Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 437
Nevil Beauchamp (neh-VIHL boh-SHAWM), a young man who is eager to reform the world. He starts out as a naval officer but later decides to run for Parliament as a Liberal candidate. He falls in love with the sister of a French officer whose life he has saved, but she marries a man her father has chosen for her. Nevil loses the election, but the daughter of a Tory friend falls in love with him. When he proposes and she refuses him because of her father’s demands, he falls ill. He marries Jenny Denham, who has nursed him during his illness. His death by drowning while trying to rescue a child ends his reformer’s career.
Renée Rouaillout (ruh-NAY rew-ay-YEW), née Renée de Croisnel (kwah-NEHL), a rather fickle young Frenchwoman with whom Beauchamp falls in love. She refuses to marry him because she has promised her father that she will marry Rouaillout. After her marriage, she sends for Nevil because she has wagered with a friend that he will come if she sends for him. Renée leaves her husband and goes to Nevil, but he is no longer in love with her, and he effects a reconciliation between her and her husband.
Colonel Halkett, a friend of Beauchamp who is also a Tory and deplores Beauchamp’s political views.
Cecelia Halkett, the colonel’s daughter, who falls in love with Beauchamp because she admires his courage and thinks he is a man of high honor, in spite of his politics. She remains loyal to him through his various difficulties with Renée, but she finally bows to her father’s wishes and marries a more stable young man.
Dr. Shrapnel, a wild political radical who is supposed to be helping Beauchamp with his campaign for Parliament, but who is really ruining his chances by giving him unstable ideas and advice. He is horsewhipped by Beauchamp’s Uncle Everard when the uncle reads a letter that Shrapnel has written to Beauchamp that is full of radical advice.
Jenny Denham, Shrapnel’s ward, who nurses Beauchamp back to health after his illness and finally marries him. She is loyal and steadfast through all of his troubles.
Everard Romfrey, Beauchamp’s uncle, a conservative Englishman. He approves of an alliance between Cecelia and Beauchamp and hates Dr. Shrapnel. Romfrey’s beating of Shrapnel causes a break between him and Beauchamp, but they are reconciled when Romfrey apologizes to Shrapnel.
Rosamund Culling, Romfrey’s housekeeper, whom he finally marries.
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