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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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Two days after Mr. Bennet's return, as Jane and Elizabeth were walking together in the shrubbery behind the house, they saw the housekeeper coming towards them, and, concluding that she came to call them to their mother, went forward to meet her; but, instead of the expected summons, when they approached her, she said to Miss Bennet, "I beg your pardon, madam, for interrupting you, but I was in hopes you might have got some good news from town, so I took the liberty of coming to ask."

  • Hill in wanting to tell the sisters that news has come acts as if she is intruding.
  • It is the culture of the gentleman who behaves as if he is asking for a favour when he is giving it.

49 maid Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"What do you mean, Hill? We have heard nothing from town."


"Dear madam," cried Mrs. Hill, in great astonishment, "don't you know there is an express come for master from Mr. Gardiner? He has been here this half-hour, and master has had a letter."

  • The extraordinary politeness expresses the nature of the news of the letter.
  • cf. Darcy’s “honour me reading this letter” in a haughty gesture, the letter written in a spirit of bitterness.
  • For half an hour, Mr. Bennet never thought to tell his daughters. To him it is news only for him. He is not emotionally related to them in that sense.

Away ran the girls, too eager to get in to have time for speech. They ran through the vestibule into the breakfast-room; from thence to the library -- their father was in neither; and they were on the point of seeking him upstairs with their mother, when they were met by the butler, who said --

  • No letter came from him while he was in London. The expected letter comes when he has returned home.
  • They don’t find him in the library as he has delayed telling them.
  • News of letter came from the housekeeper, news of father from the butler.
  • The kitchen is fully interested in the news.

"If you are looking for my master, ma'am, he is walking towards the little copse."


Upon this information they instantly passed through the hall once more, and ran across the lawn after their father, who was deliberately pursuing his way towards a small wood on one side of the paddock.

  • He goes to the copse with the letter. Compare Elizabeth taking her aunt’s letter to the copse. Why? Is it news unfit for the library?

Jane, who was not so light nor so much in the habit of running as Elizabeth, soon lagged behind, while her sister, panting for breath, came up with him, and eagerly cried out --

  • Elizabeth reaches first. She is the real centre. It is her charm of falsehood that made Lydia run.
  • News of Lydia arrives

49 tree Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"Oh, papa, what news -- what news? Have you heard from my uncle?"


"Yes, I have had a letter from him by express."

  • Mr. Bennet says simply a letter came without giving the news.

"Well, and what news does it bring -- good or bad?"


"What is there of good to be expected?" Said he, taking the letter from his pocket. "But perhaps you would like to read it."

  • Finding Lydia is no good news for him. Mr. Gardiner’s paying is such bad news that it overlooks the recovery of Lydia. She is not as important as his honour.
  • It is not good news for him that Lydia is found and is to be married.
  • He wants them to read it, but is lazy enough to call them. Indolence.

Elizabeth impatiently caught it from his hand. Jane now came up.

  • He wishes to share the news when circumstances either compel him or enable him to do so. He takes no initiative. He is stuck in his laziness.

"Read it aloud," said their father, "for I hardly know myself what it is about."


"Gracechurch Street, Monday, August 2.


49 happy Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"MY DEAR BROTHER, -- At last I am able to send you some tidings of my niece, and such as, upon the whole, I hope will give you satisfaction. Soon after you left me on Saturday, I was fortunate enough to find out in what part of London they were. The particulars I reserve till we meet: it is enough to know they are discovered. I have seen them both -- "

  • The first sentence in the letter must be “Lydia is found and is to be married”. Gardiner is formality-bound, not actuated by the news of her recovery. cf. Mrs. Bennet’s reaction “My dear dear Lydia. This is delightful indeed”.
  • As long as Mr. Bennet is in London, Lydia will not be found, as he is the one who sent her to the elopement.
  • Mr. Gardiner cannot find her as his approach is rational. Life is subtle.
  • Mr. Gardiner is not reporting his experience of finding Lydia. He is writing the version he has agreed upon with Darcy. So it is natural it is not lively.
  • He reserves the particulars as they are artificial.

"Then it is as I always hoped," cried Jane; "they are married!"

  • Jane’s first thought is her marriage. 49.25

Elizabeth read on --

"I have seen them both. They are not married, nor can I find there was any intention of being so; but if you are willing to perform the engagements which I have ventured to make on your side, I hope it will not be long before they are. All that is required of you is, to assure to your daughter, by settlement, her equal share of the five thousand pounds secured among your children after the decease of yourself and my sister; and, moreover, to enter into an engagement of allowing her, during your life, one hundred pounds per annum. These are conditions which, considering everything, I had no hesitation in complying with, as far as I thought myself privileged, for you. I shall send this by express, that no time may be lost in bringing me your answer. You will easily comprehend, from these particulars, that Mr. Wickham's circumstances are not so hopeless as they are generally believed to be. The world has been deceived in that respect; and I am happy to say there will be some little money, even when all his debts are discharged, to settle on my niece, in addition to her own fortune. If, as I conclude will be the case, you send me full powers to act in your name throughout the whole of this business, I will immediately give directions to Haggerston for preparing a proper settlement. There will not be the smallest occasion for your coming to town again; therefore stay quietly at Longbourn, and depend on my diligence and care. Send back your answer as soon as you can, and be careful to write explicitly. We have judged it best that my niece should be married from this house, of which I hope you will approve. She comes to us to-day. I shall write again as soon as anything more is determined on. -- Your's, etc. "EDW. GARDINER."

  • His description of the arrangements lacks the tone of conviction.
  • It is plain to Mr. Bennet that Mr. Gardiner paid.
  • Not once did it strike anyone that it was not Gardiner who paid, as it was the unseen hand of Grace that was in action.
  • ‘There will not be the smallest occasion for your coming’ is a phrase that generates suspicion.
  • ‘Stay quietly at Longbourn’. Mr. Gardiner feels the relief from the oppression.
  • ‘Depend on my diligence and care’. He can take this responsibility, not find Lydia.
  • ‘Write explicitly’. Polite forms spoil business.
  • ‘We have judged best’. This is about Darcy paying. Says about marrying from his house.
  • ‘I hope you will approve’. Gardiner is sorry he is not paying but approves of Darcy’s paying. Mrs. Gardiner’s sorrow about borrowed feathers going against the grain is true. She is noble, he is good. Therefore her good will has power.
  • ‘as soon as anything more is determined’ indicates that the decision is not entirely his.

"Is it possible?" Cried Elizabeth, when she had finished. "Can it be possible that he will marry her?"

  • While Jane wishes for the marriage, Elizabeth is incredulous that Wickham would marry.
  • Gardiner arranges for her wedding

49 mr bennet Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"Wickham is not so undeserving, then, as we have thought him," said her sister. "My dear father, I congratulate you."

  • Jane goes back to her own personality centre.

"And have you answered the letter?" Said Elizabeth.


"No; but it must be done soon."

  • Elizabeth is thinking of work.

Most earnestly did she then intreat him to lose no more time before he wrote.

  • To him it is a work.

"Oh! My dear father," she cried, "come back and write immediately. Consider how important every moment is in such a case."

  • Losing no time in such a work is not impatience, it is significant.
  • Every moment matters.
  • She has the subtle sense of its significance.

"Let me write for you," said Jane, "if you dislike the trouble yourself."

  • She can relieve him of physical effort.
  • Elizabeth handles the wider significance.

"I dislike it very much," he replied; "but it must be done."


And so saying, he turned back with them, and walked towards the house.


"And may I ask -- " said Elizabeth; "but the terms, I suppose, must be complied with."

  • Elizabeth’s inexperience misses the money involved.

"Complied with! I am only ashamed of his asking so little."

  • Age tells him on the face of it.

"And they must marry! Yet he is such a man!"


"Yes, yes, they must marry. There is nothing else to be done. But there are two things that I want very much to know: one is, how much money your uncle has laid down, to bring it about; and the other, how I am ever to pay him."

  • Total sense of responsibility.
  • Bennet does not believe the letter

"Money! My uncle!" Cried Jane; "what do you mean, sir?"

  • Jane is unable to comprehend Money.
  • His explanation makes the terms obviously ridiculous.

"I mean, that no man in his senses would marry Lydia on so slight a temptation as one hundred a year during my life, and fifty after I am gone."


"That is very true," said Elizabeth; "though it had not occurred to me before. His debts to be discharged, and something still to remain! Oh! It must be my uncle's doings! Generous, good man, I am afraid he has distressed himself. A small sum could not do all this."

  • Intelligence cannot supply the deficiency of inexperience.
  • It did not strike Elizabeth till then that Money was paid.
  • Elizabeth learns of the enormity of the settlement

49 uneasy Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"No," said her father; "Wickham's a fool if he takes her with a farthing less than ten thousand pounds. I should be sorry to think so ill of him, in the very beginning of our relationship."


"Ten thousand pounds! Heaven forbid! How is half such a sum to be repaid?"

  • Elizabeth sees it cannot be paid back.
  • Neither of them sensed there must be more than Gardiner behind the resolution.
  • First she did not think of money.
  • Next it was not £10,000 she thought of.
  • Finally it never occurred to either of them that it was too much for Gardiner even if he could afford it. No doubt arose for
    • 1. accepts the results;
    • 2. insensitive to the giver;
    • 3. the whole problem is new;
    • 4. Darcy will soon become one of them.

Mr. Bennet made no answer, and each of them, deep in thought, continued silent till they reached the house. Their father then went to the library to write, and the girls walked into the breakfast-room.

  • Now Elizabeth thinks of their wedding.

"And they are really to be married!" Cried Elizabeth, as soon as they were by themselves. "How strange this is! And for this we are to be thankful. That they should marry, small as is their chance of happiness, and wretched as is his character, we are forced to rejoice. Oh, Lydia!"

  • Jane goes back to her theme of justification.

"I comfort myself with thinking," replied Jane, "that he certainly would not marry Lydia if he had not a real regard for her. Though our kind uncle has done something towards clearing him, I cannot believe that ten thousand pounds, or anything like it, has been advanced. He has children of his own, and may have more. How could he spare half ten thousand pounds?"

  • The magnitude of the calamity passes their comprehension.
  • First of all they cannot be traced.
  • He cannot be made to marry.
  • It demands great money which Bennet knows.
  • It needs enormous social power which the Gardiners do not have – Bennet is oblivious of it.

"If we are ever able to learn what Wickham's debts have been," said Elizabeth, "and how much is settled on his side on our sister, we shall exactly know what Mr. Gardiner has done for them, because Wickham has not sixpence of his own. The kindness of my uncle and aunt can never be requited. Their taking her home, and affording her their personal protection and countenance, is such a sacrifice to her advantage as years of gratitude cannot enough acknowledge. By this time she is actually with them! If such goodness does not make her miserable now, she will never deserve to be happy! What a meeting for her, when she first sees my aunt!"

  • Jane remains on her theme of justifying every one.
  • It requires social wisdom to see another hand behind it.
  • What resolved the issue is threat of imprisonment and sound bribery.
  • Lydia knows of nothing.
  • Mr. Bennet knows of money only.
  • The girls know of the marriage only.
  • They all miss Darcy, the power of Darcy, as we miss Grace.

"We must endeavour to forget all that has passed on either side," said Jane: "I hope and trust they will yet be happy. His consenting to marry her is a proof, I will believe, that he is come to a right way of thinking. Their mutual affection will steady them; and I flatter myself they will settle so quietly, and live in so rational a manner, as may in time make their past imprudence forgotten."

  • Jane hopes the world would forget Lydia’s infamy which even Mr. Bennet later thinks. The world never forgets an act like that unless it is overcome by money

49 elizabeth Pride and Prejudice.jpg

"Their conduct has been such," replied Elizabeth, "as neither you, nor I, nor anybody can ever forget. It is useless to talk of it."

  • The girls never thought of their mother, the moment they read the letter.
  • After their sensations subsided, they think of her.
  • The mother is of secondary importance to the girls, of no importance to the father.

It now occurred to the girls that their mother was in all likelihood perfectly ignorant of what had happened. They went to the library, therefore, and asked their father whether he would not wish them to make it known to her. He was writing, and, without raising his head, coolly replied --


"Just as you please."


"May we take my uncle's letter to read to her?"


"Take whatever you like, and get away."

  • It is a crucial moment. Till the marriage is over, the mother should be kept ignorant. Otherwise, her agitations can spoil the marriage which in this case has not happened. Such small compromises may create the difference between Wickham becoming a proper husband and his remaining as he has done.

Elizabeth took the letter from his writing table, and they went up stairs together. Mary and Kitty were both with Mrs. Bennet: one communication would, therefore, do for all. After a slight preparation for good news, the letter was read aloud. Mrs. Bennet could hardly contain herself. As soon as Jane had read Mr. Gardiner's hope of Lydia's being soon married, her joy burst forth, and every following sentence added to its exuberance. She was now in an irritation as violent from delight, as she had ever been fidgetty from alarm and vexation. To know that her daughter would be married was enough. She was disturbed by no fear for her felicity, nor humbled by any remembrance of her misconduct.

  • Her joy burst forth – As it is a positive exuberance, it did not spoil.
  • Had this occasion been used rightly, as Darcy has changed, Wickham would have become a normal man in behaviour.
  • Jane Austen is at her best in writing this para in which Mrs. Bennet’s Joy has burst forth.
  • Mrs. Bennet’s response to Gardiner’s munificence is exactly the same of all recipients. Violence is its characteristic.

"My dear, dear Lydia!" She cried. "This is delightful indeed! She will be married! I shall see her again! She will be married at sixteen! My good, kind brother! I knew how it would be. I knew he would manage everything! How I long to see her! And to see dear Wickham too? But the clothes, the wedding clothes! I will write to my sister Gardiner about them directly. Lizzy, my dear, run down to your father, and ask him how much he will give her. Stay, stay, I will go myself. Ring the bell, Kitty, for Hill. I will put on my things in a moment. My dear, dear Lydia! -- How merry we shall be together when we meet!"

  • Mr. Bennet has not communicated the contents of the letter to others. Mrs. Bennet, on receiving the information, is experiencing the irritation of the violence of delight

49 mrs bennet Pride and Prejudice.jpg

Her eldest daughter endeavoured to give some relief to the violence of these transports, by leading her thoughts to the obligations which Mr. Gardiner's behaviour laid them all under.


"For we must attribute this happy conclusion," she added, "in a great measure to his kindness. We are persuaded that he has pledged himself to assist Mr. Wickham with money."


"Well," cried her mother, "it is all very right; who should do it but her own uncle? If he had not had a family of his own, I and my children must have had all his money, you know; and it is the first time we have ever had anything from him, except a few presents. Well! I am so happy! In a short time I shall have a daughter married. Mrs. Wickham! -- how well it sounds! And she was only sixteen last June. -- My dear Jane, I am in such a flutter, that I am sure I can't write; so I will dictate, and you write for me. We will settle with your father about the money afterwards; but the things should be ordered immediately."

  • Every recipient when the receiving is over, feels contempt for the giver.
  • The villainous Wickham of yesterday is a pleasant sound in her mouth

49 jane elizabeth Pride and Prejudice.jpg

She was then proceeding to all the particulars of calico, muslin, and cambric, and would shortly have dictated some very plentiful orders, had not Jane, though with some difficulty, persuaded her to wait till her father was at leisure to be consulted. One day's delay, she observed, would be of small importance; and her mother was too happy to be quite so obstinate as usual. Other schemes, too, came into her head.

  • To fully appreciate the inspiration of Mrs. Bennet for calico and muslim, meantime one should be like her or have the ultimate eye of a consummate poet.

"I will go to Meryton," said she, "as soon as I am dressed, and tell the good, good news to my sister Phillips. And as I come back, I can call on Lady Lucas and Mrs. Long. Kitty, run down and order the carriage. An airing would do me a great deal of good, I am sure. Girls, can I do anything for you in Meryton? Oh! Here comes Hill! My dear Hill, have you heard the good news? Miss Lydia is going to be married; and you shall all have a bowl of punch to make merry at her wedding."


Mrs. Hill began instantly to express her joy. Elizabeth received her congratulations amongst the rest, and then, sick of this folly, took refuge in her own room, that she might think with freedom.

  • Mrs. Bennet asked for the congratulations of Hill. Lydia does it too. Mrs. Bennet is capable of asking for congratulations from every wayfarer.
  • What makes Elizabeth sick makes her mother exuberant.

Poor Lydia's situation must, at best, be bad enough; but that it was no worse, she had need to be thankful. She felt it so; and though, in looking forward, neither rational happiness nor worldly prosperity could be justly expected for her sister, in looking back to what they had feared, only two hours ago, she felt all the advantages of what they had gained.


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