Saturday, February 14, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 18

This chapter is positively delicious; bringing also a tremendous somersault! First we have a letter from Mary (delightfully blending the important with the inconsequential), followed by Anne trying to comprehend the huge turn of events, and finally her wonderful talk with Admiral Croft.

Incidentally, I noticed Mary’s letter is dated February 1st and, as the rest of the book takes place over just a couple weeks, all the subsequent action corresponds almost exactly to where we are in our read-along in the month of February! Quite unplanned, actually, but very neat I think.

Also, the particular quotes below for this chapter are an extreme sampling of my favorites. If it was at all practicable, I’d transcribe all of Mary’s letter and of Admiral Croft and Anne’s conversation. As it is, I realized I put in rather a lot… 

Favorite lines/quotes:

“Mary need not have feared her sister's being in any degree prepared for the news. She had never in her life been more astonished. Captain Benwick and Louisa Musgrove! It was almost too wonderful for belief, and it was with the greatest effort that she could remain in the room, preserve an air of calmness, and answer the common questions of the moment.” pg. 162

“Gout and decrepitude!” said Sir Walter. “Poor old gentleman.” pg. 162

“I suspect,” said Sir Walter coolly, “that Admiral Croft will be best known in Bath as the renter of Kellynch Hall. Elizabeth, may we venture to present him and his wife in Laura Place?” “Oh, no! I think not. Situated as we are with Lady Dalrymple, cousins, we ought to be very careful not to embarrass her with acquaintance she might not approve. If we were not related, it would not signify; but as cousins, she would feel scrupulous as to any proposal of ours. We had better leave the Crofts to find their own level.” pg. 162-163

“In her own room, she tried to comprehend it. Well might Charles wonder how Captain Wentworth would feel! Perhaps he had quitted the field, had given Louisa up, had ceased to love, had found he did not love her. She could not endure the idea of treachery or levity, or anything akin to ill usage between him and his friend. She could not endure that such a friendship as theirs should be severed unfairly.” pg. 163

“Captain Benwick and Louisa Musgrove! The high-spirited, joyous-talking Louisa Musgrove, and the dejected, thinking, feeling, reading, Captain Benwick, seemed each of them everything that would not suit the other. Their minds most dissimilar! Where could have been the attraction? …The conclusion of the whole was, that if the woman who had been sensible of Captain Wentworth's merits could be allowed to prefer another man, there was nothing in the engagement to excite lasting wonder; and if Captain Wentworth lost no friend by it, certainly nothing to be regretted. No, it was not regret which made Anne's heart beat in spite of herself, and brought the colour into her cheeks when she thought of Captain Wentworth unshackled and free. She had some feelings which she was ashamed to investigate. They were too much like joy, senseless joy!” pg. 163-164

“The Crofts had placed themselves in lodgings in Gay Street, perfectly to Sir Walter's satisfaction. He was not at all ashamed of the acquaintance, and did, in fact, think and talk a great deal more about the Admiral, than the Admiral ever thought or talked about him.” pg. 164-165

“That I will, with all my heart, and farther, too. Yes, yes we will have a snug walk together, and I have something to tell you as we go along. There, take my arm; that's right; I do not feel comfortable if I have not a woman there.” pg. 166

“It did seem, last autumn, as if there were an attachment between him and Louisa Musgrove; but I hope it may be understood to have worn out on each side equally, and without violence. I hope his letter does not breathe the spirit of an ill-used man.” “Not at all, not at all; there is not an oath or a murmur from beginning to end.” Anne looked down to hide her smile.” pg. 169

“Yes, yes, I understand you. But there is nothing at all of that nature in the letter. He does not give the least fling at Benwick; does not so much as say, ‘I wonder at it, I have a reason of my own for wondering at it.’ No, you would not guess, from his way of writing, that he had ever thought of this Miss (what's her name?) for himself. He very handsomely hopes they will be happy together; and there is nothing very unforgiving in that, I think.” pg. 169

“Poor Frederick!" said he at last. "Now he must begin all over again with somebody else. I think we must get him to Bath. Sophy must write, and beg him to come to Bath. Here are pretty girls enough, I am sure. It would be of no use to go to Uppercross again, for that other Miss Musgrove, I find, is bespoke by her cousin, the young parson. Do not you think, Miss Elliot, we had better try to get him to Bath?” pg. 170

Possible discussion question/s:

~ Were you surprised by Benwick and Louisa’s engagement? And do you think they’ll be happy together?


  1. It is a delightful chapter. It once again shows a marked contrast between persons of privilege and those of merit. Or perhaps just between the two characters of Sir Walter and Admiral Croft.

    I think Benwick and Louisa will be happy together. That is to say, they will grow more comfortable together and mellow each other out.

    1. George,
      Good point! It's definitely a good and striking contrast between the two men.

      And yes, I think Benwick and Louisa will be happy together. She'll raise his spirits and he may bring further depths of character and feeling to her.

  2. They say that opposites attract. I agree with George, while I was QUITE surprised by the engagement I do believe that they will balance each other.

    1. Susanna,
      Yes! And the "opposites attract" would also apply to CW and Anne, don't you think?

  3. While I totally forgot about it since my first read, it wasn't something that seemed obvious. However, I do adore Louisa's and James' engagement. It is sweet and genuine. She is brining out the best in him; and they compliment each other.

    1. Ruth,
      It's definitely very sweet to think of them together. :) And your comment here reminded me of something else, too, but I don't want to drop any spoilers, so maybe I'll bring it up in the next couple chapters. ;)

  4. I can't remember anymore if I was surprised by the engagement the first time I read this. It's ridiculously pleasing, regardless.

    Mary's letter is hilarious. It sounds exactly like the way she talks. I'm especially amused by how she first says Mrs. Harville must be an odd mother to be apart from her kids for so long while they stay at Uppercross, and then she proposes to leave her kids there for a month or six weeks without a qualm. Cracks me up :-D

    I love how, even as Anne is rejoicing that Captain Wentworth is not in love with Louisa, she's concerned for his friendship with Captain Benwick, her joy tempered with worrying about him.

    I like this line about the Crofts: "They brought with them their country habit of being almost always together." How I love them!

    And Admiral Croft says, "Frederick is not a man to whine and complain." No wonder I'm so fond of him! Whining annoys me more than almost anything else.

    A wonderful chapter, with more wonderfulness to come!

    1. Hamlette,
      Isn't Mary's letter priceless? Yes, that whole bit with the children---and then how she changes her mind about the Admiral and Mrs. Croft halfway through. SO funny. :D

      And good point! How Anne's true love is exhibited in her quick concern for him. I love that!

      And oh that line of the Admiral's about CW.... I can't decide whether to be more delighted with the Admiral for saying it or with Frederick for being such a man and having it said of him -- so I just love it all the way through! ;)


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