CHAPTER 1No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would havesupposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the characterof her father and mother, her own person and disposition, wereall equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, without beingneg... read full description below.
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CHAPTER 1No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would havesupposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the characterof her father and mother, her own person and disposition, wereall equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, without beingneglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his namewas Richard--and he had never been handsome. He had a considerableindependence besides two good livings--and he was not in the leastaddicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of usefulplain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with agood constitution. She had three sons before Catherine was born; andinstead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as anybody mightexpect, she still lived on--lived to have six children more--to see themgrowing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A familyof ten children will be always called a fine family, where there areheads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlands hadlittle other right to the word, for they were in general very plain, andCatherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any. She had a thinawkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strongfeatures--so much for her person; and not less unpropitious for heroismseemed her mind. She was fond of all boy's plays, and greatly preferredcricket not merely to dolls, but to the more heroic enjoyments ofinfancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering arose-bush. Indeed she had no taste for a garden; and if she gatheredflowers at all, it was chiefly for the pleasure of mischief--at leastso it was conjectured from her always preferring those which she wasforbidden to take. Such were her propensities--her abilities were quiteas extraordinary. She never could learn or understand anythingbefore she was taught; and sometimes not even then, for she was ofteninattentive, and occasionally stupid. Her mother was three months inteaching her only to repeat the Beggar's Petition ; and after all, hernext sister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherinewas always stupid--by no means; she learnt the fable of The Hare andMany Friends as quickly as any girl in England. Her mother wished herto learn music; and Catherine was sure she should like it, for she wasvery fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlorn spinnet; so, at eightyears old she began. She learnt a year, and could not bear it; and Mrs.Morland, who did not insist on her daughters being accomplished inspite of incapacity or distaste, allowed her to leave off. The day whichdismissed the music-master was one of the happiest of Catherine's life.Her taste for drawing was not superior; though whenever she could obtainthe outside of a letter from her mother or seize upon any other oddpiece of paper, she did what she could in that way, by drawing housesand trees, hens and chickens, all very much like one another. Writingand accounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: herproficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked her lessons inboth whenever she could. What a strange, unaccountable character!--forwith all these symptoms of profligacy at ten years old, she had neithera bad heart nor a bad temper, was seldom stubborn, scarcely everquarrelsome, and very kind to the little ones, with few interruptionsof tyranny; she was moreover noisy and wild, hated confinement andcleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down thegreen slope at the back of the house.
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