In vain I have struggled. It will not do! My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. In declaring myself thus I'm fully aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and, I hardly need add, my own better judgement.
The relative situation of our families is such that any alliance between us must be regarded as a highly reprehensible connection. Indeed as a rational man I cannot but regard it as such myself, but it cannot be helped. Almost from the earliest moments of our acquaintance I have come to feel for you a passionate admiration and regard, which despite of my struggles, has overcome every rational objection. And I beg you, most fervently, to relieve my suffering and consent to be my wife.
In such cases as these, I believe the established mode is to express a sense of obligation. But I cannot. I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I'm sorry to cause pain to anyone, but it was most unconsciously done, and, I hope, will be of short duration.
And this is all the reply I am to expect? I might wonder why, with so little effort at civility, I am rejected.
And I might wonder why, with so evident a desire to offend and insult me you chose to tell me that you like me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character! Was this not some excuse for incivility if I was uncivil? I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. Do you think any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been the means of ruining the happiness of a most beloved sister? Can you deny that you have done it?
I have no wish to deny it. I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister, and I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself.
But it's not merely that on which my dislike of you is founded. Long before it had taken place, my dislike of you was decided when I heard Mr Wickham's story of your dealings with him. How can you defend yourself on that subject?
You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns!
Who that knows what his misfortunes have been can help feeling an interest in him?
His misfortunes! Yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed!
And of your infliction! You have reduced him to his present state of poverty, and yet you can treat his misfortunes with contempt and ridicule!
And this is your opinion of me? My faults by this calculation are heavy indeed, but perhaps these offences might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by the honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design on you, had I concealed my struggles and flattered you. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations whose condition in life is so decidedly below my own?
You are mistaken, Mr Darcy. The mode of your declaration merely spared me any concern I might have felt in refusing you had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner. You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it. From the very beginning, your manners impressed me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain for the feelings of others. I had known you a month before I felt you were the last man in the world whom I could ever marry!
You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings and now have only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Please forgive me for having taken up your time and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.
- Jane Austen
December 9th, 2022
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