Persuasion (Chapter 2, page 2 of 5)

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Chapter 2

"If we can persuade your father to all this," said Lady Russell,
looking over her paper, "much may be done. If he will adopt these
regulations, in seven years he will be clear; and I hope we may be able
to convince him and Elizabeth, that Kellynch Hall has a respectability
in itself which cannot be affected by these reductions; and that the
true dignity of Sir Walter Elliot will be very far from lessened in the
eyes of sensible people, by acting like a man of principle. What will
he be doing, in fact, but what very many of our first families have
done, or ought to do? There will be nothing singular in his case; and
it is singularity which often makes the worst part of our suffering, as
it always does of our conduct. I have great hope of prevailing. We
must be serious and decided; for after all, the person who has
contracted debts must pay them; and though a great deal is due to the
feelings of the gentleman, and the head of a house, like your father,
there is still more due to the character of an honest man."

This was the principle on which Anne wanted her father to be
proceeding, his friends to be urging him. She considered it as an act
of indispensable duty to clear away the claims of creditors with all
the expedition which the most comprehensive retrenchments could secure,
and saw no dignity in anything short of it. She wanted it to be
prescribed, and felt as a duty. She rated Lady Russell's influence
highly; and as to the severe degree of self-denial which her own
conscience prompted, she believed there might be little more difficulty
in persuading them to a complete, than to half a reformation. Her
knowledge of her father and Elizabeth inclined her to think that the
sacrifice of one pair of horses would be hardly less painful than of
both, and so on, through the whole list of Lady Russell's too gentle

How Anne's more rigid requisitions might have been taken is of little
consequence. Lady Russell's had no success at all: could not be put up
with, were not to be borne. "What! every comfort of life knocked off!
Journeys, London, servants, horses, table--contractions and
restrictions every where! To live no longer with the decencies even of
a private gentleman! No, he would sooner quit Kellynch Hall at once,
than remain in it on such disgraceful terms."

"Quit Kellynch Hall." The hint was immediately taken up by Mr
Shepherd, whose interest was involved in the reality of Sir Walter's
retrenching, and who was perfectly persuaded that nothing would be done
without a change of abode. "Since the idea had been started in the
very quarter which ought to dictate, he had no scruple," he said, "in
confessing his judgement to be entirely on that side. It did not
appear to him that Sir Walter could materially alter his style of
living in a house which had such a character of hospitality and ancient
dignity to support. In any other place Sir Walter might judge for
himself; and would be looked up to, as regulating the modes of life in
whatever way he might choose to model his household."

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