Edmund Bertram Quotations

Quotations from Edmund Bertram, Mansfield Park’s thoughtful and kind hero:

“Portrait of Benjamin Gibbons” by Octavius Oakley“If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.” (Ch. 4)

“And you know there is generally an uncle or a grandfather to leave a fortune to the second son.”

“A very praiseworthy practice,” said Edmund, “but not quite universal. I am one of the exceptions, and being one, must do something for myself.” (Ch. 9)

“A clergyman cannot be high in state or fashion. He must not head mobs, or set the ton in dress. But I cannot call that situation nothing which has the charge of all that is of the first importance to mankind, individually or collectively considered, temporally and eternally, which has the guardianship of religion and morals, and consequently of the manners which result from their influence. No one here can call the office nothing. If the man who holds it is so, it is by the neglect of his duty, by foregoing its just importance, and stepping out of his place to appear what he ought not to appear.” (Ch. 9)

“Der elegante Leser” by Georg Friedrich Kersting“We do not look in great cities for our best morality. It is not there that respectable people of any denomination can do most good; and it certainly is not there that the influence of the clergy can be most felt. A fine preacher is followed and admired; but it is not in fine preaching only that a good clergyman will be useful in his parish and his neighbourhood, where the parish and neighbourhood are of a size capable of knowing his private character, and observing his general conduct, which in London can rarely be the case. The clergy are lost there in the crowds of their parishioners. They are known to the largest part only as preachers. And with regard to their influencing public manners, Miss Crawford must not misunderstand me, or suppose I mean to call them the arbiters of good-breeding, the regulators of refinement and courtesy, the masters of the ceremonies of life. The manners I speak of might rather be called conduct, perhaps, the result of good principles; the effect, in short, of those doctrines which it is their duty to teach and recommend; and it will, I believe, be everywhere found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation.” (Ch. 9)

“Where any one body of educated men, of whatever denomination, are condemned indiscriminately, there must be a deficiency of information, or (smiling) of something else.” (Ch. 11)

“A woman can never be too fine while she is all in white.” (Ch. 23)

“I … earnestly hoped that she might soon learn to think more justly, and not owe the most valuable knowledge we could any of us acquire, the knowledge of ourselves and of our duty, to the lessons of affliction” (Ch. 47)

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Illustrations: “Portrait of Benjamin Gibbons” by Octavius Oakley and “Der elegante Leser” by Georg Friedrich Kersting.

Fanny Price Quotations

Quotations from Fanny Price, the romantic, high-minded heroine of Mansfield Park:

%22Spring Flowers%22 by Claude Monet“Cut down an avenue! What a pity! Does it not make you think of Cowper? ‘Ye fallen avenues, once more I mourn your fate unmerited.’” (Ch. 6)

“I cannot rate so very highly the love or good-nature of a brother who will not give himself the trouble of writing anything worth reading to his sisters, when they are separated.” (Ch. 7)

“I am disappointed,” said she, in a low voice, to Edmund. “This is not my idea of a chapel. There is nothing awful here, nothing melancholy, nothing grand. Here are no aisles, no arches, no inscriptions, no banners. No banners, cousin, to be ‘blown by the night wind of heaven.’ No signs that a ‘Scottish monarch sleeps below.’” (Ch. 9)

“[T]o sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment.” (Ch. 9)

Fanny agreed to it, and had the pleasure of seeing him continue at the window with her, in spite of the expected glee; and of having his eyes soon turned, like hers, towards the scene without, where all that was solemn, and soothing, and lovely, appeared in the brilliancy of an unclouded night, and the contrast of the deep shade of the woods. Fanny spoke her feelings. “Here’s harmony!” said she; “here’s repose! Here’s what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe! Here’s what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.” (Ch. 11)

%22Young Woman Drawing%22 by Marie Denise Villers“How wonderful, how very wonderful the operations of time, and the changes of the human mind! … If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.” (Ch. 22)

“The evergreen! How beautiful, how welcome, how wonderful the evergreen! When one thinks of it, how astonishing a variety of nature! In some countries we know the tree that sheds its leaf is the variety, but that does not make it less amazing that the same soil and the same sun should nurture plants differing in the first rule and law of their existence. You will think me rhapsodising; but when I am out of doors, especially when I am sitting out of doors, I am very apt to get into this sort of wondering strain. One cannot fix one’s eyes on the commonest natural production without finding food for a rambling fancy.” (Ch. 22)

“To me, the sound of Mr. Bertram is so cold and nothing-meaning, so entirely without warmth or character! It just stands for a gentleman, and that’s all. But there is nobleness in the name of Edmund. It is a name of heroism and renown; of kings, princes, and knights; and seems to breathe the spirit of chivalry and warm affections.” (Ch. 22)

“Let him have all the perfections in the world, I think it ought not to be set down as certain that a man must be acceptable to every woman he may happen to like himself.” (Ch. 35)

“I was quiet, but I was not blind.” (Ch. 36)

“I cannot think well of a man who sports with any woman’s feelings; and there may often be a great deal more suffered than a stander-by can judge of.” (Ch. 36)

“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” (Ch. 42)

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Illustrations: “Spring Flowers” by Claude Monet and detail of “Young Woman Drawing” by Marie Denise Villers.

Star-gazing: A Quotation

“Miss Crawford was standing at an open window with Edmund and Fanny looking out on a twilight scene …. when, being earnestly invited by the Miss Bertrams to join in a glee, she tripped off to the instrument ….

“Fanny … had the pleasure of seeing [Edmund] continue at the window with her, in spite of the expected glee; and of having his eyes soon turned, like hers, towards the scene without, where all that was solemn, and soothing, and lovely, appeared in the brilliancy of an unclouded night, and the contrast of the deep shade of the woods. Fanny spoke her feelings. ‘Here’s harmony!’ said she; ‘here’s repose! Here’s what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe! Here’s what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.’

“‘I like to hear your enthusiasm, Fanny. It is a lovely night, and they are much to be pitied who have not been taught to feel, in some degree, as you do; who have not, at least, been given a taste for Nature in early life. They lose a great deal.’

“‘You taught me to think and feel on the subject, cousin.’

“‘I had a very apt scholar. There’s Arcturus looking very bright.’

“‘Yes, and the Bear. I wish I could see Cassiopeia.’

“‘We must go out on the lawn for that. Should you be afraid?’

“‘Not in the least. It is a great while since we have had any star-gazing.’

“‘Yes; I do not know how it has happened.’ The glee began. ‘We will stay till this is finished, Fanny,’ said he, turning his back on the window; and as it advanced, she had the mortification of seeing him advance too, moving forward by gentle degrees towards the instrument, and when it ceased, he was close by the singers, among the most urgent in requesting to hear the glee again.

“Fanny sighed alone at the window till scolded away by Mrs. Norris’s threats of catching cold.”

(Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Chapter XI)

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Painting: ‘Portrait of a Young Girl’ by Sophie Gengembre Anderson.

December 22, 1808: A Quote

“William’s desire of seeing Fanny dance made more than a momentary impression on his uncle. The hope of an opportunity, which Sir Thomas had then given, was not given to be thought of no more. He remained steadily inclined to gratify so amiable a feeling; to gratify anybody else who might wish to see Fanny dance, and to give pleasure to the young people in general; and having thought the matter over, and taken his resolution in quiet independence, the result of it appeared the next morning at breakfast, when, after recalling and commending what his nephew had said, he added, ‘I do not like, William, that you should leave Northamptonshire without this indulgence. It would give me pleasure to see you both dance. You spoke of the balls at Northampton. Your cousins have occasionally attended them; but they would not altogether suit us now. The fatigue would be too much for your aunt. I believe we must not think of a Northampton ball. A dance at home would be more eligible; and if—’

“‘Ah, my dear Sir Thomas!’ interrupted Mrs. Norris, ‘I knew what was coming. I knew what you were going to say. If dear Julia were at home, or dearest Mrs. Rushworth at Sotherton, to afford a reason, an occasion for such a thing, you would be tempted to give the young people a dance at Mansfield. I know you would. If they were at home to grace the ball, a ball you would have this very Christmas. Thank your uncle, William, thank your uncle!’

“‘My daughters,’ replied Sir Thomas, gravely interposing, ‘have their pleasures at Brighton, and I hope are very happy; but the dance which I think of giving at Mansfield will be for their cousins. Could we be all assembled, our satisfaction would undoubtedly be more complete, but the absence of some is not to debar the others of amusement.’ ….

“Edmund, William, and Fanny did, in their different ways, look and speak as much grateful pleasure in the promised ball as Sir Thomas could desire. Edmund’s feelings were for the other two. His father had never conferred a favour or shewn a kindness more to his satisfaction.

“Lady Bertram was perfectly quiescent and contented, and had no objections to make. Sir Thomas engaged for its giving her very little trouble; and she assured him ‘that she was not at all afraid of the trouble; indeed, she could not imagine there would be any.’

“Mrs. Norris was ready with her suggestions as to the rooms he would think fittest to be used, but found it all prearranged; and when she would have conjectured and hinted about the day, it appeared that the day was settled too. Sir Thomas had been amusing himself with shaping a very complete outline of the business; and as soon as she would listen quietly, could read his list of the families to be invited, from whom he calculated, with all necessary allowance for the shortness of the notice, to collect young people enough to form twelve or fourteen couple: and could detail the considerations which had induced him to fix on the 22nd as the most eligible day. William was required to be at Portsmouth on the 24th; the 22nd would therefore be the last day of his visit; but where the days were so few it would be unwise to fix on any earlier. Mrs. Norris was obliged to be satisfied with thinking just the same, and with having been on the point of proposing the 22nd herself, as by far the best day for the purpose.

“The ball was now a settled thing, and before the evening a proclaimed thing to all whom it concerned. Invitations were sent with despatch, and many a young lady went to bed that night with her head full of happy cares as well as Fanny.”

(Mansfield Park, Chapter XXVI)

It Is Curious: A Quotation from Nabokov

All of the Bertrams dine at the parsonage. After dinner while their elders play whist, the younger people, with Lady Bertram, play the card game Speculation. Henry has by chance ridden by Edmund’s future parsonage at Thornton Lacey and, being much impressed with the house and grounds, presses Edmund to make a number of improvements, just as he had done in the case of the Rushworth estate. It is curious how improvements of grounds go together with Henry Crawford’s flirtations. Both are functions of the idea of planning, of scheming. Earlier it was Rushworth’s place he was to improve, and he planned to seduce Rushworth’s fiancée Maria. But now it is Edmund’s future residence, and now he is planning to conquer Edmund’s future wife, Fanny Price. He urges that he be allowed to rent the house so that “he might find himself continuing, improving, and perfecting that friendship and intimacy with the Mansfield Park family which was increasing in value to him every day.” He is rebuffed in a friendly fashion by Sir Thomas, who explains that Edmund will not be living at Mansfield when he has taken orders, now only a few weeks away, but will be looking after his parishioners in residence at Thornton Lacey. (Henry had never conceived that Edmund would not delegate his pastoral duties.) His insistence that the house can be made not into a mere parsonage but into a gentleman’s residence interests Mary Crawford. All this talk is artistically interlinked with the game of cards they are playing, Speculation, and Miss Crawford, as she bids, speculates whether or not she should marry Edmund, the clergyman. This reechoing of the game by her thoughts recalls the same interplay between fiction and reality that had been found in the rehearsal chapter when she was playing Amelia to Edmund’s Anhalt before Fanny. This theme of planning and scheming, linked up with improvements of grounds, rehearsals, card games, forms a very pretty pattern in the novel.

from Lectures on Literature, by Vladimir Nabokov (emphasis mine).