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Atlantic FamiliesLives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century$
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Sarah M. S. Pearsall

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199532995

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199532995.001.0001

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The Old Husband and the Young Wife: Scandal, Feeling, and Distance

The Old Husband and the Young Wife: Scandal, Feeling, and Distance

(p.210) 7 The Old Husband and the Young Wife: Scandal, Feeling, and Distance
Atlantic Families

Sarah M. S. Pearsall (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates a scandal in a family, examining why a cuckolded ‘old husband,’ a rich West Indian planter, was willing to offer forgiveness to his adulterous wife (who had slept with her own stepson-in-law, an Anglican clergyman). It raises issues about the lives of families divided between Jamaica and England, focusing on their wealth, ambitions, and sexuality, and the complicated ways in which distance between family members created both crises and the solutions to them. It also exposes how a man defined good fatherhood. The chapter scrutinizes white women's and even slaves' abilities to deploy eloquent sensibility, and the limits of this language. It also traces how Atlantic distance could both undermine and make possible ‘family feeling’.

Keywords:   scandal, adultery, cuckoldry, sexuality, Jamaica, England, slaves, fatherhood, ambition

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