Mr Darcy versus Mr Beaumaris (continued)
Following on from my previous post about which Heyer hero most closely resembles Mr Darcy …
Both Mr Darcy and Mr Beaumaris initially make a good impression. Both are subsequently, however, discovered to be insufferably proud and to hold an inflated opinion of their own importance!
Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two dances; and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation between him and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes to press his friend to join it.
“Come, Darcy,” said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”
“I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with.”
“I would not be so fastidious as you are,” cried Bingley, “for a kingdom! Upon my honour I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life, as I have this evening; and there are several of them, you see, uncommonly pretty.”
“You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room,” said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet.
“Oh! she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.”
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”
Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. She told the story however with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous.
Across the lower hall, the door into the library stood ajar. Lord Fleetwood’s voice, speaking in rallying tones, assailed the ladies’ ears. ‘I swear you are incorrigible!’ said his lordship. ‘The loveliest of creatures drops into your lap, like a veritable honey-fall, and you behave as though a gull-groper had forced his way into your house!’
Mr Beaumaris replied with disastrous clarity: ‘My dear Charles, when you have been hunted by every trick known to the ingenuity of the female mind, you may more readily partake of my sentiments upon this occasion! I have beauties hopeful of wedding my fortune swoon in my arms, break their bootlaces outside my London house, sprain their ankles when my arm is there to support them, and now it appears that I am to be pursued even into Leicestershire! An accident to her coach! Famous! What a greenhorn she must believe me to be!’
Of course, both men, as the story unfolds, fall in love with the heroine. Arabella and Lizzie are both spirited, pretty and ‘unusual’ but there are differences between the two heroines as well.
I think the main difference between Mr Darcy and Mr Beaumaris is less to do with their personalities and more to do with the way the author reveals their character to us. In Arabella, we hear Mr Beaumaris’s point of view, we get to know that he is falling in love with Arabella and we get delightful glimpses of his character through his humorous interactions with Ulysses (the stray dog Arabella persuades him to adopt). Darcy is much less open to the reader, although we get an occasional glimpse of his changing feelings.
This post attracted a lot of comment and a strong argument was put forward that there is another Heyer hero who is more like Darcy … Sylvester. I must admit, that did get me thinking! Sylvester is one of the wittiest Heyer novels and I love the heroine, Phoebe.
There was also another lively debate on the Georgette Heyer Appreciation Group (on Facebook) about Worth. Regency Buck was Georgette Heyer’s first Regency and it seems to be like Marmite, you either love it or loathe it! I feel a whole new post coming on …