The second part of my Timeline is shown below, this detailing the events running from the start of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ up to the beginning of ‘The Formidable Mrs Elizabeth Darcy’. As before, the entries in bold are real events, those in black fictional. I’ve also done my best to cite the references in ‘P&P’ that led me to pick those dates (I’ll admit to some guessing, especially regarding the day and month of births and deaths). I’ve also allocated a number of new forenames.
25th September: Charles Bingley arrives at Netherfield (‘He – Bingley – is to take possession of the place before Michaelmas’). Michaelmas is a quarter day falling on the 29th September.
27th September: Mr Bennet calls on Bingley (‘Mr Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr Bingley’). I thought I’d give him two days to stir himself …
9th October: Meryton Assembly Ball (‘When is your next ball to be, Lizzy? To-morrow fortnight’. As this question was asked on 27th September two weeks on gives the 9th October).
15th October: William Collins writes to Mr Bennet (Collins’s letter).
2nd November: Militia regiment arrives in Meryton. Again, something of a guess. It’s interesting to note though that the Militia were most active in the years between 1796-1803, when the threat of a French invasion was at its height.
18th November: William Collins arrives at Longbourn (Collins’s letter).
25th/26th November: Elizabeth dances with Darcy at the Netherfield Ball. The Ball actually took place on Tuesday 25th November 1800, but as it went on well past midnight Bingley is tediously exact when, on meeting Elizabeth in Lambton, he says, ‘we have not met since the 26th of November …’.
26th November: Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth; she refuses (‘The next day (after the ball) opened a new scene at Longbourn’).
27th November: Bingley quits Netherfield (‘The morrow produced no abatement of Mrs Bennet’s ill humour’ and ‘Soon after their return, a letter was delivered to Miss Bennet …’)
1st January: The Act of Union 1800, uniting Ireland with England comes into force.
16th February: William Pitt resigns as Prime Minister.
4th March: Thomas Jefferson becomes President of the United States.
15th March: Elizabeth visits Charlotte Collins in Hunsford and meets Lady Catherine de Bourgh (‘the first fortnight of her visit soon passed away. Easter was approaching and the week proceeding it …’). Easter Sunday in 1801 fell on the 5th April.
23rd March: Tsar Paul I assassinated.
23rd March: Tsar Alexander I assumes the throne of Russia.
19th April: Darcy proposes to Elizabeth and she refuses him (‘the five weeks which she had now passed in Kent …’).
25th April: Elizabeth leaves Hunsford and travels to London (‘you will have been here only six weeks’).
12th May: Elizabeth and Jane return to Longbourn (‘It was in the second week of May …’).
26th May: Militia regiment (and Wickham) leave for Brighton (‘they are going in a fortnight’).
15th July: The Concordat of 1801 is agreed by Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, reinstating the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France.
20th July: Elizabeth visits Derbyshire with the Gardiners (‘prevented from setting out till a fortnight later in July’).
8th August: Lydia Bennet elopes with George Wickham (‘they were off Saturday night about twelve’).
9th August: An express sent to Mr Bennet by Colonel Forster alerting him to the ‘Lydia Situation’ (‘an express came at twelve last night’).
10th August: Jane writes to Elizabeth (‘it had been written five days ago’).
11th August: Elizabeth visits Pemberley and meets Darcy.
14th August: Jane’s letter informing Elizabeth of Lydia’s elopement arrives (‘on the third [morning] her repining was over’). I must say that, on this basis, the post system in 1801 England could be judged miraculously quick. The Gardiners lodging in Lambton was a spur of the moment decision (so how did Jane know where to address the letter?) and, anyway, for a letter to get from Longbourn the 130 miles to Lambton in less than five days (as the second one did) seems remarkable.
15th August: Elizabeth returns to Longbourn (‘They travelled as expeditiously as possible … reached Longbourn by dinner time the next day’ and ‘It is not quite a week since they left Brighton’). Again, this looks, on the face of it, a little too quick. Assuming they left at 11 am on the 14th that would leave them about 8 hours of daylight. They couldn’t travel at night (no full moon until the 3rd September) and as a family of relatively modest means, like the Bennets, would dine early (to save candles they’d eat their last meal of the day around 4 pm) they would only have the same travelling time the next day. Say, 16 hours in total, less at least 4 hours to eat, water the horses etc. that would mean they achieved an average speed of over 10 miles per hour. Not possible.
22nd August: Lydia and Wickham marry (‘eloping and living with Wickham, a fortnight before they [the nuptials] took place’).
25th September: Bingley returns to Netherfield.
6th October: Bingley proposes to Jane.
13th October: Lady Catherine de Bourgh visits Elizabeth to express her disapproval of a match with Darcy (‘about a week after Bingley’s engagement with Jane …’).
16th October: Darcy proposes to Elizabeth (‘His friend [Darcy] had left him that morning for London but was to return home in ten days’ time’).
17th November: Darcy and Elizabeth are married. A guess (but I have my reasons …!).
1802 (Hereafter everything relates to TFMED).
25th March: The Treaty of Amiens signed: France and England are at peace.
31st March: Kit O’Malley meets General Chaos for the first time.
3rd April: Elizabeth and Darcy embark on the Grand Tour.
20th May: Napoleon re-establishes slavery in the French Empire.
13th August: Elizabeth and Darcy return to Pemberley early in order that Elizabeth might be on hand during Jane’s confinement.
25th August: Francis Thomas Bingley, first child of Jane and Bingley born.
10th October: Elizabeth, accompanied by Jane, leaves Pemberley for London and TFMED begins!