Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home
and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings
of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world
with very little to distress or vex her.
She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate,
indulgent father; and had, in consequence of her sister's marriage,
been mistress of his house from a very early period. Her mother
had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct
remembrance of her caresses; and her place had been supplied
by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short
of a mother in affection.
Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse's family,
less as a governess than a friend, very fond of both daughters,
but particularly of Emma. Between them it was more the intimacy
of sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal
office of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly allowed
her to impose any restraint; and the shadow of authority being
now long passed away, they had been living together as friend and
friend very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked;
highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly by
The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having
rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little
too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened
alloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present
so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes
Sorrow came -- a gentle sorrow -- but not at all in the shape of any
disagreeable consciousness. -- Miss Taylor married. It was Miss
Taylor's loss which first brought grief. It was on the wedding-day
of this beloved friend that Emma first sat in mournful thought
of any continuance. The wedding over, and the bride-people gone,
her father and herself were left to dine together, with no prospect
of a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himself
to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit
and think of what she had lost.
The event had every promise of happiness for her friend. Mr. Weston
was a man of unexceptionable character, easy fortune, suitable age,
and pleasant manners; and there was some satisfaction in considering
with what self-denying, generous friendship she had always wished
and promoted the match; but it was a black morning's work for her.
The want of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day.
She recalled her past kindness -- the kindness, the affection of sixteen
years -- how she had taught and how she had played with her from five
years old -- how she had devoted all her powers to attach and amuse
her in health -- and how nursed her through the various illnesses
of childhood. A large debt of gratitude was owing here; but the
intercourse of the last seven years, the equal footing and perfect
unreserve which had soon followed Isabella's marriage, on their
being left to each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection.
She had been a friend and companion such as few possessed: intelligent,
well-informed, useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of the family,
interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly interested in herself,
in every pleasure, every scheme of hers -- one to whom she could speak
every thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for her
as could never find fault.
How was she to bear the change? -- It was true that her friend was
going only half a mile from them; but Emma was aware that great must
be the difference between a Mrs. Weston, only half a mile from them,
and a Miss Taylor in the house; and with all her advantages,
natural and domestic, she was now in great danger of suffering
from intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he
was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation,
rational or playful.
The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. Woodhouse had
not married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits;
for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity
of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years;
and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart
and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him
at any time.
Her sister, though comparatively but little removed by matrimony,
being settled in London, only sixteen miles off, was much beyond
her daily reach; and many a long October and November evening must
be struggled through at Hartfield, before Christmas brought the next
visit from Isabella and her husband, and their little children,
to fill the house, and give her pleasant society again.
Highbury, the large and populous village, almost amounting to a town,
to which Hartfield, in spite of its separate lawn, and shrubberies,
and name, did really belong, afforded her no equals. The Woodhouses
were first in consequence there. All looked up to them. She had
many acquaintance in the place, for her father was universally civil,
but not one among them who could be accepted in lieu of Miss
Taylor for even half a day. It was a melancholy change; and Emma
could not but sigh over it, and wish for impossible things,
till her father awoke, and made it necessary to be cheerful.
His spirits required support. He was a nervous man, easily depressed;
fond of every body that he was used to, and hating to part with them;
hating change of every kind. Matrimony, as the origin of change,
was always disagreeable; and he was by no means yet reconciled
to his own daughter's marrying, nor could ever speak of her but
with compassion, though it had been entirely a match of affection,
when he was now obliged to part with Miss Taylor too; and from
his habits of gentle selfishness, and of being never able to
suppose that other people could feel differently from himself,
he was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done as sad
a thing for herself as for them, and would have been a great deal
happier if she had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield.
Emma smiled and chatted as cheerfully as she could, to keep him
from such thoughts; but when tea came, it was impossible for him
not to say exactly as he had said at dinner,
"Poor Miss Taylor! I wish she were here again. What a pity it
is that Mr. Weston ever thought of her!"
"I cannot agree with you, papa; you know I cannot. Mr. Weston is such
a good-humoured, pleasant, excellent man, that he thoroughly deserves
a good wife; and you would not have had Miss Taylor live with us
for ever, and bear all my odd humours, when she might have a house of her own?"
"A house of her own! But where is the advantage of a house of her own?
This is three times as large. And you have never any odd humours,
"How often we shall be going to see them, and they coming to see
us! We shall be always meeting! We must begin; we must go and pay
wedding visit very soon."
"My dear, how am I to get so far? Randalls is such a distance.
I could not walk half so far."
"No, papa, nobody thought of your walking. We must go in the carriage,
to be sure."
While Emma ends above, something else, perhaps from a different author,
begins, or at least appears to begin, below.
One might be tempted, were one not so erudite, to conclude that
the temper, indeed the timbre, of the text emerged randomly through
some whim of the gods of randomness, but no, upon inspection, by
even the most careful of scholars, the text revealed a pattern -- indeed,
a vexing or perhaps confusing overlay of sensibility among the seeming backdrop
And so, one might wonder, if the resulting rhythms might hold some bit
of originality, some semblance of expression, so fixed in the tangible medium
as to qualify under the law, as a protected form of expression. Might we
not wonder if the marriage of the artful and the random would express more than
a shadow of the comfortable blessings and caresses of title 17 of US code? You
copy; we sue!