Persuasion (Chapter 1, page 2 of 6)

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Chapter 1

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 judgement 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 world
herself, had found enough in her duties, her friends, and her children,
to attach her to life, and make it no matter of indifference to her
when she was called on to quit them.--Three girls, the two eldest
sixteen and fourteen, was an awful legacy for a mother to bequeath, an
awful charge rather, to confide to the authority and guidance of a
conceited, silly father. She had, however, one very intimate friend, a
sensible, deserving woman, who had been brought, by strong attachment
to herself, to settle close by her, in the village of Kellynch; and on
her kindness and advice, Lady Elliot mainly relied for the best help
and maintenance of the good principles and instruction which she had
been anxiously giving her daughters.

This friend, and Sir Walter, did not marry, whatever might have been
anticipated on that head by their acquaintance. Thirteen years had
passed away since Lady Elliot's death, and they were still near
neighbours and intimate friends, and one remained a widower, the other
a widow.

That Lady Russell, of steady age and character, and extremely well
provided for, should have no thought of a second marriage, needs no
apology to the public, which is rather apt to be unreasonably
discontented when a woman does marry again, than when she does not; but
Sir Walter's continuing in singleness requires explanation. Be it
known then, that Sir Walter, like a good father, (having met with one
or two private disappointments in very unreasonable applications),
prided himself on remaining single for his dear daughters' sake. For
one daughter, his eldest, he would really have given up any thing,
which he had not been very much tempted to do. Elizabeth had
succeeded, at sixteen, to all that was possible, of her mother's rights
and consequence; and being very handsome, and very like himself, her
influence had always been great, and they had gone on together most
happily. His two other children were of very inferior value. Mary had
acquired a little artificial importance, by becoming Mrs Charles
Musgrove; but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of
character, which must have placed her high with any people of real
understanding, was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no
weight, her convenience was always to give way--she was only Anne.

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