Mansfield Park (Chapter 1, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 1

About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven
thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of
Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised
to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences
of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the
greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her
to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to

She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of
their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as
handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with
almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of
large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them.
Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to
be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law,
with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse.
Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not
contemptible: Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an
income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their
career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a

But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her
family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education,
fortune, or connexions, did it very thoroughly. She could hardly have
made a more untoward choice. Sir Thomas Bertram had interest, which,
from principle as well as pride--from a general wish of doing right,
and a desire of seeing all that were connected with him in situations
of respectability, he would have been glad to exert for the advantage
of Lady Bertram's sister; but her husband's profession was such as no
interest could reach; and before he had time to devise any other method
of assisting them, an absolute breach between the sisters had taken
place. It was the natural result of the conduct of each party, and
such as a very imprudent marriage almost always produces. To save
herself from useless remonstrance, Mrs. Price never wrote to her family
on the subject till actually married. Lady Bertram, who was a woman of
very tranquil feelings, and a temper remarkably easy and indolent,
would have contented herself with merely giving up her sister, and
thinking no more of the matter; but Mrs. Norris had a spirit of
activity, which could not be satisfied till she had written a long and
angry letter to Fanny, to point out the folly of her conduct, and
threaten her with all its possible ill consequences. Mrs. Price, in
her turn, was injured and angry; and an answer, which comprehended each
sister in its bitterness, and bestowed such very disrespectful
reflections on the pride of Sir Thomas as Mrs. Norris could not
possibly keep to herself, put an end to all intercourse between them
for a considerable period.

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