* * * * *
And then, between 1812 and 1814. "Mansfield Park" was written at Chawton Cottage, and published in July of the latter year by the Mr. Egerton who had given to the world its two predecessors. When the novel reached a second edition, its publication was taken over by John Murray, who was also responsible for bringing out its successor, "Emma." As bearing on the introduction of naval officers into the story, in this novel and in "Persuasion," it must be remembered that Jane Austen's two youngest brothers, Francis and Charles, both served in the Navy during the French wars, and both rose to the rank of admiral; Jane herself lived at Southampton from 1805 to 1809, and was, therefore, in a position to visit Portsmouth, and to see the sailor's life ashore.
I.—Sir Thomas Bertram's Family Connections
Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of a handsome house and large income. She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintances as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law's, with scarcely any private fortune; and Miss Frances fared yet worse.
Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible, Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend, in the living of Mansfield, an income of very little less than a thousand a year. But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, named Price, without education, fortune, or connections, did it very thoroughly. To escape remonstrance, she never wrote to her family on the subject till actually married.
Lady Bertram, who was a woman of very tranquil feelings, and a temper remarkably easy and indolent, would have contented herself with merely giving up her sister, and thinking no more of the matter; but Mrs. Norris had a spirit of activity which could not be satisfied till she had written a long and angry letter to Fanny. Mrs. Price, in her turn, was injured and angry; and an answer, which comprehended both sisters in its bitterness, and bestowed such very disrespectful reflections on the pride of Sir Thomas, as Mrs. Norris could not possibly keep to herself, put an end to all intercourse between them for a considerable period.
By the end of eleven years, however, Mrs. Price could no longer afford to cherish pride or resentment, or to lose one connection that might possibly assist her. A very small income, a large and still increasing family, a husband disabled for active service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, made her eager to regain the friends she had so carelessly sacrificed; and she addressed Lady Bertram a letter which spoke so much contrition and despondence as could not but dispose them all to a reconciliation. The letter re-established peace and kindness. Sir Thomas sent friendly advice and professions, Lady Bertram dispatched money and baby-linen for the expected child, and Mrs. Norris wrote the letters.
Within a twelvemonth a more important advantage to Mrs. Price resulted from her letter. Mrs. Norris, who was often observing to the others that she seemed to be wanting to do more for her poor sister, proposed that the latter should be entirely relieved from the charge and expense of her eldest daughter, Fanny, a girl of ten; and Sir Thomas, after debating the question, assented. The division of gratifying sensations in the consideration of so benevolent a scheme ought not, in strict justice, to have been equal; for, while Sir Thomas was fully resolved to be the real and consistent patron of the selected child, Mrs. Norris had not the least intention of being at any expense whatever in her maintenance. As far as walking, talking and contriving reached, she was thoroughly benevolent, and nobody knows better how to dictate liberality to others; but her love of money was equal to her love of directing, and she knew quite as well how to save her own as to spend that of her friends.
Fanny Price proved to be small for her age, with no glow of complexion or any other striking beauty; exceedingly timid and shy, and shrinking from notice; but her air, though awkward, was not vulgar, her voice was sweet, and when she spoke her countenance was pretty. Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram received her very kindly; and Sir Thomas, seeing how much she needed encouragement, tried to be all that was conciliating. But he had to work against a most untoward gravity of deportment; and Lady Bertram, without taking half so much trouble, by the mere aid of a good-humoured smile, became immediately the less awful character of the two.
The young people were all at home, and sustained their share in the introduction very well, with much good humour and little embarrassment. They were a remarkably fine family; the sons, Tom and Edmund, boys of seventeen and sixteen, very well looking; the daughters, Maria, aged thirteen, and Julia, twelve, decidedly handsome.
But it took a long time to reconcile Fanny to the novelty of Mansfield Park, and to the separation from everybody she had been used to. Nobody meant to be unkind, but nobody put himself out of the way to secure her comfort. She was disheartened by Lady Bertram's silence, awed by Sir Thomas's grave looks, and quite overcome by Mrs. Norris's admonitions. Her elder cousins mortified her by reflections on her size, and abashed her by noticing her shyness; Miss Lee, the governess, wondered at her ignorance; and the maidservants sneered at her clothes. It was not till Edmund found her crying one morning on the attic stairs, and comforted her, that things began to mend for her. He was ever afterwards her true friend, and next to her dear brother William, first in her affections; and from that day she grew more comfortable.
II.—Cupid at Mansfield Park
The first event of any importance in the family's affairs was the death of Mr. Norris, which happened when Fanny was about fifteen, and necessarily introduced alterations and novelties. Mrs. Norris, on quitting the parsonage, removed first to the Park, and then arranged to take a small dwelling in the village belonging to Sir Thomas and called the White House. The living had been destined for Edmund, and in ordinary circumstances would have been duly given to some friend to hold till he were old enough to take orders. But Tom's extravagances had been so great as to render a different disposal of the next presentation necessary, and so the reversion was sold to a Dr. Grant, a hearty man of forty-five, fond of good eating, married to a wife about fifteen years his junior, and unprovided with children.
The Grants had scarcely been settled in Mansfield a year, when, for the better settlement of his property in the West Indies, Sir Thomas had found it expedient to go to Antigua, and he took his elder son with him, in the hope of detaching him from some bad connections at home. Neither person was missed.
Lady Bertram did not at all like to have her husband leave her; but she was not disturbed by any alarm for his safety or solicitude for his comfort, being one of those persons who think nothing can be dangerous or difficult or fatiguing to anybody but themselves. Before very long she found that Edmund could quite sufficiently supply his father's place. On this occasion the Miss Bertrams, who were now fully established among the belles of the neighbourhood, were much to be pitied, not for their sorrow, but for their want of it. Their father was no object of love to them; he had never seemed the friend of their pleasures, and his absence was unhappily most welcome.
Fanny's relief, and her consciousness of it, were quite equal to her cousins'; but a more tender nature suggested that her feelings were ungrateful, and she really grieved because she could not grieve.
Meantime, taking advantage of her sister's indolence, Mrs. Norris acted as chaperon to Maria and Julia in their public engagements, and very thoroughly relished the means this afforded her of mixing in society without having horses to hire.
Fanny had no share in the festivities of the season; but she enjoyed being avowedly useful as her aunt's companion, and talked to Lady Bertram, listened to her and read to her with never a thought of envying her cousins their gaieties. About this time Maria, who was now in her twenty-first year, got engaged to a rich but heavy country gentleman called Rushworth, merely because he had an income larger than her father's and could give her a house in town; while Tom returned safely from the West Indies, bringing an excellent account of his father's health, but telling the family that Sir Thomas would be detained in Antigua for several months longer.
Such was the state of affairs in the month of July; and Fanny had just reached her eighteenth year when the society of the village received an addition in the brother and sister of Mrs. Grant, a Mr. and Miss Crawford, the children of her mother by a second marriage. They were young people of fortune, the son having a good estate in Norfolk, the daughter twenty thousand pounds. They had been brought up by their father's brother and his wife, Admiral and Mrs. Crawford; and it was Mrs. Crawford's death, and the consequent installation of the admiral's mistress in the house, that had forced them to find another home. Mary Crawford was remarkably pretty; Henry, though not handsome, had air and countenance; the manners of both were lively and pleasant; and Mrs. Grant gave them credit for everything else.
The young people were pleased with each other from the first. Miss Crawford was most allowably a sweet, pretty girl, while the Miss Bertrams were the finest young women in the country. Mr. Crawford was the most agreeable young man Julia and Maria had ever known. Before he had been at Mansfield a week the former lady was quite ready to be fallen in love with; while as for the latter she did not want to see or to understand. "There could be no harm in her liking an agreeable man—everybody knew her situation—Mr. Crawford must take care of himself."
A young woman, pretty, lively, witty, playing on a harp as elegant as herself, was enough to catch any man's heart. Without studying the business, however, or knowing what he was about, Edmund was beginning, at the end of a week of such intercourse, to be a good deal in love with Mary Crawford; and, to the credit of the lady, it may be added that, without his being a man of the world or an elder brother, without any of the arts of flattery or the gaieties of small-talk, he began to be agreeable to her. He taught her to ride on a horse which he had given to Fanny; he was always going round to see her at the parsonage; and, although he disapproved of the flippancy with which she talked of her relations, of religion, and of his future profession of clergyman, he was never weary of discussing her and of confessing his admiration of her to Fanny.
Harry Crawford was not so constant as his sister. On an expedition to Sotherton Court (Mr. Rushworth's place) he flirted with Julia on the way down, and with Maria when Sotherton was reached, leaving poor Mr. Rushworth no resource but to declare to Fanny his surprise at anyone calling so undersized a man as his rival handsome.
Some rehearsals of a play called "Lovers' Vows," in which Harry left Maria happy and expectant and Julia furious by assigning the parts of the lovers to the elder sister and to himself, made Mr. Rushworth even jealous. But this theatrical scheme, to which even Edmund had been forced to lend a reluctant co-operation—merely with a view of preventing outside actors being introduced—happily came to nothing, thanks to the unexpected arrival of Sir Thomas.
III.—Fanny in Society
Maria was now expecting the man she loved to declare himself; but instead of making such a declaration of attachment, Harry Crawford left the neighbourhood almost immediately on the plea of having to meet his uncle at Bath. Maria, wounded and indignant, resolved that, though he had destroyed her happiness, he should not know that he had done so. So when her father, having, in an evening spent at Sotherton, discovered what a very inferior young man Mr. Rushworth was, and having noticed Maria's complete indifference to him, offered to give up the connection if she felt herself unhappy in the prospect of it, she merely thanked him, and said she had not the smallest desire of breaking through her engagement, and was not sensible of any change of opinion or inclination since her forming it. In a few weeks' time she was married to Mr. Rushworth; and after a day or two spent at Sotherton, the wedded pair went off to Brighton, where they were joined by Julia Bertram.
Meantime, Fanny, as the only young lady left at the Park, became of importance. Sir Thomas decided that she was pretty; Miss Crawford cultivated her society; and Mrs. Grant asked her to dinner. This last-mentioned attention disturbed Lady Bertram.
"So strange!" she said. "For Mrs. Grant never used to ask her."
"But it is very natural," observed Edmund, "that Mrs. Grant should wish to procure so agreeable a visitor for her sister."
"Nothing can be more natural," said Sir Thomas, after a short deliberation; "nor, were there no sister in the case, could anything, in my opinion, be more natural. Mrs. Grant's showing civility to Miss Price, to Lady Bertram's niece, could never want explanation. The only surprise I can feel is that this should be the first time of its being paid. Fanny was right in giving only a conditional answer. She appears to feel as she ought. But, as I conclude that she wishes to go, since all young people like to be together, I can see no reason why she should be denied this indulgence."
"Upon my word, Fanny," said Mrs. Norris, "you are in high luck to meet with such attention and indulgence. You ought to be very much obliged to Mrs. Grant for thinking of you, and to your aunt for letting you go, and you ought to look upon it as something extraordinary; for I hope you are aware that there is no real occasion for your going into company in this sort of way, or ever dining out at all; and it is what you must not depend upon ever being repeated. Nor must you be fancying that the invitation is meant as a compliment to you; the compliment is intended to your uncle and aunt and me. Mrs. Grant thinks it a civility due to us to take a little notice of you, or else it would never have come into her head, and you may be certain that if your cousin Julia had been at home you would not have been asked."
Mrs. Norris fetched breath, and went on.
"I think it right to give you a hint, Fanny, now that you are going into company without any of us; and I do beseech and entreat you not to be putting yourself forward, and talking and giving your opinion as if you were one of your cousins—as if you were dear Mrs. Rushworth or Julia. That will never do, believe me. Remember, wherever you are, you must be the lowest and last; and though Miss Crawford is in a manner at home at the Parsonage, you are not to be taking place of her. And as to coming away at night, you are to stay just as long as Edmund chooses."
"Yes, ma'am. I should not think of anything else."
"And if it should rain—which I think likely, for I never saw it more threatening for a wet evening in my life—you must manage as well as you can, and not be expecting the carriage to be sent for you."
"Walk!" said Sir Thomas, in a tone of unanswerable dignity, and, coming further into the room: "My niece walk to an engagement at this time of the year! Fanny, will twenty minutes after four suit you?"
A few weeks later Fanny was made happy by a visit from her brother William, now, through Sir Thomas's influence, a midshipman; and soon the former intercourse between the families at the Park and at the Parsonage was revived, Sir Thomas perceiving, in a careless way, that Mr. Crawford, who was back again at Mansfield, was somewhat distinguishing his niece.
Harry, indeed, was beginning to be rather piqued by Fanny's indifference.
"I do not quite know what to make of Miss Fanny," he said to his sister. "Is she solemn? Is she queer? Is she prudish? I can hardly get her to speak. I never was so long in company with a girl in my life, trying to entertain her, and succeeded so ill! Never met with a girl who looked so grave on me."
"Foolish fellow!" said Mary. "And so this is her attraction after all! This it is—her not caring for you—which gives her such a soft skin and makes her so much taller, and produces all these charms and graces! I do desire that you will not be making her really unhappy. A little love, perhaps, may animate and do her good; but I will not have you plunge her deep, for she is as good a little creature as ever lived, and has a great deal of feeling."
"It can be but for a fortnight," said Harry, "and if a fortnight can kill her she must have a constitution which nothing could save! No, I will not do her any harm. I only want her to look kindly on me, to give me smiles as well as blushes, to keep a chair for me by herself wherever we are, and be all animation when I take it and talk to her; to think as I think, to be interested in all my possessions and pleasures, try to keep me longer at Mansfield, and feel when I go away that she shall never be happy again. I want nothing more."
"Moderation itself!" replied Mary. "I can have no scruples now. Well, you will have opportunities enough of endeavouring to recommend yourself, for we are a great deal together."
Harry was unable to make any impression on Fanny; and though he fell deeply in love with her, got her brother William made lieutenant, and, after a ball given in her honour by Sir Thomas, proposed to her, he was unable to win her favour. She was in love with Edmund; and Edmund was torn between love for Mary, despair of winning her, and disapproval of her principles.
IV.—Wedding Bells at Mansfield
Mr. William Price, second lieutenant of H.M.S. Thrush, having obtained a ten days' leave of absence, again went down to see his sister; and Sir Thomas, as a kind of medicinal project on his niece's understanding, just to enable her to contrast with her father's shabby dwelling an abode of wealth and plenty like Mansfield Park, arranged that she should accompany her brother back to Portsmouth, and spend a little time with her own family. Within four days from their arrival William had to sail; and Fanny could not conceal it from herself that the home he had left her in was, in almost every respect, the very reverse of what she could have wished. It was the abode of noise, disorder and impropriety. Nobody was in his right place; nothing was done as it ought to be. She could not respect her parents as she had hoped. Her father was more negligent of his family, worse in his habits, coarser in his manners, than she had been prepared for. He did not want abilities; but he had no curiosity, and no information beyond his profession. He read only the newspaper and the Navy List. He talked only of the dockyard, the harbour, Spithead, and the Motherbank. He swore and he drank; he was dirty and gross.
She had never been able to recall anything approaching to tenderness in his former treatment of herself. There had remained only a general impression of roughness, and now he scarcely ever noticed her but to make her the object of a coarse joke.
Her disappointment in her mother was greater. There she had hoped much, and found almost nothing. She discovered, indeed, that her mother was a partial, ill-judging parent, a dawdle, a slattern, who neither taught nor restrained her children, whose house was the scene of mismanagement and discomfort from beginning to end, and who had no talent, no conversation, no affection towards herself; no curiosity to know her better, no desire of her friendship, and no inclination for her company that could lessen her sense of such knowledge.
At the end of the fourth week of her visit Harry Crawford came to see Fanny, made himself very agreeable to her and her family, and then went back to town to see his sister, and to meet such friends as Edmund Bertram and the Rushworths. Fanny heard from Mary of Maria's fine house in Wimpole Street, of the splendours of the first party, and of the attentions paid to Julia by that would-be amateur actor, the Honourable John Yates; while from Edmund she gathered that his hopes of securing Mary were weaker than those he had cherished when he had left Mansfield, and that he was more satisfied with all that he saw and heard of Harry Crawford.
"I cannot give her up, Fanny," Edmund wrote of Mary. "She is the only woman in the world whom I could ever think of as a wife." Mary, on her part, hearing of a serious illness which had prostrated Tom Bertram, could not forbear saying to the same correspondent: "Poor young man! If he is to die, there will be two poor young men less in the world. I put it to your conscience whether 'Sir' Edmund would not do more good with all the Bertram property than any other possible 'sir.'" She also told Fanny that Mrs. Rushworth, in the absence of her husband on a visit to his mother at Bath, had been spending the Easter with some friends at Twickenham, and that her brother Harry had also been passing a few days at Richmond.
The interval of a few days afforded a commentary on this last piece of news. It turned out that Mrs. Rushworth, having succumbed once more to the protestations of Harry Crawford, had left her house in Wimpole Street to live with him, and that her sister Julia had eloped to Scotland to be married to Mr. Yates. On the occurrence of this distressing news, Fanny was summoned back to Mansfield Park, and was escorted down there by Edmund, who described to her his final interview with Mary. It seemed that Mary's distress at her brother's folly was so much more keenly expressed than any sorrow for his sin that Edmund's conscience left him no alternative but to make an end of their acquaintance.
Indeed, before many weeks had passed, he ceased to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny as Fanny herself could desire; and before many months had gone, the cousins were united. Nor was this the only happy event that occurred at Mansfield. Harry Crawford and Mrs. Rushworth having quarrelled and parted, and Sir Thomas having refused to allow his elder daughter to come home, Mrs. Norris cast off the dust of Mansfield from her feet, and went to live with her niece in an establishment arranged for them in another county. While as for Tom, he gradually regained his health, without regaining the thoughtlessness and selfishness of his previous habits, and was, in fact, improved forever by his illness.
* * * * *
"Emma," one of the author's later novels, had been finished, when, in the autumn of 1815, Jane Austen came to London to nurse her brother Henry, who was a clergyman, at his house in Hans Place, in Chelsea. He was being attended by one of the Prince Regent's physicians, who seems to have learned in this way the secret of the authorship of "Mansfield Park" and its predecessors. The result was that the Prince, who is said to have been a great admirer of these then anonymous novels, was graciously pleased to notify Miss Austen, through his chaplain, Mr. Clarke, that if she had any new novel in hand, she was at liberty to dedicate it to his Royal Highness. "Emma" was accordingly dedicated to the Prince. It was reviewed, along with its author's other novels, in the "Quarterly," and the anonymous reviewer, who took no notice of "Mansfield Park," turns out to have been none other than Sir Walter Scott. In his Diary for March 14, 1826, Sir Walter further praised Miss Austen's exquisite touch and her gift for true description and sentiment.
I.—The Social Amenities of Highbury
Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, was the younger of the two daughters of a most affectionate and indulgent father, and had, in consequence of her sister's marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses, and her place had been supplied by Miss Taylor, who for sixteen years had been in Mr. Woodhouse's family, less as governess than friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma. For years the two ladies had been living together, mutely attached, Emma doing just what she liked, highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but chiefly directed by her own.
The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself. The danger, however, was at present unperceived, and did not by any means rank as a misfortune with her.
Sorrow came—a gentle sorrow. Miss Taylor married. It was Miss Taylor's loss which first brought grief. It was on the wedding-day of this beloved friend, with the wedding over and the bride-people gone, that Emma first sat in mournful thought of any continuance. The event had every promise of happiness for her friend. Mr. Weston was a man of unexceptionable character, easy fortune, suitable age, and pleasant manners; and there was some satisfaction in considering with what self-denying, generous friendship she had always wished and promoted the match. But it was a black morning's work for her. The want of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day. She had been a friend and companion such as few possessed: intelligent, well-informed, useful, gentle; knowing all the ways of the family, interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly interested in herself, in every pleasure, every scheme of hers—one to whom she could speak every thought, and who had such an affection for her as could never find fault.
How was Emma to bear the change? She was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful. The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (as Mr. Woodhouse had not married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits; for, having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time.
Emma's sister, though comparatively but little removed by matrimony, being settled in London, only sixteen miles off, was much beyond her daily reach; and it was quite three months before Christmas, that would bring the next visit from Isabella, her husband, and children.
Highbury, the large and populous village to which her house, Hartfield, really belonged, afforded her no equals. The Woodhouses were first in consequence there. All looked up to them; but there was not one of her acquaintances among them who could be accepted in lieu of Miss Taylor for even half a day. It was a melancholy change; and Emma could not but sigh over it, and wish for impossible things, till her father awoke from his usual after-dinner sleep, and made it necessary to be cheerful. His spirits required support. He was a nervous man, easily depressed; fond of everybody he was used to, and hating to part with them; hating change of every kind. Matrimony, as the origin of change, was always disagreeable to him; and he was not yet reconciled to his own daughter marrying, nor could ever speak of her but with compassion, though it had been entirely a match of affection, when he was now obliged to part with Miss Taylor, too.
He was pitying "poor Miss Taylor," and magnifying the half-mile's distance that separated Hartfield from Mr. Weston's place, Randalls, when a visitor walked in. This was Mr. George Knightley, the elder brother of Isabella's husband, and the owner of Donwell Abbey, the large estate of the district. He was a sensible man, about seven or eight and thirty, a very old and intimate friend of the family, and a frequent and always welcome visitor. He had returned to a late dinner after some days' absence in London, and had walked up to Hartfield to say that all was well with their relatives in Brunswick Square. They talked of the wedding. Emma congratulated herself on having made the match. Mr. Knightley demurred to this, remarking: "A straightforward, open-hearted man, like Weston, and a rational, unaffected woman, like Miss Taylor, may be safely left to manage their own concerns." And when Emma, in reply to entreaties from her father to make no more matches, answered, "Only one more, papa; only for Mr. Elton—you like Mr. Elton, papa; I must look about for a wife for him"—her old friend gave her the salutary advice: "Invite him to dinner, Emma, and help him to the best of the fish and the chicken; but leave him to choose his own wife. Depend upon it, a man of six or seven and twenty can take care of himself."
II.—Emma as a Matchmaker
Emma lost no time in developing her schemes for the happiness of Mr. Elton. Through Mrs. Goddard, the mistress of the local boarding-school for girls, she struck up an acquaintance, which she contrived rapidly to develop into intimacy, with a Miss Harriet Smith—a plump, fair-haired, blue-eyed little beauty of seventeen, whose prettiness, docility, good-temper and simplicity might be allowed to balance her lack of intelligence and information.
Harriet was the natural daughter of somebody. Somebody had placed her several years back at Mrs. Goddard's school, and somebody had lately raised her from the condition of scholar to that of parlour-boarder. This was all that was generally known of her history. She had no visible friends but what had been acquired at Highbury, and was now just returned from a long visit in the country to some young ladies—the Misses Martin—who had been at school there with her.
The first step which Emma took in the education of Harriet was to cool her interest in the Martins. She pointed out that Mr. Robert Martin, who held a large farm from Mr. Knightley in Donwell parish, was too young to marry at twenty-four, that he had, besides, an awkward look, an abrupt manner, and an uncouth voice; and that, moreover, he was quite plain- looking and wholly ungenteel; whereas Mr. Elton, who was good-humoured, cheerful, obliging and gentle, was a pattern of good manners and good looks, and seemed to be taking quite an interest in Harriet. So indeed it appeared. Mr. Elton seemed delighted with being in the society of Emma and Harriet. He praised Harriet as a beautiful girl, congratulated Emma on the improvement she had wrought in her, contributed a charade to Harriet's riddle-book, and took a most animated interest in a portrait which Emma began to paint of her.
But Mr. Knightley was not so complacent. "I think Harriet," he said to Mrs. Weston, "the very worst sort of a companion that Emma could possibly have. She knows nothing herself, and looks upon Emma as knowing everything. Her ignorance is hourly flattery. How can Emma imagine she has anything to learn herself while Harriet is presenting such a delightful inferiority? And as for Harriet, Hartfield will only put her out of conceit with all the other places she belongs to. She will grow just refined enough to be uncomfortable with those among whom birth and circumstances have placed her."
This was in the early stages of the intimacy. Later in the day, when he learned that Emma had taken so decided a hand in the affairs of Harriet as to persuade her to decline a formal offer of marriage from Mr. Martin, he told her plainly:
"I have always thought it a very foolish intimacy, though I have kept my thoughts to myself; but now I perceive that it will be a very unfortunate one for Harriet. You will puff her up with such ideas of her own beauty, and what she has claim to, that, in a little while, nobody within her reach will be good enough for her. Robert Martin has no great loss if he can but think so; and I hope it will not be long before he does. Your views for Harriet are best known to yourself; but, as you make no secret of your love of match-making, I shall just hint to you as a friend that, if Elton is the man, I think it will be all labour in vain."
Emma laughed and disclaimed. "Depend upon it," he continued, "Elton will not do. Elton is a very good sort of a man, and a very respectable vicar of Highbury, but not at all likely to make an imprudent match. He is as well acquainted with his own claims as you can be with Harriet's; and I am convinced that he does not mean to throw himself away."
But despite this warning from Mr. George Knightley, despite a hint dropped by Mr. John Knightley, when he and his wife and children came to stop with the Woodhouses for Christmas—a hint to the effect that his sister-in-law would do well to consider whether Mr. Elton was not in love with her—Emma continued quite as ardent in her new friendship and in her hopes.
As to herself, she told Harriet that she was not going to be married at present, and had very little intention of ever marrying at all; though when Harriet reminded her of Miss Bates, who was the daughter of a former vicar of Highbury and lived in a very small way with her mother, a very old lady almost past everything but tea and quadrille, she confessed that if she thought she would ever be like Miss Bates, "so silly, so satisfied, so smiling, so prosing, so undistinguishing, so unfastidious, and so garrulous," she would marry to-morrow.
But Mr. Elton was unaware of Emma having thought of making such a self-denying ordinance; and so one night when the Woodhouses and the Knightleys were returning home from a party at Randalls he took advantage of his being alone in a carriage with her to propose to her, seeming never to doubt his being accepted. When he learned, however, for whom his hand had been destined, he became very indignant and contemptuous.
"Never, madam!" cried he. "Never, I assure you! I think seriously of Miss Smith! Miss Smith is a very good sort of girl; and I should be happy to see her respectably settled. I wish her extremely well; and, no doubt, there are men who might not object to—Everybody has their level; but as for myself, I am not, I think, quite so much at a loss. I need not so totally despair of an equal alliance as to be addressing myself to Miss Smith! No, madam; my visits to Hatfield have been for yourself only."
Needless to say, Emma refused him, and they parted on terms of mutually deep mortification. Fortunately, the task of enlightening Harriet as to the state of Mr. Elton's feelings proved less troublesome than Emma had expected it to be. Harriet's tears fell abundantly, but otherwise she bore the intelligence very meekly and well.
III.—Emma's Schemes in a Tangle
As if to make up for the absence of Mr. Elton, who went to spend a few weeks in Bath, in an endeavour to cure his wounded affections. Highbury society was shortly enlarged by the arrival of two such welcome additions as Miss Jane Fairfax and Mr. Frank Churchill.
Miss Fairfax, who was the orphan daughter of Lieutenant Fairfax, and Miss Janes Bates had for many years been living with her father's brother-officer, Colonel Campbell, and his wife and daughter. A beautiful girl of nineteen, with only a few hundred pounds of her own, and no monetary expectations from her adoptive father, she had received such an education as qualified her to become a governess; and though as long as Colonel and Mrs. Campbell lived their home might always be hers, she had all along resolved to start earning her own living at one-and- twenty. Her friend, Miss Campbell, had recently married a rich and agreeable young man called Dixon; and though the Dixons had urgently invited her to join Colonel and Mrs. Campbell in a visit to them in Ireland, Jane preferred to spend three months' holiday with her aunt and grandmother at Highbury, with some vague intention of starting her scholastic career at the end of this period. Emma did not like Jane Fairfax, partly because Jane's aunt was always boring people by talking of her; partly, perhaps, because—as Mr. Knightley once told her—she saw in her the really accomplished young woman which she wanted to be thought herself. At any rate, she still found her as reserved as ever. Jane had been a little acquainted with Mr. Frank Churchill at Weymouth, but she either could not, or would not, tell Emma anything about him.
That gentleman, however, soon presented himself in person. He was the son of Mr. Weston by his first wife. At the age of three he had been adopted by his maternal uncle, Mr. Churchill; and so avowedly had he been brought up as their heir by Mr. and Mrs. Churchill—who had no children of their own—that on his coming of age he had assumed the name of Churchill. For some months he had been promising to pay a visit to his father and stepmother to compliment them on their marriage; but on the pretext of his not being able to leave Enscombe, his uncle's place, it had been repeatedly postponed.
Emma was inclined to make allowances for him as a young man dependent on the caprices of relations. But Mr. Knightley condemned his conduct roundly. "He cannot want money, he cannot want leisure," he said. "We know, on the contrary, that he has so much of both that he is glad to get rid of them at the idlest haunts in the kingdom." Notwithstanding, when he did arrive, Frank Churchill carried all before him by reason of his good looks, sprightliness, and amiability. Emma and he soon became great friends. He favoured an idea of hers, that Jane's refusal to go to the Dixons' in Ireland was due either to Mr. Dixon's attachment to her, or to her attachment to Mr. Dixon. When a Broadwood pianoforte arrived for Jane—which was generally taken to be a gift from Colonel Campbell—he agreed with her in thinking that this was another occurrence for which Mr. Dixon's love was responsible; and he was busily engaged in planning out the details of a projected ball at the Crown Inn when a letter from Mr. Churchill urging his instant departure compelled him to make a hurried return to Enscombe.
Meanwhile, while Emma was entertaining no doubt of her being in love with Frank, and only wondering how deep her feeling was, while she was content to think that Frank was very much in love with her, and was concluding every imaginary declaration on his side with a refusal of his proposals, Mr. Elton returned to Highbury with his bride. Miss Augusta Hawkins—to give Mrs. Elton her maiden name—was the younger of the two daughters of a Bristol tradesman, and was credited with having ten thousand pounds of her own. A self-important, presuming, familiar, ignorant, and ill-bred woman, with a little beauty and a little accomplishment, who was always expatiating on the charms of Mr. Suckling's—her brother-in-law's—place, Maple Grove, she soon excited disgust in Emma, who offended her by the scanty encouragement with which she received her proposals of intimacy, and was herself offended by the great fancy which Mrs. Elton took to Jane Fairfax. Long before Emma had forfeited her confidence, she was not satisfied with expressing a natural and reasonable admiration of Jane, but, without solicitation, or plea, or privilege, she must be wanting to assist and befriend her. The ill-feeling thus aroused found significant expression on the occasion of the long-talked-of ball at the Crown, which Mr. Weston was able to give one evening in May, thanks to the settlement of the Churchills at Richmond, and the consequent reappearance of Frank Churchill at Highbury. Indeed, Emma met with two annoyances on that famous evening. Mr. Weston had entreated her to come early, before any other person came, for the purpose of taking her opinion as to the propriety and comfort of the rooms; and when she got there, she found that quite half the company had come, by particular desire, to help Mr. Weston's judgment. She felt that to be the favourite and intimate of a man who had so many intimates was not the first distinction in the scale of vanity.
The other vexing circumstance was due to the conduct of Mr. Elton, who, asked by Mrs. Weston to dance with Harriet Smith, declined on the ground that he was an old married man, and that his dancing days were over. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley, who has recently disappointed Mrs. Weston, and pleased Emma by disclaiming any idea of being attached to Jane Fairfax, was able in some measure to redeem the situation by leading Harriet to the set himself. Emma had no opportunity of speaking to him till after supper; and then he said to her: "They aimed at wounding more than Harriet. Emma, why is it that they are your enemies?" He looked with smiling penetration, and, on receiving no answer, added: "She ought not to be angry with you, I suspect, whatever he may be. To that surmise you say nothing, of course; but confess, Emma, that you did want him to marry Harriet." "I did," replied Emma, "and they cannot forgive me."
A day or two afterwards, Harriet figured as the heroine of another little scene. She was rescued by Frank Churchill from an encounter with some gipsies; and after telling Emma, in a very serious tone, a few days later, that she should never marry, confessed that she had come to this resolution because the person she might prefer to marry was one so greatly her superior in situation.
IV.—Love Finds its Own Way
His own attentions, his father's hints, his stepmother's guarded silence, all seemed to declare that Emma was Frank Churchill's object. But while so many were devoting him to Emma, and Emma herself was making him over to Harriet, Mr. Knightley began to suspect him of some inclination to trifle with Jane Fairfax. When Mr. Knightley mentioned these suspicions to Emma, she declared them sheer imagination, and said that she could answer for there being no attachment on the side of the gentleman; while he himself, as if to ridicule the whole idea, flirted outrageously with Emma on an excursion to Box Hill at which Jane was present, and even asked the former lady to choose a wife for him. The next day Emma, calling on Miss Bates, learned that Jane, who, was at present too unwell to see her, had just accepted a post as governess, obtained for her by Mrs. Elton, and that Frank Churchill had been summoned to return immediately to Richmond in consequence of Mrs. Churchill's state of health. On the following day an express arrived at Randalls to announce the death of Mrs. Churchill.
Emma, seeing in this latter event a circumstance favourable to the union of Frank and Harriet (for Mr. Churchill, independent of his wife, was feared by nobody), now only wished for some proof of the former's attachment to her friend. She could, however, for the moment do nothing for Harriet, whereas she could show some attention to Jane, whose prospects were closing, while Harriet's were opening. But here she proved to be mistaken; all her endeavours were to no purpose. The invalid refused everything that was offered, no matter what its character; and Emma had to console herself with the thought that her intentions were good, and would have satisfied even so strict an investigator of motives as Mr. Knightley.
One morning, about ten days after Mrs. Churchill's death, Emma was called downstairs to Mr. Weston, who asked her to come to Randalls as Mrs. Weston wanted to see her alone. Relieved to find that the matter was not one of illness, either there or at Brunswick Square, Emma resolved to wait patiently till she could see her old friend. But what was her surprise, on Mr. Weston leaving them together, when his wife revealed the fact that Frank and Jane had been secretly engaged since October of the previous year! It was almost greater than Mrs. Weston's relief when she learned, to her joy, that Emma now cared nothing at all for Frank, and so had been in no wise injured by this clandestine understanding, the divulgence of which was due, it seemed, to the fact that, immediately on hearing of Jane's agreement to take up the post of governess, Frank had gone to his uncle, told him of the engagement, and with little difficulty obtained his consent to it.
It was with a heavy heart that Emma went home to give Harriet the news that must blast her hopes of happiness once more. But, again, a surprise was in store for her. Harriet had already been told by Mr. Weston, and seemed to bear her misfortune quite stoically, the reason being that the person of "superior situation" whom she despaired of securing was not Mr. Frank Churchill, but Mr. George Knightley.
Emma was not prepared for this development. It darted through her, with the speed of an arrow, that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself! Which desirable consummation was brought about at their next interview; for, after trying to console her for the abominable conduct of Frank Churchill, under the mistaken impression that that young gentleman had succeeded in engaging her affections, Mr. Knightley proposed marriage to her, and was accepted. As for Harriet, she was invited, at Emma's suggestion, to spend a fortnight with Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley in Brunswick Square, and there, meeting Mr. Robert Martin, through Mr. George Knightley's contrivance, was easily persuaded to become his wife.
About this same time, too, Mrs. Weston's husband and friends were all made happy by knowing her to be the mother of a little girl; while Emma and Mrs. Weston were enabled to take a more lenient view of Frank Churchill's conduct, thanks to a long letter which he wrote to the latter lady in which he apologised for his equivocal conduct to Emma, and expressed his regret that those attentions should have caused such poignant distress to the lady whom he was shortly to make his wife. The much discussed pianoforte had been his gift.
* * * * *
Jane Austen began her last book soon after she had finished "Emma," and completed it in August, 1816. "Persuasion" is connected with "Northanger Abbey" not only by the fact that the two books were originally bound up in one volume and published together two years later, and are still so issued, but in the circumstance that in both stories the scene is laid partly in Bath, a health resort with which Jane Austen was well acquainted, as having been her place of residence from the year 1801 till 1805.
I.—The Vain Baronet of Kellynch Hall
Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage. There he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations derived from domestic affairs changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf was powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed. This was the page at which the favourite volume always opened:
"ELLIOT OF KELLYNCH HALL."
"Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq., of South Park, in the county of Gloucester; by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue, Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, November 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791."
Precisely thus had the paragraph originally stood from the printer's hands. But Sir Walter had improved it by adding, for the information of himself and his family, these words, after the date of Mary's birth: "Married, December 16, 1810, Charles, son and heir of Charles Musgrove, Esq., of Uppercross, in the county of Somerset," and by inserting most accurately the day of the month on which he had lost his wife.
Then followed the history and rise of the ancient and respectable family in the usual terms; how it had been first settled in Cheshire; how mentioned in Dugdale, serving the office of High Sheriff, representing a borough in three successive parliaments, exertions of loyalty, and dignity of baronet, in the first year of Charles II., with all the Marys and Elizabeths they had married; forming altogether two handsome duodecimo pages, and concluding with the arms and motto: "Principal seat, Kellynch Hall, in the county of Somerset," and Sir Walter's handwriting again in the finale: "Heir-presumptive, William Walter Elliot, Esq., great-grandson of the second Sir Walter."
Vanity was the beginning and end of Sir Walter Elliot's character—vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome in his youth, and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man. Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did, nor could the valet of any new-made lord be more delighted with the place he held in society. He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion.
His good looks and his rank had a fair claim on his attachment, since to them he must have owed a wife of very superior character to anything deserved by his own. Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable, whose judgment and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot, had never required indulgence afterwards. Three girls, however—the two eldest sixteen and fourteen—were an awful legacy for a mother to bequeath, an awful charge rather to confide, to the authority of a conceited, silly father. Fortunately, Lady Elliot had one very intimate friend, Lady Russell, a sensible, deserving woman, who had been brought, by strong attachment to herself, to settle close by her in the village of Kellynch; and on her kindness Lady Elliot mainly relied for the best help and maintenance of the good principles and instruction which she had been anxiously giving her daughters.
Elizabeth had succeeded at sixteen to all that was possible of her mother's rights and consequence; and being very handsome, and very like himself, her influence had always been great, and they had gone on together most happily. His two other children were of very inferior value. Mary had acquired a little artificial importance by becoming Mrs. Charles Musgrove; but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister. To Lady Russell, indeed, she was a most dear and highly valued god-daughter, favourite and friend. Lady Russell loved them all; but it was only in Anne that she could fancy the mother to revive again.
It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before; and, generally speaking, it is a time of life at which scarcely any charm is lost. It was so with Elizabeth, still the same handsome Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago; and Sir Walter might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age, or, at least, be deemed only half a fool for thinking himself and Elizabeth as blooming as ever, amid the wreck of the good looks of everybody else.
Elizabeth did not quite equal her father in personal contentment. She had the consciousness of being nine-and-twenty to give her some regrets and some apprehensions. Moreover, she had been disappointed by the heir-presumptive, the very William Walter Elliot, Esq., whose rights had been so generously supported by her father. Soon after Lady Elliot's death, Sir Walter had sought Mr. Elliot's society, and had introduced him to Elizabeth, who was quite ready to marry him. But despite the assiduity of the baronet, the younger man let the acquaintance drop, and married a rich woman of inferior birth, for whom, at the present time (the summer of 1814), Elizabeth was wearing black ribbons.
Anne, too, had had her disappointment. Eight years ago, before she had lost her bloom, when, in fact, she had been an extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste and feeling added, she had fallen in love with Captain Wentworth, a young naval officer who had distinguished himself in the action off Domingo; but her father and Lady Russell had frowned upon the match, and, persuaded chiefly by the arguments of the latter that it would be prejudicial to the professional interests of her lover, who had still his fortune to make, she had rather weakly submitted to have the engagement broken off. But though he had angrily cast her out of his heart, she still loved him, having in the meantime rejected Charles Musgrove, who subsequently consoled himself by marrying her sister Mary. So that when her father's embarrassed affairs compelled him to let Kellynch Hall to Admiral Croft, an eminent seaman who had fought at Trafalgar, and had happened to marry a sister of Captain Wentworth, she could not help thinking, with a gentle sigh, as she walked along her favourite grove: "A few months more, and he, perhaps, may be walking here."
II.—Anne Elliot and her Old Lover
Sir Walter and Elizabeth went to Bath, and settled themselves in a good house in Camden Place, while it was arranged that Anne should divide her time between Uppercross Cottage—where Mr. and Mrs. Charles Musgrove lived—and Kellynch Lodge, and come on from the latter house to Bath when Lady Russell was prepared to take her. Sir Walter had included in his party a Mrs. Clay, a young widow, with whom, despite the fact that she had freckles and a projecting tooth, and was the daughter of Mr. Shepherd, the family solicitor, Elizabeth had recently struck up a great friendship. Anne had tried to warn her sister against this attractive and seemingly designing young woman, but her advice had not been taken in good part; and she had to content herself with hoping that, though her suspicion had been resented, it might yet be remembered.
At Uppercross she found things very little altered. The
Musgroves saw too much of one another. The two families were so continually meeting, so much in the habit of running in and out of each other's houses at all hours, that their various members inevitably found much to complain of in one another's conduct. These complaints were brought to Anne, who was treated with such confidence by all parties that if she had not been a very discreet young lady she might have considerably increased the difficulties of the situation. Mary she found as selfish, as querulous, as ready to think herself ailing, as lacking in sense and understanding, as unable to manage her children as ever.
Charles Musgrove was civil and agreeable; in sense and temper he was undoubtedly superior to his wife, though neither his powers nor his conversation were remarkable. He did nothing with much zeal but sport; and his time was otherwise trifled away without benefit from books or anything else. He had, however, excellent spirits, which never seemed much affected by his wife's occasional moroseness; and he bore with her unreasonableness sometimes to Anne's admiration. As for the Miss Musgroves, Henrietta and Louisa, young ladies of nineteen and twenty, they were living to be fashionable, happy and merry. Their dress had every advantage, their faces were pretty, their spirits good, their manners unembarrassed and pleasant; they were of consequence at home, and favourites abroad.
The Crofts took possession of Kellynch Hall with true naval alertness, and, naturally enough, intercourse was soon established between them and the Musgroves. Soon it was known that the admiral's brother-in-law, Captain Wentworth, had come to stop with them; and one day he made the inevitable call at the Cottage on his way to shoot with Charles. It was soon over. Anne's eyes half met his; a bow, a courtesy passed. He talked to Mary, said all that was right, said something to the Miss Musgroves, enough to mark an easy footing. Charles showed himself at the window, all was ready, their visitor had bowed and was gone; the Miss Musgroves were gone, too, suddenly resolving to walk to the end of the village with the sportsmen.
She had seen him; they had met. They had been once more in the same room. Now, how were his sentiments to be read? On one question she was soon spared all suspense; for, after the Miss Musgroves had returned and finished their visit at the Cottage, she had this spontaneous information from Mary: "Captain Wentworth is not very gallant by you, Anne, though he was so attentive to me. Henrietta asked him what he thought of you. 'You were so altered he should not have known you again,' he said."
Doubtless it was so; and she could take no revenge, for he was not altered, or not for the worse. No; the years which had destroyed her bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in no respect lessening his personal advantages.
"Altered beyond his knowledge." Frederick Wentworth had used such words, or something like them, but without an idea that they would be carried round to her. He had thought her wretchedly altered, and, in the first moment of appeal, had spoken as he felt. He had not forgiven Anne Elliot. She had used him ill—deserted and disappointed him; and worse, in doing so had shown weakness and timidity. He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since whom he thought her equal. It was now his object to marry. He was rich, and, being turned on shore, intended to settle as soon as he could be tempted. "Yes, here I am, Sophia," he said to his sister, "quite ready to make a foolish match. Anybody between fifteen and thirty may have me for the asking. A little beauty, and a few smiles, and a few compliments to the navy, and I am a lost man."
It looked, indeed, as if he would soon be lost, either to Louisa or to Henrietta. It was soon Uppercross with him almost every day. The Musgroves could hardly be more ready to invite than he to come; and as for Henrietta and Louisa, they both seemed so entirely occupied by him that nothing but the continued appearance of the most perfect goodwill between themselves could have made it credible that they were not decided rivals. Indeed, Mr. Charles Hayter, a young curate with some expectations, who was a cousin of the Musgroves, began to get uneasy. Previous to Captain Wentworth's introduction, there had been a considerable appearance of attachment between Henrietta and himself; but now he seemed to be very much forgotten.
III.—Love-making at Lyme Regis
At this interesting juncture the scene of action was changed from Uppercross to Lyme Regis, owing to Captain Wentworth's receipt of a letter from his old friend Captain Harville, announcing his being settled at this latter place. Captain Wentworth, after a visit to Lyme Regis, gave so interesting an account of the adjacent country that the young people were all wild to see it. Accordingly, it was agreed to stay the night there, and not to be expected back till the next day's dinner.
They found Captain Harville a tall, dark man, with a sensible, benevolent countenance: a little lame, but unaffected, warm and obliging. Mrs. Harville, a degree less polished than her husband, seemed to have the same good feelings and cordiality; while Captain Benwick, who was the youngest of the three naval officers and a comparatively little man, had a pleasing face and a melancholic air, just as he ought to have. He had been engaged to Captain Harville's sister, and was now mourning her loss. They had been a year or two waiting for fortune and promotion. Fortune came, his prize-money as lieutenant being great; promotion, too, came at last; but Fanny Harville did not live to know it. She had died the preceding summer while he was at sea; and the friendship between him and the Harvilles having been augmented by the event which closed all their views of alliance, he was now living with them entirely. A man of retiring manners and of sedentary pursuits, with a decided taste for reading, he was drawn a good deal to Anne Elliot during this excursion, and talked to her of poetry, of Scott and Byron, of "Marmion" and "The Lady of the Lake," of "The Giaour" and "The Bride of Abydos." He repeated with such feeling the various lines of Byron which imaged a broken heart, or a mind destroyed by wretchedness, and looked so entirely as if he meant to be understood, that Anne ventured to recommend to him a larger allowance of prose in his daily study.
Another interesting person whom the Uppercross party met at Lyme was Mr. Elliot. He did not recognise Anne and her friends, or did they till he had left the town find out who he was; but he was obviously struck with Anne, and gazed at her with a degree of earnest admiration which she could not be insensible of. She was looking remarkably well, her very regular, very pretty features having the bloom and freshness of youth restored by the fine wind which had been blowing on her complexion, and by the animation of eye which it had also produced.
It was evident that the gentleman admired her exceedingly. Captain Wentworth looked round at her, in a way which showed his noticing of it. He gave her a momentary glance, a glance of brightness, which seemed to say: "That man is struck with you; and even I, at this moment, see something like Anne Elliot again."
But the folly of Louisa Musgrove, and the consequences that attended it, soon obliterated from Anne's memory all such recollections as these. Louisa, who was walking with Captain Wentworth, persuaded him to jump her down the steps on the Lower Cob. Contrary to his advice, she ran up the steps to be jumped down again; and, being too precipitate by a second, fell on the pavement and was taken up senseless. Fortunately, no bones were broken, the only injury was to the head; and Captain and Mrs. Harville insisting on her being taken to their house, she recovered health so steadily that before Anne and Lady Russell left Kellynch Lodge for Bath there was talk of the possibility of her being able to be removed to Uppercross.
When the accident occurred, Captain Wentworth's attitude was very much that of the lover. "Oh, God! that I had not given way at the fatal moment!" he cried. "Had I but done as I ought! But so eager and so resolute; dear, sweet Louisa!"
Anne feared there could not be a doubt as to what would follow the recovery; but she was amused to hear Charles Musgrove tell how much Captain Benwick admired herself—"elegance, sweetness, beauty!" Oh, there was no end to Miss Elliot's charms!
Another surprise awaited her at Bath, where she found her father and sister Elizabeth happy in the submission and society of the heir-presumptive. He had explained away all the appearance of neglect on his own side as originating in misapprehension. He had never had an idea of throwing himself off; he had feared that he was thrown off, and delicacy had kept him silent. These explanations having been made, Sir Walter took him by the hand, affirming that "Mr. Elliot was better to look at than most men, and that he had no objection to being seen with him anywhere."
The gentleman called one evening, soon after Anne's arrival in the town; and his little start of surprise on being introduced to her showed that he was not more astonished than delighted at meeting, in the character of Sir Walter's daughter, the young lady who had so strongly struck his fancy at Lyme. He stopped an hour, and his tone, his expressions, his choice of subject, all showed the operation of a sensible, discerning mind.
Still, Anne could not understand what his object was in seeking this reconciliation. Even the engagement of Louisa Musgrove to Captain Benwick, which was announced to her by Mary about a month later, seemed more susceptible of explanation—had not the young couple been thrown together for weeks?—than this determination of Mr. Elliot to become friends with relations from whom he could derive no possible advantage.
Following close on the news of Louisa's engagement came the arrival at Bath of Admiral and Mrs. Croft. He had come for the cure of his gout; and he was soon followed by Captain Wentworth, who, for the first time since their second meeting, deliberately sought Anne out at a concert which she and her people were attending. The most significant part of their conversation was his comment on Louisa's engagement to Captain Benwick. He frankly confessed he could not understand it as far as it concerned Benwick.
"A man like him, in his situation, with a heart pierced, wounded, almost broken! Fanny Harville was a very superior person, and his attachment to her was indeed attachment. A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not."
But the captain was prevented from saying much more by the assiduous attention which Mr. Elliot paid to her at this concert.
"Very long," said he, "has the name of Anne Elliot possessed a charm over my fancy; and, if I dared, I would breathe my wishes that the name might never change."
Such language might almost be taken to be a proposal; but Anne was too much interested in watching Captain Wentworth to pay much attention to it.
She had still in mind the words which her sometime lover had spoken at the concert, when a visit she had paid to an invalid friend, an old schoolfellow of hers called Mrs. Smith, gave her complete enlightenment as to the character and present objects of Mr. Elliot. Mrs. Smith, who was a widow, and whose husband had been a bosom friend of Mr. Elliot's, described him as "a man without heart or conscience, a designing, wary, cold-blooded being, who thinks only of himself; who for his own interest or ease would be guilty of any cruelty, or any treachery that could be perpetrated without risk of damaging his general character." She told how he had encouraged her husband, to whom he was under great obligations, to indulge in the most ruinous expense, and then, on his death, caused her endless difficulties and distress by refusing to act as his executor. She also informed Anne that he had married his first wife, whom he treated badly, entirely on account of her fortune, and that, though among the present reasons for continuing the acquaintance with his relations was a genuine attachment to herself, his original intention in seeking a reconciliation with Sir Walter had been to secure for himself the reversion of the baronetcy by preventing the holder of the title from falling into the snares of Mrs. Clay.
The next day a party of the Musgroves appeared at Camden Place. Mrs. Musgrove, senior, had some old friends at Bath whom she wanted to see; Mrs. Charles Musgrove could not bear to be left behind in any excursion which her husband was taking; Henrietta, who had arrived at an understanding with Mr. Charles Hayter, had come to buy wedding clothes for herself and Louisa; and Captain Harville had come on business. It was on a visit to the Musgroves, who were stopping at the White Hart Hotel, that Anne had a momentous conversation with the last-named person. The captain had been reverting to the topic of his friend Benwick's engagement, and Anne had been saying that women did not forget as readily as men.
"No, no," said Harville, "it is not man's nature to forget. I will not allow it to be more man's nature than woman's to be inconstant and to forget those they do love or have loved. I believe the reverse. I believe in a true analogy between our bodily frames and our mental; and that as our bodily frames are stronger than yours, so are our feelings."
"Your feelings may be the stronger," replied Anne, "but the same spirit of analogy will authorise me to assert that ours are the more tender. Man is more robust than woman, but he is not longer lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature of their attachment."
Captain Wentworth, who was sitting down at a writing-table in another part of the room, engaged in correspondence, seemed very much interested in this conversation; and a few minutes later he placed before Anne, with eyes of glowing entreaty, a letter addressed to "Miss A. E."
"I offer myself to you again," he wrote, "with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death; I have loved none but you."
To such a declaration there could be but one answer; and soon Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot were exchanging again those feelings and those promises which once before had seemed to secure everything, but which had been followed by so many years of division and estrangement.
This time there was no opposition to the engagement. Captain Wentworth's wealth, personal appearance, and well-sounding name enabled Sir Walter to prepare his pen, with a very good grace, for the insertion of the marriage in the volume of honour.
As for Mr. Elliot, the news of his cousin Anne's engagement burst on him with unexpected suddenness. He soon quitted Bath; and on Mrs. Clay's leaving it shortly afterwards and being next heard of as established under his protection in London, it was evident how double a game he had been playing, and how determined he was to save himself at all events from being cut out by one artful woman at least.
* * * * *
HONORE DE BALZAC
Honore de Balzac was born May 20, 1799, at Tours, in France, and died at Paris, Aug. 18, 1850. His early life was filled with hard work and oppressed by poverty. He attained success by the publication of "Les Derniers Chouans" in 1829, and he soon established his fame as the leader of realistic fiction. In spite of frequent coarseness, he stands for all time as a great writer by reason of his powers of character analysis. "Eugenie Grandet" is, justly, one of the most famous of Balzac's novels. As a study of avarice, in the character of old Grandet, it is superb, and the picture of manners in the country town of Saumur is painted as only a supreme artist like Balzac could paint it. The pathos of Eugenie's wasted life, the long suffering of Mme. Grandet, the craft and cunning of the Des Grassins and the Cruchots, the fidelity of Nanon, and the frank egotism of Charles Grandet—all these things combine to make the book a masterpiece of French fiction. "Eugenie Grandet" was written in the full vigour of Balzac's genius in 1833, and was published in the first volume of "Scenes of Provincial Life" in 1834, and finally included in the "Human Comedy" in 1843.
I.—The Rich Miser of Saumur
The town of Saumur is old-fashioned and in every way "provincial." Its houses are dark within, its shops, undecorated, recall the workshops of the Middle Ages. Its inhabitants gossip freely, according to the fashion of country towns, and the arrival of a stranger in the town is an important item of news. The trade of Saumur depends upon the vineyards of the district. The prosperity of landowners, vinegrowers, coopers, and innkeepers rises or falls according to whether the season is good or bad for the grapes.
A certain house in Saumur, larger and more sombre than most, and once the residence of nobility, belonged to M. Grandet.
This M. Grandet was a master cooper in 1789, a good man of business with a remarkable head for accounts. He prospered in the Revolution, bought the confiscated Church lands at a low price, married the daughter of a wealthy timber merchant, was made mayor under the consulate, became Monsieur Grandet when the empire was established, and every year grew wealthier and more miserly.
In 1817 M. Grandet was 68, his wife 47, and their only child, Eugenie, was 21.
A careful, cunning, silent man was M. Grandet, who loved his gold and to get the better in a bargain beyond all else. He cultivated 100 acres of vineyard, had thirteen little farms, an old abbey, and 127 acres of grazing land, and owned the house he lived in. The town estimated old Grandet's income to be five or six million francs, but only two people were in a position to guess with any chance of probability, and these were M. Cruchot the notary, and M. des Grassins the banker, and they disclosed no secrets.
Both M. Cruchot and M. des Grassins were men of considerable importance in Saumur, and enjoyed the right of entry to M. Grandet's house—a privilege extended to only a very few of their neighbours.
There was rivalry between these two families of the Cruchots and Des Grassins, rivalry for the hand of Grandet's daughter, Eugenie. Cruchot's nephew was a rising lawyer, already, at the age of thirty-three, a president of the court of first instance, and Cruchot's brother was an abbe of Tours. The hopes of the Cruchots were centred on the successful marriage of the nephew (who called himself Cruchot de Bonfons, after an estate he had bought) with Grandet's heiress.
Mme. des Grassins was equally hopeful and indefatigable on behalf of her son Adolphe.
The whole town knew of the struggle between these two families, and watched it with interest. Would Mlle. Grandet marry M. Adolphe des Grassins or M. le President? There were others who declared the old cooper was rich enough to marry his daughter to a peer in France.
With all his wealth and the fortune his wife brought him, M. Grandet lived as meanly and cheaply as he could. His house was cold and dreary, and his table was supplied with poultry, eggs, butter and corn by his tenants. M. Grandet never paid visits or invited people to dinner.
One servant, Nanon, a big, strong woman of five feet eight inches, did all the work of the house, the cooking and washing, the baking and cleaning, and watched over her master's interests with an absolute fidelity. The strength of Nanon appealed to M. Grandet when he was on the lookout for a housekeeper before his marriage, and the girl, out of work and wretched, had never lost her gratitude for having been taken into his service. For twenty-eight years Nanon had worked early and late for the Grandets, and on a yearly wage of seventy livres had accumulated more money than any other servant in Saumur. She was one of the family, spending her evenings in the sitting-room of her employers, where a single candle was all that was allowed for illumination. M. Grandet also decided that no fire must be lit in the sitting-room from April 1 to October 31, and every morning he went into the kitchen and doled out the bread, sugar, and other provisions for the day to Nanon, and candles to his daughter.
As for Mme. Grandet, her gentleness and meekness could not stand up against her husband's force of character. She had brought more than 300,000 francs to her husband, and yet had no money save an occasional six francs for pocket-money, and the only certain source of income was four or five louis which Grandet made the Belgian merchants, who bought his wine, pay over and above the stipulated price. Often enough he would borrow some of this money even. Mme. Grandet was too gentle to revolt, but her pride forbade her ever asking a sou from her husband. With her daughter she attended to the household linen, and found compensation for the unhappiness of her lot in the consolations of religion, and also in the company of Eugenie. It never occurred to M. Grandet that his wife suffered, or had reason to suffer. He was making money; every year his riches increased. He paid for sittings in church, and gave his daughter five francs a month for a dress allowance. That his wife hardly ever left the house except occasionally to go to church, that her dress was invariably the same, and that she never asked him for anything, never troubled M. Grandet. Avarice was his consuming passion, and it was satisfactory to him that no one attempted to cross him.
Twice a year, on her birthday, and on the day of her patron saint, Eugenie received some rare gold coin from her father, and then he would take pleasure in looking at her store—for these coins were not to be spent. Old M. Grandet liked to think that his daughter was learning to appreciate gold, and that in giving her these precious coins he was not parting with his money, but only putting it in another box.
II.—Eugenie's Springtime of Love
On Eugenie's twenty-third birthday, November, 1819, the three Cruchots—the notary, the abbe, and the magistrate—and the three Des Grassins—M. des Grassins, Mme. des Grassins, and their son Adolphe— hastened to pay their respects to the heiress as soon as dinner was over. Mr. Grandet, in honour of the occasion, lit a second candle in the sitting-room. "It is Eugenie's birthday, and we must have an illumination," he remarked. The Cruchots all brought handsome bouquets of flowers for Eugenie, but their gifts were eclipsed by a showy workbox fitted with trumpery gilded silver fittings, which Mme. des Grassins presented, and which filled Eugenie with delight. "Adolphe brought it from Paris," whispered Mme. des Grassins in the girl's ear. Old Grandet quite understood that both families were in pursuit of his daughter for the sake of her fortune, and made up his mind that neither of them should have her.
They all sat down to play lotto at half-past eight, except old Grandet, who never played any game. Just as Mme. Grandet had won a pool of sixteen sous, a heavy knock at the front door startled everybody in the room. Nanon took up one of the candles and went to the door, followed by Grandet. Presently they returned with a young man, good-looking, and fashionably dressed. This was Charles Grandet, the son of the old cooper's brother, a merchant in Paris. The young man brought a good many trunks, and while Nanon saw to the bestowal of his luggage, all the lotto players looked at the visitor. Old Grandet took the only remaining candle from the table to read a long letter which his nephew had brought. Charles had set off from Paris at his father's bidding to pay a visit to his uncle at Saumur. He was a dandy, and his appearance was in striking contrast to the attire of the Cruchots and the Des Grassins. Moreover, he already had had a love affair with a great lady whom he called Annette, and he was a good shot. Altogether, Charles Grandet was a vain and selfish youth, conscious of his superiority over the unfashionable provincials of Saumur, but determined at all costs to enjoy himself as best he could.
As for Eugenie, it seemed to her that she had never seen such a perfect gentleman as this cousin from Paris, and, at the risk of incurring her father's wrath, succeeded in persuading Nanon to do what she could to make things comfortable for their guest in the cold and dreary house.
Nanon was milking the cow when Eugenie preferred her kindly and considerate request, and the faithful serving-maid at once obligingly promised to save a little cream from her master's supply of milk. The Cruchots and Des Grassins retired discomfited before the presence of Charles Grandet. The young Parisian, brought up in luxury by his father, could not understand why he should have been sent to this outlandish place, and he was the more mystified by his uncle telling him they would talk over "important business" on the morrow. Then, indeed, in plain and brutal words he learnt the contents of the fatal letter he had brought from his father. It was twenty-three years since old Grandet had seen his brother in Paris, but this brother had become a rich man, too; of that old Grandet was aware. And now Victor-Ange-Guillaume Grandet wrote to him from Paris, saying: "By the time that this letter is in your hands, I shall cease to exist. The failure of my stockbroker and my notary has ruined me, and while I owe nearly four million francs, my assets are only a quarter of my debts. I cannot survive the disgrace of bankruptcy. I know you cannot satisfy my creditors, but you can be a father to my unhappy child, Charles, who is now alone in the world. Lay everything before him, and tell him that in my work he can restore the fortune he has lost. My failure is due neither to dishonesty nor to carelessness, but to causes beyond my control."
Old Grandet told his nephew plainly that his father was dead, and even showed him a paragraph already in the papers referring to the ruin and suicide of the unhappy man—so quickly is such news spread abroad.
For the moment, his penniless state was nothing to the young man; the loss of his father was the only grief.
Old Grandet let him alone, and in a day or two Charles gathered up strength to face the situation.
Mme. Grandet and Eugenie were full of tender sympathy for the unhappy young man, and this sympathy in Eugenie's case ripened into love. One day, when Eugenie passed her cousin's chamber, the door stood ajar; she thrust it open, and saw that Charles had fallen asleep in his chair. She entered and found out from a letter her cousin had written to Annette, which she read as it lay on the table, that he was in want of money—for old Grandet was resolved to do nothing for his nephew beyond paying his passage to Nantes. The next night she brought him all her store of gold coins, worth six thousand francs. Her confidence and devoted affection touched Charles deeply. He accepted the money, and in return gave into her keeping a small leather box containing portraits of his father and mother, richly set in gold. Eugenie promised to guard this box until he returned.
For it was decided that Charles Grandet must go to the Indies to seek his fortune. He sold his jewels and finery, and paid his personal debts in Paris, and waited on at Saumur till the ship should be ready to sail for Nantes.
And in those few weeks came the springtime of love for Eugenie.
Old Grandet was too busy to trouble about his nephew, who was so shortly to be got rid of, and both Nanon and Mme. Grandet liked and pities the young man.
Charles Grandet, on his side, was conscious that his Parisian friends would not have shown him a like kindness, and the purity and truth of Eugenie's love were something he had not hitherto experienced.
The cousins would snatch a few moments together in the early morning, and once, only a few days before his departure, they met in the long, dark passage at the foot of the staircase. "Dear cousin, I cannot expect to return for many years," Charles said sadly. "We must not consider ourselves bound in any way."
"You love me?" was all Eugenie asked. And on his reply, she added: "Then I will wait for you, Charles."
Presently his arms were round her waist. Eugenie made no resistance, and, pressed to his heart, received her lover's kiss.
"Dear Eugenie, a cousin is better than a brother; he can marry you," said Charles.
Thus the lovers vowed themselves to each other. Then came the terrible hour of parting, and Charles Grandet sailed from Nantes for the Indies; and the old house at Saumur suddenly seemed to Eugenie to have become very empty and bare indeed.
III.—M. Grandet's Discovery
Grandet, on the advice of M. Cruchot, the notary, saved the honour of his dead brother. There was no act of bankruptcy. M. Cruchot, to gain favour with old Grandet, proposed to go to Paris to look after the dead man's affairs, but suggested the payment of expenses. It was M. des Grassins, however, who went to Paris, for he undertook to make no charge; and the banker not only attended to Guillaume Grandet's creditors, but stayed on in Paris—having been made a deputy—and fell in love with an actress. Adolphe joined his father, and achieved an equally unpleasant reputation.
The property of Guillaume Grandet realised enough money to pay the creditors a dividend of 47 per cent. They agreed that they would deposit, upon certain conditions, their bills with an accredited notary, and each one said to himself that Grandet of Saumur would pay.
Grandet of Saumur, however, did not pay. Endless delays were forthcoming, and Des Grassins was always holding out promises that were not fulfilled.
As years went by some of the creditors gave up all hope of payment, others died; till at the end of five years the deficit stood at 1,200,000 francs.
In the meantime, a terrible blow had fallen on Mine. Grandet. On January 1, 1820, old Grandet, according to his wont, presented his daughter with a gold coin, and asked to see her store of gold pieces.
All Eugenie would tell him was that her money was gone. In vain the old man stormed. Eugenie kept on saying: "I am of age; the money was mine."
Grandet raved at his wife, who, weary and ill, gave him no satisfaction. In fact, Mine. Grandet's character had become stronger through her daughter's trouble, and she refused to support her husband's angry demands.
Then old Grandet ordered Eugenie to retire to her own apartment. "Do you hear what I say? Go!" he shouted.
Soon all the town knew that Eugenie was a prisoner in her own room, seeing no one but her mother and old Nanon; and public opinion, knowing nothing of the cause of the quarrel, blamed the old cooper. For six months this state of things lasted, and Mine. Grandet's illness became steadily worse. M. Cruchot, the notary, warned old Grandet that, in the event of his wife's death, he would have to give an account to Eugenie of her mother's share in the joint estate; and that Eugenie could then, if she chose, demand her mother's fortune, to which she would be entitled.
This seriously alarmed the avaricious old cooper, and he made up his mind to a reconciliation, for his wife assured him she would never get better while Eugenie was treated so badly. Eugenie and her mother were talking of Charles, from whom no letter had come, and getting what pleasure they could from looking at the portraits of his parents, when old Grandet burst into the room. Catching sight of the gold fittings, he snatched up the dressing-case, and would have wrenched off the precious metal. "Father, father," Eugenie called out, "this case is not yours; it is not mine, it is a sacred trust! It belongs to my unhappy cousin. Do not pull it to pieces!"
Old Grandet took no notice.
"Oh, have pity; you are killing me!" said the mother.
Eugenie caught up a knife, and her cry brought Nanon on the scene.
"Father, if you cut away a single piece of gold, I shall stab myself. You are killing my mother, and you will kill me, too."
Old Grandet for once was frightened. He tried to make it up with his wife, he kissed Eugenie, and even promised that Eugenie should marry her cousin if she wanted to.
Mme. Grandet lingered till October, and then died. "There is no happiness to be had except in heaven; some day you will understand that," she said to her daughter just before she passed away.
M. Cruchot was called in after Mine. Grandet's death, and in his presence Eugenie agreed to sign a deed renouncing her claim to her mother's fortune while her father lived. She signed it without making any objection, to old Grandet's great relief, and he promised to allow her 100 francs a month. But the old man himself was failing. Bit by bit he relinquished his many activities, but lived on till seven years had passed. Then he died, his eyes kindling at the end at the sight of the priest's sacred vessels of silver. His brother's creditors were still unpaid. Eugenie was informed by M. Cruchot that her property amounted to 17,000,000 francs. "Where can my cousin be?" she asked herself. "If only we knew where the young gentleman was, I would set off myself and find him," Nanon said to her. The poor heiress was very lonely. The faithful Nanon, now fifty-nine, married Antoine Cornoiller, the bailiff of the estates, and these two, who had known one another for years, lived in the house.
The Cruchots still hoped to marry M. le President to Eugenie, and every birthday the magistrate brought a handsome bouquet. But the heart of Eugenie remained steadfast to her cousin.
"Ah, Nanon," she would say, "why has he never written to me once all these years?"
Mme. des Grassins, unwilling to see the triumph of her old rivals, the Cruchots, went about saying that the heiress of the Grandet millions would marry a peer of France rather than a magistrate. Eugenie, however, thought neither of the peer nor of the magistrate. She gave away enormous sums in charity, and lived on quietly in the dreary old house. Her wealth brought her no comfort, her only treasures were the two portraits left in her charge. Yet she went on loving, and believed herself loved in return.
IV.—The Honour of the Grandets
Charles Grandet, in the course of eight years, met with considerable success in his trading ventures. He saw very quickly that the way to make money in the tropics, as in Europe, was to go in for buying and selling men, and so he plunged into the slave trade of Africa, and under the name of Carl Shepherd was known in the East Indies, in the United States, and on the African coasts. His plan was to get rich as speedily as possible, and then return to Paris and live respected. For a time—that is, on his first voyage—the thought of Eugenie gave him infinite pleasure; but soon all recollection of Saumur was blotted out, and his cousin became merely a person to whom he owed 6,000 francs.
In 1827, Charles returned to Bordeaux with 1,900,000 francs in gold dust. On board the ship he became very intimate with the d'Aubrions, an old aristocratic but impoverished family. Mme. d'Aubrion was anxious to secure Charles Grandet for her only daughter, and they all travelled to Paris together. Mme. d'Aubrion pointed out to Grandet that her influence would get him a court appointment, with title of Comte d'Aubrion; and Annette, with whom Grandet took counsel, approved the alliance.
Des Grassins, hearing of the wanderer's return, called, and, anxious to get some remuneration for all the trouble he had taken, explained that 300,000 francs were still owing to his father's creditors. But Charles Grandet answered coolly that he had nothing to do with his father's debts.
Des Grassins, however, wrote to his wife that he would yet make the dead Guillaume Grandet a bankrupt, and that would stop the marriage, and Mme. des Grassins showed the letter to Eugenie.
Eugenie had already heard from her cousin. Charles Grandet sent a cheque for 8,000 francs, asked for the return of his dressing-case, and casually mentioned that he was going to make a brilliant marriage with Mlle. d'Aubrion, for whom he admitted he had not the slightest affection.
This was the shipwreck of all Eugenie's hopes—the utter and complete ruin.
"My mother was right," she said, weeping. "To suffer, and then die—that is our lot!"
That same evening when M. Cruchot de Bonfons, the magistrate, called on Eugenie, she promised to marry him on condition that he claimed none of the rights of marriage over her, and that he would immediately go and settle all her uncle's creditors in full.
M. de Bonfons, only too thankful to win the heiress of the Grandet millions on any terms, agreed, and set off at once for Paris with a cheque for 1,500,000 francs. He carried a letter from Eugenie to Charles Grandet, a letter that contained no word of reproach, but announced the full discharge of his father's debts.
Charles was astonished to hear from M. de Bonfons of his forthcoming marriage with Eugenie, and he was dumfounded when the president told him that Mlle. Grandet possessed 17,000,000 francs.
Mme. d'Aubrion interrupted the interview; her husband's objection to Grandet's marriage with his daughter was removed with the payment of the long-standing creditors and the restoration of the family honour of the Grandets.
M. de Bonfons, who now dropped the name of Cruchot, married Eugenie, and shortly afterwards was made Councillor to the Court Royal at Angers. His loyalty to the government was rewarded with further office. M. de Bonfons became deputy of Saumur; and then, dreaming of higher honours, perhaps a peerage, he died.
M. de Bonfons always respected his wife's request that they should live apart; with remarkable cunning he had drafted the marriage contract, in which, "In case there was no issue of the marriage, husband and wife bequeathed to each other all their property, without exception or reservation." Death disappointed his schemes. Mme. de Bonfons was left a widow three years after marriage, with an income of 800,000 livres.