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  • SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austen (1811)

  • Chapter 1

  • The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex.

  • Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their

  • property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to

  • engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance.

  • The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and

  • who for many years of his life, had a constant companion and housekeeper in his

  • sister.

  • But her death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great alteration

  • in his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received into his house the

  • family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood,

  • the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to

  • bequeath it.

  • In the society of his nephew and niece, and their children, the old Gentleman's days

  • were comfortably spent. His attachment to them all increased.

  • The constant attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood to his wishes, which

  • proceeded not merely from interest, but from goodness of heart, gave him every

  • degree of solid comfort which his age could

  • receive; and the cheerfulness of the children added a relish to his existence.

  • By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son: by his present lady, three

  • daughters.

  • The son, a steady respectable young man, was amply provided for by the fortune of

  • his mother, which had been large, and half of which devolved on him on his coming of

  • age.

  • By his own marriage, likewise, which happened soon afterwards, he added to his

  • wealth.

  • To him therefore the succession to the Norland estate was not so really important

  • as to his sisters; for their fortune, independent of what might arise to them

  • from their father's inheriting that property, could be but small.

  • Their mother had nothing, and their father only seven thousand pounds in his own

  • disposal; for the remaining moiety of his first wife's fortune was also secured to

  • her child, and he had only a life-interest in it.

  • The old gentleman died: his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave as

  • much disappointment as pleasure.

  • He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful, as to leave his estate from his

  • nephew;--but he left it to him on such terms as destroyed half the value of the

  • bequest.

  • Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for the sake of his wife and daughters than for

  • himself or his son;--but to his son, and his son's son, a child of four years old,

  • it was secured, in such a way, as to leave

  • to himself no power of providing for those who were most dear to him, and who most

  • needed a provision by any charge on the estate, or by any sale of its valuable

  • woods.

  • The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child, who, in occasional visits with

  • his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained on the affections of his uncle,

  • by such attractions as are by no means

  • unusual in children of two or three years old; an imperfect articulation, an earnest

  • desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to

  • outweigh all the value of all the attention

  • which, for years, he had received from his niece and her daughters.

  • He meant not to be unkind, however, and, as a mark of his affection for the three

  • girls, he left them a thousand pounds a- piece.

  • Mr. Dashwood's disappointment was, at first, severe; but his temper was cheerful

  • and sanguine; and he might reasonably hope to live many years, and by living

  • economically, lay by a considerable sum

  • from the produce of an estate already large, and capable of almost immediate

  • improvement. But the fortune, which had been so tardy in

  • coming, was his only one twelvemonth.

  • He survived his uncle no longer; and ten thousand pounds, including the late

  • legacies, was all that remained for his widow and daughters.

  • His son was sent for as soon as his danger was known, and to him Mr. Dashwood

  • recommended, with all the strength and urgency which illness could command, the

  • interest of his mother-in-law and sisters.

  • Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the rest of the family; but he

  • was affected by a recommendation of such a nature at such a time, and he promised to

  • do every thing in his power to make them comfortable.

  • His father was rendered easy by such an assurance, and Mr. John Dashwood had then

  • leisure to consider how much there might prudently be in his power to do for them.

  • He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted and rather

  • selfish is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected; for he

  • conducted himself with propriety in the discharge of his ordinary duties.

  • Had he married a more amiable woman, he might have been made still more respectable

  • than he was:--he might even have been made amiable himself; for he was very young when

  • he married, and very fond of his wife.

  • But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature of himself;--more narrow-minded

  • and selfish.

  • When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated within himself to increase the

  • fortunes of his sisters by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece.

  • He then really thought himself equal to it.

  • The prospect of four thousand a-year, in addition to his present income, besides the

  • remaining half of his own mother's fortune, warmed his heart, and made him feel capable

  • of generosity.-- "Yes, he would give them

  • three thousand pounds: it would be liberal and handsome!

  • It would be enough to make them completely easy.

  • Three thousand pounds! he could spare so considerable a sum with little

  • inconvenience."-- He thought of it all day long, and for many days successively, and

  • he did not repent.

  • No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John Dashwood, without sending

  • any notice of her intention to her mother- in-law, arrived with her child and their

  • attendants.

  • No one could dispute her right to come; the house was her husband's from the moment of

  • his father's decease; but the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the greater, and to

  • a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, with

  • only common feelings, must have been highly unpleasing;--but in HER mind there was a

  • sense of honor so keen, a generosity so romantic, that any offence of the kind, by

  • whomsoever given or received, was to her a source of immovable disgust.

  • Mrs. John Dashwood had never been a favourite with any of her husband's family;

  • but she had had no opportunity, till the present, of shewing them with how little

  • attention to the comfort of other people she could act when occasion required it.

  • So acutely did Mrs. Dashwood feel this ungracious behaviour, and so earnestly did

  • she despise her daughter-in-law for it, that, on the arrival of the latter, she

  • would have quitted the house for ever, had

  • not the entreaty of her eldest girl induced her first to reflect on the propriety of

  • going, and her own tender love for all her three children determined her afterwards to

  • stay, and for their sakes avoid a breach with their brother.

  • Elinor, this eldest daughter, whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength of

  • understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen,

  • to be the counsellor of her mother, and

  • enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness

  • of mind in Mrs. Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence.

  • She had an excellent heart;--her disposition was affectionate, and her

  • feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them: it was a knowledge which her

  • mother had yet to learn; and which one of

  • her sisters had resolved never to be taught.

  • Marianne's abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor's.

  • She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could

  • have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she

  • was everything but prudent.

  • The resemblance between her and her mother was strikingly great.

  • Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her sister's sensibility; but by Mrs. Dashwood

  • it was valued and cherished.

  • They encouraged each other now in the violence of their affliction.

  • The agony of grief which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed, was

  • sought for, was created again and again.

  • They gave themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in

  • every reflection that could afford it, and resolved against ever admitting consolation

  • in future.

  • Elinor, too, was deeply afflicted; but still she could struggle, she could exert

  • herself.

  • She could consult with her brother, could receive her sister-in-law on her arrival,

  • and treat her with proper attention; and could strive to rouse her mother to similar

  • exertion, and encourage her to similar forbearance.

  • Margaret, the other sister, was a good- humored, well-disposed girl; but as she had

  • already imbibed a good deal of Marianne's romance, without having much of her sense,

  • she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal

  • her sisters at a more advanced period of life.

  • >

  • SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austen (1811)

  • Chapter 2

  • Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress of Norland; and her mother and

  • sisters-in-law were degraded to the condition of visitors.

  • As such, however, they were treated by her with quiet civility; and by her husband

  • with as much kindness as he could feel towards anybody beyond himself, his wife,

  • and their child.

  • He really pressed them, with some earnestness, to consider Norland as their

  • home; and, as no plan appeared so eligible to Mrs. Dashwood as remaining there till

  • she could accommodate herself with a house

  • in the neighbourhood, his invitation was accepted.

  • A continuance in a place where everything reminded her of former delight, was exactly

  • what suited her mind.

  • In seasons of cheerfulness, no temper could be more cheerful than hers, or possess, in

  • a greater degree, that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself.

  • But in sorrow she must be equally carried away by her fancy, and as far beyond

  • consolation as in pleasure she was beyond alloy.

  • Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her husband intended to do for his

  • sisters.

  • To take three thousand pounds from the fortune of their dear little boy would be

  • impoverishing him to the most dreadful degree.

  • She begged him to think again on the subject.

  • How could he answer it to himself to rob his child, and his only child too, of so

  • large a sum?

  • And what possible claim could the Miss Dashwoods, who were related to him only by

  • half blood, which she considered as no relationship at all, have on his generosity

  • to so large an amount.

  • It was very well known that no affection was ever supposed to exist between the

  • children of any man by different marriages; and why was he to ruin himself, and their

  • poor little Harry, by giving away all his money to his half sisters?

  • "It was my father's last request to me," replied her husband, "that I should assist

  • his widow and daughters."

  • "He did not know what he was talking of, I dare say; ten to one but he was light-

  • headed at the time.

  • Had he been in his right senses, he could not have thought of such a thing as begging

  • you to give away half your fortune from your own child."

  • "He did not stipulate for any particular sum, my dear Fanny; he only requested me,

  • in general terms, to assist them, and make their situation more comfortable than it

  • was in his power to do.

  • Perhaps it would have been as well if he had left it wholly to myself.

  • He could hardly suppose I should neglect them.

  • But as he required the promise, I could not do less than give it; at least I thought so

  • at the time. The promise, therefore, was given, and must

  • be performed.

  • Something must be done for them whenever they leave Norland and settle in a new

  • home."

  • "Well, then, LET something be done for them; but THAT something need not be three

  • thousand pounds. Consider," she added, "that when the money

  • is once parted with, it never can return.

  • Your sisters will marry, and it will be gone for ever.

  • If, indeed, it could be restored to our poor little boy--"

  • "Why, to be sure," said her husband, very gravely, "that would make great difference.

  • The time may come when Harry will regret that so large a sum was parted with.

  • If he should have a numerous family, for instance, it would be a very convenient

  • addition." "To be sure it would."

  • "Perhaps, then, it would be better for all parties, if the sum were diminished one

  • half.--Five hundred pounds would be a prodigious increase to their fortunes!"

  • "Oh! beyond anything great!

  • What brother on earth would do half so much for his sisters, even if REALLY his

  • sisters! And as it is--only half blood!--But you

  • have such a generous spirit!"

  • "I would not wish to do any thing mean," he replied.

  • "One had rather, on such occasions, do too much than too little.

  • No one, at least, can think I have not done enough for them: even themselves, they can

  • hardly expect more."

  • "There is no knowing what THEY may expect," said the lady, "but we are not to think of

  • their expectations: the question is, what you can afford to do."

  • "Certainly--and I think I may afford to give them five hundred pounds a-piece.

  • As it is, without any addition of mine, they will each have about three thousand

  • pounds on their mother's death--a very comfortable fortune for any young woman."

  • "To be sure it is; and, indeed, it strikes me that they can want no addition at all.

  • They will have ten thousand pounds divided amongst them.

  • If they marry, they will be sure of doing well, and if they do not, they may all live

  • very comfortably together on the interest of ten thousand pounds."

  • "That is very true, and, therefore, I do not know whether, upon the whole, it would

  • not be more advisable to do something for their mother while she lives, rather than

  • for them--something of the annuity kind I

  • mean.--My sisters would feel the good effects of it as well as herself.

  • A hundred a year would make them all perfectly comfortable."

  • His wife hesitated a little, however, in giving her consent to this plan.

  • "To be sure," said she, "it is better than parting with fifteen hundred pounds at

  • once.

  • But, then, if Mrs. Dashwood should live fifteen years we shall be completely taken

  • in." "Fifteen years! my dear Fanny; her life

  • cannot be worth half that purchase."

  • "Certainly not; but if you observe, people always live for ever when there is an

  • annuity to be paid them; and she is very stout and healthy, and hardly forty.

  • An annuity is a very serious business; it comes over and over every year, and there

  • is no getting rid of it. You are not aware of what you are doing.

  • I have known a great deal of the trouble of annuities; for my mother was clogged with

  • the payment of three to old superannuated servants by my father's will, and it is

  • amazing how disagreeable she found it.