Our selection of Hugh Thomson’s illustration this week include some of his best efforts, in my very humble opinion.
The first is of that dreadful creation, John Dashwood, seeing his half sisters into Mrs Jennings’ carriage in Sackville Street. He is clearly only interested in meeting Mrs Jennings because she is rich. Odious man.
John Dashwood was really far from being sorry to see his sisters again; it rather gave them satisfaction; and his inquiries after their mother were respectful and attentive.
Elinor found that he and Fanny had been in town two days.
”I wished very much to call upon you yesterday,” said he, “but it was impossible, for we were obliged to take Harry to see the wild beasts at Exeter Exchange: and we spent the rest of the day with Mrs. Ferrars. Harry was vastly pleased. This morning I had fully intended to call on you, if I could possibly find a spare half-hour, but one has always so much to do on first coming to town. I am come here to bespeak Fanny a seal. But to-morrow I think I shall certainly be able to call in Berkeley Street, and be introduced to your friend Mrs. Jennings. I understand she is a woman of very good fortune. And the Middletons too, you must introduce me to them . As my mother-in-law’s relations, I shall be happy to shew them every respect. They are excellent neighbours to you in the country, I understand.”
”Excellent indeed. Their attention to our comfort, their friendliness in every particular, is more than I can express.”
”I am extremely glad to hear it, upon my word; extremely glad indeed. But so it ought to be; they are people of large fortune, they are related to you, and every civility, and accommodation that can serve to make your situation pleasant, might be reasonably expected. And so you are most comfortably settled in your little cottage and want for nothing! Edward brought us a most charming account of the place; the most complete thing of its kind, he said, that ever was, and you all seemed to enjoy it beyond anything. It was a great satisfaction to us to hear it, I assure you.”
Elinor did feel a little ashamed of her brother; and was not sorry to be spared the necessity of answering him, by the arrival of Mrs. Jennings’s servant, who came to tell her that his mistress waited for them at the door.
Mr. Dashwood attended them down stairs, was introduced to Mrs. Jennings at the door of her carriage, and repeating his hope of being able to call on them the next day, took leave.
The next illustration shows that meeting taking place….
His visit was duly paid. He came with a pretence at an apology from their sister-in-law, for not coming too; “but she was so much engaged with her mother, that really she had no leisure for going any where.” Mrs. Jennings, however, assured him directly, that she should not stand upon ceremony, for they were all cousins, or something like it, and she should certainly wait on Mrs. John Dashwood very soon, and bring her sisters to see her. His manners to them , though calm, were perfectly kind; to Mrs. Jennings, most attentively civil; and on Colonel Brandon’s coming in soon after himself, he eyed him with a curiosity which seemed to say, that he only wanted to know him to be rich to be equally civil to him .
This is a masterly passage. Mrs Jennings’ uncomplicated kindness is expressed perfectly in her statement that ” they were all cousins or something like that”… friendly and cordial relationships are what matter to her not the depth of someone’s pocket. And Thomson portrays this genial openness very well in the illustration,above. For John Dashwood being kind and genial depended very much upon the material worth of the company before him. He is only now using his relationship with his sisters to expand his acquaintance of wealthy people. He really is detestable.
And talking of detestible…here we see that dreadful woman, Mrs Ferrars, who truly is a sour, dried up, bitter fruit.
Mrs. Ferrars was a little, thin woman, upright, even to formality, in her figure, and serious, even to sourness, in her aspect. Her complexion was sallow: and her features small, without beauty, and naturally without expression: but a lucky contraction of the brow had rescued her countenance from the disgrace of insipidity, by giving it the strong characters of pride and ill-nature. She was not a woman of many words: for, unlike people in general, she proportioned them to the number of her ideas; and of the few syllables that did escape her, not one fell to the share of Miss Dashwood, whom she eyed with the spirited determination of disliking her at all events.
This is one of Thomson’s best illustrations in the book. He has captured this proud and hateful woman’s character perfectly.
And finally we see the sweet innocent nature of Marianne,perfectly captured in this illustration, who simply cannot understand why Edward wants to leave Elinor’s company. Whereas we know exactly why Edward just wants to run as fast as he can……to be as far away as possible from the woman with whom he is secretly engaged, Lucy, and the woman he truly loves…. Just look at the tension in Edward’s shoulders…
“Going so soon!” said Marianne; “my dear Edward, this must not be.”
And drawing him a little aside, she whispered her persuasion that Lucy could not stay much longer. But even this encouragement failed, for he would go; and Lucy, who would have outstaid him had his visit lasted two hours, soon afterwards went away.
”What can bring her here so often!” said Marianne, on her leaving them. “Could she not see that we wanted her gone! How teasing to Edward!”
”Why so? — we were all his friends, and Lucy has been the longest known to him of any. It is but natural that he should like to see her as well as ourselves.”
Marianne looked at her steadily, and said, “You know, Elinor, that this is a kind of talking which I cannot bear. If you only hope to have your assertion contradicted, as I must suppose to be the case, you ought to recollect that I am the last person in the world to do it. I cannot descend to be tricked out of assurances that are not really wanted.”
She then left the room; and Elinor dared not follow her to say more, for bound as she was by her promise of secrecy to Lucy, she could give no information that would convince Marianne; and painful as the consequences of her still continuing in an error might be, she was obliged to submit to it. All that she could hope, was that Edward would not often expose her or himself to the distress of hearing Marianne’s mistaken warmth, nor to the repetition of any other part of the pain that had attended their recent meeting — and this she had every reason to expect.