Dear Jane Austen Advice Column:
I have a problem. Here in my town, living very near me, is a beautiful young woman with three sisters. Her name is Meg, and I have quite fallen in love with her. I wish to marry her and she wishes to marry me. My question for you is, should I get married? Or is it much better to be single? Also, how am I to make enough money to deserve her?
Anxiously awaiting your reply,
Mr. John Brooke (Little Women)
My dear John:
It is by far best to be married. What your reasons for marrying are, I cannot know. However, I had three primary reasons before I married my dear Charlotte. They were as follows.
My gracious patroness, Lady Catherine DeBourgh, told me that all clergymen ought to be married. This was my most important reason. Because my situation in life is dependent on her extreme kindness, I naturally took her words to heart. She told me, "Mr. Collins, you must marry. A clergyman like you must marry. -- Choose properly, choose a gentlewoman for my sake; and for your own, let her be an active, useful sort of person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way. This is my advice. Find such a woman as soon as you can, bring her to Hunsford, and I will visit her." Charlotte, my darling wife, was perfect.
My second reason for marrying was that obviously, every clergyman in good circumstances should marry. We must help those young women who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is also setting an excellent example for those who look up to us.
Finally, I married Charlotte because I knew it would add greatly to my own happiness.
John, because of my noble patroness, Lady Catherine DeBourgh, this was made possible. If you have no patroness and are still in need to an income, I should mention that Lady Catherine is in need of a gardener and a butler, and would be glad to help you in this hard time. I have told her of your distress, and she kindly offered to help you. Perhaps it would be best to marry your woman after benefitting from Lady Catherine's kindness.
With all hope of a closer acquaintance,
Mr. Collins (Pride and Prejudice)
Mr. John Brooke,
Land, what a name! Brooke...not nearly as nice as Wickham, or Denny. But about your questions. I should say if you wish to marry Miss Meg, do so by all means! I wish you as much happiness as I've had thus far with my darling Wickham. And as to the question of money, why, I always try not to think about it. I suggest that you elope as soon as possible! It is cheap, and provides a thrill. I believe that you can marry easily at Gretna Green in Scotland, though I did not go there myself. Marriage is a most happy position and is greatly to be desired. Only do be sure that you marry someone pretty enough, and quite exciting enough for you. Meg Brooke...land, what a name! I'm sure I don't know what she's thinking if she marries you...but then, I'm sure the very idea of eloping will fill her with as much excitement as it filled me! Pray, do it soon. You may come and visit my dear Wickham and me. We are currently staying with my sister, Jane Bingley, and her husband Charles. They have such a large house, I'm sure there is more than enough room for a whole regiment of soldiers, not to mention just you! Do come by any time. You will be most welcome.
So glad to help,
~Mrs. Lydia Wickham (Pride and Prejudice)