Chapter Twenty-three, Part 2
Originally published 9/17/2006.
Jane had sent Caroline an early answer to her letter, and was counting the days till she might reasonably hope to hear again...
Who hasn't done that?
...The promised letter of thanks from Mr. Collins arrived on Tuesday, addressed to their father, and written with all the solemnity of gratitude which a twelvemonth's abode in the family might have prompted...
Are we surprised?
...After discharging his conscience on that head, he proceeded to inform them, with many rapturous expressions, of his happiness in having obtained the affection of their amiable neighbour, Miss Lucas, and then explained that it was merely with the view of enjoying her society that he had been so ready to close with their kind wish of seeing him again at Longbourn,...
So Mr. Collins clears that surprise up. All the Bennets, in case they hadn't guessed, now know why Mr. Collins wanted to return so soon.
...whither he hoped to be able to return on Monday fortnight; for Lady Catherine, he added, so heartily approved his marriage, that she wished it to take place as soon as possible, which he trusted would be an unanswerable argument with his amiable Charlotte to name an early day for making him the happiest of men.
As if he has to convince her anyway. Charlotte, we know, is interested in getting married quickly.
Mr. Collins's return into Hertfordshire was no longer a matter of pleasure to Mrs. Bennet...
...On the contrary, she was as much disposed to complain of it as her husband. It was very strange that he should come to Longbourn instead of to Lucas Lodge;...
Strange according to Mrs. Bennet. It is not strange to me that a conscientious man such as Mr. Collins would not want to stay in the same house with his betrothed. Perhaps many men could do so without temptation, but there could be weak men who know their foibles and refrain.
...it was also very inconvenient and exceedingly troublesome...
Only now when Mr. Collins is not going to marry Lizzy. Otherwise, Mrs. Bennet would have been glad to have him. Perhaps this is mildly understandable.
She hated having visitors in the house while her health was so indifferent, and lovers were of all people the most disagreeable...
Words to live by. Lovers can be most disagreeable indeed. They distinctly run the danger of focusing on their relationship to the exclusion of all others.
...Such were the gentle...
...murmurs of Mrs. Bennet, and they gave way only to the greater distress of Mr. Bingley's continued absence.
Neither Jane nor Elizabeth were comfortable on this subject. Day after day passed away without bringing any other tidings of him than the report which shortly prevailed in Meryton of his coming no more to Netherfield the whole winter; a report which highly incensed Mrs. Bennet, and which she never failed to contradict as a most scandalous falsehood.
Even Elizabeth began to fear-- not that Bingley was indifferent-- but that his sisters would be successful in keeping him away. Unwilling as she was to admit an idea so destructive of Jane's happiness, and so dishonorable to the stability of her lover, she could not prevent its frequently occurring. The united efforts of his two unfeeling sisters and of his overpowering friend, assisted by the attractions of Miss Darcy and the amusements of London might be too much, she feared, for the strength of his attachment.
As we know is, at least partly, occurring. Darcy plus Miss Bingley plus Mrs. Hurst indeed have been successful in keeping Bingley away from Jane.
As for Jane, her anxiety under this suspense was, of course, more painful than Elizabeth's, but whatever she felt she was desirous of concealing,...
Rather interesting here. Is this wise, do you think? I'd be interested in your opinions. Surely, as Christians, we should not always express our feelings. The modern world would have it so, calling us "repressed" if we don't. The Bible simply says otherwise, especially in Proverbs. We may not know all the particulars in this situation. Jane may be concerned for the emotional health of Lizzy. Or she may want Lizzy to think her strong. Clearly, Jane has very strong feelings here, and they are not somehow weaker because they are unexpressed.
...and between herself and Elizabeth, therefore, the subject was never alluded to...
You're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, so I'm not going to.
...But as no such delicacy restrained her mother, an hour seldom passed in which she did not talk of Bingley, express her impatience for his arrival, or even require Jane to confess that if he did not come back she would think herself very ill used. It needed all Jane's steady mildness to bear these attacks with tolerable tranquillity.
Really quite uncharitable of Mrs. Bennet. But she wants to wallow in it; another Austen character who does this is Marianne and her mother Mrs. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Those two characters are stronger in other ways, however, which to a good extent make up for any lack in this one.
Mr. Collins returned most punctually on Monday fortnight, but his reception at Longbourn was not quite so gracious as it had been on his first introduction. He was too happy, however, to need much attention; and luckily for the others, the business of love-making relieved them from a great deal of his company. The chief of every day was spent by him at Lucas Lodge, and he sometimes returned to Longbourn only in time to make an apology for his absence before the family went to bed.
Apology for his absence? That is really quite nonsensical. Are the Bennets expecting him to wait on them? Surely not. And surely he could have found out what they expected, or told them what he intended. Therefore, it is just fussy to apologize in this case.
Mrs. Bennet was really in a most pitiable state. The very mention of anything concerning the match threw her into an agony of ill-humour, and wherever she went she was sure of hearing it talked of. The sight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence. Whenever Charlotte came to see them, she concluded her to be anticipating the hour of possession;...
Another fallacy here that Mrs. Bennet commits. I'd be interested in which one you think it is. It doesn't seem to me to be post hoc ergo propter hoc. Perhaps a simple non sequitur?
...and whenever she spoke in a low voice to Mr. Collins, was convinced that they were talking of the Longbourn estate, and resolving to turn herself and her daughters out of the house, as soon as Mr. Bennet were dead...
Same fallacy as before, I think.
...She complained bitterly of all this to her husband.
"Indeed, Mr. Bennet," said she, "it is very hard to think that Charlotte Lucas should ever be mistress of this house, that I should be forced to make way for her, and live to see her take her place in it!"
"My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts. Let us hope for better things. Let us flatter ourselves that I may be the survivor."
This is not very consoling to Mrs. Bennet,...
O, the sarcasm! Mr. Bennet might actually have done better here, but it is funny.
...and therefore, instead of making any answer, she went on as before.
"I cannot bear to think that they should have all this estate. If it was not for the entail, I should not mind it."
"What should not you mind?"
"I should not mind anything at all."
"Let us be thankful that you are preserved from a state of such insensibility."
Although a philosopher like Mr. Bennet might want even less from his wife. Who knows?
"I never can be thankful, Mr. Bennet, for anything about the entail. How anyone could have the conscience to entail away an estate from one's own daughters, I cannot understand; and all for the sake of Mr. Collins too! Why should he have it more than anybody else?"
"I leave it to yourself to determine," said Mr. Bennet.
Wise of Mr. Bennet. As explained in Chapter 13, Jane and Lizzy have many times attempted to explain the nature of an entail, but it always appears lost on Mrs. Bennet. Here she is, proving the statement by her ignorance.