Summary and Analysis
Mr. Weston, a Highbury native of respectable family, was formerly a captain in the militia, a life that led him to meet and marry Miss Churchill of a great Yorkshire family. When she died three years later, their one child Frank went to live with the Churchills and took their family name. Mr. Weston then engaged successfully in trade for the next eighteen or twenty years, finally buying and settling at Randalls, a property near Highbury which he had long wanted. Never an unhappy man, he is thus situated when he marries Miss Taylor.
Though one of the boasts of Highbury, Frank Churchill has never been there. Now, however, gossip and speculation about his coming are strengthened by a "handsome letter" from him to Mrs. Weston. Whenever the latter visits the Woodhouses, Mr. Woodhouse invariably sighs, "Ah! poor Miss Taylor. She would be very glad to stay." This, of course, is not the case; it is merely symptomatic of a man who can "never believe other people to be different from himself." Similarly, he had earlier been so distressed about the wedding cake that he had consulted the indulgent apothecary Mr. Perry, who agreed that wedding cake certainly might disagree with many. Nonetheless there is a "strange rumor" that all of the Perry children ate of the cake.
Much of this short chapter is plain exposition, preparatory material which "places" Mr. Weston and points to Frank, who will later figure prominently in the story. In addition, the chapter assures us of the happy appropriateness of the Weston marriage and indicates the satiric potential of the low-key interests of the provincial community: its people's intimate concern with each others' affairs and its easy tolerance of Mr. Woodhouse's gentle selfishness.