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|GR: What ideas should we admit?
Written by Linden
(4/20/2003 5:48 p.m.)
`If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to-- Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?'
At first, I took it as a straightforward declaration of rationality and the virtues of English civilisation, set against Catherine's wild imagination and Gothic horrors. But there are little niggles that appear on later readings.
-- That line: `every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies': we don't have a picture of perfect harmony here, do we? And, in 1798, the neighbourhood was full of voluntary spies as a result of the reaction to the French Revolutionary wars.
-- At the heart of Catherine's imaginings, there is a family secret that Henry does not want to acknowledge: his father is, in fact, a villain.
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