Roberta Larson (Wisconsin Region)
Series of letters written after the close of Pride and Prejudice

Hunsford Rectory
Hunsford, near Westerham, Kent

Dear Mrs. Bennet,

Allow me to express to you, Madam, my sincere condolences on the melancholy event of the passing of your worthy husband, and to assure you that my feelings upon the occasion are gravely despondent, notwithstanding that your sad loss leads inevitably to my greater comfort.  Indeed, to spare your feelings, I will not mention the passing of the possession of the Longbourn estate to myself and to my male heirs, of which my dutiful wife has given me an ample number, since that acquisition must surely bring you, Mrs. Bennet, an increase of grief and despair.  Were it not that some of your several daughters so luckily obtained for themselves husbands of fortune, thereby enabling them to provide for you in your declining years, I would deeply grieve for your reduced circumstances.  I do, however, apologise for my wholly blameless involvement in the matter, and I congratulate myself that you can bear no resentment to one who, as you may recall, at one time offered to ameliorate the entail’s consequence to your family in a most generous and unselfish fashion.

I trust that the necessary rituals consequent to death have proceeded to where it will not greatly inconvenience you to prepare for my initial visit to Longbourn House as its master, on Monday, inst.  Do not distress yourself, Madam, that I come to immediately disposess you of your lodgings.  That will come in due time.  Rather, it is the recommendation of my attorney, Mr. Grimm of the Hunsford firm of Grimm, Dire and Slope, that I not delay in obtaining a full and detailed inventory of the contents of the estate to ensure an orderly transition to the lawful owner, that is to say, myself.  Indeed, I am sure that you will agree that it is my duty to fulfill this obligation with all expediency.  Mr. Grimm, therefore, will accompany me on my journey and will oversee the inventory process.  The third-best bedroom will suffice for his accommodations.

My esteemed patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with her usual condescension, has taken a particular interest in my increase of fortune, as it relates to the parish of Hunsford. Naturally, I intend to engage a curate for the daily parish duties at Hunsford after I remove to Longbourn.  Lady Catherine has graciously indicated that she will personally monitor the curate’s performance of his duties, and will undertake to guide and correct him, as will no doubt be necessary, given Lady Catherine’s exacting standards.  I do not doubt that he will be amazed and gratified by her kind attentions.  Bearing in mind Lady Catherine’s diligence, I anticipate that a quarterly visit to Hunsford on my part will suffice to ensure prudent behaviour and proper moderation in the conduct of my flock there.  Although, I reflect that in the winter quarter, it likely will be inadvisable and unnecessary to make such a long journey.  In consequence of her parish oversight, Lady Catherine will be instrumental in choosing a curate, and charges me to obtain a list of applicants for her evaluation with all due speed.

Being thus recalled to the pressing duties demanding my attention, I must close, and beg to remain,

Your obedient servant,
William Collins

Longbourn House

My Dearest Jane,

I am sorry if this letter is ill-written, but my hands tremble so that I can scarcely hold a pen. I have just received a dreadful letter from that odious Mr. Collins, which has brought on such a sick headache that I have hardly enough strength to instruct cook about my dinner.

Your poor father is not even cold in his grave, and already that greedy, grasping Mr. Collins is descending upon Longbourn to tally up all the goods he means to claim as his by this wretched entail.  I am sure he will cast me out in the gutter as soon as he has determined that I have not smuggled any of the silver on my person.  My nerves are in such a state that I can barely breathe, and the palpitations of my heart will surely cause me to join your father in the Hereafter in a very short time.  Mary has been of no comfort whatever, though she does try to find an appropriate sermon for the occasion.  But what good are sermons for the likes of Mr. Collins, I ask you!  Oh, Jane, you must come to my rescue!  If you and Bingley do not take Mary and me in and give us a home, I do not know what I shall do.  Write directly and assure me that you will deliver me from this torment!

Your loving mother

Walton House
near Mansfield, Notts.

Dear Lizzy,

The news we have been expecting has come at last.  Mama has written to say that she has received a letter from Mr. Collins regarding his intention of taking possession of Longbourn.  As you can imagine, Mama is not taking the news well.  She begs to come live with us and, of course, Mary too.  When you and I spoke last of this possibility, it seemed so remote that it weighed but lightly on my thoughts.  In consequence, I neglected to introduce the subject to my dear husband, and thus Charles was quite unprepared for the idea of Mama living with us here in Nottinghamshire.  When I at last spoke to him about it this morning, he sighed quite heavily, but composed himself and assured me of his complete acquiescence to the arrangement.  But, Lizzy, I suspect that he, like myself, feels not equal to the occasion.  With five children under foot in this house, I fear the effect on Mama’s nerves will not bear thinking of.  Charles would never complain, but I cannot promise such sweetness of temper on my part!  Lizzie, what shall I do?

Your loving sister,

Hunsford Rectory

Dear Elizabeth,

Remember the scheme you worked out when last we met during your visit to Rosings?  If all is still as you described it at the time, then now is the moment to put the plan to action.  Pray, do not delay, Elizabeth, Lady Catherine is as energetic as she is frank!

Yours ever, & etc.

Longbourn House

Dear Elizabeth,

My kind sister, how can I thank you for all you have done for my dear Edward and myself?  I was perhaps indiscreet in revealing to you the tender affection I held for Edward, but as he was too poor to marry, I felt that nothing would ever come of it.  And now so much has happened to the contrary, it makes my head spin!

With Mr. Darcy’s recommendation (which I well know you were behind, Lizzy), Edward has passed Lady Catherine’s examination and is engaged as curate for Hunsford.  He has now an income which allows us to marry, and you must come to Meryton next month for our wedding.  Afterwards, Mama and Mary will join us at Hunsford where the Rectory will comfortably accommodate us all.  How happy I am!

Edward wishes me to add his warm thanks for your thoughtfulness, although he seems to have some reservations on the advisability of making neighbors of Mama and Lady Catherine.  However, I am quite sure they will become the best of friends since they are so closely connected.  Mama has only to think of Mr. Darcy, and Lady Catherine has only to think of you, Lizzy, and their mutual delight will firmly unite them in all things.

Yours & etc.