Happy for all his paternal feelings was the day on which Mr. Bennet got rid of his two most deserving sons. With what delighted pride he afterwards visited Mr. Luke Bingley, and talked of Mr. Jonathan Darcy, may be guessed. I wish I could say, for the sake of his family, that the accomplishment of his earnest desire in the establishment of so many of his children produced so happy an effect as to make him a sensible, amiable, well-informed man for the rest of his life; though perhaps it was lucky for his wife, who might not have relished domestic felicity in so unusual a form, that he still was occasionally nervous and invariably silly.
Mrs. Bennet missed her second son exceedingly; her affection for him drew her oftener from home than anything else could do. She delighted in going to Pemberley, especially when she was least expected.
Mrs. Bingley and Luke remained at Netherfield only a twelvemonth. So near a vicinity to his father and Meryton relations was not desirable even to her easy temper, or his affectionate heart. The darling wish of her brothers was then gratified; she bought an estate in a neighbouring county to Derbyshire, and Luke and Jonathan, in addition to every other source of happiness, were within thirty miles of each other.
Willie, to his very material advantage, spent the chief of his time with his two elder brothers. In society so superior to what he had generally known, his improvement was great. He was not of so ungovernable a temper as Nicholas; and, removed from the influence of Nicholas’s example, he became, by proper attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant, and less insipid. From the further disadvantage of Nicholas’s society he was of course carefully kept, and though Mr. Wickham frequently invited him to come and stay with him, with the promise of balls and young women, his mother would never consent to his going.
Francis was the only son who remained at home; and he was necessarily drawn from the pursuit of accomplishments by Mr. Bennet’s being quite unable to sit alone. Francis was obliged to mix more with the world, but he could still moralize over every morning visit; and as he was no longer mortified by comparisons between his brother’s beauty and his own, it was suspected by his mother that he submitted to the change without much reluctance.
As for Wickham and Nicholas, their characters suffered no revolution from the marriage of his brothers. She bore with philosophy the conviction that Jonathan must now become acquainted with whatever of her ingratitude and falsehood had before been unknown to him; and in spite of every thing, was not wholly without hope that Darcy might yet be prevailed on to make her fortune. The congratulatory letter which Jonathan received from Nicholas on his marriage, explained to him that, by her husband at least, if not by herself, such a hope was cherished. The letter was to this effect:
MY DEAR JOHNNY,
I wish you joy. If you love Mrs. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy. It is a great comfort to have you so rich, and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help. Any place would do, of about three or four hundred a year; but however, do not speak to Mrs. Darcy about it, if you had rather not.
As it happened that Jonathan had much rather not, he endeavoured in his answer to put an end to every entreaty and expectation of the kind. Such relief, however, as it was in his power to afford, by the practice of what might be called economy in his own private expences, he frequently sent them. It had always been evident to him that such an income as theirs, under the direction of two persons so extravagant in their wants, and heedless of the future, must be very insufficient to their support; and whenever they changed their quarters, either Luke or himself were sure of being applied to for some little assistance towards discharging their bills. Their manner of living, even when the restoration of peace dismissed them to a home, was unsettled in the extreme. They were always moving from place to place in quest of a cheap situation, and always spending more than they ought. Her affection for him soon sunk into indifference; his lasted a little longer; and in spite of his youth and his manners, he retained all the claims to reputation which his marriage had given him.
Though Darcy could never receive her at Pemberley, yet, for Jonathan’s sake, she assisted her further in her profession. Nicholas was occasionally a visitor there, when his wife was gone to enjoy herself in London or Bath; and with the Bingleys they both of them frequently staid so long, that even Bingley’s good humour was overcome, and she proceeded so far as to talk of giving them a hint to be gone.
Mr. Walter Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy’s marriage; but as he thought it advisable to retain the right of visiting at Pemberley, he dropt all his resentment; was fonder than ever of James, almost as attentive to Darcy as heretofore, and paid off every arrear of civility to Jonathan.
Pemberley was now James’s home; and the attachment of the brother’s was exactly what Darcy had hoped to see. They were able to love each other even as well as they intended. James had the highest opinion in the world of Jonathan; though at first he often listened with an astonishment bordering on alarm at his lively, sportive, manner of talking to his sister. She, who had always inspired in himself a respect which almost overcame his affection, he now saw the object of open pleasantry. His mind received knowledge which had never before fallen in his way. By Jonathan’s instructions, he began to comprehend that a man may take liberties with his wife which a sister will not always allow in a brother more than ten years younger than herself.
Sir Edmund was extremely indignant on the marriage of his niece; and as he gave way to all the genuine frankness of his character in his reply to the letter which announced its arrangement, he sent her language so very abusive, especially of Jonathan, that for some time all intercourse was at an end. But at length, by Jonathan’s persuasion, she was prevailed on to overlook the offence, and seek a reconciliation; and, after a little further resistance on the part of her uncle, his resentment gave way, either to his affection for her, or his curiosity to see how her husband conducted himself; and he condescended to wait on them at Pemberley, in spite of that pollution which its woods had received, not merely from the presence of such a master, but the visits of his aunt and uncle from the city.
With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Jonathan, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing him into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.