Persuasions #11, 1989 Page 110-116
What Happened Next? or The Many Husbands of Georgiana Darcy
What happened next? Of a few things we can be certain. Kitty Bennet married a clergyman near Pemberley; Mary had to settle for one of Uncle Phillip’s clerks. Mr. Bingley allowed Jane’s portrait to go on public exhibition; Mr. Darcy kept Elizabeth’s private. These are inescapable facts because Jane Austen said or wrote them.
number of other people have their own ideas, and some have been so rash
put them in print. This is to
invite comment, and while not, I hope bearing any other resemblance to
Catherine de Bourgh I intend to comment with all the sincerity and
us begin with the books in which characters from Pride and Prejudice
appear only in passing or in minor roles and progress to the full-blown
In More Talk of Jane Austen (More about Jane Austen in the U.S. edition) by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G. B. Stern, the latter lady contributes a chapter called “Seven Years After” speculating on possible future developments. She decides that Mrs. Bennet shall die. Well, perhaps. Mr. Bennet does remind her of the possibility that he may be the survivor. But Miss Stern pictures Darcy and Bingley slapping each others’ backs and gloating over their mother-in-law’s demise, before composing themselves to go and break the news to Elizabeth and Jane. This won’t do. Bingley is too soft-hearted to behave like this. Darcy is tougher, but would need to do his rejoicing solo. Perhaps he found a spare moment – or hour, rather – to slip away to the deepest part of his woods and (after carefully checking he was alone) danced a jig and whooped with delight. But to return to the widower. Miss Stern’s next notion is even less acceptable. I accept that Mr. Bennet was susceptible to female charms in his youth, but in late middle age, with bitter experience behind him, is it likely he would marry another brainless beauty? With the added complication of her being younger than most of his daughters, and the former intimate friend of the youngest and least favourite – the widowed Mrs. Forster! I say not.
Gambles and Gambols - A visit with Old Friends, by someone who
“Memoir” probably to avoid the
formation of a JASNA lynch mob, is a Mansfield Park sequel with
incursions from other novels, a book that I could sum up with one word.
Unfortunately the word is not one suitable to be spoken in any
dedicated to Jane Austen.
Please direct your thoughts to a large pile of the waste product
digestive systems of male bovines, and it will convey the idea.
have been moved to wonder if “Memoir” was deliberately trying to
many mistakes as possible. There
are errors in history, sociology, forms of address, agriculture,
the novels of Jane Austen, and especially in language – the thing is
I had a few hours I could enumerate them all.
As I don’t, suffice it to say that the first mistake is in the
English people visit old friends or pay a visit to them, they do
visit with them. The
last mistake is on the penultimate page.
English farmers in the nineteenth century did not grow
Not even if they had peculiar apple trees that were still in
digressing, however. The main
development from Pride and Prejudice is that Wickham, aided by
Industrial Revolution arriving prematurely, has grown rich by playing
market. Now Wickham is not really
clever. He has an animal cunning,
but like an animal lives for the present. He
is notably lacking in foresight – he cannot judge the likely
his own actions on the future, much less the likely fluctuations of
He is also bone idle, and would be incapable of the work
assessing new developments and inventions so as to know in what to
question of where he got the capital to begin speculating is equally
unconvincing. It is claimed that
the money came from Darcy, ostensibly for household expenses.
Nonsense. Darcy might be
prepared to come to the rescue in the case of major debts that couldn’t
from Elizabeth’s and Jane’s pin-money, but he knows Wickham better than
give him a lump sum. He would do
exactly what he and Mr. Gardiner do when arranging Lydia’s marriage –
a list of creditors and settle with them direct.
After, I have no doubt, checking that the debts were genuine.
picture of Wickham as a financial adviser to various other characters
alarm. He would quite certainly go
in for mass embezzlement and they would all be ruined.
It would serve Mr. and Mrs. Elton right, but what about Mrs.
about to see if there was anything in this book I could approve, and
admit that it was rather a happy notion to land Mr. Collins with live
sons to rear.
by Naomi Royde-Smith,
is a ‘prequel’ to Emma, but also mixes in characters from other
novels, not necessarily all by Jane Austen, and from history.
The effect is sometimes rather startling – in a single page
there is a
mention of Dr. Burney’s having taught Mrs. Campbell music, and the
that moment catches sight of Lord and Lady Orville, the creations of
Burney’s daughter Fanny. One
can’t but feel that only her well-documented refusal to be lionized has
Miss Jane Austen from an appearance.
a number of characters from Pride and Prejudice.
Admiral Crawford’s mistress turns out to be Lydia Wickham.
I would not put this past her. Her
affection for Wickham lasted only “a little longer” than his for her
had “soon” sunk into indifference. But
Wickham is said to have divorced her. This
cannot be. The
English laws at the time were such that only one kind of person could
get a full
divorce – a man with a good income whose wife had committed adultery
indiscreet enough that witnesses could be called.
Women and poor men with unfaithful spouses could gain only legal
separations. The only money Wickham
has is his army pay – all other income was settled on Lydia, and in any
would he nowhere near enough to finance the Act of Parliament needed
divorce. Can anyone imagine Darcy
would give, or allow Bingley to give, the necessary money to free
prey on gullible heiresses again?
Darcy gains a husband – the widowed Mr. Willoughby.
“Mr. Darcy opposed the match at first” says someone in a
of understatement. That I can
believe – that anything ever reconciled him to it, or that he would
allowed his sister to meet Willoughby in the first place, I can’t.
Some time ago in Persuasions we had a diverting speculation that Harriet Smith’s mother was Miss Bates. According to this book Harriet’s father was Sir William Lucas.
The Wedding at Pemberly, a one-act play by Anne and Arthur Russell, is described by them as a footnote to Pride and Prejudice. The wedding in question is Georgiana Darcy’s, to a baronet called Sir Robert. We don’t meet him in person, as the cast is all female. It’s a very slight piece.
concerns an attempt by Wickham, through Lydia, to blackmail the Darcys
forged love-letters. I have
described Wickham as not really clever, but he is also not completely
If Georgiana had indeed been suffering from a “poisoned hand”
made it impossible for her to write a word during her entire sojourn in Ramsgate,
he is unlikely to have forgotten it. All
else apart, it would have been quite an inconvenience to his courtship
Ladies – A Shining Constellation of Wit and Beauty by E. Barrington
appears the novella The Darcys of Rosings.
No, that is not a mistake. Anne
de Bourgh died before her mother, who left Rosings to Darcy.
Anne’s early death is not too improbable, but Lady Catherine has
least two other nephews (one without an estate of his own) and a niece.
It passes belief that they all married people of whom Lady
Catherine disapproved, even more than she did of Elizabeth.
We are also asked to believe that the Darcys now spend more time
Rosings than at Pemberley, to which I can only say that they must he
by the sight of all the flying pigs.
is full of melodrama and moralizing. We
meet Willoughby’s illegitimate son, masquerading as his legitimate
half-brother. It should at once be
said that this is not Eliza’s child but one of a pair Willoughby (who
incarnation is definitely not married to Georgiana Darcy) had by a
female. The other one is disguised
as an Indian servant.
soi-disant Willoughby proceeds to abduct the Darcys’ spineless elder
who swoons. Her sister also swoons, both
on hearing of the abduction and
the subsequent rescue. The rescuer
is none other than an improbably repentant Wickham.
“I wish to heaven that I could perform if it were the most
service to Darcy, to lessen this load of obligation” he declaims to
In the one convincing incident in the tale, she is not really
It’s a hard contest, but I think the most unlikely part of this story is the naming of names. Darcy is presented by the author with a paternal uncle called Lorenzo. Then there is his elder daughter. In almost every case in Jane Austen’s novels where the given names of mothers and daughters are known, the first daughter is named for the mother. Even if Mr. and Mrs. Darcy chose not to follow this custom, the claims of Jane for her dearest sister, Georgiana for his only sister, and Anne for his dead mother should surely all have come before Charlotte. Would you name a daughter after a friend about whom you had never felt the same since the married your idiotic cousin? This, however, pales into insignificance beside the younger daughter. She is called Caroline.
Heiress of Rosings is a three-act
play by Cedric Wallis. As
can be deduced from the title, Anne de Bourgh is the heroine.
The author shares Mr. Collins’ view that she is destined to be a
Duchess, as he gives her as a suitor the dashing young Marquis of Chippenham,
heir to the Duke of Wilton. This gentleman
has a terrific amount of delicacy – fearing
that Lady Catherine would coerce Anne into marrying him whether she
wanted to or
not if his true identity was known, he disguises himself as a piano
pretty, but it gives Anne a sense of humour and sweetness of character
there is no evidence in Pride and Prejudice.
It also ignores some evidence that is in the book, on the
Anne’s age. I have always
thought, and was pleased to note from one of her delightful cartoons
McMaster agrees, that Anne must be about the same age as Darcy.
From Lady Catherine’s own mouth we know they were in their
the same time. Anne may even be
somewhat the elder. “From his
hours he was destined for his cousin,” and Lady Catherine, had her
not been already born, would have assumed that she would present Sir
a male heir. It was, like it or
not, what women of her station wanted to do and would consider
something of a failure if they didn’t. After
Anne was born, of course, Lady Catherine would insist she had wanted a
along. The play is set some time
after Pride and Prejudice – long enough that Mr. and Mrs. Darcy
visiting Rosings, clearly not for the first time as a married couple
Elizabeth and Anne have become good friends in the interim.
We must assume several years have passed. This
would put Darcy, and therefore Anne, in the early 30s
– for a woman of today still young, but in the early nineteenth century
decidedly not the age range from which the heir to a dukedom
to seek a first wife and mother for his sons.
a number of infelicities of language. A
few quotes from Jane Austen’s Letters are put into Elizabeth’s
and she, and others, are sometimes made to use grammar fit only for
The Duchess of Wilton, who regards Miss de Bourgh as rather
son’s touch, expresses herself remarkably like Lady Catherine
Elizabeth, except when she is plagiarizing the Duke of Wellington.
Last, but certainly not least, I must deplore a subplot that has Mr. Collins found in a compromising position and a haystack with the local Scarlet Woman. Mr. Collins so firmly believes himself to be a good husband that at least in such matters as fidelity, sobriety and refraining from wife-beating he is a good husband. Besides. Lady Catherine would not tolerate any Scarlet Women on her estate. She would ship them off to some more suitable clime, like Hertfordshire.
The play was first performed in 1955, and fans of “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister” may like to know that when the dashing Lord Chippenham grew to years of maturity he turned into Sir Humphrey Appleby.
Hall, a novel by Jane
Gillespie, follows the fortunes of the Collins family. It is an agreeable if lightweight piece, and as it concerns the
grown-up Collins children
more than anything else
has few direct connections to the original.
Such as it does have are all believable.
Mr. Bennet loses his wife again, but on this occasion all it
does is give
him a new lease of life, so that Mr. Collins sees his inheritance
the dim and distant future.
It is quite credible that Lady Catherine, unable to get her
hands on the
real culprits, would vent her spleen at her nephew’s marriage on Mr.
Collins, so that they seek a transfer to another living.
It might perhaps suggest that there is an alarming streak of
Darcy when he arranges for such a transfer to he effected, but as it
he has made a judicious choice in the disposing of Mr. Collins.
Mr. Dallow, the proprietor of Teverton Hall, spends most of his
Asia collecting antiquities and is spared much of Mr. Collins’
It is entirely probable that the Collins’ son and daughter, like
children of their period raised to respect their father, should suffer
different ways when they realize how other people regard him.
Ms. Gillespie makes something of a habit of following the
minor characters – she has also pursued Maria Rushworth and Anne
surely must deal with Isabella Thorpe and Penelope Clay or Elizabeth
before too long.
For the life of me I can’t see who can he extracted from Emma
but no doubt she can.
Pemberly Shades by Dorothy A. Bonavia-Hunt is the best-written of all the books I have dealt with. Miss Hunt makes a great effort to catch her original’s style rather than impose her own on Jane Austen’s characters. She is very careful with her English and I could not catch her in a single anachronism. She does use “Scotch,” which is incorrect when applied to a Scottish human being, but then so did Jane. She has read Pride and Prejudice with great care – she gets Anne de Bourgh’s age right – and tries hard to keep everyone in character. She is not, of course, equal to her model, especially in the irony department. Who is? A brave try, though, and an amusing story.
that, and reverting to names again, Jane Austen would never have
character named Horace Carlini to stray into one of her books.
Furthermore, he is yet another illegitimate son, of a peer this
is impersonating his half-brother the Honourable Stephen Acworth, a
who is a clergyman. In mitigation,
he does not succeed in deceiving any intelligent character when he
Pemberley ostensibly to try out for a living.
(Actually he is fleeing from the Mob.)
Darcy takes one look at his seat on a horse and his manner with
chambermaids and writes to Mr. Gardiner to have investigations made.
The ladies of the household see less of him but still detect
peculiarities in his manner. Even Bingley
calls him an odd fellow. Well, the poor
creature had a French mother, so it is not to
be wondered at that he cannot pass for a gentleman and is addicted to
He has also been irrationally infatuated with Elizabeth since
sight of her as she visited a London theatre, which event can be
taking place in Chapter 27 of Pride and Prejudice.
Since Elizabeth shows not the least inclination to become irrationally infatuated with him he consoles himself by eloping with Anne de Bourgh’s fortune, necessarily taking her person along. A highly fortuitous burglary which requires her to hasten to Rosings removes Lady Catherine from the scene to facilitate the elopement. I don’t think Jane Austen would have let vice triumph to this extent, though it is a moot point whether getting Lady Catherine as a mother-in-law could be called a triumph.
Miss Hunt cheats over Kitty Bennet’s clergyman, making him a younger son who has inherited the family estate when his brother died; thus he does not practice. Georgiana Darcy, though, atones for the slight to the profession by marrying the real Mr. Acworth.
And finally we come to Old Friends and New Fancies by Sibil G. Brinton. This book is properly a sequel to all the novels, but as the most common viewpoint is that of Georgiana Darcy and more characters appear from Pride and Prejudice than any other novel I am treating it as a Pride and Prejudice sequel.
This is another brave effort, but rather less thorough than Pemberley Shades. Miss Brinton is more careless in her language. She uses the word “nice” very often, and never in the only manner approved by Henry Tilney. She also has made the mistake of having a number of characters unlearn the lessons of their own books. Tom Bertram arranges theatricals of a sort, Emma matchmakes as disastrously as ever. You may wonder why Mr. Knightley doesn't stop her. I shall only say that the way he is handled is worse than anything done to anyone else including Colonel Brandon, who Miss Brinton has decided should die soon after his marriage.
I am quite in favour of characters from different novels knowing each other, but Miss Brinton carries it rather far. I cannot judge it likely that Edward Ferrars and James Morland should end up holding two of Darcy’s livings. There are three important marriages between characters from different books and some minor possible or actual matches. Henry Crawford courts Elizabeth Elliot, though we don’t learn the outcome. Perhaps if the Admiral gets a baronetcy, or a peerage – Captain Frederick Tilney, on his papa’s orders, pays attention to Anne de Bourgh. Isabella Thorpe succeeds in ensnaring Tom Bertram. I can't think why Miss Brinton didn’t think of wedding General Tilney to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, as this would serve both of them right.
Georgiana Darcy acquires her final husband, at least to date, in the person of William Price. This is an attractive idea. William is the only thoroughly likeable character in Mansfield Park. The main obstacle to such a match, Mr. Price, has been dispatched to the judgment of G-! Cirrhosis of the liver, most likely. William has prospered in his profession, though I doubt if he could have done so to the extent of making him Georgiana’s equal financially. Captain Wentworth, senior in rank and with no dependent siblings, was still £5,000 short of Georgiana’s dowry. Miss Brinton declines to let this consideration interfere with the course of true love. What does is that Kitty Bennet, ignorant of her clerical destiny, also falls in love with William. This causes Georgiana to behave in a manner which, if her comments on a similar situation involving Emma Woodhouse, Harriet Smith and Mr. Knightley are any guide, would not meet with Jane Austen’s approval. They only get themselves sorted out when Kitty is consoled by James Morland.
At that they behave more sensibly than our third couple, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mary Crawford. Not an unlikely match – true, he is a younger son but an earl’s younger son is different from the average younger son, worldliness-wise. Unfortunately, both characters have had their common trait of good-humoured worldliness filleted out of them, along with most of their wits. They have misunderstandings, mostly pretty silly ones. She blames him for Lady Catherine’s rudeness, though he wasn’t in the room at the time; he believes a false report that she is going to marry Sir Walter Elliot – it doesn’t seem to occur to him that no notice of the engagement has appeared in the newspapers – and she goes into a decline. Eventually he is injured in the field – hunting, not battle – and she sends him a tender message which saves his life and brings them together. Of course it is Darcy who is doing the actual rush to his cousin’s bedside, and he who must convey the message. I cannot easily forgive Miss Brinton for drawing a veil over the scene where Elizabeth informs him that he is going to have to do so, with Nurse Rooke or one of her sisters standing by, ears a-waggle.
To conclude, I would like to invite your ideas on a few matters unresolved by any sequelist.
What is to become of Anne de Bourgh? I cannot judge it likely that she would marry a future duke or be allowed to marry a fortune-hunter, but if she outlives Lady Catherine she is going to be a sore trial to her cousins. She has never had to make a decision in her life and is probably incapable of doing so.
What is to become of Mrs. Bennet? Mr. Bennet might go first after all, and if he does Mrs. Bennet is bound to expect to be offered a home by one of her married daughters. Why else do you suppose she was so anxious to get them married? Can Jane and Bingley, the logical choices, be saved?
And if they can be saved from Mrs. Bennet what about Miss Bingley? If Miss Bingley does not marry, she is going to become the worst sort of maiden aunt. She will come to stay often, she will interfere in the running of the household, she will alternately spoil and bully the children. No, she must marry. As she is not unhandsome and has an excellent dowry, she can marry. But do we know anyone whom she deserves to marry – and who deserves her?
I have my own theories, of course. May I now have yours?
E. The Ladies.
Boston: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1922.
Dorothy A. Pemberley Shades.
London: Allan Wingate, 1949.
Brinton, Sybil G. Old Friends and New Fancies. London: Holden and Hardingham, n.d. .
Jane. Treverton Hall.
London: Robert Hale, 1983.
Sheila and Gladys Bronwen Stern. More
about Jane Austen. New York:
Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1949.
Gambles and Gambols. Shelter
Naomi. Jane Fairfax.
London: MacMillan and Co. Ltd., 1940.
Anne and Arthur Russell. The
Wedding at Pemberley. London:
H. F. W. Deane and Sons, Ltd.; Boston, Mass.:
The Walter H. Baker Co., 1949.
Wallis, Cedric. The Heiress of Rosings. London: Samuel French Limited, 1956.