And Speaking of Colonel Fitzwilliam…

OK, I know that I wasn’t speaking of the dear colonel, but since when do I ever need an excuse the talk about him. I have this whole, warped back story about Colonel Jonathan Fitzwilliam swimming around in the back of my head… and I also have another whole, warped back story about Colonel Montgomery Ian Fitzwilliam (from the Anne de Bourgh stories… who is a totally different person) So, naturally I have this whole warped schizophrenia vibe where the two colonel’s (who are actually one person) is… are… is… are? like talking in my head.

Got it?

No, me neither.

Anyway, since I’m always thinking about the colonel (in one form or another) I have often felt the need to explain him to everyone. I mean, no one understands him like I do. (you all only “think” you understand him, hello! I’ve know two versions of him… or possibly three)

However, here are my feeling on the subject: everyone has got the colonel all wrong!

Jane Austen, who by rights has the final say about Colonel “?” Fitzwilliam (no matter what I say… and I often think that to her, he was just a convenient plot point), wrote the colonel’s part very cleverly. She never said he was poor, yet, almost every JA fan-fiction story I read (and I’ve read a lot) portrays him as poor.

Hello? He is not poor!

Don’t believe me? Exhibit A:

In her kind schemes for Elizabeth, she sometimes planned her
marrying Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was beyond comparison the
most pleasant man; he certainly admired her, and his situation in
life was most eligible
; but, to counterbalance these advantages,
Mr. Darcy had considerable patronage in the church, and his
cousin could have none at all.

It says: His situation in life was most eligible. Think about it, this is Charlotte “the queen of the establishment seekers” talking. Remember, she’s the one who took Mr. Collin’s just so that she could have a roof over her head. Her radar is naturally tuned in to eligible young men… eligible young men who could provide a roof over someone’s head… not some poor man with no prospects.

Not convinced. Read on!

“He likes to have his own way very well,” replied Colonel
Fitzwilliam. “But so we all do. It is only that he has better
means of having it than many others, because he is rich, and
many others are poor. I speak feelingly. A younger son, you
know, must be inured to self-denial and dependence.”

Notice he says “many others” – he never says “I am.” But Lizzy is smart enough to know he’s being modest (also, a bit of a flirt, but that’s another post):

“In my opinion, the younger son of an earl can know very
little of either. Now seriously, what have you ever known of
self-denial and dependence? When have you been prevented by
want of money from going wherever you chose, or procuring
anything you had a fancy for?”


“These are home questions–and perhaps I cannot say that I
experienced many hardships of that nature. But in matters
of greater weight, I may suffer from want of money. Younger
sons cannot marry where they like.”

Lizzy knows he’s lying and we know she’s smart. I’d say he has had no hardships, as well (and I’m also smart)

Look at it this way: He travels from one great house to another and most likely on his father’s dime or Darcy’s; he dines in the first circles of society and is invited everywhere and he stays away from “work” as much as he possibly can. He’s livin’ large, if you ask me! But then here he goes and has to be a dick:

Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not
many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some
attention to money.”

Our habits of expense is an interesting choice of words. He’s now included himself in that sentence – it’s the first time he doesn’t specifically say “other’s”. That tells me he has money enough in his purse!

And look at that last line: “without some attention to money.” Notice he says “some” not “all” – as if he’s telling her that it’s a consideration, but it’s not necessarily his only consideration.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, I just want people would keep an open mind about him and not always cast him in the role of the poor relation. He’s not the poor relation and he’s never been or never shall be the poor relation. He’s the younger son of the Earl of Blank, and more importantly, not one of many, many, many younger sons… just look at the Morland’s with their many, many, many younger sons to provide for.

And BTW: those in the Colonel Brigade, please do not read anything into this – he may or may not end up with Jane.


3 thoughts on “And Speaking of Colonel Fitzwilliam…

  1. Y’know I think it’s due to your Colonel Montgomery Ian Fitzwilliam in the AdB Trilogy that I’ve grown to love the Colonel ? Fitzwilliam character so much. Seems like forever ago that I first read the trilogy… well, okay it was a few years back and was actually the first ever JA fiction I read and I still don’t know how I found it.

    This was rather interesting. Because in the back of my mind I’ve always wondered why he’s been portrayed as poor. ‘Cause okay, some Earls and ilk might gamble away their inheritance or what have you. Though I’ve never imagined the Earl of BlanketyBlank to have been that type. And even with an older brother the likelihood of the Colonel being poor is… well rather slim…

  2. Exactly. If he is to be described as poor, I believe the word “comparatively” needs to be placed in front of it.

  3. Gotta disagree. Rich and poor are relative terms.

    He could have been living off his salary as a colonel, which would have made him not poor to Lizzy or Charlotte – he may have earned about as much as Mr Collins, for example – but not as rich as Mr Bennet. He could have afforded a family, but he could not have supported them in the manner he (or Lizzy) was raised in, and if his family didn’t approve of the marriage, they could have cut him off from any financial assistance. So, he saw himself as poor because relative to his father and oldest brother, he was.

    It was a common situation for younger sons. Winston Churchill’s father was the younger son of the Duke of Marlborough (one of the wealthiest peers of the realm), and though Winston mixed in the highest circles all his life, he had to earn a living as a writer.

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