A sharp-eyed Who2 reader writes:
An argument arose in our household. So, we went to your site to find the first name of the beloved character Darcy. (Incidentally, I was correct). And as we read the bio, we discovered a grievous error. You state that Darcy is the subject of the infamous line “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This is not true in the least. The character referred to is Mr. Bingley. Darcy is not introduced until the ball at Mr. Lucas’ house.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”
Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.
“But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.”
Mr. Bennet made no answer.
“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently.
“You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”
This was invitation enough.
“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week.”
“What is his name?”
“Is he married or single?”
“Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”
We were surprised to see how directly the introduction of Mr. Bingley (“a young man of large fortune”) follows the famous opening line. Mr. Darcy is nowhere in sight.
It could be argued that the line isn’t a direct reference to Mr. Bingley either, or to any one man — that it’s a stage-setter for the entire novel, or a reference to all single men with good fortunes. That even seems likely. But that still makes our original statement about Mr. Darcy wrong. He may be a subject of the line, but he’s certainly not the subject.
With that in mind, we’ve rewritten that portion of his profile this way: “Darcy is the type of man described in the book’s wry opening line: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.'”
We thank our reader (who asks to remain unnamed) for the correction. And we’re pleased that we at least could help with the first name: it’s Fitzwilliam.