Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
Written by Robbin
(1/10/2013 12:50 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, "Dear Fanny,—You know our present wretchedness.", penned by Mary Skater
By the time Edmund and Sir Thomas arrived in London the elopement was “public beyond a hope” (47). The disaster did loom large in the family but before the article I think it loomed large in society. Maria and Henry’s behavior was seen by many. Mr. Hardin, most particular friend to Sir Thomas, wrote to urge his coming to town and use of his “influence with his daughter to put an end to the intimacy which was already exposing her to unpleasant remarks, and evidently making Mr. Rushworth uneasy” (47). In her letter Mary spoke of a “most scandalous, ill–natured rumour” (46). Given all this it appears the couples’ intimacy and then elopement was the talk of the town even before the article.
Still, I think it is from the newspaper that Edmund assumes Fanny has learned of Maria’s elopement. I think the article is revealing. Along with the correct initials it also pinpoints the family by location, “the family of Mr. R. of Wimpole Street” (46). It gives particular history of the bride, her “name had not long been enrolled in the lists of Hymen” (46) and she had “promised to become so brilliant a leader in the fashionable world” (46). The article names the infamous rascal, the “well–known and captivating Mr. C” (46) and his relationship to the family as an “the intimate friend and associate of Mr. R” (46). This is all pretty specific. I think the newspaper article is only nominally sly, even Mr. Price, far away and barely connected, could figure out who is the subject of the article. Fanny’s understanding of the article clarifies the meaning of Mary’s letter which was before misunderstood:
She spoke from the instinctive wish of delaying shame; she spoke with a resolution which sprung from despair, for she spoke what she did not, could not believe herself. It had been the shock of conviction as she read. The truth rushed on her; and how she could have spoken at all, how she could even have breathed, was afterwards matter of wonder to herself.
To steal from P&P, I think Edmund does for Fanny what Mr. Collins was incapable of doing for Lizzy in Ch. 19. Edmund understands Fanny is a rational creature. He must have knowledge of her habits and assumed she has read the newspaper article. He knows she is quite capable of understanding an article of so much consequence to those she loves. He is right after all. Fanny did read the article, understood it and grieved for her friends’ “present wretchedness” (46) before his letter reached her from town.
Had Fanny only Edmund’s letter for information I think she would have felt more for Julia’s elopement and feared what other evil had befallen the family. Knowing Tom is ill at Mansfield she might deduce this unknown evil has something to do with Maria as she is the only other family in town. She also might figure Henry was involved since she knew Mary had thoughtlessly arranged for Maria and Henry to meet (43). She would not have known her troubles with the Crawfords were over but still would have the amiable bustle of leaving, meeting with Edmund and the happiness of finally going home to Mansfield and her other friends and taking Susan along as well. How’s that? (:D)
Mansfield Park is maintained by Carol with WebBBS 3.21.