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|Austen's best clergyman (long)
Written by Mary Anne
(4/24/2012 9:08 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Heroic Henry forgives and forgets - What a clergyman!, penned by jeffrey
Yes, Henry models the Christian virtue of forgiveness and I suspect he found it rather more easy than otherwise in this case. I love the mention of the "soothing politeness" with which he treated her afterwards---poor girl. She must be absolutely mortified. I also like the realistic touch of how Catherine "did not love the sight of japan in any shape"(since it reminds her of her humiliation) but resolves to act in future with "the greatest good sense." I think this is similar to Elizabeth Bennet's revelation that she had never until that moment known herself and how she amends her too-hasty judgment.
To my mind, Henry Tilney comes off as the best of Austen's clergymen. Can you imagine what would ensue if Henry were in the place of Mr. Collins? I don't doubt that he would manage the necessary politeness due to an older woman who is his social superior, but I can just imagine how his eyes would twinkle at some of her "follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies." And her parish would be much better off in the care of Henry. More provision and less scolding!
I'm also impressed by how Henry manages the commandment of "Honour thy father and mother." The General would be a pain to live with but in speaking of his father Henry generally puts him in the best possible light the truth will bear: "You have erred in supposing him not attached to her. He loved her, I am persuaded, as well as it was possible for him to — we have not all, you know, the same tenderness of disposition — and I will not pretend to say that while she lived, she might not often have had much to bear, but though his temper injured her, his judgment never did. His value of her was sincere; and, if not permanently, he was truly afflicted by her death.”
Here's a man for whom entering the clergy is more than just a way of making a living. And I'll bet his sermons would be interesting, too. ;-)
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