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First published November 14, 2009
I can remember my grandmother, who was married in 1899, describing to me how on her wedding day her mother drew her aside and said, "There's just one thing I must tell you, Dorothy. Remember, whatever Gathorne does to you is right."
Edit to clarify: In 1812 we have the War of 1812 with the USA. The USA has fought and won independence. John Donne (he of the poem referring to his Mistress in this way) died 1631, barely 20 years after the colonisation of Northern America had begun. Of course he waxes romantic about undiscovered countries (belonging to the Kingdom then of course!).
Myddleton is a totally different era and aware of the fact that "America" is now practically an enemy, especially after Perceval was killed and Liverpool tried to smooth the waves with the USA. As a diplomat and spy Myddleton would of course know about the impending enemities (to happen but a fortnight later). Why the hell should he wax romantic about a country about to open war on his own? He is educated enough to also know that Donne wrote his poem under totally different political conditions.
So these are entirely different things and I can't for the life of me believe that at a moment of sexual endeavour with his British wife he'd say something like that. I find it more than just outlandish. It took me right out of that scene and came over as a major plothole.