Chapter Thirty-three, Part One
Originally published 11/26/2006.
This is the final chapter before the start of the climax of the novel. Lizzy learns that it was indeed Darcy who separated Jane and Bingley, a fact which most definitely does not suit her feelings. The complicated lines of thought that Lizzy must then deal with brings on a headache which in turn forces her to refrain from attending Lady Catherine and Darcy and company at Rosings. Finally, if you recall, her absence is the avowed reason for Darcy to see her in order to propose.
More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance...
Mischance, my foot. No male reading this passage could possibly be as dense as Lizzy appears to be. Darcy is interested in her, and she appears to be wilfully misunderstanding his advances.
...that should bring him where no one else was brought, and, to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first that it was a favourite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time, therefore, was very odd! Yet it did, and even a third. It seemed like wilful ill-nature, or a voluntary penance, for on these occasions it was not merely a few formal inquiries and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her. He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected questions-- about her pleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins's happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed to imply it...
Knowing as we do how this turns out, we know that he has in mind already Lizzy as his wife, and therefore staying with Lady Catherine when in Kent.
...Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant anything, he must mean and allusion to what might arise in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite glad to find herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage.
Why should Lizzy be distressed? She enjoys the company of Colonel Fitzwilliam. I'm not fathoming this one. Perhaps she feels like Darcy would lead the Colonel like he leads Bingley? And that this would push the Colonel into proposing to Lizzy?
She was engaged one day as she walked in perusing Jane's last letter, and dwelling on some passages which proved that Jane had not written in spirits, when, instead of being again surprised by Mr. Darcy, she saw on looking up that Colonel Fitzwilliam was meeting her. Putting away the letter immediately and forcing a smile,...
This was the culture then. You must do the polite thing (also known as your duty) and suppress your feelings. Today's world would object to such concealment strongly, thinking it, perhaps, dishonest. And if done to an extreme, I can't help but think the world correct. However, just because we must tell the truth does not mean we have to communicate all the truth we know at every opportunity. There are circumstances when it is more appropriate to refrain from speaking.
"I did not know before that you ever walked this way."
"I have been making the tour of the park," he replied, "as I generally do every year, and intend to close it with a call at the Parsonage. Are you going much farther?"
"No, I should have turned in a moment."
And accordingly she did turn, and they walked towards the Parsonage together.
"Do you certainly leave Kent on Saturday?" said she.
"Yes-- if Darcy does not put it off again. But I am at his disposal. He arranges the business just as he pleases."
"And if not able to please himself in the arrangement, he has at least pleasure in the great power of choice. I do not know anybody who seems more to enjoy the power of doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy."
Lizzy here, with something of a scathing denunciation of Darcy. I like Fitzwilliam's reply immensely. Here it is:
"He likes to have his own way very well," replied Colonel Fitzwilliam. "But so we all do. It is only that he has better means of having it than many others, because he is rich, and many others are poor...
Isn't that a good answer? This is the law of human action at work in Austen: man will always do what he most wants to do (and is able to do). The morality of doing one's own will has to do greatly with what that will is. A will that chooses to benefit others and honor God will be a good will to indulge. A will, on the other hand, that ignores God and oppresses others is wrong.
...I speak feelingly. A younger son, you know, must be inured to self-denial and dependence."
"In my opinion, the younger son of an earl can know very little of either. Now seriously, what have you ever known of self-denial and dependence? When have you been prevented by want of money from going wherever you chose, or procuring anything you had a fancy for?"
Lizzy here, with some penetrating questions, as Fitzwilliams admits next:
"These are home questions-- and perhaps I cannot say that I have experienced many hardships of that nature. But in matters of greater weight, I may suffer from want of money. Younger sons cannot marry where they like."
"Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do."
"Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are too many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money."
"Is this," thought Elizabeth, "meant for me?" and she coloured at the idea;...
As Richard Weaver taught us, ideas have consequences. The consequence of Lizzy's obtuseness in guessing Darcy's interest in her and supposing his attentions to be on the part of Colonel Fitzwilliam is that in this passage, she jumps to a conclusion about what Fitzwilliam meant.
...but, recovering herself, said in a lively tone, "And pray, what is the usual price of an earl's younger son? Unless the elder brother is very sickly, I suppose you would not ask above fifty thousand pounds."
He answered her in the same style, and the subject dropped...
This seems a good moment to divide the chapter, even if it is in the middle of a paragraph.