Persuasion 200: Sir Walter Visits the Crofts by Diana Birchall — 23 Comments

  1. Oh, how fun to think of the Crofts busily working away in the background to bring Frederick and Anne together! It’s always fun to see Sir Walter – the more ridiculous the character, the more I like them, these days.

    • Thank you, Julie – that is exactly how I feel about Jane Austen’s more ridiculous characters, she creates them so amazingly well, I love to play with them more than anything else!

  2. Thank you, Monica, I didn’t think there was much to be done with Sir Walter, he is a pretty one-note puppet, but one-note with Jane Austen would be an encyclopedia with anyone else. And I am finding him and his foil Elizabeth the most fun to work with ever!

  3. I can’t make up my mind as to who is worse, Elizabeth or Sir Walter. Elizabeth, not wanting to sully the Elliots with a marriage to Wentworth. The two of them are so pompous. I love that both Crofts see Anne as an excellent, if not perfect, match for their brother, Frederick. Poor Anne, having to put up with such relations. We can’t choose our family, but can choose our friends, and Anne certainly knows how to choose her friends.
    Beautiful missing scene, Diana. So much fun to read.

    • That is a very good question, Deborah, and one on which I have pondered a lot myself. Which of them IS worse? I can’t decide. In a way Sir Walter must be worse, because he has been a bad father, so he has done more bad than Elizabeth has. But which is the worse character, who can say – they are cut from the same cloth, two peas in a pod! It truly does work to have them contrasted with the warm, sensible, unpretentious Crofts, but I can’t take credit for that – it was Jane Austen who gave that vain man a tenant who was such a contrast to himself! Glad you enjoyed., and thanks for commenting.

  4. Enjoyed this scene. I liked the Admiral putting thought of Frederick in Anne’s head. That was truly delightful. Elizabeth was outraged and could not say anything to the Crofts. Poor Anne, she is sure to get an earful in the carriage.

    • Thank you, Patty! Yes, Austen didn’t suggest that the Crofts were matchmaking, but she did give a few hints that Mrs. Croft thought Louisa wasn’t quite good enough for Frederick. So I think Austen thought she would have some quiet thoughts of her own on the subject…and she and the Admiral would always be talking everything over!

  5. I love that Sir Walter didn’t want Elizabeth to be “snobbish”. I guess that is a fault and since he has none then he, of course, would never be snobbish. You brought out the true Elizabeth in this scene from the beginning where she complained about having to make the call to the end where the thought that Anne could actually attract someone was so true to character. A great scene.

    • Thanks, Maggie, I was wondering to myself if anybody would think it funny that Sir Walter OF ALL PEOPLE should talk about being snobbish! And Elizabeth just gets worse, doesn’t she?

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this look at two characters who are clever and fun. It is wonderful to see a happily married couple, and people who are content with their lives and think of others. This was a wonderful way to contrast the Crofts with Sir Walter and Elizabeth. I also had to laugh about Elizabeth being so fussy and fastidious and complaining that the Crofts walked together, regardless of the weather. It put me in mind of what another Elizabeth would have to say about that, and the Elliots! Despite that Sir Walter and Elizabeth are basically one note people, you fleshed them out very well, and gave us a good opportunity to see them as others would have seen them. Well done! I did love the Crofts matchmaking as well, and that Elizabeth took offense at it. How dare those “low” people talk about Anne getting a man, when, she, Elizabeth should have one. I smiled over the admiral saying his wife was the clever one, and their easy shared affection. Sophy might be clever, but he is a shrewd judge of character. The contrast between the “low” but amiable and well mannered Crofts with the snobbish and vulgar Elliots was masterful. The illustrations added to the vignette as well. If you put an older face on that posturing and arrogant dandy, he could have easily been Sir Walter. This was wonderful Diana. You rock!

  7. You know, Mari, that is why I keep thinking that this fan fiction writing really is an excellent way of understanding and appreciating Jane Austen better. She set it up deliberately that the vain heartless Sir Walter should have tenants who were so much the opposite of his cold self, but I don’t know if I’d ever have thought about it if I had not been filling out the scene that she herself set up. You learn so much by this close kind of examination – it really is amazing. Yes, you are right, the Admiral must have been a shrewd judge of character – rising so high in the Navy, working with men, would call on that kind of shrewdness about people, I think. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

    • You are so right, Diana. I understand the characters so much better after I write about one of them in a scene. I think that’s part of the fun of it. Love this scene. Sir Walter is definitely the center of his own universe!

      • Exactly, Susan. No one else has really given her readers this kind of gift, the ability to continue inhabiting her creative world like this, and thereby to understand her better.

  8. Oh, when I saw that you were going to write on this subject, I knew it would be great fun! Thank you for this delightful scene. Loved how the Admiral recognizes Frederick’s partiality for Anne, and their warm regard for her as well. And how true that these little vignettes allow us to further explore the insight of Jane Austen, and her ironic humor under the capable hands of you talented authors. I particularly loved the contrast of Elizabeth’s and Sir Walter’s opinion of their own importance to the Crofts contrasted with the Crofts’ view of associating with them! The Admiral is so genuine… love the response he makes after their visit: … Admiral Croft heaved a sigh. “Strewth! That was heavy going,” he exclaimed. “Save me from the Baronet. I am sure he is a very good sort of a man, but I confess I find him wearisome.”

    • Oh, thank you, Carol, I was hoping somebody would enjoy the “strewth!” line. It is only in imitation of what Jane Austen did herself, one of the funniest of her own scenes, where the Admiral talks about all the mirrors Sir Walter has, and says seriously, “I think he must be a rather dressy man for his time of life.” Hilarious! I don’t know why some people put down “fan fiction” without really knowing what it can be. To my mind, it is nothing less than a new form of literary exploration. So there, critics!

  9. Loved this scene…and the delicious irony of Sir Walter advising Elizabeth to “not be snobbish” was masterful, indeed–truly worthy of Austen! 🙂

    Poor Anne–I’m sure she turned several shades of red as the Admiral started his unsubtle matchmaking!

    Love the Crofts–such good, good people in opposition to Sir Walter and Elizabeth. I admire how Austen inverts society on its head with the truly good, warm people coming from the lower eschelons of society and the truly awful, “snobbish” people descending from the “upper crust” (in their eyes, at least).

    Lovely chapter–thank you!! 🙂

    Susanne 🙂

    • (Big grin) Thank you, Susanne, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I should have had Anne actually blushing when the Admiral talked about Frederick. Jane Austen does not have him being aware that Anne and Frederick had once been engaged, but the Admiral and his wife are so sensible, I feel sure that they would have seen how much better Anne was for Frederick than Louisa. And I agree, it is very interesting how Anne sees the good in people of a less exalted, aristocratic circle. How, when she meets the Harvilles and Captain Benwick, she sadly thinks, “These would have been all my friends.” She knows how to value what is good – and Austen shows us what that is.

  10. Great scene! So enjoyable, even while groaning over Sir Walter’s bloated pretentiousness! His and Elizabeth’s disparagement of the Crofts was such a contrast with the Crofts themselves, who appeared to be so kindly even in the face of such rudeness. I was thinking, when Sir Walter was complaining about the Crofts living at his home, it was as if he’d thought he’d leased his house to a heavy metal band or something and was expecting that they’d trashed the place!

  11. Glad you enjoyed the scene, Kathy! Yes, Sir Walter is outrageous, isn’t he. Jane Austen tells us that snobbery is the beginning and end of him, all there is, and it makes him easy to portray. 🙂 Just create the most outrageous snob possible, and it’s him!

  12. Which is worse…Sir Walter or Elizabeth? I would vote for Sir Walter because he has not only become a laughingstock with his ridiculous airs, he has ruined his daughter Elizabeth’s attitudes and behavior. Anne is fortunate that she was never regarded by her father and elder sister.
    Fun vignette, Diana!!

    • Thanks, Carey – and of course you are right, it’s a who came first the chicken and the egg question, but in this case the rooster is worse!

  13. I keep thinking that Sir Walter’s wife must have been very shrewd in that she kept the family’s budget within its boundaries. So what happened when she died? Both Elizabeth and Sir Walter had no discipline? SAD

    And that comment about how the Crofts walk out and about : as stated – so like another JA character but staying in much better health, I am sure. I am sure they held the respect of many of the residents of Bath as they were out and about and seen by many.

    The Crofts have always seemed to have such a good relationship in the book and on screen. I am sure that they banter back and forth and come to better understandings with such. I am hoping someone writes of their joy when Frederick does propose to Anne and she accepts. I am sure that they both do see Anne as a better choice. As an Admiral and with Sophy traveling with him they both had many chances to observe human nature and the outcomes of certain behaviors and match-ups.

    Thank you for this episode.

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