Chapter Five: Mr Collins Proposes-Twice!
The next day at Longbourn, Mr Collins proposed marriage to Elizabeth.
On finding Mrs Bennet and Elizabeth together he asked the mother for her
permission to speak to her daughter alone.Elizabeth was too surprised to
answer, but her mother immediately went away.
Elizabeth sat down to listen and tried not to show her feelings which were
divided between amusement and dislike.
'Almost as soon as I came into this house,' Mr Collins began, 'I chose you
for the partner of my life, but before my feelings get too strong for me I must
explain my motives for marrying and for coming here to Longbourn to look
for a wife.'
The idea of the serious Mr Collins's strong feelings made Elizabeth so near
to laughing that she could not stop him.
'My motives for marrying are first, that I think it right for every man of the
Church. Second, that I am sure it will make me very happy, and third -
which perhaps I should have said first, that it was asked of me by the very
noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness. Let me observe, my
dear cousin, that the kindness of Lady Catherine de Bourgh is not the least of
the advantages I have to give. It remains to tell why I looked in Longbourn
instead of my own neighbourhood where, I assure you, there are many
agreeable young women. But as I am to get this estate after the death of your
honoured father (who, however, may live many years longer), I could not be
happy without deciding to choose a wife from among his daughters, that the
loss be as little as possible when the unhappy day comes - which, however,
as I have already said, may not be for some years. This has been my motive,
my dear cousin, and I flatter myself it will not make you think less kindly of
me. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you of the violence of
my affections. To fortune I am indifferent. I shall ask nothing of your father
and shall, indeed, say nothing ungenerous on that subject when we are
It was necessary to stop him now.
'You move too quickly, Sir,' she cried. 'You forget that I have made no
answer. Let me do it without more loss of time. I thank you for the
compliment, and feel the honour of your proposals, but I cannot do
otherwise than answer no.'
'It is not new to me,' said Mr Collins, 'that young ladies often refuse the
proposals of the men they mean to accept.'
'Sir!' cried Elizabeth, 'I do assure you that I am not one of those young
ladies. I am serious in my refusal. You could not make me happy, and I am
sure that I am the last woman in the world to make you so.'
But Mr Collins would not believe her, though Elizabeth continued to
'You are completely charming!' he cried gallantly. 'I am convinced that
when you see my proposals are agreeable to your parents they must be
acceptable to you.'
To this Elizabeth could give no answer, and left the room.
When Mrs Bennet returned to the breakfast room she was surprised to see
Mr Collins alone and to hear his story. She immediately hurried to her
husband crying out, 'Oh! Mr Bennet, you must come and make Lizzy marry
Mr Collins for she says she will not have him, and if you do not hurry he
will change his mind and not have her.'
'I do not understand you,' said he when she had finished talking.
'Of what are you talking?'
'Of Mr Collins and Lizzy.'
'And what can I do? It seems a hopeless business.'
'Speak to Lizzy. Tell her that she must marry him.'
'Let her be called.She shall hear my opinion.' Elizabeth was called to her
'Come here, my dear,' cried her father as she appeared. ' I understand that
Mr Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?' Elizabeth said that
it was. ' Very well - and this offer of marriage you have refused.'
'I have, Sir.'
'Very well. Your mother says you must accept it. Is it not so, Mrs Bennet?'
'Yes, or I will never see her again.'
'An unhappy choice is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a
stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you
do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.'
Elizabeth had to smile, but Mrs Bennet was very angry. She talked to
Elizabeth again and again. Elizabeth answered sometimes seriously,
sometimes laughing, but though her manner varied, her determination
As for the gentleman, his feelings were mostly expressed by a severe
manner and silence. He did not speak to Elizabeth. Later that day Miss
Lucas came to visit, and then his attentions were given to her. Her politeness
in listening to him was a great help to Elizabeth.
The next day Mrs Bennet's ill humour had not abated, nor had Mr
Collins's angry pride. Elizabeth had hoped he might soon leave, but it
seemed he meant to stay.
Later that day Jane received a letter from Netherfield. Elizabeth saw her
sister's face change as she read it. She tried to appear as always and soon
joined in the general conversation, But Elizabeth felt a great anxiety on the
subject. When the two sisters were alone Jane took out the letter and said,
'This is from Caroline Bingley; it has surprised me very much. The whole
party have left Netherfield and are going to London with no intention of
returning. She says she is not sorry to leave anything except for my society,
but hopes to enjoy that again sometime. She asks me to write to her.'
Elizabeth did not believe Miss Bingley's words. She was surprised they had
gone so quickly, but did not think this would prevent Mr Bingley from
returning alone. This she said, but Jane continued, 'Caroline says that none
of the party will return this winter. When Charles is in London, she writes,
he will be in no hurry to leave again. This is why they have joined him there.
It is clear that he will not return.'
'It is only clear that Miss Bingley does not want him to return,' said
'You do not know all,' objected Jane. 'Miss Bingley writes that Mr Darcy
wants to see his sister. Miss Georgiana Darcy is the most beautiful girl, she
says, and she hopes that one day she will be their sister. Charles admires her
greatly. If he married her they would all be very happy. Is that not clear
enough, my dear Lizzy? Can there be any other opinion on the subject?'
'Yes, because mine is different. Will you hear it?'
'It is this. Miss Bingley sees that her brother is in love with you and wants
him to marry Miss Darcy. She goes to town in the hope of keeping him there
and tries to make you think he feels nothing for you.'
'Indeed, Jane, believe me. No one who has seen you together can question
his affection. Could Miss Bingley have seen half as much love in Mr Darcy
for herself, she would have been planning her own marriage.'
Elizabeth soon had the pleasure of seeing Jane look happier at the thought
that Bingley would return to Netherfield.
The Bennets were invited to dine with the Lucases. Miss Lucas listened to
Mr Collins most of the day. Elizabeth could not know that her friend
planned to save her from any further proposals from Mr Collins by marrying
Early the next morning Mr Collins left Longbourn House quietly and
hurried to Lucas Lodge to throw himself at Charlotte's feet. His reception
was very flattering; his proposals were immediately accepted. Sir William
and Lady Lucas gave their permission and Lady Lucas began to ask herself
how many years Mr Bennet would still live.
Charlotte was satisfied. Mr Collins was neither intelligent nor was his
society agreeable. Still, he would be her husband. She did not think highly of
men or matrimony, but marriage was the only honourable possibility for
well-educated young women of small fortune. It might not make them happy,
but it would save them from being poor. She had never been beautiful and
now, at twenty-seven, she felt fortunate. The worst thing was the surprise it
would cause Elizabeth. She decided to give her the information herself, and
asked Mr Callins not to tell the family his news.
As he was to set out early the next morning, Mr Collins took his leave of
the ladies at Longbourn that night. Mrs Bennet with great politeness said
how happy they would be if he visited them again. They were all most
surprised when he immediately accepted this invitation, and said he would
be coming back very soon.
The next morning Charlotte came and told Elizabeth who could not help
crying out, 'Marry Mr Collins! My dear Charlotte, - impossible!'
'Why are you surprised, my dear Eliza?' Miss Lucas asked. 'Do you think
it impossible that another woman might want to marry him because you did
Elizabeth assured her that she wished her all imaginable happiness.
'I see what you are feeling,' answered Charlotte, 'But I am not romantic
you know. I ask only a good home, and I am sure that I can be as happy with
Mr Collins as most married people.'
Elizabeth quietly answered 'Surely.'
Later she told her sister. Jane was surprised, but she did not think it
impossible that Charlotte could be happy. Elizabeth and Charlotte spoke no
more about the subject. Elizabeth felt that she could never speak openly with
her friend again. As a result she became even closer to her sister than in the
past. Every day she was more anxious for Jane's happiness. Bingley had now
been gone a week and nothing was heard of his return. Jane had written to
Caroline and was expecting to hear from her again.
On Tuesday a letter of thanks from Mr Collins arrived, informing them
that he hoped to accept their kind invitation to return to Longbourn in two
weeks as Lady Catherine wished him to marry soon.
The days passed without news of Mr Bingley. Even Elizabeth began to be
anxious, not that Bingley did not love Jane, but that his sisters could keep
him from returning. Their determination, together with the attractions of
Miss Darcy and the amusements of London, might be stronger than his
feelings for Jane.
Miss Bingley's letter arrived and settled the matter. They planned to spend
the winter in London, she began, and ended that her brother was sorry there
had been no time to take his leave of them. Hope was over, completely over,
and when Jane finished reading the letter, only the affection the writer
expressed could make her feel better. Caroline wrote about the beautiful
Miss Darcy and her hopes that she would marry Charles. He was now an
intimate of Mr Darcy's house.
Elizabeth, to whom Jane soon told this, heard it in silent anger. She did not
think Bingley's feelings for her sister had changed, but that his easy
character had permitted his friends to interfere with his happiness and that of
her sister. She was not sure if he knew of Jane's feelings for him or not, but
in the end, it made no difference. Jane's peace was disturbed. A day or two
passed before Jane had the courage to speak of her feelings to Elizabeth.
'He has done nothing wrong,' she said.
'At least I have not that unhappiness. A little time. - I shall certainly try to
get better. At least it has not been more than a mistake on my part.'
'My dear Jane!' cried Elizabeth, 'you are too good. I feel as if I never really
knew you or loved you enough. There are few people I really love and still
fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more I am
dissatisfied with it.'
'Dear Lizzy, do not let yourself feel like this or you will never be happy.
Please do not think badly of Mr Bingley. We must not expect a lively young
man to be always cautious. It is often nothing but our own vanity that
makes us think admiration means more than it does.'
'To men's advantage.'
'I cannot believe that people try to do wrong, or to make others unhappy.'
'Not try, but not thinking of other people's feelings, not being decisive, this
may be enough to cause unhappiness.'
'You still think his sisters keep him away?'
'Yes, and his friend.'
'I cannot believe it. They can only wish for his happiness, and if he loves
me, no other woman can give him that.'
'You are mistaken. They may wish many things other than his happiness;
they may wish him a great fortune, they may wish him to marry a girl with
all the importance of money and connections.
'I am sure they do wish him to marry Miss Darcy,' answered Jane, 'They
have known her much longer than me. But it is very unlikely they should
have gone against their brother's wishes. Please let us not speak of it again.'