Like Lisa Dalrymple (see below), I just got to the conversation in Ch. 8, where the Dashwood ladies discuss the Colonel's age, and for me, this is always the first of several moments in the book when I become annoyed with Marianne, and my fingers begin to itch. We are told early on that she refuses to be taught to govern her feelings, but to me, this is the first time we really hear the willful, headstrong teenager in her voice; the teenager who thinks she has the world all figured out, is sure of herself and of her opinions, and will allow no counsel to the contrary.
It is understandable to some degree, that to a girl of 17, a man "on the wrong side of five and thirty" would seem old (the more so since her father died quite young), but I find Marianne's manner in this paragraph highly impertinent. She absolutely refuses to allow that anyone over the age of 25 or so, could have romantic feelings, and a woman of 27 or 28 is relegated by her to the offices of a nurse. She considers such a woman the only eligible match for a man of Brandon's age, and only as a commercial exchange for the mutual comfort of both. What an absurd notion! Were I Elinor, I might laugh at my younger sister and tell her to grow up, but were I her mother, I might be quite hurt. Not only is Mrs. Dashwood ancient by Marianne's standards (which she gently points out to her daughter), but considering that Henry Dashwood must have been in his thirties when he married her, and that it was most certainly a love match, not a commercial exchange, this censure from Marianne must have stung. I admire the lady's forebearance. I think I might have resorted to a S.U.T.H. What a stern mama I should be! ;o)