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Corvey ‘Adopt an Author’ |
Anne Marsh Caldwell

The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University

by Julie A. Smith, May 2005

Anne Marsh Caldwell's treatment of society, class, marriage and the relationship of parents with their children in A Country Vicarage (1846) and Emilia Wyndham (1848)

The only thing she cared for upon earth was Emilia; and such was the view she had taken of a woman’s position in society, that she looked upon her rather as the destined victim of unavoidable and irritating evils than as the hopeful candidate for love and happiness. Her time and efforts were employed in endeavouring to strengthen and fortify the mind of the young and imaginative girl, to lower her expectations, strengthen her powers of endurance, and prepare her for that existence which she had herself found to be such a cheat. ‘(Caldwell Marsh, 1848,17.)’

This quotation from the beginning of Emilia Wyndham contains the very essence of the issues discussed within this essay. It shows awareness by Mrs Wyndham of the family’s upper class position within society and she realises that in order to maintain this position her daughter has to marry well. It is not enough for Emilia to marry for love; she has to marry into substantial money. The very sentiment of Mrs Wyndham’s speech sets out the whole feeling of a mother who was disillusioned in love, but aware of practicalities. Although she cannot bear to envisage the same fate for her daughter as she had suffered, she knows that unless she is able to secure a loving man for Emilia to marry, who is wealthy, her daughter will have the same unhappy life as her own has been. Mrs Wyndham has very little say in the running of the house. Her husband makes all the alterations to the house without consulting her and even if she does offer advice she is ignored. Mr Wyndham’s lack of interaction with his wife has left her ‘silent in her habits; cold, and almost severe in her general aspect; cherished within her own mind a thorough disgust of life, and was very little liked, understood, or appreciated.’ ‘(ibid, 17)’ She was very young when she married Wyndham and believes she ‘committed the folly of marrying him.’ ‘(ibid, 24)’ Caldwell-Marsh shows a similar lack of attention to Mrs Wyndham as her husband does: ‘that is all we can say on her behalf.’ ‘(ibid, 24)’ It grieved Mrs Wyndham to view Emilia’s life with such reality but she knew that she must prepare Emilia for the responsibilities, which go with the house. Mrs Wyndham was only too aware of the sadness a marriage for money can bring. Although Mrs Wyndham’s presence is only limited as she dies very early in the novel, her influences are shown in Emilia. She feels that she must prepare Emilia for any disappointments, which lie ahead. Emilia is well prepared by her mother and her marriage does survive because she has never assumed that she will have a fairy tale marriage. In contrast, her childhood friend Lisa is unprepared for ordinary married life and once the honeymoon is over she is unable to settle. Emilia’s marriage suffers two disappointments. She does not love Danby and has every intention of refusing his proposal, so there is no love match here. Although very successful in his career, Danby is not wealthy enough to take over the house immediately, therefore not a society match either. He has however, enough to take care of her father’s debts, and takes Emilia off of her uncle’s hands.
            In contrast to the bond of Mrs Wyndham and Emilia, Lisa has a less affectionate relationship with her mother. Lisa’s mother is determined to secure her daughter’s social success and once the truth about the Wyndham’s financial difficulties is made available she expresses her concerns. These are not concerns for a friend in trouble but for her own standing in society, and of what people are thinking. This is the same stance adopted later by Lisa in her own married life. Caldwell-Marsh has portrayed the image of family traits and following a parent’s influence and example. As Lisa disobeys her mother, she also disobeys her husband. She is treated with a lack of love from her husband, which is exactly show she and her mother treated each other. The fact that she is shown very little affection from her parents shows through in her own parenting skills. She is looking to be loved but is unable to show love to others. Emilia finds showing love to children a very easy task as she was greatly loved as a child.
            In the beginning both Emilia and Lisa live in country houses and enjoy high social standing. Mrs Wyndham’s brother Sir Herbert Montague, this title is something, which is played upon by Mrs Wyndham and is put to the test by Mr Wyndham. The ancestry of Caldwell-Marsh can be traced back to the King of Scotland.1 Once again showing a familiarity with what she knows and can relate to within her novels. Caldwell Marsh is able to show the setting of a country house because she has lived there she is able to posit the feelings and emotions of losing such a happy home.
            Emilia Wyndham has an idyllic nineteenth century, society-style novel beginning. Its dedication to Wordsworth shows genteel and romance expectations of the novel. This dedication to a poet leads appropriately into the first chapter, which starts in verse. The verse is written by Emilia and gives an explanation of where and when the poem was written: ‘WRITTEN IN AN EVEING OF SPRING BY MY SLEEPING AUNT, AND LISTENING TO THE THRUSH SINGING NEAR ME.’ ‘(Caldwell Marsh, 1848, 7)’ Wordsworth characteristically favored this beginning in some of his poems.2 Caldwell Marsh uses this introduction in order to show Emilia’s knowledge of poets, and to describe the kind of life Emilia had so far enjoyed. Caldwell-Marsh’s portrayal of the country house and lifestyle is vividly depicted within Emilia Wyndham. Caldwell-Marsh herself lived in a large country house with her parents; the description of the Wyndham’s family home in the country ‘The Oaks’, could be a representation of her family home where according to her letters she spent a happy childhood. With her own background in mind, Caldwell-Marsh was aware of the precarious position, which a family like the Wyndhams could find themselves in. Unlike her creator Mrs Wyndham only had one child, all of her attention had to focus on Emilia. Like Caldwell-Marsh, Mrs Wyndham knew that the future of the house was dependent upon her child’s success. The fairytale romance of Emilia and Colonel Lenox was always questionable. Emilia mistakes his brotherly affection for something more serious especially when he says he is not interested in her friend, whom he later marries. Mrs Wyndham anxiously desires a match between her daughter and the Colonel. She is more aware, but not totally aware until the very end of the situation and believes that he can protect her.
            Mrs Wyndham believes that she has left money to Emilia, in her will however, this is not the case. Mrs Wyndham is aware of the debt that her husband has gotten into, and believes that Colonel Lenox could support her financially and if this is done quickly and quietly then the family should not suffer any disgrace. She is not aware at first that of the fact that Emilia will be left penniless. She tries to explain to Emilia:

“There would have been a provision for you, my Emilia,” she now continued, lowering her voice, which, in spite of her efforts, grew very husky, “if, unfortunately, it had not been decided by a very eminent legal man, that there was a flaw in our marriage settlement, and that it was – good for nothing.” ‘(Caldwell Marsh, 1848, 41)’

Mrs Wyndham has now given up on life and acknowledges that her death is close by. She has done all she can to prepare Emilia and does not wish to witness the demise of her daughter. The concept of a good match was to safe guard the family position and financial status. Mrs Wyndham believes that the Colonel can provide this stability and also that Emilia does love him.
            Caldwell-Marsh carefully weaves her story; if she had allowed Emilia to marry the Colonel there could be fewer possibilities, for the content of the novel. Either they live happily ever after, which was not really a feasible ending or very stimulating; or the Colonel could have turned out to be monstrous. The later of the two possibilities leaves Emilia being a character requiring total sympathy from the reader, leaving her character with a totally pathetic appearance. This in turn can transform a society novel into a tragic or gothic style novel. Emilia Wyndham does have its tragedy, but mainly in expected ways such as Emilia’s mother dying, and her loss of fortune. There are no spectral visitations, mysterious happenings or strange dark closets and forbidden rooms so familiar of the gothic style novel of the same period. The reader is not shocked but led gently and emotionally through.
            Caldwell-Marsh constructs her tale in such a way that the reader is desperate to administer sympathy to several of the characters. Throughout the novel different feelings are felt towards the characters at various times of their involvement within the story. The reader is not allowed to feel total sympathy towards Emilia when she is clearly causing distress to her husband by attending the breakfast party. Sympathy instead to given to Danby because it is felt that he is only trying to please her by consenting to her attending. However some sympathy is withdrawn from Danby when he is angry with her being late home showing that he does not trust her. Sympathy is then given back to him as he contemplates suicide. Sympathy is given and withdrawn from Lisa concurrently. The reader is meant to be shocked at her outrageous flirtatious behavior, but also compassion and understanding because her husband does not really her, he still has feelings for Emilia. Caldwell-Marsh creates an emotional conflict with the reader’s feelings. So many different characters needing sympathy at different times is skillfully presented. However according to one contemporary critic Caldwell-Marsh does not abandon the reader and she is credited with being able to match the raise of passion and power of the story to the passion and power of the narrator. She is always appears able to guide the reader through and never leaves the reader to cope alone an emotion, which ‘the pen is unable to describe’ ‘(Fothergill Chorley, 1846, 416)’3. Caldwell-Marsh guides the reader through the experiences of Emilia and Louisa. In contrast Emilia shows a mature presence as opposed to Louisa’s immature and innocent nature. Both have had a similar upbringing but have been taught the ways of the world differently.
            In order to understand the experiences of Emilia and Louisa, I have used Frances Burney’s Evelina (Burney, 2002)’ and Mrs Henry Wood’s Isabel ‘(Wood, 1998)’ as comparisons to be taken into consideration. Caldwell-Marsh’s The Country Vicarage was written after Evelina and contains many similarities to Burney’s novel. Both young ladies are relatively poor and both leave their homes and families to be introduced into society. Caldwell-Marsh describes London society life as a shallow culture, which lacks moral and emotive values. She shows a society obsessed with class, money and position. Mrs Carlton takes the places of Burney’s Lady Howard, she invites Louisa to stay with her and be introduced into society. She acts as Louisa’s chaperone and wants to produce an exterior perfection of loveliness, and is pleased with her project:

She (Louisa) blushed and hesitated, and had it not been form the very substantial arm of Mrs. Carlton, might have found difficulty in getting along. That lady, however, fully sensible of the value of what she had to produce, led her exultingly forward, encouraging her by her flattery and her smiles, and was rewarded for her good-nature, and the prudence of her application to Carson, by seeing the eyes of the whole assembly fixed in admiration upon her remarkably beautiful protegée.’(Caldwell Marsh, 1846, 34-35)’

It is Mrs Carlton who receives the attention and reward rather than Louisa. She is seen only as a commodity something which allows Mrs Carlton to remain as a woman of class and breeding. By presenting a young and beautiful girl to society she is given a pretext for frequenting this society of fine ladies and wealthy men. Without Louisa, Mrs Carlton would have no function in this kind of society, as her own daughters are married. Mrs Carlton is a woman who is shown and can show no real affection. The only way for her to obtain admiration and acceptance is through other people and in this case at the expense of Louisa. Caldwell-Marsh portrays Mrs Carlton with no consideration of the consequences of a mixed society marriage could bring. Mrs Carlton wants to be center of attention she is extremely pleased with herself at her successful manipulation of Louisa. If Louisa does marry Lord William Melville, then Mrs Carlton can feel pleased at the part she had to play in their courtship. She can also still influence Louisa, and keep her own social standing by associated with Lord and Lady Melville. Through Mrs Carlton, Caldwell-Marsh brings together two people from completely opposite social spheres and Louisa is unprepared for the realities of married life. Accordingly Diane Duffy sees this conflict as Caldwell-Marsh’s way of offering ‘a scathing critique of the emptiness of ‘fashionable’ society and its destructive influences on human lives.’ ‘(Duffy, 2002)’4 By comparison Burney presents the fashionable London scene as having a positive effect upon Evelina. It is possible that Caldwell-Marsh might be showing London society as a personal view. Although it was recorded in her narrative dairies and an inventory within her will that Caldwell-Marsh and her family owned properties in London5 there is very little mention of them taking up residency at these properties. There are many references to dinner parties and entertaining friends but these occasions occurred at Eastbury near London rather than in the actual London properties.
            In her preface to Emilia Wyndham Caldwell Marsh declares that it is a ‘beautiful sight’ to see young ladies waiting anxiously along with the rest of the family to hear the most recent novel, rather than be dressed to attend the latest fashionable parties. This shows Caldwell Marsh ideal of family life, she would rather the family be entertained together as opposed to the young ladies going out to parties. She however, does not present Louisa this way. Louisa likes the society life and is determined to marry into this society. Evelina unlike Louisa remains passionate about people especially Mr Villars and her friend Maria. She does not take advantage of her relationship with Lord Orville. Louisa is portrayed as a woman on a quest to find the wealthiest and most influential man that she is able to. She is not content to find herself in the same marital situation which her sister finds herself in. It is not until Louisa is older and has a child of her own that she realises the importance of her family. Louisa wants everything to be blissful and thinks that if Lord William could spend more time with her and their daughter then they could ‘play’ happy families. However Lord William is no Lord Orville and he has no intention of being restricted by a wife and child:

No heir of a noble title was the child of Louisa. The house of Melville was supported by a large and promising nursery – full in its elder branch – and Lord William was entirely without the common ambition of younger sons, to raise a vigorous offset from the parent tree: he cared not in the least for these things, and looked upon the whole business as a tiresome bore.

He was at his club when he was told that his wife was ill, and shortly afterwards, that she has made him a father; and of a daughter. A father!- the sound was even disagreeable to his ear: he mounted his horse, asked it all was going on well, and went – not home - but to the Park. ‘(Caldwell Marsh, 1846, 123)’
Lord William does show concern but once again it is for appearances. He asks if everything is well in order to allow others to see an appearance of anxiety, however he has not intention of going home and seeing this for himself. This time he is allowed to escape trauma, but when he shows his air of indifference next time he is not so lucky.

Emilia also has a problematic marriage. She marries because she has no choice and feels isolated when she leaves her family home. However it is not the fact that her husband has no time for her, but it is due to the fact that he believes she is better left alone and would rather he no pay attention to her. Their marriage suffers from a lack of communication. The overwhelming advice a modern audience would offer is to communicate. Communication is definitely lacking in this novel. Caldwell Marsh shows how problematic the lack of this skill can be. There are time when Emilia tries to extract his interest only he misunderstands her and only thinks that she is happier leading her own life. Emilia expresses her feelings towards Danby: ‘Indeed, indeed, Mr. Danby, I like to come home for the sake of others besides my father!’ ‘(Caldwell Marsh, 1848, 248)’ Emilia is explicit in the fact that she has other reasons for coming home but she is implicit in the exact reason. Part of Danby’s makeup as a lawyer surely should be to understand both implicit and explicit meanings. However he seems unable to do this within his personal life. Upon finding a meaning to imply something he should work on that meaning until he is satisfied he fully understands. However he appears to be afraid to ascertain the real meaning because he might not like it. Caldwell-Marsh shows that Emilia does realise what she has, in the midst of Lisa realizing what she has not:

“Oh, nonsense! – don’t talk to me!” she cried, with increasing bitterness. “The man you have married may be ugly, may be stupid, may be ill-tempered, may be odd; but he’s neither a cox-comb nor a fool – and he loves you. Oh Emilia! Treasure a husband’s love! What is the whole world to a woman without it? Your husband is a plain piece of home-spun enough; but he loves his wife, after all. Mine is much too fine a gentleman to do any such vulgar thing.”
Emilia’s heart responded in silence to this reflection. After a few moments, she said-
“What you say, my dearest Lisa, is quite true. A constant heart and an honest affections is indeed a priceless treasure; and yet-”
“Treasure it! Treasure it!” cried Lisa. ‘(Caldwell Marsh, 1848, 244)’

Their open conversation shows their feelings and expectations of marriage. Lisa is devoid of love from her husband. Her marriage has not lived up to her expectations; she thought that he would love her in the same way as he did when he first met her. However it is discovered that he marries her because Emilia had already married Danby. Emilia’s hesitation ‘and yet’ show how she is inexperienced in relating her love to her husband. She has not such problems with Lisa’s children. She shows awareness but is not totally sure of his feelings.
            Lenox is unable to continue to maintain the feelings for her and Lisa exacerbates the situation by flirting with other men to make him jealous, as she believes that this will make him love her again. Emilia knew from the start that her marriage was not a love match and so did not expect too much. She is confused with her feelings for Danby and these feelings become even more perplexed when she again meets up with Lenox. Caldwell-Marsh shows that marriage is something to be worked at. She could have portrayed all the marriages to be happy and successful, however she aims to show that in real life this is not always the case. She understands that she has to make her novel enjoyable but not too shocking. She chooses not the main character, but her friend to provide the shocking element of the novel by allowing her to have liaisons with other men. This would posit the argument that Lisa is a paradox to Emilia and adding moral interpretation. Readers aspiring to be like Lisa have only themselves to blame for their downfall, whereas the virtuous Emilia does eventually have happiness; and readers are ‘encouraged’ to act accordingly. Emilia is not totally honorable as she assumes the right to tell Lisa not to attend the breakfast as it is against her husband’s wishes. Emilia must surely know that her own husband would rather her not go to the party, he only keeps quite in order to keep the peace with his wife. She is so involved in her friend’s marriage that she is unable to see that precarious situation her own marriage is in. She feels that the dress ordered for her by Danby was a sign that he approved of her attending the breakfast. However it was a gesture recommended by Susan to show that he does love her wants her to feel happy and content with her life. Danby does not contradict Emilia’s thoughts upon the garment.
            Convenient marital situations run as a theme within Caldwell-Marsh’s work. Lisa’s marriage is convenient to Lenox, who becomes financially better when he marries. Emilia receives a convenient marriage proposal from Mr Danby. It would be unthinkable to let a genteel lady of Emilia’s upbringing be left destitute and exposed to the elements. Due to the fact that Emilia’s father has re-mortgaged the house to her uncle who refuses to give Emilia and her father shelter and he has also made Emilia sign away her small savings Emilia and her father are penniless. Her father faces debtor prison and she has no skill to use in order to find work. Even when the house is sold Emilia and her father would not receive any money. Without the thousand pounds given to her by Danby to assist her until her uncle arrives she is unable to buy food. When her uncle does arrive he claims that they are not his responsibility, he is only interested in the recovery of his money. She has to be saved, however not by a handsome young and wealthy man, but by a middle-aged austere lawyer. Unlike Louisa, Emilia did not marry for love or what she thought could be love, but out of pure convenience. Emilia has been prepared by her mother to accept this fate and in order to save her father and herself from living the lives of paupers she undertakes to lower her place in society. This provides evidence and support for author and journalist Harriet Martineau’s declaration in her Autobiography. Martineau explains that Emilia learns of life not through the fairytale romantic adventures, but in ‘the heavy wearying everyday-day evils of every-day actual life…combining patience, perseverance, endurance, gentleness and disinterestedness’ ‘(Colby, 1974, 35)’. These qualities are shown by Caldwell-Marsh to be essential to the procuring of a society marriage. Emilia shows that by accepting a marriage out of her own class and society she effectively moves away from the public life. In contrast Louisa now moves away from a private country life into a public society life as wife of Lord William.
            Caldwell-Marsh depicts a realistic interpretation of marriage. She tries to capture the real essence of a life in a public and a private marriage. A contemporary critic and author Henry Fothergill Chorley, is credited with possibly having written the Athenaeum review of Emilia Wyndham6. In his review he remarks on her characters stating that; ‘Her characters, though rarely original, are, without question, her own old acquaintances.’ ‘(Fothergill Chorley, 1846, 416)’7 Fothergill Chorley however, makes no explicit references to persons upon whom the characters are based. He puts forward an idea that Caldwell-Marsh based her novels on real life people of whom she would have intimate knowledge. Therefore allowing her to relate realistic situations and convince the reader that these things are true and could possibly happen. Caldwell-Marsh is able to relate to this way of life due to her own experiences in society. Her connections with Emma Darwin and the Wedgwoods gave her great scope to present all aspects of society. In her preface to Emilia Wyndham Caldwell-Marsh states that:

The novel must not trench upon the confines of either the allegory or the fable; its essential, its indisputable quality is, that is should convey the sense of reality – that the people we read of should be to use as actual being and persons – that we should believe in them. ‘(Colby, 1974, 35-36)’

She further goes on to point out that it is not accepted that the reader should really believe in The Faerie Queene but that the reader should be able to relate and believe in true life where the novelist endeavor to unite proceedings and their consequences. She explicitly states that; ‘It is for the writer of fiction, without ever over-stepping the bounds of easy probability, to bring … causes and their consequences into obvious connection.’ ‘(ibid, 36)’ In her preface she shows that it is her aim to relate reality and she believes this is what the reader wants to read. She feels that what the reader wants to read is realistic and moral. She does of course add a little contention to Emilia Wyndham in the shape of Susan. Susan is a rather bold and confident servant, who interferes with Danby’s suicide attempt and offers advice to him regarding Emilia. Caldwell-Marsh had a desire to keep family and households together. In her preface she outlines her ideal of a family who are able to come together to be entertained. She feels that it is the function of the novel to interest and amuse the impulsive ‘fair creatures’ ‘(ibid, 36)’ and should also meet with the approval of the typical English man and his wife. She uses her ideal of a family in order to present to the reader a believable and pragmatic experience.
            In both Emilia Wyndham and A Country Vicarage, the women are aware of the solemn promises and the duties of marriage. Although Louisa is treated badly by her husband she would never think of leaving him and attempting to make a life for herself and her child. The reason Caldwell-Marsh might have decided against allowing Louisa to do this highlights the limited rights that women had in this period. In 1839 the Custody of Infants act was passed, this allowed women to claim custody of young children following a separation. However it was not until 1857 when the Matrimonial Causes Act was passed that the possibilities of civil divorce became achievable. It was also the passing of this act that allowed legally separated women to retain their earnings giving them some control over their own income.8 The concern over custody of children and divorce are also themes in Mrs Henry Wood’s East Lynne. Although East Lynne was written in 1860, several years after the Custody of Infants Act was passed, the act concerning marriage was relatively new. Lady Isabel is granted a divorce, but it is made clear that it was her husband that applied for it, rather than herself; but she never tested the earlier legal act regarding her children. The wife of Sir Frances Levison does not believe that she has to remain with her husband purely out of duty, but she is concerned that if she does leave her husband he will have sole custody over their children. The issue of children is rendered to be a very if not the most emotive issue. Caldwell-Marsh presents both Emilia and Louisa as character which are very caring mothers. Emilia’s caring appears to echo the care, which her mother showed to her. Emilia’s lack of children until the very end of the novel allows her to show considerable love and fondness of her friend’s children, who she is sure are not in receipt of a mother’s love. Emilia is a very devoted surrogate mother to these children and spends as much time with them as she is allowed. Caldwell-Marsh herself enjoyed spending time with her children and was devastated when her son Martin died in his twenties. It is shown through her constant letter writing to Martin that she adored him; she wrote to him and aimed to catch every post if she could. The content of the letters show her adoration and her happiness of motherhood:

Few mothers meet with hearts like yours to work upon. I fear, were there more such sons the task of parents would be blest indeed. Your affection and your grateful heart do more for me than make me happy.

This letter date 15 June 1846, is indicative of many letters sent by Caldwell-Marsh to her son. She was truly devoted to him, and was unhappy when he was away from home. She passes on her own feelings through Louisa. A Country Vicarage was written at the time Martin died, this might well have had some bearing on the ending of the novel. It is not clear as first what sex the child was, maybe a boy would have been to painful for Caldwell-Marsh to write about. She also places Louisa with the child when she dies this is something that Caldwell-Marsh was not able to do for her son. The fact that Louisa dies very soon after the child shows Caldwell-Marsh’s grief for her own son. This might well have been the way she herself felt, however she had other children to think about. She does show a strong bond between herself and her son, by having a headstone dedicated to Martin, Arthur and herself.
            During the eighteenth century society circles were much smaller, the total amounting to about 300 to 400 making up the greatest families of that period. ‘(Davidoff, 1973, 20)’ Due to the lower fatality rate more and more of these children within these families survived. This produced an abundance of titled and untitled upper class men. Allowing for more and more elite families. It is true that some of the families were only considered upper class within their locality, but this of course allowed them to be active within politics and move higher in the ranking. This is the case with Danby in Emilia. He is a London solicitor however due to the fact that he married Emilia and eventually bought the Wyndham’s family home The Oaks, by the end of the story he is consider higher in status. This is a theme, which is echoed in East Lynne, through Carlyle’s marriage to Lady Isabel.
            The class system ran along the principals of containment. It was not appropriate to marry out of your own class. Everyone has a place within society and perform well is boundaries are adhered to. Even children were raised to ‘know their place’: ‘At birth every child acquires the position of family in the existing rank hierarchy.’ ‘(Mayer, 1967, 5)’ This means that everyone has a place and must conform to that order. It is only when this order is breached that problems occur. The whole idea is regularly tested. It has to be tested in order for changes to be made. A stagnant class only allowing marriage between the same classes and standing produces a stagnant and depleted gene pool. New blood has to be introduced. This usually causes concern especially in the higher classes. Class systems were supposed to be impenetrateable. The problem lay with the higher classes. They wanted to keep a hold onto their power and position and felt that this could only be done by a closed class system. Due to the fact that politics became important within the upper classes the ‘society families’ made their annual journey to Parliament, which was considered to be ‘the greatest club of all.’ ‘(Davidoff, 1973, 21)’ Their participation in Parliament was an essential aspect in their sustainable hold of a society undergoing such speedy changes. The existing higher classes needed to keep control of the ‘new’ wealthy families; they felt it was their birthright and therefore their place to be in control. Marriage was of course one way to access higher society. Society marriages usually consisted of one partner with a title and the other with money. However, during the nineteenth century this type of arranged marriage was no longer considered acceptable. It was regarded more suitable for the individuals to choose partners. However, there still had to be some method to deal with the undesirable partners and to ensure the maximum gain for both sides. By putting up social barriers many ‘unsuitable’ matches could be evaded. A girl was only eligible to marry once she had become an adult, she could only become an adult by being introduced into society. Therefore allowing only desirable matches to be made. Caldwell-Marsh breaks through the barriers and the ideal by marry the poor Louisa into a wealthy and powerful family. She also marries the once wealthy Emilia to the lower class lawyer Danby. Both marriages have their problems. Louisa finds it hard to adjust to this more public life even though she enjoyed the high society life in London before she married Lord William. Emilia does find it easier to adjust but she also enjoys a taste of her old life when she is with Lisa. She further breaks the etiquette of society by allowing Louisa and Lord William, and Emilia and Danby to be alone.

An unmarried woman under thirty could not go anywhere of be in a room even in her own house with an unrelated man unless accompanied by a married gentlewoman or a servant. ‘(ibid, 50)’

Caldwell-Marsh does acknowledge this fact within Louisa’s case:

The door is forced – she is torn from the carriage – she is in his arms! – he presses her to his bosom – he clears once the crowd – once more he dashes aside every obstacle, and, escaping the press, flings, rather than lays, her on the cushions of an empty carriage… ‘(Caldwell Marsh, 1846, 50)’

She is daring in her narrative of events, but then she forces Lord William to realise what he has done:

The impropriety of having thrown her into his own carriage now struck him, it must be confessed, for the first time; the figure he should make… ‘(Caldwell Marsh, 1846, 51)’

Caldwell-Marsh is daring and dramatic in her narration of events regarding the carriage episode, she then forces Lord William to realise the consequences of his actions. This can be related to a similar scene in Evelina. However Lord Orville does seem to be more concerned for his ‘damsel’, and gives very little thought to what other people think, whereas Lord William is concerned with what people think about him. He is relieved when a servant turns up with a note requesting that Louisa be ‘restored into society.’ ‘(ibid, 51)’ Lord William is fully aware of society rules and should therefore understand the restrictions. Louisa can be forgiven as she like Evelina, is not aware of this rules. Emilia Wyndham however should be aware of the rules of society, but is placed by Caldwell-Marsh in a position of danger. She not only is alone with Danby whilst he is attending to her father’s affairs but also accepts money from him in order to maintain the household. Danby is not the family solicitor, but an acquaintance of her father’s. However he pushes himself forward as her guardian and protector until her uncle arrives. Danby of course is of a lower class and is only concerned with the effort, which is required of him in order to sort out any legal and financial situations.
            It would appear that within her writing Anne Caldwell-Marsh has concentrated so much on the presentation of reality. This is where her power lay; in her obituary she was accredited to have maintained a position among writers for at least a quarter of a century. She knew what the public wanted and she could deliver it. Her novels were once again accredited with real histories rather than romance to state this further assurance Fothergill Chorley stated that: ‘Her novels were real histories; that is to say, they described social life and its possible, probable, or actual circumstances, with a truth and fidelity that was wonderfully attractive.’10 She wrote about the things she knew well, making her novels rich and intense. Her own love of her family shines through her work and displays an obvious place within her heart. Her own special bond with her mother and her daughters allow her to represent these feelings and emotions in relation to Emilia especially. Her own love of her children provided the experience and scope for her to understand Emilia’s longing for children and her constant vigil by the bedsides of Lisa’s children. Emilia goes through the embarrassment of losing the family fortune without the support of parents or a loving husband. She admits defeat when she marries Danby concluding that there is no other way in which she can proceed in life. When Caldwell-Marsh herself losing her family fortune she has the support of a loving husband. Her situation is not so dire as Emilia as she does not lose the family home. She also has her writing to help support the family. She appears to take on the role of provider in order to secure a safe future for herself and her family. Emilia does the same in the only was she feels that she can. She provides a home for her father and herself. She scarifies any hope of happiness in order to due a daughter’s duty. Louisa is a conflicting character who tests Caldwell-Marsh’s ability to view and present characters from various angles. The view taken by Caldwell Marsh was possibly one of a personal opinion. She is trying to point out the moralistic values. She presents Louisa as someone who is set upon making herself happy and shows very little consideration to others. She uses Charles, but he is the only one who is with her in her hour of need. Caldwell-Marsh must have researched this angle well in order to be successful in her presentation of Louisa. The only part of Caldwell Marsh in Louisa is the love shown towards the child, and the despair at its loss. Caldwell Marsh gives the impression of being able to portray characters through the classes. She was connected with the Darwins and Wedgwoods, but in her preface to Emilia Wyndham she shows an image in which she understand the value of the servants. She shows that she knows that they have an important position within the household. She demonstrates this idea with Susan, by giving her power albeit very limited she allows Susan to contribute more than just cleaning to the household.


  1. Unless stated otherwise all the information contained within this biography was obtained with the kind permission from the following website: This is a website constructed by Anne’s great great grandson Jeremy James Heath-Caldwell. Extra information not included in the website has also been received from JJ via e-mail.

This website contains a vast amount of information about Anne’s early life and her family connections, including references to other family properties and distant family members. A list of her books, letters and will are also contained. Letters displayed on this site show Anne’s connections with the Darwins and Wedgwood families. The information on this website goes from a list of contents in the library at Linley Wood to a drawing of Hong Kong harbor, as well as reference to Rev Dunbar Isidore Heath and shows relatives around the world. There are detaisl of court cases and inventories of the houses. The list of connected ancestors appears to be ‘endless’. The above website is an easy way to lose several hours and still not have seen everything.

  1. The university of Texas at Austin. Tarlton Library – Law in Popular Culture Collection – E-texts. The Complete Newgate Calendar
    Volume V. accessed 1 April 2005. Further information regarding this case can be found in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s archives. However it can be difficult to access.

 3. The full conditions and terms of James Stamford’s Will can be found at Accessed 1 April 2005.


Critical Essay

  1. Information regarding the ancestors of the Marsh and Caldwell families can be found acessed 1 April 2005

 2. The beginning of Tintern Abbey starts with ‘Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the banks of the Wye During a Tour 13 July 1798’ ‘(Wu, 2000-2001, 265)’. Wordsworth used this introduction to some of his poems.

  1. The exact location of this information is The Athenaeum, No 965, Page 416, 25 April 1846. Found at the following web address- accessed 25 March 05.

  1. This review written by Diane Duffy, 2002. Can be found - accessed 1 April 2005


  1. One of the properties recorded as being owned by the Marsh family, No. 3 Sowisbes Street cannot be located it is very likely that this street has been demolished it therefore can not be established exactly what kind of area this house was in.
  1. The Athenaeum review is thought to have been written by Henry Fothergill Chorley found at the following web address – accessed 1 April 2005.;bytheauthorof.

7. The Athenaeum, No 965, Page 416, 25 April 1846. Emilia Wyndham. By the Author of "Two Old Men's Tales", 3 Vols, Colburn- accessed 25 March 2005

  1. Information obtained from the following web address– accessed 20 March 2005.

9. This extract is taken from one of many letters written by Anne Caldwell Marsh to her son.

  1. This information is taken from Anne’s Obituary found at the following web address – accessed 20 March 2005