Good Afternoon everyone,
How are you today? I’m very happy to be in my hometown today to celebrate my mom’s birthday and to receive Victoria Kincaid in From Pemberley to Milton once more.
Ms. Kincaid is here to talk about Rebellion at Longbourn, her most recently released book, and I confess I was surprised with her view of Mr. Collins. I shouldn’t be surprised, because if I truly think about it, she is completely right! However, in fandom we sometimes forget about Austen and start believing in general trends that grow within the community.
I really enjoyed reading Victoria Kincaid’s views of Mr. Collins and how that influenced her story Rebellion at Longbourn. It made me more eager to read the book 🙂
I hope you feel the same, and that you share your thoughts on it to apply to the giveaway. What do you think? Can Mr. Collins be redeemed? Would he be a good landowner? Will Charlotte be able to influence him? Will they be happy?
Thank you so much for visiting and for offering the giveaway Victoria! I wish you all the best with this book!
Rebellion at Longbourn sets Elizabeth directly at odds with Mr. Collins, particularly on the matter of running Longbourn. He has taken possession of the estate but is ruining it. Elizabeth sets out to save it—while Collins remains oblivious.
I’ve always believed that Collins would make a bad landowner, in particular because he has an inflated opinion of his own abilities and doesn’t like to take advice from those he perceives as beneath him. However, it has always amazed me how many Austen fans are willing to believe the best of Mr. Collins. I have seen long, vociferous defenses of the man, explaining that he is bumbling but well-meaning. That he would have been a good husband for Mary Bennet. That he is was mischaracterized in various movie adaptations.
I always wonder how closely Collins’s defenders have read the book. Because a close reading of P&P reveals that Collins is not, in fact, a nice person and would not make a good husband for anyone. Here is how Austen describes him:
“A fortunate chance had recommended him to Lady Catherine de Bourgh when the living of Hunsford was vacant; and the respect which he felt for her high rank, and his veneration for her as his patroness, mingling with a very good opinion of himself, of his authority as a clergyman, and his right as a rector, made him altogether a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, self-importance and humility.”
The best thing you can say about him based on this description is that he’s occasionally humble, but we know from reading the book that he is only humble in the presence of people of greater rank, like Mr. Darcy or Lady Catherine.
Many readers point to Charlotte’s life at Hunsford to show that Collins is not that bad a man. It’s true that Elizabeth is surprised at how well Charlotte seems to adjust to life with Collins. However, it’s also true that Austen makes a point of describing how carefully Charlotte separates her life from her husband’s and how much she must submit to Lady Catherine’s management and criticism of her household affairs. Charlotte acquiesces to her husband’s every demand to visit Rosings or stand in the wind to greet Miss de Bourgh. Austen wants the readers to believe that Charlotte is surviving but there is no evidence to suggest—as some fans have maintained—that she has proactively taken control of her situation or can manipulate her husband.
Collins’s behavior at the Netherfield Ball gives an often-overlooked view into his personality and a glimpse of what kind of husband he would be. This is the first time Elizabeth comes into real conflict with her cousin and we start to understand why she wouldn’t want to marry him. Having discovered Mr. Darcy’s relationship to Lady Catherine, Collins is hellbent on assuring the man about her good health a week ago. The reader knows this is an unnecessary task; if Lady Catherine had been taken ill, obviously her nephew would know if by now. Austen writes,
“Elizabeth tried hard to dissuade him from such a scheme, assuring him that Mr. Darcy would consider his addressing him without introduction as an impertinent freedom, rather than a compliment to his aunt; that it was not in the least necessary there should be any notice on either side; and that if it were, it must belong to Mr. Darcy, the superior in consequence, to begin the acquaintance. Mr. Collins listened to her with the determined air of following his own inclination.”
Collins then tells Elizabeth she knows nothing on the subject since the rules are different for clergy and hurries off to address Darcy. This is Darcy’s reaction:
Mr. Darcy was eyeing him with unrestrained wonder, and when at last Mr. Collins allowed him time to speak, replied with an air of distant civility. Mr. Collins, however, was not discouraged from speaking again, and Mr. Darcy’s contempt seemed abundantly increasing with the length of his second speech, and at the end of it he only made him a slight bow, and moved another way.
Not only is Darcy offended at Collins’s behavior, he is amazed at the effrontery of it. Collins has no idea Darcy holds him in contempt and continues the encounter until Darcy is compelled to leave. Even then, Collins doesn’t realize what a disaster he created. He tells Elizabeth: “I have no reason, I assure you…to be dissatisfied with my reception. Mr. Darcy seemed much pleased with the attention. He answered me with the utmost civility…”
What does this sequence of events tell us about Collins?
- He does not listen to other’s advice. In particular, he does not listen to advice from Elizabeth, the woman he hopes to marry. There is no reason to think that he would be any more concerned with Charlotte’s opinion after they are wed.
- He believes in his superior judgment and inflates his own sense of self-importance, valuing that over any embarrassment he might cause the Bennet family.
- He is oblivious to having caused offense. In some ways this is the most damning characteristic in a husband. Can you imagine poor Charlotte being married to this man? He can’t even tell when someone is furious with him. This is not the guy to nurse you through an illness or reassure you that it’s all right if you gain a little weight.
In Rebellion at Longbourn, I portray Charlotte as being unhappy in her marriage with Collins, and Austen’s text has given us ample reason to believe that would be the case. Fortunately, in my book, Elizabeth is in a position to help Charlotte out with that problem.
Here is an excerpt from Rebelllion at Longbourn when Mary and Elizabeth are trying to convince Collins to try new agricultural methods:
Collins’s officiousness finally overcame his reluctance to interrupt a woman. “Cousin, this is all very interesting, and I am quite gratified that you are taking an interest in…farming.” He said it as if Mary had suddenly developed an unhealthy obsession with sewers. “But Longbourn simply does not have the funds to invest in unproven theories.”
“But they are not unproven!” Mary objected. “If you would read—”
Collins waved this away. “Anyone may write anything in a book or journal. How would we know the truth of his words?”
Mary gaped, flummoxed at the idea that scientists might lie about their results.
“This seed drill would not be cheap even if we could locate one,” Collins continued. “Furthermore, if we tried this four-crop system and it failed, Longbourn stands to lose quite a bit of money!”
“We could test the system in a few fields to start,” Mary suggested. “Spring planting will begin soon. Now is the perfect time—”
Collins shook his head with the patient condescension of a parent denying a child who requested another sweet. “The system might work well in Norfolk, but there is no evidence it would flourish in a climate like Hertfordshire’s.”
“They are not so different—” Mary said.
Collins spoke over her. “I refuse to experiment with my own fields.”
“It is not an experiment!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “It is common practice on many estates.” Unfortunately, nobody near Meryton yet practiced the method, so she could not point to their neighbors as examples.
Collins arched a brow. “And yet your father did not implement it.”
Although it felt disloyal to her father, Elizabeth had prepared for this argument. “My father did not…expect Longbourn to yield the profits that you do.” It was a diplomatic way to say her father had been a bit lazy, and Collins was rather greedy.
Collins shook his head in a mockery of sympathy at her grief. “No, your father was too lenient with the tenants. Such was the reason why Longbourn was a shambles when I took possession. An enterprise such as this must be run with a firm hand.” Elizabeth would have bet money that he was quoting Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
She pressed her lips together and resisted the impulse to argue with him over a claim she had heard many times before. Longbourn had fared well under her father’s ownership. To be sure, he had taken a rather laissez faire attitude toward much of the estate’s operations. It could have been more profitable if he had expended more effort, but he had treated his tenants fairly and everyone had prospered.
But Collins was determined to portray her father’s ownership as nearly ruinous to Longbourn and view his arrival as the estate’s salvation. This narrative served him well—at least in his own mind—allowing him to justify many of his actions. As with so many other things, it was difficult to discern if the man actually believed his reasoning or was merely using it as a convenient justification for his actions.
“These articles are quite compelling. If you would—” Mary pointed to the journal.
Their cousin bestowed the sort of smile one gives a child who endeavors to read a book that is beyond her ability. “I am quite impressed with your efforts, Cousin. But perhaps your time would be better occupied with needlework, pianoforte practice, or Fordyce’s sermons.” Mary seemed crestfallen. Elizabeth knew that after they retreated from the room, she would need to reassure her sister that an interest in farming was not unfeminine but quite admirable.
But Elizabeth was not quite ready to wave the white flag. “Cousin, Mary can explain the diagram—” Elizabeth attempted to draw his attention to the book.
Collins crossed his arms over his chest. “Lady Catherine does not use such a seed drill contraption or any newfangled farming methods. If tried and true methods are good enough for her, they are certainly sufficient for Longbourn.”
Elizabeth sighed inwardly. When Collins invoked Lady Catherine de Bourgh as his authority, it was a sure sign of impending stubbornness.
“If the old ways are good enough for Rosings Park, they are certainly good enough for Longbourn,” Collins declared. Elizabeth could not help recalling the gaunt and unhappy tenants at Rosings Park.
“Longbourn has not the means for such risky endeavors,” he continued, settling back in his chair and stroking his gold pocket watch as the light from the window glistened off the embroidery in his waistcoat. Although Elizabeth had not seen the estate’s accounts recently, she had been familiar enough with them during her father’s time to know what it could and could not afford. And gold pocket watches fitted into the latter category.
No doubt Lady Catherine had advised Collins on the purchase of the clothing and the watch; they helped him play his part as lord of the manor. Certainly fancy clothes, expensive carriages, and fine wines were well within Lady Catherine’s means, but Longbourn was a far smaller estate. It was not equal to a similarly lavish lifestyle.
Flush with his newfound wealth, Collins had spent profligately and was now in debt. But he would not cease spending lavishly. Elizabeth had tried to delicately hint that he should moderate his spending and then explained it to him in plain words, but the only result was that he had further reduced the allowances he granted to the Bennet sisters. She had overheard Charlotte pleading with her husband to spend less, but he had told her not to worry.
Elizabeth shuddered when picturing how much money he had already spent, and undoubtedly she did not know the whole of it. Only a fortnight ago he had returned from a lengthy visit to Lady Catherine’s townhouse in London, where he had joined a gentlemen’s club and may have partaken in gambling.
Since he would not decrease his spending, she had hoped at least he would embrace the idea of increasing the estate’s income. But now Collins gave her a patently false smile. “Your concern for Longbourn does you credit, Cousin. However, as a woman, you naturally do not understand such things. It is all accounted for in the ledgers.” He gestured vaguely toward his desk, which was entirely empty. “It has to do with credits and debits…profits and so on.”
Elizabeth suspected she understood Longbourn’s ledgers better than Collins did or he would not be purchasing gold pocket watches.
“You, my most exquisite cousins, should concern yourself with domestic duties—where you are doing an admirable job—and allow me to worry about the finances and such.”
Elizabeth Bennet’s father died two years ago, and her odious cousin Mr. Collins has taken possession of the Longbourn estate. Although Collins and his wife Charlotte have allowed the Bennet sisters and their mother to continue living at Longbourn, the situation is difficult. Viewing Elizabeth and her sisters as little more than unpaid servants, Collins also mistreats the tenants, spends the estate’s money with abandon, and rejects any suggestions about improving or modernizing Longbourn. After one particularly egregious incident, Elizabeth decides she must organize a covert resistance among her sisters and the tenants, secretly using more modern agricultural methods to help the estate thrive. Her scheme is just getting underway when Mr. Darcy appears in Meryton.
Upon returning from a long international voyage, Darcy is forced to admit he cannot forget his love for Elizabeth. When he learns of the Bennet family’s plight, he hurries to Hertfordshire, hoping he can provide assistance. Sinking into poverty, Elizabeth is further out of Darcy’s reach than ever; still, he cannot help falling even more deeply in love. But what will he do when he discovers her covert rebellion against Longbourn’s rightful owner?
Falling in love with Mr. Darcy was not part of Elizabeth’s plan, but it cannot be denied. Darcy struggles to separate his love for her from his abhorrence for deception. Will their feelings for each other help or hinder the Rebellion at Longbourn?
You can find Rebellion at Longbourn:
Victoria Kincaid would like to offer 1 ebook of Rebellion at Longbourn to readers who read and comment this post. The giveaway is international and is open until the 11th of June.
Please let us know what you think of this premise, we would love to hear your opinion.
Good Luck everyone!