Austen Said:

Patterns of Diction in Jane Austen's Major Novels


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Could it be possible? Could Henry’s father —? And yet how many were the examples to justify even the blackest suspicions!
It was the air and attitude of a Montoni! What could more plainly speak the gloomy workings of a mind not wholly dead to every sense of humanity, in its fearful review of past scenes of guilt? Unhappy man!
“My father,”
“often walks about the room in this way; it is nothing unusual.”
“So much the worse!”
such ill-timed exercise was of a piece with the strange unseasonableness of his morning walks, and boded nothing good.
To be kept up for hours, after the family were in bed, by stupid pamphlets was not very likely. There must be some deeper cause: something was to be done which could be done only while the household slept; and the probability that Mrs. Tilney yet lived, shut up for causes unknown, and receiving from the pitiless hands of her husband a nightly supply of coarse food,
Shocking as was the idea, it was at least better than a death unfairly hastened, as, in the natural course of things, she must ere long be released. The suddenness of her reputed illness, the absence of her daughter, and probably of her other children, at the time — all favoured the supposition of her imprisonment. Its origin — jealousy perhaps, or wanton cruelty — was yet to be unravelled.
not unlikely that she might that morning have passed near the very spot of this unfortunate woman’s confinement — might have been within a few paces of the cell in which she languished out her days; for what part of the abbey could be more fitted for the purpose than that which yet bore the traces of monastic division? In the high-arched passage, paved with stone, which already she had trodden with peculiar awe, she well remembered the doors of which the general had given no account. To what might not those doors lead?
the forbidden gallery, in which lay the apartments of the unfortunate Mrs. Tilney, must be, as certainly as her memory could guide her, exactly over this suspected range of cells, and the staircase by the side of those apartments of which she had caught a transient glimpse, communicating by some secret means with those cells, might well have favoured the barbarous proceedings of her husband.
Down that staircase she had perhaps been conveyed in a state of well-prepared insensibility!
if judiciously watched, some rays of light from the general’s lamp might glimmer through the lower windows, as he passed to the prison of his wife;
Till midnight,
it would be in vain to watch; but then, when the clock had struck twelve, and all was quiet, she would, if not quite appalled by darkness, steal out and look once more.
who must have been in some way or other her destroyer,
That the general, having erected such a monument, should be able to face it, was not perhaps very strange, and yet that he could sit so boldly collected within its view, maintain so elevated an air, look so fearlessly around, nay, that he should even enter the church,
Not, however, that many instances of beings equally hardened in guilt might not be produced.
dozens who had persevered in every possible vice, going on from crime to crime, murdering whomsoever they chose, without any feeling of humanity or remorse; till a violent death or a religious retirement closed their black career. The erection of the monument itself could not in the smallest degree affect her doubts of Mrs. Tilney’s actual decease. Were she even to descend into the family vault where her ashes were supposed to slumber, were she to behold the coffin in which they were said to be enclosed — what could it avail in such a case?
“My father only wanted me to answer a note,”
It would be much better in every respect that Eleanor should know nothing of the matter. To involve her in the danger of a second detection, to court her into an apartment which must wring her heart, could not be the office of a friend. The general’s utmost anger could not be to herself what it might be to a daughter; and, besides,
the examination itself would be more satisfactory if made without any companion. It would be impossible to explain to Eleanor the suspicions, from which the other had, in all likelihood, been hitherto happily exempt; nor could she therefore, in her presence, search for those proofs of the general’s cruelty, which however they might yet have escaped discovery, she felt confident of somewhere drawing forth, in the shape of some fragmented journal, continued to the last gasp.
She could not be mistaken as to the room; but how grossly mistaken in everything else! — in Miss Tilney’s meaning, in her own calculation!
Would the veil in which Mrs. Tilney had last walked, or the volume in which she had last read, remain to tell what nothing else was allowed to whisper? No: whatever might have been the general’s crimes, he had certainly too much wit to let them sue for detection.
“Mr. Tilney!”
“Good God!”
“How came you here? How came you up that staircase?”
“I have been,”
“to see your mother’s room.”
“No, nothing at all. I thought you did not mean to come back till tomorrow.”
“No, I was not. You have had a very fine day for your ride.”
“Very; and does Eleanor leave you to find your way into all the rooms in the house by yourself?”
“Oh! No; she showed me over the greatest part on Saturday — and we were coming here to these rooms — but only”
“your father was with us.”
“No, I only wanted to see — Is not it very late? I must go and dress.”
“No, and I am very much surprised. Isabella promised so faithfully to write directly.”
“Yes, a great deal. That is — no, not much, but what she did say was very interesting. Her dying so suddenly”
“and you — none of you being at home — and your father, I thought — perhaps had not been very fond of her.”
“But your father,”
“was he afflicted?”
“I am very glad of it,”
“it would have been very shocking!”
It was not only with herself that she was sunk — but with Henry.
Her folly, which now seemed even criminal, was all exposed to him,
and he must despise her forever. The liberty which her imagination had dared to take with the character of his father — could he ever forgive it? The absurdity of her curiosity and her fears — could they ever be forgotten? She hated herself more than she could express. He had — she thought he had, once or twice before this fatal morning, shown something like affection for her. But now —
if she was well.
Charming as were all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and charming even as were the works of all her imitators, it was not in them perhaps that human nature, at least in the Midland counties of England, was to be looked for. Of the Alps and Pyrenees, with their pine forests and their vices, they might give a faithful delineation; and Italy, Switzerland, and the south of France might be as fruitful in horrors as they were there represented.
But in the central part of England there was surely some security for the existence even of a wife not beloved, in the laws of the land, and the manners of the age. Murder was not tolerated, servants were not slaves, and neither poison nor sleeping potions to be procured, like rhubarb, from every druggist. Among the Alps and Pyrenees, perhaps, there were no mixed characters. There, such as were not as spotless as an angel might have the dispositions of a fiend. But in England it was not so; among the English,
in their hearts and habits, there was a general though unequal mixture of good and bad.
always judging and acting in future with the greatest good sense,