Workmen have carried everything out of my sitting-room, and I am shortly to quit this seventeen century house for another. Renovations are being done, and poor Mrs McAmbrose must be housed somewhere before (and after) she takes her doting husband to Kraków.
Last night I read up on the First Vatican Council, but as bedtime reading I finished Pride and Prejudice. This time, while noting Caroline's last desperate outbreak of snarling wickedness, I turned my attention to the desperate schemes of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Caroline Bingley schemes for herself alone. Lady Catherine schemes on behalf of her daughter. In this she is not unlike Mrs Bennet, who has many more daughters to marry off, and greater cause to worry. Lady Catherine and her daughter are immensely rich and important; for sure someone will marry the Miss De Bourgh, if Mr Darcy doesn't, and in the event that no-one did, she will still be rich.
By the way, Miss De Bourgh is certainly wasting her opportunities. Had I her money, I would get over being ill and rush down to London to make havoc among the fortune-hunters. I would have so much fun, I am sure it would improve my appearance. And, since marriage would mean handing over all the cash to my lucky, pre-Married Woman's Property Act, husband, I would put it off as long as possible. Unless I met the Perfect Man for Me, I would reign over the London Season for decades.
But then this strange seclusion might be Miss D's mother's fault. If Lady C is keeping her daughter for Mr Darcy, then it would explain why she keeps her at home and coddles her supposed illness.
Hmm. Maybe it is Lady Catherine who is wasting her opportunities. She definitely needs another interest in life. Could she not toy with the hearts of fortune-seeking widowers instead?
As a married woman I recognize the temptation to meddle in the love affairs of others. Having wound up the plot of our own love lives in a flourish of white silk and champagne, we married ladies perk up at sound of someone else's plot. Whether or not we are more of a help than of a hindrance to our unmarried friends is an open question.
Lady Catherine's huge mistake is in thinking she can boss absolutely everyone into doing what she wants them to do. As she has known Mr Darcy his entire life, it surprises me that she thinks she can boss him into doing what she wants him to do.
My personal philosophy is that whereas you can stop men from doing stuff (e.g. by locking them out of the house), it is much more difficult to get them to do stuff they don't want to do. They have to be convinced with plausible arguments or bribed/rewarded, e.g. with cake. The nicest men are easy-going and don't object often to doing anything, although even the nicest man is going to draw the line at marrying his cousin when he'd rather marry someone else.
Lady Catherine is a Grande Dame, and I aspire to become a Grande Dame, although a much nicer Grande Dame than Lady Catherine. I would rather be a Grande Dame like the Duchess of Avon (Léonie) in Devil's Cub, for example, tremendously sympathetic to a son's habit of duelling as I should love to duel too.
Seraphique: Oh my son, it is true you are wicked. But it is only because I am so wicked myself.
Fils de Seraphique: Oh mother. You must not say such things.
Seraphique: It is the red hair; it is our curse.
Fils de Seraphique: But perhaps also a blessing. Consider my excellent aim.
Seraphique: Ah, my son. You get that from your uncle. I myself can barely hit the side of a barn.
Actually, if I had a son, I don't think I would make any suggestions about his love life, and just let B.A. make all the embarrassing speeches, which I hope would amount to more than "Anything for a quiet life, son" which is what his grandfather said to him.
Or would I? Hmm. Well, it is moot as if I ever have a son, I will be in my sixties when he is in his twenties, and sixty is really too old for schemes.
What is the responsibility of a married lady towards the single young? I am not sure. I think it is nice to introduce them to each other and have large parties at which the young can take refuge with each other away from the old, but that's about it. Any scheming, and one might end up like Lady Catherine, snubbed in the shrubbery.