I am having trouble understanding a passage in Chapter 15 of Jane Austen's Persuasion. This chapter describes Mr. Elliot's renewal of acquaintance with his family, from whom he was previously somewhat estranged, while they are all staying in Bath.

The particular phrases and sentences in this passage that I am having trouble with are as follows.

  1. but he had now been a fortnight in Bath

    Does this mean that Mr. Elliot was presently staying at Bath? Why this confusion arose is because, at the end of the chapter, Mr. Elliot is being shown as visiting Camden Place. So, how could be Mr. Elliot be staying at Camden Place and visiting it at the same time?

  2. Colonel Wallis had known Mr Elliot long, had been well acquainted also with his wife, had perfectly understood the whole story.

    Colonel Wallis had been well acquainted with Mr. Elliot's wife. So, this means that Mr. Elliot had a wife and seemed to live perfectly happliy with her. Yet it has been shown that Mr. Elliot fancied Elizabeth to a certain extent. Why is that so?

  3. Allowances, large allowances, she knew, must be made for the ideas of those who spoke. She heard it all under embellishment.

    What does it mean for Anne to hear it all "under embellishment"?

  4. Most earnestly did she wish that he might not be too nice, or too observant, if Elizabeth were his object; and that Elizabeth was disposed to believe herself so, and that her friend Mrs Clay was encouraging the idea, seemed apparent by a glance or two between them, while Mr Elliot’s frequent visits were talked of.

    I can't follow this at all: why did Anne "wish that he might not be too nice"? What was "the idea" that Mrs Clay was encouraging?

  5. Anne mentioned the glimpses she had had of him at Lyme, but without being much attended to.

    What is the meaning of this sentence?

  6. He, who had ever boasted of being an Elliot, and whose feelings, as to connexion, were only too strict to suit the unfeudal tone of the present day! He was astonished, indeed! But his character and general conduct must refute it. He could refer Sir Walter to all who knew him; and certainly, the pains he had been taking on this, the first opportunity of reconciliation, to be restored to the footing of a relation and heir-presumptive, was a strong proof of his opinions on the subject.

    Here Mr. Elliot has been shown as someone possessing somewhat negative qualities. For, he apparently tried to project himself as someone who never boasted of being an Elliot nor did he appear to conform with the feudal standards of the society back then. Yet he would mention of his connection with Sir Walter Elliot to anyone who he would meet and attempted to reconcile with the Elliot Family as he was the heir to the Elliot estate.

    Then why would Lady Russell bear positive notions about Mr. Elliot?

If possible, please answer without spoiling anything in the novel after chapter 15.

  • 2
    Why do you think that he must be staying at Camden Place because he is in Bath? Is there only on address in Bath? As to the wife, 'had been acquainted', emphasis on the 'had. if you reread the opening paragraphs of Chapter 1 you will see that she has been dead for some time when the story takes place. 'Ever boasted' means 'always boasted', not 'never boasted'.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 14:43
  • 1
    I'm new to this SE site, but aren't we supposed to limit questions to one question? I wonder if it could be broken up into 6. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 2:09
  • 1
    @Shule: The questions are about the meaning of a single passage, and I think it makes sense to keep them together, as the answers are related. See here on meta where the closure of this question is discussed. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 11:23

1 Answer 1

  1. Mr. Elliot was not staying at Camden Place, but at another address in Bath.

  2. Mr. Elliot’s wife died in chapter 1: that’s why Elizabeth was wearing “black ribbons” for her, and why he was “in mourning” when seen at Lyme in chapter 12. His motive in renewing his acquaintance with his uncle and cousins is currently (as of chapter 15) a mystery. Anne considers the possibility that he is doing so “for Elizabeth’s sake”, that is, he hopes to marry her.

  3. Anne was not there in person when Mr. Elliot visited, so she is hearing about it from Sir Walter and Elizabeth, and, knowing their characters, she has to allow for the likelihood that they are giving her an embellished or inaccurate version of events.

  4. Anne thinks that if Mr. Elliot wishes to marry Elizabeth, he must not be too “nice” (meaning ‘fussy; choosy; particular’). This reflects Anne’s unfavorable opinion of her sister’s marriageability.

  5. Mr. Elliot was the gentleman “of exceedingly good manners” who had admired Anne at Lyme in chapter 12. But when Anne mentions this to her family no-one pays much attention.

  6. ‘Ever’ here means ‘always’. So Mr. Elliot was saying that he had always been proud of being an Elliot, and that he felt very strongly about “connexion” (that is, family descent), more strongly than most people in these “unfeudal” times. Is he sincere in these claims? Lady Russell’s positive opinion of him suggests that she believes so.

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