Reading a Jane Austen novel can be like eating a super rich chocolate cake. You need to stop and savour every little bit. I'm only up to Chapter 3, and already, I have to put the book down and share this gem with you.
The story so far....... Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire, baronet, is facing financial ruin. He must either;
a) moderate his flamboyant lifestyle
b) divide and sell part of his estate,
c) lease Kellynch Hall and move somewhere more modest. Perhaps to Bath, rather than London, a much safer place for a gentleman in his predicament:- he might there be important at comparatively little expense.
All three options are to Sir Walter outrageously preposterous.
His equally flamboyant daughter Elizabeth offered a few suggestions. They could;
a) cut back on donations to certain charities
b) not go ahead with the drawing room renovations
c) not send her sister Anne her annual present.
What a girl, all heart.
Mr. Shepard, a civil and cautious lawyer, was pushing for option c) rent the estate. He put forth the idea of doing it in the strictest of secrecy, perhaps to a wealthy naval officer.
Sir Walter expressed his distaste for sailors in no uncertain terms;
I have two strong grounds of objection to it. First, as being the means of bringing persons of obscure birth into undue distinctions, and raising men to honours which their fathers and grandfathers never dreamt of;
and secondly, as it cuts up a man's youth and vigour most horribly; a sailor grows old sooner than any other man; I have observed it all my life. A man is in greater danger in the navy of being insulted by the rise of one whose father, his father might have disdained to speak to, and of becoming prematurely and object of disgust himself, than in any other line.
Goes on to explain how he once mistook a certain Admiral Baldwin for a man in his sixties, when he was only forty.
...the most deplorable looking personage you can imagine, his face the colour of mahogany, rough and rugged to the last degree, all lines and wrinkles, nine grey hairs of a side, and nothing but a dab of powder at top.
...they are all knocked about, and exposed to every climate, and every weather, till they are not fit to be seen. It is a pity they are not knocked on the head at once, before they reach Admiral Baldwin's age.
And I thought it was difficult to secure a good rental property in modern day Melbourne!