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Chapter 18
Elinor saw, with great uneasiness the low spirits of her friend. His visit afforded
her but a very partial satisfaction, while his own enjoyment in it appeared so
imperfect. It was evident that he was unhappy; she wished it were equally
evident that he still distinguished her by the same affection which once she had
felt no doubt of inspiring; but hitherto the continuance of his preference seemed
very uncertain; and the reservedness of his manner towards her contradicted one
moment what a more animated look had intimated the preceding one.
He joined her and Marianne in the breakfast-room the next morning before the
others were down; and Marianne, who was always eager to promote their
happiness as far as she could, soon left them to themselves. But before she was
half way upstairs she heard the parlour door open, and, turning round, was
astonished to see Edward himself come out.
"I am going into the village to see my horses," said be, "as you are not yet ready
for breakfast; I shall be back again presently."
Edward returned to them with fresh admiration of the surrounding country; in his
walk to the village, he had seen many parts of the valley to advantage; and the
village itself, in a much higher situation than the cottage, afforded a general view
of the whole, which had exceedingly pleased him. This was a subject which
ensured Marianne's attention, and she was beginning to describe her own
admiration of these scenes, and to question him more minutely on the objects
that had particularly struck him, when Edward interrupted her by saying, "You
must not enquire too far, Marianne--remember I have no knowledge in the
picturesque, and I shall offend you by my ignorance and want of taste if we come
to particulars. I shall call hills steep, which ought to be bold; surfaces strange and
uncouth, which ought to be irregular and rugged; and distant objects out of sight,
which ought only to be indistinct through the soft medium of a hazy atmosphere.
You must be satisfied with such admiration as I can honestly give. I call it a very
fine country--the hills are steep, the woods seem full of fine timber, and the valley
looks comfortable and snug--with rich meadows and several neat farm houses
scattered here and there. It exactly answers my idea of a fine country, because it
unites beauty with utility--and I dare say it is a picturesque one too, because you
admire it; I can easily believe it to be full of rocks and promontories, grey moss
and brush wood, but these are all lost on me. I know nothing of the picturesque."
"I am afraid it is but too true," said Marianne; "but why should you boast of it?"
"I suspect," said Elinor, "that to avoid one kind of affectation, Edward here falls
into another. Because he believes many people pretend to more admiration of
the beauties of nature than they really feel, and is disgusted with such
pretensions, he affects greater indifference and less discrimination in viewing
them himself than he possesses. He is fastidious and will have an affectation of
his own."
"It is very true," said Marianne, "that admiration of landscape scenery is become
a mere jargon. Every body pretends to feel and tries to describe with the taste