Such were Elizabeth Elliot's sentiments and sensations; such the cares
to alloy, the agitations to vary, the sameness and the elegance,
the prosperity and the nothingness of her scene of life;
such the feelings to give interest to a long, uneventful residence
in one country circle, to fill the vacancies which there were no habits
of utility abroad, no talents or accomplishments for home, to occupy.
But now, another occupation and solicitude of mind was beginning to be
added to these. Her father was growing distressed for money.
She knew, that when he now took up the Baronetage, it was to drive
the heavy bills of his tradespeople, and the unwelcome hints of
Mr Shepherd, his agent, from his thoughts. The Kellynch property was good,
but not equal to Sir Walter's apprehension of the state required
in its possessor. While Lady Elliot lived, there had been method,
moderation, and economy, which had just kept him within his income;
but with her had died all such right-mindedness, and from that period
he had been constantly exceeding it. It had not been possible
for him to spend less; he had done nothing but what Sir Walter Elliot
was imperiously called on to do; but blameless as he was, he was
not only growing dreadfully in debt, but was hearing of it so often,
that it became vain to attempt concealing it longer, even partially,
from his daughter. He had given her some hints of it the last spring
in town; he had gone so far even as to say, "Can we retrench?
Does it occur to you that there is any one article in which
we can retrench?" and Elizabeth, to do her justice, had, in the first
ardour of female alarm, set seriously to think what could be done,
and had finally proposed these two branches of economy, to cut off
some unnecessary charities, and to refrain from new furnishing
the drawing-room; to which expedients she afterwards added
the happy thought of their taking no present down to Anne,
as had been the usual yearly custom. But these measures,
however good in themselves, were insufficient for the real extent
of the evil, the whole of which Sir Walter found himself obliged
to confess to her soon afterwards. Elizabeth had nothing to propose
of deeper efficacy. She felt herself ill-used and unfortunate,
as did her father; and they were neither of them able to devise
any means of lessening their expenses without compromising their dignity,
or relinquishing their comforts in a way not to be borne.
There was only a small part of his estate that Sir Walter could dispose of;
but had every acre been alienable, it would have made no difference.
He had condescended to mortgage as far as he had the power,
but he would never condescend to sell. No; he would never disgrace
his name so far. The Kellynch estate should be transmitted whole
and entire, as he had received it.
Their two confidential friends, Mr Shepherd, who lived in
the neighbouring market town, and Lady Russell, were called to advise them;
and both father and daughter seemed to expect that something should be
struck out by one or the other to remove their embarrassments
and reduce their expenditure, without involving the loss of
any indulgence of taste or pride.
Friday, May 15, 2009
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Thanks for posting this.
Austen was the master of snark, the kind that slides in like a knife.
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