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Lady Catherine

When the ladies returned to the drawing room, there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did without any intermission till coffee came in, delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to have her judgment controverted. She enquired into Charlotte’s domestic concerns familiarly and minutely, and gave her a great deal of advice as to the management of them all; told her how every thing ought to be regulated in so small a family as her’s, and instructed her as to the care of her cows and her poultry. Elizabeth found that nothing was beneath this great lady’s attention, which could furnish her with an occasion of dictating to others. In the intervals of her discourse with Mrs. Collins, she addressed a variety of questions to Maria and Elizabeth, but especially to the latter, of whose connections she knew the least, and who, she observed to Mrs. Collins, was a very genteel, pretty kind of girl. She asked her at different times, how many sisters she had, whether they were older or younger than herself, whether any of them were likely to be married, whether they were handsome, where they had been educated, what carriage her father kept, and what had been her mother’s maiden name? — Elizabeth felt all the impertinence of her questions, but answered them very composedly. — Lady Catherine then observed,

“Your father’s estate is entailed on Mr. Collins, I think. For your sake,” turning to Charlotte, “I am glad of it; but otherwise I see no occasion for entailing estates from the female line. — It was not thought necessary in Sir Lewis de Bourgh’s family. — Do you play and sing, Miss Bennet?”

“A little.”

“Oh! then — some time or other we shall be happy to hear you. Our instrument is a capital one, probably superior to — You shall try it some day. — Do your sisters play and sing?”

“One of them does.”

“Why did not you all learn? — You ought all to have learned. The Miss Webbs all play, and their father has not so good an income as your’s. — Do you draw?”

“No, not at all.”

“What, none of you?”

“Not one.”

“That is very strange. But I suppose you had no opportunity. Your mother should have taken you to town every spring for the benefit of masters.”

“My mother would have had no objection, but my father hates London.”

“Has your governess left you?”

“We never had any governess.”

“No governess! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without a governess! — I never heard of such a thing. Your mother must have been quite a slave to your education.”

Elizabeth could hardly help smiling, as she assured her that had not been the case.

“Then, who taught you? who attended to you? Without a governess you must have been neglected.”

“Compared with some families, I believe we were; but such of us as wished to learn, never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary. Those who chose to be idle, certainly might.”

“Aye, no doubt; but that is what a governess will prevent, and if I had known your mother, I should have advised her most strenuously to engage one. I always say that nothing is to be done in education without steady and regular instruction, and nobody but a governess can give it. It is wonderful how many families I have been the means of supplying in that way. I am always glad to get a young person well placed out. Four nieces of Mrs. Jenkinson are most delightfully situated through my means; and it was but the other day that I recommended another young person, who was merely accidentally mentioned to me, and the family are quite delighted with her. Mrs. Collins, did I tell you of Lady Metcalfe’s calling yesterday to thank me? She finds Miss Pope a treasure. “Lady Catherine,” said she, “you have given me a treasure.” Are any of your younger sisters out, Miss Bennet?”

“Yes, Ma’am, all.”

“All! — What, all five out at once? Very odd! — And you only the second. — The younger ones out before the elder are married! — Your younger sisters must be very young?”

“Yes, my youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps she is full young to be much in company. But really, Ma’am, I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters, that they should not have their share of society and amusement because the elder may not have the means or inclination to marry early. — The last born has as good a right to the pleasures of youth, as the first. And to be kept back on such a motive! — I think it would not be very likely to promote sisterly affection or delicacy of mind.”

“Upon my word,” said her ladyship, “you give your opinion very decidedly for so young a person. — Pray, what is your age?”

“With three younger sisters grown up,” replied Elizabeth smiling, “your Ladyship can hardly expect me to own it.”

Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence!

http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/ppv2n29.html

Comments

  1. Paul W., OM says

    Ok, WTF?

    And to ask the other obvious question “begged” (raised) by this–and perhaps a topical one:

    So have you read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by (Jane Austen and) Seth Grahame-Smith? If so, what did you think?

    I’m afraid I may not remember P&P well enough to fully appreciate it… or may never have properly appreciated P & P because I was so young and stupid… or maybe it doesn’t matter.

    I thought Unholy Night by S G-S was engaging and fun, but didn’t really “get into” P & P & Z, and gave up after a chapter.

    I’m reading his Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter now, and for me it’s solidly in between those, so far.

  2. Laurie says

    Strawman, Ophelia. You’d be better off putting down the aggression gun and listening to the advice of someone who actually means you well, but is not a sycophant.

  3. says

    So have you read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by (Jane Austen and) Seth Grahame-Smith? If so, what did you think?

    I liked it a great deal. The inserted text was seamlessly done.

  4. Stacy says

    Tone trolling? Is that what we call good advice these days?

    Nah, it’s what we call passive-aggressive bullshit.

  5. Paul W., OM says

    Corylus,

    That’s good to know.

    It was absolutely seamless for me, with certain bits that seemed clearly pure Austen, and others that obviously could not be, unless there were some zombies in the original that I forgot.

    In between, I had no fucking idea but didn’t know when to attribute that to Grahame-Smith’s consummate artistry or my own general cluelessness, lack of readerly insight, and truly disappointing memory for fiction.

    (I’m much better at semantic than episodic memory, which was a simply crushing realization when my greatest desire was to be a fiction writer.)

    When I read the first chapter, I was pretty distracted by my deep-seated, stark fear of Dunning-Kruger syndrome: what jokes am I missing, that I’d get if I had a better understanding of (or memory for) this stuff?

    At some point, I’ll have to reread P&P and immediately read P&P&Z.

  6. Laurie says

    “passive-aggressive bullshit”

    Good grief – next I’ll be accused of sexism.

  7. says

    Ah, you’re right, Ms Daisy Cutter – Laurie had a couple of vicious things to say on the Paula Kirby thread. Called me a liar and all. Thin ice.

  8. says

    Just marathon’d this with my girl the night before I flew home from the US. It’ll never be the book, but the 1995 BBC adaptation of this is the best I’ve ever seen.

    (This message brought to you by someone who frankly just liked the book.)

  9. Stacy says

    Ah, Corylus reminded me-just after I remembered on my own-where I encountered her before. On Greta Christina’s Blog.

    She was the one empathizing with the alleged upskirt photography guy at TAM9. She repeatedly claimed we collectively had “tried and convicted” him. She was very concerned that Stephanie Zvan might face litigation for talking about the incident.

  10. Stacy says

    Not that it matters now, but are you sure Corylus and Laurie are two different people, Ophelia? I smell socks.

    “passive-aggressive bullshit”

    Good grief – next I’ll be accused of sexism

    That failure of reading comprehension is familiar.

    The dainty diction in comments #9 and #13 is familiar, too.

  11. says

    Jane Austin showed us her wonderful intellect and creative talent in the making of the character “Lady Catherine” and in doing so also made a great gift to generations of actors on stage and film. Judy Dench does it so well here:

    Lady Catherine’s Interrogation

    Indeed it takes a great talent to write a character that can “insult in every possible way” and do so for the betterment of great literature. Surely that is a good use of human capability.

  12. says

    No, not sure, but Laurie has posted only very short comments here, which is very unlike Corylus. Could be Corylus giving herself a little backup I suppose, but nothing jumps out at me.

  13. jenniferphillips says

    You’d be better off putting down the aggression gun and listening to the advice of someone who actually means you well, but is not a sycophant.

    Oh, you’re precious. I laughed for a full minute on that one. All that’s missing is the dire warning:

    You’ll RUE THE DAY that you did not heed this well-meant and completely nonsycophantic advice, Ophelia. Rue it, I say!

    hahahahahahaha!

  14. says

    Perhaps you should listen to Lady Catherine’s advice. She’s no sycophant and I’m *sure* she means you well.

    I do love Austen’s nasty characters. So well drawn; people of their type are still clearly and obviously around today. My mother, for instance, is Miss Bates from Emma.

  15. Forbidden Snowflake says

    She asked her at different times, how many sisters she had, whether they were older or younger than herself, whether any of them were likely to be married, whether they were handsome, where they had been educated, what carriage her father kept, and what had been her mother’s maiden name?

    She sounds like she wants to hack Elizabeth’s e-mail.

  16. Baron Scarpia says

    No, no. Trust me, Corylus is much too honest to use sockpuppetry. She is neither Laurie nor Philip nor anyone else but Corylus. (She’s not me, either. I should know – l’m pretty certain I’m male.)

    I love P&P, and I also love P&PwZ. I think Grahame-Smith took a lot of care over making sure the characterisation rang true.

    But really, comparing Corylus to Lady Catherine? Read her comments on richarddawkins.net – she’s used to dealing with arguments. If you think this is the toughest time she’s had and that she’s ready for the fainting couch and smelling salts because of her treatment here, you don’t know her well enough.

    And last I saw it wasn’t Corylus using Lady Catherine’s favourite ‘who do you think you are?’ tactic.

  17. dirigible says

    “If you think this is the toughest time she’s had and that she’s ready for the fainting couch and smelling salts because of her treatment here, you don’t know her well enough.”

    I doubt this is the message. And you then write:

    “And last I saw it wasn’t Corylus using Lady Catherine’s favourite ‘who do you think you are?’ tactic.”

    indicating you have some inkling that the quote is about perceptions of standing and impertinence.

  18. fredbloggs says

    I had an idea for a Pride and Prejudice/Terminator crossover skit, which I was going to call “Pride and Terminate with Extreme Prejudice”.

    I never got further than the title.

  19. Sgaile-beairt says

    @fredbloggs Someone else did, way back when, i remember seeing on USENET many years ago. If i can track it down i’ll post you the link.

  20. SAWells says

    @25: that title is all we need- truly brilliant.

    Presumably Eliza and Mr Darcy will initially make a bad impression on each other due to his being an emotionless metallic killing machine from the future…

    Actually I think that’s the plot of Terminator 2.

  21. says

    “Pride and Terminate with Extreme Prejudice”. Hope that’s available soon down at the local DVD hire shop. Along with “Darcy Strikes Back.”

    And that ever-popular TV series “Days of Our Prejudice”.

  22. Gregory in Seattle says

    I recommend Android Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters — steampunk set in Russian polite society — and The Meowmorphosis by Franz Kafka and Cook Coleridge — the story of a man who wakes up one morning to find that he’s turned into a man-sized, terrifyingly cute kitten.

  23. fredbloggs says

    @Sgaile-beairt thus confirming I’ve never had an original thought in my life. I may just kill myself ;-)

    I think Arny would make a great Mr Darcy. Stoic, silent, causes offense wherever he goes!

    Although I envisaged the first encounter between Mr Darcy and Mr Wickham would go slightly differently than the book, and would probably involve an Uzi 9mm.

  24. dianne says

    listening to the advice of someone who actually means you well

    Oh, but Lady Catherine means you well. Really. Just ask her. She wants to make sure you know your place and stick to it so you’ll be happy. No other motives, none at all.

    The problem with most of the Jane Austen with monsters books is that the secondary author is rarely as good an author as Austen was and they actually lose some of the satirical humor when they cut some of Austen’s text to add their own. Particularly notable at the end of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (which I otherwise liked quite a lot).

  25. Lyanna says

    Hah! I love it.

    Jane Austen is wonderful.

    By all means, let us continue to trifle with the dignified (or, more often, undignified) impertinence of the slimers.

  26. Godless Heathen says

    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a great book! I can’t wait to see the movie.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Lady Catherine is another such, and she too is insulated from the effects by her status and money. It struck me that social intelligence was Austen’s great subject. That’s not true of all novelists. It doesn’t fit Emily Bronte, exactly, or George Eliot, exactly – Eliot did write about it a lot (Lydgate, Rosamund) but it wasn’t dominant the way it was with Austen. [...]

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