This argument was irresistible. It gave to his
intentions whatever of decision was wanting before; and he
finally resolved, that it would be absolutely unnecessary,
if not highly indecorous, to do more for the widow
and children of his father, than such kind of neighbourly
acts as his own wife pointed out.
Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months;
not from any disinclination to move when the sight of every
well known spot ceased to raise the violent emotion which it
produced for a while; for when her spirits began to revive,
and her mind became capable of some other exertion than that
of heightening its affliction by melancholy remembrances,
she was impatient to be gone, and indefatigable in her inquiries
for a suitable dwelling in the neighbourhood of Norland;
for to remove far from that beloved spot was impossible.
But she could hear of no situation that at once answered
her notions of comfort and ease, and suited the prudence
of her eldest daughter, whose steadier judgment rejected
several houses as too large for their income, which her
mother would have approved.
Mrs. Dashwood had been informed by her husband of the
solemn promise on the part of his son in their favour,
which gave comfort to his last earthly reflections.
She doubted the sincerity of this assurance no more than he
had doubted it himself, and she thought of it for her daughters'
sake with satisfaction, though as for herself she was
persuaded that a much smaller provision than 7000L would
support her in affluence. For their brother's sake, too,
for the sake of his own heart, she rejoiced; and she
reproached herself for being unjust to his merit before,
in believing him incapable of generosity. His attentive
behaviour to herself and his sisters convinced her that
their welfare was dear to him, and, for a long time,
she firmly relied on the liberality of his intentions.
The contempt which she had, very early in their acquaintance,
felt for her daughter-in-law, was very much increased
by the farther knowledge of her character, which half
a year's residence in her family afforded; and perhaps
in spite of every consideration of politeness or maternal
affection on the side of the former, the two ladies might
have found it impossible to have lived together so long,
had not a particular circumstance occurred to give
still greater eligibility, according to the opinions
of Mrs. Dashwood, to her daughters' continuance at Norland.
This circumstance was a growing attachment between
her eldest girl and the brother of Mrs. John Dashwood,
a gentleman-like and pleasing young man, who was introduced
to their acquaintance soon after his sister's establishment
at Norland, and who had since spent the greatest part
of his time there.
Some mothers might have encouraged the intimacy from
motives of interest, for Edward Ferrars was the eldest son
of a man who had died very rich; and some might have repressed
it from motives of prudence, for, except a trifling sum,
the whole of his fortune depended on the will of his mother.
But Mrs. Dashwood was alike uninfluenced by either consideration.
It was enough for her that he appeared to be amiable,
that he loved her daughter, and that Elinor returned
the partiality. It was contrary to every doctrine of
her's that difference of fortune should keep any couple
asunder who were attracted by resemblance of disposition;
and that Elinor's merit should not be acknowledged
by every one who knew her, was to her comprehension impossible.
Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good
opinion by any peculiar graces of person or address.
He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy
to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice
to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome,
his behaviour gave every indication of an open,
affectionate heart. His understanding was good,
and his education had given it solid improvement.
But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition
to answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed
to see him distinguished--as--they hardly knew what.
They wanted him to make a fine figure in the world in some
manner or other. His mother wished to interest him in
political concerns, to get him into parliament, or to see
him connected with some of the great men of the day.
Mrs. John Dashwood wished it likewise; but in the mean while,
till one of these superior blessings could be attained, it would
have quieted her ambition to see him driving a barouche.
But Edward had no turn for great men or barouches.
All his wishes centered in domestic comfort and the quiet
of private life. Fortunately he had a younger brother
who was more promising.
Edward had been staying several weeks in the house
before he engaged much of Mrs. Dashwood's attention;
for she was, at that time, in such affliction as rendered
her careless of surrounding objects. She saw only that he
was quiet and unobtrusive, and she liked him for it.
He did not disturb the wretchedness of her mind by
ill-timed conversation. She was first called to observe
and approve him farther, by a reflection which Elinor
chanced one day to make on the difference between him
and his sister. It was a contrast which recommended him
most forcibly to her mother.
"It is enough," said she; "to say that he is unlike
Fanny is enough. It implies everything amiable.
I love him already."
"I think you will like him," said Elinor, "when you
know more of him."
"Like him!" replied her mother with a smile.
"I feel no sentiment of approbation inferior to love."
"You may esteem him."
"I have never yet known what it was to separate
esteem and love."
Mrs. Dashwood now took pains to get acquainted with him.
Her manners were attaching, and soon banished his reserve.
She speedily comprehended all his merits; the persuasion
of his regard for Elinor perhaps assisted her penetration;
but she really felt assured of his worth: and even that
quietness of manner, which militated against all her
established ideas of what a young man's address ought to be,
was no longer uninteresting when she knew his heart to be
warm and his temper affectionate.
No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love
in his behaviour to Elinor, than she considered their
serious attachment as certain, and looked forward
to their marriage as rapidly approaching.
"In a few months, my dear Marianne." said she,
"Elinor will, in all probability be settled for life.
We shall miss her; but SHE will be happy."
"Oh! Mamma, how shall we do without her?"
"My love, it will be scarcely a separation.
We shall live within a few miles of each other, and shall
meet every day of our lives. You will gain a brother,
a real, affectionate brother. I have the highest opinion
in the world of Edward's heart. But you look grave,
Marianne; do you disapprove your sister's choice?"
"Perhaps," said Marianne, "I may consider it
with some surprise. Edward is very amiable, and I love
him tenderly. But yet--he is not the kind of young
man--there is something wanting--his figure is not striking;
it has none of that grace which I should expect
in the man who could seriously attach my sister.
His eyes want all that spirit, that fire, which at once
announce virtue and intelligence. And besides all this,
I am afraid, Mamma, he has no real taste. Music seems
scarcely to attract him, and though he admires Elinor's
drawings very much, it is not the admiration of a person
who can understand their worth. It is evident, in spite of
his frequent attention to her while she draws, that in fact
he knows nothing of the matter. He admires as a lover,
not as a connoisseur. To satisfy me, those characters
must be united. I could not be happy with a man whose
taste did not in every point coincide with my own.
He must enter into all my feelings; the same books,
the same music must charm us both. Oh! mama, how spiritless,
how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night!
I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it
with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it.
I could hardly keep my seat. To hear those beautiful lines
which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced
with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!"--
"He would certainly have done more justice to
simple and elegant prose. I thought so at the time;
but you WOULD give him Cowper."
"Nay, Mamma, if he is not to be animated by Cowper!--
but we must allow for difference of taste. Elinor has
not my feelings, and therefore she may overlook it, and
be happy with him. But it would have broke MY heart,
had I loved him, to hear him read with so little sensibility.
Mama, the more I know of the world, the more am I convinced
that I shall never see a man whom I can really love.
I require so much! He must have all Edward's virtues,
and his person and manners must ornament his goodness
with every possible charm."
"Remember, my love, that you are not seventeen.
It is yet too early in life to despair of such a happiness.
Why should you be less fortunate than your mother? In
one circumstance only, my Marianne, may your destiny be
different from her's!"
"What a pity it is, Elinor," said Marianne,
"that Edward should have no taste for drawing."
"No taste for drawing!" replied Elinor, "why should
you think so? He does not draw himself, indeed, but he has
great pleasure in seeing the performances of other people,
and I assure you he is by no means deficient in natural taste,
though he has not had opportunities of improving it.
Had he ever been in the way of learning, I think he would
have drawn very well. He distrusts his own judgment
in such matters so much, that he is always unwilling
to give his opinion on any picture; but he has an innate
propriety and simplicity of taste, which in general
direct him perfectly right."