Sense and Sensibility HTML version

Chapter 4
"What a pity it is, Elinor," said Marianne, "that Edward should have no taste for
"No taste for drawing!" replied Elinor, "why should you think so? He does not
draw himself, indeed, but he has great pleasure in seeing the performances of
other people, and I assure you he is by no means deficient in natural taste,
though he has not had opportunities of improving it. Had he ever been in the way
of learning, I think he would have drawn very well. He distrusts his own judgment
in such matters so much, that he is always unwilling to give his opinion on any
picture; but he has an innate propriety and simplicity of taste, which in general
direct him perfectly right."
Marianne was afraid of offending, and said no more on the subject; but the kind
of approbation which Elinor described as excited in him by the drawings of other
people, was very far from that rapturous delight, which, in her opinion, could
alone be called taste. Yet, though smiling within herself at the mistake, she
honoured her sister for that blind partiality to Edward which produced it.
"I hope, Marianne," continued Elinor, "you do not consider him as deficient in
general taste. Indeed, I think I may say that you cannot, for your behaviour to him
is perfectly cordial, and if that were your opinion, I am sure you could never be
civil to him."
Marianne hardly knew what to say. She would not wound the feelings of her
sister on any account, and yet to say what she did not believe was impossible. At
length she replied:
"Do not be offended, Elinor, if my praise of him is not in every thing equal to your
sense of his merits. I have not had so many opportunities of estimating the
minuter propensities of his mind, his inclinations and tastes, as you have; but I
have the highest opinion in the world of his goodness and sense. I think him
every thing that is worthy and amiable."
"I am sure," replied Elinor, with a smile, "that his dearest friends could not be
dissatisfied with such commendation as that. I do not perceive how you could
express yourself more warmly."
Marianne was rejoiced to find her sister so easily pleased.
"Of his sense and his goodness," continued Elinor, "no one can, I think, be in
doubt, who has seen him often enough to engage him in unreserved
conversation. The excellence of his understanding and his principles can be
concealed only by that shyness which too often keeps him silent. You know
enough of him to do justice to his solid worth. But of his minuter propensities, as
you call them you have from peculiar circumstances been kept more ignorant
than myself. He and I have been at times thrown a good deal together, while you
have been wholly engrossed on the most affectionate principle by my mother. I
have seen a great deal of him, have studied his sentiments and heard his opinion
on subjects of literature and taste; and, upon the whole, I venture to pronounce
that his mind is well-informed, enjoyment of books exceedingly great, his
imagination lively, his observation just and correct, and his taste delicate and