Saturday, February 11, 2023

"Rat-hunting all the morning in my father's great barns": Charles Musgrove and Captain Benwick in Jane Austen's "Persuasion" (1818)

In Jane Austen's "Persuasion" (1818), Charles Musgrove tells his sister-in-law Anne Elliot why he's begun to appreciate his sister Henrietta's bookish fiancé Captain Benwick: "I got more acquainted with him last Monday than ever I did before. We had a famous set-to at rat-hunting all the morning in my father's great barns; and he played his part so well that I have liked him the better ever since." Amusingly, Charles only likes Benwick when they shoot together, even though the Captain has just returned from the Napoleonic wars, where he surely shot Frenchmen, not rats. — That's an interpretation, but really I'm just struck by the image of hunting rats in barns. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 11 February 2023)

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