Northanger Abbey — EN


No one who had ever seen Cather­ine Mor­land in her infan­cy would have sup­posed her born to be an hero­ine. Her sit­u­a­tion in life, the char­ac­ter of her father and moth­er, her own per­son and dis­po­si­tion, were all equal­ly against her. Her father was a cler­gy­man, with­out being neglect­ed, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard – and he had nev­er been hand­some. He had a con­sid­er­able inde­pen­dence besides two good liv­ings – and he was not in the least addict­ed to lock­ing up his daugh­ters. Her moth­er was a woman of use­ful plain sense, with a good tem­per, nd, what is more remark­able, with a good con­sti­tu­tion. She had three sons before Cather­ine was born; and instead of dying in bring­ing the lat­ter into the world, as any­body might expect, she still lived on – lived to have six chil­dren more – to see them grow­ing up around her, and to enjoy excel­lent health her­self. A fam­i­ly of ten chil­dren will be always called a fine fam­i­ly, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the num­ber; but the Mor­lands had lit­tle oth­er right to the word, for they were in gen­er­al very plain, and Cather­ine, for many years of her life, as plain as any. She had a thin awk­ward fig­ure, a sal­low skin with­out colour, dark lank hair, and strong fea­tures – so much for her per­son; and not less unpro­pi­tious for hero­ism seemed her mind. She was fond of all boy’s plays, and great­ly pre­ferred crick­et not mere­ly to dolls, but to the more hero­ic enjoy­ments of infan­cy, nurs­ing a dor­mouse, feed­ing a canary-bird, or water­ing a rose-bush. Indeed she had no taste for a gar­den; and if she gath­ered flow­ers at all, it was chiefly for the plea­sure of mis­chiefat least so it was con­jec­tured from her always pre­fer­ring those which she was for­bid­den to take. Such were her propen­si­ties – her abil­i­ties were quite as extra­or­di­nary. She nev­er could learn or under­stand any­thing before she was taught; and some­times not even then, for she was often inat­ten­tive, and occa­sion­al­ly stu­pid. Her moth­er was three months in teach­ing her only to repeat the “Beggar’s Peti­tion”; and after all, her next sis­ter, Sal­ly, could say it bet­ter than she did. Not that Cather­ine was always stu­pid – by no means; she learnt the fable of “The Hare and Many Friends” as quick­ly as any girl in Eng­land. Her moth­er wished her to learn music; and Cather­ine was sure she should like it, for she was very fond of tin­kling the keys of the old for­lorn spin­ner; so, at eight years old she began. She learnt a year, and could not bear it; and Mrs. Mor­land, who did not insist on her daugh­ters being accom­plished in spite of inca­pac­i­ty or dis­taste, allowed her to leave off. The day which dis­missed the music-mas­ter was one of the hap­pi­est of Catherine’s life. Her taste for draw­ing was not supe­ri­or; though when­ev­er she could obtain the out­side of a let­ter from her moth­er or seize upon any oth­er odd piece of paper, she did what she could in that way, by draw­ing hous­es and trees, hens and chick­ens, all very much like one anoth­er. Writ­ing and accounts she was taught by her father; French by her moth­er: her pro­fi­cien­cy in either was not remark­able, and she shirked her lessons in both when­ev­er she could. What a strange, unac­count­able char­ac­ter! – for with all these symp­toms of profli­ga­cy at ten years old, she had nei­ther a bad heart nor a bad tem­per, was sel­dom stub­born, scarce­ly ever quar­rel­some, and very kind to the lit­tle ones, with few inter­rup­tions of tyran­ny; she was more­over noisy and wild, hat­ed con­fine­ment and clean­li­ness, and loved noth­ing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house.

Such was Cather­ine Mor­land at ten. At fif­teen, appear­ances were mend­ing; she began to curl her hair and long for balls; her com­plex­ion improved, her fea­tures were soft­ened by plump­ness and colour, her eyes gained more ani­ma­tion, and her fig­ure more con­se­quence. Her love of dirt gave way to an incli­na­tion for fin­ery, and she grew clean as she grew smart; she had now the plea­sure of some­times hear­ing her father and moth­er remark on her per­son­al improve­ment. “Cather­ine grows quite a good-look­ing girl – she is almost pret­ty today,” were words which caught her ears now and then; and how wel­come were the sounds! To look almost pret­ty is an acqui­si­tion of high­er delight to a girl who has been look­ing plain the first fif­teen years of her life than a beau­ty from her cra­dle can ever receive.

Mrs. Mor­land was a very good woman, and wished to see her chil­dren every­thing they ought to be; but her time was so much occu­pied in lying-in and teach­ing the lit­tle ones, that her elder daugh­ters were inevitably left to shift for them­selves; and it was not very won­der­ful that Cather­ine, who had by nature noth­ing hero­ic about her, should pre­fer crick­et, base­ball, rid­ing on horse­back, and run­ning about the coun­try at the age of four­teen, to books – or at least books of infor­ma­tion – for, pro­vid­ed that noth­ing like use­ful knowl­edge could be gained from them, pro­vid­ed they were all sto­ry and no reflec­tion, she had nev­er any objec­tion to books at all. But from fif­teen to sev­en­teen she was in train­ing for a hero­ine; she read all such works as hero­ines must read to sup­ply their mem­o­ries with those quo­ta­tions which are so ser­vice­able and so sooth­ing in the vicis­si­tudes of their event­ful lives.

From Pope, she learnt to cen­sure those who

bear about the mock­ery of woe.”

From Gray, that “Many a flower is born to blush unseen,

“And waste its fra­grance on the desert air.”

From Thomp­son, that – “It is a delight­ful task

“To teach the young idea how to shoot.”

And from Shake­speare she gained a great store of infor­ma­tion – amongst the rest, that

– “Tri­fles light as air,

“Are, to the jeal­ous, con­fir­ma­tion strong,

“As proofs of Holy Writ.”


“The poor bee­tle, which we tread upon,

“In cor­po­ral suf­fer­ance feels a pang as great “As when a giant dies.”

And that a young woman in love always looks

– “like Patience on a monument

“Smil­ing at Grief.”

So far her improve­ment was suf­fi­cient – and in many oth­er points she came on exceed­ing­ly well; for though she could not write son­nets, she brought her­self to read them; and though there seemed no chance of her throw­ing a whole par­ty into rap­tures by a pre­lude on the pianoforte, of her own com­po­si­tion, she could lis­ten to oth­er people’s per­for­mance with very lit­tle fatigue. Her great­est defi­cien­cy was in the pen­cil – she had no notion of draw­ing – not enough even to attempt a sketch of her lover’s pro­file, that she might be detect­ed in the design. There she fell mis­er­ably short of the true hero­ic height. At present she did not know her own pover­ty, for she had no lover to por­tray. She had reached the age of sev­en­teen, with­out hav­ing seen one ami­able youth who could call forth her sen­si­bil­i­ty, with­out hav­ing inspired one real pas­sion, and with­out hav­ing excit­ed even any admi­ra­tion but what was very mod­er­ate and very tran­sient. This was strange indeed! But strange things may be gen­er­al­ly account­ed for if their cause be fair­ly searched out. There was not one lord in the neigh­bour­hood; no – not even a baronet. There was not one fam­i­ly among their acquain­tance who had reared and sup­port­ed a boy acci­den­tal­ly found at their door – not one young man whose ori­gin was unknown. Her father had no ward, and the squire of the parish no children.

But when a young lady is to be a hero­ine, the per­verse­ness of forty sur­round­ing fam­i­lies can­not pre­vent her. Some­thing must and will hap­pen to throw a hero in her way.

Mr. Allen, who owned the chief of the prop­er­ty about Fuller­ton, the vil­lage in Wilt­shire where the Mor­lands lived, was ordered to Bath for the ben­e­fit of a gouty con­sti­tu­tion – and his lady, a good-humoured woman, fond of Miss Mor­land, and prob­a­bly aware that if adven­tures will not befall a young lady in her own vil­lage, she must seek them abroad, invit­ed her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs. Mor­land were all com­pli­ance, and Cather­ine all happiness.

cler­gy­man ˈklɜːʤɪmən n A per­son ordained for ser­vice in a Chris­t­ian church: preach­er, priest

neglect nɪˈglɛkt v To fail to care for or attend to properly.

liv­ing ˈlɪvɪŋ n A benefice, income-pro­duc­ing prop­er­ty, held by a clergyman.

not in the least ⇒ Not at all.

addict əˈdɪkt n To occu­py one­self with or involve one­self in some­thing habitually.

to lock up ⇒ To con­fine and not let out.

man/woman of sense ⇒ A rea­son­able person.

tem­per ˈtɛm­pə n A char­ac­ter­is­tic state of feel­ing: mood, humour, atti­tude, disposition

con­sti­tu­tion ˌkɒn­stɪˈtjuːʃən n The phys­i­cal make­up of a per­son, gen­er­al phys­i­cal struc­ture and con­di­tion of a person’s body: struc­ture

to bring into the world ⇒ To give birth to.

awk­ward ˈɔːk­wəd adj Hard to han­dle; incon­ve­nient to use, uncom­fort­able: ama­teur­ish, rude, stiff

sal­low ˈsæləʊ adj Unhealthy look­ing of a sick­ly yel­low­ish complexion.

lank læŋk adj Straight and lying limp or flat.

unpro­pi­tious ˌʌn­prəˈpɪʃəs adj Not pre­sent­ing favourable cir­cum­stances: unfavourable; inaus­pi­cious

to be fond of ⇒ To have a strong incli­na­tion or affec­tion for.

dor­mouse ˈdɔː­maʊs n (pl dormice) Any of var­i­ous small, squir­rel-like Old World rodents.

canary kəˈneəri n Pop­u­lar usu­al­ly yel­low cage bird not­ed for its song.

to have a taste for ⇒ To like, to be inter­est­ed in.

at all ⇒ In any way; for any rea­son; to any extent; whatever.

mis­chief ˈmɪsʧɪf n A ten­den­cy to tease or annoy.

at least ⇒ If noth­ing else. Not less than.

con­jec­ture kənˈʤɛkʧə v To believe on the basis of incon­clu­sive evi­dence or insuf­fi­cient infor­ma­tion: sup­pose, guess

propen­si­ty prəˈpɛn­sɪti n An innate incli­na­tion: ten­den­cy

“Beggar’s Peti­tion” ⇒ A poem writ­ten by Thomas Moss and pub­lished anony­mous­ly in 1769. The poem is ref­er­enced here as an exam­ple of a poem com­mon­ly mem­o­rized by young women of the day.

after all ⇒ In spite of all.

by no means ⇒ In no sense; cer­tain­ly not.

fable ˈfeɪbl n A short moral sto­ry, esp one with ani­mals as characters

“The Hare and Many Friends” ⇒ The final fable in John Gay’s first col­lec­tion of 1727. It con­cerns the incon­stan­cy of friend­ship as exem­pli­fied by a hare that lives on friend­ly terms with the farm ani­mals; hare heə n Rodent-like mam­mal hav­ing long ears: rab­bit

tin­kle ˈtɪŋkl v To cause to make light metal­lic sounds.

for­lorn fəˈlɔːn adj Uncar­ed for: for­sak­en

spin­ner ˈspɪnə n Old type of key­board instru­ment like a harpsichord.

bear beə v Put up with some­thing or some­body unpleas­ant: endure, tol­er­ate, stand, suffer

in spite of ⇒ With­out wor­ry­ing about; although.

allow əˈlaʊ v Admit, agree.

to leave off ⇒ To stop doing.

hen hɛn n The female of any bird, esp the adult female of the domes­tic fowl.

pro­fi­cien­cy prəˈfɪʃən­si n Nat­ur­al or acquired facil­i­ty in a spe­cif­ic activ­i­ty: abil­i­ty, skill, com­mand, mas­tery, expertness

shirk ʃɜːk v To avoid one’s assigned duties; try to escape: neglect, dis­re­gard

unac­count­able ˌʌnəˈkaʊn­təbl adj Allow­ing of no expla­na­tion: inex­plic­a­ble, puz­zling, extraordinary

profli­ga­cy ˈprɒflɪgəsi n An incli­na­tion towards being reck­less­ly waste­ful, wild­ly extrav­a­gant, or unre­strained by con­ven­tion or moral­i­ty: reck­less­ness, extravagancy

stub­born ˈstʌbən adj Tena­cious­ly unwill­ing to yield: dis­obe­di­ent

scarce­ly ˈskeəs­li adv Not quite, almost not: bare­ly, hardly

quar­rel­some ˈkwɒrəl­səm adj Giv­en to argu­ing or hav­ing an eager­ness to fight: argu­men­ta­tive, combative

tyran­ny ˈtɪrəni n Dom­i­nance through threat of pun­ish­ment and vio­lence: abso­lutism, despotism

con­fine­ment kənˈ­faɪn­mənt n The act of lim­it­ing or con­di­tion of being lim­it­ed: lim­i­ta­tion, restric­tion, constraint

clean­li­ness ˈklɛn­lɪnɪs n Dili­gence in keep­ing clean.

mend mɛnd v To reform or cor­rect; to improve in con­di­tion: ame­lio­rate, restore, better

curl ˈkɜːl v To form into coils or ringlets, as the hair: coil, curve, twirl

long lɒŋ v To desire strong­ly or per­sis­tent­ly: han­ker, yearn, pant

ball lɒŋ n A for­mal gath­er­ing for social dancing.

com­plex­ion kəmˈ­plɛkʃən n The colour­ing of a person’s skin.

plump­ness plʌmp n The bod­i­ly prop­er­ty of being well round­ed and full in form: chub­bi­ness, bulk, fat­ness, overweight

to give way ⇒ To retreat or withdraw.

incli­na­tion ˌɪn­klɪˈneɪʃən n A ten­den­cy toward a cer­tain con­di­tion or char­ac­ter: dis­po­si­tion, tendency

fin­ery ˈfaɪnəri n Elab­o­rate or showy attire and accessories.

now and than ⇒ From time to time; occasionally.

from the cra­dle ˈkreɪdl ⇒ From the birth/infancy; cra­dle ˈkreɪdl n A small bed for a baby, espe­cial­ly one that rocks from side to side.

lying-in ⇒ Under­go­ing the process of giv­ing birth to some­one or something.

to shift for one­self ⇒ To pro­vide for one’s own needs: get along, get by, man­age, fend

coun­try ˈkʌn­tri n An area out­side of cities and towns.

pro­vid­ed prəˈ­vaɪdɪd cj On con­di­tion that or with the under­stand­ing that: if

objec­tion əbˈʤɛkʃən n The act of express­ing strong or rea­soned oppo­si­tion: protest, chal­lenge, remonstrance

quo­ta­tion kwəʊˈteɪʃən n A pas­sage cit­ed for illus­tra­tion or proof.

ser­vice­able ˈsɜːvɪsəbl adj Capa­ble of being put to good use: usable, ben­e­fi­cial, convenient

sooth­ing ˈsuːðɪŋ v Afford­ing phys­i­cal relief: allay­ing, comforting­

vicis­si­tude vɪˈsɪsɪtjuːd n Some­thing that obstructs progress and requires great effort to over­come: dif­fi­cul­ty, hardship

event­ful ɪˈvɛnt­fʊl adj Full of events or inci­dents: excit­ing, active, busy, dra­mat­ic, remarkable,

Pope, Alexan­der ⇒ (1688–1744) Eng­lish writer best remem­bered for his satir­i­cal mock-epic poems The Rape of the Lock ⇒ (1712) and The Dun­ci­ad (1728).

cen­sure ˈsɛnʃə v To feel or express strong dis­ap­proval of: con­demn, repro­bate, reprehend

mock­ery ˈmɒkəri n A spe­cif­ic act of ridicule; words intend­ed to direct con­temp­tu­ous laugh­ter at a per­son or thing: taunt, deri­sion, ridicule

woe wəʊ n Intense mourn­ful­ness: sor­row, grief, dis­tress, trouble

Grey, Thomas ⇒ (1716–1771) Eng­lish poet.

blush blʌʃ v Become rosy or red­dish: bloom, blos­som

fra­grance ˈfreɪ­grəns n A sweet or pleas­ant odour: per­fume, scent, aroma

Thomas, Fran­cis ⇒ (1859–1907) Eng­lish poet.

delight­ful dɪˈlaɪt­fʊl adj Giv­ing great plea­sure: charm­ing, heav­en­ly, delectable

tri­fle ˈtraɪfl n Some­thing of lit­tle impor­tance: triv­ia, minutiae

jeal­ous ˈʤɛləs adj Sus­pi­cious or undu­ly sus­pi­cious or fear­ful of being dis­placed by a rival: green-eyed

Holy Writ ⇒ The Bible.

bee­tle ˈbiːtl n Insect hav­ing bit­ing mouth­parts and front wings mod­i­fied to form horny cov­ers over­ly­ing the mem­bra­nous rear wings: bug

tread trɛd v To step, walk, or tram­ple so as to press, crush, or injure some­thing: squashm, step on, trample

cor­po­ral ˈkɔːpərəl adj Of or relat­ing to the body.

pang pæŋ n A sud­den sharp feel­ing of pain or emo­tion­al dis­tress: agony, anguish, spasm

to come on ⇒ To devel­op, to advance.

son­net ˈsɒnɪt n A verse form con­sist­ing of 14 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme.

rap­ture ˈræpʧə n A state of being car­ried away by over­whelm­ing emo­tion or elat­ed bliss: ecsta­sy

pre­lude ˈprɛljuːd n An intro­duc­to­ry per­for­mance pre­ced­ing a more impor­tant one.

piano-forte pɪˈænəʊ-fɔːt n = piano ⇒ An instru­ment with a man­u­al key­board, pro­duc­ing sounds that may be soft­ened or sus­tained by means of pedals.

fatigue fəˈtiːg n The con­di­tion of being extreme­ly tired: weari­ness, exhaus­tion, lassitude

defi­cien­cy dɪˈfɪʃən­si n The state or con­di­tion of lack­ing some­thing: weak­ness, imperfection

notion ˈnəʊʃən n Some­thing believed or accept­ed as true by a per­son: idea, posi­tion, view, opinion

sketch skɛʧ n A hasti­ly exe­cut­ed draw­ing, espe­cial­ly a pre­lim­i­nary one, giv­ing the essen­tial fea­tures with­out the details.

to fall short of ⇒ To fail to achieve.

ami­able ˈeɪmiəb(ə)l adj Pleas­ant and friend­ly: cor­dial, good-natured

to call forth ⇒ To bring, to cause.

tran­sient ˈtrænzɪənt adj Last­ing for a short time only: brief

to account for ⇒ To pro­vide an expla­na­tion or a justification.

baronet ˈbærənɪt n A mem­ber of the British order of hon­our; ranks below a baron but above a knight.

acci­den­tal­ly ˌæk­sɪˈdɛn­təli With­out advance plan­ning: unin­ten­tion­al­ly, unwittingly

ward wɔːd n A per­son under the pro­tec­tion or care of another.

squire ˈskwaɪə n The chief landown­er in a coun­try parish.

per­verse­ness pəˈvɜːs­nəs n Delib­er­ate­ly devi­at­ing from what is good.

the chief of ⇒ The biggest part of.

Wilt­shire ˈwɪltʃə n A coun­ty in South West England.

for the ben­e­fit of ⇒ Because of.

gouty ˈgaʊti adj Suf­fer­ing from a gout, a dis­tur­bance of uric-acid metab­o­lism, char­ac­ter­ized by painful inflam­ma­tion of the joints, espe­cial­ly of the feet and hands, with arthrit­ic attacks.

good-humoured ˈgʊdˈhjuːməd adj Cheer­ful, amiable.

befall (befell,befallen) bɪˈfɔːl n Occur or be the case in the course of events or by chance: hap­pen

com­pli­ance kəmˈ­plaɪəns n A dis­po­si­tion or ten­den­cy to yield to the will of oth­ers: com­plai­sance, com­pli­an­cy, oblig­ing­ness, deference