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Chapter 4
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 connections 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 connection 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