After a proper resistance on the part of Mrs. Ferrars,
just so violent and so steady as to preserve her from that
reproach which she always seemed fearful of incurring,
the reproach of being too amiable, Edward was admitted
to her presence, and pronounced to be again her son.
Her family had of late been exceedingly fluctuating.
For many years of her life she had had two sons;
but the crime and annihilation of Edward a few weeks ago,
had robbed her of one; the similar annihilation of Robert
had left her for a fortnight without any; and now,
by the resuscitation of Edward, she had one again.
In spite of his being allowed once more to live,
however, he did not feel the continuance of his existence
secure, till he had revealed his present engagement;
for the publication of that circumstance, he feared,
might give a sudden turn to his constitution, and carry
him off as rapidly as before. With apprehensive caution
therefore it was revealed, and he was listened to with
unexpected calmness. Mrs. Ferrars at first reasonably
endeavoured to dissuade him from marrying Miss Dashwood,
by every argument in her power;--told him, that in Miss Morton
he would have a woman of higher rank and larger fortune;--
and enforced the assertion, by observing that Miss Morton
was the daughter of a nobleman with thirty thousand pounds,
while Miss Dashwood was only the daughter of a private
gentleman with no more than THREE; but when she found that,
though perfectly admitting the truth of her representation,
he was by no means inclined to be guided by it,
she judged it wisest, from the experience of the past,
to submit--and therefore, after such an ungracious delay
as she owed to her own dignity, and as served to prevent
every suspicion of good-will, she issued her decree
of consent to the marriage of Edward and Elinor.
What she would engage to do towards augmenting
their income was next to be considered; and here it
plainly appeared, that though Edward was now her only son,
he was by no means her eldest; for while Robert was
inevitably endowed with a thousand pounds a-year,
not the smallest objection was made against Edward's taking
orders for the sake of two hundred and fifty at the utmost;
nor was anything promised either for the present or in future,
beyond the ten thousand pounds, which had been given with Fanny.
It was as much, however, as was desired,
and more than was expected, by Edward and Elinor;
and Mrs. Ferrars herself, by her shuffling excuses,
seemed the only person surprised at her not giving more.
With an income quite sufficient to their wants
thus secured to them, they had nothing to wait for
after Edward was in possession of the living, but the
readiness of the house, to which Colonel Brandon,
with an eager desire for the accommodation of Elinor,
was making considerable improvements; and after waiting
some time for their completion, after experiencing,
as usual, a thousand disappointments and delays
from the unaccountable dilatoriness of the workmen, Elinor,
as usual, broke through the first positive resolution
of not marrying till every thing was ready, and the
ceremony took place in Barton church early in the autumn.
The first month after their marriage was spent
with their friend at the Mansion-house; from whence
they could superintend the progress of the Parsonage,
and direct every thing as they liked on the spot;--
could chuse papers, project shrubberies, and invent a sweep.
Mrs. Jennings's prophecies, though rather jumbled together,
were chiefly fulfilled; for she was able to visit Edward
and his wife in their Parsonage by Michaelmas, and she
found in Elinor and her husband, as she really believed,
one of the happiest couples in the world. They had
in fact nothing to wish for, but the marriage of Colonel
Brandon and Marianne, and rather better pasturage for
They were visited on their first settling by almost
all their relations and friends. Mrs. Ferrars came
to inspect the happiness which she was almost ashamed
of having authorised; and even the Dashwoods were at
the expense of a journey from Sussex to do them honour.
"I will not say that I am disappointed, my dear sister,"
said John, as they were walking together one morning before
the gates of Delaford House, "THAT would be saying too much,
for certainly you have been one of the most fortunate young
women in the world, as it is. But, I confess, it would
give me great pleasure to call Colonel Brandon brother.
His property here, his place, his house, every thing is in
such respectable and excellent condition!--and his woods!--I
have not seen such timber any where in Dorsetshire, as there
is now standing in Delaford Hanger!--And though, perhaps,
Marianne may not seem exactly the person to attract him--
yet I think it would altogether be advisable for you to
have them now frequently staying with you, for as Colonel
Brandon seems a great deal at home, nobody can tell what
may happen--for, when people are much thrown together,
and see little of anybody else--and it will always be
in your power to set her off to advantage, and so forth;--
in short, you may as well give her a chance--You understand
But though Mrs. Ferrars DID come to see them, and always
treated them with the make-believe of decent affection,
they were never insulted by her real favour and preference.
THAT was due to the folly of Robert, and the cunning
of his wife; and it was earned by them before many months
had passed away. The selfish sagacity of the latter,
which had at first drawn Robert into the scrape,
was the principal instrument of his deliverance from it;
for her respectful humility, assiduous attentions,
and endless flatteries, as soon as the smallest opening
was given for their exercise, reconciled Mrs. Ferrars
to his choice, and re-established him completely in
The whole of Lucy's behaviour in the affair,
and the prosperity which crowned it, therefore, may be held
forth as a most encouraging instance of what an earnest,
an unceasing attention to self-interest, however its progress
may be apparently obstructed, will do in securing every
advantage of fortune, with no other sacrifice than that of time
and conscience. When Robert first sought her acquaintance,
and privately visited her in Bartlett's Buildings,
it was only with the view imputed to him by his brother.
He merely meant to persuade her to give up the engagement;
and as there could be nothing to overcome but the affection
of both, he naturally expected that one or two interviews
would settle the matter. In that point, however,
and that only, he erred;--for though Lucy soon gave him
hopes that his eloquence would convince her in TIME,
another visit, another conversation, was always wanted
to produce this conviction. Some doubts always lingered
in her mind when they parted, which could only be
removed by another half hour's discourse with himself.
His attendance was by this means secured, and the rest
followed in course. Instead of talking of Edward,
they came gradually to talk only of Robert,--a subject
on which he had always more to say than on any other,
and in which she soon betrayed an interest even equal
to his own; and in short, it became speedily evident
to both, that he had entirely supplanted his brother.
He was proud of his conquest, proud of tricking Edward,
and very proud of marrying privately without his
mother's consent. What immediately followed is known.
They passed some months in great happiness at Dawlish;
for she had many relations and old acquaintances to
cut--and he drew several plans for magnificent cottages;--
and from thence returning to town, procured the forgiveness
of Mrs. Ferrars, by the simple expedient of asking it,
which, at Lucy's instigation, was adopted. The forgiveness,
at first, indeed, as was reasonable, comprehended only Robert;
and Lucy, who had owed his mother no duty and therefore
could have transgressed none, still remained some weeks
longer unpardoned. But perseverance in humility of conduct
and messages, in self-condemnation for Robert's offence,
and gratitude for the unkindness she was treated with,
procured her in time the haughty notice which overcame
her by its graciousness, and led soon afterwards, by rapid
degrees, to the highest state of affection and influence.
Lucy became as necessary to Mrs. Ferrars, as either Robert
or Fanny; and while Edward was never cordially forgiven
for having once intended to marry her, and Elinor,
though superior to her in fortune and birth, was spoken
of as an intruder, SHE was in every thing considered,
and always openly acknowledged, to be a favourite child.
They settled in town, received very liberal assistance
from Mrs. Ferrars, were on the best terms imaginable
with the Dashwoods; and setting aside the jealousies
and ill-will continually subsisting between Fanny and Lucy,
in which their husbands of course took a part, as well
as the frequent domestic disagreements between Robert and
Lucy themselves, nothing could exceed the harmony in which
they all lived together.
What Edward had done to forfeit the right of eldest
son, might have puzzled many people to find out; and what
Robert had done to succeed to it, might have puzzled them
still more. It was an arrangement, however, justified in
its effects, if not in its cause; for nothing ever
appeared in Robert's style of living or of talking to give
a suspicion of his regretting the extent of his income,
as either leaving his brother too little, or bringing
himself too much;--and if Edward might be judged from
the ready discharge of his duties in every particular,
from an increasing attachment to his wife and his home,
and from the regular cheerfulness of his spirits,
he might be supposed no less contented with his lot,
no less free from every wish of an exchange.
Elinor's marriage divided her as little from her
family as could well be contrived, without rendering
the cottage at Barton entirely useless, for her mother
and sisters spent much more than half their time with her.
Mrs. Dashwood was acting on motives of policy as well
as pleasure in the frequency of her visits at Delaford;
for her wish of bringing Marianne and Colonel Brandon together
was hardly less earnest, though rather more liberal than
what John had expressed. It was now her darling object.
Precious as was the company of her daughter to her,
she desired nothing so much as to give up its constant
enjoyment to her valued friend; and to see Marianne settled at
the mansion-house was equally the wish of Edward and Elinor.
They each felt his sorrows, and their own obligations,
and Marianne, by general consent, was to be the reward
With such a confederacy against her--with a knowledge
so intimate of his goodness--with a conviction of his fond
attachment to herself, which at last, though long after it
was observable to everybody else--burst on her--what could she
Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate.
She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions,
and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims.
She was born to overcome an affection formed so late
in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment
superior to strong esteem and lively friendship,
voluntarily to give her hand to another!--and THAT other,
a man who had suffered no less than herself under the
event of a former attachment, whom, two years before,
she had considered too old to be married,--and who still
sought the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!
But so it was. Instead of falling a sacrifice
to an irresistible passion, as once she had fondly
flattered herself with expecting,--instead of remaining
even for ever with her mother, and finding her only
pleasures in retirement and study, as afterwards in her
more calm and sober judgment she had determined on,--
she found herself at nineteen, submitting to new attachments,
entering on new duties, placed in a new home, a wife,
the mistress of a family, and the patroness of a village.
Colonel Brandon was now as happy, as all those who best
loved him, believed he deserved to be;--in Marianne he
was consoled for every past affliction;--her regard and her
society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits
to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness
in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight
of each observing friend. Marianne could never love
by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much
devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.
Willoughby could not hear of her marriage without
a pang; and his punishment was soon afterwards complete
in the voluntary forgiveness of Mrs. Smith, who, by stating
his marriage with a woman of character, as the source
of her clemency, gave him reason for believing that had he
behaved with honour towards Marianne, he might at once have
been happy and rich. That his repentance of misconduct,
which thus brought its own punishment, was sincere,
need not be doubted;--nor that he long thought of Colonel
Brandon with envy, and of Marianne with regret. But that
he was for ever inconsolable, that he fled from society,
or contracted an habitual gloom of temper, or died of a
broken heart, must not be depended on--for he did neither.
He lived to exert, and frequently to enjoy himself.
His wife was not always out of humour, nor his home
always uncomfortable; and in his breed of horses and dogs,
and in sporting of every kind, he found no inconsiderable
degree of domestic felicity.
For Marianne, however--in spite of his incivility
in surviving her loss--he always retained that decided
regard which interested him in every thing that befell her,
and made her his secret standard of perfection in woman;--
and many a rising beauty would be slighted by him in
after-days as bearing no comparison with Mrs. Brandon.
Mrs. Dashwood was prudent enough to remain at the cottage,
without attempting a removal to Delaford; and fortunately for
Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, when Marianne was taken from them,
Margaret had reached an age highly suitable for dancing,
and not very ineligible for being supposed to have a lover.
Between Barton and Delaford, there was that constant
communication which strong family affection would
naturally dictate;--and among the merits and the happiness
of Elinor and Marianne, let it not be ranked as the least
considerable, that though sisters, and living almost within
sight of each other, they could live without disagreement
between themselves, or producing coolness between their husbands.
End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Sense and Sensibility