Sense and sensibility
of two or three years old; an imperfect articulation,
an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks,
and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value
of all the attention which, for years, he had received
from his niece and her daughters. He meant not to
be unkind, however, and, as a mark of his affection
for the three girls, he left them a thousand pounds a-piece.
Mr. Dashwood's disappointment was, at first, severe; but his
temper was cheerful and sanguine; and he might reasonably hope
to live many years, and by living economically, lay by a
considerable sum from the produce of an estate
already large, and capable of almost immediate improvement.
But the fortune, which had been so tardy in coming, was his
only one twelvemonth. He survived his uncle no longer;
and ten thousand pounds, including the late legacies,
was all that remained for his widow and daughters.
His son was sent for as soon as his danger was known,
and to him Mr. Dashwood recommended, with all the strength
and urgency which illness could command, the interest
of his mother-in-law and sisters.
Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the
rest of the family; but he was affected by a recommendation
of such a nature at such a time, and he promised to do
every thing in his power to make them comfortable.
His father was rendered easy by such an assurance,
and Mr. John Dashwood had then leisure to consider how
much there might prudently be in his power to do for them.
He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to
be rather cold hearted and rather selfish is to be
ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected;
for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge
of his ordinary duties. Had he married a more amiable woman,
he might have been made still more respectable than he
was:--he might even have been made amiable himself; for he
was very young when he married, and very fond of his wife.
But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature of himself;--
more narrow-minded and selfish.
When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated
within himself to increase the fortunes of his sisters
by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece. He then
really thought himself equal to it. The prospect of four
thousand a-year, in addition to his present income,
besides the remaining half of his own mother's fortune,
warmed his heart, and made him feel capable of generosity.--
"Yes, he would give them three thousand pounds: it would
be liberal and handsome! It would be enough to make them
completely easy. Three thousand pounds! he could
spare so considerable a sum with little inconvenience."--
He thought of it all day long, and for many days successively,
and he did not repent.
No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John
Dashwood, without sending any notice of her intention to her
mother-in-law, arrived with her child and their attendants.
No one could dispute her right to come; the house was
her husband's from the moment of his father's decease;
but the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the greater,
and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, with only
common feelings, must have been highly unpleasing;--
but in HER mind there was a sense of honor so keen,
a generosity so romantic, that any offence of the kind,