Till now that she was threatened with its loss, Emma had never known how much of her happiness depended on being first with Mr. Knightley, first in interest and affection…She had herself been first with him for many years past. She had not deserved it; she had often been negligent or perverse, slighting his advice, or even wilfully opposing him, insensible of half his merits, quarrelling with him because he would not acknowledge her false and insolent estimate of her own - but still, from family attachment and habit, and thorough excellence of mind he had loved her, and watched over her from a girl, with an endeavour to improve her, and an anxiety for her doing right, which no other creature had at all shared. In spite of all her faults, she knew she was dear to him; might she not say, very dear?
Emma, Jane Austen
” You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.—Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.—But you understand me.—Yes, you see, you understand my feelings—and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.”
Emma - Chapter 49 (Mr. Knightley’s confession part)
” I told him I was not about to turn Miss Fairfax into Mrs. Knightley. She would not have me if I asked her. I like Jane and admire her. She’s a charming young woman but she has a fault.”