Sense and Sensibility HTML version

Chapter 1
The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate was large,
and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where,
for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage
the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance. The late owner of
this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for
many years of his life, had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister.
But her death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great
alteration in his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received into his
house the family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the
Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it. In the
society of his nephew and niece, and their children, the old Gentleman's days
were comfortably spent. His attachment to them all increased. The constant
attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood to his wishes, which proceeded not
merely from interest, but from goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid
comfort which his age could receive; and the cheerfulness of the children added
a relish to his existence.
By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son: by his present lady,
three daughters. The son, a steady respectable young man, was amply provided
for by the fortune of his mother, which had been large, and half of which
devolved on him on his coming of age. By his own marriage, likewise, which
happened soon afterwards, he added to his wealth. To him therefore the
succession to the Norland estate was not so really important as to his sisters; for
their fortune, independent of what might arise to them from their father's
inheriting that property, could be but small. Their mother had nothing, and their
father only seven thousand pounds in his own disposal; for the remaining moiety
of his first wife's fortune was also secured to her child, and he had only a life-
interest in it.
The old gentleman died: his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave
as much disappointment as pleasure. He was neither so unjust, nor so
ungrateful, as to leave his estate from his nephew;--but he left it to him on such
terms as destroyed half the value of the bequest. Mr. Dashwood had wished for it
more for the sake of his wife and daughters than for himself or his son;--but to his
son, and his son's son, a child of four years old, it was secured, in such a way, as
to leave to himself no power of providing for those who were most dear to him,
and who most needed a provision by any charge on the estate, or by any sale of
its valuable woods. The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child, who, in
occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained on the
affections of his uncle, by such attractions as are by no means unusual in
children 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.