Jane Austen, Persuasion


  • Intro

    The much-loved novels of Jane Austen (1775-1817) explore the complexities of genteel English society, and the relationship between wealth, love and freedom of thought for women. On the surface, Austen's works may seem like pure love stories in which women search for romance. But the novels are powerful social commentaries, which reflect so many of the restrictions placed on women at the time. It must be remembered that the prospects for a woman who did not find a husband could be terrifying, both in terms of her social reputation and her financial stability.


    This is part of the manuscript of Persuasion, Austen's final completed book, published after her death in 1818. The heroine, Anne Elliot, is 27 and still unmarried. She had been forced as a young woman to break off her engagement to her lover, a man her family felt was neither distinguished or wealthy enough for her. It is possible that the novel reflected aspects of Austen's own life.


    Shelfmark: Egerton MS 3038, ff.9v-10.

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  • Transcript

    Jane Austen, Persuasion

    Original text:


    Chapter 11.


    Who can be in doubt of what followed?—When any two young People take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other's ultimate Comfort. This may be bad Morality to conclude with, but I believe it to be Truth—and if such parties succeed, how should a Capt. W_ and an Anne E_, with the advantage of maturity of Mind, consciousness of Right, and one Independent Fortune between them, fail of bearing down every opposition? They might in fact, have borne down a great deal more than they met with, for there was little to distress them beyond the want of Graciousness and Warmth.


    Sir W. made no objection, and Elizabeth did nothing worse than look cold and unconcerned.—Capt. W_with £25, 000—and as high in his Profession as Merit and Activity could place him, was no longer nobody. He was now esteemed quite worthy to address the Daughter of a foolish, spendthrift Baronet, who had not had Principle or Sense enough to maintain himself in the situation in which Providence had placed him, and who could give his Daughter but a small part of the share of ten thousand pounds which must be hers hereafter.—Sir Walter, indeed, tho' he had no affection for his Daughter, and no vanity flattered to make him really happy on the occasion, was very far from thinking it a bad match for her. On the contrary, when he saw more of Capt. W._, and eyed him well, he was very much struck by his personal claims, and felt that his Superiority of appearance might be not unfairly balanced against her superiority of Rank;—And all this, together with his well-sounding name, enabled Sir W. at last to prepare his pen with a very good grace, for the insertion of the Marriage in the volume of Honour.—

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