Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months; not from any
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
, she was impatient to be gone, and
in her enquiries for a suitable dwelling in the
neighborhood 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 favor, 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 £7000 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 gentlemanlike 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 hers
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
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.
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 that, in fact, of his frequent attention to her while she
draws, that, in 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, mamma, how
spiritless, how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last
night! I felt for my sister more 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 broken my heart, had I loved him, to hear him read with so little
sensibility. Mamma, 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 hers!"
Sense and Sensibility - Chapter 2 Sense and Sensibility Sense and Sensibility - Chapter 4