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Excerpt from chapter 21 from Jane Austen's Persuasion:

She felt a great deal of good-will towards him. In spite of the mischief of his attentions, she owed him gratitude and regard, perhaps compassion. She could not help thinking much of the extraordinary circumstances attending their acquaintance, of the right which he seemed to have to interest her, by everything in situation, by his own sentiments, by his early prepossession. It was altogether very extraordinary; flattering, but painful. There was much to regret. How she might have felt had there been no Captain Wentworth in the case, was not worth inquiry; for there was a Captain Wentworth; and be the conclusion of the present suspense good or bad, her affection would be his for ever. Their union, she believed, could not divide her more from other men, than their final separation.

What is the meaning of the sentences written in bold?

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  1. extraordinary circumstances attending their acquaintance

    This means “the unusual way in which they met”, that is, their chance encounter at Lyme in chapter 12.

  2. the right which he seemed to have to interest her

    This means “the expectation that she should be interested in marrying him”, the reasons for which are given in the successive clauses.

  3. by everything in situation

    “Situation” means “a person’s position or circumstances in life” (OED). You will recall that Mr Elliot is the heir presumptive to the Kellynch estate and the baronetcy, meaning that unless Sir Walter remarries and has a son, Mr Elliot will inherit them. Marrying Mr Elliot is thus an opportunity for Anne to become Lady Elliot of Kellynch Hall, the summit of ambition for a woman in her position in society.

  4. by his own sentiments

    “Sentiments” means “expressions of emotion”, referring to Mr Elliot’s conversation at the concert in chapter 20:

    “The name of Anne Elliot,” said he, “has long had an interesting sound to me. Very long has it possessed a charm over my fancy; and, if I dared, I would breathe my wishes that the name might never change.”

    The only way to interpret “that the name might never change” is that Mr Elliot wants Anne to marry him, so that her married name should be the same as her maiden name.

  5. by his early prepossession

    “Prepossession” means “the condition of being favourably predisposed towards a person or thing” (OED). This again refers back to chapter 12, when upon their first (earliest) encounter at Lyme:

    It was evident that the gentleman, (completely a gentleman in manner) admired her exceedingly.

  6. How she might have felt had there been no Captain Wentworth in the case, was not worth inquiry

    Since Anne loves Captain Wentworth, there is no point in her considering the advantages and disadvantages of marrying Mr Elliot.

  7. be the conclusion of the present suspense good or bad, her affection would be his for ever

    The “present suspense” is her uncertainty about whether Captain Wentworth will propose marriage (“good”) or not (“bad”), but either way, she will always love him.

  8. Their union could not divide her more from other men, than their final separation.

    This just restates the foregoing in stronger language. Her marriage (“union”) with Captain Wentworth would forbid her from loving other men, but even if they parted forever, her unrequited love would have the same effect.

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