《傲慢与偏见》(Pride and prejudice)是简·奥斯汀最早完成的作品.这部作品以日常生活为素材,一反当时社会上流行的感伤小说的内容和矫揉造作的写作方法,生动地反映了18世纪末到19世纪初处于保守和闭塞状态下的英国乡镇生活和世态人情.这部社会风情画式的小说不仅在当时吸引着广大的读者,时至今日,仍给读者以独特的艺术享受.
"We were born in the same parish, within the same park, the greatest part of our youth was passed together; inmates of the same house, sharing the same amusements, objects of the same parental care. My father began life in the profession which your uncle, Mr. Philips, appears to do so much credit to -- but he gave up every thing to be of use to the late Mr. Darcy, and devoted all his time to the care of the Pemberley property. He was most highly esteemed by Mr. Darcy, a most intimate, confidential friend. Mr. Darcy often acknowledged. himself to be under the greatest obligations to my father's active superintendance, and when immediately before my father's death, Mr. Darcy gave him a voluntary promise of providing for me, I am convinced that he felt it to be as much a debt of gratitude to him, as of affection to myself."
"How strange!" cried Elizabeth. "How abominable! -- I wonder that the very pride of this Mr. Darcy has not made him just to you! -- If from no better motive, that he should not have been too proud to be dishonest, -- for dishonesty I must call it."
"It is wonderful," -- replied Wickham, -- "for almost all his actions may be traced to pride; -- and pride has often been his best friend. It has connected him nearer with virtue than any other feeling. But we are none of us consistent; and in his behaviour to me, there were stronger impulses even than pride."
"Can such abominable pride as his, have ever done him good?"
"Yes. It has often led him to be liberal and generous, -- to give his money freely, to display hospitality, to assist his tenants, and relieve the poor. Family pride, and filial pride, for he is very proud of what his father was, have done this. Not to appear to disgrace his family, to degenerate from the popular qualities, or lose the influence of the Pemberley House, is a powerful motive. He has also brotherly pride, which with some brotherly affection, makes him a very kind and careful guardian of his sister; and you will hear him generally cried up as the most attentive and best of brothers."
"What sort of a girl is Miss Darcy,?"
He shook his head. -- "I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy. But she is too much like her brother, -- very, very proud. -- As a child, she was affectionate and pleasing, and extremely fond of me; and I have devoted hours and hours to her amusement. But she is nothing to me now. She is a handsome girl, about fifteen or sixteen, and, I understand, highly accomplished. Since her father's death, her home has been London, where a lady lives with her, and superintends her education."
After many pauses and many trials of other subjects, Elizabeth could not help reverting once more to the first, and saying,
"I am astonished at his intimacy with Mr. Bingley! How can Mr. Bingley, who seems good humour itself, and is, I really believe, truly amiable, be in friendship with such a man? How can they suit each other? -- Do you know Mr. Bingley?"
"Not at all."
"He is a sweet tempered, amiable, charming man. He cannot know what Mr. Darcy is."
"Probably not; -- but Mr. Darcy can please where he chuses. He does not want abilities. He can be a conversible companion if he thinks it worth his while. Among those who are at all his equals in consequence, he is a very different man from what he is to the less prosperous. His pride never deserts him; but with the rich, he is liberal-minded, just, sincere, rational, honourable, and perhaps agreeable, -- allowing something for fortune and figure."