Part 1 out of 5
Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818)
Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who,
for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage;
there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a
distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and
respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents;
there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs
changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over
the almost endless creations of the last century; and there,
if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history
with an interest which never failed. This was the page at which
the favourite volume always opened:
"ELLIOT OF KELLYNCH HALL.
"Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth,
daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of
Gloucester, by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth,
born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son,
November 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791."
Precisely such had the paragraph originally stood from the printer's hands;
but Sir Walter had improved it by adding, for the information of
himself and his family, these words, after the date of Mary's birth--
"Married, December 16, 1810, Charles, son and heir of Charles
Musgrove, Esq. of Uppercross, in the county of Somerset,"
and by inserting most accurately the day of the month on which
he had lost his wife.
Then followed the history and rise of the ancient and respectable family,
in the usual terms; how it had been first settled in Cheshire;
how mentioned in Dugdale, serving the office of high sheriff,
representing a borough in three successive parliaments,
exertions of loyalty, and dignity of baronet, in the first year
of Charles II, with all the Marys and Elizabeths they had married;
forming altogether two handsome duodecimo pages, and concluding with
the arms and motto:--"Principal seat, Kellynch Hall, in the county
of Somerset," and Sir Walter's handwriting again in this finale:--
"Heir presumptive, William Walter Elliot, Esq., great grandson of
the second Sir Walter."
Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character;
vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome
in his youth; and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man.
Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did,
nor could the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with
the place he held in society. He considered the blessing of beauty
as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot,
who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect
His good looks and his rank had one fair claim on his attachment;
since to them he must have owed a wife of very superior character
to any thing deserved by his own. Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman,
sensible and amiable; whose judgement and conduct, if they might be
pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot,
had never required indulgence afterwards.--She had humoured,
or softened, or concealed his failings, and promoted his real
respectability for seventeen years; and though not the very happiest
being in the world herself, had found enough in her duties, her friends,
and her children, to attach her to life, and make it no matter of
indifference to her when she was called on to quit them.
--Three girls, the two eldest sixteen and fourteen, was an awful legacy
for a mother to bequeath, an awful charge rather, to confide to
the authority and guidance of a conceited, silly father.
She had, however, one very intimate friend, a sensible, deserving woman,
who had been brought, by strong attachment to herself, to settle
close by her, in the village of Kellynch; and on her kindness and advice,
Lady Elliot mainly relied for the best help and maintenance of
the good principles and instruction which she had been anxiously
giving her daughters.
This friend, and Sir Walter, did not marry, whatever might have been
anticipated on that head by their acquaintance. Thirteen years
had passed away since Lady Elliot's death, and they were still
near neighbours and intimate friends, and one remained a widower,
the other a widow.
That Lady Russell, of steady age and character, and extremely
well provided for, should have no thought of a second marriage,
needs no apology to the public, which is rather apt to be unreasonably
discontented when a woman does marry again, than when she does not;
but Sir Walter's continuing in singleness requires explanation.
Be it known then, that Sir Walter, like a good father, (having met with
one or two private disappointments in very unreasonable applications),
prided himself on remaining single for his dear daughters' sake.
For one daughter, his eldest, he would really have given up any thing,
which he had not been very much tempted to do. Elizabeth had succeeded,
at sixteen, to all that was possible, of her mother's rights
and consequence; and being very handsome, and very like himself,
her influence had always been great, and they had gone on together
most happily. His two other children were of very inferior value.
Mary had acquired a little artificial importance, by becoming
Mrs Charles Musgrove; but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness
of character, which must have placed her high with any people
of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister;
her word had no weight, her convenience was always to give way--
she was only Anne.
To Lady Russell, indeed, she was a most dear and highly valued
god-daughter, favourite, and friend. Lady Russell loved them all;
but it was only in Anne that she could fancy the mother to revive again.
A few years before, Anne Elliot had been a very pretty girl,
but her bloom had vanished early; and as even in its height,
her father had found little to admire in her, (so totally different
were her delicate features and mild dark eyes from his own),
there could be nothing in them, now that she was faded and thin,
to excite his esteem. He had never indulged much hope, he had now none,
of ever reading her name in any other page of his favourite work.
All equality of alliance must rest with Elizabeth, for Mary had merely
connected herself with an old country family of respectability and
large fortune, and had therefore given all the honour and received none:
Elizabeth would, one day or other, marry suitably.
It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than
she was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been
neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely any
charm is lost. It was so with Elizabeth, still the same handsome
Miss Elliot that she had begun to be thirteen years ago, and Sir Walter
might be excused, therefore, in forgetting her age, or, at least,
be deemed only half a fool, for thinking himself and Elizabeth
as blooming as ever, amidst the wreck of the good looks of everybody else;
for he could plainly see how old all the rest of his family and
acquaintance were growing. Anne haggard, Mary coarse, every face
in the neighbourhood worsting, and the rapid increase of the crow's foot
about Lady Russell's temples had long been a distress to him.
Elizabeth did not quite equal her father in personal contentment.
Thirteen years had seen her mistress of Kellynch Hall, presiding and
directing with a self-possession and decision which could never have given
the idea of her being younger than she was. For thirteen years had
she been doing the honours, and laying down the domestic law at home,
and leading the way to the chaise and four, and walking immediately after
Lady Russell out of all the drawing-rooms and dining-rooms in the country.
Thirteen winters' revolving frosts had seen her opening every ball
of credit which a scanty neighbourhood afforded, and thirteen springs
shewn their blossoms, as she travelled up to London with her father,
for a few weeks' annual enjoyment of the great world. She had
the remembrance of all this, she had the consciousness of being
nine-and-twenty to give her some regrets and some apprehensions;
she was fully satisfied of being still quite as handsome as ever,
but she felt her approach to the years of danger, and would have rejoiced
to be certain of being properly solicited by baronet-blood within
the next twelvemonth or two. Then might she again take up
the book of books with as much enjoyment as in her early youth,
but now she liked it not. Always to be presented with the date of
her own birth and see no marriage follow but that of a youngest sister,
made the book an evil; and more than once, when her father had left it
open on the table near her, had she closed it, with averted eyes,
and pushed it away.
She had had a disappointment, moreover, which that book,
and especially the history of her own family, must ever present
the remembrance of. The heir presumptive, the very William Walter
Elliot, Esq., whose rights had been so generously supported
by her father, had disappointed her.
She had, while a very young girl, as soon as she had known him to be,
in the event of her having no brother, the future baronet,
meant to marry him, and her father had always meant that she should.
He had not been known to them as a boy; but soon after Lady Elliot's death,
Sir Walter had sought the acquaintance, and though his overtures
had not been met with any warmth, he had persevered in seeking it,
making allowance for the modest drawing-back of youth; and, in one of
their spring excursions to London, when Elizabeth was in her first bloom,
Mr Elliot had been forced into the introduction.
He was at that time a very young man, just engaged in the study of the law;
and Elizabeth found him extremely agreeable, and every plan in his favour
was confirmed. He was invited to Kellynch Hall; he was talked of
and expected all the rest of the year; but he never came.
The following spring he was seen again in town, found equally agreeable,
again encouraged, invited, and expected, and again he did not come;
and the next tidings were that he was married. Instead of pushing
his fortune in the line marked out for the heir of the house of Elliot,
he had purchased independence by uniting himself to a rich woman
of inferior birth.
Sir Walter has resented it. As the head of the house, he felt that
he ought to have been consulted, especially after taking the young man
so publicly by the hand; "For they must have been seen together,"
he observed, "once at Tattersall's, and twice in the lobby of
the House of Commons." His disapprobation was expressed,
but apparently very little regarded. Mr Elliot had attempted no apology,
and shewn himself as unsolicitous of being longer noticed by the family,
as Sir Walter considered him unworthy of it: all acquaintance between
them had ceased.
This very awkward history of Mr Elliot was still, after an interval
of several years, felt with anger by Elizabeth, who had liked the man
for himself, and still more for being her father's heir, and whose
strong family pride could see only in him a proper match for Sir Walter
Elliot's eldest daughter. There was not a baronet from A to Z whom
her feelings could have so willingly acknowledged as an equal.
Yet so miserably had he conducted himself, that though she was
at this present time (the summer of 1814) wearing black ribbons
for his wife, she could not admit him to be worth thinking of again.
The disgrace of his first marriage might, perhaps, as there was
no reason to suppose it perpetuated by offspring, have been got over,
had he not done worse; but he had, as by the accustomary intervention
of kind friends, they had been informed, spoken most disrespectfully
of them all, most slightingly and contemptuously of the very blood
he belonged to, and the honours which were hereafter to be his own.
This could not be pardoned.
Such were Elizabeth Elliot's sentiments and sensations; such the cares
to alloy, the agitations to vary, the sameness and the elegance,
the prosperity and the nothingness of her scene of life;
such the feelings to give interest to a long, uneventful residence
in one country circle, to fill the vacancies which there were no habits
of utility abroad, no talents or accomplishments for home, to occupy.
But now, another occupation and solicitude of mind was beginning to be
added to these. Her father was growing distressed for money.
She knew, that when he now took up the Baronetage, it was to drive
the heavy bills of his tradespeople, and the unwelcome hints of
Mr Shepherd, his agent, from his thoughts. The Kellynch property was good,
but not equal to Sir Walter's apprehension of the state required
in its possessor. While Lady Elliot lived, there had been method,
moderation, and economy, which had just kept him within his income;
but with her had died all such right-mindedness, and from that period
he had been constantly exceeding it. It had not been possible
for him to spend less; he had done nothing but what Sir Walter Elliot
was imperiously called on to do; but blameless as he was, he was
not only growing dreadfully in debt, but was hearing of it so often,
that it became vain to attempt concealing it longer, even partially,
from his daughter. He had given her some hints of it the last spring
in town; he had gone so far even as to say, "Can we retrench?
Does it occur to you that there is any one article in which
we can retrench?" and Elizabeth, to do her justice, had, in the first
ardour of female alarm, set seriously to think what could be done,
and had finally proposed these two branches of economy, to cut off
some unnecessary charities, and to refrain from new furnishing
the drawing-room; to which expedients she afterwards added
the happy thought of their taking no present down to Anne,
as had been the usual yearly custom. But these measures,
however good in themselves, were insufficient for the real extent
of the evil, the whole of which Sir Walter found himself obliged
to confess to her soon afterwards. Elizabeth had nothing to propose
of deeper efficacy. She felt herself ill-used and unfortunate,
as did her father; and they were neither of them able to devise
any means of lessening their expenses without compromising their dignity,
or relinquishing their comforts in a way not to be borne.
There was only a small part of his estate that Sir Walter could dispose of;
but had every acre been alienable, it would have made no difference.
He had condescended to mortgage as far as he had the power,
but he would never condescend to sell. No; he would never disgrace
his name so far. The Kellynch estate should be transmitted whole
and entire, as he had received it.
Their two confidential friends, Mr Shepherd, who lived in
the neighbouring market town, and Lady Russell, were called to advise them;
and both father and daughter seemed to expect that something should be
struck out by one or the other to remove their embarrassments
and reduce their expenditure, without involving the loss of
any indulgence of taste or pride.
Mr Shepherd, a civil, cautious lawyer, who, whatever might be his hold
or his views on Sir Walter, would rather have the disagreeable
prompted by anybody else, excused himself from offering the slightest hint,
and only begged leave to recommend an implicit reference to
the excellent judgement of Lady Russell, from whose known good sense
he fully expected to have just such resolute measures advised as
he meant to see finally adopted.
Lady Russell was most anxiously zealous on the subject, and gave it
much serious consideration. She was a woman rather of sound than of
quick abilities, whose difficulties in coming to any decision
in this instance were great, from the opposition of two leading principles.
She was of strict integrity herself, with a delicate sense of honour;
but she was as desirous of saving Sir Walter's feelings, as solicitous
for the credit of the family, as aristocratic in her ideas of what
was due to them, as anybody of sense and honesty could well be.
She was a benevolent, charitable, good woman, and capable of
strong attachments, most correct in her conduct, strict in her notions
of decorum, and with manners that were held a standard of good-breeding.
She had a cultivated mind, and was, generally speaking,
rational and consistent; but she had prejudices on the side of ancestry;
she had a value for rank and consequence, which blinded her a little
to the faults of those who possessed them. Herself the widow of
only a knight, she gave the dignity of a baronet all its due;
and Sir Walter, independent of his claims as an old acquaintance,
an attentive neighbour, an obliging landlord, the husband of her
very dear friend, the father of Anne and her sisters, was,
as being Sir Walter, in her apprehension, entitled to a great deal
of compassion and consideration under his present difficulties.
They must retrench; that did not admit of a doubt. But she was
very anxious to have it done with the least possible pain to him
and Elizabeth. She drew up plans of economy, she made exact calculations,
and she did what nobody else thought of doing: she consulted Anne,
who never seemed considered by the others as having any interest
in the question. She consulted, and in a degree was influenced by her
in marking out the scheme of retrenchment which was at last submitted
to Sir Walter. Every emendation of Anne's had been on the side of
honesty against importance. She wanted more vigorous measures,
a more complete reformation, a quicker release from debt,
a much higher tone of indifference for everything but justice and equity.
"If we can persuade your father to all this," said Lady Russell,
looking over her paper, "much may be done. If he will adopt
these regulations, in seven years he will be clear; and I hope
we may be able to convince him and Elizabeth, that Kellynch Hall has
a respectability in itself which cannot be affected by these reductions;
and that the true dignity of Sir Walter Elliot will be very far from
lessened in the eyes of sensible people, by acting like a man of principle.
What will he be doing, in fact, but what very many of our first families
have done, or ought to do? There will be nothing singular in his case;
and it is singularity which often makes the worst part of our suffering,
as it always does of our conduct. I have great hope of prevailing.
We must be serious and decided; for after all, the person who
has contracted debts must pay them; and though a great deal is due to
the feelings of the gentleman, and the head of a house, like your father,
there is still more due to the character of an honest man."
This was the principle on which Anne wanted her father to be proceeding,
his friends to be urging him. She considered it as an act
of indispensable duty to clear away the claims of creditors with
all the expedition which the most comprehensive retrenchments
could secure, and saw no dignity in anything short of it.
She wanted it to be prescribed, and felt as a duty. She rated
Lady Russell's influence highly; and as to the severe degree
of self-denial which her own conscience prompted, she believed
there might be little more difficulty in persuading them to a complete,
than to half a reformation. Her knowledge of her father
and Elizabeth inclined her to think that the sacrifice of one pair
of horses would be hardly less painful than of both, and so on,
through the whole list of Lady Russell's too gentle reductions.
How Anne's more rigid requisitions might have been taken
is of little consequence. Lady Russell's had no success at all:
could not be put up with, were not to be borne. "What! every comfort
of life knocked off! Journeys, London, servants, horses, table--
contractions and restrictions every where! To live no longer
with the decencies even of a private gentleman! No, he would sooner
quit Kellynch Hall at once, than remain in it on such disgraceful terms."
"Quit Kellynch Hall." The hint was immediately taken up by Mr Shepherd,
whose interest was involved in the reality of Sir Walter's retrenching,
and who was perfectly persuaded that nothing would be done without
a change of abode. "Since the idea had been started in the very quarter
which ought to dictate, he had no scruple," he said, "in confessing
his judgement to be entirely on that side. It did not appear to him
that Sir Walter could materially alter his style of living in a house
which had such a character of hospitality and ancient dignity to support.
In any other place Sir Walter might judge for himself; and would
be looked up to, as regulating the modes of life in whatever way
he might choose to model his household."
Sir Walter would quit Kellynch Hall; and after a very few days more
of doubt and indecision, the great question of whither he should go
was settled, and the first outline of this important change made out.
There had been three alternatives, London, Bath, or another house
in the country. All Anne's wishes had been for the latter.
A small house in their own neighbourhood, where they might still have
Lady Russell's society, still be near Mary, and still have the pleasure
of sometimes seeing the lawns and groves of Kellynch, was the object
of her ambition. But the usual fate of Anne attended her,
in having something very opposite from her inclination fixed on.
She disliked Bath, and did not think it agreed with her;
and Bath was to be her home.
Sir Walter had at first thought more of London; but Mr Shepherd felt
that he could not be trusted in London, and had been skilful enough
to dissuade him from it, and make Bath preferred. It was a much safer
place for a gentleman in his predicament: he might there be important
at comparatively little expense. Two material advantages of Bath
over London had of course been given all their weight: its more convenient
distance from Kellynch, only fifty miles, and Lady Russell's spending
some part of every winter there; and to the very great satisfaction
of Lady Russell, whose first views on the projected change had been
for Bath, Sir Walter and Elizabeth were induced to believe that
they should lose neither consequence nor enjoyment by settling there.
Lady Russell felt obliged to oppose her dear Anne's known wishes.
It would be too much to expect Sir Walter to descend into a small house
in his own neighbourhood. Anne herself would have found
the mortifications of it more than she foresaw, and to Sir Walter's
feelings they must have been dreadful. And with regard to Anne's
dislike of Bath, she considered it as a prejudice and mistake arising,
first, from the circumstance of her having been three years
at school there, after her mother's death; and secondly,
from her happening to be not in perfectly good spirits the only winter
which she had afterwards spent there with herself.
Lady Russell was fond of Bath, in short, and disposed to think
it must suit them all; and as to her young friend's health,
by passing all the warm months with her at Kellynch Lodge,
every danger would be avoided; and it was in fact, a change which must
do both health and spirits good. Anne had been too little from home,
too little seen. Her spirits were not high. A larger society
would improve them. She wanted her to be more known.
The undesirableness of any other house in the same neighbourhood
for Sir Walter was certainly much strengthened by one part,
and a very material part of the scheme, which had been happily
engrafted on the beginning. He was not only to quit his home,
but to see it in the hands of others; a trial of fortitude,
which stronger heads than Sir Walter's have found too much.
Kellynch Hall was to be let. This, however, was a profound secret,
not to be breathed beyond their own circle.
Sir Walter could not have borne the degradation of being known
to design letting his house. Mr Shepherd had once mentioned the word
"advertise," but never dared approach it again. Sir Walter spurned
the idea of its being offered in any manner; forbad the slightest hint
being dropped of his having such an intention; and it was only on
the supposition of his being spontaneously solicited by some most
unexceptionable applicant, on his own terms, and as a great favour,
that he would let it at all.
How quick come the reasons for approving what we like! Lady Russell had
another excellent one at hand, for being extremely glad that Sir Walter
and his family were to remove from the country. Elizabeth had been
lately forming an intimacy, which she wished to see interrupted.
It was with the daughter of Mr Shepherd, who had returned,
after an unprosperous marriage, to her father's house, with
the additional burden of two children. She was a clever young woman,
who understood the art of pleasing--the art of pleasing, at least,
at Kellynch Hall; and who had made herself so acceptable to Miss Elliot,
as to have been already staying there more than once, in spite of all
that Lady Russell, who thought it a friendship quite out of place,
could hint of caution and reserve.
Lady Russell, indeed, had scarcely any influence with Elizabeth,
and seemed to love her, rather because she would love her,
than because Elizabeth deserved it. She had never received from her more
than outward attention, nothing beyond the observances of complaisance;
had never succeeded in any point which she wanted to carry,
against previous inclination. She had been repeatedly very earnest
in trying to get Anne included in the visit to London, sensibly open
to all the injustice and all the discredit of the selfish arrangements
which shut her out, and on many lesser occasions had endeavoured
to give Elizabeth the advantage of her own better judgement and experience;
but always in vain: Elizabeth would go her own way; and never had she
pursued it in more decided opposition to Lady Russell than in
this selection of Mrs Clay; turning from the society of so deserving
a sister, to bestow her affection and confidence on one who ought
to have been nothing to her but the object of distant civility.
From situation, Mrs Clay was, in Lady Russell's estimate, a very unequal,
and in her character she believed a very dangerous companion;
and a removal that would leave Mrs Clay behind, and bring a choice
of more suitable intimates within Miss Elliot's reach, was therefore
an object of first-rate importance.
"I must take leave to observe, Sir Walter," said Mr Shepherd
one morning at Kellynch Hall, as he laid down the newspaper,
"that the present juncture is much in our favour. This peace will
be turning all our rich naval officers ashore. They will be
all wanting a home. Could not be a better time, Sir Walter,
for having a choice of tenants, very responsible tenants.
Many a noble fortune has been made during the war. If a rich admiral
were to come in our way, Sir Walter--"
"He would be a very lucky man, Shepherd," replied Sir Walter;
"that's all I have to remark. A prize indeed would Kellynch Hall
be to him; rather the greatest prize of all, let him have taken
ever so many before; hey, Shepherd?"
Mr Shepherd laughed, as he knew he must, at this wit, and then added--
"I presume to observe, Sir Walter, that, in the way of business,
gentlemen of the navy are well to deal with. I have had a little knowledge
of their methods of doing business; and I am free to confess that they
have very liberal notions, and are as likely to make desirable tenants
as any set of people one should meet with. Therefore, Sir Walter,
what I would take leave to suggest is, that if in consequence of
any rumours getting abroad of your intention; which must be contemplated
as a possible thing, because we know how difficult it is to keep
the actions and designs of one part of the world from the notice
and curiosity of the other; consequence has its tax; I, John Shepherd,
might conceal any family-matters that I chose, for nobody would think it
worth their while to observe me; but Sir Walter Elliot has eyes upon him
which it may be very difficult to elude; and therefore, thus much
I venture upon, that it will not greatly surprise me if,
with all our caution, some rumour of the truth should get abroad;
in the supposition of which, as I was going to observe, since applications
will unquestionably follow, I should think any from our wealthy
naval commanders particularly worth attending to; and beg leave to add,
that two hours will bring me over at any time, to save you
the trouble of replying."
Sir Walter only nodded. But soon afterwards, rising and pacing the room,
he observed sarcastically--
"There are few among the gentlemen of the navy, I imagine, who would
not be surprised to find themselves in a house of this description."
"They would look around them, no doubt, and bless their good fortune,"
said Mrs Clay, for Mrs Clay was present: her father had driven her over,
nothing being of so much use to Mrs Clay's health as a drive to Kellynch:
"but I quite agree with my father in thinking a sailor might be
a very desirable tenant. I have known a good deal of the profession;
and besides their liberality, they are so neat and careful
in all their ways! These valuable pictures of yours, Sir Walter,
if you chose to leave them, would be perfectly safe. Everything in
and about the house would be taken such excellent care of!
The gardens and shrubberies would be kept in almost as high order
as they are now. You need not be afraid, Miss Elliot, of your own
sweet flower gardens being neglected."
"As to all that," rejoined Sir Walter coolly, "supposing I were induced
to let my house, I have by no means made up my mind as to the privileges
to be annexed to it. I am not particularly disposed to favour a tenant.
The park would be open to him of course, and few navy officers,
or men of any other description, can have had such a range;
but what restrictions I might impose on the use of the pleasure-grounds,
is another thing. I am not fond of the idea of my shrubberies being
always approachable; and I should recommend Miss Elliot to be on her guard
with respect to her flower garden. I am very little disposed
to grant a tenant of Kellynch Hall any extraordinary favour,
I assure you, be he sailor or soldier."
After a short pause, Mr Shepherd presumed to say--
"In all these cases, there are established usages which
make everything plain and easy between landlord and tenant.
Your interest, Sir Walter, is in pretty safe hands. Depend upon me
for taking care that no tenant has more than his just rights.
I venture to hint, that Sir Walter Elliot cannot be half so jealous
for his own, as John Shepherd will be for him."
Here Anne spoke--
"The navy, I think, who have done so much for us, have at least
an equal claim with any other set of men, for all the comforts and
all the privileges which any home can give. Sailors work hard enough
for their comforts, we must all allow."
"Very true, very true. What Miss Anne says, is very true,"
was Mr Shepherd's rejoinder, and "Oh! certainly," was his daughter's;
but Sir Walter's remark was, soon afterwards--
"The profession has its utility, but I should be sorry to see
any friend of mine belonging to it."
"Indeed!" was the reply, and with a look of surprise.
"Yes; it is in two points offensive to me; I have two strong grounds
of objection to it. First, as being the means of bringing persons
of obscure birth into undue distinction, and raising men to honours
which their fathers and grandfathers never dreamt of; and secondly,
as it cuts up a man's youth and vigour most horribly; a sailor grows old
sooner than any other man. I have observed it all my life.
A man is in greater danger in the navy of being insulted by the rise
of one whose father, his father might have disdained to speak to,
and of becoming prematurely an object of disgust himself, than in
any other line. One day last spring, in town, I was in company
with two men, striking instances of what I am talking of;
Lord St Ives, whose father we all know to have been a country curate,
without bread to eat; I was to give place to Lord St Ives,
and a certain Admiral Baldwin, the most deplorable-looking personage
you can imagine; his face the colour of mahogany, rough and rugged
to the last degree; all lines and wrinkles, nine grey hairs of a side,
and nothing but a dab of powder at top. `In the name of heaven,
who is that old fellow?' said I to a friend of mine who was standing near,
(Sir Basil Morley). `Old fellow!' cried Sir Basil, `it is Admiral Baldwin.
What do you take his age to be?' `Sixty,' said I, `or perhaps sixty-two.'
`Forty,' replied Sir Basil, `forty, and no more.' Picture to yourselves
my amazement; I shall not easily forget Admiral Baldwin.
I never saw quite so wretched an example of what a sea-faring life can do;
but to a degree, I know it is the same with them all: they are all
knocked about, and exposed to every climate, and every weather,
till they are not fit to be seen. It is a pity they are not knocked
on the head at once, before they reach Admiral Baldwin's age."
"Nay, Sir Walter," cried Mrs Clay, "this is being severe indeed.
Have a little mercy on the poor men. We are not all born to be handsome.
The sea is no beautifier, certainly; sailors do grow old betimes;
I have observed it; they soon lose the look of youth. But then,
is not it the same with many other professions, perhaps most other?
Soldiers, in active service, are not at all better off: and even in
the quieter professions, there is a toil and a labour of the mind,
if not of the body, which seldom leaves a man's looks to the natural
effect of time. The lawyer plods, quite care-worn; the physician
is up at all hours, and travelling in all weather; and even
the clergyman--" she stopt a moment to consider what might
do for the clergyman;--"and even the clergyman, you know is obliged
to go into infected rooms, and expose his health and looks to
all the injury of a poisonous atmosphere. In fact, as I have
long been convinced, though every profession is necessary and honourable
in its turn, it is only the lot of those who are not obliged to follow any,
who can live in a regular way, in the country, choosing their own hours,
following their own pursuits, and living on their own property,
without the torment of trying for more; it is only their lot, I say,
to hold the blessings of health and a good appearance to the utmost:
I know no other set of men but what lose something of their personableness
when they cease to be quite young."
It seemed as if Mr Shepherd, in this anxiety to bespeak
Sir Walter's good will towards a naval officer as tenant,
had been gifted with foresight; for the very first application
for the house was from an Admiral Croft, with whom he shortly afterwards
fell into company in attending the quarter sessions at Taunton; and indeed,
he had received a hint of the Admiral from a London correspondent.
By the report which he hastened over to Kellynch to make,
Admiral Croft was a native of Somersetshire, who having acquired
a very handsome fortune, was wishing to settle in his own country,
and had come down to Taunton in order to look at some advertised places
in that immediate neighbourhood, which, however, had not suited him;
that accidentally hearing--(it was just as he had foretold,
Mr Shepherd observed, Sir Walter's concerns could not be kept a secret,)--
accidentally hearing of the possibility of Kellynch Hall being to let,
and understanding his (Mr Shepherd's) connection with the owner,
he had introduced himself to him in order to make particular inquiries,
and had, in the course of a pretty long conference, expressed as strong
an inclination for the place as a man who knew it only by description
could feel; and given Mr Shepherd, in his explicit account of himself,
every proof of his being a most responsible, eligible tenant.
"And who is Admiral Croft?" was Sir Walter's cold suspicious inquiry.
Mr Shepherd answered for his being of a gentleman's family,
and mentioned a place; and Anne, after the little pause which followed,
"He is a rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action,
and has been in the East Indies since; he was stationed there,
I believe, several years."
"Then I take it for granted," observed Sir Walter, "that his face
is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery."
Mr Shepherd hastened to assure him, that Admiral Croft was a very hale,
hearty, well-looking man, a little weather-beaten, to be sure,
but not much, and quite the gentleman in all his notions and behaviour;
not likely to make the smallest difficulty about terms, only wanted
a comfortable home, and to get into it as soon as possible;
knew he must pay for his convenience; knew what rent a ready-furnished
house of that consequence might fetch; should not have been surprised
if Sir Walter had asked more; had inquired about the manor;
would be glad of the deputation, certainly, but made no great point of it;
said he sometimes took out a gun, but never killed; quite the gentleman.
Mr Shepherd was eloquent on the subject; pointing out all
the circumstances of the Admiral's family, which made him
peculiarly desirable as a tenant. He was a married man,
and without children; the very state to be wished for. A house was
never taken good care of, Mr Shepherd observed, without a lady:
he did not know, whether furniture might not be in danger of suffering
as much where there was no lady, as where there were many children.
A lady, without a family, was the very best preserver of furniture
in the world. He had seen Mrs Croft, too; she was at Taunton
with the admiral, and had been present almost all the time they were
talking the matter over.
"And a very well-spoken, genteel, shrewd lady, she seemed to be,"
continued he; "asked more questions about the house, and terms,
and taxes, than the Admiral himself, and seemed more conversant
with business; and moreover, Sir Walter, I found she was not quite
unconnected in this country, any more than her husband; that is to say,
she is sister to a gentleman who did live amongst us once;
she told me so herself: sister to the gentleman who lived
a few years back at Monkford. Bless me! what was his name?
At this moment I cannot recollect his name, though I have heard it so lately.
Penelope, my dear, can you help me to the name of the gentleman
who lived at Monkford: Mrs Croft's brother?"
But Mrs Clay was talking so eagerly with Miss Elliot, that she did not
hear the appeal.
"I have no conception whom you can mean, Shepherd; I remember
no gentleman resident at Monkford since the time of old Governor Trent."
"Bless me! how very odd! I shall forget my own name soon, I suppose.
A name that I am so very well acquainted with; knew the gentleman
so well by sight; seen him a hundred times; came to consult me once,
I remember, about a trespass of one of his neighbours; farmer's man
breaking into his orchard; wall torn down; apples stolen;
caught in the fact; and afterwards, contrary to my judgement,
submitted to an amicable compromise. Very odd indeed!"
After waiting another moment--
"You mean Mr Wentworth, I suppose?" said Anne.
Mr Shepherd was all gratitude.
"Wentworth was the very name! Mr Wentworth was the very man.
He had the curacy of Monkford, you know, Sir Walter, some time back,
for two or three years. Came there about the year ---5, I take it.
You remember him, I am sure."
"Wentworth? Oh! ay,--Mr Wentworth, the curate of Monkford.
You misled me by the term gentleman. I thought you were speaking of
some man of property: Mr Wentworth was nobody, I remember;
quite unconnected; nothing to do with the Strafford family.
One wonders how the names of many of our nobility become so common."
As Mr Shepherd perceived that this connexion of the Crofts did them
no service with Sir Walter, he mentioned it no more; returning,
with all his zeal, to dwell on the circumstances more indisputably
in their favour; their age, and number, and fortune; the high idea
they had formed of Kellynch Hall, and extreme solicitude for
the advantage of renting it; making it appear as if they ranked
nothing beyond the happiness of being the tenants of Sir Walter Elliot:
an extraordinary taste, certainly, could they have been supposed in
the secret of Sir Walter's estimate of the dues of a tenant.
It succeeded, however; and though Sir Walter must ever look with
an evil eye on anyone intending to inhabit that house, and think them
infinitely too well off in being permitted to rent it on the highest terms,
he was talked into allowing Mr Shepherd to proceed in the treaty,
and authorising him to wait on Admiral Croft, who still remained
at Taunton, and fix a day for the house being seen.
Sir Walter was not very wise; but still he had experience enough
of the world to feel, that a more unobjectionable tenant,
in all essentials, than Admiral Croft bid fair to be, could hardly offer.
So far went his understanding; and his vanity supplied a little
additional soothing, in the Admiral's situation in life, which was just
high enough, and not too high. "I have let my house to Admiral Croft,"
would sound extremely well; very much better than to any mere Mr--;
a Mr (save, perhaps, some half dozen in the nation,) always needs
a note of explanation. An admiral speaks his own consequence,
and, at the same time, can never make a baronet look small.
In all their dealings and intercourse, Sir Walter Elliot must ever
have the precedence.
Nothing could be done without a reference to Elizabeth:
but her inclination was growing so strong for a removal,
that she was happy to have it fixed and expedited by a tenant at hand;
and not a word to suspend decision was uttered by her.
Mr Shepherd was completely empowered to act; and no sooner had
such an end been reached, than Anne, who had been a most attentive listener
to the whole, left the room, to seek the comfort of cool air for her
flushed cheeks; and as she walked along a favourite grove, said,
with a gentle sigh, "A few months more, and he, perhaps,
may be walking here."
He was not Mr Wentworth, the former curate of Monkford,
however suspicious appearances may be, but a Captain Frederick Wentworth,
his brother, who being made commander in consequence of the action
off St Domingo, and not immediately employed, had come into Somersetshire,
in the summer of 1806; and having no parent living, found a home
for half a year at Monkford. He was, at that time, a remarkably fine
young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy;
and Anne an extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste,
and feeling. Half the sum of attraction, on either side, might have
been enough, for he had nothing to do, and she had hardly anybody to love;
but the encounter of such lavish recommendations could not fail.
They were gradually acquainted, and when acquainted, rapidly and
deeply in love. It would be difficult to say which had seen
highest perfection in the other, or which had been the happiest:
she, in receiving his declarations and proposals, or he in
having them accepted.
A short period of exquisite felicity followed, and but a short one.
Troubles soon arose. Sir Walter, on being applied to, without actually
withholding his consent, or saying it should never be, gave it all
the negative of great astonishment, great coldness, great silence,
and a professed resolution of doing nothing for his daughter.
He thought it a very degrading alliance; and Lady Russell, though with
more tempered and pardonable pride, received it as a most unfortunate one.
Anne Elliot, with all her claims of birth, beauty, and mind,
to throw herself away at nineteen; involve herself at nineteen
in an engagement with a young man, who had nothing but himself
to recommend him, and no hopes of attaining affluence, but in the chances
of a most uncertain profession, and no connexions to secure
even his farther rise in the profession, would be, indeed, a throwing away,
which she grieved to think of! Anne Elliot, so young; known to so few,
to be snatched off by a stranger without alliance or fortune;
or rather sunk by him into a state of most wearing, anxious,
youth-killing dependence! It must not be, if by any fair interference
of friendship, any representations from one who had almost a mother's love,
and mother's rights, it would be prevented.
Captain Wentworth had no fortune. He had been lucky in his profession;
but spending freely, what had come freely, had realized nothing.
But he was confident that he should soon be rich:
full of life and ardour, he knew that he should soon have a ship,
and soon be on a station that would lead to everything he wanted.
He had always been lucky; he knew he should be so still.
Such confidence, powerful in its own warmth, and bewitching in
the wit which often expressed it, must have been enough for Anne;
but Lady Russell saw it very differently. His sanguine temper,
and fearlessness of mind, operated very differently on her.
She saw in it but an aggravation of the evil. It only added a
dangerous character to himself. He was brilliant, he was headstrong.
Lady Russell had little taste for wit, and of anything approaching
to imprudence a horror. She deprecated the connexion in every light.
Such opposition, as these feelings produced, was more than
Anne could combat. Young and gentle as she was, it might yet
have been possible to withstand her father's ill-will,
though unsoftened by one kind word or look on the part of her sister;
but Lady Russell, whom she had always loved and relied on, could not,
with such steadiness of opinion, and such tenderness of manner,
be continually advising her in vain. She was persuaded to believe
the engagement a wrong thing: indiscreet, improper, hardly capable
of success, and not deserving it. But it was not a merely selfish caution,
under which she acted, in putting an end to it. Had she not
imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own,
she could hardly have given him up. The belief of being prudent,
and self-denying, principally for his advantage, was her chief consolation,
under the misery of a parting, a final parting; and every consolation
was required, for she had to encounter all the additional pain of opinions,
on his side, totally unconvinced and unbending, and of his feeling himself
ill used by so forced a relinquishment. He had left the country
A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance;
but not with a few months ended Anne's share of suffering from it.
Her attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every
enjoyment of youth, and an early loss of bloom and spirits
had been their lasting effect.
More than seven years were gone since this little history
of sorrowful interest had reached its close; and time had
softened down much, perhaps nearly all of peculiar attachment to him,
but she had been too dependent on time alone; no aid had been given
in change of place (except in one visit to Bath soon after the rupture),
or in any novelty or enlargement of society. No one had ever
come within the Kellynch circle, who could bear a comparison with
Frederick Wentworth, as he stood in her memory. No second attachment,
the only thoroughly natural, happy, and sufficient cure,
at her time of life, had been possible to the nice tone of her mind,
the fastidiousness of her taste, in the small limits of the society
around them. She had been solicited, when about two-and-twenty,
to change her name, by the young man, who not long afterwards found
a more willing mind in her younger sister; and Lady Russell had
lamented her refusal; for Charles Musgrove was the eldest son of a man,
whose landed property and general importance were second in that country,
only to Sir Walter's, and of good character and appearance;
and however Lady Russell might have asked yet for something more,
while Anne was nineteen, she would have rejoiced to see her at twenty-two
so respectably removed from the partialities and injustice of
her father's house, and settled so permanently near herself.
But in this case, Anne had left nothing for advice to do;
and though Lady Russell, as satisfied as ever with her own discretion,
never wished the past undone, she began now to have the anxiety
which borders on hopelessness for Anne's being tempted, by some man
of talents and independence, to enter a state for which she held her
to be peculiarly fitted by her warm affections and domestic habits.
They knew not each other's opinion, either its constancy or its change,
on the one leading point of Anne's conduct, for the subject was never
alluded to; but Anne, at seven-and-twenty, thought very differently
from what she had been made to think at nineteen. She did not blame
Lady Russell, she did not blame herself for having been guided by her;
but she felt that were any young person, in similar circumstances,
to apply to her for counsel, they would never receive any of such
certain immediate wretchedness, such uncertain future good.
She was persuaded that under every disadvantage of disapprobation at home,
and every anxiety attending his profession, all their probable fears,
delays, and disappointments, she should yet have been a happier woman
in maintaining the engagement, than she had been in the sacrifice of it;
and this, she fully believed, had the usual share, had even more than
the usual share of all such solicitudes and suspense been theirs,
without reference to the actual results of their case, which,
as it happened, would have bestowed earlier prosperity than
could be reasonably calculated on. All his sanguine expectations,
all his confidence had been justified. His genius and ardour
had seemed to foresee and to command his prosperous path.
He had, very soon after their engagement ceased, got employ:
and all that he had told her would follow, had taken place.
He had distinguished himself, and early gained the other step in rank,
and must now, by successive captures, have made a handsome fortune.
She had only navy lists and newspapers for her authority,
but she could not doubt his being rich; and, in favour of his constancy,
she had no reason to believe him married.
How eloquent could Anne Elliot have been! how eloquent, at least,
were her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful
confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which
seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence! She had been forced
into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older:
the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.
With all these circumstances, recollections and feelings,
she could not hear that Captain Wentworth's sister was likely
to live at Kellynch without a revival of former pain; and many a stroll,
and many a sigh, were necessary to dispel the agitation of the idea.
She often told herself it was folly, before she could harden her nerves
sufficiently to feel the continual discussion of the Crofts
and their business no evil. She was assisted, however, by that
perfect indifference and apparent unconsciousness, among the only three
of her own friends in the secret of the past, which seemed almost to deny
any recollection of it. She could do justice to the superiority
of Lady Russell's motives in this, over those of her father and Elizabeth;
she could honour all the better feelings of her calmness;
but the general air of oblivion among them was highly important
from whatever it sprung; and in the event of Admiral Croft's really
taking Kellynch Hall, she rejoiced anew over the conviction which
had always been most grateful to her, of the past being known to
those three only among her connexions, by whom no syllable,
she believed, would ever be whispered, and in the trust that among his,
the brother only with whom he had been residing, had received
any information of their short-lived engagement. That brother had been
long removed from the country and being a sensible man, and, moreover,
a single man at the time, she had a fond dependence on no human creature's
having heard of it from him.
The sister, Mrs Croft, had then been out of England, accompanying
her husband on a foreign station, and her own sister, Mary,
had been at school while it all occurred; and never admitted by
the pride of some, and the delicacy of others, to the smallest knowledge
of it afterwards.
With these supports, she hoped that the acquaintance between herself
and the Crofts, which, with Lady Russell, still resident in Kellynch,
and Mary fixed only three miles off, must be anticipated,
need not involve any particular awkwardness.
On the morning appointed for Admiral and Mrs Croft's seeing Kellynch Hall,
Anne found it most natural to take her almost daily walk to Lady Russell's,
and keep out of the way till all was over; when she found it most natural
to be sorry that she had missed the opportunity of seeing them.
This meeting of the two parties proved highly satisfactory,
and decided the whole business at once. Each lady was previously
well disposed for an agreement, and saw nothing, therefore,
but good manners in the other; and with regard to the gentlemen,
there was such an hearty good humour, such an open, trusting liberality
on the Admiral's side, as could not but influence Sir Walter,
who had besides been flattered into his very best and most polished
behaviour by Mr Shepherd's assurances of his being known, by report,
to the Admiral, as a model of good breeding.
The house and grounds, and furniture, were approved, the Crofts
were approved, terms, time, every thing, and every body, was right;
and Mr Shepherd's clerks were set to work, without there having been
a single preliminary difference to modify of all that
"This indenture sheweth."
Sir Walter, without hesitation, declared the Admiral to be
the best-looking sailor he had ever met with, and went so far as to say,
that if his own man might have had the arranging of his hair,
he should not be ashamed of being seen with him any where;
and the Admiral, with sympathetic cordiality, observed to his wife
as they drove back through the park, "I thought we should soon
come to a deal, my dear, in spite of what they told us at Taunton.
The Baronet will never set the Thames on fire, but there seems to be
no harm in him." reciprocal compliments, which would have been
esteemed about equal.
The Crofts were to have possession at Michaelmas; and as Sir Walter
proposed removing to Bath in the course of the preceding month,
there was no time to be lost in making every dependent arrangement.
Lady Russell, convinced that Anne would not be allowed to be of any use,
or any importance, in the choice of the house which they were
going to secure, was very unwilling to have her hurried away so soon,
and wanted to make it possible for her to stay behind till she might
convey her to Bath herself after Christmas; but having engagements
of her own which must take her from Kellynch for several weeks,
she was unable to give the full invitation she wished, and Anne
though dreading the possible heats of September in all the white glare
of Bath, and grieving to forego all the influence so sweet and so sad
of the autumnal months in the country, did not think that,
everything considered, she wished to remain. It would be most right,
and most wise, and, therefore must involve least suffering
to go with the others.
Something occurred, however, to give her a different duty.
Mary, often a little unwell, and always thinking a great deal
of her own complaints, and always in the habit of claiming Anne
when anything was the matter, was indisposed; and foreseeing
that she should not have a day's health all the autumn, entreated,
or rather required her, for it was hardly entreaty, to come to
Uppercross Cottage, and bear her company as long as she should want her,
instead of going to Bath.
"I cannot possibly do without Anne," was Mary's reasoning;
and Elizabeth's reply was, "Then I am sure Anne had better stay,
for nobody will want her in Bath."
To be claimed as a good, though in an improper style, is at least
better than being rejected as no good at all; and Anne, glad to
be thought of some use, glad to have anything marked out as a duty,
and certainly not sorry to have the scene of it in the country,
and her own dear country, readily agreed to stay.
This invitation of Mary's removed all Lady Russell's difficulties,
and it was consequently soon settled that Anne should not go to Bath
till Lady Russell took her, and that all the intervening time
should be divided between Uppercross Cottage and Kellynch Lodge.
So far all was perfectly right; but Lady Russell was almost startled
by the wrong of one part of the Kellynch Hall plan, when it burst on her,
which was, Mrs Clay's being engaged to go to Bath with Sir Walter
and Elizabeth, as a most important and valuable assistant to the latter
in all the business before her. Lady Russell was extremely sorry
that such a measure should have been resorted to at all, wondered,
grieved, and feared; and the affront it contained to Anne,
in Mrs Clay's being of so much use, while Anne could be of none,
was a very sore aggravation.
Anne herself was become hardened to such affronts; but she felt
the imprudence of the arrangement quite as keenly as Lady Russell.
With a great deal of quiet observation, and a knowledge,
which she often wished less, of her father's character, she was
sensible that results the most serious to his family from the intimacy
were more than possible. She did not imagine that her father
had at present an idea of the kind. Mrs Clay had freckles,
and a projecting tooth, and a clumsy wrist, which he was continually
making severe remarks upon, in her absence; but she was young,
and certainly altogether well-looking, and possessed, in an acute mind
and assiduous pleasing manners, infinitely more dangerous attractions
than any merely personal might have been. Anne was so impressed
by the degree of their danger, that she could not excuse herself
from trying to make it perceptible to her sister. She had little hope
of success; but Elizabeth, who in the event of such a reverse would be
so much more to be pitied than herself, should never, she thought,
have reason to reproach her for giving no warning.
She spoke, and seemed only to offend. Elizabeth could not conceive
how such an absurd suspicion should occur to her, and indignantly
answered for each party's perfectly knowing their situation.
"Mrs Clay," said she, warmly, "never forgets who she is;
and as I am rather better acquainted with her sentiments than you can be,
I can assure you, that upon the subject of marriage they are
particularly nice, and that she reprobates all inequality of condition
and rank more strongly than most people. And as to my father,
I really should not have thought that he, who has kept himself single
so long for our sakes, need be suspected now. If Mrs Clay were
a very beautiful woman, I grant you, it might be wrong to have her
so much with me; not that anything in the world, I am sure,
would induce my father to make a degrading match, but he might
be rendered unhappy. But poor Mrs Clay who, with all her merits,
can never have been reckoned tolerably pretty, I really think poor
Mrs Clay may be staying here in perfect safety. One would imagine
you had never heard my father speak of her personal misfortunes,
though I know you must fifty times. That tooth of her's
and those freckles. Freckles do not disgust me so very much
as they do him. I have known a face not materially disfigured by a few,
but he abominates them. You must have heard him notice
Mrs Clay's freckles."
"There is hardly any personal defect," replied Anne,
"which an agreeable manner might not gradually reconcile one to."
"I think very differently," answered Elizabeth, shortly;
"an agreeable manner may set off handsome features, but can never
alter plain ones. However, at any rate, as I have a great deal more
at stake on this point than anybody else can have, I think it
rather unnecessary in you to be advising me."
Anne had done; glad that it was over, and not absolutely hopeless
of doing good. Elizabeth, though resenting the suspicion,
might yet be made observant by it.
The last office of the four carriage-horses was to draw Sir Walter,
Miss Elliot, and Mrs Clay to Bath. The party drove off in very good spirits;
Sir Walter prepared with condescending bows for all the afflicted
tenantry and cottagers who might have had a hint to show themselves,
and Anne walked up at the same time, in a sort of desolate tranquillity,
to the Lodge, where she was to spend the first week.
Her friend was not in better spirits than herself. Lady Russell felt this
break-up of the family exceedingly. Their respectability was
as dear to her as her own, and a daily intercourse had become
precious by habit. It was painful to look upon their deserted grounds,
and still worse to anticipate the new hands they were to fall into;
and to escape the solitariness and the melancholy of so altered a village,
and be out of the way when Admiral and Mrs Croft first arrived,
she had determined to make her own absence from home begin
when she must give up Anne. Accordingly their removal was made together,
and Anne was set down at Uppercross Cottage, in the first stage
of Lady Russell's journey.
Uppercross was a moderate-sized village, which a few years back
had been completely in the old English style, containing only
two houses superior in appearance to those of the yeomen and labourers;
the mansion of the squire, with its high walls, great gates, and old trees,
substantial and unmodernized, and the compact, tight parsonage,
enclosed in its own neat garden, with a vine and a pear-tree
trained round its casements; but upon the marriage of the young 'squire,
it had received the improvement of a farm-house elevated into a cottage,
for his residence, and Uppercross Cottage, with its veranda,
French windows, and other prettiness, was quite as likely to catch
the traveller's eye as the more consistent and considerable aspect
and premises of the Great House, about a quarter of a mile farther on.
Here Anne had often been staying. She knew the ways of Uppercross
as well as those of Kellynch. The two families were so continually meeting,
so much in the habit of running in and out of each other's house
at all hours, that it was rather a surprise to her to find Mary alone;
but being alone, her being unwell and out of spirits was almost
a matter of course. Though better endowed than the elder sister,
Mary had not Anne's understanding nor temper. While well, and happy,
and properly attended to, she had great good humour and excellent spirits;
but any indisposition sunk her completely. She had no resources
for solitude; and inheriting a considerable share of the Elliot
self-importance, was very prone to add to every other distress
that of fancying herself neglected and ill-used. In person, she was
inferior to both sisters, and had, even in her bloom, only reached
the dignity of being "a fine girl." She was now lying on the faded sofa
of the pretty little drawing-room, the once elegant furniture of which
had been gradually growing shabby, under the influence of four summers
and two children; and, on Anne's appearing, greeted her with--
"So, you are come at last! I began to think I should never see you.
I am so ill I can hardly speak. I have not seen a creature
the whole morning!"
"I am sorry to find you unwell," replied Anne. "You sent me
such a good account of yourself on Thursday!"
"Yes, I made the best of it; I always do: but I was very far from well
at the time; and I do not think I ever was so ill in my life
as I have been all this morning: very unfit to be left alone, I am sure.
Suppose I were to be seized of a sudden in some dreadful way,
and not able to ring the bell! So, Lady Russell would not get out.
I do not think she has been in this house three times this summer."
Anne said what was proper, and enquired after her husband.
"Oh! Charles is out shooting. I have not seen him since seven o'clock.
He would go, though I told him how ill I was. He said he should not
stay out long; but he has never come back, and now it is almost one.
I assure you, I have not seen a soul this whole long morning."
"You have had your little boys with you?"
"Yes, as long as I could bear their noise; but they are so unmanageable
that they do me more harm than good. Little Charles does not mind
a word I say, and Walter is growing quite as bad."
"Well, you will soon be better now," replied Anne, cheerfully.
"You know I always cure you when I come. How are your neighbours
at the Great House?"
"I can give you no account of them. I have not seen one of them to-day,
except Mr Musgrove, who just stopped and spoke through the window,
but without getting off his horse; and though I told him how ill I was,
not one of them have been near me. It did not happen to suit
the Miss Musgroves, I suppose, and they never put themselves
out of their way."
"You will see them yet, perhaps, before the morning is gone.
It is early."
"I never want them, I assure you. They talk and laugh a great deal
too much for me. Oh! Anne, I am so very unwell! It was quite unkind
of you not to come on Thursday."
"My dear Mary, recollect what a comfortable account you sent me of yourself!
You wrote in the cheerfullest manner, and said you were perfectly well,
and in no hurry for me; and that being the case, you must be aware
that my wish would be to remain with Lady Russell to the last:
and besides what I felt on her account, I have really been so busy,
have had so much to do, that I could not very conveniently have
left Kellynch sooner."
"Dear me! what can you possibly have to do?"
"A great many things, I assure you. More than I can recollect
in a moment; but I can tell you some. I have been making
a duplicate of the catalogue of my father's books and pictures.
I have been several times in the garden with Mackenzie,
trying to understand, and make him understand, which of Elizabeth's plants
are for Lady Russell. I have had all my own little concerns
to arrange, books and music to divide, and all my trunks to repack,
from not having understood in time what was intended as to the waggons:
and one thing I have had to do, Mary, of a more trying nature:
going to almost every house in the parish, as a sort of take-leave.
I was told that they wished it. But all these things took up
a great deal of time."
"Oh! well!" and after a moment's pause, "but you have never asked me
one word about our dinner at the Pooles yesterday."
"Did you go then? I have made no enquiries, because I concluded
you must have been obliged to give up the party."
"Oh yes! I went. I was very well yesterday; nothing at all
the matter with me till this morning. It would have been strange
if I had not gone."
"I am very glad you were well enough, and I hope you had a pleasant party."
"Nothing remarkable. One always knows beforehand what the dinner will be,
and who will be there; and it is so very uncomfortable not having
a carriage of one's own. Mr and Mrs Musgrove took me, and we were
so crowded! They are both so very large, and take up so much room;
and Mr Musgrove always sits forward. So, there was I, crowded into
the back seat with Henrietta and Louise; and I think it very likely
that my illness to-day may be owing to it."
A little further perseverance in patience and forced cheerfulness
on Anne's side produced nearly a cure on Mary's. She could soon
sit upright on the sofa, and began to hope she might be able
to leave it by dinner-time. Then, forgetting to think of it,
she was at the other end of the room, beautifying a nosegay;
then, she ate her cold meat; and then she was well enough
to propose a little walk.
"Where shall we go?" said she, when they were ready. "I suppose
you will not like to call at the Great House before they have
been to see you?"
"I have not the smallest objection on that account," replied Anne.
"I should never think of standing on such ceremony with people I know
so well as Mrs and the Miss Musgroves."
"Oh! but they ought to call upon you as soon as possible.
They ought to feel what is due to you as my sister. However,
we may as well go and sit with them a little while, and when we
have that over, we can enjoy our walk."
Anne had always thought such a style of intercourse highly imprudent;
but she had ceased to endeavour to check it, from believing that,
though there were on each side continual subjects of offence,
neither family could now do without it. To the Great House accordingly
they went, to sit the full half hour in the old-fashioned square parlour,
with a small carpet and shining floor, to which the present
daughters of the house were gradually giving the proper air of confusion
by a grand piano-forte and a harp, flower-stands and little tables
placed in every direction. Oh! could the originals of the portraits
against the wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and
the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious
of such an overthrow of all order and neatness! The portraits themselves
seemed to be staring in astonishment.
The Musgroves, like their houses, were in a state of alteration,
perhaps of improvement. The father and mother were in the old
English style, and the young people in the new. Mr and Mrs Musgrove
were a very good sort of people; friendly and hospitable,
not much educated, and not at all elegant. Their children had
more modern minds and manners. There was a numerous family;
but the only two grown up, excepting Charles, were Henrietta and Louisa,
young ladies of nineteen and twenty, who had brought from school at Exeter
all the usual stock of accomplishments, and were now like thousands
of other young ladies, living to be fashionable, happy, and merry.
Their dress had every advantage, their faces were rather pretty,
their spirits extremely good, their manner unembarrassed and pleasant;
they were of consequence at home, and favourites abroad.
Anne always contemplated them as some of the happiest creatures
of her acquaintance; but still, saved as we all are, by some
comfortable feeling of superiority from wishing for the possibility
of exchange, she would not have given up her own more elegant
and cultivated mind for all their enjoyments; and envied them nothing
but that seemingly perfect good understanding and agreement together,
that good-humoured mutual affection, of which she had known
so little herself with either of her sisters.
They were received with great cordiality. Nothing seemed amiss
on the side of the Great House family, which was generally,
as Anne very well knew, the least to blame. The half hour was
chatted away pleasantly enough; and she was not at all surprised
at the end of it, to have their walking party joined by both
the Miss Musgroves, at Mary's particular invitation.
Anne had not wanted this visit to Uppercross, to learn that a removal
from one set of people to another, though at a distance of only three miles,
will often include a total change of conversation, opinion, and idea.
She had never been staying there before, without being struck by it,
or without wishing that other Elliots could have her advantage
in seeing how unknown, or unconsidered there, were the affairs
which at Kellynch Hall were treated as of such general publicity
and pervading interest; yet, with all this experience, she believed
she must now submit to feel that another lesson, in the art of knowing
our own nothingness beyond our own circle, was become necessary for her;
for certainly, coming as she did, with a heart full of the subject
which had been completely occupying both houses in Kellynch for many weeks,
she had expected rather more curiosity and sympathy than she found
in the separate but very similar remark of Mr and Mrs Musgrove:
"So, Miss Anne, Sir Walter and your sister are gone; and what part of Bath
do you think they will settle in?" and this, without much
waiting for an answer; or in the young ladies' addition of,
"I hope we shall be in Bath in the winter; but remember, papa,
if we do go, we must be in a good situation: none of your
Queen Squares for us!" or in the anxious supplement from Mary, of--
"Upon my word, I shall be pretty well off, when you are all gone away
to be happy at Bath!"
She could only resolve to avoid such self-delusion in future,
and think with heightened gratitude of the extraordinary blessing
of having one such truly sympathising friend as Lady Russell.
The Mr Musgroves had their own game to guard, and to destroy,
their own horses, dogs, and newspapers to engage them, and the females
were fully occupied in all the other common subjects of housekeeping,
neighbours, dress, dancing, and music. She acknowledged it to be
very fitting, that every little social commonwealth should dictate
its own matters of discourse; and hoped, ere long, to become
a not unworthy member of the one she was now transplanted into.
With the prospect of spending at least two months at Uppercross,
it was highly incumbent on her to clothe her imagination, her memory,
and all her ideas in as much of Uppercross as possible.
She had no dread of these two months. Mary was not so repulsive
and unsisterly as Elizabeth, nor so inaccessible to all influence of hers;
neither was there anything among the other component parts
of the cottage inimical to comfort. She was always on friendly terms
with her brother-in-law; and in the children, who loved her nearly as well,
and respected her a great deal more than their mother, she had
an object of interest, amusement, and wholesome exertion.
Charles Musgrove was civil and agreeable; in sense and temper he was
undoubtedly superior to his wife, but not of powers, or conversation,
or grace, to make the past, as they were connected together,
at all a dangerous contemplation; though, at the same time,
Anne could believe, with Lady Russell, that a more equal match
might have greatly improved him; and that a woman of real understanding
might have given more consequence to his character, and more usefulness,
rationality, and elegance to his habits and pursuits. As it was,
he did nothing with much zeal, but sport; and his time was otherwise
trifled away, without benefit from books or anything else.
He had very good spirits, which never seemed much affected by
his wife's occasional lowness, bore with her unreasonableness
sometimes to Anne's admiration, and upon the whole, though there was
very often a little disagreement (in which she had sometimes more share
than she wished, being appealed to by both parties), they might pass
for a happy couple. They were always perfectly agreed in the want
of more money, and a strong inclination for a handsome present
from his father; but here, as on most topics, he had the superiority,
for while Mary thought it a great shame that such a present was not made,
he always contended for his father's having many other uses for his money,
and a right to spend it as he liked.
As to the management of their children, his theory was much better
than his wife's, and his practice not so bad. "I could manage them
very well, if it were not for Mary's interference," was what
Anne often heard him say, and had a good deal of faith in;
but when listening in turn to Mary's reproach of "Charles spoils
the children so that I cannot get them into any order," she never had
the smallest temptation to say, "Very true."
One of the least agreeable circumstances of her residence there
was her being treated with too much confidence by all parties,
and being too much in the secret of the complaints of each house.
Known to have some influence with her sister, she was continually requested,
or at least receiving hints to exert it, beyond what was practicable.
"I wish you could persuade Mary not to be always fancying herself ill,"
was Charles's language; and, in an unhappy mood, thus spoke Mary:
"I do believe if Charles were to see me dying, he would not think
there was anything the matter with me. I am sure, Anne, if you would,
you might persuade him that I really am very ill--a great deal worse
than I ever own."
Mary's declaration was, "I hate sending the children to the Great House,
though their grandmamma is always wanting to see them, for she humours
and indulges them to such a degree, and gives them so much trash
and sweet things, that they are sure to come back sick and cross
for the rest of the day." And Mrs Musgrove took the first opportunity
of being alone with Anne, to say, "Oh! Miss Anne, I cannot help wishing
Mrs Charles had a little of your method with those children.
They are quite different creatures with you! But to be sure,
in general they are so spoilt! It is a pity you cannot put your sister
in the way of managing them. They are as fine healthy children
as ever were seen, poor little dears! without partiality;
but Mrs Charles knows no more how they should be treated--!
Bless me! how troublesome they are sometimes. I assure you, Miss Anne,
it prevents my wishing to see them at our house so often as
I otherwise should. I believe Mrs Charles is not quite pleased
with my not inviting them oftener; but you know it is very bad
to have children with one that one is obligated to be checking
every moment; "don't do this," and "don't do that;" or that one can
only keep in tolerable order by more cake than is good for them."
She had this communication, moreover, from Mary. "Mrs Musgrove thinks
all her servants so steady, that it would be high treason
to call it in question; but I am sure, without exaggeration,
that her upper house-maid and laundry-maid, instead of being
in their business, are gadding about the village, all day long.
I meet them wherever I go; and I declare, I never go twice into my nursery
without seeing something of them. If Jemima were not the trustiest,
steadiest creature in the world, it would be enough to spoil her;
for she tells me, they are always tempting her to take a walk with them."
And on Mrs Musgrove's side, it was, "I make a rule of never interfering
in any of my daughter-in-law's concerns, for I know it would not do;
but I shall tell you, Miss Anne, because you may be able to set things
to rights, that I have no very good opinion of Mrs Charles's nursery-maid:
I hear strange stories of her; she is always upon the gad; and from
my own knowledge, I can declare, she is such a fine-dressing lady,
that she is enough to ruin any servants she comes near.
Mrs Charles quite swears by her, I know; but I just give you this hint,
that you may be upon the watch; because, if you see anything amiss,
you need not be afraid of mentioning it."
Again, it was Mary's complaint, that Mrs Musgrove was very apt
not to give her the precedence that was her due, when they dined
at the Great House with other families; and she did not see any reason
why she was to be considered so much at home as to lose her place.
And one day when Anne was walking with only the Musgroves, one of them
after talking of rank, people of rank, and jealousy of rank, said,
"I have no scruple of observing to you, how nonsensical some persons are
about their place, because all the world knows how easy and indifferent
you are about it; but I wish anybody could give Mary a hint that
it would be a great deal better if she were not so very tenacious,
especially if she would not be always putting herself forward to take
place of mamma. Nobody doubts her right to have precedence of mamma,
but it would be more becoming in her not to be always insisting on it.
It is not that mamma cares about it the least in the world,
but I know it is taken notice of by many persons."
How was Anne to set all these matters to rights? She could do little more
than listen patiently, soften every grievance, and excuse each
to the other; give them all hints of the forbearance necessary
between such near neighbours, and make those hints broadest
which were meant for her sister's benefit.
In all other respects, her visit began and proceeded very well.
Her own spirits improved by change of place and subject,
by being removed three miles from Kellynch; Mary's ailments lessened
by having a constant companion, and their daily intercourse
with the other family, since there was neither superior affection,
confidence, nor employment in the cottage, to be interrupted by it,
was rather an advantage. It was certainly carried nearly as far as possible,
for they met every morning, and hardly ever spent an evening asunder;
but she believed they should not have done so well without the sight
of Mr and Mrs Musgrove's respectable forms in the usual places,
or without the talking, laughing, and singing of their daughters.
She played a great deal better than either of the Miss Musgroves,
but having no voice, no knowledge of the harp, and no fond parents,
to sit by and fancy themselves delighted, her performance was
little thought of, only out of civility, or to refresh the others,
as she was well aware. She knew that when she played she was
giving pleasure only to herself; but this was no new sensation.
Excepting one short period of her life, she had never, since the age
of fourteen, never since the loss of her dear mother, known the happiness
of being listened to, or encouraged by any just appreciation or real taste.
In music she had been always used to feel alone in the world;
and Mr and Mrs Musgrove's fond partiality for their own daughters'
performance, and total indifference to any other person's,
gave her much more pleasure for their sakes, than mortification
for her own.
The party at the Great House was sometimes increased by other company.
The neighbourhood was not large, but the Musgroves were visited
by everybody, and had more dinner-parties, and more callers,
more visitors by invitation and by chance, than any other family.
There were more completely popular.
The girls were wild for dancing; and the evenings ended, occasionally,
in an unpremeditated little ball. There was a family of cousins
within a walk of Uppercross, in less affluent circumstances,
who depended on the Musgroves for all their pleasures: they would come
at any time, and help play at anything, or dance anywhere; and Anne,
very much preferring the office of musician to a more active post,
played country dances to them by the hour together; a kindness which
always recommended her musical powers to the notice of Mr and Mrs Musgrove
more than anything else, and often drew this compliment;--
"Well done, Miss Anne! very well done indeed! Lord bless me!
how those little fingers of yours fly about!"
So passed the first three weeks. Michaelmas came; and now Anne's heart
must be in Kellynch again. A beloved home made over to others;
all the precious rooms and furniture, groves, and prospects,
beginning to own other eyes and other limbs! She could not
think of much else on the 29th of September; and she had this
sympathetic touch in the evening from Mary, who, on having occasion
to note down the day of the month, exclaimed, "Dear me, is not this
the day the Crofts were to come to Kellynch? I am glad I did not
think of it before. How low it makes me!"
The Crofts took possession with true naval alertness, and were
to be visited. Mary deplored the necessity for herself.
"Nobody knew how much she should suffer. She should put it off
as long as she could;" but was not easy till she had talked Charles
into driving her over on an early day, and was in a very animated,
comfortable state of imaginary agitation, when she came back.
Anne had very sincerely rejoiced in there being no means of her going.
She wished, however to see the Crofts, and was glad to be within
when the visit was returned. They came: the master of the house
was not at home, but the two sisters were together; and as it chanced
that Mrs Croft fell to the share of Anne, while the Admiral sat by Mary,
and made himself very agreeable by his good-humoured notice
of her little boys, she was well able to watch for a likeness,
and if it failed her in the features, to catch it in the voice,
or in the turn of sentiment and expression.
Mrs Croft, though neither tall nor fat, had a squareness,
uprightness, and vigour of form, which gave importance to her person.
She had bright dark eyes, good teeth, and altogether an agreeable face;
though her reddened and weather-beaten complexion, the consequence
of her having been almost as much at sea as her husband, made her seem to
have lived some years longer in the world than her real eight-and-thirty.
Her manners were open, easy, and decided, like one who had
no distrust of herself, and no doubts of what to do; without any
approach to coarseness, however, or any want of good humour.
Anne gave her credit, indeed, for feelings of great consideration
towards herself, in all that related to Kellynch, and it pleased her:
especially, as she had satisfied herself in the very first half minute,
in the instant even of introduction, that there was not the smallest
symptom of any knowledge or suspicion on Mrs Croft's side, to give a bias
of any sort. She was quite easy on that head, and consequently
full of strength and courage, till for a moment electrified by
Mrs Croft's suddenly saying,--
"It was you, and not your sister, I find, that my brother had
the pleasure of being acquainted with, when he was in this country."
Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing; but the age of emotion
she certainly had not.
"Perhaps you may not have heard that he is married?" added Mrs Croft.
She could now answer as she ought; and was happy to feel,
when Mrs Croft's next words explained it to be Mr Wentworth
of whom she spoke, that she had said nothing which might not do
for either brother. She immediately felt how reasonable it was,
that Mrs Croft should be thinking and speaking of Edward,
and not of Frederick; and with shame at her own forgetfulness
applied herself to the knowledge of their former neighbour's
present state with proper interest.
The rest was all tranquillity; till, just as they were moving,
she heard the Admiral say to Mary--
"We are expecting a brother of Mrs Croft's here soon; I dare say
you know him by name."
He was cut short by the eager attacks of the little boys,
clinging to him like an old friend, and declaring he should not go;
and being too much engrossed by proposals of carrying them away
in his coat pockets, &c., to have another moment for finishing
or recollecting what he had begun, Anne was left to persuade herself,
as well as she could, that the same brother must still be in question.
She could not, however, reach such a degree of certainty,
as not to be anxious to hear whether anything had been said on the subject
at the other house, where the Crofts had previously been calling.
The folks of the Great House were to spend the evening of this day
at the Cottage; and it being now too late in the year for such visits
to be made on foot, the coach was beginning to be listened for,
when the youngest Miss Musgrove walked in. That she was coming
to apologize, and that they should have to spend the evening by themselves,
was the first black idea; and Mary was quite ready to be affronted,
when Louisa made all right by saying, that she only came on foot,
to leave more room for the harp, which was bringing in the carriage.
"And I will tell you our reason," she added, "and all about it.
I am come on to give you notice, that papa and mamma are
out of spirits this evening, especially mamma; she is thinking so much
of poor Richard! And we agreed it would be best to have the harp,
for it seems to amuse her more than the piano-forte. I will tell you
why she is out of spirits. When the Crofts called this morning,
(they called here afterwards, did not they?), they happened to say,
that her brother, Captain Wentworth, is just returned to England,
or paid off, or something, and is coming to see them almost directly;
and most unluckily it came into mamma's head, when they were gone,
that Wentworth, or something very like it, was the name of
poor Richard's captain at one time; I do not know when or where,
but a great while before he died, poor fellow! And upon looking over
his letters and things, she found it was so, and is perfectly sure
that this must be the very man, and her head is quite full of it,
and of poor Richard! So we must be as merry as we can, that she may not
be dwelling upon such gloomy things."
The real circumstances of this pathetic piece of family history were,
that the Musgroves had had the ill fortune of a very troublesome,
hopeless son; and the good fortune to lose him before he reached
his twentieth year; that he had been sent to sea because he was stupid
and unmanageable on shore; that he had been very little cared for
at any time by his family, though quite as much as he deserved;
seldom heard of, and scarcely at all regretted, when the intelligence
of his death abroad had worked its way to Uppercross, two years before.
He had, in fact, though his sisters were now doing all they could for him,
by calling him "poor Richard," been nothing better than a thick-headed,
unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove, who had never done anything
to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name,
living or dead.
He had been several years at sea, and had, in the course of those removals
to which all midshipmen are liable, and especially such midshipmen
as every captain wishes to get rid of, been six months on board
Captain Frederick Wentworth's frigate, the Laconia; and from the Laconia
he had, under the influence of his captain, written the only two letters
which his father and mother had ever received from him during the whole
of his absence; that is to say, the only two disinterested letters;
all the rest had been mere applications for money.
In each letter he had spoken well of his captain; but yet,
so little were they in the habit of attending to such matters,
so unobservant and incurious were they as to the names of men or ships,
that it had made scarcely any impression at the time; and that Mrs Musgrove
should have been suddenly struck, this very day, with a recollection
of the name of Wentworth, as connected with her son, seemed one of those
extraordinary bursts of mind which do sometimes occur.
She had gone to her letters, and found it all as she supposed;
and the re-perusal of these letters, after so long an interval,
her poor son gone for ever, and all the strength of his faults forgotten,
had affected her spirits exceedingly, and thrown her into
greater grief for him than she had know on first hearing of his death.
Mr Musgrove was, in a lesser degree, affected likewise; and when
they reached the cottage, they were evidently in want, first,
of being listened to anew on this subject, and afterwards,
of all the relief which cheerful companions could give them.
To hear them talking so much of Captain Wentworth, repeating his name
so often, puzzling over past years, and at last ascertaining that it might,
that it probably would, turn out to be the very same Captain Wentworth
whom they recollected meeting, once or twice, after their coming back
from Clifton--a very fine young man--but they could not say whether
it was seven or eight years ago, was a new sort of trial to Anne's nerves.
She found, however, that it was one to which she must inure herself.
Since he actually was expected in the country, she must teach herself
to be insensible on such points. And not only did it appear that
he was expected, and speedily, but the Musgroves, in their warm gratitude
for the kindness he had shewn poor Dick, and very high respect
for his character, stamped as it was by poor Dick's having been
six months under his care, and mentioning him in strong,
though not perfectly well-spelt praise, as "a fine dashing felow,
only two perticular about the schoolmaster," were bent on
introducing themselves, and seeking his acquaintance, as soon as
they could hear of his arrival.
The resolution of doing so helped to form the comfort of their evening.
A very few days more, and Captain Wentworth was known to be at Kellynch,
and Mr Musgrove had called on him, and come back warm in his praise,
and he was engaged with the Crofts to dine at Uppercross,
by the end of another week. It had been a great disappointment
to Mr Musgrove to find that no earlier day could be fixed,
so impatient was he to shew his gratitude, by seeing Captain Wentworth
under his own roof, and welcoming him to all that was strongest
and best in his cellars. But a week must pass; only a week,
in Anne's reckoning, and then, she supposed, they must meet;
and soon she began to wish that she could feel secure even for a week.
Captain Wentworth made a very early return to Mr Musgrove's civility,
and she was all but calling there in the same half hour.
She and Mary were actually setting forward for the Great House,
where, as she afterwards learnt, they must inevitably have found him,
when they were stopped by the eldest boy's being at that moment
brought home in consequence of a bad fall. The child's situation
put the visit entirely aside; but she could not hear of her escape
with indifference, even in the midst of the serious anxiety
which they afterwards felt on his account.
His collar-bone was found to be dislocated, and such injury
received in the back, as roused the most alarming ideas.
It was an afternoon of distress, and Anne had every thing to do at once;
the apothecary to send for, the father to have pursued and informed,
the mother to support and keep from hysterics, the servants to control,
the youngest child to banish, and the poor suffering one to attend
and soothe; besides sending, as soon as she recollected it,
proper notice to the other house, which brought her an accession
rather of frightened, enquiring companions, than of very useful assistants.
Her brother's return was the first comfort; he could take best care
of his wife; and the second blessing was the arrival of the apothecary.
Till he came and had examined the child, their apprehensions were
the worse for being vague; they suspected great injury, but knew not where;
but now the collar-bone was soon replaced, and though Mr Robinson
felt and felt, and rubbed, and looked grave, and spoke low words
both to the father and the aunt, still they were all to hope the best,
and to be able to part and eat their dinner in tolerable ease of mind;
and then it was, just before they parted, that the two young aunts
were able so far to digress from their nephew's state, as to give
the information of Captain Wentworth's visit; staying five minutes behind
their father and mother, to endeavour to express how perfectly delighted
they were with him, how much handsomer, how infinitely more agreeable
they thought him than any individual among their male acquaintance,
who had been at all a favourite before. How glad they had been
to hear papa invite him to stay dinner, how sorry when he said
it was quite out of his power, and how glad again when he had promised
in reply to papa and mamma's farther pressing invitations to come
and dine with them on the morrow--actually on the morrow;
and he had promised it in so pleasant a manner, as if he felt
all the motive of their attention just as he ought. And in short,
he had looked and said everything with such exquisite grace,
that they could assure them all, their heads were both turned by him;
and off they ran, quite as full of glee as of love, and apparently
more full of Captain Wentworth than of little Charles.
The same story and the same raptures were repeated, when the two girls came
with their father, through the gloom of the evening, to make enquiries;
and Mr Musgrove, no longer under the first uneasiness about his heir,
could add his confirmation and praise, and hope there would be now
no occasion for putting Captain Wentworth off, and only be sorry to think
that the cottage party, probably, would not like to leave the little boy,
to give him the meeting. "Oh no; as to leaving the little boy,"
both father and mother were in much too strong and recent alarm
to bear the thought; and Anne, in the joy of the escape,
could not help adding her warm protestations to theirs.
Charles Musgrove, indeed, afterwards, shewed more of inclination;
"the child was going on so well, and he wished so much to be introduced
to Captain Wentworth, that, perhaps, he might join them in the evening;
he would not dine from home, but he might walk in for half an hour."
But in this he was eagerly opposed by his wife, with "Oh! no, indeed,
Charles, I cannot bear to have you go away. Only think if anything
The child had a good night, and was going on well the next day.
It must be a work of time to ascertain that no injury had been
done to the spine; but Mr Robinson found nothing to increase alarm,
and Charles Musgrove began, consequently, to feel no necessity
for longer confinement. The child was to be kept in bed and amused
as quietly as possible; but what was there for a father to do?
This was quite a female case, and it would be highly absurd in him,
who could be of no use at home, to shut himself up. His father
very much wished him to meet Captain Wentworth, and there being
no sufficient reason against it, he ought to go; and it ended in his
making a bold, public declaration, when he came in from shooting,
of his meaning to dress directly, and dine at the other house.
"Nothing can be going on better than the child," said he;
"so I told my father, just now, that I would come, and he thought me
quite right. Your sister being with you, my love, I have no scruple at all.
You would not like to leave him yourself, but you see I can be of no use.
Anne will send for me if anything is the matter."
Husbands and wives generally understand when opposition will be vain.
Mary knew, from Charles's manner of speaking, that he was
quite determined on going, and that it would be of no use to teaze him.
She said nothing, therefore, till he was out of the room,
but as soon as there was only Anne to hear--
"So you and I are to be left to shift by ourselves, with this
poor sick child; and not a creature coming near us all the evening!
I knew how it would be. This is always my luck. If there is
anything disagreeable going on men are always sure to get out of it,
and Charles is as bad as any of them. Very unfeeling! I must say
it is very unfeeling of him to be running away from his poor little boy.
Talks of his being going on so well! How does he know that he is
going on well, or that there may not be a sudden change half an hour hence?
I did not think Charles would have been so unfeeling. So here he is to
go away and enjoy himself, and because I am the poor mother,
I am not to be allowed to stir; and yet, I am sure, I am more unfit
than anybody else to be about the child. My being the mother
is the very reason why my feelings should not be tried. I am not at all
equal to it. You saw how hysterical I was yesterday."
"But that was only the effect of the suddenness of your alarm--
of the shock. You will not be hysterical again. I dare say we shall have
nothing to distress us. I perfectly understand Mr Robinson's directions,
and have no fears; and indeed, Mary, I cannot wonder at your husband.
Nursing does not belong to a man; it is not his province.
A sick child is always the mother's property: her own feelings
generally make it so."
"I hope I am as fond of my child as any mother, but I do not know
that I am of any more use in the sick-room than Charles,
for I cannot be always scolding and teazing the poor child when it is ill;
and you saw, this morning, that if I told him to keep quiet,
he was sure to begin kicking about. I have not nerves
for the sort of thing."
"But, could you be comfortable yourself, to be spending
the whole evening away from the poor boy?"
"Yes; you see his papa can, and why should not I? Jemima is so careful;
and she could send us word every hour how he was. I really think
Charles might as well have told his father we would all come.
I am not more alarmed about little Charles now than he is.
I was dreadfully alarmed yesterday, but the case is very different to-day."
"Well, if you do not think it too late to give notice for yourself,
suppose you were to go, as well as your husband. Leave little Charles
to my care. Mr and Mrs Musgrove cannot think it wrong while I remain
"Are you serious?" cried Mary, her eyes brightening. "Dear me!
that's a very good thought, very good, indeed. To be sure,
I may just as well go as not, for I am of no use at home--am I?
and it only harasses me. You, who have not a mother's feelings,
are a great deal the properest person. You can make little Charles
do anything; he always minds you at a word. It will be a great deal better
than leaving him only with Jemima. Oh! I shall certainly go;
I am sure I ought if I can, quite as much as Charles, for they want me
excessively to be acquainted with Captain Wentworth, and I know
you do not mind being left alone. An excellent thought of yours,
indeed, Anne. I will go and tell Charles, and get ready directly.
You can send for us, you know, at a moment's notice, if anything
is the matter; but I dare say there will be nothing to alarm you.
I should not go, you may be sure, if I did not feel quite at ease
about my dear child."
The next moment she was tapping at her husband's dressing-room door,
and as Anne followed her up stairs, she was in time for
the whole conversation, which began with Mary's saying,
in a tone of great exultation--
"I mean to go with you, Charles, for I am of no more use at home
than you are. If I were to shut myself up for ever with the child,
I should not be able to persuade him to do anything he did not like.
Anne will stay; Anne undertakes to stay at home and take care of him.
It is Anne's own proposal, and so I shall go with you, which will be
a great deal better, for I have not dined at the other house since Tuesday."
"This is very kind of Anne," was her husband's answer, "and I should be
very glad to have you go; but it seems rather hard that she should be
left at home by herself, to nurse our sick child."
Anne was now at hand to take up her own cause, and the sincerity
of her manner being soon sufficient to convince him, where conviction
was at least very agreeable, he had no farther scruples as to her being
left to dine alone, though he still wanted her to join them in the evening,
when the child might be at rest for the night, and kindly urged her
to let him come and fetch her, but she was quite unpersuadable;
and this being the case, she had ere long the pleasure of seeing them
set off together in high spirits. They were gone, she hoped,
to be happy, however oddly constructed such happiness might seem;
as for herself, she was left with as many sensations of comfort,
as were, perhaps, ever likely to be hers. She knew herself to be
of the first utility to the child; and what was it to her
if Frederick Wentworth were only half a mile distant, making himself
agreeable to others?
She would have liked to know how he felt as to a meeting.
Perhaps indifferent, if indifference could exist under such circumstances.
He must be either indifferent or unwilling. Had he wished
ever to see her again, he need not have waited till this time;
he would have done what she could not but believe that in his place
she should have done long ago, when events had been early giving him
the independence which alone had been wanting.
Her brother and sister came back delighted with their new acquaintance,
and their visit in general. There had been music, singing,
talking, laughing, all that was most agreeable; charming manners
in Captain Wentworth, no shyness or reserve; they seemed all
to know each other perfectly, and he was coming the very next morning
to shoot with Charles. He was to come to breakfast, but not at the Cottage,
though that had been proposed at first; but then he had been pressed
to come to the Great House instead, and he seemed afraid of being
in Mrs Charles Musgrove's way, on account of the child, and therefore,
somehow, they hardly knew how, it ended in Charles's being to meet him
to breakfast at his father's.
Anne understood it. He wished to avoid seeing her. He had inquired
after her, she found, slightly, as might suit a former slight acquaintance,
seeming to acknowledge such as she had acknowledged, actuated, perhaps,
by the same view of escaping introduction when they were to meet.
The morning hours of the Cottage were always later than those
of the other house, and on the morrow the difference was so great
that Mary and Anne were not more than beginning breakfast when
Charles came in to say that they were just setting off, that he was
come for his dogs, that his sisters were following with Captain Wentworth;
his sisters meaning to visit Mary and the child, and Captain Wentworth
proposing also to wait on her for a few minutes if not inconvenient;
and though Charles had answered for the child's being in no such state
as could make it inconvenient, Captain Wentworth would not be satisfied
without his running on to give notice.
Mary, very much gratified by this attention, was delighted to receive him,
while a thousand feelings rushed on Anne, of which this was
the most consoling, that it would soon be over. And it was soon over.
In two minutes after Charles's preparation, the others appeared;
they were in the drawing-room. Her eye half met Captain Wentworth's,
a bow, a curtsey passed; she heard his voice; he talked to Mary,
said all that was right, said something to the Miss Musgroves,
enough to mark an easy footing; the room seemed full, full of persons
and voices, but a few minutes ended it. Charles shewed himself
at the window, all was ready, their visitor had bowed and was gone,
the Miss Musgroves were gone too, suddenly resolving to walk
to the end of the village with the sportsmen: the room was cleared,
and Anne might finish her breakfast as she could.
"It is over! it is over!" she repeated to herself again and again,
in nervous gratitude. "The worst is over!"
Mary talked, but she could not attend. She had seen him.
They had met. They had been once more in the same room.
Soon, however, she began to reason with herself, and try to be feeling less.
Eight years, almost eight years had passed, since all had been given up.
How absurd to be resuming the agitation which such an interval
had banished into distance and indistinctness! What might not
eight years do? Events of every description, changes, alienations,
removals--all, all must be comprised in it, and oblivion of the past--
how natural, how certain too! It included nearly a third part
of her own life.
Alas! with all her reasoning, she found, that to retentive feelings
eight years may be little more than nothing.
Now, how were his sentiments to be read? Was this like
wishing to avoid her? And the next moment she was hating herself
for the folly which asked the question.
On one other question which perhaps her utmost wisdom
might not have prevented, she was soon spared all suspense;
for, after the Miss Musgroves had returned and finished their visit
at the Cottage she had this spontaneous information from Mary: --
"Captain Wentworth is not very gallant by you, Anne, though he was
so attentive to me. Henrietta asked him what he thought of you,
when they went away, and he said, `You were so altered he should not
have known you again.'"
Mary had no feelings to make her respect her sister's in a common way,
but she was perfectly unsuspicious of being inflicting any peculiar wound.
"Altered beyond his knowledge." Anne fully submitted, in silent,
deep mortification. Doubtless it was so, and she could take no revenge,
for he was not altered, or not for the worse. She had already
acknowledged it to herself, and she could not think differently,
let him think of her as he would. No: the years which had destroyed
her youth and bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly,
open look, in no respect lessening his personal advantages.
She had seen the same Frederick Wentworth.
"So altered that he should not have known her again!" These were words
which could not but dwell with her. Yet she soon began to rejoice
that she had heard them. They were of sobering tendency;
they allayed agitation; they composed, and consequently must
make her happier.
Frederick Wentworth had used such words, or something like them,
but without an idea that they would be carried round to her.
He had thought her wretchedly altered, and in the first moment of appeal,
had spoken as he felt. He had not forgiven Anne Elliot.
She had used him ill, deserted and disappointed him; and worse,
she had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so, which his own decided,
confident temper could not endure. She had given him up to oblige others.
It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been
weakness and timidity.
He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since
whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural sensation
of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her power with him
was gone for ever.
It was now his object to marry. He was rich, and being turned on shore,
fully intended to settle as soon as he could be properly tempted;
actually looking round, ready to fall in love with all the speed
which a clear head and a quick taste could allow. He had a heart
for either of the Miss Musgroves, if they could catch it; a heart,
in short, for any pleasing young woman who came in his way,
excepting Anne Elliot. This was his only secret exception,
when he said to his sister, in answer to her suppositions:--
"Yes, here I am, Sophia, quite ready to make a foolish match.
Anybody between fifteen and thirty may have me for asking.
A little beauty, and a few smiles, and a few compliments to the navy,
and I am a lost man. Should not this be enough for a sailor,
who has had no society among women to make him nice?"
He said it, she knew, to be contradicted. His bright proud eye
spoke the conviction that he was nice; and Anne Elliot was
not out of his thoughts, when he more seriously described
the woman he should wish to meet with. "A strong mind,
with sweetness of manner," made the first and the last of the description.
"That is the woman I want," said he. "Something a little inferior
I shall of course put up with, but it must not be much. If I am a fool,
I shall be a fool indeed, for I have thought on the subject
more than most men."
From this time Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot were repeatedly
in the same circle. They were soon dining in company together
at Mr Musgrove's, for the little boy's state could no longer
supply his aunt with a pretence for absenting herself; and this was
but the beginning of other dinings and other meetings.
Whether former feelings were to be renewed must be brought to the proof;