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This commentary was prepared by Karmayogi of The Mother’s Service Society (India). See or MSS Research. The Comments column is intended for brief insightful remarks on the text. For longer comments or questions use the Talk page of this article or create a new article and add a link in the comments section of this page or under the appropriate heading on P&P project mainpage.

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The whole party were in hopes of a letter from Mr. Bennet the next morning, but the post came in without bringing a single line from him. His family knew him to be, on all common occasions, a most negligent and dilatory correspondent; but at such a time they had hoped for exertion. They were forced to conclude that he had no pleasing intelligence to send; but even of that they would have been glad to be certain. Mr. Gardiner had waited only for the letters before he set off.

  • In this chapter we see the psychological constitution of the family.
    • The helplessness of Mr. Bennet.
    • The self righteous superstition of dynamic nonsense of Mrs. Bennet.
    • Kitty’s infamous role of secrecy.
    • Mary’s unrealistic seclusion.
    • Elizabeth’s intensity and Jane’s hopes.
  • To a family there is a social as well as cultural constitution. This family has a fragile outer social constitution, no psychological basis of value. Hence it gives way.
  • Crisis may temporarily change behaviour or not, it does not touch character.
  • Mr. Bennet is a dilatory correspondent.
  • In such situations of intense total expectation a few things can happen.
    • 1.Faith can use the intensity to shower grace.
    • 2.Intensity may give the opposite results.
    • 3.Till the expectation is exhausted by disappointment, no letter arrives.
  • The expectation for a letter is great; great is the disappointment
  • It is the expectation that prevents the letter from coming
  • Expectation brings the opposite, a letter from Mr. Collins arrives

48 loungbourn Pride and Prejudice.jpg

When he was gone, they were certain at least of receiving constant information of what was going on, and their uncle promised, at parting, to prevail on Mr. Bennet to return to Longbourn, as soon as he could, to the great consolation of his sister, who considered it as the only security for her husband's not being killed in a duel.


Mrs. Gardiner and the children were to remain in Hertfordshire a few days longer, as the former thought her presence might be serviceable to her nieces. She shared in their attendance on Mrs. Bennet, and was a great comfort to them in their hours of freedom. Their other aunt also visited them frequently, and always, as she said, with the design of cheering and heartening them up -- though, as she never came without reporting some fresh instance of Wickham's extravagance or irregularity, she seldom went away without leaving them more dispirited than she found them.

  • It is good of Mrs. Gardiner to have stayed back.
  • The cheering of lower characters ends up in depression.

All Meryton seemed striving to blacken the man who, but three months before, had been almost an angel of light. He was declared to be in debt to every tradesman in the place, and his intrigues, all honoured with the title of seduction, had been extended into every tradesman's family. Everybody declared that he was the wickedest young man in the world; and everybody began to find out, that they had always distrusted the appearance of his goodness. Elizabeth, though she did not credit above half of what was said, believed enough to make her former assurance of her sister's ruin still more certain; and even Jane, who believed still less of it, became almost hopeless, more especially as the time was now come when, if they had gone to Scotland, which she had never before entirely despaired of, they must in all probability have gained some news of them.

  • The first para is an excellent description of public opinion.
  • The swings of public opinion are based on their propensities, rather than on the facts
  • Only a native is trusted in villagers. Outsiders, whatever their credentials, are not trusted at all. In the case of Wickham it becomes true

48 phillips Pride and Prejudice.jpg

Mr. Gardiner left Longbourn on Sunday; on Tuesday his wife received a letter from him; it told them that, on his arrival, he had immediately found out his brother, and persuaded him to come to Gracechurch Street; that Mr. Bennet had been to Epsom and Clapham, before his arrival, but without gaining any satisfactory information; and that he was now determined to inquire at all the principal hotels in town, as Mr. Bennet thought it possible they might have gone to one of them, on their first coming to London, before they procured lodgings. Mr. Gardiner himself did not expect any success from this measure, but as his brother was eager in it, he meant to assist him in pursuing it. He added that Mr. Bennet seemed wholly disinclined at present to leave London, and promised to write again very soon. There was also a postscript to this effect --

  • Such couples must be searched for in the East end, not in the hotels.

"I have written to Colonel Forster to desire him to find out, if possible, from some of the young man's intimates in the regiment, whether Wickham has any relations or connexions who would be likely to know in what part of the town he has now concealed himself. If there were any one that one could apply to, with a probability of gaining such a clue as that, it might be of essential consequence. At present we have nothing to guide us. Colonel Forster will, I dare say, do everything in his power to satisfy us on this head. But, on second thoughts, perhaps Lizzy could tell us what relations he has now living, better than any other person."

  • Mr. Gardiner thinks of Lizzy knowing some relatives of Wickham.
  • It is not amiss. Now that she has not given such addresses to him must make him know there are none. Otherwise he must be naïve or think Elizabeth is capable of secrecy even now which does not do him any credit.

Elizabeth was at no loss to understand from whence this deference for her authority proceeded; but it was not in her power to give any information of so satisfactory a nature as the compliment deserved. She had never heard of his having had any relations, except a father and mother, both of whom had been dead many years. It was possible, however, that some of his companions in the -- -- shire might be able to give more information; and, though she was not very sanguine in expecting it, the application was a something to look forward to.

  • Wickham is not one who will give any such information if it is there.

Every day at Longbourn was now a day of anxiety; but the most anxious part of each was when the post was expected. The arrival of letters was the first grand object of every morning's impatience. Through letters, whatever of good or bad was to be told would be communicated, and every succeeding day was expected to bring some news of importance.


But before they heard again from Mr. Gardiner, a letter arrived for their father, from a different quarter, from Mr. Collins; which, as Jane had received directions to open all that came for him in his absence, she accordingly read; and Elizabeth, who knew what curiosities his letters always were, looked over her, and read it likewise. It was as follows --

  • Their intense intention brings Collins’ letter.
  • Non-being is commissioned into action.
  • Collins writes chastising Lydia. This can be traced back to Elizabeth’s rejection of Collins, more particularly Lydia’s offence to Collins when he was reading sermons. No act ever arises on the horizon without earlier preparation in life
  • Collins takes a further step to gloat over his escape his share in the infamy. That is the reverse seed for Darcy marrying Elizabeth

48 collins Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"My dear Sir, -- I feel myself called upon, by our relationship, and my situation in life, to condole with you on the grievous affliction you are now suffering under, of which we were yesterday informed by a letter from Hertfordshire. Be assured, my dear sir, that Mrs. Collins and myself sincerely sympathise with you and all your respectable family, in your present distress, which must be of the bitterest kind, because proceeding from a cause which no time can remove. No arguments shall be wanting on my part that can alleviate so severe a misfortune -- or that may comfort you, under a circumstance that must be of all others most afflicting to a parent's mind. The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. And it is the more to be lamented, because there is reason to suppose, as my dear Charlotte informs me, that this licentiousness of behaviour in your daughter has proceeded from a faulty degree of indulgence; though, at the same time, for the consolation of yourself and Mrs. Bennet, I am inclined to think that her own disposition must be naturally bad, or she could not be guilty of such an enormity, at so early an age. Howsoever that may be, you are grievously to be pitied; in which opinion I am not only joined by Mrs. Collins, but likewise by Lady Catherine and her daughter, to whom I have related the affair. They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family? And this consideration leads me moreover to reflect, with augmented satisfaction, on a certain event of last November; for had it been otherwise, I must have been involved in all your sorrow and disgrace. Let me advise you then, my dear sir, to console yourself as much as possible, to throw off your unworthy child from your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offence. -- I am, dear Sir," etc., etc.

  • It is his revenge of his refusal, their heckling him behind his back.
  • Those are the moments of delight in any family.
  • We can well say that ridicule of Collins brought the elopement.
  • Life has returned Lady Catherine’s anger after Darcy’s letter to Collins for this letter.

Mr. Gardiner did not write again till he had received an answer from Colonel Forster; and then he had nothing of a pleasant nature to send. It was not known that Wickham had a single relation with whom he kept up any connexion, and it was certain that he had no near one living. His former acquaintance had been numerous; but since he had been in the militia, it did not appear that he was on terms of particular friendship with any of them. There was no one, therefore, who could be pointed out as likely to give any news of him. And in the wretched state of his own finances, there was a very powerful motive for secrecy, in addition to his fear of discovery by Lydia's relations, for it had just transpired that he had left gaming debts behind him to a very considerable amount. Colonel Forster believed that more than a thousand pounds would be necessary to clear his expences at Brighton. He owed a good deal in the town, but his debts of honour were still more formidable. Mr. Gardiner did not attempt to conceal these particulars from the Longbourn family. Jane heard them with horror. "A gamester!" She cried. "This is wholly unexpected. I had not an idea of it."

  • Wretched finances and secrecy go together.
  • ‘Gamester’ shocked Jane. Looks of truth have the gamester behind.
  • Mr. Gardiner writes all about Wickham, his debts, etc. No one sees that that is the material counterpart of Lydia’s psychological dissipation

48 mrs benent Pride and Prejudice.jpg

Mr. Gardiner added in his letter, that they might expect to see their father at home on the following day, which was Saturday. Rendered spiritless by the ill-success of all their endeavours, he had yielded to his brother-in-law's entreaty that he would return to his family, and leave it to him to do whatever occasion might suggest to be advisable for continuing their pursuit. When Mrs. Bennet was told of this, she did not express so much satisfaction as her children expected, considering what her anxiety for his life had been before.

  • Mr. Bennet has nothing in his past life that suggests his finding Lydia.

"What, is he coming home, and without poor Lydia?" She cried. "Sure he will not leave London before he has found them. Who is to fight Wickham, and make him marry her, if he comes away?"

  • Mrs. Bennet wants him not to fight Wickham and fight him.
  • Early formation of thought goes to both sides.

As Mrs. Gardiner began to wish to be at home, it was settled that she and her children should go to London, at the same time that Mr. Bennet came from it. The coach, therefore, took them the first stage of their journey, and brought its master back to Longbourn.


Mrs. Gardiner went away in all the perplexity about Elizabeth and her Derbyshire friend that had attended her from that part of the world. His name had never been voluntarily mentioned before then by her niece; and the kind of half-expectation which Mrs. Gardiner had formed, of their being followed by a letter from him, had ended in nothing. Elizabeth had received none since her return, that could come from Pemberley.

  • When Mrs. Gardiner goes home, Lydia comes home.
  • Mrs. Gardiner’s place is London, not Meryton. It is a small event but significant.
  • Mrs. Gardiner has good will. She is also curious.

The present unhappy state of the family rendered any other excuse for the lowness of her spirits unnecessary; nothing, therefore, could be fairly conjectured from that, though Elizabeth, who was by this time tolerably well acquainted with her own feelings, was perfectly aware that, had she known nothing of Darcy, she could have borne the dread of Lydia's infamy somewhat better. It would have spared her, she thought, one sleepless night out of two.

  • She expects a letter from Darcy to Elizabeth which was impermissible in these days.
  • It only means she wishes their marriage. No letter followed, Darcy followed.

When Mr. Bennet arrived, he had all the appearance of his usual philosophic composure. He said as little as he had ever been in the habit of saying; made no mention of the business that had taken him away, and it was some time before his daughters had courage to speak of it.

  • The higher one rises, the more sensitive he is.
  • Elizabeth is oppressed that Darcy knows of her shame.
  • In the inverse order, MAN rejects the only help when professed.
  • Mr. Bennet returns disappointed, owns his error, compliments Elizabeth for greatness of mind

48 mr bennet Pride and Prejudice.jpg

It was not till the afternoon, when he joined them at tea, that Elizabeth ventured to introduce the subject; and then, on her briefly expressing her sorrow for what he must have endured, he replied, "Say nothing of that. Who should suffer but myself? It has been my own doing, and I ought to feel it."


"You must not be too severe upon yourself," replied Elizabeth.

  • Mr. Bennet accepts the full responsibility, mentions Elizabeth’s advice in May. So, Lydia came back.

"You may well warn me against such an evil. Human nature is so prone to fall into it! No, Lizzy, let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough."


"Do you suppose them to be in London?"


"Yes; where else can they be so well concealed?'


"And Lydia used to want to go to London," added Kitty.


"She is happy, then," said her father drily; "and her residence there will probably be of some duration."


Then, after a short silence, he continued --


"Lizzy, I bear you no ill-will for being justified in your advice to me last May, which, considering the event, shews some greatness of mind."


They were interrupted by Miss Bennet, who came to fetch her mother's tea.


"This is a parade," cried he, "which does one good; it gives such an elegance to misfortune! Another day I will do the same: I will sit in my library, in my nightcap and powdering gown, and give as much trouble as I can; -- or, perhaps, I may defer it, till Kitty runs away."


"I am not going to run away, papa," said Kitty fretfully. "If I should ever go to Brighton, I would behave better than Lydia."


"You go to Brighton. I would not trust you so near it as East Bourne for fifty pounds! No, Kitty, I have at last learnt to be cautious, and you will feel the effects of it. No officer is ever to enter my house again, nor even to pass through the village. Balls will be absolutely prohibited, unless you stand up with one of your sisters. And you are never to stir out of doors till you can prove that you have spent ten minutes of every day in a rational manner."

  • The greater protest to his wife is to speak mockingly to his children.

Kitty, who took all these threats in a serious light, began to cry.


"Well, well," said he, "do not make yourself unhappy. If you are a good girl for the next ten years, I will take you to a review at the end of them."

  • He is severe on Kitty. This is the first time he was severe. She cries.

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