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|Sailors leaving families
Written by Cheryl
(10/27/2011 10:07 p.m.)
This whole conversation between Anne and Captain Harville is just full of interesting bits and great fodder for conversation. I want to highlight Harville's longing for his family while he's talking to Anne:
"Ah!" cried Captain Harville, in a tone of strong feeling, "if I could but make you comprehend what a man suffers when he takes a last look at his wife and children, and watches the boat that he has sent them off in, as long as it is in sight, and then turns away and says, 'God knows whether we ever meet again!!" (ch. 23)
There's a great note in my book about sailors, "sad partings is a recurring theme in the poetry of the sea" and some recollections from Austen's two sailing brothers, Charles and Francis.
Francis recalled 'leaving his wife in an advanced state of pregnancy at home' on joining the St. Albans at Sheerness only weeks before the birth of his first daughter, Mary Jane, on 27 April 1807. For Charles, it was more painful still, leaving his three children for the Phoenix in October 1814, their mother, Fanny Palmer, having died only weeks before, following the death of a fourth child, an infant three weeks old. Francis's Memoir is tight-lipped and reveals little of his feelings, but Charles's diaries tell us of his loneliness at sea and the dreams of Fanny and their children crowding night after night to haunt him. (Southam, 296)
It's no wonder Jane Austen speaks so feelingly of sailors and their longing for home, with her brothers' examples before her.
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