Melissa Renee’s thoughtful series about Mr. Bennet and the Entailment touches upon an important issue of Mr. Bennet’s pushing his responsibility for his family onto the next generation, instead of actually taking the effort of securing the future of his wife and daughters.
Moreover, in her second post in the series she points out that if he saved only Ł100 a year, that is one twentieth of his yearly income, he’d arrive at extra Ł2,300 for his daughters by the beginning of Pride and Prejudice.
That got me thinking, and actually it’d be even more. If he saved Ł100 a year but didn’t use the interest, after the first year it’d be just extra Ł4, but if he left it in the bank the interest would grow and bring additional percentage from interest.
Year 1 would give Ł104, year 2 – Ł212.16, year 3 – Ł324.6464, and so on, until year 23 when it’d give Ł3,808.26. That’s more than half of the Ł5,000 the Bennet ladies are going to have.
Yet there was an even better method of saving available to him. Mrs. Bennet brought Ł4,000 in her dowry, to which Mr. Bennet agreed in the marriage articles to add Ł1,000. I don’t think that for a bachelor with Ł2,000 a year it was a big issue at that point. It was his wife and many daughters who considerably added to his spendings, so presumably he could have that much saved already.
When they married there was only him and his wife, and Ł2,000 a year is enough for two. Then, when girls were little, they still weren’t much of a cost. It wasn’t as it is today when kids cost a lot because of napkins, special food etc. Back then it cost very little to pay for laundry, a nurse and a bit of nutrition. Only when they grew the cost would grow along with their dresses and tutors. Mr. Bennet calculated that Lydia alone cost him Ł90 a year.
But at the beginning it was enough to not spend more than Ł2,000 for his wife and himself. He could have simply put the Ł5,000 settled on his wife on percent and let the percent accumulate as well.
Already after the first year he’d have extra Ł200 from the 4% the Ł5,000 would bring. After two years it’d be Ł5,408, after three – Ł5,624.32, and after twenty three – Ł12,232.58.
The extra Ł7,232.58 is how much Mr. Bennet could have saved by simply doing nothing, and yet he hasn’t done even that!
Ł12,232.58 would be more than twice the sum the Bennet ladies are going to have after he dies. It’d be over Ł2,000 for each, including their mother, while now they are going to have Ł1,000 each only after their mother dies.
Note that when Mrs. Bennet, displeased with Lizzy’s refusal of Mr. Collins, threatens her that she won’t take her after Mr. Bennet dies, she knows what she’s speaking of. The entire Ł5,000 is hers. Only after her death her daughters would really get anything.
In chapter 50 we learn:
Five thousand pounds was settled by marriage articles on Mrs. Bennet and the children. But in what proportions it should be divided amongst the latter depended on the will of the parents.
So even whether Lizzy would get her 4% from the Ł1,000 that presumably would be hers one day, depended on her parents’ will. If they didn’t accept her choice of husband, or if Mrs. Bennet was left destitute by her own husband Lizzy could get nothing, because Mr. Bennet saved nothing for her or her sisters. The only person who took care of his daughter in all of this was Mrs. Bennet’s father.