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Please refer to this extract from chapter 14 of Jane Austen's Persuasion:

Elizabeth’s last letter had communicated a piece of news of some interest. Mr Elliot was in Bath. He had called in Camden Place; had called a second time, a third; had been pointedly attentive: if Elizabeth and her father did not deceive themselves, had been taking as much pains to seek the acquaintance, and proclaim the value of the connexion, as he had formerly taken pains to shew neglect. This was very wonderful if it were true; and Lady Russell was in a state of very agreeable curiosity and perplexity about Mr Elliot, already recanting the sentiment she had so lately expressed to Mary, of his being ‘a man whom she had no wish to see.’ She had a great wish to see him. If he really sought to reconcile himself like a dutiful branch, he must be forgiven for having dismembered himself from the paternal tree. Anne was not animated to an equal pitch by the circumstance; but she felt that she would rather see Mr Elliot again than not, which was more than she could say for many other persons in Bath. She was put down in Camden Place; and Lady Russell then drove to her own lodgings, in Rivers Street.

Questions:

  1. The above extract says that Mr. Elliot, Anne's cousin, was in Bath. Then I can't understand the following line: "He had called in Camden Place; had called a second time, a third; had been pointedly attentive". What does the phrase "called in" mean?

  2. "if Elizabeth and her father did not deceive themselves". Why would Elizabeth and her father deceive themselves?

  3. Why does Lady Russell hold negative opinions about Mr. Elliot?

  4. Who thinks: "If he really sought to reconcile himself like a dutiful branch, he must be forgiven for having dismembered himself from the paternal tree."?

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He had called in Camden Place; had called a second time, a third; had been pointedly attentive:

"Called" here means "visited." Camden Place is the name of the building or location. The sentence means "He visited the house several times."

if Elizabeth and her father did not deceive themselves,

It's a rhetorical device: "Unless I'm wrong, here's what's happening." The entire sentence reads "Unless Elizabeth and her father misunderstood why he was there, he was putting in just as much effort to spend time with them now as he had previously worked at ignoring them."

If he really sought to reconcile himself like a dutiful branch, he must be forgiven for having dismembered himself from the paternal tree.

The narration is speaking; I believe the sentiment is being attributed to Lady Russell.

I haven't read the book, but the wiki summary tries to explain why various characters object to Mr. Elliot (which, honestly, I couldn't follow, but the upshot seems to be that he's a money-chasing jerk).

  • 2
    Title-chasing: he wants to inherit the baronetcy. – Gareth Rees Feb 6 at 11:29

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