It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Certainly, when a lady has five daughters of marriageable age and she hears that such a man has moved into her neighbourhood she is apt to regard him as the rightful property of one or other of her daughters. This, at any rate, was the view of Mrs Bennet of Longbourn House, near Meryton in Hertfordshire, when the news came to her ears on a day in February 1810.
“My dear Mr Bennet,” she said to her husband, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”
Mr Bennet made no answer.
“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently.
“You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”
“Well, Netherfield has been taken by Mr Bingley, a young man of fortune from the north.”
“Indeed? Is he married or single?”
“Oh, single, my dear, to be sure!” cried Mrs Bennet ecstatically. “What a fine thing for our girls!”
“How so? How can it affect them?”
“My dear Mr Bennet,” replied his wife, “I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”
“Is that why he has come?” said her husband drily.
“What nonsense! But it’s very likely that he’ll fall in love with one of the girls, and so you must visit him.”
Mr Bennet rose and faced his wife. “I have no intention of doing that, I assure you.”
“But consider your daughters,” cried his wife, aghast.
“I fail to see the necessity.” said Mr Bennet.
“What a trying man you are!” she cried. “It will be impossible for us to visit him if you will not?”
“Not at all,” said Mr Bennet mildly. “I will send this young man a few lines giving him my consent to marry whichever of the girls he chooses. Though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy.”
“You will do no such thing,” cried his wife indignantly. “Elizabeth is not a bit better than the others.”
“Indeed,” said Mr Bennet, “none of them have much to recommend them. They are all silly and ignorant like other girls – but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.”
“Mr Bennet, you take delight in vexing me! You have no pity for my poor nerves.”
Mr Bennet had walked over to the door of his library, which opened off the morning room. “You are mistaken, my dear,” he said. “I have a high respect for your nerves. After all,
they are my old friends. I have lived with them for twenty years.”
“Oh!” said Mrs Bennet, tearfully. “You are entirely without feeling. You don’t know what I suffer.”
“I hope you will get over it, my dear, and live to see many rich young men come into the neighbourhood.”
“Oh, how aggravating you are! You have no thought for your daughters. Five of them – five! – and Jane in her twenty-third year! Are they all to be old maids?”
“Not – I gather, my dear – if you have your way,” he said, and the library door closed behind him.
- universally acknowledged – if something is universally acknowledged, it is known everywhere in the world or in all situations.
- in possession of – if you are in possession of something, you have it, because you have obtained it or because it belongs to you.
- be in (no) want of smth. – (not) experience a great necessity of smth.
- is apt to regard smb./smth.– inclined to consider smb./smth.
- rightful property – someone’s rightful property is all the things that belong to them or something that belongs to them according to the law.
- at any rate – whatever happens or may have happened (по крайней мере, во всяком случае)
- no objection to – if you say that you have no objection to something, you mean that you are not annoyed or bothered by it.
- to be sure – used to concede the truth of something or for emphasis (будь уверен, можешь не сомневаться!)
- affect – if something affects a person or thing, it influences them or causes them to change in some way.
- very likely – if someone or something is very likely to do a particular thing, they will very probably do it.
- no intention of doing – if you say that you have no intention of doing something, you are emphasizing that you are not going to do it. If you say that you have every intention of doing something, you are emphasizing that you intend to do it.
- aghast – if you are aghast, you are filled with horror and surprise.
- fail to see the necessity – if someone tried to find the need of something and didn’t manage to comprehend it.
- a trying man – a tiresome one.
- throw in – if you throw in a remark when having a conversation, you add it in a casual or unexpected way.
- high respect for – if you have high respect for someone, you have a very good opinion of them.
- get over – if you get over a problem or difficulty, you overcome it.
- aggravating – annoying, irritating, exasperating
- I gather – I think, I reckon, I believe, I consider