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|Make it Pay or Suffer the Consequences
Written by Robbin
(10/10/2010 11:49 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Tom and Sir Thomas, penned by Bridget D
I agree, if Sir Thomas had not sold the living, Edmund would not need a better preferment. LOL, great point! (:D) I do see the justice of punishment which inconveniences the guilty rather than the innocent but how do you know Sir Thomas did not do his best to find such a method? Sir Thomas would be incredibly callous and irresponsible to send Tom, who is an idle, unthinking and a spendthrift fellow to manage the Antigua estate which seems to be in dire circumstances. It seems almost inevitable if Tom were given such a charge he would fail, if not for want of trying, for want of experience, knowledge and skill. Where would that leave all the local people whose prosperity depend on the estate? Consider Lizzy’s thoughts on Darcy’s responsibility as an estate owner:
‘As a brother, a landlord, a master, she considered how many people's happiness were in his guardianship! -- how much of pleasure or pain it was in his power to bestow! -- how much of good or evil must be done by him!’ (P&P, 43)
If Tom failed it would not only affect him and the people there but it would also affect the family fortune at home. Sir Thomas had to go to Antigua to return it to prosperity—his finances at home were such he could not raise the cash for Tom’s debts quickly enough without selling the living. It is doubtful that in Antigua, alone and without any authority figure Tom would feel any constraint on his behavior and I am sure there was plenty of trouble to find. I cannot feel sending Tom to Antigua to make it pay or suffer the consequences is at all a credible risk to take because it is risking the welfare and happiness of many other people besides young Mr. Bertram.
It also seems irresponsible to let debts be a charge on the MP estate to punish Tom is some future year after he has inherited. Just how many debts and how much should go unpaid until the death of Sir Thomas finally puts the debts on his son’s head? How is that fair to the persons who are awaiting payment? Why should they wait years for Sir Thomas to die? If Tom dies then the debts will fall on Edmund’s head instead. Also was this not a period in history where if debts were not paid property could be seized in lieu of cash? Leaving debts unpaid seems a bad idea.
Sir Thomas has tried to make Tom reasonable in his habits. He tried appealing to Tom’s conscious about the injustice of selling the living meant for Edmund to pay his debts ‘in the hope of its producing a better effect than anything he had yet been able to say or do’ (3). It appears Sir Thomas has spoken, probably lectured Tom more than once on his spending in the past and he has also taken some action or actions that have had no effect. Perhaps Sir Thomas decreased his allowance or curtailed his activities as you have suggested. Next he takes Tom to Antigua in the ‘hope of its utility to his son’ (3) by ‘detaching him from some bad connexions at home’ (3). Before sending him home Sir Thomas extracted a promise from Tom to limit his gambling. According to Mary, Tom is an agreeable man with the ‘advantage of being tied up from much gaming at present by a promise to his father’ (5). It does not seem Tom has run up extravagant debts again but he does waste money on the play which still shows poor judgment, judgment to influenced by his liberal disposition as an eldest son ‘born only for expense and enjoyment’ (2).
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