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|thought him handsomer than ever as he expressed [such feelings]
Written by Stephanie
(5/5/2010 11:46 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Whose deathbed?, penned by Adrian
Wickham, Ch. 16:
"...My father began life in the profession which your uncle, Mr. Philips, appears to do so much credit to -- but he gave up everything 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."
Here Wickham says that the elder Mr. Darcy gave the elder Mr. Wickham a voluntary promise immediately before the elder Mr. Wickham's death. This may not have been a "deathbed promise," but that is the simplest idea that fits the facts.
Then Darcy writes, less melodramatically (Ch. 35, of course):
"My excellent father died about five years ago; and his attachment to Mr. Wickham was to the last so steady, that in his will he particularly recommended it to me, to promote his advancement in the best manner that his profession might allow -- and if he took orders, desired that a valuable family living might be his as soon as it became vacant. There was also a legacy of one thousand pounds. His own father did not long survive mine..."
Personally, I prefer Kathleen Glancy's second scenario, along with others here. I think Wickham has told variations on this story to a not-small number of listeners, and refined it in response to their reactions. He looks noble when he should, drops the subject to return to it after it has simmered a while in his listener's imagination, and professes honourable reasons for his public silence about his victimization. He also, sometime in the past, noted that a deathbed promise added to the ignored clauses of the will, evoked much stronger sympathy for Wickham, and more virulent hatred for Darcy. His story is as well-practiced as a perfectly delivered comedy routine: which also leads me to believe he knew to whom he was speaking that first night at the Phillips'. My favourite supposition is that Denny and/or the other officers gave him a run-down of the local society, and mentioned Elizabeth specifically.
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