As the eminent writer Martin Amis correctly observed, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was written as a romantic comedy. Unfortunately, modern readers often find that it falls short, if only because Miss Austen avoided a subject widely recognized as essential in today’s comedic writing.
The subject is sex. There is nothing in Pride and Prejudice to suggest that Ms. Austen’s characters think about sex, much less engage in it. One finds no witty sexual banter, no innuendo or amusing missteps by inexperienced lovers. Is it possible Miss Austen was unable to conceive of anything about sex worth lampooning?
The answer is a resounding “no.” Thanks to an anonymous donor, the literary world now has available to it a long lost (or hidden) manuscript, written in Miss Austen’s hand. In it, she demonstrates her talent for sexual comedy.
This manuscript was clearly written as an alternative ending to Pride and Prejudice. As published, the final chapter of the novel is entitled “Chapter 61.” The newly discovered manuscript is also entitled “Chapter 61.” Unlike the published version, however, this alternative ending focuses entirely on Elizabeth’s concerns about her future conjugal life, now that she is engaged to Mr. Darcy, he with the “ten thousand” per annum.
As to authenticity, the experts will obviously have the final word. In the meantime, one can reasonably rely on the obvious similarity between the writing style in the newly discovered “Chapter 61” and the writing style found in the preceding 60 chapters.
A few examples should suffice. To begin with, one is immediately struck by the presence of Miss Austin’s trade-mark sentences in which subject and object are insulated from each other by a thicket of clauses so dense that all but the most attentive readers will lose their way. There is also her lavish and often puzzling use of semicolons, sometimes two in a single sentence.
Readers will also recall that in the published version of Chapter 61, Miss Austen inexplicably began writing in the first person after having employed the third person perspective throughout the preceding sixty chapters. In her alternative version of Chapter 61, she made the same shift, if only momentarily.
Despite similarities in writing styles, there are important differences in content, most notably a reversal of the roles played by Elizabeth Bennet and her mother. Whereas Miss Austen had previously portrayed Elizabeth as well-informed and quick witted, in the alternative final chapter she lampoons Elizabeth for her ignorance. To complete the reversal, Mrs. Bennet, heretofore portrayed as lacking good sense, now acquits herself reasonably well.
This reversal is noteworthy in that it casts Miss Austen in a new and even more favorable light. Assuming Elizabeth represents the author’s alter ego (as commonly believed), we now see her as a writer who was not above poking fun at herself when the occasion arose.
Whether Miss Austen ever seriously considered using this manuscript is questionable. Given the social norms of her era, at least those adopted by “polite society,” she may have written it simply for her own amusement.
Some scholars may brush this new discovery aside, on grounds the great author never could have imagined, much less written, any of what is now attributed to her. In reply, it is sufficient to remind the skeptics of Miss Austen’s admonition, as once expressed by Elizabeth, to “give a loose rein to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford….”
With the great author’s own words to guide us, it is time to get to it. Reproduced below is her alternative ending to Pride and Prejudice, exactly as written.
Happy indeed was the day when Mrs. Bennet could rest comfortably in the knowledge that her two most deserving daughters were favorably matched, with dates now settled. Strolling through the garden, with what delighted pride she now cast her maternal gaze upon Elizabeth, soon to be married to a man of rank with not less than ten thousand per annum, may be guessed. Her happiness, made all the greater by her anticipation of relating the latest triumph to Lady Lucas, whose own dear Charlotte, doubtless through desperation, had recently wed the disagreeable Mr. Collins, was almost more than she could bear.
I wish I could say, for the sake of her family, that Mrs. Bennet’s happiness remained undisturbed for the rest of her life, or at the very least, for the rest of the day; but hardly had she and Elizabeth begun their walk before the latter, having proposed sitting on a bench in a little copse where they could converse without interruption, turned to face her; and to Mrs. Bennet’s amazement, asked if she might inquire about a matter of some delicacy.
“Mamma,” began Elizabeth, without waiting for an answer, “Of all the thoughts that occupy me since the engagement, none occupies me more than how I may be assured, once Mr. Darcy and I are wed, that I am doing all within my power to be the perfect wife.”
“Of course my dear,” Mrs. Bennet said, “I would not have expected otherwise.”
“Yet to be a perfect wife, I need to be apprised of certain particulars of conjugal life about which I am uncertain. I would not trouble you were it not for having been told some years ago that young women should turn to their mothers to be enlightened about the particulars, once the marriage is imminent.
“Particulars? Oh! my dear Lizzy, banish all worry about particulars! You will be a perfect wife to Mr. Darcy merely by continuing as you have done.”
“If amiable conversation alone would suffice, I would have no concern, but I doubt whether such will be the case; I am certain Mr. Darcy looks forward to family life in which children play no small part.”
“Doubtless you and Mr. Darcy will be blessed with lovely children. There is no need for worry.”
“Oh! Mamma,” she cried, “how do I inquire of delicate matters without seeming a fool? I beg you to spare me from having to ask directly!”
Her daughter’s agitation and tears having had their intended effect, Mrs. Bennet – now anxious above all that nothing endanger the match —responded quickly. “Lizzy, you need not fear censure from me if directness is called for. Come out with it, my dear. Speak plainly – tell me what troubles you so.”
Thus assured, Elizabeth replied, “What troubles me, Mamma, is my ignorance about how to proceed when I am to have babies.”
Mrs. Bennet’s astonishment could not have been greater. “Surely you have learned of all this from other young women; your cousins perhaps?”
“Were it only so, but I was taught that proper girls avoid all talk of the subject, and even banish it from their minds, for doing otherwise will lead to wickedness and depravity. From what little I was told, I understood that our husbands will deposit seeds within us from which babies will grow. Beyond this, I can recall only that a proper young woman will never kiss a man on the mouth unless wedded to him, regardless of his entreaties, for doing so will lead to babies and certain disgrace.”
“There is truth in what you were taught, and I have no doubt you have remained chaste. There, that is settled; you need have no further concern.”
“How can it be settled, Mamma?” cried Elizabeth. “I am still uncertain as to how babies are made.”
“But you are aware your husband deposits his seeds within you; what more must you know?”
“From what I heard about the result of kissing, I have deduced that Mr. Darcy will deposit his seeds in my mouth when he kisses me. Have I got it right, Mamma?”
Before Mrs. Bennet could find the words with which to reply, her daughter continued. “Please tell me it is so!” Elizabeth cried, her countenance one of rapturous delight. “To think that when our lips meet, he will be planting the seeds of our family! Oh!”
Greatly alarmed and now blushing, Mrs. Bennet quickly replied, “Good Lord! No, Lizzy, this is not the way it is done! True enough, some men find pleasure in releasing their seeds in the female mouth, yet doing so will not produce babies! The seeds must be released elsewhere; and I regret to inform you, through another method entirely.”
“Elsewhere? Another method?” asked Elizabeth, her voice showing no small degree of disappointment.
Knowing the matter must be faced forthrightly and with as much clarity as propriety permits, Mrs. Bennet replied, “There is a portion of the male anatomy that is used for planting the seeds, a protrusion often known as the male member. It is while your husband’s member is inserted inside you that his seeds are released.”
Fearing that if she paused she would be unable to summon the courage to complete her task, Mrs. Bennet continued. “In anticipation of what surely will be your next question, I must tell you that this member, this protrusion if you will, is inserted, thrust you might say, into an orifice in your most private region. By this I mean the orifice from which your monthly fluids emanate.”
Her countenance now revealing astonishment bordering on horror, Elizabeth was silent for many long moments. After regaining her composure she addressed her mother frankly and with great deliberation, all previous concerns about delicacy having been put aside in favor of avoiding another mistaken supposition.
“This member of which you speak—please tell me, Madam, of its location on Mr. Darcy.”
It was now Mrs. Bennet’s turn to remain silent for several long moments before speaking. “You may recall the occasion not long ago when we were strolling across the village green and came upon a young boy, hardly more than an infant, who had gotten free from his nanny and was running about. You may recall also that his nappy had fallen away, thus exposing the lower part of his body. Think back on it, and you will remember seeing a small, worm-like appendage between his legs.”
“Yes, I do recall; what of it?” Elizabeth said, plainly puzzled.
“It is this appendage to which I allude when speaking of the male member.”
“Am I to believe that from such a tiny appendage Mr. Darcy will plant his seeds in me?”
“This boy was very young, Lizzy. As he grows, so will his member grow. By the time he reaches Mr. Darcy’s age, his member will be man-sized.”
“Dare I ask the size to which it will grow?” Elizabeth asked, unable to conceal her apprehension.
“I am not widely experienced on this subject, but I believe an apt comparison would be one of the sausages your father so greatly enjoys, though much firmer.”
“Do not make sport of my feelings, Mamma; it cannot be so! Those sausages are enormous!” Elizabeth cried, now fully discomposed.
Mrs. Bennet quickly assured her that enormous was an exaggeration, and that the comparison was meant only to convey what was possible, not what was likely; but having so assured her daughter, she felt it would be a disservice if she failed to add that if Mr. Darcy is similar to others of his sex, he will be pleased to hear his member described as enormous.
Elizabeth now gathered herself and asked, “Aside from commenting favorably on its size, are there any other expectations Mr. Darcy may have regarding my allusions to his appendage? Should I merely call it his member?”
“You may allude to it as you wish, provided you avoid doing so in a way that will injure his pride. Or is it his vanity? I believe your sister Mary once explained the difference, did she not?”
“It doesn’t matter! Get on with it, Madam, I beg of you!”
“Yes, yes. What I meant was only this; you should avoid alluding to his member with a word having a feminine or diminutive meaning. If you wish to give it a name, you cannot go wrong if you choose one in keeping with how it is likely to be regarded by Mr. Darcy himself. His mighty stallion would probably be well received – though perhaps this is a bit too much. His royal highness might be a better choice. You will think of something – it will come to you, probably unbidden.”
Elizabeth’s astonishment rendered her unable to speak, which Mrs. Bennet took as an invitation to continue. “You might also give thought to the name you and Mr. Darcy may apply to that part of your anatomy into which he releases his seeds.”
“Mr. Darcy and I are to invent a name for my private parts, is this what you suggest? I can not imagine what name might apply.”
“I can only guess what you and Mr. Darcy would find pleasing – though the name of a flower – one having captivating beauty – would not be out of place.” Mrs. Bennet now shifted her gaze so as to look past Elizabeth into the distance, as though recalling a time long past.
Now anxious lest her mother become distracted with her own reveries, Elizabeth reminded her that further particulars remained to be addressed.
“What further particulars do you have in mind, my dear?” Mrs. Bennet asked.
“I have many in mind, but I will be satisfied if you can allay my concerns about the frequency of the act which you have described. I pray you tell me one deposit of seeds will be sufficient for all the children we wish to have.”
“I fear I must you disappoint you,” said Mrs. Bennet. “Several such acts will probably be required, at least one for each child. As we are on this subject, I should also tell you the male of our species finds the act of depositing his seeds exceedingly pleasurable; as a consequence, Mr. Darcy will almost certainly desire to repeat the act quite often.”
“How am I to bear such indignities!” cried Elizabeth.
“I think it will not be as displeasing as you suppose, Lizzy. The first time will be the most difficult, but after that, you will probably find the act not entirely unpleasant, perhaps even a source of enjoyment, provided Mr. Darcy is neither a brute nor terribly unclean. Some of our sex take delight in the act and are eager for it to occur. ”
Feeling her daughter’s intense stare and sensing her amazement, Mrs. Bennet, again blushing, hastened to add, “So much I have been told. “
“I can hardly imagine taking delight in having a large sausage thrust into my private parts, nor is it conceivable that I could ever be eager for it to occur,” said Elizabeth.
“If you approach the matter with an open mind, free of prejudice, as you have heartily encouraged others to do, you may be pleasantly surprised.”
Chastened by hearing words she herself had spoken now directed at her, Elizabeth sat wordlessly for several long moments. Her silence was again taken by Mrs. Bennet as an invitation to continue on her present course.
“On the matter of enjoyment, let me say also that any signs of enjoyment during the act will be most favorably received by Mr. Darcy; while signs of unhappiness will likely injure his pride, especially if they can be taken to mean dissatisfaction with his performance.”
“Added to all else, I must always attend to Mr. Darcy’s pride? This is too much. Please assure me that little more remains to be learned of the particulars.”
“Oh! My dear Lizzy, there is much more to be learned, but regarding your initial experience, there is one final piece of advice I can offer, though I hesitate out of fear of adding to your vexation.”
“Unless you tell me the act is done while Mr. Darcy’s friends look on, I can scarcely conceive of being further vexed than I already am.”
Mrs. Bennet drew a deep breath before proceeding. “As to the act itself, I may have encouraged the impression that you have little to do, which – if you so choose – is how it can be. On the first few occasions, however, it would be prudent to take an active part unless Mr. Darcy is well-experienced.”
“An active part? In what way?”
“My dear, I am speaking of the advisability of firmly grasping Mr. Darcy’s member and guiding it so that it enters the preferred orifice, rather than the other one. I think I need not explain why.”
Perceiving in Elizabeth no inclination of replying, she added, “To be fully prepared in advance, I suggest using a hand mirror to survey the region in question. In private, I mean, unless you wish to see Mr. Darcy worked into a frenzy.” She smiled at the thought, and observed with relief that her daughter also found the imagined scene somewhat amusing. Her countenance had at last begun to brighten.
Thereupon, Mrs. Bennet arose; and, pleading fatigue, took leave to return to the house, now confident that any concerns about Elizabeth’s lack of resolve could set aside. She would find it in her when the time came, of that her mother was sure.