How is virtue essential for a happy life in the opinion of Henry Temple in Charlotte Temple by Susanna Rowson?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Virtue is an integral part of Henry Temple's belief system and of the moral code he follows. He demonstrates his genuine adherence to a life based on virtue in two critical moments in Charlotte Temple by Susanna Rowson. One instance is after Charlotte's seduction and downfall when Henry Temple receives her plea for forgiveness and help. Rather than following the social more of the era and denouncing Charlotte and casting from her family, friends and home he embraces her and abandons his immediate concerns to sail to America to bring her home to England. This leads to his embrace of Charlotte's baby and his promise to raise the child with all possible tenderness and love.

The second instance is when Henry Temple encounters the ruined Mrs. Crayton / La Rue huddled in a doorway in London. Knowing the full story of her role in his beloved daughter's downfall, he doesn't condemn her, on the contrary he takes pity on her and admits to a hospital where she breathes her last under compassionate care and goodness. He remarks that vice leads in the end to "misery and shame," implying what his life has demonstrated, that true virtue (different from lip service to virtue) leads to a happy life.

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