As the happy recipient of a random act of kindness yesterday, I’m pondering on such acts in the Austen Six. The winner has to be Decent-and-Dependable-Colonel Brandon, who presents a living (in today’s speak a job) to Honourable-Edward Ferrars. Edward was disinherited by his aspirational mother, Ambitious-Matriarch-Mrs Ferrars, after acting honourably by Lucy Steele.
Colonel Brandon wasn’t friends with Edward; he had just met him a few times and had heard his heartfelt story second hand but wanted to help. In the Austen Six those who act well by their fellow man usually have good things happen to them. This might be just one of the many attractions of Austen as those who are truly deserving end well; the Austen universe is very fair. The undeserving often escape censure but the heroines and heroes win the prize of true love.
And this is what happens to Colonel Brandon. He is a good man in the true sense of the word. He does not cast out the two fallen women in his life; he makes no judgements about their choices but sees the role of society in their downfall. Again, Austen is very modern in the subtext. Colonel Brandon may be no longer be in the optimum age category, and not the typical hero, but he oozes integrity and this makes him attractive:
“I have heard,” said he, with great compassion, “of the injustice your friend Mr. Ferrars has suffered from his family
Colonel Brandon presents Edward with the living; a random act of kindness is in his capacity to bestow and so he does. Austen with her authorial magic naturally allows Colonel Brandon to win his prize at the end of the novel as well. In the Austen universe the good are always rewarded and kindness, an underrated quality in today’s world, is celebrated.