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?”
“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 eə 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 word ⇒ An 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.