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slept at Hartfield that night. For some weeks past she had
spending more than half her time there, and gradually getting to have a
bed-room appropriated to herself; and Emma judged it best in every
respect, safest and kindest, to keep her with them as much as possible
just at present. She was obliged to go the next morning for
hour or two to Mrs. Goddard's, but it was then to be settled that she
should return to Hartfield, to make a regular visit of some days.
While she was gone, Mr. Knightley called, and sat some time with Mr.
Woodhouse and Emma, till Mr. Woodhouse, who had previously made up his
mind to walk out, was persuaded by his daughter not to defer it, and
was induced by the entreaties of both, though against the scruples of
his own civility, to leave Mr. Knightley for that purpose. Mr.
Knightley, who had nothing of ceremony about him, was offering by his
short, decided answers, an amusing contrast to the protracted apologies
and civil hesitations of the other.
"Well, I believe, if you will excuse me, Mr. Knightley, if you will not
consider me as doing a very rude thing, I shall take Emma's advice and
go out for a quarter of an hour. As the sun is out, I believe
I had better take my three turns while I can. I treat
you without ceremony, Mr. Knightley. We invalids think we are
"My dear sir, do not make a stranger of me."
"I leave an excellent substitute in my daughter. Emma will be
happy to entertain you. And therefore I think I will beg your
excuse and take my three turns--my winter walk."
"You cannot do better, sir."
"I would ask for the pleasure of your company, Mr. Knightley, but I am
a very slow walker, and my pace would be tedious to you; and, besides,
you have another long walk before you, to Donwell Abbey."
"Thank you, sir, thank you; I am going this moment myself; and I think
the sooner you go the better. I will fetch your greatcoat and
open the garden door for you."
Mr. Woodhouse at last was off; but Mr. Knightley, instead of being
immediately off likewise, sat down again, seemingly inclined for more
chat. He began speaking of Harriet, and speaking of her with
more voluntary praise than Emma had ever heard before.
"I cannot rate her beauty as you do," said he; "but she is a pretty
little creature, and I am inclined to think very well of her
disposition. Her character depends upon those she is with;
but in good hands she will turn out a valuable woman."
"I am glad you think so; and the good hands, I hope, may not be
"Come," said he, "you are anxious for a compliment, so I will tell you
that you have improved her. You have cured her of her
school-girl's giggle; she really does you credit."
"Thank you. I should be mortified indeed if I did not believe
had been of some use; but it is not every body who will bestow praise
where they may. You do not often overpower me with it."
"You are expecting her again, you say, this morning?"
"Almost every moment. She has been gone longer already than
"Something has happened to delay her; some visitors perhaps."
"Highbury gossips!--Tiresome wretches!"
"Harriet may not consider every body tiresome that you would."
Emma knew this was too true for contradiction, and therefore said
nothing. He presently added, with a smile,
"I do not pretend to fix on times or places, but I must tell you that I
have good reason to believe your little friend will soon hear of
something to her advantage."
"Indeed! how so? of what sort?"
"A very serious sort, I assure you;" still smiling.
"Very serious! I can think of but one thing--Who is in love with her?
Who makes you their confidant?"
Emma was more than half in hopes of Mr. Elton's having dropt a hint.
Mr. Knightley was a sort of general friend and adviser, and she knew
Mr. Elton looked up to him.
"I have reason to think," he replied, "that Harriet Smith will soon
have an offer of marriage, and from a most unexceptionable
quarter:--Robert Martin is the man. Her visit to Abbey-Mill,
this summer, seems to have done his business. He is
desperately in love and means to marry her."
"He is very obliging," said Emma; "but is he sure that Harriet means to
"Well, well, means to make her an offer then. Will that do?
came to the Abbey two evenings ago, on purpose to consult me about it.
He knows I have a thorough regard for him and all his family, and, I
believe, considers me as one of his best friends. He came to
ask me whether I thought it would be imprudent in him to settle so
whether I thought her too young: in short, whether I approved his
choice altogether; having some apprehension perhaps of her being
considered (especially since your making so much of her) as in a line
of society above him. I was very much pleased with all that
said. I never hear better sense from any one than Robert Martin. He
always speaks to the purpose; open, straightforward, and very well
judging. He told me every thing; his circumstances and plans,
what they all proposed doing in the event of his marriage. He
an excellent young man, both as son and brother. I had no
hesitation in advising him to marry. He proved to me that he
could afford it; and that being the case, I was convinced he could not
do better. I praised the fair lady too, and altogether sent him away
very happy. If he had never esteemed my opinion before, he would have
thought highly of me then; and, I dare say, left the house thinking me
the best friend and counsellor man ever had. This happened
night before last. Now, as we may fairly suppose, he would
allow much time to pass before he spoke to the lady, and as he does not
appear to have spoken yesterday, it is not unlikely that he should be
at Mrs. Goddard's to-day; and she may be detained by a visitor, without
thinking him at all a tiresome wretch."
"Pray, Mr. Knightley," said Emma, who had been smiling to herself
through a great part of this speech, "how do you know that Mr. Martin
did not speak yesterday?"
"Certainly," replied he, surprized, "I do not absolutely know it; but
it may be inferred. Was not she the whole day with you?"
"Come," said she, "I will tell you something, in return for what you
have told me. He did speak yesterday--that is, he wrote, and
This was obliged to be repeated before it could be believed; and Mr.
Knightley actually looked red with surprize and displeasure, as he
stood up, in tall indignation, and said,
"Then she is a greater simpleton than I ever believed her. What is the
foolish girl about?"
"Oh! to be sure," cried Emma, "it is always incomprehensible to a man
that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always
imagines a woman to be ready for any body who asks her."
"Nonsense! a man does not imagine any such thing. But what is
meaning of this? Harriet Smith refuse Robert Martin? madness, if it is
so; but I hope you are mistaken."
"I saw her answer!--nothing could be clearer."
"You saw her answer!--you wrote her answer too. Emma, this is
your doing. You persuaded her to refuse him."
"And if I did, (which, however, I am far from allowing) I should not
feel that I had done wrong. Mr. Martin is a very respectable
young man, but I cannot admit him to be Harriet's equal; and am rather
surprized indeed that he should have ventured to address her. By your
account, he does seem to have had some scruples. It is a pity
that they were ever got over."
"Not Harriet's equal!" exclaimed Mr. Knightley loudly and warmly; and
with calmer asperity, added, a few moments afterwards, "No, he is not
her equal indeed, for he is as much her superior in sense as in
situation. Emma, your infatuation about that girl blinds you.
What are Harriet Smith's claims, either of birth, nature or education,
to any connexion higher than Robert Martin? She is the natural daughter
of nobody knows whom, with probably no settled provision at all, and
certainly no respectable relations. She is known only as
parlour-boarder at a common school. She is not a sensible
nor a girl of any information. She has been taught nothing
useful, and is too young and too simple to have acquired any thing
herself. At her age she can have no experience, and with her little
wit, is not
very likely ever to have any that can avail her. She is pretty, and she
is good tempered, and that is all. My only scruple in advising the
match was on his account, as being beneath his deserts, and a bad
connexion for him. I felt that, as to fortune, in all
he might do much better; and that as to a rational companion or useful
helpmate, he could not do worse. But I could not reason so to a man in
love, and was willing to trust to there being no harm in her, to her
having that sort of disposition, which, in good hands, like his, might
be easily led aright and turn out very well. The advantage of
match I felt to be all on her side; and had not the smallest doubt (nor
have I now) that there would be a general cry-out upon her extreme good
luck. Even your satisfaction I made sure of. It crossed my
immediately that you would not regret your friend's leaving Highbury,
for the sake of her being settled so well. I remember saying
myself, `Even Emma, with all her partiality for Harriet, will think
this a good match.'"
"I cannot help wondering at your knowing so little of Emma as to say
any such thing. What! think a farmer, (and with all his sense
all his merit Mr. Martin is nothing more,) a good match for my intimate
friend! Not regret her leaving Highbury for the sake of marrying a man
whom I could never admit as an acquaintance of my own! I wonder you
should think it possible for me to have such feelings. I assure you
mine are very different. I must think your statement by no
fair. You are not just to Harriet's claims. They would be
estimated very differently by others as well as myself; Mr. Martin may
be the richest of the two, but he is undoubtedly her inferior as to
rank in society.--The sphere in which she moves is much above his.--It
would be a degradation."
"A degradation to illegitimacy and ignorance, to be married to a
respectable, intelligent gentleman-farmer!"
"As to the circumstances of her birth, though in a legal sense she may
be called Nobody, it will not hold in common sense. She is not to pay
for the offence of others, by being held below the level of those with
whom she is brought up.--There can scarcely be
a doubt that her father is a gentleman--and a gentleman of
fortune.--Her allowance is very liberal; nothing has ever been grudged
for her improvement or comfort.--That she is a gentleman's daughter, is
indubitable to me; that she associates with gentlemen's daughters, no
one, I apprehend, will deny.--She is superior to Mr. Robert Martin."
"Whoever might be her parents," said Mr. Knightley, "whoever may have
had the charge of her, it does not appear to have been any part of
their plan to introduce her into what you would call good society.
After receiving a very indifferent education she is left in Mrs.
Goddard's hands to shift as she can;--to move, in short, in Mrs.
Goddard's line, to have Mrs. Goddard's acquaintance. Her friends
evidently thought this good enough for her; and it was good
enough. She desired nothing better herself. Till
to turn her into a friend, her mind had no distaste for her own set,
nor any ambition beyond it. She was as happy as possible with
Martins in the summer. She had no sense of superiority then.
she has it now, you have given it. You have been no friend to
Harriet Smith, Emma. Robert Martin would never have proceeded
far, if he had not felt persuaded of her not being disinclined to him.
I know him well. He has too much real feeling to address any
woman on the haphazard of selfish passion. And as to conceit,
is the farthest from it of any man I know. Depend upon it he
It was most convenient to Emma not to make a direct reply to this
assertion; she chose rather to take up her own line of the subject
"You are a very warm friend to Mr. Martin; but, as I said before, are
unjust to Harriet. Harriet's claims to marry well are not so
contemptible as you represent them. She is not a clever girl,
she has better sense than you are aware of, and does not deserve to
have her understanding spoken of so slightingly. Waiving that point,
however, and supposing her to be, as you describe her, only pretty and
good-natured, let me tell you, that in the degree she possesses them,
they are not trivial recommendations to the world in general, for she
is, in fact, a beautiful girl, and must be thought so by ninety-nine
people out of an hundred; and till it appears that men are much more
philosophic on the subject
of beauty than they are generally supposed; till they do fall in love
with well-informed minds instead of handsome faces, a girl, with such
loveliness as Harriet, has a certainty of being admired and sought
after, of having the power of chusing from among many, consequently a
claim to be nice. Her good-nature, too, is not so very slight
claim, comprehending, as it does, real, thorough sweetness of temper
and manner, a very humble opinion of herself, and a great readiness to
be pleased with other people. I am very much mistaken if your
in general would not think such beauty, and such temper, the highest
claims a woman could possess."
"Upon my word, Emma, to hear you abusing the reason you have, is almost
enough to make me think so too. Better be without sense, than
misapply it as you do."
"To be sure!" cried she playfully. "I know that is the
you all. I know that such a girl as Harriet is exactly what
man delights in--what at once bewitches his senses and satisfies his
judgment. Oh! Harriet may pick and chuse. Were you, yourself,
ever to marry, she is the very woman for you. And is she, at seventeen,
just entering into life, just beginning to be known, to be wondered at
because she does not accept the first
offer she receives? No--pray let her have time to look about her."
"I have always thought it a very foolish intimacy," said Mr. Knightley
presently, "though I have kept my thoughts to myself; but I now
perceive that it will be a very unfortunate one for Harriet. You will
puff her up with such ideas of her own beauty, and of what she has a
claim to, that, in a little while, nobody within her reach will be good
enough for her. Vanity working on a weak head, produces every
sort of mischief. Nothing so easy as for a young lady to
her expectations too high. Miss Harriet Smith may not find
of marriage flow in so fast, though she is a very pretty girl. Men of
sense, whatever you may chuse to say, do not want silly wives. Men of
family would not be very fond of connecting themselves with a girl of
such obscurity-- and most prudent men would be afraid of the
inconvenience and disgrace they might be involved in, when the mystery
of her parentage came to be revealed. Let her marry Robert
Martin, and she is safe, respectable, and happy for ever; but if
you encourage her to expect to marry greatly, and teach her to be
satisfied with nothing less than a man of consequence and large
fortune, she may be a parlour-boarder at Mrs. Goddard's all the rest of
her life--or, at least, (for Harriet Smith is a girl who will marry
somebody or other,) till she grow desperate, and is glad to catch at
the old writing-master's son."
"We think so very differently on this point, Mr. Knightley, that there
can be no use in canvassing it. We shall only be making each
other more angry. But as to my letting her marry Robert
it is impossible; she has refused him, and so decidedly, I think, as
must prevent any second application. She must abide by the
of having refused him, whatever it may be; and as to the refusal
itself, I will not pretend to say that I might not influence her a
little; but I assure you there was very little for me or for any body
to do. His appearance is so much against him, and his manner so bad,
that if she ever were disposed to favour him, she is not now. I can
imagine, that before she had seen any body superior, she might tolerate
him. He was the brother of her friends, and he took pains to
please her; and altogether, having seen nobody better (that must have
been his great assistant) she might not, while she was at Abbey-Mill,
find him disagreeable. But the case is altered now. She knows
what gentlemen are; and nothing but a gentleman in education and manner
has any chance with Harriet."
"Nonsense, errant nonsense, as ever was talked!" cried Mr.
Knightley.--"Robert Martin's manners have sense, sincerity, and
good-humour to recommend them; and his mind has more true gentility
than Harriet Smith could understand."
Emma made no answer, and tried to look cheerfully unconcerned, but was
really feeling uncomfortable and wanting him very much to be gone. She
did not repent what she had done; she still thought herself a better
judge of such a point of female right and refinement than he could be;
but yet she had a sort of habitual respect for his judgment
in general, which made her dislike having it so loudly against her; and
to have him sitting just opposite to her in angry state, was very
disagreeable. Some minutes passed in this unpleasant silence,
with only one attempt on Emma's side to talk of the weather, but he
made no answer. He was thinking. The result of his
appeared at last in these words.
"Robert Martin has no great loss--if he can but think so; and I hope it
will not be long before he does. Your views for Harriet are
known to yourself; but as you make no secret of your love of
match-making, it is fair to suppose that views, and plans, and projects
you have;--and as a friend I shall just hint to you that if Elton is
the man, I think it will be all labour in vain."
Emma laughed and disclaimed. He continued,
"Depend upon it, Elton will not do. Elton is a very good sort
man, and a very respectable vicar of Highbury, but not at all likely to
make an imprudent match. He knows the value of a good income
well as any body. Elton may talk sentimentally, but he will
rationally. He is as well acquainted with his own claims, as
can be with Harriet's. He knows that he is a very handsome young man,
and a great favourite wherever he goes; and from his general way of
talking in unreserved moments, when there are only men present, I am
convinced that he does not mean to throw himself away. I have heard him
speak with great animation of a large family of young ladies that his
sisters are intimate with, who have all twenty thousand pounds apiece."
"I am very much obliged to you," said Emma, laughing again. "If I had
set my heart on Mr. Elton's marrying Harriet, it would have been very
kind to open my eyes; but at present I only want to keep Harriet to
myself. I have done with match-making indeed. I could never
to equal my own doings at Randalls. I shall leave off while I
"Good morning to you,"--said he, rising and walking off abruptly. He
was very much vexed. He felt the disappointment of the young
and was mortified to have been the means of promoting it, by the
sanction he had given; and the part which he was persuaded Emma had
taken in the affair, was provoking him exceedingly.
Emma remained in a state of vexation too; but there was more
indistinctness in the causes of her's, than in his. She did
always feel so absolutely satisfied with herself, so entirely convinced
that her opinions were right and her adversary's wrong, as Mr.
Knightley. He walked off in more complete self-approbation than he left
for her. She was not so materially cast down, however, but that a
little time and the return of Harriet were very adequate restoratives.
Harriet's staying away so long was beginning to make her uneasy. The
possibility of the young man's coming to Mrs. Goddard's that morning,
and meeting with Harriet and pleading his own cause, gave alarming
ideas. The dread of such a failure after all became the
uneasiness; and when Harriet appeared, and in very good
spirits, and without having any such reason to give for her long
absence, she felt a satisfaction which settled her with her own mind,
and convinced her, that let Mr. Knightley think or say what he would,
she had done nothing which woman's friendship and woman's feelings
would not justify.
He had frightened her a little about Mr. Elton; but when she considered
that Mr. Knightley could not have observed him as she had done, neither
with the interest, nor (she must be allowed to tell herself, in spite
of Mr. Knightley's pretensions) with the skill of such an observer on
such a question as herself, that he had spoken it hastily and in anger,
she was able to believe, that he had rather said what he wished
resentfully to be true, than what he knew any thing about. He
certainly might have heard Mr. Elton speak with more unreserve than she
had ever done, and Mr. Elton might not be of an imprudent,
inconsiderate disposition as to money matters; he might naturally be
rather attentive than otherwise to them; but then, Mr. Knightley did
not make due allowance for the influence of a strong passion at war
with all interested motives. Mr. Knightley saw no such
and of course thought nothing of its effects; but she saw too much of
it to feel a doubt of its overcoming any hesitations that a reasonable
prudence might originally suggest; and more than a reasonable, becoming
degree of prudence, she was very sure did not belong to Mr. Elton.
Harriet's cheerful look and manner established hers: she came back, not
to think of Mr. Martin, but to talk of Mr. Elton. Miss Nash
been telling her something, which she repeated immediately with great
delight. Mr. Perry had been to Mrs. Goddard's to attend a
child, and Miss Nash had seen him, and he had told Miss Nash, that as
he was coming back yesterday from Clayton Park, he had met Mr. Elton,
and found to his great surprize, that Mr. Elton was actually on his
road to London, and not meaning to return till the morrow, though it
was the whist-club night, which he had been never known to miss before;
and Mr. Perry had remonstrated with him about it, and told him how
shabby it was in him, their best player, to absent himself, and tried
very much to persuade him to put off his
journey only one day; but it would not do; Mr. Elton had been
determined to go on, and had said in a very particular way indeed, that
he was going on business which he would not put off for any inducement
in the world; and something about a very enviable commission, and being
the bearer of something exceedingly precious. Mr. Perry could
quite understand him, but he was very sure there must be a lady in the
case, and he told him so; and Mr. Elton only looked very conscious and
smiling, and rode off in great spirits. Miss Nash had told her all
this, and had talked a great deal more about Mr. Elton; and said,
looking so very significantly at her, "that she did not pretend to
understand what his business might be, but
she only knew that any woman whom Mr. Elton could prefer, she should
think the luckiest woman in the world; for, beyond a doubt, Mr. Elton
had not his equal for beauty or agreeableness."
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