Marianne's preserver, as Margaret, with more elegance
than precision, styled Willoughby, called at the cottage
early the next morning to make his personal enquiries.
He was received by Mrs. Dashwood with more than politeness;
with a kindness which Sir John's account of him and her own
gratitude prompted; and every thing that passed during
the visit tended to assure him of the sense, elegance,
mutual affection, and domestic comfort of the family
to whom accident had now introduced him. Of their
personal charms he had not required a second interview
to be convinced.
Miss Dashwood had a delicate complexion,
regular features, and a remarkably pretty figure.
Marianne was still handsomer. Her form, though not so
correct as her sister's, in having the advantage of height,
was more striking; and her face was so lovely, that when
in the common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful girl,
truth was less violently outraged than usually happens.
Her skin was very brown, but, from its transparency,
her complexion was uncommonly brilliant; her features
were all good; her smile was sweet and attractive;
and in her eyes, which were very dark, there was a life,
a spirit, an eagerness, which could hardily be seen
without delight. From Willoughby their expression was at
first held back, by the embarrassment which the remembrance
of his assistance created. But when this passed away,
when her spirits became collected, when she saw that to the
perfect good-breeding of the gentleman, he united frankness
and vivacity, and above all, when she heard him declare,
that of music and dancing he was passionately fond,
she gave him such a look of approbation as secured the
largest share of his discourse to herself for the rest
of his stay.
It was only necessary to mention any favourite
amusement to engage her to talk. She could not be
silent when such points were introduced, and she
had neither shyness nor reserve in their discussion.
They speedily discovered that their enjoyment of dancing
and music was mutual, and that it arose from a general
conformity of judgment in all that related to either.
Encouraged by this to a further examination of his opinions,
she proceeded to question him on the subject of books;
her favourite authors were brought forward and dwelt
upon with so rapturous a delight, that any young man of
five and twenty must have been insensible indeed, not to
become an immediate convert to the excellence of such works,
however disregarded before. Their taste was strikingly alike.
The same books, the same passages were idolized by each--
or if any difference appeared, any objection arose,
it lasted no longer than till the force of her arguments
and the brightness of her eyes could be displayed.
He acquiesced in all her decisions, caught all her enthusiasm;
and long before his visit concluded, they conversed
with the familiarity of a long-established acquaintance.
"Well, Marianne," said Elinor, as soon as he had left them,
"for ONE morning I think you have done pretty well.
You have already ascertained Mr. Willoughby's opinion in
almost every matter of importance. You know what he thinks
of Cowper and Scott; you are certain of his estimating
their beauties as he ought, and you have received every
assurance of his admiring Pope no more than is proper.
But how is your acquaintance to be long supported, under such
extraordinary despatch of every subject for discourse?
You will soon have exhausted each favourite topic.
Another meeting will suffice to explain his sentiments
on picturesque beauty, and second marriages, and then
you can have nothing farther to ask."--
"Elinor," cried Marianne, "is this fair? is this
just? are my ideas so scanty? But I see what you mean.
I have been too much at my ease, too happy, too frank.
I have erred against every common-place notion of decorum;
I have been open and sincere where I ought to have
been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful--had
I talked only of the weather and the roads, and had I
spoken only once in ten minutes, this reproach would have
"My love," said her mother, "you must not be offended
with Elinor--she was only in jest. I should scold
her myself, if she were capable of wishing to check
the delight of your conversation with our new friend."--
Marianne was softened in a moment.
Willoughby, on his side, gave every proof of his
pleasure in their acquaintance, which an evident wish
of improving it could offer. He came to them every day.
To enquire after Marianne was at first his excuse; but the
encouragement of his reception, to which every day gave
greater kindness, made such an excuse unnecessary before it
had ceased to be possible, by Marianne's perfect recovery.
She was confined for some days to the house; but never had
any confinement been less irksome. Willoughby was a young
man of good abilities, quick imagination, lively spirits,
and open, affectionate manners. He was exactly formed
to engage Marianne's heart, for with all this, he joined
not only a captivating person, but a natural ardour
of mind which was now roused and increased by the example
of her own, and which recommended him to her affection
beyond every thing else.
His society became gradually her most exquisite enjoyment.
They read, they talked, they sang together; his musical
talents were considerable; and he read with all the
sensibility and spirit which Edward had unfortunately wanted.
In Mrs. Dashwood's estimation he was as faultless
as in Marianne's; and Elinor saw nothing to censure in him
but a propensity, in which he strongly resembled and peculiarly
delighted her sister, of saying too much what he thought on
every occasion, without attention to persons or circumstances.
In hastily forming and giving his opinion of other people,
in sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment
of undivided attention where his heart was engaged,
and in slighting too easily the forms of worldly propriety,
he displayed a want of caution which Elinor could not approve,
in spite of all that he and Marianne could say in its support.
Marianne began now to perceive that the desperation
which had seized her at sixteen and a half, of ever
seeing a man who could satisfy her ideas of perfection,
had been rash and unjustifiable. Willoughby was all
that her fancy had delineated in that unhappy hour
and in every brighter period, as capable of attaching her;
and his behaviour declared his wishes to be in that respect
as earnest, as his abilities were strong.
Her mother too, in whose mind not one speculative
thought of their marriage had been raised, by his prospect
of riches, was led before the end of a week to hope and
expect it; and secretly to congratulate herself on having
gained two such sons-in-law as Edward and Willoughby.
Colonel Brandon's partiality for Marianne, which had
so early been discovered by his friends, now first became
perceptible to Elinor, when it ceased to be noticed
by them. Their attention and wit were drawn off to his
more fortunate rival; and the raillery which the other
had incurred before any partiality arose, was removed
when his feelings began really to call for the ridicule
so justly annexed to sensibility. Elinor was obliged,
though unwillingly, to believe that the sentiments which
Mrs. Jennings had assigned him for her own satisfaction,
were now actually excited by her sister; and that however
a general resemblance of disposition between the parties
might forward the affection of Mr. Willoughby, an equally
striking opposition of character was no hindrance to the
regard of Colonel Brandon. She saw it with concern;
for what could a silent man of five and thirty hope,
when opposed to a very lively one of five and twenty? and as
she could not even wish him successful, she heartily wished
him indifferent. She liked him--in spite of his gravity
and reserve, she beheld in him an object of interest.
His manners, though serious, were mild; and his reserve
appeared rather the result of some oppression of spirits
than of any natural gloominess of temper. Sir John
had dropped hints of past injuries and disappointments,
which justified her belief of his being an unfortunate man,
and she regarded him with respect and compassion.
Perhaps she pitied and esteemed him the more
because he was slighted by Willoughby and Marianne,
who, prejudiced against him for being neither lively
nor young, seemed resolved to undervalue his merits.
"Brandon is just the kind of man," said Willoughby
one day, when they were talking of him together,
"whom every body speaks well of, and nobody cares about;
whom all are delighted to see, and nobody remembers
to talk to."
"That is exactly what I think of him," cried Marianne.
"Do not boast of it, however," said Elinor, "for it
is injustice in both of you. He is highly esteemed
by all the family at the park, and I never see him myself
without taking pains to converse with him."
"That he is patronised by YOU," replied Willoughby,
"is certainly in his favour; but as for the esteem
of the others, it is a reproach in itself. Who would
submit to the indignity of being approved by such a woman
as Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, that could command
the indifference of any body else?"
"But perhaps the abuse of such people as yourself
and Marianne will make amends for the regard of Lady
Middleton and her mother. If their praise is censure,
your censure may be praise, for they are not more undiscerning,
than you are prejudiced and unjust."
"In defence of your protege you can even be saucy."
"My protege, as you call him, is a sensible man;
and sense will always have attractions for me.
Yes, Marianne, even in a man between thirty and forty.
He has seen a great deal of the world; has been abroad,
has read, and has a thinking mind. I have found him
capable of giving me much information on various subjects;
and he has always answered my inquiries with readiness of
good-breeding and good nature."
"That is to say," cried Marianne contemptuously,
"he has told you, that in the East Indies the climate is hot,
and the mosquitoes are troublesome."
"He WOULD have told me so, I doubt not, had I made
any such inquiries, but they happened to be points
on which I had been previously informed."
"Perhaps," said Willoughby, "his observations may
have extended to the existence of nabobs, gold mohrs,
"I may venture to say that HIS observations
have stretched much further than your candour.
But why should you dislike him?"
"I do not dislike him. I consider him, on the contrary,
as a very respectable man, who has every body's good word,
and nobody's notice; who, has more money than he can spend,
more time than he knows how to employ, and two new coats
"Add to which," cried Marianne, "that he has
neither genius, taste, nor spirit. That his understanding
has no brilliancy, his feelings no ardour, and his voice
"You decide on his imperfections so much in the mass,"
replied Elinor, "and so much on the strength of your
own imagination, that the commendation I am able to give
of him is comparatively cold and insipid. I can only
pronounce him to be a sensible man, well-bred, well-informed,
of gentle address, and, I believe, possessing an amiable heart."
"Miss Dashwood," cried Willoughby, "you are now using
me unkindly. You are endeavouring to disarm me by reason,
and to convince me against my will. But it will not do.
You shall find me as stubborn as you can be artful. I have
three unanswerable reasons for disliking Colonel Brandon;
he threatened me with rain when I wanted it to be fine;
he has found fault with the hanging of my curricle,
and I cannot persuade him to buy my brown mare. If it
will be any satisfaction to you, however, to be told,
that I believe his character to be in other respects irreproachable, I am ready to confess it. And in return for an acknowledgment, which must give me some pain, you cannot deny me the privilege of disliking him as much as ever."