Thursday, September 27, 2012

9/27 - Guest Advisor

This week's letters seem extremely well suited to someone capable of managing irate or difficult parents, problematic gifts and tricky social situations regarding invitations. Who is better suited to handle such situations than the ever-so-tactful Mrs Clay from Persuasion?

L1: I wonder - has your father, for his own amusement, ever taken up any book but the Baronetage? He sounds just like Sir Walter Elliot - the poor dear. And it is very easy to get the knack of managing fathers of this sort, your own or anybody else's. I quite recall how, when Sir Walter had been persuaded by my pappa (with the assistance of his neighbour Lady Russell and the cleverest of his daughters, Anne, who is a little more clever than I could wish, but no matter) to quit Kellynch Hall and settle in Bath, he was about to undo most of the good work by refusing to let the Hall to an Admiral of the Navy - and all because the navy, in addition to the nonsense of providing social elevation to those of inferiour rank - really, where would society be if each of us were content with her place and never determined to rise? - undoes a man's good looks, however much of the same he might have. The old silly - how would he look if he had to go out into the world and earn money, especially as he wouldn't be any good at it? But I was quite able to point out to him that it is the lot of the few, the favoured, the fortunate to be able to select their own hours and form their own habits of sustaining health and beauty, and Sir Walter was soon quite as ready to accept Admiral Croft as tenant as my father could have wished.

Now here, LW1 has an excellent opportunity to use her father's nature to her advantage. As children are so unpredictable and inclined to rebel against attitudes suggested to them, as LW1 doubtless wants her children to become pro-choice and as her father almost certainly isn't entirely on board with that plan, she should get him to take her daughters to a pro-choice event. This will doubtless prove too much for him, and he will jump at the opportunity to fill the girls' heads with pro-life dogma, including the history of their origin, and then LW1 will have both her father and the girls right where she wants all of them. They will rebel against him and take her side - a nice piece of work. As a side note to the columnist, LW1 asked what to do, not how to phrase it; the syrupy cliches were entirely unnecessary. The columnist should go work for Hallmark - or has perhaps tried and failed.

L2: I wish LW2 had consulted me some time ago, as I'd have advised her to murder husband. After all, that's what I di... would do. And, even though the relationship was broken off, one must be very careful to ascertain that there are no lingering feelings for the other party. Why, just look at what happened with Anne Elliot. She broke her engagement to Captain Wentworth, and then was not only not content with refusing to marry the very well off Charles Musgrove, but she actually carried a torch for the Captain for eight years until he asked her again. Eight years! What man is worth such devotion?

As for the Other Woman being a mother, good grief. Mrs Charles Musgrove has two small boys, and nobody has ever thought it would be anything but beneficial for them if she were to be knocked on the head. Both the little dears did so much better when left to the care of their aunt. I advise LW2 to murder her mother as well. If she requires assistance, I have heard of a young lady who has been a perjured witness at every public trial for the last twelve years, murdered both her parents and forged her own Will.

L3: Sometimes there are things to which one just has to submit. I well recall the day when it began to rain in Bath when the two Miss Elliots and I were with Mr Elliot trying marzipan. I was nearly sure of being able to wheedle Mr Elliot out of marrying Anne, but I desperately needed to get him alone, which was never easy given Miss Elliot's determination to monopolize him, even if she did gullibly always include me in the party. When the rain came, I thought I should have my chance, as Lady Dalrymple's carriage could accommodate the two sisters and take them back to Camden Place. But dear Miss Elliot had to insist that I had a little cold coming on, and Mr Elliot swore that Miss Anne's boots were thicker than mine, and thus better suited to a walk home through the rain. But I did prevail in the end, which should serve as an encouraging example for LW3. Otherwise, this is a technical question, and I shall refer it to my pappa the attorney.

L4: Again, the LW left things far too late. I well recall how poor Sir Walter went into quite a tizzy when the Dalrymples arrived in Bath, and Lady Dalrymple an actual viscountess. As bad luck would have had it, Sir Walter, who had been in company once with his cousin, Lord Dalrymple, had, owing to a dangerous illness of Lady Elliot at the time, neglected to send the obligatory letter of condolence at his lordship's passing. Clearly this was not to be borne, and the Dalrymples sent no letter on the eventual death of Lady Elliot. But then Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret, her daughter, came to Bath. Sir Walter was naturally eager to renew the connection. Fortunately, I was able to guide him in the composition of the letter he eventually sent the Dalrymples designed to explain, if not excuse, his conduct and beg their forgiveness. Neither Lady Russell nor Miss Anneat all approved the letter, but we were on my home field, so to speak. I carried the day, and of course we all know that Lady Dalrymple did choose ere long to renew the acquaintance.

The lesson in the situation is that, while Sir Walter was renewing his acquaintance with the great lady in Laura Place, Miss Anne was renewing her friendship with an old schoolfellow, a sickly widow whose acquaintance could be of no advantage to her. I marvel at her taste, which is apparently shared by LW4. Surely there are more profitable people he could cultivate.

Moral: "We are not all born to be handsome."

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