A Letter to Mr. Bertram From His Daughter Maria

Forgive me my dear father for not writing sooner. A most scandalous and ill-natured rumor has reached my ears, and I write to inquire as to the truth of it. I’ve heard tell from the servants, as well as from correspondence with my dear sister Julia, that you disapprove of my relationship with Mr. Crawford. I’m sure that I’ve heard wrong, and a day or two will clear up the matter. I eagerly anticipate your response and hope that it will alleviate my suffering. I’m so certain that it would since no father of mine would be so muddle-headed as to deny the wisdom of love.

It’s true father, Mr. Crawford has won my heart in ways my husband Mr. Rushworth never could have. Mr. Rushworth is dry, and uninteresting. He glides about on whims of fancy that shock even Julia (who, as we both know, is disposed to imaginations.) And father, I don’t want you feeling as if your judgment has been defied in the marriage, or that your previous consent is being scorned in some way. This is far from the truth and I’ve attempted to absolve you of this burden by sneaking out of Sotherton with Mr. Crawford as quietly as possible. I trust that my comings and goings were observed by no one other than perhaps the maidservant.

More ways to help with my suffering should not be wanting father, if I know anything of your virtue. I’ve heard something more from Julia, this concerning Fanny Price, who I am to understand, is currently visiting her parents in Portsmouth. In her comparison of our two houses, I heard that she’s alluded to Dr. Johnson’s celebrated judgment as to matrimony and celibacy, saying that “though Mansfield Park might have some pains, Portsmouth could have no pleasures.” Is not this a shame father? Portsmouth is of the lower classes and I wouldn’t want Fanny being accused of racism! Can we condone her thinking more highly of Mansfield Park than of Portsmouth? I realize that this must be a painful revelation father, and I highlight it only because I know how dear Fanny is to you. I want you to know that I am also aware of how well you approve of Mr. Crawford and now you can rest knowing that I have saved him from the love of a possible racist!

I long to be at home with Mr. Crawford and I hope this letter finds your sentiments in my favor without delay. In terms of my finances, Mr. Crawford has seen to my comfort, though I could wish for thirty extra pounds, and I know how you would fret if I were not comfortable, and so I mention here only briefly (in order to lessen your angst father.) I remain forever, and truly yours. – Maria

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