After my article on Monday regarding Austen’s use of George Wickham to advance the main plot of Pride and Prejudice, several people have sent me messages regarding the “Intervention” I wrote some years back. They enjoyed it, so I thought a repeat was necessary. Think of ®Dr. Phil or some such show with Mr. Wickham being the target of a tongue-in-cheek intervention.
An Intervention with Mr. George Wickham
Voice Over: Welcome to the Doctor Richard Belton Show. Please place your hands together for our resident psychologist, Doctor Richard.
Doctor Richard: Good Afternoon and Welcome. We have an interesting program planned for you today. Our guests have experienced another setback in their dealings with a family member by marriage. They have reluctantly asked for our assistance, but before we speak to specifics, permit me to introduce you to Lieutenant George Wickham.
(Image of a young George Wickham is displayed on the screen.)
Voice Over: George Wickham grew up as the son of a steward on the great estate of Pemberley in Derbyshire. His father was a very respectable man, who had for many years the management of all the Pemberley estates, and whose good conduct in the discharge of his trust naturally inclined the late Mr George Darcy to be of service to him, and on George Wickham, who was his godson, his kindness was therefore liberally bestowed.
(Image of a woman identified on screen as Mrs Anna Reynolds, Pemberley’s housekeeper, is displayed.)
Mrs Reynolds: At his own expense, Pemberley’s late master brought up Mr Wickham in a better lifestyle than the man could have imagined with just his father. Mr Wickham has gone into the army, but I am afraid he has turned out very wild.”
(Switch to an image identified as Pemberley’s current master, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy.)
Mr Darcy: My father supported Mr Wickham at school, and afterward at Cambridge–most important assistance, as his own father, always poor from the extravagance of his wife, would have been unable to give him a gentleman’s education. My father was not only fond of this young man’s society, whose manners were always engaging, he had the highest opinion of him, and, hoping the Church would be his profession, intended to provide for him in it.
Voice Over: Although Mr Wickham could have lived comfortably with what his godfather offered, it was apparently never enough.
(An image of Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, Pemberley’s mistress, is displayed.)
Mrs Darcy: I recall when I first met Mr Wickham. He quite fooled my entire family, especially me. Despite his possessing the most gentleman-like appearance and lacking nothing but regimentals to make him completely charming, Mr Wickham turned out to be one of the most worthless young men in England.
Dr Richard: Let us meet our guests and then bring out Mr Wickham, who, by the way, thinks himself here to compete for a place on Ecarte Stars, when in reality, we have arranged an intervention regarding George Wickham’s mounting gaming debts. Please welcome Fitzwilliam Darcy, his wife Elizabeth Darcy and his sister Georgiana Darcy Fitzwilliam, as well as Mr Wickham’s wife Lydia. (The camera comes in close on each countenance as the names are announced.) Mr Darcy, Sir. Perhaps you may speak as to the reason your family has so publicly chosen to confront Mr Wickham regarding his gambling debts.
(An image of Fitzwilliam Darcy shifting uncomfortably appears on the screen.)
Mr Darcy: I assure you, Doctor Richard, that this is a last resort. Mr. Wickham has forced my hand.
Dr Richard: Then it is true that Mr Wickham has sold his story to The Hot Ton?
Mr Darcy (biting back his revulsion): Mr Wickham has been given every opportunity for success. In my father’s name, I have spent a small fortune to smooth Mr. Wickham’s way, but my childhood chum seems set on calumniating tales that will malign my family’s name.
Dr Richard: Suppose we bring out Mr Wickham and settle this. (Applause) (Dr Richard shakes Mr Wickham’s hand and gestures him on in a cushioned chair.)
Mr Wickham: (Seeing his accusers on the front row) What is amiss? I thought this an opportunity to better myself.
Dr Richard: Actually, Mr. Wickham, your friends and family have come to our set today for an intervention.
Mr Wickham: An intervention? (Mr Wickham stands suddenly.) What means this? I shan’t tolerate it. Do you hear me? (He turned accusingly upon his wife.) I can understand Darcy going on. The world is blinded by his fortune and consequence or frightened by his high and imposing manners, and sees him only as he chuses to be seen. But you, Mrs Wickham? Surely you do not wish to shame me so?
Mrs Wickham: Of course, not. You know the strength of my love.
Dr Richard: Please have a seat, Mr Wickham. Perhaps, you might best direct your remarks to me, rather than to our other guests.
Mr Wickham: (The screen was filled with a close up of Mr Wickham’s countenance. The perceptive viewer would note his steely glare.) There is nothing to discuss. I have no regrets. My actions are above reproof.
Mr Darcy: Are you saying the story you have reportedly shared with The Hot Ton is fabrication on the newspaper’s part?
Mr Wickham: I am saying what you deem as conjecture is, in reality, the truth?
Mr Darcy: (Begins to rise, but a hand by his wife on his arm restrains the man.) Then share with us your form of the truth. (Mr Darcy spoke through gritted teeth.)
Mr Wickham (smiled knowingly): The truth is I debauched your sister when she was but fifteen.
(The audience in the studio gasped loudly.)
Mrs Darcy: (stayed her husband again) Although you are known for your life of self-indulgence, I have it on good authority you did no such thing.
Mrs Wickham (sneered): Your sister-in-marriage has no more say than I do in this matter.
Dr Richard: You have known Mrs Fitzwilliam intimately?
Mr Wickham (glanced to the audience): Yes.
Mr Darcy: You offer a prevarication, Sir. I will demand your honor!
Mrs Fitzwilliam (dabbing at the tears): I had thought you loved me, but as you lie now, you lied then. You act only to benefit your often empty pockets. My dowry, as well as misplaced revenge upon my brother, were your only motivations!
Dr Richard: Again, I will ask you to state your grievances against the Darcys so we might all understand the situation.
Mr Wickham: I cannot pretend to be sorry that many do not speak favorably of Mr Darcy. That he or that any man should not be estimated beyond their deserts. However, with Mr Darcy I believe it does not often happen. I have sought Darcy’s companionship on many occasions, but he has chosen to ignore me. We are not on friendly terms, and it always pains me to meet him, but I have no reason for avoiding him but what I might proclaim to the entire world–a sense of very great ill usage, and most painful regrets at his being what he is. His father, the late Mr Darcy, was one of the best men that ever breathed, and the truest friend I ever had, and I can never be in company with this Mr Darcy without being grieved to the soul by a thousand tender recollections. His behavior to myself has been scandalous, but I verily believe I could forgive him anything and everything rather than his disappointing the hopes and disgracing the memory of his father.
Mrs Darcy: You told me such tales previously, and each has shown untrue. The author Jane Austen proved your words nothing but mendacity.
Mr Wickham: That spinster! What does a woman who never held love in her personal life know about anything? Miss Austen twisted my words. She made my intended elopement with Miss Darcy a farce.
Mrs Darcy: There are many who consider Miss Austen one of the most influential writers of her time. If the lady created you, would not Miss Austen take sympathy on you? That is IF you possessed any redeeming qualities.
Mr Darcy: By Miss Austen’s account, you attempted an alliance with several heiresses, among them my sister and a Miss King in Meryton. The lady proved your accusations regarding my family were unfounded. Yet, even with that knowledge, I moved beyond my pride to assist you when your gaming debts drove you from Meryton and then later from Brighton.
Mr Wickham: Do not play the saint, Darcy. What you did, you did for Miss Elizabeth. Any debts of mine you paid were to protect Miss Elizabeth’s reputation. Otherwise, you would not have given me a second thought.
Mr Darcy: After Mr Wickham resigned all claim to assistance in the Church, he accepted three thousand pounds in lieu of the preferment. All connection between us appeared dissolved. I admit I thought too ill of him to invite him to Pemberley or to admit his society in Town. Free from all restraint, his life was a life of idleness and dissipation. You will hardly blame me for refusing to comply with his repeated entreaties for compensation. Mr Wickham’s resentment was in proportion to the distress of his circumstances, and he was doubtless as violent in his abuse of me to others as in his reproaches to myself. After this period every appearance of acquaintance was dropped. How he lived, I know not.
Mr Wickham: See, I spoke the truth. Fitzwilliam Darcy knows jealousy.
Dr Richard: How about I run the tape of my interview with Mrs Fitzwilliam?
(The video rolls.) Dr Richard: I know this is difficult, but please tell us what actually happened in Ramsgate some five years prior.
Mrs Fitzwilliam: At the age of fifteen, I was taken from school, and an establishment was formed for me in London. During the summer, I traveled to Ramsgate with my companion; and thither also came Mr Wickham–undoubtedly by design; for there proved to have been a prior acquaintance between him and Mrs Younge, in whose character my family was most unhappily deceived. By my companion’s connivance and aid, Mr Wickham recommended himself to me. (She blushed thoroughly.) I am ashamed to admit my foolishly affectionate heart had retained a strong impression of his kindness to me as a child. I was persuaded to believe myself in love and to consent to an elopement. Thankfully, my brother arrived unexpectedly before the intended elopement. I was unable to support the idea of grieving and offending a brother whom I looked up to as a father, and I acknowledged the whole to him. Mr Wickham’s chief object was, unquestionably, my fortune, which was thirty thousand pounds.
Dr Richard: Did you consent to intimacies with Mr Wickham?
Mrs Fitzwilliam: (Flustered) Nothing more than a brief kiss on the cheek. I realize a lady does not permit any familiarity, but my family’s long-standing acquaintance with Mr Wickham and, of course, my naïveté led me to agree to his advances.
Mr Wickham: By the lady’s own words, I was permitted liberties.
Dr Richard: Perhaps, we should bring out our next guest. Audience, assist me in welcoming Austen-inspired author, Regina Jeffers.
Mr Wickham: Why? (He protested physically by sitting forward and gesturing wildly.) Why would you bring out that woman? She despises me.
Dr Richard: Perhaps we should permit Ms Jeffers to respond to those accusations.
Mr Darcy: Personally, I have found Ms Jeffers most amiable.
Mr Wickham: Certainly, you would. The woman is in love with the Darcy mystique. She writes wonderfully crafted scenes in which you prevail.
Dr Richard: Ms Jeffers, you have heard Mr Wickham’s accusations. How would you respond?
Regina Jeffers: As Miss Austen has written him, Mr Wickham lacks depth, and I like to think it was a purposeful device: a symbol of his true character. We who recreate and expand upon Jane Austen’s works are, therefore, at liberty to draw his character as we may. Yet, that being said, there are inferences from direct dialogue and actions that define the man.
Dr Richard: You are saying Mr Wickham has been a keen observer of Mr Darcy and has used it to his advantage.
Regina Jeffers: Absolutely. Mr Wickham likely knows Mr Darcy better than anyone. Against the back story of Mr Wickham’s relationship with the former Mr Darcy, Miss Austen’s work tells us Mr Wickham knows how to “pull Mr Darcy’s strings.” I can only imagine this latest maneuver of his is another attempt at revenge on the Darcy name. At the beginning of Miss Austen’s novel, Mr Wickham appears to be the perfect romantic hero, but the reader forgets perfection cannot exist. The man is a put upon woebegone, and he knows how to compliment women. But he is also a scoundrel, a cad, and a compulsive liar.
(Mr Wickham shoots to his feet.) Mr Wickham: I do not have to listen to this taste of Bedlam one more minute. The reading public may decide for themselves the truth of the matter.
Dr Richard: Please have a seat, Mr Wickham.
Mr Wickham: I will do no such thing! I will not sit by and permit this woman (He points an accusing finger at Ms Jeffers.) to drape borrowed clothes upon my shoulders. Do you not realize what she had done with her caustic pen?
Dr Richard: Perhaps, you should explain what misfortunes Ms Jeffers has laid at your feet.
Mr Wickham: (He ticks off his accusations on his fingers.) Let me tell you the truth of this deranged woman. In her novel Darcy’s Temptation, she allows Mrs Darcy to shoot me in the shoulder. In Vampire Darcy’s Desire, she turns me into a vampire–one who dances with the dead in a graveyard before she has me run through and buried on a magical island. In The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Ms Jeffers first portrays me as a man who abuses his wife, and then she sends me off to America to lick the boots of that awful hag, Caroline Bingley. In her short story, “The Pemberley Ball” from The Road to Pemberley, the woman had the audacity to permit Darcy to thrash me in my own home. She even allowed Darcy to send me to jail in her modern version of the tale, Honor and Hope, and I will not give credence to what she did to me in her The Phantom of Pemberley. It is inconceivable.
Regina Jeffers: (The author smirks.) You will be happy to know you only have a brief mention in my next novel.
Mr Wickham: See how she treats me. The lady shows me no respect, and I will not have it!
Regina Jeffers: I could have Major-General Fitzwilliam run you through. I am certain the gentleman would oblige. You have insulted his wife.
Mr Wickham: We are not amused, Madam. In the future, I will assume my chances with other Austen-based authors!!! (He stalks away to disappear behind the proscenium arch.)
Dr Richard: It appears we have failed to bring Mr Wickham to the line. He will continue his nefarious ways until the world knows of his perfidy. Until then, read more about him in Regina Jeffers’s novels and draw your own conclusions on the man’s character.
Dear Readers: What scenes involving Mr Wickham’s duplicity have you enjoyed in Austenesque novels? Leave your comments below.
Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
Novels by Regina Jeffers
Jane Austen-Inspired Novels:
Regency and Contemporary Romances:
Lady Chandler’s Sister, Book 3 of the “Twins” Trilogy
Letters from Home: A Christmas Novella
A May Day Affair (July 2019)
The Heartless Earl: A Common Elements Romance Project Novel (October 2019)
Indentured Love: A Persuasion Vagary
Obsession (spring 2020)