Persuasion HTML version

Chapter 1
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:
"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
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 and devotion.
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
judgment 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