Marrying Well for Fun and Profit: Debt

Advice for the upwardly-mobile Miss from Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot.

“Small debts are like small shot;
they are rattling on every side,
and can scarcely be escaped without a wound.

Great debts are like cannon;
of loud noise, but little danger.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

My Dear Vulgarian Miss,

Such fuss and bother we have heard recently, and over what? Debt. Seriously?

If you mean to marry well, you must come to terms with the notion of Debt. For the well-born, Debt does not constitute a Crisis. Nor does it call for Drastic Measures. Debt is a fact of life—like death or taxes or the need to wear a topping hat for Opening Day at Ascot.

My dear V.M., you must adjust your thinking. For nothing shrieks Plebeian or Cit (or my personal favorite, Mushroom) more loudly than a voiced determination to pay one’s debts. Repeat after me: “It is enough to simply pay the interest.” And, “I’ll pay it off once I get my inheritance.”

Gambling debts–as between gentlemen and gentlewomen–are something else entirely. Neglect these to your peril! I do not gamble. Shopping is safer.

For your convenient reference, I have compiled a list of helpful meditations.

• Shopping is healthful. It is the cure for stress.
• Shopping cures hunger as well. Clothes are better than food.
• You know you have nothing to wear to that concert, ball, card party, etc.
• It truly is all about the shoes.
• At 50% off, you are losing money if you don’t buy now.
• It isn’t for you, it’s a gift.
• Everyone you know—or better said, everyone who matters—has one.
• Why wait? You know you’re going to buy it anyway.
• Shopping will save the economy’s sinking ship. Even salesclerks must eat.
• If you wait until you have the money, you’ll be too old. Or too ugly.

Cordially yours in the upward climb,

Sir Walter Elliot, Bart

“Speak not of my debts unless you mean to pay them”
George Herbert (1593-1633)

For Further Reading:

Unbelievable True Debtor Excuses from collection agents. Useful!
Don’t Get Swiped A slideshow of reasons why we “abuse” credit cards from
The baronetage of England Plenary reading!

Copyright (c) Laura Hile, 2011

3 thoughts on “Marrying Well for Fun and Profit: Debt

    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Hi Barbara and Gayle!

      Gotta smile at Sir Walter. He saves my bacon every time. The man’s loaded with tips for the aspiring young miss.

      I’m aiming to keep his column as a weekly feature for Wednesdays. Feels good to be back to blogging! Thanks for your kind encouragement!



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