Mr. Collins and his dreadful proposal…
“You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin, that your
refusal of my addresses is merely words of course. My reasons for
believing it are briefly these: — It does not appear to me that my
hand is unworthy your acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer
would be any other than highly desirable. My situation in life, my
connections with the family of De Bourgh, and my relationship to your
own, are circumstances highly in its favor; and you should take it into
farther consideration that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is
by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made
you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood
undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications. As I
must therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of
me, I shall chuse to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by
suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females.”
Pride and Prejudice, volume 1, chapter 19
Thanks to Mollands for the illustration.
I want to post more from Mansfield Park, for Luciana’s sake, but I’ve been reading through Jane’s letters again and had to share this.
One of my favorite sets of letters is to Jane’s niece Fanny, as she is trying to decide whether or not to marry one very good but evidently slightly boring guy. Here’s a snippet:
“There are such beings in the World, perhaps, one in a Thousand, as the Creature You & I should think perfection, where Grace & Spirit are united to Worth, where the Manners are equal to the Heart & Understanding, but such a person may not come in your way, or if he does, he may not be the eldest son of a Man of Fortune, the Brother of your particular friend, & belonging to your own County.”
letter to Fanny Knight
November 18, 1814  (emphasis mine)
I believe that guys like this are out there, but perhaps they may not come my way as often as I would like.
“She had not waited her arrival to look out for a suitable match for her; she had fixed on Tom Bertram; the eldest son of a Baronet was not too good for a girl of twenty thousand pounds, with all the elegance and accomplishments which Mrs. Grant foresaw in her; and being a warm-hearted, unreserved woman, Mary had not been three hours in the house before she told her what she had planned.”
Mrs. Grant matchmaking for her sister Mary
Mansfield Park, volume 1, chapter 4
Of course, Tom Bertram was a fool, in addition to being the eldest son of a baronet. (And, of course, Mary proves to have her own foolish tendencies as well.)
The image is from the new version of MP starring Billie Piper, which will run on the Masterpiece Theatre Complete Jane Austen Season starting in January.
One last thought from Charlotte on marriage:
“‘I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.'”
Charlotte Lucas to Lizzy, after her engagement to Mr. Collins
Pride and Prejudice, volume 1, chapter 22