Emma HTML version

Chapter 15
Emma was not required, by any subsequent discovery, to retract her ill opinion of
Mrs. Elton. Her observation had been pretty correct. Such as Mrs. Elton
appeared to her on this second interview, such she appeared whenever they met
again,--self-important, presuming, familiar, ignorant, and ill-bred. She had a little
beauty and a little accomplishment, but so little judgment that she thought herself
coming with superior knowledge of the world, to enliven and improve a country
neighbourhood; and conceived Miss Hawkins to have held such a place in
society as Mrs. Elton's consequence only could surpass.
There was no reason to suppose Mr. Elton thought at all differently from his wife.
He seemed not merely happy with her, but proud. He had the air of
congratulating himself on having brought such a woman to Highbury, as not even
Miss Woodhouse could equal; and the greater part of her new acquaintance,
disposed to commend, or not in the habit of judging, following the lead of Miss
Bates's good-will, or taking it for granted that the bride must be as clever and as
agreeable as she professed herself, were very well satisfied; so that Mrs. Elton's
praise passed from one mouth to another as it ought to do, unimpeded by Miss
Woodhouse, who readily continued her first contribution and talked with a good
grace of her being "very pleasant and very elegantly dressed."
In one respect Mrs. Elton grew even worse than she had appeared at first. Her
feelings altered towards Emma.--Offended, probably, by the little encouragement
which her proposals of intimacy met with, she drew back in her turn and
gradually became much more cold and distant; and though the effect was
agreeable, the ill-will which produced it was necessarily increasing Emma's
dislike. Her manners, too--and Mr. Elton's, were unpleasant towards Harriet.
They were sneering and negligent. Emma hoped it must rapidly work Harriet's
cure; but the sensations which could prompt such behaviour sunk them both very
much.--It was not to be doubted that poor Harriet's attachment had been an
offering to conjugal unreserve, and her own share in the story, under a colouring
the least favourable to her and the most soothing to him, had in all likelihood
been given also. She was, of course, the object of their joint dislike.-- When they
had nothing else to say, it must be always easy to begin abusing Miss
Woodhouse; and the enmity which they dared not show in open disrespect to
her, found a broader vent in contemptuous treatment of Harriet.
Mrs. Elton took a great fancy to Jane Fairfax; and from the first. Not merely when
a state of warfare with one young lady might be supposed to recommend the
other, but from the very first; and she was not satisfied with expressing a natural
and reasonable admiration-- but without solicitation, or plea, or privilege, she
must be wanting to assist and befriend her.--Before Emma had forfeited her
confidence, and about the third time of their meeting, she heard all Mrs. Elton's
knight-errantry on the subject.--
"Jane Fairfax is absolutely charming, Miss Woodhouse.--I quite rave about Jane
Fairfax.--A sweet, interesting creature. So mild and ladylike--and with such
talents!--I assure you I think she has very extraordinary talents. I do not scruple