He was . . . 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 . . . 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.
. . . Lady Russell . . . received it as most unfortunate one.—Anne Elliot, with all her claims of birth, beauty, and mind, to throw herself in an engagement with a young man, who had nothing but himself to recommend him . . . 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 [at twenty-three] had no fortune . . . 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.—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.
[Anne] 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 imaged 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 in consequence.
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.
. . . Time had softened down much, perhaps nearly all of peculiar attachment to him—but she had been too dependent on time alone.
. . . 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 probably 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.
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.
She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older—the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.
—Condensed version of chapter 4 in Persuasion by Jane Austen.
I began reading Persuasion before any other Austen book. I was maybe ten years old. My bookmark shows I read through chapter six and I remember setting (or rather shoving) it aside for thinking it stuffy and boring. I’ve since read Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, part of Sense and Sensibility, Lady Susan and Emma so I decided it’s time to try Persuasion once again. It’s beautiful–I love it! It’s kind of apparent, I guess, because I was going to give you just a short snippet of the chapter I just read, but I ended up typing out nearly 700 words instead.
I feel so much like Anne, maybe that’s why I’m engrossed in the story this time around.
(I underlined my most favorite sections from the chapter.)
4/20/12: I had a fever last night from a cold I caught recently. As tired as I was I couldn’t sleep so I got up in the middle of the night to read more of Persuasion. It’s so good I can hardly put it down!