Clarissa: Chapter Six

Clarissa turned to her foster mother while they relaxed together in the sitting room. “Do you think that it is possible that Roland is attached to me?”

“You already know his Christian name, so that is a good start.”

“Did you think it likely that I would be interested in someone so early?”

“Considering that you hoped someone would bump into you at the presentation ceremony itself, yes, I thought it was likely that you would not have to wait long before finding someone you were interested in who was interested in you. You have an affectionate heart made to love and be loved. What would be more natural than that?”

“Is it a good thing to find someone so quickly?”

“It can be, if you find a good person. There is always some sort of issue that has to be dealt with, though. None of us are perfect, and no life is without its problems, so no matter how early or late you find someone to be with, you still have to deal with the issues of being with others.”

“Were you prepared for it yourself?”

“I was prepared enough, as you have been, simply by seeing what it is like for others and being able to draw conclusions about what you are willing to accept or that which you want and that which you do not want any part of.”

“Did you think you would marry relatively young?”

“I considered it somewhat likely, and was put in circumstances where it was able to happen both quickly and well, which does not always happen.”

“What kind of marriage did you expect to find with Lord Lipton?”

“What I expected to find was what I found. He was as you have seen him to be, a person who is tender and affectionate with young people, occasionally racked by painful attacks of gout, upright in his morality, curious about what others are thinking and feeling, a person of strong habits and attachments. All of this is fairly easy to see and I was not disappointed in finding it.”

“Did you suffer any sleepless nights waiting for the marriage to happen?”

“Yes, I did. It was more because of what was feared about him and the concern that his kind and tender ways were done as part of a strategy instead of being part of his nature. But once he was better understood I never lost any sleep because of any cruelty of his or any way that he made me unhappy.”

“You have had to be a nursemaid sometimes to him, though.”

“That is to be expected. He does not have the best health, and that was something I realized going into it. He is modest in his ways, though, so it is not as if he exacerbates his health problems, at least.”

“Is there anything that would be different about courtship with a Frenchman than would be the case with an Englishman?”

“There are a few differences, though to be clear let us make sure we are speaking in generalities. A Frenchman can be expected to be at least a bit more savvy with regards to romance and seduction than would be expected of an Englishman. If I do not think that serious seduction is to be a concern here, at the very least there is a charm possessed by a flirtatious Frenchman that few Englishmen are prepared to match. One can question religious matters. Most religious Frenchmen are Roman Catholics, and that can present a difficulty for those of us who are not, seeing as most English are Anglicans, and are keen to retain some sort of separation between our practices and that of Catholicism. That is a more tricky subject that will likely require some conversation with Lord Lipton and with our rector, concerning the boundary between Roman Catholicism and high Anglican practice. Besides that, the basic complications of communication and making sure that one’s ways are compatible always remains an issue with others.”

“Do you think that it was obvious that you and Lord Lipton were compatible with each other?”

“I’m not sure that is something that would have been obvious. As human beings we are often set in our ways. This is especially true as we get older, and it makes it hard for people to blend together well. It is hard to know if someone is compatible while one is engaged in courtship because at that point one is usually on one’s best behavior. It is after the promises and commitment has been made that one sees what is necessary to make oneself compatible to the person one has promised oneself to.”

“Was that hard for you?”

“Not at all. Lord Lipton’s company is not irksome; it is, in fact, very enjoyable. He brought no secret mistresses, no moral lapses that had to be acknowledged shamefully, nor was he rude or violent towards me or others. To be sure, each of us has our own habits and ways of doing things, but it has not been difficult for us to give each other the space we need to be comfortable and to appreciate the differences that exist between us. Those will always exist between spouses.”

“Do you mind having this kind of serious conversation?”

“Not at all. It is perhaps a bit premature to think anything will happen seriously with Roland. He was certainly charming when it came to dancing with you and enjoying your company, and we would not object to his wishing to court you, so long as you get to know each other and so long as we can trust that his character is decent. But he is embarking on a military career, and it is by no means certain that he will have the time, much less the inclination, to court you as he begins a profession.”

“Do you think it is bad for a man to have a profession when he is engaged in courtship?”

“What counts as a profession? Most of the gentry and noble class is idle enough. Lord Lipton himself certainly stays active when it comes to the law, at least as much as one can expect out of a Viscount, and one gets the feeling that he must have enjoyed the law at least a little bit as a private citizen, although he does not share many stories of the time of his life before he became a Viscount in that fashion as far as it goes to showing what profession he had as a private citizen. Even the younger sons of many of our noble houses end up with professions in the military, clergy, or law, and the majority of them are no more than competent in such areas, occasionally serving with real ability. I think it is to be praised if a young man wants to do something useful with his life, as it is all too easy to devote oneself to hunting and gambling or something equally wasteful of one’s own God-given heart and mind. Whether or not a profession is necessary for securing a living can be seen as a negative, but a great many of us praise those who are willing to take such responsibilities as come their way seriously.”

“Do you think that Roland would need to have a profession in order to live decently?”

“I have no reason to think that he and his father have any great amount of wealth with them here in England. If we lived in normal times, I think they would be quite wealthy and independent, with an estate like our own, but these are not normal times. Nothing about the way that we have seen Roland or his father live speaks to their extravagance, though, and that is to be praised. If they live simply and austerely, that is part of the burden that many people face as refugees, since so much of wealth is tied up in land and simply cannot be transferred from place to place.”

“Do you think that Roland could desire to court me for my money?”

“We have not told his family how much your dowry is, and how much you would bring to any potential match. If he has found out otherwise, it may influence his motives, but he would not necessarily be blamed for wanting to marry a wife with a dowry. That is, of course, assuming that he desires to marry at all.”

“What sort of person do you believe would want to marry me?”

“That is a hard question.” Lady Lipton looked thoughtful for some time. “We have always raised you to be a young woman of good character, and have sought to educate you to be suitable to mix in whatever circles you found yourself in. Yet the situation of your birth would likely detract many people from wanting to marry you, through no fault of your own. Some people would think you unsuitable because your father and mother were not married to each other, and some people would not think you suitable because your father was a mere merchant, if a substantial one. Seeing that those things are against you, it remains that people would want to marry you either because they were infatuated with your beauty, were won over by your friendly and kindhearted nature, or because your dowry provided at least one independent fortune by which someone could ensure a comfortable life. And provided that the person who sought your hand was themselves a person of decent and upright character themselves who truly respected you and loved you, we would not wish to interfere with a courtship from someone who was lacking in money.”

“What factors did you consider when it came to marrying Lord Lipton?”

“It was most obvious to consider Lord Lipton’s title–his becoming a viscount at the same time I entered into society certainly made that aspect interesting. Also, Lord Lipton’s engaging personality and his kindness, as well as his suffering, certainly helped to influence my own feelings towards him. Once I was secure in his character, and in knowing how he used his power and income, I had no doubt of being happy with him, and so I ever have remained.”

“I hope I can find that sort of happiness for myself.”

“I hope you can as well.”

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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