Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Mr Shepherd & dealing with Debt. (Chs 2 & 3)
Written by Rachel G
(10/3/2011 7:12 p.m.)
I'm highly entertained by the diplomatic contortions Mr Shepherd has to go through in his efforts to induce Sir Walter to retrench. In these chapters we get such a vivid picture of this civil, cautious lawyer at work. We see him dodging the task of suggesting disagreeable solutions, endlessly flattering his client, laughing, as he knows he must, at his client's wit, deftly back-pedalling and changing tack to keep Sir Walter on course. Meanwhile he is beavering away, writing to contacts in London and dropping hints into the right ears in Taunton so that the perfect tenant 'just happens' to contact him about renting Kellynch. What an adroit fellow he is!
We are told that Mr Shepherd's "interest" is involved in Sir Walter really retrenching. This might just mean that he wants to do the best for his client; it could also mean that his professional reputation is at stake here. But I strongly suspect that Mr Shepherd's zeal is due to the fact that if he cannot sort out Sir Walter's finances then he is unlikely to get paid.
I have a good deal of fellow feeling for some of the frustrations Mr Shepherd encounters because in one of my earlier incarnations I was a debt counsellor. My income did not depend on achieving a successful outcome for my clients, and I never had to deal with Sir Walter's particular set of justifications and evasions, but some aspects of Sir W's attitude to debt and retrenchment are very familiar to me:-
- Ostrich-like attitude, avoiding facing up to the facts, often for a very long time.
- Hiding the situation from family.
- Obsessive desire to keep up appearances.
- Fearing loss of 'face' and the threat of degradation in the eyes of his social circle.
- Hoping for someone to wave a magic wand and resolve the problem without there needing to be significant changes in lifestyle.
Where there is a sudden loss of income the need for major adjustments is usually obvious though unpleasant. I think it is often harder for a person to confront financial reality if they have been living on credit and where substantial debts have built up in small increments over a long period, as seems to be the case with Sir Walter.
I cannot respect him but I do have some sympathy for Sir Walter's difficulties. From his perspective it is a situation which threatens his whole sense of who he is, and I'm not surprised that he turns to the familiar comfort and reassurance of the Baronetage. I think that Lady Russell's prejudice in favour of rank and consequence is misguided, but I like her compassion and consideration for her friend's feelings in his uncomfortable predicament.
As so often with JA's writing, it appears here that while the world has greatly changed in the past two centuries, in their essentials people are very much the same as they ever were.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.