When Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been
cautious in her praise of Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her
sister just how very much she admired him.
“He is just what a young man ought to be,” said she, “sensible,
good-humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners!–so
much ease, with such perfect good breeding!”
“He is also handsome,” replied Elizabeth, “which a young man
ought likewise to be, if he possibly can. His character is thereby
“I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second
time. I did not expect such a compliment.”
“Did not you? I did for you. But that is one great difference
between us. Compliments always take _you_ by surprise, and
_me_ never. What could be more natural than his asking you
again? He could not help seeing that you were about five times
as pretty as every other woman in the room. No thanks to his
gallantry for that. Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I
give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider
“Oh! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in
general. You never see a fault in anybody. All the world are
good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of
a human being in your life.”
“I would not wish to be hasty in censuring anyone; but I always
speak what I think.”
“I know you do; and it is _that_ which makes the wonder. With _your_
good sense, to be so honestly blind to the follies and nonsense
of others! Affectation of candour is common enough–one meets
with it everywhere. But to be candid without ostentation or
design–to take the good of everybody’s character and make it
still better, and say nothing of the bad–belongs to you alone.
And so you like this man’s sisters, too, do you? Their manners
are not equal to his.”
“Certainly not–at first. But they are very pleasing women when
you converse with them. Miss Bingley is to live with her
brother, and keep his house; and I am much mistaken if we shall
not find a very charming neighbour in her.”
Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced; their
behaviour at the assembly had not been calculated to please in
general; and with more quickness of observation and less pliancy
of temper than her sister, and with a judgement too unassailed by
any attention to herself, she was very little disposed to approve
them. They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good
humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of making
themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and
conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in
one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of
twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more
than they ought, and of associating with people of rank, and
were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of
themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable
family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply
impressed on their memories than that their brother’s fortune
and their own had been acquired by trade.
Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly a
hundred thousand pounds from his father, who had intended to
purchase an estate, but did not live to do it. Mr. Bingley
intended it likewise, and sometimes made choice of his county;
but as he was now provided with a good house and the liberty of
a manor, it was doubtful to many of those who best knew the
easiness of his temper, whether he might not spend the
remainder of his days at Netherfield, and leave the next
generation to purchase.
His sisters were anxious for his having an estate of his own; but,
though he was now only established as a tenant, Miss Bingley
was by no means unwilling to preside at his table–nor was Mrs.
Hurst, who had married a man of more fashion than fortune, less
disposed to consider his house as her home when it suited her.
Mr. Bingley had not been of age two years, when he was tempted
by an accidental recommendation to look at Netherfield House.
He did look at it, and into it for half-an-hour–was pleased with
the situation and the principal rooms, satisfied with what the
owner said in its praise, and took it immediately.
Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in
spite of great opposition of character. Bingley was endeared to
Darcy by the easiness, openness, and ductility of his temper,
though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own,
and though with his own he never appeared dissatisfied. On the
strength of Darcy’s regard, Bingley had the firmest reliance, and
of his judgement the highest opinion. In understanding, Darcy
was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient, but Darcy
was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and
fastidious, and his manners, though well-bred, were not inviting.
In that respect his friend had greatly the advantage. Bingley was
sure of being liked wherever he appeared, Darcy was continually
The manner in which they spoke of the Meryton assembly was
sufficiently characteristic. Bingley had never met with more
pleasant people or prettier girls in his life; everybody had been
most kind and attentive to him; there had been no formality, no
stiffness; he had soon felt acquainted with all the room; and, as
to Miss Bennet, he could not conceive an angel more beautiful.
Darcy, on the contrary, had seen a collection of people in whom
there was little beauty and no fashion, for none of whom he had
felt the smallest interest, and from none received either attention
or pleasure. Miss Bennet he acknowledged to be pretty, but she
smiled too much.
Mrs. Hurst and her sister allowed it to be so–but still they
admired her and liked her, and pronounced her to be a sweet
girl, and one whom they would not object to know more of.
Miss Bennet was therefore established as a sweet girl, and their
brother felt authorized by such commendation to think of her as