Northanger Abbey — EN


Every morn­ing now brought its reg­u­lar duties – shops were to be vis­it­ed; some new part of the town to be looked at; and the pump-room to be attend­ed, where they parad­ed up and down for an hour, look­ing at every­body and speak­ing to no one. The wish of a numer­ous acquain­tance in Bath was still upper­most with Mrs. Allen, and she repeat­ed it after every fresh proof, which every morn­ing brought, of her know­ing nobody at all.

They made their appear­ance in the Low­er Rooms; and here for­tune was more favourable to our hero­ine. The mas­ter of the cer­e­monies intro­duced to her a very gen­tle­man­like young man as a part­ner; his name was Tilney. He seemed to be about four or five and twen­ty, was rather tall, had a pleas­ing coun­te­nance, a very intel­li­gent and live­ly eye, and, if not quite hand­some, was very near it. His address was good, and Cather­ine felt her­self in high luck. There was lit­tle leisure for speak­ing while they danced; but when they were seat­ed at tea, she found him as agree­able as she had already giv­en him cred­it for being. He talked with flu­en­cy and spir­it – and there was an arch­ness and pleas­antry in his man­ner which inter­est­ed, though it was hard­ly under­stood by her. After chat­ting some time on such mat­ters as nat­u­ral­ly arose from the objects around them, he sud­den­ly addressed her with – “I have hith­er­to been very remiss, madam, in the prop­er atten­tions of a part­ner here; I have not yet asked you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were ever here before; whether you have been Upper Rooms, the the­atre, and the con­cert; and how you like the place alto­geth­er. I have been very neg­li­gent – but are you now at leisure to sat­is­fy me in these par­tic­u­lars? If you are I will begin directly.”

“You need not give your­self that trou­ble, sir.”

“No trou­ble, I assure you, madam.” Then form­ing his fea­tures into a set smile, and affect­ed­ly soft­en­ing his voice, he added, with a sim­per­ing air, “Have you been long in Bath, madam?”

“About a week, sir,” replied Cather­ine, try­ing not to laugh.

“Real­ly!” with affect­ed astonishment.

“Why should you be sur­prised, sir?”

“Why, indeed!” said he, in his nat­ur­al tone. “But some emo­tion must appear to be raised by your reply, and sur­prise is more eas­i­ly assumed, and not less rea­son­able than any oth­er. Now let us go on. Were you nev­er here before, madam?”

“Nev­er, sir.”

“Indeed! Have you yet hon­oured the Upper Rooms?”

“Yes, sir, I was there last Monday.”

“Have you been to the theatre?”

“Yes, sir, I was at the play on Tuesday.”

“To the concert?”

“Yes, sir, on Wednesday.”

“And are you alto­geth­er pleased with Bath?”

“Yes – I like it very well.”

“Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be ratio­nal again.” Cather­ine turned away her head, not know­ing whether she might ven­ture to laugh. “I see what you think of me,” said he grave­ly – “I shall make but a poor fig­ure in your jour­nal tomorrow.”

“My jour­nal!” “Yes, I know exact­ly what you will say: Fri­day, went to the Low­er Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trim­mings – plain black shoes – appeared to much advan­tage; but was strange­ly harassed by a queer, half-wit­ted man, who would make me dance with him, and dis­tressed me by his nonsense.”

“Indeed I shall say no such thing.”

“Shall I tell you what you ought to say?”

“If you please.”

“I danced with a very agree­able young man, intro­duced by Mr. King; had a great deal of con­ver­sa­tion with him – seems a most extra­or­di­nary genius – hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say.”

“But, per­haps, I keep no jour­nal.”

“Per­haps you are not sit­ting in this room, and I am not sit­ting by you. These are points in which a doubt is equal­ly pos­si­ble. Not keep a jour­nal! How are your absent cousins to under­stand the tenour of your life in Bath with­out one? How are the civil­i­ties and com­pli­ments of every day to be relat­ed as they ought to be, unless not­ed down every evening in a jour­nal? How are your var­i­ous dress­es to be remem­bered, and the par­tic­u­lar state of your com­plex­ion, and curl of your hair to be described in all their diver­si­ties, with­out hav­ing con­stant recourse to a jour­nal? My dear madam, I am not so igno­rant of young ladies’ ways as you wish to believe me; it is this delight­ful habit of jour­nal­ing which large­ly con­tributes to form the easy style of writ­ing for which ladies are so gen­er­al­ly cel­e­brat­ed. Every­body allows that the tal­ent of writ­ing agree­able let­ters is pecu­liar­ly female. Nature may have done some­thing, but I am sure it must be essen­tial­ly assist­ed by the prac­tice of keep­ing a jour­nal.”

“I have some­times thought,” said Cather­ine, doubt­ing­ly, “whether ladies do write so much bet­ter let­ters than gen­tle­men! That is – I should not think the supe­ri­or­i­ty was always on our side.”

“As far as I have had oppor­tu­ni­ty of judg­ing, it appears to me that the usu­al style of let­ter-writ­ing among women is fault­less, except in three particulars.”

“And what are they?”

“A gen­er­al defi­cien­cy of sub­ject, a total inat­ten­tion to stops, and a very fre­quent igno­rance of grammar.”

Upon my word! I need not have been afraid of dis­claim­ing the com­pli­ment. You do not think too high­ly of us in that way.”

“I should no more lay it down as a gen­er­al rule that women write bet­ter let­ters than men, than that they sing bet­ter duets, or draw bet­ter land­scapes. In every pow­er, of which taste is the foun­da­tion, excel­lence is pret­ty fair­ly divid­ed between the sexes.”

They were inter­rupt­ed by Mrs. Allen: “My dear Cather­ine,” said she, “do take this pin out of my sleeve; I am afraid it has torn a hole already; I shall be quite sor­ry if it has, for this is a favourite gown, though it cost but nine shillings a yard.”

“That is exact­ly what I should have guessed it, madam,” said Mr. Tilney, look­ing at the muslin.

“Do you under­stand muslins, sir?”

“Par­tic­u­lar­ly well; I always buy my own cra­vats, and am allowed to be an excel­lent judge; and my sis­ter has often trust­ed me in the choice of a gown. I bought one for her the oth­er day, and it was pro­nounced to be a prodi­gious bar­gain by every lady who saw it. I gave but five shillings a yard for it, and a true Indi­an muslin.”

Mrs. Allen was quite struck by his genius. “Men com­mon­ly take so lit­tle notice of those things,” said she; “I can nev­er get Mr. Allen to know one of my gowns from anoth­er. You must be a great com­fort to your sis­ter, sir.”

“I hope I am, madam.”

And pray, sir, what do you think of Miss Morland’s gown?”

“It is very pret­ty, madam,” said he, grave­ly exam­in­ing it; “but I do not think it will wash well; I am afraid it will fray.”

“How can you,” said Cather­ine, laugh­ing, “be so – “ She had almost said “strange.”

I am quite of your opin­ion, sir,” replied Mrs. Allen; “and so I told Miss Mor­land when she bought it.”

“But then you know, madam, muslin always turns to some account or oth­er; Miss Mor­land will get enough out of it for a hand­ker­chief, or a cap, or a cloak. Muslin can nev­er be said to be wast­ed. I have heard my sis­ter say so forty times, when she has been extrav­a­gant in buy­ing more than she want­ed, or care­less in cut­ting it to pieces.”

“Bath is a charm­ing place, sir; there are so many good shops here. We are sad­ly off in the coun­try; not but what we have very good shops in Sal­is­bury, but it is so far to go – eight miles is a long way; Mr. Allen says it is nine, mea­sured nine; but I am sure it can­not be more than eight; and it is such a fag – I come back tired to death. Now, here one can step out of doors and get a thing in five minutes.”

Mr. Tilney was polite enough to seem inter­est­ed in what she said; and she kept him on the sub­ject of muslins till the danc­ing recom­menced. Cather­ine feared, as she lis­tened to their dis­course, that he indulged him­self a lit­tle too much with the foibles of oth­ers. “What are you think­ing of so earnest­ly?” said he, as they walked back to the ball­room; “not of your part­ner, I hope, for, by that shake of the head, your med­i­ta­tions are not satisfactory.”

Cather­ine coloured, and said, “I was not think­ing of anything.”

“That is art­ful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at once that you will not tell me.”

“Well then, I will not.”

“Thank you; for now we shall soon be acquaint­ed, as I am autho­rized to tease you on this sub­ject when­ev­er we meet, and noth­ing in the world advances inti­ma­cy so much.”

They danced again; and, when the assem­bly closed, part­ed, on the lady’s side at least, with a strong incli­na­tion for con­tin­u­ing the acquain­tance. Whether she thought of him so much, while she drank her warm wine and water, and pre­pared her­self for bed, as to dream of him when there, can­not be ascer­tained; but I hope it was no more than in a slight slum­ber, or a morn­ing doze at most; for if it be true, as a cel­e­brat­ed writer has main­tained, that no young lady can be jus­ti­fied in falling in love before the gentleman’s love is declared,* it must be very improp­er that a young lady should dream of a gen­tle­man before the gen­tle­man is first known to have dreamt of her. How prop­er Mr. Tilney might be as a dream­er or a lover had not yet per­haps entered Mr. Allen’s head, but that he was not objec­tion­able as a com­mon acquain­tance for his young charge he was on inquiry sat­is­fied; for he had ear­ly in the evening tak­en pains to know who her part­ner was, and had been assured of Mr. Tilney’s being a cler­gy­man, and of a very respectable fam­i­ly in Glouces­ter­shire.

* Vide a let­ter from Mr. Richard­son, No. 97. vol ii. Ram­bler.

pump-room ˈpʌm­pruːm n A room at a spa where med­i­c­i­nal water is dispensed.

parade pəˈreɪd v To stroll in pub­lic, espe­cial­ly so as to be seen; to behave so as to attract atten­tion: prom­e­nade, troop, march, walk

upper­most ˈʌpəməʊst adj In the most promi­nent posi­tion, as in the mind: pre­dom­i­nant, dom­i­nant, supreme, principal

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

Low­er Rooms ⇒ Also known as the Harrison’s Rooms are Bath’s first assem­bly house erect­ed dur­ing 1708 by an unnamed builder for Thomas Harrison.They burnt down in about 1820.

mas­ter of the cer­e­monies ⇒ A per­son who super­in­tends the forms to be observed on var­i­ous social occasions.

coun­te­nance ˈkaʊnt(ə)nəns n The appear­ance con­veyed by a person’s face: vis­age

address əˈdrɛs n Archa­ic Man­ner or style of speak­ing or conversation.

in high luck ⇒ In good fortune.

leisure ˈlɛʒə n Spare time.

to give some­one cred­it for some­thing ⇒ To acknowl­edge one’s achievement.

flu­en­cy ˈflu(ː)ənsi adj The qual­i­ty to express one­self read­i­ly and effortlessly.

spir­it ˈspɪrɪt n Cheerfulness.

arch­ness ˈɑːʧnɪs n Mis­chie­vous­ness in an inno­cent or play­ful way.

pleas­antry ˈplɛzn­tri n An agree­ably humor­ous man­ner in con­ver­sa­tion or social relations.

hith­er­to ˈhɪðəˈ­tuː adv Until this time.

remiss rɪˈmɪs adj Guilty of neglect; fail­ing in what duty requires or lack­ing due care or con­cern: slack, lax, negligent

atten­tion əˈtɛnʃ(ə)n n (usu­al­ly plur­al) An act of con­sid­er­a­tion, cour­tesy, or gal­lantry indi­cat­ing affec­tion or love

Upper Rooms ⇒ Also known as the New Assem­bly Rooms, were built in 1771 by John Wood. The Upper Rooms can still be seen today.

neg­li­gent ˈnɛglɪʤənt adj char­ac­ter­ized by neglect and undue lack of con­cern: care­less, inat­ten­tive, lax, neglect­ful, remiss

at leisure ⇒ Not occupied.

par­tic­u­lar pəˈtɪkjʊlə n (plur­al) Facts or details.

to give one­self trou­ble ⇒ To make an effort to do some­thing; to both­er with doing some­thing for some­one else.

affect­ed­ly əˈfɛk­tɪdli adv In an emo­tion­al­ly stirred or moved manner.

sim­per­ing ˈsɪm­pərɪŋ adj Look­ing in insin­cere, unnat­ur­al, or coy way: flir­ta­tious, coquet­tish, sil­ly, self-conscious

air n Appearence, man­ner.

smirk smɜːk n An affect­ed, often offen­sive­ly self-sat­is­fied smile: sim­per, smile, fleer

ven­ture ˈvɛnʧə v Go so far as to: pre­sume, dare

grave­ly ˈgreɪvli adv Seri­ous­ly, solemnly.

jour­nal ˈʤɜːnl n Diary, dai­ly records of events.

sprigged ˈsprɪgɪd adj Dec­o­rat­ed with a design of twigs of a plant.

muslin ˈmʌ­zlɪn n A stur­dy cot­ton fab­ric of plain weave.

robe rəʊb n A long, loose, flow­ing garment.

trim­ming ˈtrɪmɪŋ n Some­thing that adorns: dec­o­ra­tion, orna­ment, ornamentation

to advan­tage ⇒ In a way that enables some­thing to be seen, used, etc. in the best way.

harass ˈhærəs v To tor­ment per­sis­tent­ly: wor­ry, annoy, tease

half-wit­ted ˈhɑːfˈwɪtɪd adj Weak-minded.

dis­tress dɪsˈtrɛs v To cause strain, anx­i­ety, or suf­fer­ing to: anguish, tor­ture, torment

a great deal ⇒ A large amount.

to keep a jour­nal ⇒ To have a diary.

tenour tɛˈnuːr n A set­tled rou­tine or habit­u­al direc­tion of something.

civil­i­ty sɪˈvɪlɪti n Polite­ness or cour­tesy, espe­cial­ly when for­mal: cour­tesy, politeness

to note down ⇒ To write down.

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

curl ˈkɜːl n A strand or clus­ter of hair: lock

to have recourse to ⇒ To turn or apply to a per­son or thing for aid or security.

way weɪ n Cus­ton, man­ner of behav­ing, per­son­al peculiarity.

jour­nal ˈʤɜːnl v Archive or record some­thing, espe­cial­ly in a journal.

to allow ⇒ To admit.

tal­ent ˈtælənt n An innate capa­bil­i­ty: gift, apti­tude, genius, incli­na­tion, bent

pecu­liar­ly pɪˈkjuːliəli adv In an usu­al or strange manner.

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

upon my wordAn inter­jec­tion express­ing sur­prise, amaze­ment, or increduli­ty.

to lay down ⇒ To establish.

duet dju(ː)ˈɛt n A musi­cal com­po­si­tion for two per­form­ers: duette, duo

gown gaʊn v A long, usu­al­ly for­mal woman’s dress.

but ⇒ Mere­ly, just, only.

shilling ˈʃɪlɪŋ n A for­mer mon­e­tary unit in Great Britain..

cra­vat krəˈvæt n A scarf or band of cloth worn around the neck as a tie.

pro­nounce prəˈ­naʊns v To declare offi­cial­ly or formally.

prodi­gious prəˈdɪʤəs adj Far beyond what is usu­al and so remark­able as to elic­it dis­be­lief: won­der­ful, incred­i­ble, amaz­ing, fan­tas­tic, mar­vel­lous, astonishing

bar­gain ˈbɑːgɪn n Some­thing bought cheeply.

to be struck by some­thing ⇒ To be great­ly impressed by something.

to take notice of some­thing ⇒ To pay atten­tion to something.

to know ⇒ To distinguish.

to be a com­fort to some­one ⇒ To solace in time of grief or fear; to help.

and pray ⇒ Often used ellip­ti­cal­ly for I pray you to intro­duce a request or an entreaty; excuse me.

fray freɪ v To wear away (the edges of fab­ric, for exam­ple) by rubbing.

to be of the opin­ion ⇒ To think on the same way.

to turn to account ⇒ Be of use/benefit.

hand­ker­chief ˈhæŋkəʧɪf n A square piece of cloth used for wip­ing the eyes, nose or as a cos­tume acces­so­ry: han­kie, han­ky, hankey

cloak kləʊk n A loose out­er gar­ment, such as a cape.

off in the coun­try ⇒ In the inner part of the country.

not but what ⇒ Not that.

Sal­is­bury ˈsɔːlzb(ə)ri n Town in the south­east of Wilt­shire, South West Eng­land, at the con­flu­ence of the rivers Avon, Nad­der and Bourne.

fag fæg n A very exhaust­ing work: toil

polite pəˈlaɪt adj Marked by refine­ment in taste and man­ners: civilised, cul­ti­vat­ed, cul­tured, genteel

to keep on the sub­ject of ⇒ To main­tain a cer­tain conversation.

recom­mence ˌriːkəˈmɛns v To begin or com­mence again.

dis­course dɪsˈkɔːs n An extend­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tion deal­ing with some par­tic­u­lar top­ic: dis­cus­sion

indulge ɪnˈdʌlʤ v To yield to one’s desires, espe­cial­ly to an exces­sive degree.

foible ˈfɔɪbl n Slight pecu­liar­i­ty or weak­ness of one’s caracter.

earnest­ly ˈɜːnɪstli adv Seriously.

ball­room ˈbɔːl­rʊm n Large room used main­ly for danc­ing: dance hall, dance palace

for ⇒ Because.

art­ful ˈɑːt­fʊl adj Not straight­for­ward or can­did; giv­ing a false appear­ance of frank­ness: disin­gen­u­ous

tease tiːz v Annoy per­sis­tent­ly:

assem­bly əˈsɛm­bli n A group of per­sons gath­ered togeth­er for a com­mon reason.

at least ⇒ If noth­ing else. Not less than.

incli­na­tion ˌɪn­klɪˈneɪʃən n A ten­den­cy toward a cer­tain condition.

ascer­tain ˌæsəˈteɪn v Find out (in order to be cer­tain about).

slum­ber ˈslʌm­bə n Peace­ful or com­fort­able sleep.

doze dəʊz n A brief sleep: nap

at most ⇒ At the maximum.

to fall in love ⇒ To devel­op a strong affec­tion for someone

some­thing entered my head ⇒ It occurred to me.

objec­tion­able əbˈʤɛkʃnəbl adj Caus­ing dis­ap­proval or protest.

charge ʧɑːʤ n Per­son entrust­ed ot some­body to be tak­en care of.

to take pains ⇒ To do with great care or effort; to take trouble.

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

Glouces­ter­shire ˈglɒstəʃə ⇒ A coun­ty in South West England.

vide ˈvaɪdi(ː) v See. Used to direct a reader’s attention.

let­ter from Mr. Richard­son ⇒ Turn­ing to that essay we find the fol­low­ing rule for con­duct: “That a young lady should be in love, and the love of the young gen­tle­man unde­clared, is an het­ero­doxy which pru­dence, and even pol­i­cy, must not allow”

The Ram­bler ⇒ (1750–52) An essay series writ­ten in ele­vat­ed prose pub­lished by Edward Cave, most­ly writ­ten by Samuel Johnson.