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by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be
too soon forgotten: and the effort which the formation and the
perusal of this letter must occasion, should have been spared had
not my character required it to be written and read. You must,
therefore, pardon the [freedom] with which I demand your
attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I
demand it of your justice.

“Two offenses of a very different nature, and by no means of equal
magnitude, you last night laid to my charge. The first-mentioned
was, that, regardless of the sentiments of either, I had detached Mr.
from your sister,- and the other, that I had, in defiance of various
claims, in defiance of honor and humanity, ruined the immediate
prosperity and blasted the prospects of Mr. Wickham.- Willfully
and wantonly to have thrown off the companion of my youth, the
acknowledged favorite of my father, a young man who had
scarcely any other dependence than on our patronage, and who
had been brought up to expect its exertion, would be a depravity,
to which the separation of two young persons, whose affection
could be the growth of only a few weeks, could bear no
comparison. But from the severity of that blame which was last
night so liberally bestowed, respecting each circumstance, I shall
hope to be in future secured, when the following account of my
actions and their motives has been read. If, in the explanation of
them, which is due to myself, I am under the necessity of relating
feelings which may be offensive to yours, I can only say that I am
sorry. The necessity must be obeyed, and further apology would be

“I had not been long in Hertfordshire, before I saw, in common
with others, that Bingley preferred your elder sister to any other
young woman in the country. But it was not till the evening of the
dance at Netherfield that I had any apprehension of his feeling a
serious attachment. I had often seen him in love before. At that
ball, while I had the honor of dancing with you, I was first made
acquainted, by
Sir William Lucas’s accidental information, that Bingley’s
attentions to your sister had given rise to a general expectation of
their marriage.

He spoke of it as a certain event, of which the time alone could be
undecided. From that moment I observed my friend’s behavior
attentively; and I could then perceive that his partiality for Miss
Bennet was beyond what I had ever witnessed in him. Your sister I
also watched. Her look and manners were open, cheerful, and
engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard,
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