Gorgeous weather in London today, bar the odd rainstorm. Wednesday was even better, so it was across the Heath to Kenwood, where I sat in the cafe with Aristotle revision (nice ideas, boring presentation). Then the conversation of the women behind me got simply too elderly to bear (a combination of casual racism and health complaints) and so I lay on the grass in front of the house, reading Persuasion*. Very apt.
Which of course reminded me of how Captain Wentworth is My Favourite Austen Hero, much better than that Favourite Cliche of Lazy Journalists Everywhere, Mr Darcy. And this is why, in a handy 10-point list (with added quotations!)
1. Captain Wentworth can have a conversation. Darcy can't. Fact. Broodiness may work for some people, but not for me. Good conversation is Number One Requirement for the future Mr Semaphore.
2. Not only can he have a conversation with Anne, he can have a conversation with almost everyone. He even talks to Mrs Musgrove about her son, who we all know to have been a complete tit and who Anne suspects he did his best to be rid of when the boy was a midshipman: "doing it with so much sympathy and natural grace, as shewed the kindest consideration for all that was real and unabsurd in the parent's feelings."
3. Although Anne frequently notices a look of contempt in response to those around him, it is only for those who display unkindness or snobbery or other wanky behaviour. Moreover, he never actually says anything about it, and it probably is only Anne who sees it at all, usually because she's thinking the same thing. Contrast that to Mr Darcy, snob extraordinaire.
4. A connected point. Anne's family is twenty times worse than Elizabeth Bennett's, but Wentworth never mentions this to her. The closest he comes is in his (understandable) resentment against Lady Russell. And then we have Mr Darcy, who insults Elizabeth's family while proposing to her. That can't just be put down to social awkwardness. That's just rubbish.
5. Wentworth is kind. He frequently shows his care and consideration for Anne - insisting that she join the Crofts in their gig after the walk to Winthrop, helping her when Walter is being a pain, checking that she hasn't suffered from shock as a result of Louisa's fall (the only one who does, I think). But also for others - for Harville, taking on the responsibility for resetting Benwick's portrait, or for Benwick himself, when he went to tell him about Phoebe's death "and never left that poor fellow for a week". And then he helps Mrs Smith get her property back "with the activity and exertion of a fearless man and a determined friend." Yummy.
6. Compared to Grumpy McGrumpypants Darcy, Wentworth's manners are never criticised. In fact, Mr Elliot's manners are compared to his: "His manners were so exactly what they ought to be, so polished, so easy, so particularly agreeable, that she could compare them in excellence to only one person's manners. They were not the same, but they were, perhaps, equally good." Of course, this is as much proof of how Anne can't stop thinking about him...
7. He can take a joke, and he can give one. GSOH, definitely.
8. He is a successful captain, and a good sailor. This is Requirement Number 2 for the Future Mr Semaphore. Take note, please.
9. He likes Anne. This sounds stupid, I know. But Anne is a lovely, lovely character, and so for him to love her shows his own worth(Went)** She is clever, sensible, kind, but unappreciated by far too many people. He doesn't make that mistake, and tries to make other people notice her too.
10. Best. Proposal. Ever. By letter? Because he can't keep quiet any longer? Oh yes PLEASE.
Plus marrying Wentworth means you get Admiral Croft as your brother-in-law, and he is FANTASTIC.
Of course, he's not perfect. Nor does he have ten thousand a year and Pemberley. But kind, warm, friendly, sensible, unpretentious vs broody and Misunderstood? Anytime.
*Third time. In case you were wondering.
**Sorry. Couldn't resist.