The least agreeable circumstance in the business was the surprise it must occasion to Elizabeth Bennet, whose friendship she valued beyond that of any other person. Elizabeth would wonder, and probably would blame her; and though her resolution was not to be shaken, her feelings must be hurt by such a disapprobation.When Elizabeth is told, it follows much as Charlotte had anticipated:
"Engaged to Mr Collins! My dear Charlotte — impossible!"Despite Elizabeth's struggle to come to terms with Charlotte's surprise announcement, Charlotte is not particularly disturbed as 'it was no more than she expected'. And there is nothing to suggest Charlotte became angry or revengeful even for a single moment. Charlotte is Elizabeth's best friend, and vice versa. Because Mr Collins is Elizabeth's cousin, his marriage causes Charlotte and Elizabeth to become cousins. Just before her marriage, Charlotte invites Elizabeth to come to stay in her new home as a welcome guest:
The steady countenance which Miss Lucas had commanded in telling her story, gave way to a momentary confusion here on receiving so direct a reproach; though, as it was no more than she expected, she soon regained her composure.
"I am not likely to leave Kent for some time. Promise me, therefore, to come to Hunsford."Elizabeth stays with Charlotte for six weeks. Their friendship continues as sound and solid as ever. While Elizabeth is still at the Collinses, Mr Darcy makes a surprise visit and finds her alone. When Charlotte returns Mr Darcy leaves. Charlotte tells Elizabeth that she believes Darcy's actions indicate he loves her, and that she, Charlotte, wishes it so. Thoughts of Darcy loving her had never crossed Elizabeth's mind and would be abhorrent to her anyway. Why, oh why, would Charlotte raise the issue of Darcy's love, and therefore the possibility of a Darcy/Elizabeth marriage, if her revengeful intention and desire is to stop their marriage? It doesn't make sense, so clearly it is not Charlotte who betrays Elizabeth.
Elizabeth could not refuse, though she foresaw little pleasure in the visit.
March was to take Elizabeth to Hunsford. She had not at first thought very seriously of going thither; but Charlotte, she soon found, was depending on the plan ...
A short dialogue on the subject of the country ensued, on either side calm and concise — and soon put an end to by the entrance of Charlotte and her sister, just returned from their walk. The tête-à-tête surprised them. Mr Darcy related the mistake which had occasioned his intruding on Miss Bennet, and after sitting a few minutes longer without saying much to any body, went away.
"What can be the meaning of this!" said Charlotte, as soon as he was gone. "My dear Eliza, he must be in love with you, or he would never have called on us in this familiar way."
But when Elizabeth told of his silence, it did not seem very likely, even to Charlotte's wishes; ...
Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him [Darcy]. Colonel Fitzwilliam's occasionally laughing at his stupidity, proved that he was generally different, which her own knowledge of him could not have told her; and as she would liked to have believed this change the effect of love, and the object of that love her friend Eliza, she set herself seriously to work to find it out.
She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial to her, but Elizabeth always laughed at the idea.Note that if it were literally only "once or twice" then the word "always" ought not be included. Clearly, if "once or twice", in fact, means "several times" then to include "always" is appropriate.
"A report of a most alarming nature reached me two days ago. I was told that not only your sister was on the point of being most advantageously married, but that you, that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, would, in all likelihood, be soon afterwards united to my nephew, my own nephew, Mr Darcy."Mr Collins and Lady Catherine discussed the possibility of the marriage. Mr Collins then wrote a congratulatory letter to Mr Bennet, though, apparently, unaware of Lady Catherine's journey to Meryton to see Elizabeth, as he never mentions it.
Before any answer could arrive from Mr Collins, or any congratulations to Elizabeth from his wife, the Longbourn family heard that the Collinses were come themselves to Lucas Lodge. The reason of this sudden removal was soon evident. Lady Catherine had been rendered so exceedingly angry by the contents of her nephew's letter, that Charlotte, really rejoicing in the match, was anxious to get away till the storm was blown over. At such a moment, the arrival of her friend was a sincere pleasure to Elizabeth, ...At the very end of the story [4th last paragraph, Chapter 61], a strong hint is given to the person who would have wished to nip-in-the-bud any possibility of a Darcy/Elizabeth marriage:
Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy's marriage;Caroline wanted Darcy for herself and was jealous of Elizabeth.
Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her [Elizabeth]. Miss Bingley saw, or suspected enough to be jealous; ...Caroline wanted to marry Darcy but was jealous of Elizabeth in whom Darcy expressed an interest. Her jealousy induces her to denigrate Elizabeth and try to get Darcy to turn against her, however, what she says repeatedly produces the opposite effect of what she desires.
Convinced as Elizabeth now was that Miss Bingley's dislike of her had originated in jealousy,
"Miss Bingley is the more anxious to get Miss Darcy for her brother, from the notion that when there has been one intermarriage, she may have less trouble in achieving a second; in which there is certainly some ingenuity, and I dare say it would succeed, if Miss de Bourgh were out of the way."So, it follows that when Bingley became engaged to Jane, presumably Caroline would instantly see the possibility of that intermarriage achieving a second, namely a Darcy/Elizabeth marriage.
Lady Catherine: "A report of a most alarming nature reached me two days ago. I was told that not only your sister was on the point of being most advantageously married, but that you, that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, would, in all likelihood, be soon afterwards united to my nephew, my own nephew, Mr Darcy. Has it not been industriously circulated by yourselves? Do you not know that such a report is spread abroad?"Lady Catherine is wrong. No such report exists. 'industriously circulated by yourselves' implies a rumour of a Darcy/Elizabeth marriage had been spread far and wide by the Bennet family. None of the Bennets can stand Darcy and the two closest to Elizabeth, her father and Jane, know how intensely she dislikes him. Clearly, the Bennets never created a rumour and so no report was spread abroad. Evidently, someone invented the Darcy/Elizabeth marriage idea and, five days after the Bingley/Jane engagement, put it privately to Lady Catherine in the hope she might intervene to stop them marrying.
Elizabeth: "I never heard that it was."
The discomposure of spirits which this extraordinary visit threw Elizabeth into, could not be easily overcome; nor could she, for many hours, learn to think of it less than incessantly. Lady Catherine, it appeared, had actually taken the trouble of this journey from Rosings, for the sole purpose of breaking off her supposed engagement with Mr Darcy. It was a rational scheme, to be sure! but from what the report of their engagement could originate, Elizabeth was at a loss to imagine; till she recollected that his being the intimate friend of Bingley, and her being the sister of Jane, was enough, at a time when the expectation of one wedding made everybody eager for another, to supply the idea. She had not herself forgotten to feel that the marriage of her sister must bring them more frequently together. And her neighbours at Lucas Lodge, therefore (for through their communication with the Collinses, the report, she concluded, had reached Lady Catherine), ...Elizabeth for once was really, really dumb! Why did she think the report came from Lucas Lodge? She knows if they dreamed up a Darcy/Elizabeth marriage they would tell everyone, yet [as already pointed out] no rumour exists. Why didn't she think of Caroline Bingley as the originator of the report? It ought to have been obvious to her that Caroline was the likely source, for the simple reason she had already explained to Jane how Caroline's mind worked.
Mr Bennet says to Elizabeth,"I have received a letter this morning ... from Mr Collins. He begins with congratulations on the approaching nuptials of my eldest daughter, of which, it seems, he has been told by some of the good-natured, gossiping Lucases.Note Mr Collins's terminology: 'of which we have been advertised by the same authority.' Who is this authority? Mr Collins doesn't know and so cannot name the person in his letter. The authority who has put forward the possibility of a Darcy/Elizabeth marriage to Lady Catherine would appear to be from a similar stratum of society and thus able to influence her. Lady Catherine divulges what she has been told but not its source. The word 'advertised' suggests the spreading far and wide of a Darcy/Elizabeth marriage rumour. It seems that Lady Catherine's informant claimed the existence of a rumour simply as a way of provoking her into action, which it does. Later, when Lady Catherine meets Elizabeth she accuses her of spreading the rumour, but no such rumour exists, proof that the rumour idea was an invention of Lady Catherine's authorative informant.
What relates to yourself, is as follows: 'Having thus offered you the sincere congratulations of Mrs Collins and myself on this happy event [Jane's engagement to Bingley], let me now add a short hint on the subject of another; of which we have been advertised by the same authority. Your daughter Elizabeth, it is presumed, will not long bear the name of Bennet, after her elder sister has resigned it, and the chosen partner of her fate may be reasonably looked up to as one of the most illustrious personages in this land.'
Can you possibly guess, Lizzy, who is meant by this? 'This young gentleman is blessed, in a peculiar way, with every thing the heart of mortal can most desire, — splendid property, noble kindred, and extensive patronage. — We have reason to imagine that his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, does not look on the match with a friendly eye.'
Mr Darcy, you see, is the man! Could he, or the Lucases, have pitched on any man within the circle of our acquaintance, whose name would have given the lie more effectually to what they related?"
More from Mr Collins's letter: 'After mentioning the likelihood of this marriage to her ladyship last night, she immediately, with her usual condescension, expressed what she felt on the occasion; when it became apparent, that on the score of some family objections on the part of my cousin, she would never give her consent to what she termed so disgraceful a match. I thought it my duty to give the speediest intelligence of this to my cousin, that she and her noble admirer may be aware of what they are about, and not run hastily into a marriage which has not been properly sanctioned.'
She [Elizabeth] soon learnt that they were indebted for their present good understanding to the efforts of his aunt, who did call on him in her return through London, and there relate her journey to Longbourn, its motive, and the substance of her conversation with Elizabeth; dwelling emphatically on every expression of the latter which, in her ladyship's apprehension, peculiarly denoted her perverseness and assurance; in the belief that such a relation must assist her endeavours to obtain that promise from her nephew which she had refused to give. But, unluckily for her ladyship, its effect had been exactly contrariwise.
"Lady Catherine's unjustifiable endeavours to separate us were the means of removing all my doubts. I am not indebted for my present happiness to your eager desire of expressing your gratitude. I was not in a humour to wait for any opening of yours. My aunt's intelligence had given me hope, and I was determined at once to know every thing."Though Darcy and Elizabeth saw Lady Catherine as something of a fairy godmother, the real fairy godmother was Caroline for it was she who, though wishing to keep them separated, actually caused them to come together. Caroline's endeavours to turn Darcy against Elizabeth repeatedly produced the opposite effect of what she desired but this final reversal proved to be her biggest failure — Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy's marriage.
"Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use."
|Sat:||Darcy goes to London [but is to return in 10 days time].|
|Tue:||The situation of affairs in the Longbourn family could not be long a secret. Mrs Bennet was privileged to whisper it to Mrs Phillips, and she ventured, without any permission, to do the same by all her neighbours in Meryton.|
|Wed:||Charlotte Collins learns of the Bingley/Jane engagement in a letter from Lucas Lodge. She doesn't tell Lady Catherine as she knew neither party and wouldn't be interested anyway. Charlotte doesn't tell Mr Collins.|
(1) An unnamed authority tells Lady Catherine of the Bingley/Jane engagement and also
of a possible Darcy/Elizabeth marriage. Lady Catherine would have an intense personal
interest because it threatened to end Darcy's pre-commitment to her daughter Anne.|
(2) That night, the Collinses visit Lady Catherine. Lady Catherine says nothing to them of the Bingley/Jane and Darcy/Elizabeth reports she had received earlier that day.
(1) That night, it is likely Lady Catherine tells Mr Collins someone (an unnamed authority) had
told her of the Bingley/Jane engagement and of a possible Darcy/Elizabeth marriage which they then discuss.|
(2) Lady Catherine doesn't tell Mr Collins of her plan to visit Elizabeth.
(1a) Lady Catherine goes to Longbourn to confront Elizabeth – about a week after
the Bingley/Jane announcement. |
(1b) She tells Mrs Bennet that the night before last, i.e. Saturday night, she had seen the Collinses.
(1c) She tells Elizabeth that two days before, i.e. Saturday, she had been informed of the possibility of her marrying Darcy.
(1d) Lady Catherine, on her return journey, stops off in London to see Darcy, to tell him of the Darcy/Elizabeth marriage idea, to condemn it, and to criticise Elizabeth.
(2) Mr Collins writes a letter to Mr Bennet 'After mentioning the likelihood of this marriage to her ladyship last night, she immediately, with her usual condescension, expressed what she felt on the occasion;' Mr Collins posts his letter. Clearly, Lady Catherine never told the him of her intention to go to Longbourn, otherwise he would have mentioned it in his letter.
(1) Mr Bennet receives Mr Collins's letter. |
(2) Darcy returns to Netherfield.
|Sat:||Darcy visits Longbourn.|
|Mon:||Mr & Mrs Bennet are told of the engagement.|
|Tue:||Darcy writes to Lady Catherine. Elizabeth writes to her aunt.|
|Wed:|| Lady Catherine reads Darcy's letter and is furiously angry – |
She tells the Collinses about it. They escape to Lucas Lodge.