Search This Blog

Seeds of Enmity, Fruit of War ( Ross Poldark Vs George Warleggan Pt1)


Ross Poldark and George Warleggan moody unfriendly profiles with title seeds of enmity, fruit of war

'Seeds of enmity had been sown time and again but never reached fruit. It seemed that the whole weight of years was coming to bear at once.'
Demelza (Book four/Chapter three)

George Warleggan is a major and vital character in Poldark. In this he played an antagonist role to Ross Poldark. He did so in antagonising Ross's business ventures, brushes with the law, and also in his friendships and love interests. When examining the relationship between Ross and George and how things escalated it seems clear that at the heart of it rested George's inferiority complex and his frustrations that Ross seemed to show no real respect or fear of him and was stubbornly unwilling to patronise him in any way. George's inability to forget an insult in particular drove his bitterness and hostility towards Ross to no end. As Ross somehow managed in the long game to rise above adversity and be well regarded and popular, George who might have thought him unfairly privileged seemed to at times feel a kind of resentment for him akin to jealousy. But for Ross, his growing contempt for George seemed rooted in his disdain for George's character and principles but also (and mainly) due to George's determination to impose an 'oppressive influence' not just over worthy and poorer men but over him too. It is in their clashes together that Graham showed that aside from insults made against his wife Demelza, the thing that Ross took as the next greatest offence was dealing with disloyalty from his friends in favour of George whom he eventually regarded as his greatest enemy. Except for with Demelza where Ross's love for her always seemed to overpower any anger directed to her regarding her errors of judgment, it would be raging anger that would eventually push Ross to violent reactions in the saga and in relation to disloyalty from Francis and Elizabeth Poldark. 

What is also evident in the Ross and George story is that George would forever be consigned to bitterness against Ross but Ross did ultimately seek and reach out for peace with George or a 'live and let live' cease fire. Against his better wishes he would nevertheless find himself in an eternal battle with George that would last the full duration of the saga. Covering to the end of the second book this first blog journeys through this and sees how from a seed of enmity their hostile relationship built up gradually and grew into fruit of war.

Unfriendly School Days (Oil & Water)

It would be a misconception to think that George and Ross regarded themselves as clear enemies from the start of the Poldark story. The latest television adaption (2015-2019) inserted new story content that Ross bullied George in childhood and that at a point he even cruelly taunted him with frogs. This is not from the original and true Poldark story of the books. Instead it is still clear from the early school days that George and Ross were not close within a friendship circle. Agatha alluded to this when George visited Trenwith in the fourth book 'Warleggan'. Taking him down memory lane as he was on his way out of the Trenwith Estate from visiting Elizabeth, she told him "You were always Francis's friend. I remember, never Ross's."  

As well as this Graham reflectively narrated in 'The Angry Tide'  how Agatha had come to have a resentment for George but had suffered him only 'because he was a schoolfriend of Francis and '..she had witnessed his insignificance and gradual growth to significance.'  Indeed Graham seemed to draw out George's insecurities and the wound that this period of 'insignificance' had instilled in George when in their 'Warleggan' conversation Agatha had gone on to mention that he had been nervous on his first visit to Trenwith as a child and did not have the wealth then that he had since acquired. Evidently hitting his sore spot George told her "You remind me of forgotten things, old Woman. Die soon,..."  A couple of George's comments here and there give a better idea of his relationship with Ross in school. He once told Elizabeth in 'Jeremy Poldark'  that it was something fundamental that he and Ross never saw "eye to eye" when they were at school and to his second wife Harriett Warleggan in the ninth book 'The Miller's Dance' he said "Ross and I...since the days we were at school together we have never found pleasure in each other's company...We are oil and water. There are few things he and I agree on..." But whilst it is clear they were far from best friends in the second book 'Demelza' Graham reported that 'These two had been inimical since their school days but had never come to an outright clash.' 

School's Out For a Clean Slate of Friendship

There is not much more detail of George and Ross's school day relationship and with the saga starting years afterwards it does not dwell on this. Now in adulthood and after significant changes in their life with Ross returning from a sobering three years or so fighting in the war of American independence and George having since worked hard to climb social and business ladders, there did not seem enough hostile history between them to be firm enemies at this stage. In fact this was certainly not the case for the first book which covered a four year period. Readers would find that it was not until six years later in Summer 1789 that they began to see each other as clear adversaries. Although a clash of personalities, principles and interests was probably inevitable for them, the blame for the record would be attributed to Ross's venture with the Carnemore Copper Company and George's efforts to shoot this down. Up until then they even considered themselves to be friends and in the first book 'Ross Poldark' when talking with Ross at Christmas Elizabeth told him "I could get George Warleggan to invite you to one of his parties. George likes you."  Still, even then at this point it was clear that they were more acquaintances rather than close friends. 

A Distant Friendship

It might be surprising to realise that despite George Warleggan and Ross Poldark becoming great enemies and George being billed as his main antagonist, that in the first book 'Ross Poldark' they did not have any dialogue together as shared by Graham. This is despite them both being present at key events. Ross attended Elizabeth and Francis's wedding where George was best man and also  Geoffrey Charles's christening a year later where George was Godfather. Also George attended the Poldark Christmas family gathering at Trenwith where Demelza was debuted as Ross's new wife. But the early indication as to the nature of their relationship was when Ross met with a group of men to discuss re-opening a dormant mine, Wheal Leisure. He implied to them a friendship of sorts with George when he discouraged the suggestion of using the Warleggan bank for their scheme. He appealed to them that "George Warleggan is a friend of mine too but I don't think friendship should come into a matter of business." He stressed that he held no grudge towards the Warleggans but that they owned too many mines and could make a decision over their heads at some point to close their mine even if it was against their wishes. Though this seemed quite a fair comment it represented the tiny seed of enmity that would grow and eventually sprout fruit. Graham gave a foreboding of the future enmity that was sown as he wrote that Ross's private thought was that the Warleggans would be 'annoyed' that they missed out on that business opportunity.  Given George's petty nature this would prove to be quite true.

The Warleggans- A Bad Bunch

To consolidate that Ross's enmity would not just be about George as an individual but about the Warleggans in general there was just one other incident in that first book that began an ill feeling by Ross with the Warleggans as a family unit. Ross attended the trial of his servant Jim Carter where he hoped his evidence would stir the bench to a merciful judgment for his crime of pheasant poaching. Though the latest adaption had George's character as fatherless, he was not in the true story and Graham wrote that when seeing George's father Nicholas Warleggan as one of the magistrates sitting for the trial, that Ross was 'pleased he had an acquaintance' there. However Nicholas with the other magistrates gave Ross a hard time with his testimony and challenged many aspects of it. Ross persisted with his testimony but Nicholas together with the other magistrates did not show Jim Carter the mercy Ross had hoped and expected he would do on account of this distant friendship as well as the merit of his testimony.
So Graham reported that Ross left the court feeling 'sick with disgust and disappointment'. He later told Elizabeth on her visit to Nampara that he and Nicholas Warleggan had "..parted in mutual dislike."  He now understood that the Warleggans as a unit disliked him. In the full edition of the second book 'Demelza' he told Demelza "George Warleggan's father dislikes me for lecturing him in court, and George because we do not bank with them." The feeling was becoming quite mutual.  When he next saw Nicholas at Uncle Charles's funeral Ross reflected to himself that the court room episode and then his decision not to put his new mine venture through the Warleggan hands had 'rankled'. Though he rather dismissively and sulkily thought 'let them stew', unbeknown to him the wheels had been put in motion for a stewing of hostility which would stew for some years and eventually come to a
boil on more than one occasion.

Friends of Nothing in Common- Brewing Resentments 

Moving into the second book ('Demelza') George and Ross were still making some show of friendship. George attended Julia's christening but Graham wrote that he only attended because Elizabeth had persuaded him. However Ross too was becoming wary of returning the favour and attending George's parties in light of the future tension he began to foresee on account the copper company scheme he was working on. Still Ross did attend two parties George invited him to in the second book before they became too hostile over business matters to be able to socialise agreeably. Whatever the case George and Ross were not having conversations which demonstrated a warm friendship and regard for each other. 

Reluctantly present at Julia's Christening George had thought of Ross as made of 'harder metal' but that just as with Ruth Teague '..he held the Poldarks in private contempt..' thinking that their talent for business was lesser than the length of their pedigree. Key to his insecurities and bitterness here, one would find that he felt that Ross's people, (the gentlefolk) secretly despised him. Not long after Graham also provided more on Ross's perspective of George. When Ross by chance walked past the grand and extravagant Warleggan town house he thought this to be a 'special irony'. This is that the 'Warleggans could maintain their full prosperity in the middle of a slump, while worthy men like Blewett and Aukett and hundreds of others -faced ruin'. Not only did this now highlight Ross's bottom line that George Warleggan was not necessarily a 'worthy' man, it really set a firm passion and meaningful driving force to Ross's efforts to make a success of Wheal Leisure as well as the Carnemore Copper company which he would start later on in this second book. It would all be to the benefit of the common man which George Warleggan cared little for and Ross cared much for.
Meanwhile what is clear to see is that whilst maintaining a 'friendship' (or more like an 'acquaintance') with each other, George and Ross were indeed both harbouring secret and growing resentments for the other. Ross would later become incensed that the venture that he worked so hard for and for the benefit of the community, poor families and the worthy men that funded it, would later be sabotaged by the man he considered prosperous and wealthy enough for himself. The mean-spiritedness and injustice of this would give Ross solid and viable cause to see George no longer as a friend but a close enemy. The fact he considered him unworthy in the first instance was an added insult. 

A New Constraint- Matthew Sansom's Disgrace 

The next chipping away of the George and Ross 'friendship' continued due to the events of the second party Ross attended of George's. This was after the Truro Charity ball in April 1789. Though Ross would apologise for throwing George's cousin Mathew Sansom into a stream when he had exposed him as a gambling cheat, his dry unapologetic tones and the embarrassment to the Warleggans had Graham reporting that 'There was no doubt next morning that the Warleggans looked with disfavour on the end of the gaming quarrel. Constraint and stiffness were marked.' As far as they were concerned Ross was responsible for Mathew's disgrace and and by association to their damaged reputation. George told his uncle the incident and insult against his cousin was not something he would forget. 

Business Hurts- Friendship End

All that went on above was a mere prelude to the deepening and more significant hostility between George and Ross. It coincided with the formal launching of the Carnemore Copper company which now six years after Ross's return to Cornwall from the war. A representative for the new company (Zaky Martin) attended a first ticketing earlier in that month of April and much to the annoyance of the Warleggans bought up all the copper sold. After their surprise ambush it was not long after that the Warleggans guessed that it was Ross leading the Copper company venture though they did not know the other men involved.
Shamefully it would be Francis's irrational and impulsive act of revenge against Ross for Verity's elopement in the summer of 1789 that would mean George was armed by Francis with those names. Consequently it meant that Ross and his shareholders were thereafter 'fighting a losing battle' to make a success of the Copper Company venture.  George and his Uncle had discussed and agreed efforts to put the company out of business. As well as blocking their attempts to buy more copper at future ticketings he discreetly approached some of the shareholders and made it clear that they should choose which side of the fence they wished to be on. He used dirty tactics of withdrawing or threatening to withdraw the credit of the ventures. This prematurely brought the company to its knees and its eventual winding up in December 1789 just before Julia's death. 

Three Reasons Why I Hate Ross Poldark. By George Warleggan

hilst readers could already assume some underlying issues of inferiority on account of his 'common blood' and that he felt marginalised for this by the gentry, Graham had had George set out his grievances with Ross to Francis. Naturally this enhances a better understanding of the enmity from his perspective. The reasons he gave were that firstly he believed "Ross fought tooth and nail" to do the Carnmore Copper company business through another bank (Pascoes) other than the Warleggan bank. Secondly, he said he had heard remarks made by Ross about him that revealed a "secret resentment" Ross held for him and thirdly that he thought Ross's Carnmore Copper scheme was privately directed at him and his family. So essentially George had taken it all as a personal attack against him. Meanwhile on Ross's side the collapse of this scheme was a big blow and Graham wrote that for him '...nothing would remove the stigma of the failure, nothing would remove the sting of the Warleggan triumph.' With mounting debts and a worry about possible bankruptcy Ross then also had to come to terms with needing to part with his Wheal Leisure shares. At this stage it was actually a profitable mine. This was confounding for him and Graham wrote that "To lose that was the worst blow of all."  All this certainly meant that what was a secret resentment for George no longer was so secret. If Ross's venture had made him an enemy to George, George's campaign to bring on its premature collapse now made him an enemy to Ross too. Resentment had turned to heightened hostility and ill will toward each other. 

An 'Oppressive influence'

One of the clear themes that began to emerge in Ross and George's hostile relations is that Ross essentially had wanted to have nothing to do with George but that George wanted the opposite and wanted to involve himself as much as possible in Ross's affairs and to frustrate them. However it was a catch-22 scenario. Pascoe suggested to Ross that in respect of the Warleggans "The average man in the district only knows them as rich and influential people. You know them as something more because you chose to challenge them on their own ground." ('Demelza') On the other hand Graham reported that George Warleggan was becoming more and more of a 'figure' and it was clear that the Warleggan fingers were in so many pies that it was hard not to be in opposition to them in business or otherwise not to be subject to them in business and then also subject their whims (closing down mines that were still in profit). Ross sarcastically asked Pascoe "Is there anyone besides you in the town they don't own from head to toe?" ('Demelza') It was becoming an 'oppressive' matter for Ross. As will be referenced in a part 3 follow up blog 'The Prize and Defection of Elizabeth' Ross would later be prompted to actual violence against George (and to Elizabeth) because '...the unseen but oppressive influence of the Warleggans was something which sooner or later must produce an explosion.'  ('Jeremy Poldark'

George- Wanting the man that didn't want him

At this stage in 'Demelza' it was just Ross's business affairs suffering the shadow of George's 'oppressive influence'. As referenced in the next blog which will have a focus on Elizabeth's defection it would eventually become his personal relationships too. Graham would later narrate in 'Warleggan' that when the Warleggans bought a promissory note concerning a loan with high interest that Ross had taken out, that they did this because 'They didn't want the money, they wanted the man.' Indeed to begin with, before moving into his personal affairs, after the failure of the Carnmore Copper company Ross was frustrated and said that several times "..the Warleggans have tried to interest themselves in my affairs. I mean to keep them out." In 'Jeremy Poldark'  he complained that "For twelve months they've been trying to buy a share in Wheal Leisure." 

George's attempt to encroach on Ross's Wheal Leisure business had been at the heart of a frosty meeting with Ross in December 1789 at the Seven Stars Tavern. When George provocatively expressed interest to Ross in buying his share of it Ross riled up by this threat of continuing oppression and dominance declared that he'd rather burn them first. Of course the provocation was palpable as Ross had just been in meetings discussing the winding up of the Carnmore Copper Company wound up. It was here that Graham wrote the quote which opens this blog about the 'seeds of enmity'  and the fruit seemingly coming to bear at once. Striking back at George's insult that the "Poldarks...They cannot take a beating" Ross retaliated at the heart of George's insecurity about acceptance with an insult that George would not forget. He told him that "...the trouble with the Warleggans, they never know when they are not wanted." George's reply that "..they can appreciate and remember an insult."  reinforced the idea that it would not be forgotten and equally Ross's reply that he trusted that they would remember his insult was an obvious premonition of the fruit of war that had sprouted. Graham maintained to close the book with the clear escalation of this idea with scenes that could be viewed as an active battlefield and more significantly a takeover of Warleggan property with the events lead by Ross on Hendrawna beach.

 War on the Warleggan Ship- Ross's Grand Theft

"Sometimes I could rob a bank-would, if it were Warleggan's and I could escape the gallows." Francis Poldark ('Jeremy Poldark'

There was something about George Warleggan that made the blood Poldarks want to steal from him as conveyed in jesting conversations. In 'Demelza' Demelza herself joked with Ross on his return from a business meeting asking "Have you thrown Dr Choake in a pool or robbed George Warleggan at his bank?"  Francis had expressed with humor his wish to do just this. Then the irony is not lost that it would be Jeremy Poldark as a young adult who not at all in jest would attempt this offence for real and Geoffrey Charles in the spirit of his father's wish and his Poldark inclination of ill wishing the Warleggans had laughed hard when he found out about this. True to his tendency to write in nuggets of foreboding and keep to certain themes Graham wrote scenes where though not stealing himself Ross effectively stage managed a grand theft by the locals against George Warleggan. 

Although the death of Julia had Dwight worried about Ross's state of mind and Graham narrating that there was 'something wrong with him', it is a misconception that his grief and distress was the sole reason for Ross's potentially criminal acts of inciting a riot and organising the plundering of a ship wrecked on Hendrawna beach. After his servant told him of the looming ship wreck he looked out of the window to see it for himself and returned to his seat. He was at home whilst Demelza slept on her sick bed recovering from the putrid throat disease and grief. Graham wrote that Ross thought that there would be pickings for the miners and their families and he absentmindedly thought 'Good luck to them.' It was as if it was not his concern and Graham further wrote that 'Losing interest, he turned away, when something took his attention again and he stared at the ship......The ship was the Queen Charlotte.' It was that name that changed everything and prompted Ross to wreak the havoc he did on the beach. Previously on his last sombre visit to see his accountant Pascoe he had learnt that this was a Warleggan ship but it would not be until after his acquittal at trial in the next book 'Jeremy Poldark' that Ross would highlight the significance. When complaining to Demelza that to save his skin at court, when giving his defence, that he had not given the real motives for his act he said "It was the Warleggan's ship. That was all I cared about."  

A Foreboding for a Hateful Takeover of a Prized Possession?

The significance of the plundering of the Warleggan ship, and the goods that it carried is to demonstrate the extent of Ross's hatred for George. Moving past resentment and hostility his hatred was so great that it would prompt him to this extreme acting out. The scenes on the beach had the look of warfare at Ross's hands and he was heartless in his lack of condolences for the death of Mathew Sansom. Supposedly this was due to him being a cousin to the Warleggan and one holding their unsavoury character and principles. It is fair to question if his grief over Julia had all that much to do with it since this act was the first of a number of wild and reckless acts that were either partly or fully inspired by his hatred for George without grief as an added factor on those occasion. Just anger! The upcoming part two follow up blog 'Encroachments And Plans To Kill A Cat'  documents George's retailiation at Ross's attack on his property by esentially trying to get him killed via death sentence when his alleged criminal activities went to trial and then failing this by trying to kill him financially by bankrupting him and putting him at risk of the debtor's prison. The third in this series of blog called 'The Prize and the Defection of Elizabeth'  will explore how, unable to impose the weight of the law against Ross or secure a foothold in his businesses, George's strategy of encroachment turned to a double whammy of securing the prize of Elizabeth.  This was by her defection in moving her allegiance from Ross to George both in nature by taking his name and in spirit by supporting him in his enmity against Ross. Not so straightforwardly, though George would revel in this coup as a deadly knock out blow to his rival but 
perhaps Ross's staged managed but impulsive plundering of George's ship was a foreboding or part of a theme that would later see him make a pre-emptive strike in the equally impulsive but 'violent taking' of George's prized possession, Elizabeth. 

Previous posts