This chapter begins by situating the representation of Sir Walter Elliot in the contexts that have already been established in relation to the Prince Regent, Beau Brummell and dandyism. It then reads the textual debates about the role of the navy in war and peace alongside some of the available historical evidence. This is followed by a consideration of Anne Elliot’s practicality and rationality at both Uppercross and Lyme, which continues the discussion of invalidism and watering places started in the last chapter. The final section deals with the chapters that are set in Bath and looks in particular at the social status of the midwife in Regency England in order to historicise the representation of Nurse Rooke. Although there are some references throughout to literary history, the emphasis is once again on showing the meanings that become available when an Austen text is read alongside a wider social history. This is not to deny the importance of other approaches that are primarily concerned with identifying literary allusions and echoes. 1 The argument is that there are also important topical allusions as well as more purely literary ones.
Persuasion debates the question of who will, and who deserves to, win the peace after the ending of the Napoleonic Wars. Sir Walter Elliot is just two years older than the Prince Regent. He would, nevertheless, probably insist that he looked at least ten years younger. His estate, or state, is Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire. Persuasion, like Mansfield Park, is both a romance and a Condition-of-England novel that deals with the inheritance of estate. One of the differences is that Sir Walter, unlike Sir Thomas Bertram, does not have a son to succeed him. His estate, like that of Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, is not able to be