Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

CHAPTER I

About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven
thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of
Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised
to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences
of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the
greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her
to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it.
She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their
acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as
Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal
advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in
the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. Miss Ward, at the
end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to
the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any
private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. Miss Ward’s match,
indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible: Sir Thomas
being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of
Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal
felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. But Miss Frances
married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on
a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions, did
it very thoroughly. She could hardly have made a more untoward choice.
Sir Thomas Bertram had interest, which, from principle as well as
pride–from a general wish of doing right, and a desire of seeing all
that were connected with him in situations of respectability, he would
have been glad to exert for the advantage of Lady Bertram’s sister; but
her husband’s profession was such as no interest could reach; and before
he had time to devise any other method of assisting them, an absolute
breach between the sisters had taken place. It was the natural result of
the conduct of each party, and such as a very imprudent marriage almost
always produces. To save herself from useless remonstrance, Mrs. Price
never wrote to her family on the subject till actually married. Lady
Bertram, who was a woman of very tranquil feelings, and a temper
remarkably easy and indolent, would have contented herself with merely
giving up her sister, and thinking no more of the matter; but Mrs.
Norris had a spirit of activity, which could not be satisfied till she
had written a long and angry letter to Fanny, to point out the folly of
her conduct, and threaten her with all its possible ill consequences.
Mrs. Price, in her turn, was injured and angry; and an answer, which
comprehended each sister in its bitterness, and bestowed such very
disrespectful reflections on the pride of Sir Thomas as Mrs. Norris
could not possibly keep to herself, put an end to all intercourse
between them for a considerable period.

Their homes were so distant, and the circles in which they moved so
distinct, as almost to preclude the means of ever hearing of each
other’s existence during the eleven following years, or, at least, to
make it very wonderful to Sir Thomas that Mrs. Norris should ever have
it in her power to tell them, as she now and then did, in an angry
voice, that Fanny had got another child. By the end of eleven years,
however, Mrs. Price could no longer afford to cherish pride or
resentment, or to lose one connexion that might possibly assist her.
A large and still increasing family, an husband disabled for active
service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very
small income to supply their wants, made her eager to regain the friends
she had so carelessly sacrificed; and she addressed Lady Bertram in
a letter which spoke so much contrition and despondence, such a
superfluity of children, and such a want of almost everything else, as
could not but dispose them all to a reconciliation. She was preparing
for her ninth lying-in; and after bewailing the circumstance, and
imploring their countenance as sponsors to the expected child, she
could not conceal how important she felt they might be to the future
maintenance of the eight already in being. Her eldest was a boy of ten
years old, a fine spirited fellow, who longed to be out in the world;
but what could she do? Was there any chance of his being hereafter
useful to Sir Thomas in the concerns of his West Indian property?
No situation would be beneath him; or what did Sir Thomas think of
Woolwich? or how could a boy be sent out to the East?

The letter was not unproductive. It re-established peace and kindness.
Sir Thomas sent friendly advice and professions, Lady Bertram dispatched
money and baby-linen, and Mrs. Norris wrote the letters.

Such were its immediate effects, and within a twelvemonth a more
important advantage to Mrs. Price resulted from it. Mrs. Norris was
often observing to the others that she could not get her poor sister and
her family out of her head, and that, much as they had all done for her,
she seemed to be wanting to do more; and at length she could not but
own it to be her wish that poor Mrs. Price should be relieved from the
charge and expense of one child entirely out of her great number. “What
if they were among them to undertake the care of her eldest daughter,
a girl now nine years old, of an age to require more attention than her
poor mother could possibly give? The trouble and expense of it to them
would be nothing, compared with the benevolence of the action.” Lady
Bertram agreed with her instantly. “I think we cannot do better,” said
she; “let us send for the child.”

Sir Thomas could not give so instantaneous and unqualified a consent. He
debated and hesitated;–it was a serious charge;–a girl so brought up
must be adequately provided for, or there would be cruelty instead
of kindness in taking her from her family. He thought of his own four
children, of his two sons, of cousins in love, etc.;–but no sooner
had he deliberately begun to state his objections, than Mrs. Norris
interrupted him with a reply to them all, whether stated or not.

“My dear Sir Thomas, I perfectly comprehend you, and do justice to the
generosity and delicacy of your notions, which indeed are quite of a
piece with your general conduct; and I entirely agree with you in
the main as to the propriety of doing everything one could by way of
providing for a child one had in a manner taken into one’s own hands;
and I am sure I should be the last person in the world to withhold my
mite upon such an occasion. Having no children of my own, who should I
look to in any little matter I may ever have to bestow, but the children
of my sisters?–and I am sure Mr. Norris is too just–but you know I am
a woman of few words and professions. Do not let us be frightened from
a good deed by a trifle. Give a girl an education, and introduce
her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of
settling well, without farther expense to anybody. A niece of ours, Sir
Thomas, I may say, or at least of _yours_, would not grow up in this
neighbourhood without many advantages. I don’t say she would be so
handsome as her cousins. I dare say she would not; but she would be
introduced into the society of this country under such very favourable
circumstances as, in all human probability, would get her a creditable
establishment. You are thinking of your sons–but do not you know that,
of all things upon earth, _that_ is the least likely to happen, brought
up as they would be, always together like brothers and sisters? It is
morally impossible. I never knew an instance of it. It is, in fact, the
only sure way of providing against the connexion. Suppose her a pretty
girl, and seen by Tom or Edmund for the first time seven years hence,
and I dare say there would be mischief. The very idea of her having been
suffered to grow up at a distance from us all in poverty and neglect,
would be enough to make either of the dear, sweet-tempered boys in love
with her. But breed her up with them from this time, and suppose her
even to have the beauty of an angel, and she will never be more to
either than a sister.”

“There is a great deal of truth in what you say,” replied Sir Thomas,
“and far be it from me to throw any fanciful impediment in the way of a
plan which would be so consistent with the relative situations of each.
I only meant to observe that it ought not to be lightly engaged in,
and that to make it really serviceable to Mrs. Price, and creditable to
ourselves, we must secure to the child, or consider ourselves engaged to
secure to her hereafter, as circumstances may arise, the provision of
a gentlewoman, if no such establishment should offer as you are so
sanguine in expecting.”

“I thoroughly understand you,” cried Mrs. Norris, “you are everything
that is generous and considerate, and I am sure we shall never disagree
on this point. Whatever I can do, as you well know, I am always ready
enough to do for the good of those I love; and, though I could never
feel for this little girl the hundredth part of the regard I bear your
own dear children, nor consider her, in any respect, so much my own,
I should hate myself if I were capable of neglecting her. Is not she a
sister’s child? and could I bear to see her want while I had a bit of
bread to give her? My dear Sir Thomas, with all my faults I have a warm
heart; and, poor as I am, would rather deny myself the necessaries of
life than do an ungenerous thing. So, if you are not against it, I will
write to my poor sister tomorrow, and make the proposal; and, as soon
as matters are settled, _I_ will engage to get the child to Mansfield;
_you_ shall have no trouble about it. My own trouble, you know, I never
regard. I will send Nanny to London on purpose, and she may have a bed
at her cousin the saddler’s, and the child be appointed to meet her
there. They may easily get her from Portsmouth to town by the coach,
under the care of any creditable person that may chance to be going. I
dare say there is always some reputable tradesman’s wife or other going
up.”

Except to the attack on Nanny’s cousin, Sir Thomas no longer made any
objection, and a more respectable, though less economical rendezvous
being accordingly substituted, everything was considered as settled,
and the pleasures of so benevolent a scheme were already enjoyed. The
division of gratifying sensations ought not, in strict justice, to
have been equal; for Sir Thomas was fully resolved to be the real and
consistent patron of the selected child, and Mrs. Norris had not the
least intention of being at any expense whatever in her maintenance.
As far as walking, talking, and contriving reached, she was thoroughly
benevolent, and nobody knew better how to dictate liberality to others;
but her love of money was equal to her love of directing, and she knew
quite as well how to save her own as to spend that of her friends.
Having married on a narrower income than she had been used to look
forward to, she had, from the first, fancied a very strict line of
economy necessary; and what was begun as a matter of prudence, soon grew
into a matter of choice, as an object of that needful solicitude which
there were no children to supply. Had there been a family to provide
for, Mrs. Norris might never have saved her money; but having no care
of that kind, there was nothing to impede her frugality, or lessen the
comfort of making a yearly addition to an income which they had never
lived up to. Under this infatuating principle, counteracted by no real
affection for her sister, it was impossible for her to aim at more than
the credit of projecting and arranging so expensive a charity; though
perhaps she might so little know herself as to walk home to the
Parsonage, after this conversation, in the happy belief of being the
most liberal-minded sister and aunt in the world.

When the subject was brought forward again, her views were more fully
explained; and, in reply to Lady Bertram’s calm inquiry of “Where shall
the child come to first, sister, to you or to us?” Sir Thomas heard with
some surprise that it would be totally out of Mrs. Norris’s power to
take any share in the personal charge of her. He had been considering
her as a particularly welcome addition at the Parsonage, as a desirable
companion to an aunt who had no children of her own; but he found
himself wholly mistaken. Mrs. Norris was sorry to say that the little
girl’s staying with them, at least as things then were, was quite out of
the question. Poor Mr. Norris’s indifferent state of health made it an
impossibility: he could no more bear the noise of a child than he could
fly; if, indeed, he should ever get well of his gouty complaints, it
would be a different matter: she should then be glad to take her turn,
and think nothing of the inconvenience; but just now, poor Mr. Norris
took up every moment of her time, and the very mention of such a thing
she was sure would distract him.

“Then she had better come to us,” said Lady Bertram, with the utmost
composure. After a short pause Sir Thomas added with dignity, “Yes, let
her home be in this house. We will endeavour to do our duty by her, and
she will, at least, have the advantage of companions of her own age, and
of a regular instructress.”

“Very true,” cried Mrs. Norris, “which are both very important
considerations; and it will be just the same to Miss Lee whether she has
three girls to teach, or only two–there can be no difference. I only
wish I could be more useful; but you see I do all in my power. I am not
one of those that spare their own trouble; and Nanny shall fetch her,
however it may put me to inconvenience to have my chief counsellor away
for three days. I suppose, sister, you will put the child in the little
white attic, near the old nurseries. It will be much the best place
for her, so near Miss Lee, and not far from the girls, and close by the
housemaids, who could either of them help to dress her, you know, and
take care of her clothes, for I suppose you would not think it fair to
expect Ellis to wait on her as well as the others. Indeed, I do not see
that you could possibly place her anywhere else.”

Lady Bertram made no opposition.

“I hope she will prove a well-disposed girl,” continued Mrs. Norris,
“and be sensible of her uncommon good fortune in having such friends.”

“Should her disposition be really bad,” said Sir Thomas, “we must not,
for our own children’s sake, continue her in the family; but there is
no reason to expect so great an evil. We shall probably see much to wish
altered in her, and must prepare ourselves for gross ignorance, some
meanness of opinions, and very distressing vulgarity of manner; but
these are not incurable faults; nor, I trust, can they be dangerous for
her associates. Had my daughters been _younger_ than herself, I should
have considered the introduction of such a companion as a matter of very
serious moment; but, as it is, I hope there can be nothing to fear for
_them_, and everything to hope for _her_, from the association.”

“That is exactly what I think,” cried Mrs. Norris, “and what I was
saying to my husband this morning. It will be an education for the
child, said I, only being with her cousins; if Miss Lee taught her
nothing, she would learn to be good and clever from _them_.”

“I hope she will not tease my poor pug,” said Lady Bertram; “I have but
just got Julia to leave it alone.”

“There will be some difficulty in our way, Mrs. Norris,” observed Sir
Thomas, “as to the distinction proper to be made between the girls
as they grow up: how to preserve in the minds of my _daughters_ the
consciousness of what they are, without making them think too lowly of
their cousin; and how, without depressing her spirits too far, to make
her remember that she is not a _Miss Bertram_. I should wish to see them
very good friends, and would, on no account, authorise in my girls the
smallest degree of arrogance towards their relation; but still they
cannot be equals. Their rank, fortune, rights, and expectations will
always be different. It is a point of great delicacy, and you must
assist us in our endeavours to choose exactly the right line of
conduct.”

Mrs. Norris was quite at his service; and though she perfectly agreed
with him as to its being a most difficult thing, encouraged him to hope
that between them it would be easily managed.

It will be readily believed that Mrs. Norris did not write to her sister
in vain. Mrs. Price seemed rather surprised that a girl should be
fixed on, when she had so many fine boys, but accepted the offer most
thankfully, assuring them of her daughter’s being a very well-disposed,
good-humoured girl, and trusting they would never have cause to throw
her off. She spoke of her farther as somewhat delicate and puny, but was
sanguine in the hope of her being materially better for change of air.
Poor woman! she probably thought change of air might agree with many of
her children.

CHAPTER II

The little girl performed her long journey in safety; and at Northampton
was met by Mrs. Norris, who thus regaled in the credit of being foremost
to welcome her, and in the importance of leading her in to the others,
and recommending her to their kindness.

Fanny Price was at this time just ten years old, and though there might
not be much in her first appearance to captivate, there was, at least,
nothing to disgust her relations. She was small of her age, with no glow
of complexion, nor any other striking beauty; exceedingly timid and shy,
and shrinking from notice; but her air, though awkward, was not vulgar,
her voice was sweet, and when she spoke her countenance was pretty. Sir
Thomas and Lady Bertram received her very kindly; and Sir Thomas,
seeing how much she needed encouragement, tried to be all that was
conciliating: but he had to work against a most untoward gravity of
deportment; and Lady Bertram, without taking half so much trouble, or
speaking one word where he spoke ten, by the mere aid of a good-humoured
smile, became immediately the less awful character of the two.

The young people were all at home, and sustained their share in the
introduction very well, with much good humour, and no embarrassment, at
least on the part of the sons, who, at seventeen and sixteen, and tall
of their age, had all the grandeur of men in the eyes of their little
cousin. The two girls were more at a loss from being younger and in
greater awe of their father, who addressed them on the occasion with
rather an injudicious particularity. But they were too much used to
company and praise to have anything like natural shyness; and their
confidence increasing from their cousin’s total want of it, they were
soon able to take a full survey of her face and her frock in easy
indifference.

They were a remarkably fine family, the sons very well-looking, the
daughters decidedly handsome, and all of them well-grown and forward of
their age, which produced as striking a difference between the cousins
in person, as education had given to their address; and no one would
have supposed the girls so nearly of an age as they really were. There
were in fact but two years between the youngest and Fanny. Julia
Bertram was only twelve, and Maria but a year older. The little visitor
meanwhile was as unhappy as possible. Afraid of everybody, ashamed of
herself, and longing for the home she had left, she knew not how to look
up, and could scarcely speak to be heard, or without crying. Mrs. Norris
had been talking to her the whole way from Northampton of her wonderful
good fortune, and the extraordinary degree of gratitude and good
behaviour which it ought to produce, and her consciousness of misery was
therefore increased by the idea of its being a wicked thing for her
not to be happy. The fatigue, too, of so long a journey, became soon no
trifling evil. In vain were the well-meant condescensions of Sir Thomas,
and all the officious prognostications of Mrs. Norris that she would be
a good girl; in vain did Lady Bertram smile and make her sit on the sofa
with herself and pug, and vain was even the sight of a gooseberry tart
towards giving her comfort; she could scarcely swallow two mouthfuls
before tears interrupted her, and sleep seeming to be her likeliest
friend, she was taken to finish her sorrows in bed.

“This is not a very promising beginning,” said Mrs. Norris, when Fanny
had left the room. “After all that I said to her as we came along, I
thought she would have behaved better; I told her how much might depend
upon her acquitting herself well at first. I wish there may not be a
little sulkiness of temper–her poor mother had a good deal; but we must
make allowances for such a child–and I do not know that her being sorry
to leave her home is really against her, for, with all its faults,
it _was_ her home, and she cannot as yet understand how much she has
changed for the better; but then there is moderation in all things.”

It required a longer time, however, than Mrs. Norris was inclined to
allow, to reconcile Fanny to the novelty of Mansfield Park, and the
separation from everybody she had been used to. Her feelings were very
acute, and too little understood to be properly attended to. Nobody
meant to be unkind, but nobody put themselves out of their way to secure
her comfort.

The holiday allowed to the Miss Bertrams the next day, on purpose to
afford leisure for getting acquainted with, and entertaining their young
cousin, produced little union. They could not but hold her cheap on
finding that she had but two sashes, and had never learned French; and
when they perceived her to be little struck with the duet they were so
good as to play, they could do no more than make her a generous present
of some of their least valued toys, and leave her to herself, while
they adjourned to whatever might be the favourite holiday sport of the
moment, making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper.

Fanny, whether near or from her cousins, whether in the schoolroom, the
drawing-room, or the shrubbery, was equally forlorn, finding something
to fear in every person and place. She was disheartened by Lady
Bertram’s silence, awed by Sir Thomas’s grave looks, and quite overcome
by Mrs. Norris’s admonitions. Her elder cousins mortified her by
reflections on her size, and abashed her by noticing her shyness: Miss
Lee wondered at her ignorance, and the maid-servants sneered at her
clothes; and when to these sorrows was added the idea of the brothers
and sisters among whom she had always been important as playfellow,
instructress, and nurse, the despondence that sunk her little heart was
severe.

The grandeur of the house astonished, but could not console her. The
rooms were too large for her to move in with ease: whatever she touched
she expected to injure, and she crept about in constant terror of
something or other; often retreating towards her own chamber to cry; and
the little girl who was spoken of in the drawing-room when she left it
at night as seeming so desirably sensible of her peculiar good fortune,
ended every day’s sorrows by sobbing herself to sleep. A week had
passed in this way, and no suspicion of it conveyed by her quiet
passive manner, when she was found one morning by her cousin Edmund, the
youngest of the sons, sitting crying on the attic stairs.

“My dear little cousin,” said he, with all the gentleness of an
excellent nature, “what can be the matter?” And sitting down by her,
he was at great pains to overcome her shame in being so surprised, and
persuade her to speak openly. Was she ill? or was anybody angry with
her? or had she quarrelled with Maria and Julia? or was she puzzled
about anything in her lesson that he could explain? Did she, in short,
want anything he could possibly get her, or do for her? For a long while
no answer could be obtained beyond a “no, no–not at all–no, thank
you”; but he still persevered; and no sooner had he begun to revert
to her own home, than her increased sobs explained to him where the
grievance lay. He tried to console her.

“You are sorry to leave Mama, my dear little Fanny,” said he, “which
shows you to be a very good girl; but you must remember that you are
with relations and friends, who all love you, and wish to make you
happy. Let us walk out in the park, and you shall tell me all about your
brothers and sisters.”

On pursuing the subject, he found that, dear as all these brothers and
sisters generally were, there was one among them who ran more in her
thoughts than the rest. It was William whom she talked of most, and
wanted most to see. William, the eldest, a year older than herself, her
constant companion and friend; her advocate with her mother (of whom
he was the darling) in every distress. “William did not like she should
come away; he had told her he should miss her very much indeed.” “But
William will write to you, I dare say.” “Yes, he had promised he would,
but he had told _her_ to write first.” “And when shall you do it?” She
hung her head and answered hesitatingly, “she did not know; she had not
any paper.”

“If that be all your difficulty, I will furnish you with paper and every
other material, and you may write your letter whenever you choose. Would
it make you happy to write to William?”

“Yes, very.”

“Then let it be done now. Come with me into the breakfast-room, we shall
find everything there, and be sure of having the room to ourselves.”

“But, cousin, will it go to the post?”

“Yes, depend upon me it shall: it shall go with the other letters; and,
as your uncle will frank it, it will cost William nothing.”

“My uncle!” repeated Fanny, with a frightened look.

“Yes, when you have written the letter, I will take it to my father to
frank.”

Fanny thought it a bold measure, but offered no further resistance; and
they went together into the breakfast-room, where Edmund prepared her
paper, and ruled her lines with all the goodwill that her brother
could himself have felt, and probably with somewhat more exactness. He
continued with her the whole time of her writing, to assist her with his
penknife or his orthography, as either were wanted; and added to these
attentions, which she felt very much, a kindness to her brother which
delighted her beyond all the rest. He wrote with his own hand his
love to his cousin William, and sent him half a guinea under the seal.
Fanny’s feelings on the occasion were such as she believed herself
incapable of expressing; but her countenance and a few artless words
fully conveyed all their gratitude and delight, and her cousin began
to find her an interesting object. He talked to her more, and, from all
that she said, was convinced of her having an affectionate heart, and
a strong desire of doing right; and he could perceive her to be farther
entitled to attention by great sensibility of her situation, and great
timidity. He had never knowingly given her pain, but he now felt that
she required more positive kindness; and with that view endeavoured,
in the first place, to lessen her fears of them all, and gave her
especially a great deal of good advice as to playing with Maria and
Julia, and being as merry as possible.

From this day Fanny grew more comfortable. She felt that she had a
friend, and the kindness of her cousin Edmund gave her better spirits
with everybody else. The place became less strange, and the people less
formidable; and if there were some amongst them whom she could not cease
to fear, she began at least to know their ways, and to catch the best
manner of conforming to them. The little rusticities and awkwardnesses
which had at first made grievous inroads on the tranquillity of all,
and not least of herself, necessarily wore away, and she was no longer
materially afraid to appear before her uncle, nor did her aunt Norris’s
voice make her start very much. To her cousins she became occasionally
an acceptable companion. Though unworthy, from inferiority of age and
strength, to be their constant associate, their pleasures and schemes
were sometimes of a nature to make a third very useful, especially when
that third was of an obliging, yielding temper; and they could not but
own, when their aunt inquired into her faults, or their brother Edmund
urged her claims to their kindness, that “Fanny was good-natured
enough.”

Edmund was uniformly kind himself; and she had nothing worse to endure
on the part of Tom than that sort of merriment which a young man of
seventeen will always think fair with a child of ten. He was just
entering into life, full of spirits, and with all the liberal
dispositions of an eldest son, who feels born only for expense and
enjoyment. His kindness to his little cousin was consistent with his
situation and rights: he made her some very pretty presents, and laughed
at her.

As her appearance and spirits improved, Sir Thomas and Mrs. Norris
thought with greater satisfaction of their benevolent plan; and it
was pretty soon decided between them that, though far from clever, she
showed a tractable disposition, and seemed likely to give them little
trouble. A mean opinion of her abilities was not confined to _them_.
Fanny could read, work, and write, but she had been taught nothing more;
and as her cousins found her ignorant of many things with which they had
been long familiar, they thought her prodigiously stupid, and for the
first two or three weeks were continually bringing some fresh report of
it into the drawing-room. “Dear mama, only think, my cousin cannot
put the map of Europe together–or my cousin cannot tell the principal
rivers in Russia–or, she never heard of Asia Minor–or she does
not know the difference between water-colours and crayons!–How
strange!–Did you ever hear anything so stupid?”

“My dear,” their considerate aunt would reply, “it is very bad, but
you must not expect everybody to be as forward and quick at learning as
yourself.”

“But, aunt, she is really so very ignorant!–Do you know, we asked her
last night which way she would go to get to Ireland; and she said, she
should cross to the Isle of Wight. She thinks of nothing but the Isle of
Wight, and she calls it _the_ _Island_, as if there were no other island
in the world. I am sure I should have been ashamed of myself, if I had
not known better long before I was so old as she is. I cannot remember
the time when I did not know a great deal that she has not the least
notion of yet. How long ago it is, aunt, since we used to repeat the
chronological order of the kings of England, with the dates of their
accession, and most of the principal events of their reigns!”

“Yes,” added the other; “and of the Roman emperors as low as Severus;
besides a great deal of the heathen mythology, and all the metals,
semi-metals, planets, and distinguished philosophers.”

“Very true indeed, my dears, but you are blessed with wonderful
memories, and your poor cousin has probably none at all. There is a
vast deal of difference in memories, as well as in everything else,
and therefore you must make allowance for your cousin, and pity her
deficiency. And remember that, if you are ever so forward and clever
yourselves, you should always be modest; for, much as you know already,
there is a great deal more for you to learn.”

“Yes, I know there is, till I am seventeen. But I must tell you another
thing of Fanny, so odd and so stupid. Do you know, she says she does not
want to learn either music or drawing.”

“To be sure, my dear, that is very stupid indeed, and shows a great
want of genius and emulation. But, all things considered, I do not know
whether it is not as well that it should be so, for, though you know
(owing to me) your papa and mama are so good as to bring her up with
you, it is not at all necessary that she should be as accomplished as
you are;–on the contrary, it is much more desirable that there should
be a difference.”

Such were the counsels by which Mrs. Norris assisted to form her nieces’
minds; and it is not very wonderful that, with all their promising
talents and early information, they should be entirely deficient in the
less common acquirements of self-knowledge, generosity and humility. In
everything but disposition they were admirably taught. Sir Thomas did
not know what was wanting, because, though a truly anxious father, he
was not outwardly affectionate, and the reserve of his manner repressed
all the flow of their spirits before him.

To the education of her daughters Lady Bertram paid not the smallest
attention. She had not time for such cares. She was a woman who spent
her days in sitting, nicely dressed, on a sofa, doing some long piece of
needlework, of little use and no beauty, thinking more of her pug than
her children, but very indulgent to the latter when it did not put
herself to inconvenience, guided in everything important by Sir Thomas,
and in smaller concerns by her sister. Had she possessed greater leisure
for the service of her girls, she would probably have supposed it
unnecessary, for they were under the care of a governess, with proper
masters, and could want nothing more. As for Fanny’s being stupid at
learning, “she could only say it was very unlucky, but some people
_were_ stupid, and Fanny must take more pains: she did not know what
else was to be done; and, except her being so dull, she must add she saw
no harm in the poor little thing, and always found her very handy and
quick in carrying messages, and fetching what she wanted.”

Fanny, with all her faults of ignorance and timidity, was fixed at
Mansfield Park, and learning to transfer in its favour much of her
attachment to her former home, grew up there not unhappily among her
cousins. There was no positive ill-nature in Maria or Julia; and though
Fanny was often mortified by their treatment of her, she thought too
lowly of her own claims to feel injured by it.

From about the time of her entering the family, Lady Bertram, in
consequence of a little ill-health, and a great deal of indolence, gave
up the house in town, which she had been used to occupy every spring,
and remained wholly in the country, leaving Sir Thomas to attend his
duty in Parliament, with whatever increase or diminution of comfort
might arise from her absence. In the country, therefore, the Miss
Bertrams continued to exercise their memories, practise their duets,
and grow tall and womanly: and their father saw them becoming in person,
manner, and accomplishments, everything that could satisfy his anxiety.
His eldest son was careless and extravagant, and had already given him
much uneasiness; but his other children promised him nothing but good.
His daughters, he felt, while they retained the name of Bertram, must
be giving it new grace, and in quitting it, he trusted, would extend
its respectable alliances; and the character of Edmund, his strong good
sense and uprightness of mind, bid most fairly for utility, honour, and
happiness to himself and all his connexions. He was to be a clergyman.

Amid the cares and the complacency which his own children suggested,
Sir Thomas did not forget to do what he could for the children of Mrs.
Price: he assisted her liberally in the education and disposal of her
sons as they became old enough for a determinate pursuit; and Fanny,
though almost totally separated from her family, was sensible of the
truest satisfaction in hearing of any kindness towards them, or of
anything at all promising in their situation or conduct. Once, and once
only, in the course of many years, had she the happiness of being with
William. Of the rest she saw nothing: nobody seemed to think of her ever
going amongst them again, even for a visit, nobody at home seemed to
want her; but William determining, soon after her removal, to be a
sailor, was invited to spend a week with his sister in Northamptonshire
before he went to sea. Their eager affection in meeting, their exquisite
delight in being together, their hours of happy mirth, and moments of
serious conference, may be imagined; as well as the sanguine views and
spirits of the boy even to the last, and the misery of the girl when he
left her. Luckily the visit happened in the Christmas holidays, when she
could directly look for comfort to her cousin Edmund; and he told her
such charming things of what William was to do, and be hereafter, in
consequence of his profession, as made her gradually admit that the
separation might have some use. Edmund’s friendship never failed her:
his leaving Eton for Oxford made no change in his kind dispositions, and
only afforded more frequent opportunities of proving them. Without any
display of doing more than the rest, or any fear of doing too much,
he was always true to her interests, and considerate of her feelings,
trying to make her good qualities understood, and to conquer the
diffidence which prevented their being more apparent; giving her advice,
consolation, and encouragement.

Kept back as she was by everybody else, his single support could not
bring her forward; but his attentions were otherwise of the highest
importance in assisting the improvement of her mind, and extending its
pleasures. He knew her to be clever, to have a quick apprehension
as well as good sense, and a fondness for reading, which, properly
directed, must be an education in itself. Miss Lee taught her French,
and heard her read the daily portion of history; but he recommended
the books which charmed her leisure hours, he encouraged her taste, and
corrected her judgment: he made reading useful by talking to her of what
she read, and heightened its attraction by judicious praise. In return
for such services she loved him better than anybody in the world except
William: her heart was divided between the two.