P&P200 Much Ado about Nothing
A new craze has overtakenLondonand the surrounding area – that of daily documenting ones activities and thoughts in writing – spurred on by the rumor that the Prince Regent himself has taken up the hobby. Many of the more staunchly conservative members of society outwardly label the practice a frivolous occupation. But, in private at least, a surprising number of the same judge their own thoughts more worth recording for posterity than the incoherent ramblings of their friends and neighbors. Consequently many a fine lady and gentleman have taking up the pen in secret.
Fitzwilliam Darcy: I humor Georgiana by writing this, for it was her idea that I should begin recording my daily actions. As she pointed out, even the captain of a ship does the same in the ship’s log, so perhaps there is some merit in it. At least documenting today’s performance cannot be considered an exercise in self-importance, for this evening I was required to abjectly humble myself and beg Bingley’s pardon for my role in separating him from Miss Bennet last fall. He was angry, and rightly so. However, I believe I shall be fully forgiven the moment Jane agrees to marry him. I trust that day is near. With my objections withdrawn (and my presence soon to be removed to town for several days), nothing can stand in the way of Bingley’s following his original inclinations. I trust they will be a happy couple. Would that my own hopes for Miss Bennet’s sister should be settled so soon and so felicitously.
Charles Bingley: I am all astonishment! It turns out my illustrious friend is fallible after all. He has this day confessed to me that it is largely to him that I owe the one great misery of my life – that of being forced to part ways with Miss Bennet. Darcy has admitted he was wrong to interfere, and that he may also have been wrong about Miss Bennet’s being indifferent to me. Dare I hope that sweet Jane would receive a renewal of my addresses favorably, even after so much time has passed? Darcy seems to think she might, and has by his manner indicated he would have no objection to my proceeding as my heart would dictate. I must take courage, therefore, and go to Longbourn again as soon as possible, with one mission in mind: to make Miss Bennet a proper offer of marriage, as I should have done before.
Mrs. Bennet: Bingley came to call again today! Oh, he is the handsomest man who ever was seen, and with five thousand a year too! What a fine thing for Jane, whom I daresay he admires as much as ever. I would think him the most agreeable man in all the world if only he would stop bringing that odious Mr. Darcy with him every time he comes.
Jane Bennet: Mr. Bingley called again today, and I am afraid I still find him the most amiable man I have ever known. But I must take care to remember that we are only indifferent acquaintances now, despite Lizzy’s smiles and insinuations.
Elizabeth Bennet: Whether by his design or purely bad luck, I had no opportunity to speak to Mr. Darcy when he called with Mr. Bingley today. I envied every one he spoke to and had scarcely patience enough to be civil to anybody else, proving that I am quite clearly a weak and ridiculous creature. My one consolation is that I may yet see my dearest sister made happy, for I believe Bingley is as much in love with Jane as I have ever seen a man to be.
Mrs. Bennet: Bingley did not come, and as to why, I cannot imagine. Everything passed of so uncommonly well yesterday that I thought sure he would not fail to return to Longbourn today.
Mary Bennet: Blessedly, we had no callers to Longbourn today, so at last I was able to apply myself to my work properly. One cannot expect to ever become a truly accomplished young lady without constant study and practice, after all.
Bingley: I did not go to Longbourn yesterday, nor today. It is not that I am at all weakening in my resolve to offer for Miss Bennet, but I must not be presumptuous and always imposing myself on the Bennets’ kind hospitality. In any case, Darcy leaves for town early tomorrow, and I think perhaps I will have more courage with him out of the way.
Mrs. Bennet: Still Bingley does not come! My head is very ill tonight.
Mrs. Bennet: Today he came, but he went away again without declaring himself or even taking dinner. What is the man thinking of to keep my dear Jane waiting like this? At least he did not bring with him that odious Mr. Darcy. We are safe from him for the next ten days, thank goodness.
Bingley: I called at Longbourn again today and was very graciously received. I sat with the ladies for above and hour, my chief object to try and ascertain Miss Bennet’s sentiments toward me, in the hope that I might be sufficiently encouraged to proceed – not an easy task since the serenity of her countenance betrayed little in the way of strong feeling. This uncertainty kept me from speaking out, and when Mrs. Bennet invited me to stay to dinner I quickly made the excuse of being engaged elsewhere. Whilst it was perfectly true that I was obligated to go to the Longs, my conscience accused me of cowardice. Consequently, I readily agreed to dine with them tomorrow instead, and I hereby swear that I shall not lose another opportunity. Tomorrow I shall be bold; tomorrow I shall ask Miss Bennet to be my wife.
The writing of personal journals continued with some practitioners far longer than with others. Mr. Darcy was the first to give it up, preferring to keep his thoughts inside his head where he deemed they more correctly belonged. Elizabeth, Jane, and Mr. Bingley carried on a little while longer, persevering sufficiently so as to preserve on paper the monumental events taking place in their lives during this unique period. Then they too set their pens aside in favor of endeavors with more chance of yielding tangible benefits. Only Mrs. Bennet presumed to make writing in her diary a life-long habit. Never did she tire of transcribing the simple fare upon which her mind typically fixated. But, upon revisiting those written sentiments sometime later, even she had to admit they were hardly worth the reading.