‘ “Well,” said Charlotte, “I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to him [Bingley] to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.” ’
Says the old maid, I suppose. Perhaps arranged marriage is indeed better than the harbouring of expectation that never can be met. Are we unable to know another’s defects and, uncommitted, choose? Has the rise of romantic marriage made us less able to be civilized and happy, or can we find our way through newer thickets?