Matthew Bramble, a Welsh bachelor who, while traveling in England and Scotland, keeps track of his affairs at Brambleton Hall through correspondence with Dr. Richard Lewis, his physician and adviser. Bramble, an eccentric and a valetudinarian, writes at great length of his ailments—the most pronounced being gout and rheumatism—and gives detailed accounts of his various attacks. With the same fervor that he discusses personal matters—health and finances—he launches into tirades on laws, art, mores, funeral customs, and the social amenities of the various communities he and his party pass through on their travels. As various members of the entourage become attracted to one another and are married, and the group plans to return to Brambleton Hall, Bramble senses that his existence has been sedentary. In his newfound interest of hunting, he changes from an officious, cantankerous attitude toward the affairs of others. He writes Lewis that had he always had something to occupy his time (as he has in hunting), he would not have inflicted such long, tedious letters on his friend and adviser.
Tabitha Bramble, his sister. She is the female counterpart of her brother in telling her correspondents of the annoyances of everyday life. Hers is a more personal world than her brother’s, people being of more importance than ideas and things. With little likelihood of a change in interests, Tabitha does return home a married woman.
Jerry Melford, the nephew of Matthew and Tabitha, whose letters to a classmate at Cambridge, where Jerry is regularly a student, give a more objective account of incidents of travel and family. With the articulateness of the scholar and the verve of youth, Jerry describes the lighter side of everyday happenings. In his final correspondence, he admits to his friend that in the midst of matrimonial goings-on he has almost succumbed to Cupid. However, fearing that the girl’s qualities—frankness, good humor, handsomeness, and a genteel fortune—may not be permanent, he passes off his thought as idle reflections.
Lydia Melford, his...
(The entire section is 907 words.)