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Encroachments And Plans To Kill A Cat (Ross Poldark Vs George Warleggan Pt2)

This is the second post that covers the enmity between Ross Poldark and George Warleggan. The previous part one post 'Seed of Enmity, Fruit of War' went right up to the end of the second book 'Demelza'  and 
covered the tame beginning to their relationship from distant friends or perhaps just acquantances, to full blown hostilty between them. From George's attempts to sabotage Ross's business ventures, thiers was a hostility which had eventually resulted in Ross unleashing absolute warfare on George's ship (the 'Queen Charlotte'). After discovering it shipwrecked on the coast of Hendrawna beach Ross had effectively stage managed a full scale theft of it. Where he and George had not even had any dialogue with each other, or any particularly hostile encounters at all in the first book (and even towards the middle of the second), by the end of this second book ('Demelza') Ross and George had undoubtedly become each other's greatest enemies. Moving on this post looks at how their enmity continued to pick up pace from the third book 'Jeremy Poldark' through to just before the climax of it in the fourth 'Warleggan'. 

Fighting Encroachments With Encroachment

On George's part Ross's attack on his ship was a crude encroachment on his property and business. So to begin with if there was to be any recompense for this, then it could have been through the trial where charges against Ross included for his misadventure against George's ship (plundering). The trial actually dominated much of this third book ('Jeremy Poldark'). It was quite key in the next stage of their feud and also key in escalating it further. However at this stage, going forward, for some time it really did seem like the malicious activity in the feud was to be all on George's side. Whilst he even organised a smear campaign against Ross by spreading printed gossip, Ross had no time for the feud and was mainly consumed with grief from his daughter's death, together with the stress of his financial and legal issues. 

Death to Ross Poldark or Death to his Friendship with Elizabeth

Looking at an overview of George's malicious moves against Ross from the third book, it can be seen that in a position of power against his much weakened rival facing trial, he went from the extreme of seeking Ross's death and failing in this, to then seeking to kill his friendship with Elizabeth and take her for himself. 

In the first instance George's hatred of Ross had escalated to a point that not only did he want Ross dead but would try to engineer for this happen by pushing for a certain guilty verdict. Later this would only add greater offence to Ross when George later secured his greatest prize in Elizabeth and thereby encroached on Ross's long time affection and friendship of her and also on his ancestral home of Trenwith (which proved to be the even greater offence). In this Ross discovered that Elizabeth would do what he thought was the unthinkable when she joined forces with such a man as George in marriage. A man who had sought his death! That is to be covered in the next post 'The Prize and Defection of Elizabeth' but its importance is that it was the climax to their feud and a defining point in the love triangles. It was part of a build up of a solid plan by George first to try and bring about Ross's death by hanging but then failing this to oppress and encroach on his business, liberty and even his personal relationships in anyway possible.

Ross At Trial -A Failed Set Up 


"When I came to stand trial for my life the Warleggans did all they could to secure a conviction. " 
Ross Poldark to Demelza (The Stranger From The Sea - Book Two Chapter Six)

It would be fair to say that George's hatred of Ross meant that he had a vested interest in Ross's trial. Though Francis suspected George of circulating defamatory broadsheets about Ross to damage his reputation in society and in particular  to influence the jury against him, and though George's denial of this to him was rather unconvincing, Graham did not explicitly confirm that George was indeed responsible. However
it seems obvious from George's evasive reply and his attempt to divert the conversation elsewhere when Graham wrote Francis questioning him about this. Whilst Francis still believed George's guilt in this smear campaign Graham later wrote that after Ross’s acquittal, and when in discussion with his uncle, George did complain that the evidence against Ross that they had "..tried to strengthen in our own way was of little value." He also spoke of being 'thwarted' and that they must accept their defeat. Based on this it would be fair to suspect that George had indeed tried and failed to set Ross up and Ross walked free from trial much to his annoyance. 

So in the war between Ross and George the battle around Ross's trial was one that Ross won. However as is often the case in war this was not without Ross being wounded and scarred in battle. But something that was integral to their ongoing feud always was that Ross had benefited from saving graces that George did not have in any abundance throughout the whole saga. Good will! It was that as well a luck on his side. Unable to act in such bad faith to his former employer there was Jud’s turnaround testimony and the sympathy of a jury who recognised the humanity in Ross and identified with him as their fellow country man. Naturally a loss on this score only strengthened George's resolved and his scheming went on looking at other ways to get at Ross.  

A Plan To Kill A Cat With Nine Lives

"You cannot blame us, Father, if we take an insterest in his mine."
George to Nicholas Warlegggan ('Jeremy Poldark'-  Book one- Chapter fourteen) 

So it was back to the drawing board for George. After seeing Ross walk free from trial George certainly expressed his ongoing dedication and his undying spirit to his anti-Ross agenda by stating to his uncle that "....there are more ways than one of killing a cat." The plan included getting his hands on Ross’s main and well performing business interest. Wheal Leisure! As referred to in the last blog post George had been trying to buy shares in it over a year period and along with other insults that George would never forget from 
Ross, Ross had told him directly that he would rather burn his own shares than sell any to him. So when George had eventually had success with one of the investors pulling out and selling their shares to him Graham wrote that Ross was so adversely affected 'He had not slept well during the night...' and to Demelza he had referred to it as  "...this latest of George's encroachments" which he also said he was not in him to lie meek under.  

Although the latest telvision adaption of Poldark (2015) showed George attending shareholder meetings or sending his representative in his place (Tankard) to make a nuisance of their vision and plans, this was not as written in the book. However, mentally it was off putting for Ross as he considered that "The Warleggans have at last got a foot in Wheal Leisure." He had wished that it belonged solely to him but with seven shareholders he revealed that he had always suspected it was only a matter or time before this happened and was worried the Warleggan would eventually gain an even bigger share when as he speculated one of the other six would at some point in the future "..give way to the temptation of a larger profit." His lamentations that "So now we shall have George at our board."left him uneasy as Graham wrote that 'He felt as if the acquisitive hand of the Warleggans was already over Wheal Leisure.' This and the likelihood that they would secure a controlling interest (which they eventually did!) was in spirit the Warleggans casting out their 'oppressive influence'. This would cause Ross to pull away from this profitable mine and take what Demelza later thought to herself was a 'shot in the dark' as he tried to edge away for freedom from the Warleggans in his next move; a 'last gamble'

The Big Gamble- (A Grace of Freedom From George’s Oppression)

Arguable Ross was just as big a gambler as Francis when deciding to take the biggest and most highly speculative gamble he had ever taken partly to be freer from George in business. It is for this reason that the first American edition of 'Warleggan' was called 'The last Gamble'. Ross’s gamble was to sell half his share in Wheal Leisure which was then a mine that was prospering and profitable. Then he sought to use this to fund the opening of his father's old defunct unyielding mine, Wheal Grace. Therefore he reduced his interest in a profitable business only to plough that investment in a more speculative one. Of course this move which loosened George's oppressive hold over Ross greatly irritated George and he tried to challenge and taunt Ross about the poor business sense in this. However Ross’s quest could not be clearer when he told George his reasons were that he and Francis in this new scheme would "....have the freedom to call our souls our own." 

Another Sweet But Double And Unexpected Victory For Ross

Graham added tension to the story of Ross's 'last gamble' in really highlighting the risk of this new Wheal Grace venture and Demelza privately worried that Ross’s desire to be free of George’s interference was so strong that it had warped his judgement so much and '...led him to over optimism about Wheal Grace.' Fortunately it transpired that it did work out but not until two and a half years later! So in that time it did look as if this was not only a reckless gamble but an unlucky one that would not pay off and would leave them poorer than when Ross had all his shares in Wheal Leisure.
Ross and Demelza were impoverished all those years not knowing that eventually in the middle of the next book 
in September 1793 the Wheal Grace mine would strike tin and thereafter happily secure their financial prosperity for much of the remainder of the saga. The sweet satire in this is that this would work out be a double loss to George who had teased Ross's business decision only to find that whilst Wheal Grace would end up prospering it was Wheal Leisure that later became the defunct mine that George would close as it lost it's profitabilty. By the by another and future sweet irony is that in the later books, during a period of financial strain (in part and inadvertently but unknowingly caused by Ross) Ross would get his hands on Wheal Lesiure again through the back door when a then grown up Jeremy encouraged him to ressurect it and George in some desperation had put it up for sale. Where George had initally encroached on this mine (Leisure), pushing Ross out yet failing to make it a success, a major find at the mine under new Ross's later ownership in the ninth book 'The Miller's Dance' would ensure that Leisure became a success in his hands. Just at the time when Wheal Grace was pettering out and starting to lose money! In many ways Graham had a clear theme of Ross somehow always getting the better of George and having success out of George's failures. Likewise it was in the post 'Elizabeth: A Green-eyed Jealousy of Demelza Poldark' that his theme could be identified of Demelza's success against Elizabeth's failures. 

An Act of Loyalty To Elizabeth That Paid Dividend To Ross And A Loss To George

What was an even sweeter win for Ross was that before Wheal Leisure had become defunct under George's control in the fifth book 'Black Moon', and despite his 
earlier stance of not wanting to ever sell his shares to George, in a turnaround he eventually allowed the remaining half of his share holding in it to be purchased by George through Pascoe. Not then knowing this would be a blessing in disguise his intentions were self sacrificing out of his concern and friendship of Elizabeth in her widowhood. Therefore it was in order to help her financially. Consumed with guilt regarding Francis sinking £600 in Wheal Grace and at that point since this mine was failing so far, Ross felt that he had an ethical debt to return the £600 to Elizabeth anonymously. Although Elizabeth would repay Ross's loyalty and friendship gesture to her with the opposite by instead being dishonest and disloyal in her secret courtship of his greatest enemy, George, Ross would still benefit in the end. Ross secured his total freedom from George and escaped the disappointment Wheal Leisure would bring in the immediate years ahead and which prompted George's later decision to close it. It had been Ross's wish to help Elizabeth that had brought this luck.

A Promissory Note For The Promise of Debtor's Prison For Ross

Of course in true villain style George had tried to cover other bases to get at Ross and therefore to 'get at the man'. Though George's strengthening of evidence against Ross had failed to get him convicted with imprisonment or hanging by noose at trial, George sought another avenue to get him into prison. Even if it was only debtor's prison. In the first instance. in initially trying to avoid selling his Wheal Leisure shares Ross had set himself up for more trouble on the horizon when to achieve this he took out a loan at an exorbitant interest. So there was the added tension in the story when in September 1792 doubting that he could make the payment in time this promissory note for payment of £1400 was sold by Notory Pearce to the Warleggans. Uncle Cary was only to happy to purchase this 'bad debt' on the precise expectation that Ross would default when they sought re-payment by the Christmas of '92. So their Christmas gift to him was to be sending him to debtor's prison. This was in 'Warleggan' and again it was good will that had saved the day for Ross. Prison for Ross and a win for George would have been on the cards had it not been for the saving grace of hieress Caroline Penvenen. It was her act of charity in making an anonymous payment to Ross for the exact amount as the promissory note which enable him to discharge the Warleggan's promissory note in exchange for a fresh and reasonable anonymous loan agreement with her, as drawn up by Pascoe. All because she had watched him at his trial, met him afterwards, took a liking to him (and Demelza) and did not think that a man like him deserved to go under for what she considered was such a small sum. Once again this was another win for Ross and loss for George! All without Ross even trying or pursuing Caroline's intervention as a way out. Good will for Ross Poldark had saved the day again and out foxed George.

Battles And The War- Ross 1 George 0

As stated above, after Ross's rampage against the Warleggan ship in the second book he was not particularly active in his feud against George in terms of conniving and scheming against him thereafter. Even going forward he was mainly just reactive instead or induced almost reluctantly to take opportunities that presented themselves to hit out at George. Therefore it is very interesting and perhaps a humorous occurence that as documented here in the storylines set out above and covering the whole of the third book (and as it continued some way into the forth book before Elizabeth's defection), Ross seemed to come out winning each time. That is definitely the case in regards to the level of effort George put into trying to bring Ross down and yet failing to. 

A Poetic Justice for George After All? A Blessing for Ross?

Complaints are often made that George as a clear antagonist character to Ross never got his comeuppance or came to an ugly demise by way of death. Perhaps these failures to get at Ross in the way he hoped and then Ross somehow coming out of the attacks better off (even if this was gradually),  was Graham's way of delivering poetic justice to George. Even as the feud continues into the next books this does seem to be a theme. The poetic justice might have been less dramatic or instant than the reader would hope for but it can be found, and the slow gradual delivery of it certainly meant that Graham could make full and good use of the character of George for ongoing drama and tension over the full duration of the story. In the meantime it would be much to most reader's joy to see George subjected to the slower incremental torture and taunting by the various little and big disappointments along the way. 

The next blog post; 'The Prize and Defection of Elizabeth'  looks at George's attempts to frustrate Ross's relationships with Francis and Elizabeth. But though George would secure Elizabeth's permanent defection to his side over Ross, in his last blow against Ross in 'Warleggan' George still did not quite have had the last laugh there too either. After all, in a way, through this upsetting defection Ross yet again would secure a positive outcome for himself in realising that he was better off than he had thought with the woman he discovered that he really loved over the woman he had idealised. What is particular interesting about George's battle move in scooping up Elizabeth as partner (and somewhat of a passive partner in crime) is that Ross would strike back in a way that was equally as deadly a blow and have long lasting ramifications on George's peace of mind and the enjoyment of his 'prize' of Elizabeth.  

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