11. CHAPTER XI
With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of every
body's feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange every
body's destiny. She was proved to have been universally mistaken;
and she had not quite done nothing--for she had done mischief.
She had brought evil on Harriet, on herself, and she too much feared,
on Mr. Knightley.--Were this most unequal of all connexions to
take place, on her must rest all the reproach of having given it
a beginning; for his attachment, she must believe to be produced only
by a consciousness of Harriet's;--and even were this not the case,
he would never have known Harriet at all but for her folly.
Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith!--It was a union to distance every
wonder of the kind.--The attachment of Frank Churchill and Jane
Fairfax became commonplace, threadbare, stale in the comparison,
exciting no surprize, presenting no disparity, affording nothing
to be said or thought.--Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith!--Such an
elevation on her side! Such a debasement on his! It was horrible
to Emma to think how it must sink him in the general opinion,
to foresee the smiles, the sneers, the merriment it would prompt at
his expense; the mortification and disdain of his brother, the thousand
inconveniences to himself.--Could it be?--No; it was impossible.
And yet it was far, very far, from impossible.--Was it a new
circumstance for a man of first-rate abilities to be captivated by
very inferior powers? Was it new for one, perhaps too busy to seek,
to be the prize of a girl who would seek him?--Was it new for any
thing in this world to be unequal, inconsistent, incongruous--or for
chance and circumstance (as second causes) to direct the human fate?
Oh! had she never brought Harriet forward! Had she left her where
she ought, and where he had told her she ought!--Had she not,
with a folly which no tongue could express, prevented her marrying
the unexceptionable young man who would have made her happy
and respectable in the line of life to which she ought to belong--
all would have been safe; none of this dreadful sequel would have been.