I am so confused and wound up in recent affairs that I can hardly think clearly.Firstly, Darcy proposed to me declaring feelings of love yet he spoke just as well about his personal pride, though after Mr Collins’ pompous and formal proposal, Darcy’s was refreshing to the ear. Collins only wanted a convenient marriage whilst Darcy declared his ardent love for me. I was, no doubt, astonished by his actions and could not believe how such a proud, arrogant and conceited man could have expected me to accept his hand in marriage. His shameful boast of what misery he had been able to inflict gave me a keener sense of my sister’s sufferings and solely for that reason, I would have rejected his offer. I could not however be insensible to the compliment of such a man’s affection but that gave me little comfort.
My mind was whirling around his pride, his abominable pride and his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Jane and Wickham, and even during the proposal, my anger was hard to conceal. I promptly refused his offer for I am not willing to compromise my principles and self belief and I am reluctant to place marriage at the centre of my ambitions without any regard for feelings and circumstances although Darcy’s income of ten thousand pounds a year would provide a comfortable living. With my fierceful retort that the manner of his proposal was ungentlemanly, he hastily left the room. The tumult of my mind was now so painfully great that I knew not how to support myself and from actual weakness, I sat down and cried for at least half an hour. I was left in a state of total bewilderment.
I awoke the next morning to the same meditations which had at length closed my eyes. It was impossible to think of anything else, so soon after breakfast. I resorted to indulging myself in air and exercise by proceeding to my favourite walk. The recollection of meeting Darcy there however led me to turn up the lane which took me farther away from Turnpike road. I was on the point of continuing my walk when I caught a glimpse of a gentleman within the grove which edged the park. I quickly turned away in fear that it could be Mr Darcy but he had advanced near enough to see me and on hearing my name pronounced, my fears were confirmed. With his usual haughty composure, he spoke but a few words, then handed me a letter. With a slight bow, he retreated.
With no expectation of pleasure but with the strongest curiosity, I opened the letter and perceived an envelope containing two sheets of letter paper, written quite through, in a very close hand. It was dated at Rosings at eight o’clock in the morning. With a strong prejudice against everything he might say, I began the letter. I read with an eagerness which hardly left me power of comprehension. It answered my criticisms of his behaviour towards Jane and Wickham which I had imposed on him during the proposal. My initial reaction was to reject his account.
Darcy’s belief of Jane’s insensibility towards Bingley, I instantly resolved to be false. He expressed no regret for detaching Bingley from Jane which shows his pride and insolence. His style simply made me too angry to have any wish of doing him justice.
As for his account concerning the affair between him and Wickham, I wished to discredit entirely. I immediately felt an enormous deception on his behalf. Why would Wickham, such an agreeable and polite gentleman take advantage of his friend? The account of his connection with the Pemberly family was exactly what Wickham had related himself and the kindness of the late Mr Darcy was agreed equally well by both parts. So far, his recital confirmed the other but when I came to the will, the difference was great.
Darcy claims that his father left Wickham a profession as a clergyman along with a legacy of one thousand pounds. Wickham however resolved against taking orders and resigned all claims to assistance in the church. Instead he demanded financial advantage. Darcy was ready to acede to his proposal and bestowed upon him three thousand pounds. Darcy also claims that Wickham led a life of idleness and debauchery and when he found law an unprofitable study, he insisted on being ordained. I could not for one second believe this true. I can still recall Wickham’s very words which bore so alarming an affinity to his own history to himself. His charming character would not lead him to perform such indecorous actions.
Furthermore, Darcy writes of Wickham’s design of seducing his sister, Georgiana Darcy. Mr Darcy believes his chief objects were his sister’s fortune and revenge. I do not believe Wickham would stoop so low as to scheme with Mrs Younge, the lady who presided in the establishment, in order to dupe and elope with Georgiana. Wickham’s sincere character is definitely one that is true and I cannot suppose that Wickham would be so shallow as to deceive his friend. Wickham even put part of the blame on losing the church on himself. How could such a warm gentleman act so? Darcy’s pride and arrogance dictate his actions and I think he took the presentation away from Wickham in order to take vengeance upon Wickham for being favoured by late Mr Darcy and his uncommon attachment to him.
In the letter, Darcy also commented on my family’s behaviour. He bluntly explained that the difference in social status might have been bridged, but that my family’s ‘lack of propriety’ could not be excused, including the manners of both my parents and my three younger sisters. How dare he insult us like that! How could he treat us so abominably ill and comment on our manners when he should reflect upon his own? How could he act so despicably against Jane and make no apology for detaching Bingley from her, inflicting such great pain on my poor sister? Anyone who saw the couple would not have doubted their affection for each other.
I am sure Jane invited Bingley’s attentions by much participation of sentiment and her countenance and air was not one without serenity. The wrongdoing of Mr Darcy to be desirous of believing her indifferent and more so, act accordingly without understanding her true sentiments is certain. Was it not clear to him that a certain desirable event would take place as a result of the ardent love that Jane and Bingley bestowed upon each other? The happiness of both my sister and I has been eclipsed and destroyed by his insensitivity and impertinence. I do not believe he would do such deeds if he truly loved me. Is it so difficult for him to learn that while status is important, breeding is not dependent on rank?
This letter only serves to further provoke my anger against Mr Darcy’s attitude and my animosity towards him is at its most intense. I find his behaviour towards Jane and Wickham offensive and proud and I cannot find any excuse in his letter to do him justice.
( Three hours later…)
In my perturbed state of mind, with thoughts that could rest on nothing, I unfolded the letter soon again and collecting myself as well as I could, I began the mortifying perusal of all that related to Jane and Wickham. With a somewhat clearer attention, I commanded myself so far as to examine the meaning of every sentence. But when I read, and re-read with the closest of attention, the particulars immediately following Wickham’s resigning all pretensions to the living, of his receiving in lieu, so considerable a sum of three thousand pounds, I was forced to hesitate. On both sides it was only assertion. Again I read on, but every line proved more clearly that the affair, which I had believed it impossible that any contrivance could so represent as to render Mr Darcy’s conduct in it less than infamous, was capable of a turn which must make him entirely blameless throughout the whole. The more I reflected upon the letter and Darcy’s actions, the more I started to overthrow the cherished opinion of Mr Wickham until at last I came to the realisation of how self deluding I have been.
I can still remember my first evening with Wickham at Mr Phillips’s, many of his expressions still fresh in my memory. I can see him instantly before me, in every charm of air and address. I was suddenly struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, of whom I had never heard before his entrance into the —shire Militia. I now saw the indelicacy of putting himself forward as he had done, and the inconsistency of his professions with his conduct. I wonder how I could have overlooked Wickham’s indiscretion. My rationality has finally begun to overcome my prejudice. Moreover, it was Wickham who boasted of having no fear of seeing Mr Darcy-that Mr Darcy might leave the country, but that he should stand his ground; yet he avoided the Netherfield Ball the very next week!
How could I have not understood Wickham’s cowardice in avoiding Darcy? Wickham had promised me that he would always prevent his exposing the son as a result of his respect to the late Mr Darcy, yet the affair had been every where discussed. I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I who was pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance. Wickham’s attentions to Mrs King prove how shallow he really is. It shows not the moderation of his wishes but his desperation to grasp at anything. How blind, partial, prejudiced and absurd have I been?
However proud and repulsive his manners may have been, I have never in the whole course of our acquaintance, found anything that should betray him to be unprincipled or unjust. Among his own connections he was esteemed and valued. He often spoke of his sister with such affection that proves him capable of some amiable feelings. I can now see how such an amiable man like Mr Bingley could retain a friendship with a man like Darcy who seemed to think of himself above everyone else. Oh, how could I have been so ready to believe Wickhan’s side of the story simply because he was tactful in engaging my sympathy of his injustice in Darcy’s hands? How could I have been so full of indignation at Darcy’s pride when mine was of equal vanity? I should not have criticised him for judging before anything was confirmed for I have now committed the same fault.
As for matters concerning Jane, I could not but feel more ashamed of myself. Darcy’s opinion brings my mind back to Charlotte’s advice on securing Jane’s relationship. If only I had given her the advice of being more open with her feelings, perhaps this might not have happened.
I have to admit that though fervent Jane’s feelings may be, they were little displayed and there was a constant complacency in her air and manner that would no doubt have given Darcy the wrong impression. I cannot put the entire blame of the separation on Darcy for I now feel that Jane’s lack of any obvious outward response to Bingley’s attentions would have influenced his assessment of the affair. I therefore feel that most part of the scheming has been designed by Miss Caroline Bingley, who in doing so I believe, tried to create intimacy with Mr Darcy.
My sense of shame was made even more severe when I came to the part where my family were mentioned, in terms of such mortifying, yet merited reproach. The justice of the charge struck me too forcibly for denial and I was strained to reflect on my family’s behaviour. The compliment to my sister and I was not unfelt but it could not console me for the contempt which had been thus self-attracted by the rest of the family. I am now painfully aware of my family’s lack of breeding which had in fact been the cause of Jane’s disappointment. My mother and Lydia’s ignorant vulgarity has been a source of continuous shame.
They are often the centre of acute embarrassment and display crassness and a lack of refinement which I must not deny would have served to feed Darcy’s sense of our inferiority. My father cannot escape rebuke. He would never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters and was contented with laughing at them. Our reputation and prospects have been damaged by such impropriety of conduct, the work of my nearest relations. In this state of depression, I could no longer think of anything else apart from my letter.
It was thoroughly wrong of me to proceed to accuse Darcy of his selfish disdain of the feelings of others when I was the one who sought to maintain preconceived opinions and ignorance, the one who had driven reason away, where either were concerned. How could I have been so easily blinded by Wickham to be unaware of my own faults, pride and vanity towards Darcy? I have not only been unjust to Mr Darcy who has been innocent in the whole affair, but I have most certainly driven away his ardent love for me.
If only I had understood everything as I do now, perhaps I would have been engaged to this perfectly polite and well bred gentleman! I would not blame him for losing interest in me, but oh! if only he would propose to me again and give me a chance to apologise. I have treated Darcy with such cold civility and inflicted so much misery on him whilst giving Wickham all the pleasure of my company. When I remember the style of his address, I am full of indignation but when I consider how unjustly I have condemned and upbraided Darcy, my anger is turned against myself. Darcy’s conduct is now cleared of all blame and I can only learn from my mistake that I should not think ill of anyone without honest reasons for my judgment.