Jane Austen, Emma: Vol. 3, Ch. 6

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She felt all the honest pride and complacency which her alliance with the present and future proprietor could fairly warrant, as she viewed the respectable size and style of the building,d its suitable, becoming, characteristic situation, low and sheltered—its ample gardens stretching down to meadows washed by a stream, of which the Abbey, with all the old neglect of prospectd, had scarcely a sight—and its abundance of timber in rows and avenues, which neither fashion nor extravagance had rooted up.—The house was larger than Hartfield, and totally unlike it, covering a good deal of ground, rambling and irregular, with many comfortable, and one or two handsome rooms.—It was just what it ought to be, and it looked what it was—and Emma felt an increasing respect for it, as the residence of a family of such true gentility, untainted in blood and understandingw.—Some faults of temper John Knightley had; but Isabella had connected herself unexceptionably. She had given them neither men, nor names, nor places, that could raise a blush. These were pleasant feelings, and she walked about and indulged them till it was necessary to do as the others did, and collect round the strawberry-beds.—The whole party were assembled, excepting Frank Churchill, who was expected every moment from Richmond; and Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happinessd, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talkingd—strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of.—"The best fruit in England—every body's favourite—always wholesome.—These the finest beds and finest sorts.—Delightful to gather for one's self—the only way of really enjoying them.—Morning decidedly the best time—never tired—every sort good—hautboy infinitely superior—no comparison—the others hardly eatable—hautboys very scarce—Chili preferredh—white wood finest flavour of all—price of strawberries in London—abundance about Bristol—Maple Grove—cultivation—beds when to be renewed—gardeners thinking exactly different—no general rule—gardeners never to be put out of their way—delicious fruit—only too rich to be eaten much of—inferior to cherries—currants more refreshing—only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping—glaring sun—tired to death—could bear it no longer—must go and sit in the shade."

Such, for half an hour, was the conversation—interrupted only once by Mrs. Weston, who came out, in her solicitude after her son-in-law, to inquire if he were come—and she was a little uneasy.—She had some fears of his horse.

Seats tolerably in the shade were found; and now Emma was obliged to overhear what Mrs. Elton and Jane Fairfax were talking of.—A situation, a most desirable situation, was in question. Mrs. Elton had received notice of it that morning, and was in raptures. It was not with Mrs. Suckling, it was not with Mrs. Bragge, but in felicity and splendour it fell short only of them: it was with a cousin of Mrs. Bragge, an acquaintance of Mrs. Suckling, a lady known at Maple Grove. Delightful, charming, superior, first circles, spheres, lines, ranks, every thing—and Mrs. Elton was wild to have the offer closed with immediately.—On her side, all was warmth, energy, and triumph—and she positively refused to take her friend's negative, though Miss Fairfax continued to assure her that she would not at present engage in any thing, repeating the same motives which she had been heard to urge before.—Still Mrs. Elton insisted on being authorised to write an acquiescence by the morrow's post.—How Jane could bear it at all, was astonishing to Emma.—She did look vexed, she did speak pointedly—and at last, with a decision of action unusual to her, proposed a removal.—"Should not they walk? Would not Mr. Knightley shew them the gardens—all the gardens?—She wished to see the whole extent."—The pertinacityw of her friend seemed more than she could bear.

It was hot; and after walking some time over the gardens in a scattered, dispersed way, scarcely any three together, they insensibly followed one another to the delicious shade of a broad short avenue of limesd, which stretching beyond the garden at an equal distance from the river, seemed the finish of the pleasure groundsh.—It led to nothing; nothing but a view at the end over a low stone wall withd high pillars, which seemed intended, in their erection, to give the appearance of an approach to the house, which never had been there. Disputable, however, as might be the taste of such a termination, it was in itself a charming walk, and the view which closed it extremely pretty.—The considerable slope, at nearly the foot of which the Abbey stood, gradually acquired a steeper form beyond its grounds; and at half a mile distant was a bank of considerable abruptness and grandeur, well clothed with wood;—and at the bottom of this bank, favourably placed and sheltered, rose the Abbey Mill Farm, with meadows in front, and the river making a close and handsome curve around it.

X [d] style of the building,


An old, gracious, well-sited home, the surrounding woods left untouched, "rambling and irregular," "which neither fashion nor extravagance had rooted up." Knightley's ways are in this Austen's.

The aesthetics of landscape design, as much as manners and dress, are a manifestation of the landlord's taste, and his taste a revelation of his character. We're intended to compare these re…

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X [d] the old neglect of prospect


Knightley has not cut down trees to gain a view. The place is preserved in all of its fecundity, "rambling and irregular," an organic product of generations that have added here and there. Function in this context is more important than form, but form acquires a unique beauty from what Wordsworth calls "the unimaginable touch of time." 

X [w] untainted in blood and understanding

Emma is saying that her sister and by extension her sister's family have not degraded the Knightley name.

X [d] apparatus of happiness

The phrase says it all.

X [d] talking

Writing & Reading

What follows is free indirect discourse that makes a polychrome mosaic of phrases from all of the chatterings.

X [h] hautboys very scarce—Chili preferred


And Chili, too, are types of strawberry.

X [w] pertinacity

Perseverance, tenacity.

X [d] limes

Writing & Reading

Perhaps Austen is recalling Cowper's The Task, "The lime at dewy eve / Diffusing odours" (3126-17). She may not have known Coleridge's "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison" (published in 1800).

X [h] pleasure grounds


"A piece of land set aside for recreation and enjoyment" (OED), here adjacent to the house.

X [d] It led to nothing; nothing but a view at the …

Writing & Reading

Visually, it's a complex scene, for the "nothing" in a moment will become nearly everything. The two pillars (remnants of the abbey? a "folly"?) terminate the walk. They augur an approach to a house, but instead there's nothing but the view. The unexpected "nothing" causes a cognitive misstep that better prepares Emma to see and be impressed by the quiet English idyll that is there and might otherwise have not been seen to such effect.