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In Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth goes touring to Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle they visit Pemberley and to Lizzy’s horror she comes face to face with Mr Darcy. She’s really embarrassed because she’s turned down his marriage proposal and she is mortified at what he will think of her looking over his house and grounds. But, it’s at this point in the book that Darcy starts to show that he’s really taken notice of Elizabeth’s criticisms of him and he makes an enormous effort to be extra civil and attentive to her and her relatives.

During the visit he introduces his sister Georgiana, and Lizzy discovers that Bingley is with him also. Her sister Jane is in love with Bingley, and been disappointed by him. Yet, it is very clear that he has not stopped thinking about Jane and this is proved when he remembers the exact date when he saw and danced with her last – November 26th.

Here’s an extract from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice followed by one of my favourite scenes that takes place during the Derbyshire visit from the BBC Pride and Prejudice with that ‘look’ from Mr Darcy!

Miss Darcy and her brother appeared, and this formidable introduction took place. With astonishment did Elizabeth see that her new acquaintance was at least as much embarrassed as herself. Since her being at Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was exceedingly proud; but the observation of a very few minutes convinced her that she was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a word from her beyond a monosyllable.

Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother; but there was sense and good-humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Elizabeth, who had expected to find in her as acute and unembarrassed an observer as ever Mr. Darcy had been, was much relieved by discerning such different feelings.

They had not been long together before Darcy told her that Bingley was also coming to wait on her; and she had barely time to express her satisfaction, and prepare for such a visitor, when Bingley’s quick step was heard on the stairs, and in a moment he entered the room. All Elizabeth’s anger against him had been long done away; but had she still felt any, it could hardly have stood its ground against the unaffected cordiality with which he expressed himself on seeing her again. He inquired in a friendly, though general way, after her family, and looked and spoke with the same good-humoured ease that he had ever done.

To Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner he was scarcely a less interesting personage than to herself. They had long wished to see him. The whole party before them, indeed, excited a lively attention. The suspicions which had just arisen of Mr. Darcy and their niece directed their observation towards each with an earnest though guarded inquiry; and they soon drew from those inquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew what it was to love. Of the lady’s sensations they remained a little in doubt; but that the gentleman was overflowing with admiration was evident enough.

Elizabeth, on her side, had much to do. She wanted to ascertain the feelings of each of her visitors; she wanted to compose her own, and to make herself agreeable to all; and in the latter object, where she feared most to fail, she was most sure of success, for those to whom she endeavoured to give pleasure were prepossessed in her favour. Bingley was ready, Georgiana was eager, and Darcy determined, to be pleased. In seeing Bingley, her thoughts naturally flew to her sister; and oh! how ardently did she long to know whether any of his were directed in a like manner. Sometimes she could fancy that he talked less than on former occasions, and once or twice pleased herself with the notion that, as he looked at her, he was trying to trace a resemblance. But, though this might be imaginary, she could not be deceived as to his behaviour to Miss Darcy, who had been set up as a rival to Jane. No look appeared on either side that spoke particular regard. Nothing occurred between them that could justify the hopes of his sister. On this point she was soon satisfied; and two or three little circumstances occurred ere they parted, which, in her anxious interpretation, denoted a recollection of Jane not untinctured by tenderness, and a wish of saying more that might lead to the mention of her, had he dared. He observed to her, at a moment when the others were talking together, and in a tone which had something of real regret, that it “was a very long time since he had had the pleasure of seeing her;” and, before she could reply, he added, “It is above eight months. We have not met since the 26th of November, when we were all dancing together at Netherfield.”

Elizabeth was pleased to find his memory so exact; and he afterwards took occasion to ask her, when unattended to by any of the rest, whether all her sisters were at Longbourn. There was not much in the question, nor in the preceding remark; but there was a look and a manner which gave them meaning.

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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

Monday, October 19th, 1801

A splendid ball we had tonight – despite a lack of gentlemen Kitty and I jigged all night and were never without a partner, though it has to be said that some of them were hideously ugly and not one of them the sort of handsome beau I have dreamed about.

Mr Bingley, two of his sisters, the husband of the eldest and a very haughty looking gentleman, a Mr Darcy, were in attendance. With the exception of Mr Bingley the others all looked as if they were suffering from a bit of old mousetrap cheese up their noses, so sneering were their expressions. I have decided to like Mr Bingley, he is a cheerful sort of fellow but too simpering for my taste. Jane can have him and after this evening, it seems she may well get him. Bingley danced with her twice, which pleased our mother, especially as he favoured Charlotte Lucas at first – mama’s face was a picture, so vexed was she that the Lucases had got in first.

Lizzy was found wanting a partner on more than one occasion and she was even snubbed by Mr Darcy, the odious man who came with Bingley. To own the truth, Lizzy did not miss much for having been slighted by him, for all his tens of thousands, he really was very proud and strutted about the place, no doubt fancying he owned us all. RUDE MAN INDEED!!!

The Bingley sisters gave all the appearance of elegance and good manners but for all their finery and satin, they were not as handsome as I should have thought from the reports that have been circulating over half of Hertfordshire. Some people, despite their wealth and connections do not know what it is to cut a dash or break a young man’s heart with their unadulterated beauty. To speak plainly, their ill-favoured countenances would sooner frighten farmer Felbrigg’s cows and turn the milk sour, than set the hearts of the local beaux aflutter.

I overheard them talking. “Oh Caroline,” sighed Mrs Hurst, “did you ever see such a dowdy collection?”
Miss Bingley stifled a laugh. “Dear sister, pray tell, to what do you allude? Surely this is not a comment on the modistes of Meryton or the beauty of the local wenches? I, for one, have never seen such finery, such satin, such jewels! Take care dear, or you will be dazzled, nay blinded, by the sparkle of such fine glass. Dear me, I meant to say diamonds, sister. Heaven forgive my slip of the tongue!”

“Quite so,” her sister agreed with a snort. “And as for the men, Caroline, why it will be impossible for you to choose a husband from such an array of eligibility. Indeed, I was introduced to a farmer just now whom I am sure will be just to your taste!”

Both sisters scoffed and laughed with great vulgarity. Mother is quite correct – there is something very vulgar about an excess of pearls at a country dance!

Lydia Bennet

Illustrations: Top, an old print of the King’s Arms Dorchester, Pride and Prejudice illustration by Hugh Thomson, Meryton Assembly by Jane Odiwe

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My dearest Lydia,



La, I meant to write sooner, but the social whirl has me thinking of nothing but dresses and balls and handsome officers! To be sure Brighton is nothing like London at this time of year, but one would never know it for all the parties and dances we have been invited to attend. My mama has had the seamstress make up three new ball dresses, and I am simply dying to show them to you.



Sir William Lucas has written my papa another letter. Is it true? Is Charlotte Lucas to be married? Goodness, but Meryton is a more exciting place to live than I once thought. Please, do tell me what has happened, and if there is a gentleman waiting in the wings for you.

Oh, and do tell – is your sister Jane engaged to Mr Bingley? When are they to be wed?

Your loving friend,


Lucy


Dearest Lucy, 


It seems such an age since you last wrote – I cannot tell you how jealous I am to hear of your new ball gowns – you are very lucky to have a family who spoil you. I’ve told you before – I quite despair of mine; though perhaps if my name were Jane or Lizzy I would enjoy more frippery. 



Anyway, what can I say in reply to your queries? You think Meryton exciting but you do not know the half of it! We have had high drama and laughs to last us six months together – you cannot imagine. My cousin Collins, (the rattling rector I call him, because he never ceases prattling,) came for a visit and made such a song and dance about making eyes at Lizzy to the point of even proposing! Lizzy would not have him, my mother was livid and threatened to disown her, but papa said he would never see my sister again if she did consent to the match. Lord! How Kitty and I laughed, I thought my sides would split.



Then – what do you think happened next? My cousin bumped into Charlotte Lucas in the lane and before Lizzy had drawn breath with the relief of a lucky escape, Collins proposed to Miss Lucas and she accepted him!!!! I could not believe it and thought Sir William was having a joke when he came with the news! Everyone in the village is excessively diverted by the ‘Lovebirds of Longbourn’ as Kitty and I have taken to calling them – I cannot help feeling sorry for Charlotte – you and I will never be so desperate for a husband I am sure!



But – that is not all – my poor sister Jane who had such high hopes of becoming engaged to Mr Bingley has been left high and dry! He has gone to town and if you ask my opinion; that is the end of it. No doubt, his nasty sister Caroline will throw floozies in his path – I am so sorry for Jane – she will end an old maid!



As for myself, there are several young men who are intent on catching my eye – Mr Denny, Mr Pratt and Captain Carter, to name but a few. However, there is one particular officer I am very partial to or would be if my sister Lizzy would let me have my share of conversation and dancing. Mr Wickham is one of the most handsome men you ever saw – Oh! Lucy, he looks so well in scarlet! Kitty and I are just going into Meryton,

Write again soon, not forgetting to tell me of your beau,

Affectionately yours,

Lydia
Thank you once again Ms Place for your entertaining letter from Lucy. We’re having a lot of fun writing these; I hope you are enjoying them. Ms Place can be found at Jane Austen Today by clicking here

Jane

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My dearest Lydia,



La, I meant to write sooner, but the social whirl has me thinking of nothing but dresses and balls and handsome officers! To be sure Brighton is nothing like London at this time of year, but one would never know it for all the parties and dances we have been invited to attend. My mama has had the seamstress make up three new ball dresses, and I am simply dying to show them to you.



Sir William Lucas has written my papa another letter. Is it true? Is Charlotte Lucas to be married? Goodness, but Meryton is a more exciting place to live than I once thought. Please, do tell me what has happened, and if there is a gentleman waiting in the wings for you.

Oh, and do tell – is your sister Jane engaged to Mr Bingley? When are they to be wed?

Your loving friend,


Lucy


Dearest Lucy, 


It seems such an age since you last wrote – I cannot tell you how jealous I am to hear of your new ball gowns – you are very lucky to have a family who spoil you. I’ve told you before – I quite despair of mine; though perhaps if my name were Jane or Lizzy I would enjoy more frippery. 



Anyway, what can I say in reply to your queries? You think Meryton exciting but you do not know the half of it! We have had high drama and laughs to last us six months together – you cannot imagine. My cousin Collins, (the rattling rector I call him, because he never ceases prattling,) came for a visit and made such a song and dance about making eyes at Lizzy to the point of even proposing! Lizzy would not have him, my mother was livid and threatened to disown her, but papa said he would never see my sister again if she did consent to the match. Lord! How Kitty and I laughed, I thought my sides would split.



Then – what do you think happened next? My cousin bumped into Charlotte Lucas in the lane and before Lizzy had drawn breath with the relief of a lucky escape, Collins proposed to Miss Lucas and she accepted him!!!! I could not believe it and thought Sir William was having a joke when he came with the news! Everyone in the village is excessively diverted by the ‘Lovebirds of Longbourn’ as Kitty and I have taken to calling them – I cannot help feeling sorry for Charlotte – you and I will never be so desperate for a husband I am sure!



But – that is not all – my poor sister Jane who had such high hopes of becoming engaged to Mr Bingley has been left high and dry! He has gone to town and if you ask my opinion; that is the end of it. No doubt, his nasty sister Caroline will throw floozies in his path – I am so sorry for Jane – she will end an old maid!



As for myself, there are several young men who are intent on catching my eye – Mr Denny, Mr Pratt and Captain Carter, to name but a few. However, there is one particular officer I am very partial to or would be if my sister Lizzy would let me have my share of conversation and dancing. Mr Wickham is one of the most handsome men you ever saw – Oh! Lucy, he looks so well in scarlet! Kitty and I are just going into Meryton,

Write again soon, not forgetting to tell me of your beau,

Affectionately yours,

Lydia
Thank you once again Ms Place for your entertaining letter from Lucy. We’re having a lot of fun writing these; I hope you are enjoying them. Ms Place can be found at Jane Austen Today by clicking here

Jane

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New letters have just been discovered giving evidence of a correspondence between our lovely Miss Lydia and what appears to be a close acquaintance, Miss Lucy. The first must have been sent just at the time two certain gentlemen, a Mr Bingley and his friend Mr Darcy, were visiting Meryton.

My dearest Lydia,

La, it is uncommonly hot today and not at all the sort of weather for this time of year! I am so glad we are arrived at Brighton, for the sea breezes are refreshingly cool. I am writing to you on the scent of a RUMOUR! My mama’s lady’s maid heard from the footman, who heard from the valet of a visiting gentleman, who had stopped by to deliver a letter from Sir William Lucas to my papa, that your eldest sister Jane is practically engaged to a man of great good fortune. They said your mama said so, and that Jane had met him not a fortnight ago!

When last we spoke, we were lamenting the lack of eligible and handsome young men in Meryton. Indeed, your mama was always wondering aloud how she would manage to marry you all off.

How did Jane find anyone so well connected so soon? What is his name? What is he like, and where is he from? My mama begs me to ask you if he came alone or with a friend. And if so, what is HE like?

Do write me as speedily as you can. And, pray, tell me EVERYTHING! We are all agog with excitement.

Your affectionate friend,
Lucy


My dearest Lucy,

La! I am so diverted to hear from you again but monstrous vexed to hear you are in Brighton where I should like to be. However, for all your unseasonable fine weather and seaside entertainments, I must tell you that I cannot envy you. Meryton was certainly very dull the last time we met but I write to you now with exciting news and gossip.

An entire regiment of soldiers are wintering here – can you believe it? Such dashing officers – such wonderful visions in scarlet! One can hardly step out into the High Street for bumping into a redcoat and they are most obliging!

However, I digress. You are quite right in supposing my mother to have been at her wit’s end with regard to finding my sisters a husband, but the arrival of a Mr Bingley to the neighbourhood may soon put mama and Jane out of misery. He is from the North, is very rich and gentleman-like but not really to my taste, so I am very happy to see my sister quite smitten. Mr Bingley has taken Netherfield Park, which my mother thinks will do very nicely indeed – we have not known him a fortnight yet my sister danced four times with him at the Meryton assembly and has dined in company with him at least the same number. But for all this amusement I have to tell you his society is blighted not only by his horrid sisters but by the presence of his vile friend Mr Darcy, the most disagreeable man you ever beheld. Mama says he has ten thousand pounds but it seems to me that his money has not been of any help in making his disposition happy. I have never seen such a sour-faced countenance!

I must dash – Denny and Chamberlayne have just called –

Write again soon with your news,

Fondest felicitations,

Lydia

‘Lucy’ is perhaps better known as Ms. Place from Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen’s World. We’ve had a lot of fun putting these together. I hope you enjoy them!

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New letters have just been discovered giving evidence of a correspondence between our lovely Miss Lydia and what appears to be a close acquaintance, Miss Lucy. The first must have been sent just at the time two certain gentlemen, a Mr Bingley and his friend Mr Darcy, were visiting Meryton.

My dearest Lydia,

La, it is uncommonly hot today and not at all the sort of weather for this time of year! I am so glad we are arrived at Brighton, for the sea breezes are refreshingly cool. I am writing to you on the scent of a RUMOUR! My mama’s lady’s maid heard from the footman, who heard from the valet of a visiting gentleman, who had stopped by to deliver a letter from Sir William Lucas to my papa, that your eldest sister Jane is practically engaged to a man of great good fortune. They said your mama said so, and that Jane had met him not a fortnight ago!

When last we spoke, we were lamenting the lack of eligible and handsome young men in Meryton. Indeed, your mama was always wondering aloud how she would manage to marry you all off.

How did Jane find anyone so well connected so soon? What is his name? What is he like, and where is he from? My mama begs me to ask you if he came alone or with a friend. And if so, what is HE like?

Do write me as speedily as you can. And, pray, tell me EVERYTHING! We are all agog with excitement.

Your affectionate friend,
Lucy


My dearest Lucy,

La! I am so diverted to hear from you again but monstrous vexed to hear you are in Brighton where I should like to be. However, for all your unseasonable fine weather and seaside entertainments, I must tell you that I cannot envy you. Meryton was certainly very dull the last time we met but I write to you now with exciting news and gossip.

An entire regiment of soldiers are wintering here – can you believe it? Such dashing officers – such wonderful visions in scarlet! One can hardly step out into the High Street for bumping into a redcoat and they are most obliging!

However, I digress. You are quite right in supposing my mother to have been at her wit’s end with regard to finding my sisters a husband, but the arrival of a Mr Bingley to the neighbourhood may soon put mama and Jane out of misery. He is from the North, is very rich and gentleman-like but not really to my taste, so I am very happy to see my sister quite smitten. Mr Bingley has taken Netherfield Park, which my mother thinks will do very nicely indeed – we have not known him a fortnight yet my sister danced four times with him at the Meryton assembly and has dined in company with him at least the same number. But for all this amusement I have to tell you his society is blighted not only by his horrid sisters but by the presence of his vile friend Mr Darcy, the most disagreeable man you ever beheld. Mama says he has ten thousand pounds but it seems to me that his money has not been of any help in making his disposition happy. I have never seen such a sour-faced countenance!

I must dash – Denny and Chamberlayne have just called –

Write again soon with your news,

Fondest felicitations,

Lydia

‘Lucy’ is perhaps better known as Ms. Place from Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen’s World. We’ve had a lot of fun putting these together. I hope you enjoy them!

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