Young Darcy Inherits Heavy Mantle of Responsibility: excerpt from a WIP — 16 Comments

  1. I definitely feel that Darcy would have been different if his father’s death wouldn’t have thrust him into his role as Master of Pemberley at such an early age. The loss of both parents weighed heavily on his mind besides the shouldering of all his family’s financial affairs. His upbringing prohibited him from being anything but successful at the loss of himself. Never being outgoing and at ease in society, he retreated farther into himself than before, making him seem more aloof and proud than he might have been if his circumstances been different. Besides, he had to fight off the tons matchmaking mother’s and their insipid daughters leaving his life joyless than most men his age. Most twenty-three year old men today could not have handled this life that was dealt him.

    • I agree, Carol; it would have had to change him. People might think Darcy’s lucky to be rich, but with privilege comes responsibility, and it wouldn’t have been easy, especially at so young an age.

  2. I agree. Having those responsibilities at such a young age had to be daunting. Just the thought of rearing a sister on the brink of puberty is mind boggling. There were no close relatives to help with even that. So many aspects he had to consider: day-to-day finances, investments, tenants and their complaints, hiring or firing of servants, meetings with the housekeeper and his steward, taking time to stay in shape, etc. What time did he have to socialize or contemplate the need for a wife and then an heir, himself.

    I was brought to tears myself in reading this. Well done.

    • I’m glad it touched you, Sheila. Here’s a quote on the subject from “The Darcys of Pemberley.”

      When Elizabeth considered how many people depended on her husband for their livelihood and security, it sometimes alarmed her. Along with the power he possessed – as husband, brother, landlord, and master to a host of servants and workers – came heavy responsibility. A less conscientious man might not have felt the burden of this trust. But she knew Darcy was acutely aware of his obligation to protect the welfare of all those under his guardianship, and mindful that his choices in the management of Pemberley could effect dozens of others for good or for ill.

  3. In essentials, I believe Darcy would have remained unchanged from canon if his father had lived. I do think he would have been more approachable, however. With his father’s counsel, he would likely have learned to tolerate the attentions of others better, with more equanimity. But, would he have been friends with Bingley? We are not told in canon (I don’t believe) where they met, nor how long they have been friends. Would he have needed Bingley’s easiness to offset his own uncomfortable feeling in company? If the friendship had happened anyway, I do think his father would have scotched Caroline’s pretensions rather quickly. He would have wanted a better woman for his son and made it clear she was not welcome to the family, if we accept that his marriage was a good one. Caroline’s inherent nastiness would have eliminated her. Would Elizabeth qualify? Maybe, once he saw Darcy’s feelings, I do not think he would have discounted them and Elizabeth had breeding, wit, good manners, and an engaging personality. This is speculation, of course, because we are not given information on his father other than he was a good landlord and well-thought of in Lambton. I would like to think he was not just a good man, but a man that was happy in his marriage and would want the same for his son. But we do need Bingley to get Darcy to Meryton!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kathy, some of which mirror my own and which I mention in the book! – the hope that the elder Darcy’s marriage had been good, Bingley’s (and Fitzwilliam’s) lightheartedness needed to balance out Darcy’s tendency toward gravity. But I hadn’t really thought about whether his choice of Elizabeth would have been approved by his parents or not, had they lived. Hmm. There might be another book in there somewhere!

  4. Yes, I agree that Darcy’s serious mien was forged in the responsibilities given him at a young age, an age in which life is just beginning for most young men of his class. With the studious years of university behind him, Darcy would have been launched into the social scene, albeit a mite unwillingly and awkwardly. But instead he took on the mantle of responsibility for Pemberley and all the people who depended on the great house for their livelihood. In addition, Darcy must now raise a young girl on the cusp of her awkward teen years. Richard will help, of course, but his own position in the army demands that Darcy must take the lion’s share of responsibility for Georgiana’s growth and welfare. I am not surprised that such heavy responsibility would make an already serious young man even more so, and the time he spent at Pemberley seeing to his responsibilities rather than in the ballrooms of London as his fellow Cambridge graduates most likely did, stunted his social growth, making him withdrawn and impatient in social situations as his responsibilities were never far from his mind.

    Until Elizabeth burst into his life, turning his mind, heart, and dedication to responsibility topsy-turvy…which was exactly what he needed.

    A wonderful flashback! I can’t wait to read the book when it comes out, and I plan to read The Darcys of Pemberley while I wait. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this gem with us!

    Susanne 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Susanne, and thanks for adding to the discussion!

      Just one note of interest, though. We don’t know that Colonel Fitzwilliam’s first name was Richard. I understand that other JAFF authors have given him that moniker, but JA never tells us. So don’t be too surprised when you read in my books that his name is John! Haha!

  5. I read this yesterday and am just now getting a chance to respond, Shannon. It was interesting reading this part of Darcy’s life from Georgiana’s point of view, especially since Jane only mentions it. I believe Darcy was a naturally reserved and serious person, I have seen that in my son from a very early age. Being given the responsibility of an estate at search an early age would’ve made him even more serious and reserved. The responsibilities and management of such an estate as well as the responsibility of a preteen girl would be nearly overwhelming and he is someone who wants to make his father proud. He also has been pursued by fortune hunters and once the estate became his I am sure the pursuit became even more intense. If his father had lived we still would’ve loved him, but perhaps he wouldn’t have been so tense. He may have been slightly more relaxed and not have had Ramsgate to deal with as well. He may then not have insulted Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly, but then there wouldn’t have been a story.

    Thank you for sharing and I am looking forward to the release of this book.

    • Thanks for coming back to comment, Deborah. I agree with you. I think Darcy was already serious by nature and that his early responsibilities just made exaggerated that trait. The business with Wickham made him more guarded. Without these two things, he might have been more relaxed and open when he met Elizabeth. But then, as you say, there wouldn’t have been a story – at least not the same one.

  6. Oh, Shannon! Thank you for that wonderful excerpt. I agree with everything said pretty much. Darcy was a quiet serious boy, who lost his mother early, which made him even more quiet and serious, and then the loss of his father, and all the responsibility fell to him– I can hardly imagine all that he probably faced, and even though his father felt he was prepared, how could he really totally be ready for it? I’m sure his father’s guidance in society would have been sorely missed! I cannot imagine myself dealing with any of what he had to do!! Thank you!

    Now, I am going to go back and read “The Darcys of Penberley” again!!!

  7. Lovely excerpt, Shannon, and I’m really looking forward to the publication of your book.

    I’m trying to work out in my mind what, if anything, would have happened between Georgiana and Wickham if Darcy Senior had still been alive. Where would she have been sent to school? Would she ever have gone to Ramsgate? Would Darcy Senior have eventually seen through Wickham’s facade of goodness and amiability to the rotteness underneath? A plot bunny for someone with much more talent for writing than me there, possibly.

    In canon, when we first meet Darcy, he’s still getting over the shock of Ramsgate, possibly it’s why he’s staying with the Bingleys in the first place. We know from what the good Colonel says at Rosings, that Darcy is amiable enough in company he’s familiar with but the Colonel has obviously never seen him amongst strangers. What does he mean by strangers? He must have seen him amongst the people of “the ton”, some of whom may be strangers to them, surely? Could “strangers” possibly mean people who might be regarded as a somewhat lower social class? Darcy could be out of his comfort zone then, as he may be able to relate to his peers, tenants and servants but not folk like the people of Meryton.

    As probably an already serious young man when his Father died, the added responsibility obviously didn’t break him but maybe just added to his introverted personality. Then along comes Ramsgate!

    Sorry if this all sounds somewhat jumbled and incoherent but I’ve been typing it as the thoughts occurred and don’t have time right now to organise them properly.

    • No problem, Anji. I followed your thoughts just fine!
      Worst case scenario: old Mr. Darcy, had he lived, might have made it easy for Wickham, actually promoting the match between W and G! There’s a plot possibility!

      • Hmmm, the plot line elder Mr. Darcy still alive and dealing with Ramsgate and Wickham trying to elope with Georgiana– sounds like the new book I just read by Leslie Diamond “Unwavering Trust”. I recommend it as I enjoyed it very much, and, even though it has much more in it, the above plot line is covered. Thanks

        • Good to know, Evelyn. I read almost no JAFF myself, not wanting to be influenced by another writer’s ideas. So I don’t know what’s been done and what hasn’t! – although 2 authors, even starting with the very same premise, are bound to write entirely different books. There seems to be no limit to what creative minds can do with JA’s novels, P&P especially. 😀

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