Persuasion (Chapter 2, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 2

Mr Shepherd, a civil, cautious lawyer, who, whatever might be his hold
or his views on Sir Walter, would rather have the disagreeable prompted
by anybody else, excused himself from offering the slightest hint, and
only begged leave to recommend an implicit reference to the excellent
judgement of Lady Russell, from whose known good sense he fully
expected to have just such resolute measures advised as he meant to see
finally adopted.

Lady Russell was most anxiously zealous on the subject, and gave it
much serious consideration. She was a woman rather of sound than of
quick abilities, whose difficulties in coming to any decision in this
instance were great, from the opposition of two leading principles.
She was of strict integrity herself, with a delicate sense of honour;
but she was as desirous of saving Sir Walter's feelings, as solicitous
for the credit of the family, as aristocratic in her ideas of what was
due to them, as anybody of sense and honesty could well be. She was a
benevolent, charitable, good woman, and capable of strong attachments,
most correct in her conduct, strict in her notions of decorum, and with
manners that were held a standard of good-breeding. She had a
cultivated mind, and was, generally speaking, rational and consistent;
but she had prejudices on the side of ancestry; she had a value for
rank and consequence, which blinded her a little to the faults of those
who possessed them. Herself the widow of only a knight, she gave the
dignity of a baronet all its due; and Sir Walter, independent of his
claims as an old acquaintance, an attentive neighbour, an obliging
landlord, the husband of her very dear friend, the father of Anne and
her sisters, was, as being Sir Walter, in her apprehension, entitled to
a great deal of compassion and consideration under his present
difficulties.

They must retrench; that did not admit of a doubt. But she was very
anxious to have it done with the least possible pain to him and
Elizabeth. She drew up plans of economy, she made exact calculations,
and she did what nobody else thought of doing: she consulted Anne, who
never seemed considered by the others as having any interest in the
question. She consulted, and in a degree was influenced by her in
marking out the scheme of retrenchment which was at last submitted to
Sir Walter. Every emendation of Anne's had been on the side of honesty
against importance. She wanted more vigorous measures, a more complete
reformation, a quicker release from debt, a much higher tone of
indifference for everything but justice and equity.

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