|I reread the parts with the Shackletons...
Written by KerstinM
(10/22/2003 11:21 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I should think, penned by JulieW
...and came to the conclusion that women only sought help when abused to the extreme. It seems that this Lady Austen only fled after her life was at stake.
I had the same impression on Elizabeth S., she only sought help and asked her eldest son to intervene as things did get truly out of control, that was in 1780, after her husband horsewhipped her while she was lying sick in bed (she shortly died afterwards). It appears that her son did not do much because Shackleton claimed it was all Elizabeth's fault. How the son could left his sick and injured mother in the care of that man is totally beyond me, but that's how it was. To his credit I must say, perhaps he did offer his mother to take her in and she refused out of false pride or in the vain hope that now that his son had intervened her husband would have behaved himself. This is all idle speculation on my part, though.
However I can't explain myself how her sons who had all been grown-up men in the late seventies did fail to notice the bruises, swells and knocked out teeth Elizabeth must have had. She might have refused to explain those injuries to her sons and they obviously didn't inquire further which showed a lot of indifference on their part.
In Ellen Stock's case the brother didn't intervene because he had business to do with Ellen's husband. She was more open about her ill-use than Elizabeth and apparently everyone did know, from the servants to the neighbours and friends. They all did not approve (but did not do anything nonetheless) and in her exile they did reproach her brother for his cold, heartless and calculated behaviour. However it did not socially ostracize him, obviously. Thus it might very well be the case that Elizabeth's sons were just as irresponsible when it came to their mother and maybe Elizabeth was loathe to admit that even to herself. Mothers are often blind to their children's faults. She was an unlucky mother to have raised such ungrateful offspring, but that's admittedly just my subjective view.
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