Emma eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 469 pages of information about Emma.

“Dear me!—­it is so odd to hear a woman talk so!”—­

“I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry.  Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing! but I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.  And, without love, I am sure I should be a fool to change such a situation as mine.  Fortune I do not want; employment I do not want; consequence I do not want:  I believe few married women are half as much mistress of their husband’s house as I am of Hartfield; and never, never could I expect to be so truly beloved and important; so always first and always right in any man’s eyes as I am in my father’s.”

“But then, to be an old maid at last, like Miss Bates!”

“That is as formidable an image as you could present, Harriet; and if I thought I should ever be like Miss Bates! so silly—­so satisfied—­ so smiling—­so prosing—­so undistinguishing and unfastidious—­ and so apt to tell every thing relative to every body about me, I would marry to-morrow.  But between us, I am convinced there never can be any likeness, except in being unmarried.”

“But still, you will be an old maid! and that’s so dreadful!”

“Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public!  A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls, but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else.  And the distinction is not quite so much against the candour and common sense of the world as appears at first; for a very narrow income has a tendency to contract the mind, and sour the temper.  Those who can barely live, and who live perforce in a very small, and generally very inferior, society, may well be illiberal and cross.  This does not apply, however, to Miss Bates; she is only too good natured and too silly to suit me; but, in general, she is very much to the taste of every body, though single and though poor.  Poverty certainly has not contracted her mind:  I really believe, if she had only a shilling in the world, she would be very likely to give away sixpence of it; and nobody is afraid of her:  that is a great charm.”

“Dear me! but what shall you do? how shall you employ yourself when you grow old?”

“If I know myself, Harriet, mine is an active, busy mind, with a great many independent resources; and I do not perceive why I should be more in want of employment at forty or fifty than one-and-twenty.  Woman’s usual occupations of hand and mind will be as open to me then as they are now; or with no important variation.  If I draw less, I shall read more; if I give up music, I shall take to carpet-work.  And as for objects of interest, objects for the affections, which is in truth the great point of inferiority, the

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Emma from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.