Captain Wentworth once proposed to Anne Eliott, but to her lasting regret her family persuaded her to reject him. Years later, Captain Wentworth is eavesdropping while Anne tells a friend, Captain Harville, that men soon forget such disappointments.
“Oh!” cried Anne eagerly, “I hope I do justice to all that is felt by you, and by those who resemble you. God forbid that I should undervalue the warm and faithful feelings of any of my fellow-creatures! I should deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known only by woman.
“No, I believe you capable of everything great and good in your married lives. I believe you equal to every important exertion, and to every domestic forbearance, so long as — if I may be allowed the expression — so long as you have an object.
“I mean while the woman you love lives, and lives for you. All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.”