While viewing my VHS of Pride and Prejudice with Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul recently, Lizzie said something so interesting that I had to look it up to make sure it was really in the book. Sure enough, it was there. The meaning of that one sentence is puzzling and I am hoping someone can shed some light on it.
In Chapter 54 Lizzie and Jane are having a sisterly chat – about men, what else? The men in question are Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, of course, and their recent get together at the Bennet home. Here is the quote:
"It has been a very agreeable day," said Miss Bennet to Elizabeth. "The party seemed so well selected, so suitable one with the other. I hope we may often meet again."
"Lizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It mortifies me. I assure you that I have now learnt to enjoy his conversation as an agreeable and sensible young man, without having a wish beyond it. I am perfectly satisfied, from what his manners now are, that he never had any design of engaging my affection. It is only that he is blessed with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire of generally pleasing, than any other man.
"You are very cruel," said her sister; "you will not let me smile, and are provoking me to it every moment."
"How hard it is in some cases to be believed!"
"And how impossible in others!"
"But why should you wish to persuade me that I feel more than I acknowledge?"
"That is a question which I hardly know how to answer. We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing. Forgive me; and if you persist in indifference, do not make me your confidante."
END OF QUOTE
My problem is with the sentence in bold. I can understand the first part “We all love to instruct”, but what is Jane’s meaning in the second part of the sentence, “though we can teach only what is not worth knowing.” Just what is she trying to tell us? Is she saying we teach nonsense? Surely she doesn’t mean it, or does she? There must be an easy answer, but it eludes me. Thoughts anyone?
Linda the Librarian