My hands are kind of numb, and writing coherently is something of an effort, but this has been fun. I think volume three has seen a deterioration in post quality, and there is no chance this last post (it's my 26th today) is going to in any way do justice to the conclusion of the novel. Still, I've come this far, and I should put some effort into this final push. This experience in no way equates that of curling up and reading all day (or night), and I admit stopping to post all the time took some of the joy away from the narrative, but it has been a new kind of reading/blogging experience for me, and I appreciate it as such. I'm curious to go back and see what I actually wrote.
Darcy mentioned his letter. "Did it," said he, "did it soon make you think better of me? Did you, on reading it, give any credit to its contents?"The last four chapters carry us through the shared wedding day of Darcy, Elizabeth, Bingley, and Jane. "Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters." Most of the time not spent between Darcy and Elizabeth is devoted to telling others of their engagement, managing their reactions, and receiving congratulations. I love Mrs. Bennet's reaction:
She explained what its effect on her had been, and how gradually all her former prejudices had been removed.
"I knew," said he, "that what I wrote must give you pain, but it was necessary. I hope you have destroyed the letter. There was one part especially, the opening of it, which I should dread your having the power of reading again. I can remember some expressions which might justly make you hate me."
"The letter shall certainly be burnt, if you believe it essential to the preservation of my regard; but, though we have both reason to think my opinions not entirely unalterable, they are not, I hope, quite so easily changed as that implies."
"When I wrote that letter," replied Darcy, "I believed myself perfectly calm and cool, but I am since convinced that it was written in a dreadful bitterness of spirit."
"The letter, perhaps, began in bitterness, but it did not end so. The adieu is charity itself. But think no more of the letter. The feelings of the person who wrote, and the person who received it, are now so widely different from what they were then, that every unpleasant circumstance attending it ought to be forgotten. You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."
"Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! dear me! Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it! And is it really true? Oh! my sweetest Lizzy! how rich and how great you will be! What pin-money, what jewels, what carriages you will have! Jane's is nothing to it -- nothing at all. I am so pleased -- so happy. Such a charming man! -- so handsome! so tall! -- Oh, my dear Lizzy! pray apologise for my having disliked him so much before. I hope he will overlook it. Dear, dear Lizzy. A house in town! Every thing that is charming! Three daughters married! Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! What will become of me. I shall go distracted."Mr. Bennet is more serious in his response:
"Lizzy," said her father, "I have given him my consent. He is the kind of man, indeed, to whom I should never dare refuse any thing, which he condescended to ask. I now give it to you, if you are resolved on having him. But let me advise you to think better of it. I know your disposition, Lizzy. I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage. You could scarcely escape discredit and misery. My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life. You know not what you are about."These remarks provide a conclusion to Austen's exploration, throughout the novel, of what constitutes a happy marriage.
Now finally able to engage in mutual banter, the exchanges between hero and heroine are phenomenal (check out the lovely C.E. Brock portrayal of this scene):
"What made you so shy of me, when you first called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you called, did you look as if you did not care about me?"And with that, I think I need my bed. Happy birthday, Elizabeth and Darcy! Sleep well!
"Because you were grave and silent, and gave me no encouragement."
"But I was embarrassed."
"And so was I."
"You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner."
"A man who had felt less, might."
"How unlucky that you should have a reasonable answer to give, and that I should be so reasonable as to admit it! But I wonder how long you would have gone on, if you had been left to yourself. I wonder when you would have spoken, if I had not asked you! My resolution of thanking you for your kindness to Lydia had certainly great effect. Too much, I am afraid; for what becomes of the moral, if our comfort springs from a breach of promise? for I ought not to have mentioned the subject. This will never do."
"You need not distress yourself. The moral will be perfectly fair. 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 your's. My aunt's intelligence had given me hope, and I was determined at once to know every thing."
"Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use.