pleasant, I can tell you, to be making new acquaintance every day; but for your sakes we would do
anything. Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I daresay Mr. Bingley will dance with you at the
‘Oh,’ said Lydia, stoutly, ‘I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I’m the tallest.’
The rest of the evening was spent in conjecturing how soon he would return Mr. Bennet’s visit, and
determining when they should ask him to dinner.
NOT all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could ask on the subject,
was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley. They attacked him
in various ways; with barefaced questions, ingenious suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded
the skill of them all; and they were at last obliged to accept the second-hand intelligence of their
neighbour, Lady Lucas. Her report was highly favourable. Sir William had been delighted with him. He
was quite young, wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable, and, to crown the whole, he meant to be
at the next assembly with a large party. Nothing could be more delightful! To be fond of dancing was a
certain step towards falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr. Bingley’s heart were entertained.
‘If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield,’ said Mrs. Bennet to her husband,
and all the others equally well married, I shall have nothing to wish for.’
In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet’s visit, and sat about ten minutes with him in his library.
He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he had heard
much; but he saw only the father. The ladies were somewhat more fortunate, for they had the advantage
of ascertaining, from an upper window, that he wore a blue coat and rode a black horse.
An invitation to dinner was soon afterwards despatched; and already had Mrs. Bennet planned the
courses that were to do credit to her housekeeping, when an answer arrived which deferred it all. Mr.
Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and consequently unable to accept the honour of
their invitation, etc. Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted. She could not imagine what business he could
have in town so soon after his arrival in Hertfordshire; and she began to fear that he might always be
flying about from one place to another, and never settled at Netherfield as he ought to be. Lady Lucas
quieted her fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to London only to get a large party for the
ball; and a report soon followed that Mr. Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with
him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a number of ladies; but were comforted the day before
the ball by hearing that, instead of twelve, he had brought only six with him from London, his five sisters
and a cousin. And when the party entered the assembly-room, it consisted of only five altogether: Mr.
Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man.
Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike: he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected
manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst,
merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine,
tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report, which was in general circulation within five
minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine
figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with
great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his
popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and
not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable
countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.
Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room: he was lively
and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one
himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between him
and his friend! Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being
introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking
occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable
man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again. Amongst the most violent
against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general behaviour was sharpened into particular
resentment by his having slighted one of her daughters.
Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two dances; and during
part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation between
him and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes to press his friend to join it.
‘Come, Darcy,’ said he, ‘I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this
stupid manner. You had much better dance.’
‘I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At
such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another
woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with.’
‘I would not be so fastidious as you are,’ cried Bingley, ‘for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met
with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening; and there are several of them, you see,
‘You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room,’ # said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss
‘Oh, she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just
behind you, who is very pretty, and I daresay very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.’
‘Which do you mean?’ and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till, catching her eye, he
withdrew his own, and coldly said, ‘She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in
no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better
return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.’
Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial
feelings towards him. She told the story, however, with great spirit among her friends; for she had a
lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.
The evening altogether passed off pleasantly to the whole family. Mrs. Bennet had seen her eldest
daughter much admired by the Netherfield party. Mr. Bingley had danced with her twice, and she had
been distinguished by his sisters. Jane was as much gratified by this as her mother could be, though in a
quieter way. Elizabeth felt Jane’s pleasure. Mary had heard herself mentioned to Miss Bingley as the
most accomplished girl in the neighbourhood; and Catherine and Lydia had been fortunate enough to be
never without partners, which was all that they had yet learned to care for at a ball.
They returned, therefore, in good spirits to Longbourn, the village where they lived, and of which they
were the principal inhabitants. They found Mr. Bennet still up. With a book, he was regardless of time;
and on the present occasion he had a good deal of curiosity as to the event of an evening which had
raised such splendid expectations. He had rather hoped that all his wife’s views on the stranger would be
disappointed; but he soon found that he had a very different story to hear.
‘Oh, my dear Mr. Bennet,’ as she entered the room, ‘we have had a most delightful evening, a most
excellent ball. I wish you had been there. Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Everybody said
how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and danced with her twice. Only think
of that, my dear; he actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that he
asked a second time. First of all, he asked Miss Lucas. I was so vexed to see him stand up with her; but,
however, he did not admire her at all; indeed, nobody can, you know; and he seemed quite struck with
Jane as she was going down the dance. So he inquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her
for the two next. Then, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas,
and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger—’
‘If he had had any compassion for me,’ cried her husband impatiently, ‘he would not have danced half
so much! For God’s sake, say no more of his partners. Oh that he had sprained his ankle in the first
‘Oh, my dear,’ continued Mrs. Bennet, ‘I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome!
and his sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw anything more elegant than their dresses. I
daresay the lace upon Mrs. Hurst’s gown——’
Here she was interrupted again. Mr. Bennet protested against any description of finery. She was
therefore obliged to seek another branch of the subject, and related, with much bitterness of spirit, and
some exaggeration, the shocking rudeness of Mr. Darcy.
‘But I can assure you,’ she added, ‘that Lizzy does not lose much by not suiting his fancy; for he is a
most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited, that there was no
enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsome
enough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set-downs. I
quite detest the man.’
WHEN Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in her praise of Mr. Bingley
before, expressed to her sister how very much she admired him.
‘He is just what a young man ought to be,’ said she, ‘sensible, good-humoured, lively; and I never saw
such happy manners! so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!’
‘He is also handsome,’ replied Elizabeth, ‘which a young man ought likewise to be if he possibly can.
His character is thereby complete.’
‘I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time. I did not expect such a
‘Did not you? I did for you. But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take you
by surprise, and me never. What could be more natural than his asking you again? He could not help
seeing that you were about five times as pretty as every other woman in the room. No thanks to his
gallantry for that. Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked
many a stupider person.’
‘Oh, you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in anybody.
All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my
‘I would wish not to be hasty in censuring any one; but I always speak what I think.’
‘I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder. With your good sense, to be so honestly blind to
the follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour is common enough; one meets with it
everywhere. But to be candid without ostentation or design,—to take the good of everybody’s character
and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad,—belongs to you alone. And so, you like this man’s
sisters, too, do you? Their manners are not equal to his.’
‘Certainly not, at first; but they are very pleasing women when you converse with them. Miss Bingley is
to live with her brother, and keep his house; and I am much mistaken if we shall not find a very charming
neighbour in her.’
Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced: their behaviour at the assembly had not been
calculated to please in general; and with more quickness of observation and less pliancy of temper than
her sister, and with a judgment, too, unassailed by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed to
approve them. They were, in fact, very fine ladies; not deficient in good-humour when they were pleased,
nor in the power of being agreeable where they chose it; but proud and conceited. They were rather
handsome; had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town; had a fortune of twenty
thousand pounds; were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of
rank; and were, therefore, in every respect entitled to think well of themselves and meanly of others.
They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on
their memories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired by trade.
Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly a hundred thousand pounds from his father, who
had intended to purchase an estate, but did not live to do it. Mr. Bingley intended it likewise, and
sometimes made choice of his county; but, as he was now provided with a good house and the liberty of
a manor, it was doubtful to many of those who best knew the easiness of his temper, whether he might
not spend the remainder of his days at Netherfield, and leave the next generation to purchase.
His sisters were very anxious for his having an estate of his own; but though he was now established
only as a tenant, Miss Bingley was by no means unwilling to preside at his table; nor was Mrs. Hurst,
who had married a man of more fashion than fortune, less disposed to consider his house as her home
when it suited her. Mr. Bingley had not been of age two years when he was tempted, by an accidental
recommendation, to look at Netherfield House. He did look at it, and into it, for half an hour; was pleased
with the situation and the principal rooms, satisfied with what the owner said in its praise, and took it
Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in spite of a great opposition of character.
Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, and ductility of his temper, though no
disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own, and though with his own he never appeared
dissatisfied. On the strength of Darcy’s regard Bingley had the firmest reliance, and of his judgment the
highest opinion. In understanding, Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient; but Darcy
was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious; and his manners, though well
bred, were not inviting. In that respect his friend had greatly the advantage. Bingley was sure of being
liked wherever he appeared; Darcy was continually giving offence.
The manner in which they spoke of the Meryton assembly was sufficiently characteristic. Bingley had
never met with pleasanter people or prettier girls in his life; everybody had been most kind and attentive
to him; there had been no formality, no stiffness; he had soon felt acquainted with all the room; and as to
Miss Bennet, he could not conceive an angel more beautiful. Darcy, on the contrary, had seen a
collection of people in whom there was little beauty and no fashion, for none of whom he had felt the
smallest interest, and from none received either attention or pleasure. Miss Bennet he acknowledged to
be pretty; but she smiled too much.
Mrs. Hurst and her sister allowed it to be so; but still they admired her and liked her, and pronounced
her to be a sweet girl, and one whom they should not object to know more of. Miss Bennet was therefore
established as a sweet girl; and their brother felt authorised by such commendation to think of her as he
WITHIN a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom the Bennets were particularly intimate.
Sir William Lucas had been formerly in trade in Meryton, where he had made a tolerable fortune, and
risen to the honour of knighthood by an address to the king during his mayoralty. The distinction had,
perhaps, been felt too strongly. It had given him a disgust to his business and to his residence in a small
market town; and, quitting them both, he had removed with his family to a house about a mile from
Meryton, denominated from that period Lucas Lodge; where he could think with pleasure of his own
importance and, unshackled by business, occupy himself solely in being civil to all the world. For,
though elated by his rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary, he was all attention to
everybody. By nature inoffensive, friendly, and obliging, his presentation at St. James’s had made him
Lady Lucas was a very good kind of woman, not too clever to be a valuable neighbour to Mrs. Bennet.
They had several children. The eldest of them, a sensible, intelligent young woman, about twenty-seven,
was Elizabeth’s intimate friend.
That the Miss Lucases and the Miss Bennets should meet to talk over a ball was absolutely necessary;
and the morning after the assembly brought the former to Longbourn to hear and to communicate.
‘You began the evening well, Charlotte,’ said Mrs. Bennet, with civil self-command, to Miss Lucas.
You were Mr. Bingley’s first choice.’
‘Yes; but he seemed to like his second better.’
‘Oh, you mean Jane, I suppose, because he danced with her twice. To be sure that did seem as if he
admired her—indeed, I rather believe he did—I heard something about it—but I hardly know
what—something about Mr. Robinson.’
‘Perhaps you mean what I overheard between him and Mr. Robinson: did not I mention it to you? Mr.
Robinson’s asking him how he liked our Meryton assemblies, and whether he did not think there were a
great many pretty women in the room, and which he thought the prettiest? and his answering
immediately to the last question, Oh, the eldest Miss Bennet, beyond a doubt: there cannot be two
opinions on that point.’
‘Upon my word! Well, that was very decided, indeed—that does seem as if—but, however, it may all
come to nothing, you know.’
‘My overhearings were more to the purpose than yours, Eliza,’ said Charlotte. ‘Mr. Darcy is not so well
worth listening to as his friend, is he? Poor Eliza! to be only just tolerable.’
‘I beg you will not put it into Lizzy’s head to be vexed by his ill-treatment, for he is such a disagreeable
man that it would be quite a misfortune to be liked by him. Mrs. Long told me last night that he sat close
to her for half an hour without once opening his lips.’
‘Are you quite sure ma’am? Is not there a little mistake?’ said Jane. ‘I certainly saw Mr. Darcy speaking
‘Ay, because she asked him at last how he liked Netherfield, and he could not help answering her; but
she said he seemed very angry at being spoken to.”
‘Miss Bingley told me,’ said Jane, ‘that he never speaks much unless among his intimate acquaintance.
With them he is remarkably agreeable.’
‘I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very agreeable, he would have talked to Mrs.
Long. But I can guess how it was; everybody says that he is eat up with pride, and I daresay he had heard
somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep a carriage, and had to come to the ball in a hack chaise.’
‘I do not mind his not talking to Mrs. Long,’ said Miss Lucas, ‘but I wish he had danced with Eliza.’
‘Another time, Lizzy,’ said her mother, ‘I would not dance with him, if I were you.’
‘I believe, ma’am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him.’
‘His pride,’ said Miss Lucas, ‘does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an
excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his
favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.’
‘That is very true,’ replied Elizabeth, ‘and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.’
‘Pride,’ observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, ‘is a very common
failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human
nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of
self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different
things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride
relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us.’
‘If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy,’ cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, ‘I should not care how
proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine every day.’
‘Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought,’ said Mrs. Bennet; ‘and if I were to see you at
it, I should take away your bottle directly.’
The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare that she would; and the argument ended
only with the visit.
THE LADIES of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield. The visit was returned in due form.
Miss Bennet’s pleasing manners grew on the goodwill of Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and though the
mother was found to be intolerable, and the younger sisters not worth speaking to, a wish of being better
acquainted with them was expressed towards the two eldest. By Jane this attention was received with the
greatest pleasure; but Elizabeth still saw superciliousness in their treatment of everybody, hardly
excepting even her sister, and could not like them; though their kindness to Jane, such as it was, had a
value, as arising, in all probability, from the influence of their brother’s admiration. It was generally
evident, whenever they met, that he did admire her; and to her it was equally evident that Jane was
yielding to the preference which she had begun to entertain for him from the first, and was in a way to be
very much in love; but she considered with pleasure that it was not likely to be discovered by the world
in general, since Jane united with great strength of feelings, a composure of temper and a uniform
cheerfulness of manner which would guard her from the suspicions of the impertinent. She mentioned
this to her friend Miss Lucas.
‘It may, perhaps, be pleasant,’ replied Charlotte, ‘to be able to impose on the public in such a case; but
it is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded. If a woman conceals her affection with the same
skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor
consolation to believe the world equally in the dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost
every attachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely—a slight preference is
natural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without
In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels. Bingley likes your
sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on.’
‘But she does help him on, as much as her nature will allow. If I can perceive her regard for him, he
must be a simpleton indeed not to discover it too.’
‘Remember, Eliza, that he does not know Jane’s disposition as you do.’
‘But if a woman is partial to a man, and does not endeavour to conceal it, he must find it out.’
‘Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her. But though Bingley and Jane meet tolerably often, it is never
in for many hours together; and as they always see each other in large mixed parties, it is impossible that
every moment should be employed in conversing together. Jane should therefore make the most of every
half-hour in which she can command his attention. When she is secure of him, there will be leisure for
falling in love as much as she chooses.
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