Northanger Abbey

  • CHAPTER 1

  • Narrator

    No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.

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  • Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.

  • Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard--and he had never been handsome.

  • He had a considerable independence besides two good livings--and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters.

  • Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution.

  • She had three sons before Catherine was born;

  • Narrator

    and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still lived on--lived to have six children more--to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself.

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  • A family of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number;

  • but the Morlands had little other right to the word, for they were in general very plain, and Catherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any.

  • She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strong features--so much for her person;

  • and not less unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind.

  • She was fond of all boy's plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls, but to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush.

  • Indeed she had no taste for a garden;

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    and if she gathered flowers at all, it was chiefly for the pleasure of mischief--at least so it was conjectured from her always preferring those which she was forbidden to take.

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  • Such were her propensities--her abilities were quite as extraordinary.

  • She never could learn or understand anything before she was taught;

  • and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, and occasionally stupid.

  • Her mother was three months in teaching her only to repeat the

  • β€œBeggar's Petition