Sense and sensibility HTML version

by Jane Austen
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