Sense and Sensibility HTML version

Chapter 17
Mrs. Dashwood was surprised only for a moment at seeing him; for his coming to
Barton was, in her opinion, of all things the most natural. Her joy and expression
of regard long outlived her wonder. He received the kindest welcome from her;
and shyness, coldness, reserve could not stand against such a reception. They
had begun to fail him before he entered the house, and they were quite
overcome by the captivating manners of Mrs. Dashwood. Indeed a man could not
very well be in love with either of her daughters, without extending the passion to
her; and Elinor had the satisfaction of seeing him soon become more like himself.
His affections seemed to reanimate towards them all, and his interest in their
welfare again became perceptible. He was not in spirits, however; he praised
their house, admired its prospect, was attentive, and kind; but still he was not in
spirits. The whole family perceived it, and Mrs. Dashwood, attributing it to some
want of liberality in his mother, sat down to table indignant against all selfish
"What are Mrs. Ferrars's views for you at present, Edward?" said she, when
dinner was over and they had drawn round the fire; "are you still to be a great
orator in spite of yourself?"
"No. I hope my mother is now convinced that I have no more talents than
inclination for a public life!"
"But how is your fame to be established? for famous you must be to satisfy all
your family; and with no inclination for expense, no affection for strangers, no
profession, and no assurance, you may find it a difficult matter."
"I shall not attempt it. I have no wish to be distinguished; and have every reason
to hope I never shall. Thank Heaven! I cannot be forced into genius and
"You have no ambition, I well know. Your wishes are all moderate."
"As moderate as those of the rest of the world, I believe. I wish as well as every
body else to be perfectly happy; but, like every body else it must be in my own
way. Greatness will not make me so."
"Strange that it would!" cried Marianne. "What have wealth or grandeur to do with
"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth has much to do with it."
"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness where there
is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction,
as far as mere self is concerned."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. Your
competence and my wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, as
the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfort must
be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than mine. Come, what is your
"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than that."
Elinor laughed. "Two thousand a year! One is my wealth! I guessed how it would