Lady Susan: Plot Summary Letters 12-22

Letter 12 – Sir Reginald De Courcy to His Son

Sir Reginald writes from Parklands to his son Reginald at Churchill hoping that he will be open to his opinion about affairs of the heart and not slight his advice. As an only son of an ancient family his and their good name are at stake in his actions and choice. He fears that he has been drawn into a marriage that his family would reprobate. Since he has been blinded by fascination it is necessary to repeat her neglect of her husband, flirtations, extravagance, dissipation, and can not be overlooked or forgiven. Charles Vernon has always tried to soften her behavior, but he knows that through selfishness she tried to prevent his marriage to his daughter Catherine. When his choice is so fixed, “it is my duty to oppose a match which deep art only could render possible, and must in the end make wretched.” Her motives may be money, since she is poor and his estate is entailed to him. He does not want to work on his fears, but on his affection for him. If he marries Lady Susan, it would destroy every comfort in his life. His partiality to her is no secret among their friends and warns him against her. He wants to know his reasons for changing his ill opinion of her and his assurance that he has no designs beyond conversing with a clever, beautiful woman.

Letter 13 – Lady De Courcy to Mrs. Vernon

Lady De Courcy writes from Parkland to her daughter Catherine. Her last letter was read to her by her husband since she had a cold. He now knows all the particulars of Reginald’s attraction to Lady Susan and is writing to him immediately. She meant to write to her son directly to warn him of the danger of such an artful woman for a young man of his age and high expectations. She is vexed that her husband knows the details and is uneasy. He wrote Reginald immediately a long letter asking for an explanation of what he might have heard from Lady Susan to contradict the shocking reports. He has replied but it is unsatisfactory. He seems determined to think well of Lady Susan and his assurance to marriage does not set her heart at ease. She is provoked that this unwelcome guest should occasion so much vexation and trouble!

Letter 14 – Mr. De Courcy to Sir Reginald 

Reginald De Courcy writes from Churchill to his father astonished by his concerns regarding the seriousness of his involvement with Lady Susan. He suspects his sister is his source of injury and alarm, though no one else but her would think such an event possible. To imply that matrimony was Lady Susan’s design and his also is below his understanding of common sense. He asks his father to quiet his mind and harbor no suspicion. His only interest is to spend some time with a woman of high intellectual powers. His sister is prejudiced against Lady Susan because of her objections to her marriage to Mr. Vernon. In this case, and many others, the world has grossly injured that lady. She had negative information about his sister that motivated her to not recommend the marriage to Charles Vernon. This reveals her true motive and removes the blame, “how little the general report of anyone ought to be credited; since no character, however upright, can escape the malevolence of slander.” He blames himself for believing the slanderous tales of Charles Smith who onvented Mrs. Manwarings jealousy. James Martin, a man of fortune, had been drawn in by Maria Manwaring who is well known to be on the catch for a husband. Lady Susan did not intend to attract Sir James, and when she learned of Maria’s objections, she decided to leave, against the entreaties of Mr. and Mrs. Manwaring. Her departure acquits her of any misconduct. She is an unexceptionable mother, placing her daughter where she can be educated, but is accused of wanting maternal tenderness. He has revealed to his father his real sentiments to Lady Susan. He highly admires her abilities and esteems her character. If his father is not convinced that his fears have been most idly created, he will be deeply distressed and mortified.

Letter 15 – Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy

Catherine Vernon writes from Churchill to her mother returning Reginald’s letter pleased that her father is appeased, but between them, it only appears that Reginald will not marry Lady Susan presently. He gives a believable account of her behavior at Langford, but the source is Lady Susan, lamenting the degree of their intimacy to discuss it. She is sorry to have incurred his displease, and hopes her judgment is correct. Lady Susan is in distress from news of her daughter’s attempt at running away from school insinuating that Frederica is a perverse girl. Frederica has been sadly neglected, yet Lady Susan forgets this. Mr. Vernon is off to London to convince the school mistress to keep her, or if he fails, to bring her to Churchill. In the meantime, Lady Susan comforts herself with long walks in the shrubberies with Reginald. She has also confided in her and talks very well. She must not seem ungenerous and talk ill of her. She might be Reginald’s wife, heaven forbid. Mr. Vernon says he never saw a woman more distressed about the news of her daughter. Is his judgment inferior to hers? Lady Susan does not want Frederica to come to Churchill fearing it a reward for bad behavior. She asks Mrs. Vernon to treat her with severity, a painful necessity, even though Frederica’s temper does not bear opposite well. She asks Mrs. Vernon to support her and offer reproof is she seems too lenient. Reginald is incensed at the poor silly girl, surely influenced by Lady Susan’s opinion. Whatever his fate, they have done what they can to save him. It is now in a higher power.

Letter 16 – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson 

Lady Susan writes from Churchill to her friend Alicia never so provoked by the news of that “horrid girl” attempts to run-away. She supposes that it was prompted by her letter declaring her intensions with Sir James. “But she shall be punished, she shall have him.” Charles is off to London to make up matters with the schoolmistress. She does not want her at Churchill. If he fails, Alicia must find another school, or she must be married immediately. Frederica would not reveal her reasons to Miss Summers. She is too much in awe of her mother to tell tales. If her uncle gets her to talk, she is confident to be able to make her story as good as hers, bragging of her eloquence in the command of language. Reginald is uneasy unless they are alone. She likes him well enough, but there is a ridiculous indelicacy in his need to know all details from start to finish. She prefers the tender and liberal spirit of Manwaring who thinks anything she does is right. He is far superior to Reginald except in his power to be with her. He is consumed with jealousy and wants to visit her incognito. She forbade it. “Those women are inexcusable who forget what is due to themselves, and the opinion of the world.

Letter 17 – Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy

Catherine Vernon writes from Churchill to her mother revealing the arrival of her husband and Frederica. Miss Summers would not take her back into her academy. She was never seen a creature look so frightened. Lady Susan, who had been tearful before, received with perfect self-command and not any tenderness. Frederica bursts into tears leaving the room with her mother and not returning. When Lady Susan returned, she was re-eyed and as upset as before their arrival. Reginald was distressed for his fair friend and watched her with tenderness. She caught Lady Susan occasionally watching him in exaltation. “[S]o ostentatious and artful a display has entirely convinced me that she did in fact feel nothing.” She is even more angry at Lady Susan and concerned for her unhappy daughter. Frederica seems timid, dejected, and penitent, not at all as her mother described. She is grateful to her and her husband for their kindness. She has observed from the severity of Lady Susan and the dejection of Frederica that her mother does not love her nor treated her affectionately. Frederica is shut away with little to do but read. She has not talked to her, but “it is not every girl who has been running wild the first fifteen years of her life, that can or will read.” Reginald still thinks Lady Susan the best of mother and Frederica a worthless girl. Lady Susan finds it necessary to blame her daughter’s “impatient restraint and a desire of escaping from the tuition of masters” as the reason for her elopement. Reginald is parroting her ladyship.

Letter 18 – From the Same to the Same 

Catherine Vernon writes from Churchill to her mother happy that her description of Frederica is of interest to her and deserving of her regard. She notices that Frederica has grown fond of her brother Reginald and she wants to make him sensible of it. If Frederica’s artless charm can win him away from Lady Susan, she blesses the day that brought her to Churchill. She would not disapprove of her as a daughter even though she has had a wretched education. Her disposition is excellent and her natural abilities very good.  They are good friends, though she does not speak until after her mother, she talks enough when alone. “There cannot be a more gentle, affectionate heart; or more obliging manners, when acting without restraint; and her little cousins are all very fond of her.”

Letter 19 – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson

Lady Susan writes from Churchill to her friend Alicia informing her that Frederica had arrived and she wasted no time to discover her reason for the cause of her behavior attributing it to her own letter with her plans for her to marry Sir James. She was on her way to the Clarkes when she was apprehended. She is excessively provoked at the “parade of propriety which prevented Miss Summers from keeping the girl.” Surprisingly, Frederica has fallen in love with Reginald. Not only has she disobeyed her mother by refusing an unexceptionable offer of marriage, her affections have been given without her mother’s approval. She is so obvious and artless people will laugh at her. Reginald is clueless and indifferent to her. Frederica is in favor with her aunt because she is so little like Lady Susan. She is still unalterably fixed on her marriage to Sir James but choose to wait until she is way from the canvas of the Vernon’s.

Letter 20 – Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy 

Catherine Vernon writes from Churchill to her mother of Sir James Martin’s uninvited arrival at Churchill which sends Frederica into shock and fear appealing to her for help. Reginald is surprised at Frederica’s horrified reaction when he interrupts them to relay that Lady Susan requests her daughter downstairs. Sir James is obviously in love with Frederica at the encouragement of Lady Susan. He apologized for his arrival, talked a great deal, repeated himself, and laughed far more frequently than the subject required. Frederica said Reginald observed him in silence. Lady Susan asked Mrs. Vernon for a private meeting feigning surprise at Sir James’s unannounced arrival. He is an excellent match for her daughter and did not doubt that she and her husband would approve. She thanks her for her friendship, which she never expected because she knew that others had made her prejudiced against her. She only wishes that those people could now see the true affection between them. “What can one say of such a woman, my dear mother?” Lady Susan appears regretful of his arrival, but honest in his suitability for her daughter. However, she feels that a girl whose heart tends toward Reginald a better fate than to be Sir James’s wife. She will try to get her alone to find the truth of it, though Frederica is avoiding her.  

Letter 21 – Miss Vernon to Mr. De Courcy 

Frederica writes from Churchill to Reginald begging his liberty. She is distressed and miserable over Sir James. She can only help herself through him since she is forbidden to speak to aunt and uncle on the subject. She can not bear Sir James and asks him to intercede with her mother and break it off. Only he has that chance of prevailing with her. She disliked him form the start, thinking him “silly and impertinent and disagreeable.” She would rather work than marry him. She apologizes for the liberty, aware how it will anger her mother, but must take the risk.    

Letter 22 – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson 

Lady Susan writes from Churchill to her friend Alicia. She is enraged. Sir James arrived at Churchill, but she never wished him there. He actually invited himself for three days. She could have poisoned him. She explained her story to Mrs. Vernon and told Frederica that she was absolutely determined that she marry him. Frederica is miserable, but she is even more resolved on the match since seeing her affection grow for Reginald. He has not cooled to her, but mentioned Frederica positively once. She had no difficulty in convincing De Courcy that she was justified in desiring the match. Everyone saw that Sir James was no Solomon. Frederica is forbidden to complain of him to her aunt and uncle. Her scheme was running smoothly until Reginald, the person she least expected interceded for Frederica, claiming impropriety and unkindness in her allowing Sir James Martin to court her daughter contrary to her inclinations. She asks him by what authority he reprimands her and learned that Frederica had written to him and later discussed it further. She is certain that Frederica used allurements with him. She detests them both. She is “equally confounded at her impudence and his credulity.” He endeavored to soften her resentment, failed, and left as equally provoked. She was cool, but he “gave way to the most violent indignation.”  Frederica shall not forget this day. She will find that she has poured out her tale in vain and exposed herself to the ridicule of the world and the contempt of her injured mother.

© 2009 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose