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|All or nothing
Written by Deborah Y
(10/30/2008 9:29 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Frederick’s worst enemy was himself, penned by Robbin
But didn't the conventions of the time kind of require it to be all or nothing? If they aren't engaged, they can't even write to each other while he's at sea, right? It's not as if they live in the same town and can see each other every Sunday at church: he's going to be away from home and family for years, and he's not going to be able to hear from her. It's very hard to sustain a relationship with someone under those circumstances: I don't think it's surprising that he would feel terribly rejected, or that he would have second thoughts about trying again, and possibly getting painfully rejected again, two years later (though of course he should have!)
As for "a word, a look" in the letter: I really don't think that's to be taken literally, as if he would have fled Bath without a backward glance had she looked at him cross-eyed. He's just telling her that the ball is in her court and he won't press his suit if it's not welcome. I'm with Anne here: "Surely, if there be constant attachment on each side, our hearts must understand each other ere long. We are not boy and girl, to be captiously irritable, misled by every moment's inadvertence, and wantonly playing with our own happiness." (ch. 22) He's passionate and intense, but he's not an idiot.
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