miss Bertram… they cannot be equals. Their rank, fortune, rights, and expectations will always be different.
Maria Bertram was beginning to think matrimony a duty; and as a marriage with Mr. Rushworth would give her the enjoyment of a larger income than her father’s, as well as ensure her the house in town, which was now a prime object, it became, by the same rule of moral obligation, her evident duty to marry Mr. Rushworth if she could.
There is not one in a hundred of either sex who is not taken in when they marry…it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves… it is a manoeuvring business. I know so many who have married in the full expectation and confidence of some one particular advantage in the connexion, or accomplishment, or good quality in the person, who have found themselves entirely deceived, and been obliged to put up with exactly the reverse.
Manners as well as appearance are…so totally different…A girl not out has always the same sort of dress: a close bonnet, for instance; looks very demure, and never says a word… The most objectionable part is, that the alteration of manners on being introduced into company is frequently too sudden. They sometimes pass in such very little time from reserve to quite the opposite— to confidence!
Guess my surprise, when I found that I had…offended all the farmers, all the labourers, all the hay in the parish…coming down with the true London maxim, that every thing is to be got with money, I was a little embarrassed at first by the sturdy independence of your country customs.
What strange creatures brothers are! You would not write to each other but upon the most urgent necessity in the world; and when obliged to take up the pen…it is done in the fewest possible words. You have but one style among you…‘Dear Mary, I am just arrived. Bath seems full, and everything as usual. Yours sincerely.’ That is the true manly style; that is a complete brother’s letter.
“How can two sermons a week… do all that you speak of? govern the conduct and fashion the manners of a large congregation for the rest of the week? One scarcely sees a clergyman out of his pulpit.”
“You are speaking of London, I am speaking of the nation at large.”
“The metropolis, I imagine, is a pretty fair sample of the rest.”
“Not, I should hope, of the proportion of virtue to vice throughout the kingdom. We do not look in great cities for our best morality.”
“Your prospects…are too fair to justify want of spirits. You have a very smiling scene before you.”
“Do you mean literally or figuratively? Literally, I conclude. Yes, certainly, the sun shines, and the park looks very cheerful. But unluckily that iron gate, that ha-ha, give me a feeling of restraint and hardship. ‘I cannot get out,’ as the starling said.”
“I am quite ashamed of you, Fanny, to make such a difficulty of obliging your cousins in a trifle of this sort— so kind as they are to you! Take the part with a good grace, and let us hear no more of the matter, I entreat.”
“Do not urge her, madam,” said Edmund…
“I am not going to urge her,” replied Mrs. Norris sharply; “but I shall think her a very obstinate, ungrateful girl, if she does not do what her aunt and cousins wish her— very ungrateful, indeed, considering who and what she is.”
Fanny saw and pitied much of this in Julia; but there was no outward fellowship between them. Julia made no communication, and Fanny took no liberties. They were two solitary sufferers, or connected only by Fanny’s consciousness.
He was going…—He might talk of necessity, but she knew his independence.—The hand which had so pressed hers to his heart!—The hand and the heart were alike motionless and passive now!...She had not long to endure what arose from listening to language, which his actions contradicted, or to bury the tumult of her feelings under the restraint of society… and the farewell visit, as it then became openly acknowledged, was a very short one.
It was a very proper wedding. The bride was elegantly dressed– the two bridesmaids were duly inferior– her father gave her away– her mother stood with salts in her hands, expecting to be agitated– her aunt tried to cry…Nothing could be objected to when it came under the discussion of the neighbourhood, except that the carriage which conveyed the bride and bridegroom and Julia from the church door to Sotherton, was the same chaise which Mr. Rushworth had used for a twelvemonth before. In every thing else the etiquette of the day might stand the strictest investigation.
“I am so glad your eldest cousin is gone that he may be Mr. Bertram again. There is something in the sound of Mr. Edmund Bertram so formal, so pitiful, so younger-brother-like, that I detest it.”
“How differently we feel!” cried Fanny. “To me, the sound of Mr. Bertram is so cold and nothing-meaning–so entirely without warmth or character!–It just stands for a gentleman, and that’s all.”
[Henry Crawford] longed to have been at sea, and seen and done and suffered much. His heart was warmed, his fancy fired, and he felt the highest respect for [William] who, before he was twenty, had gone through such bodily hardships, and given such proofs of mind. The glory of heroism, of usefulness, of exertion, of endurance, made his own habits of selfish indulgence appear in shameful contrast; and he wished he had been a William Price, distinguishing himself and working his way to fortune and consequence with so much self-respect and happy ardour, instead of what he was!
Two lines more prized had never fallen from the pen of the most distinguished author— never more completely blessed the researches of the fondest biographer. The enthusiasm of a woman’s love is even beyond the biographer’s. To her, the handwriting itself, independent of anything it may convey, is a blessedness. Never were such characters cut by any other human being as Edmund’s commonest handwriting gave! This specimen, written in haste as it was, had not a fault; and there was a felicity in the flow of the first four words, in the arrangement of “My very dear Fanny,” which she could have looked at for ever.
Yes, that uncle and aunt! They have injured the finest mind; for sometimes, Fanny, I own to you, it does appear more than manner: it appears as if the mind itself was tainted.
Having…a general prevailing desire of recommending herself to [Sir Thomas], [Mary] took an opportunity of stepping aside to say something agreeable of Fanny.
She took the letters as he gave them. The first was from the Admiral to inform his nephew…of his having succeeded in the object he had undertaken, the promotion of young Price…Sir Charles was much delighted in having such an opportunity of proving his regard for Admiral Crawford, and…William Price’s commission as second Lieutenant of H.M. sloop Thrush… was spreading joy through a wide circle of great people.
His reading was capital, and her pleasure in good reading extreme. To good reading, however, she had been long used; her uncle read well— her cousins all—Edmund very well; but in Mr. Crawford’s reading there was a variety of excellence beyond what she had ever met with…His acting had first taught Fanny what pleasure a play might give, and his reading brought all his acting before her again.
I should have thought…that every woman must have felt the possibility of a man’s not being approved, not being loved by some one of her sex, at least, let him be every so generally agreeable. Let him have all the perfections in the world, I think it ought not be set down as certain, that a man must be acceptable to every woman he may happen to like himself.
Fanny was in the narrow entrance-passage of the house, and in her mother’s arms, who met her there with looks of true kindness, and with features which Fanny loved the more, because they brought her aunt Bertram’s before her, and there were her two sisters…both glad to see her in their way, though with no advantage of manner in receiving her. But manner Fanny did not want. Would they but love her, she should be satisfied.
She could think of nothing but Mansfield…Every thing where she now was in full contrast to it. The elegance, propriety, regularity, harmony, and perhaps, above all, the peace and tranquillity of Mansfield, were brought to her remembrance every hour of the day, by the prevalence of everything opposite to them here… If tenderness could be ever supposed wanting, good sense and good breeding supplied its place…Here everybody was noisy, every voice was loud…The doors were in constant banging, the stairs were never at rest, nothing was done without a clatter, nobody sat still, and nobody could command attention when they spoke.
She dared not indulge in the hope of the paragraph being false. Miss Crawford’s letter, which she had read so often as to make every line her own, was in frightful conformity with it. Her eager defence of her brother, her hope of its being hushed up, her evident agitation, were all of a piece with something very bad; and if there was a woman of character in existence, who could treat as a trifle this sin of the first magnitude, who could try to gloss it over, and desire to have it unpunished, she could believe Miss Crawford to be the woman!
I purposefully abstain from dates on this occasion, that every one may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people. I only entreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny as Fanny herself could desire.
In [Susan’s] usefulness, in Fanny’s excellence, in William’s continued good conduct and rising fame, and in the general well-doing and success of the other members of the family…Sir Thomas saw repeated, and forever repeated reason to rejoice in what he had done for them all, and acknowledge the advantages of early hardship and discipline, and the consciousness of being born to struggle and endure.