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A Charming And Generous Heart (Pt1 The Real Francis Poldark)

"He has been spoilt all his life. His moods anger me often, but I love him even for his faults. He's so headstrong and rash and impulsive and - and lovable with it."

 Verity - ('Demelza' - Book 2 Chapter 9)

Francis's fully fleshed out character can be lost amongst the sad disappointments of his life and what appears to be failure throughout it. All of which may not have turned around for him long enough for all to see him and his other more positive traits in the spotlight before he died. 

Following Francis's suicide attempt and as addressed in the previous blog 'The Untold Story Of Francis Poldark (A Disappointed And Lonely Man)' Dwight concluded that in respect of Francis's depression '..through it all ran Elizabeth, the loved but the unloving.' It was Verity who reflected on his downfall in the second book and that due to his sentimentalism it was after Elizabeth failed to meet his expectations that '..he resorted to gambling and drink.' 

Francis's decline into an excess of drinking, gambling and also his indulgence into infidelity are his glaringly obvious faults and failings. Easily recognisable, they may then accordingly and unfairly define his whole character in this story. His moods and his headstrong impulsiveness do too. Perhaps this is unfair as they rather overshadow his more admirable traits, the changes he made and the success he laid the ground for before his premature death. This post seeks to explore this more lighter side of Francis's character that may have made him 'lovable' to Verity as she stated in the quote above and well liked by others (as opposed to 'remotely liked'). Alongside the idea of an 'untold story' of Francis some of this lighter side and his good acts are not included in the television adaptions which for various reasons did not use the space to tell all these tales from the full and original story. A part two ('The Man Of His Time') will look at his character where he seemed to act with a questionable attitude akin to the typical 'man of his time' and following this another upcoming one, namely 'The Redemption of Francis Poldark'  will look at his 'wrongs' and how he turned them around.  

Francis :The Cruel First Love Stealer?

Francis's entrance to the Poldark story tempts a wondering as to if he might have been set up as an antagonist figure to Ross Poldark. However Graham seemed to avoid pitching him as a cousin who heartlessly took advantage of Ross's absence at war in order to steal his first love away. Instead, although he wrote that Francis did seem uncomfortable with Ross turning up at his and Elizabeth's engagement dinner, the reader soon learns from Graham that before courting Elizabeth Francis had not even been aware that Elizabeth had promised to marry Ross or even that she had some kind of romantic relationship with Ross. 
The last television adaption created a new narrative that Francis along with George knew Elizabeth before Ross went to war and that they both competed for Elizabeth against him. Or that they were all longing for her at that early stage. This was not the narrative of the original story. Instead Verity told a depressed Ross that Elizabeth and Francis met by chance at a party and they were instantly attracted to each other.

Verity had implied to Ross that Elizabeth and Francis's connection had been organic and unstoppable when she said 
"You do not argue with the clouds or the rain or the lightening. Well, this was like that. It came from outside them."  She also revealed that Francis had to be told that Ross "...had been -friendly with her. But she (Elizabeth) had already told him that.' So it is clear that Francis did not purposefully and calculatedly go after his cousin's girl. 

Innocent Presumptions 

Graham continued to support the impression of Francis's naivety and that though Francis appreciated there was an element of Ross ‘losing out’ on the girl he had wanted to marry, that he was not really aware of the extent of Ross's upset. After the engagement dinner Graham wrote
Francis saying of Ross "I thought he took it well. But he was always a good loser. Perhaps his feeling has changed. But I wish it was not like this." It was not until he went to invite Ross to his wedding that he caught a hint of Ross's real feelings.
Ross exploded at him before helping him up from water he fell into. 

At that point Graham wrote that 'In his casual, easygoing way he had had no idea of the extent of the emotion behind the finedrawn expression of his cousin's face. Now he knew.' Then later he wrote that 'For Francis the incident might have betrayed the extent of his cousins' resentment....'

Francis: Sad For Me-Happy For You

Francis never flaunted to Ross his marriage to the woman they all thought was the most beautiful and coveted of all. In fact as discussed in 'The Greatest Love Above Any Other' post and also the 'Francis Poldark: A Disappointed and Lonely man' one, after having just one year of happiness with Elizabeth, Francis thereafter was not too prideful to try and hide that marriage to Elizabeth was not all he had hoped and expected. He gave hints of this to Ross and instead, without resentment he generally supported and praised Ross in his own marriage with Demelza. He implied without sourness towards Ross that he was the 'lucky' one who was happier than him. This quite contradicts with Elizabeth’s attitude who in respect of Ross (as covered in the 'Not happy You Are Happy Ross' post) struggled to be happy for him (but also the same for her other loved ones such as Geoffrey Charles). This was because to her it meant a withdrawal of love of her to someone else and therefore to a 'competitor'. Whilst she fell into holding resentments where perhaps on occasion there should have been gratitude from her, Francis was more in the light in that respect. He was the opposite and it was a good trait of Francis that even in the midst of his failures and disappointments he could be happy for the happiness of another.  

The Ideal Carefree & Easygoing Guy To Begin

So Graham started the book painting out a clear and likeable persona for Francis. After narrating in the opening scene of the first book that Francis was well dressed and adorned with handsome youth, he also wrote that '... he was, carefree, easygoing, self-confident, a young man who has never known what it was to be in danger or short of money....' 

Evidently as well as being more classically handsome than Ross and a smoother and more relaxed personality with humour too, Graham clearly highlighted that Francis also had the added and significant credential of wealth far above Ross. Meeting Ross for the second time after his return from war Graham wrote that Francis turned up 'on a fine horse and was dressed in a fashionable manner...' His coat of dark brown velvet and high collars were described as 'fine clothes' and Graham wrote that Ross implied to Francis that he would surely not want to join him in the mine in "that attire." Flushing in response and changing to shabbier clothes it was apparent from Graham's depiction of Francis there and throughout the rest of the story that he was not arrogant and boastful in this way. He never did brag about his good living and comfortable circumstances at that time when he had this in his life. In spite of his wealth he was never averse to working hard and on the other hand as referred to below he was also quite self deprecating when his fortunes declined and he did not try to hide this out of pride either.

A Man That Did Not Judge The Lower Man

Seeing Demelza And Not Just A Beggar Girl 

Francis demonstrated that unlike many of the gentry would he did not judge or value the 'lesser man' based on their circumstances or by their station. He did seem to lack the strong classist outlook and judgment of the ordinary man of his time and class and this included his own wife. After meeting for the first time Demelza, the miner's daughter and scullery maid Elizabeth's insensitive feedback to Ross was that she was a little 'gauche' (meaning she was socially awkward or out of place), and that this was reason enough for Demelza to expect 'antagonisms' meeting his family at Trenwith. In comparison Francis was much more positive in his feedback on Demelza. Showing that Elizabeth's speculations were wrong and there were no antagonisms from him, his first comments about Demelza to Ross were "I like your wife. ... so long as her spirits be good, what does it matter whether she comes from Windsor Castle or Stippy-Stappy Lane."

Except once in his worst anger over her plotting for Verity and Captain Blamey, Francis showed himself to be genuine and truly committed in his disregard of Demelza's low status throughout the story. In the first and full edition of the second book 'Demelza' he praised her to Elizabeth as a quick learner and also stated that he "... found her entertaining enough at Christmas." He defended Demelza against Elizabeth's quips that Demelza was Ross's 'little wife', a 'beggar girl' and someone who could be mistaken for a servant. He casually refuted her suggestion that they would be judged harshly for having Demelza as a relative. Countering that he reminded her that Polly Choake was a brewer's daughter, that George Warleggan was a blacksmith's grandson and that Reverend Odgers was a half starved lackey but that "Damn me, I'm a good Cornishman and should rather mix with a sumpman's daughter any day of the month." 

Incidentally the latest television adaption changed this above narrative slightly and had Francis advise Ross that his marriage to Demelza was ill advised, would open him up to derision in their circles (which it actually did not) and reversed his comments to Elizabeth in the book by having him say her dialogue in the book (first edition) and so suggest to her that he and his family might indeed be judged for having Demelza as a relative. As will be addressed in the future post 'The Rewritten Story of Francis Poldark', this was definitely not the 'real' Francis Poldark depicted for screen. 

A Spirit Of Appreciation And Gratitude

Not only did the real Francis show a great lack of prejudice against Demelza when he barely knew her but eventually he came to hold her up as a special person of value when he came to know her character well. This highlights his ability to identify and appreciate a good woman as well as having gratitude for all she did including, saving his son. 

After their Verity/Blamey fallout and Jeremy's birth Francis in the original story raised a toast to Demelza hailing her as a woman of the 'first quality'. Shortly before his death he told her how she undervalued herself and that "You came here as a miner’s daughter, married into this ancient derelict family ... you mistake your value, your own vitality... there is the quality of family and the quality of freshness. Ross was a wise man when he chose you." He also told her that she should "Get rid of the notion that someone has done you a favour by taking you into our family." 

By virtue of Francis feeling but also demonstrating a genuine appreciation for Demelza he in turn demonstrated true decency of character too as it reflected the positive values that he held himself. He certainly put the value of a person as being related to their character rather than their rank.

A Man Lacking in Prejudice And Remoteness To All

Francis did not just exercise fair treatment to Demelza only, but he was generally personable to all. He had a concern for and a lack of prejudice against all those in his community including those beneath his station. This was evident in the smallest of detail. For instance, when 
at Julia's christening Jinny Carter was serving the guests, Graham wrote how to Jinny's surprise Francis called her out and indicated that he remembered her from working at his mine in the past. In addition he remembered that her husband was Jim Carter, that he was in prison (for poaching) and he asked after him. In this he showed that quite literally he did have a care and was not so detached from the upsets and goings on of his fellow 'lesser' men in the community. 

Another example of Francis's relative equality of treatment was his treatment of the Reverend Odgers who was not the most engaging minor character in the story. After Elizabeth had married George Graham wrote of Odger's disappointment that the hospitality Francis showed him and his family by having them over for a much valued weekly Sunday meal ceased. Also that 'Odgers had to confess that things were not quite the same with Mr Warleggan as with Charles or Francis Poldark....... young Francis had sometimes been bitter and sardonic. But they treated him as one of themselves. Or almost one of themselves.' ('The Black Moon')  Whereas in comparison his relationship with George was more of a master-servant one.

Certainly Francis's character was written as being more friendly and approachable to the common man and the villagers at large. In narrating why Elizabeth and George had not found out sooner about Morwenna and Drake's secret courting Graham narrated that
'Had Verity been in the house, or even Francis, someone would have dropped a hint to them as a matter of course.' But not with George and Elizabeth because 'People were afraid to do so to George because they were scared of him, and Elizabeth, though kind enough, had always been remote.' Francis was not remote. His warmer approachable and more inclusive nature made him well and properly liked so that those of his class and below felt as Odgers did. That he treated them on his level. Or almost so.

A likeable Charm And Wit

An Echo Of Demelza & Her Seal Of Approval?

Perhaps it is an indication of the author's view of Francis that through Demelza Francis was given what seems a seal of approval.
A theme that ran through the books was Demelza's good judgment of character and in 'Black Moon' she herself expressed her ability to "... smell a friend." After her very first meeting with Francis she told Ross "I like Cousin Francis." She never changed that view even after their fallout and actually it was this view that she held of him that might explain why Ross picked up that she was greatly upset at Francis's upset with her from the Verity/Blamey fallout. But also it may be another indication of the author's approval of Francis's character that through Dwight Graham likened Demelza (as his much loved character) to Francis in an aspect of their personality. It was at her second visit for Christmas at Trenwith that Graham wrote Dwight observing that 'Demelza's impish wit had an echo in Francis's wry sense of humour; so socially they were well suited.' ('Jeremy Poldark').

Even Elizabeth! A Wife's Admission Of A Husband's Charm

Indeed Francis's charm and wit were quite evident and comical in his exchange with Demelza's father in the book at Julia's christening. This was where Tom Carne was intent on disrupting the gathering with his religious zeal and accusations that all the attendees were doomed to hell fire. Francis managed to frustrate him in a comical exchange on that topic with taunting and witty comebacks and challenges to this condemnation. But it was all done in such smart and good humour. Even Elizabeth could account for Francis's charm, humour and his easier manner overall. When later married to George, Elizabeth posthumously reflected that though Francis could be moody at times that she could be more relaxed around him and that against Francis, George was '.. not one quarter so malleable, so mercurial, so easy to understand.' Adding to the suggestions of his character carrying a wit and charm Graham wrote that compared to her marriage to George, Elizabeth '.. missed Francis's dry humour and easy sophistication.'

A Man With A Generous Heart

"I know so well his wry sense of humour when he can almost always laugh at himself, his generosity when he can give away money that he greatly needs, his courage when it's most required."
 Verity - ('Demelza' - Book 2 Chapter 9)

Charm and a good sense of humour do not do as much to secure the likeability of a character if they have a greedy and selfish nature. It may not be so well considered about Francis but he did have a generosity that was not particularly common to all the gentry, or anyone. Again this spirit of generosity by Francis was a quality that were not covered or drawn out at all in either of the television adaptions. 

Free Land for The Locals  

A clear demonstration of Francis's generosity was apparent where Graham described Francis gifting land to local people and whereby as Graham wrote he went one step further than his father who had offered the land not as a giveaway but on a time limited lease which needed renewal. Instead Graham wrote that when seeking renewal of the lease 'Francis, preoccupied and unbusinesslike had simply waved a hand at them and said 'Forget it, the property is yours'. His flippant manner showed his easy and casual generosity. Although his blasé-ness in not drawing up a formal deed thereafter meant they had difficulties trying to get George to honour this gift after Francis's death. Led by Sam Carne at that time they had wished to build a methodist meeting house on the land.

Money For A Rainy Day For A Friend Instead

Again the real Francis of the books demonstrated immense generosity when Ross was on trial and he offered to help Demelza if Ross was convicted. He told Ross that "I'm no doubt as nearly bankrupt as you, or nearer; but ...she (Demelza) can turn to me if she needs help or advice..and (I) happen to have a little hard money put by. She may have that if she needs it, or anything else I own."  By this he was referring to the £600 George Warleggan had given to him and which in that day represented a very comfortable two or three year income. Therefore in this fictional reality this was quite extraordinary generosity from a man who was close to suicidal because of his married life but also whose added stressors had been his own financial circumstances. Such that he was reaching near impoverishment himself and so was relying on this money for some financial security. 

An Ethical Sacrifice -Just Like Ross

As highlighted in the quote above Verity credited Francis with a heart that would give away money he needed himself. It is clear that she and the reader would be right to think this way about him based on this kind offer to Demelza and along with the other examples of his generosity. In this one Francis again demonstrated real care, concern and gratitude to Demelza and Ross for favours from the past. It also showed his honourable intent to return and repay the care that had been shown to him from them. Also to address his worry on behalf of Demelza should she lose the care of a husband who had been disposed to imprisonment instead of sent home to her. Therefore it had an echo in Ross’s ethical and equally sacrificial gift of £600 to Elizabeth after Francis’s death. If Ross's character should be praised for this, so too should Francis's. Both offered this gift at a cost to themselves and their families in their own time of great financial need. 

Humility Of A Newly Improverished Farmer 

Francis demonstrated some admirable qualities which showed a lack of arrogance and humility when his good fortune declined. After the closing of his mine he had to demote himself from a business man to a mere farmer. Graham wrote that 'This summer he had been trying to help about the farm. The work somehow did not suit him; it sat bleakly on his nature.' Despite this Francis persisted with farming for the next year or so until after Ross asked him to join him in the new venture of opening Wheal Grace. Before then he had showed humility when in acknowledging that his Grambler mine would not reopen he stated that "I am fully resigned to spending the rest of my days as an impoverished farmer."  Indeed there were then multiple references to Francis being 'about the farm' doing menial tasks such as sawing up wood and even rounding up a flock of sheep that had broken the hedge out of their sheep field. Francis had been humbled and accepted this with humility in spite of his greater wishes and aspirations.

Principles Against Corruption And For Hard Work

What was particularly remarkable about Francis was that when George sought to entice him out of that farmer life by suggesting he moved more in society as there were 'patronages to be had..' (such as paid offices), despite his bleak feeling for farming and his desire to do something better he would not compromise on his principles which found this a dishonourable approach. Seeming to share similar values that Ross held Francis said quite defiantly "I am a gentleman and want no patronages-either from gentlemen or others." 
Whilst Elizabeth hinted she did not support Francis’s view against patronage, in contrast this showed an impressive lack of vanity and pretentiousness in Francis. It also alluded to a sense of integrity by Francis of wanting to progress in life based on his own merit and without sophisticated corruption to aid his self advancement. 

On the other hand Francis did show that his heart was in good honest business with the delight and enthusiasm he held in his joint venture investing in and resurrecting Wheel Grace with Ross. In 'Warrleggan' Graham made it clear that Francis threw himself fully into hard work with the mine and it was in fact his decision to work late hours and instead of going home to work alone in the mine that led to his death. 

Francis: A Good Friend in Times Of Need

A Man With A Conscience

A true test of friendship is to be there for them during difficulties and no matter the weather.
As was referred to above Francis tried to be there for Demelza and Ross during his trial. This was despite his depression and suicidal feelings and also despite their estrangement due to the Verity/Blamey fallout. It was also against the backdrop of Francis's own disloyalty to Ross when wrongly believing it was Ross that was disloyal to him first. This had been the assumption that Ross had aided Verity's elopement. So 
he had then given the names behind the Carnemore Copper Company to George and therefore prematurely brought on the collapse of the whole company. This however was an impulsive act of retaliation under the provocation of that angry and mistaken assumption. It will be explored in 'The Redemption of Francis Poldark' Post.  Despite his shame over this and in light of this, he took steps to show his support for Ross and Demelza.

A man with a conscience is a man who has self accountability, self criticism and therefore a sense of right and wrong. Graham made it clear that Francis felt bad for his lapse of loyalty. It so evidently bothered him for a long time that Ross eventually considered that in respect of this lapse the fact that '... Francis had suffered in his own conscience because of it was plain to anyone who had met him in the last twelve months.' But this is not such a bad revelation since it is Francis's shame and regret which serve to highlight that at heart he held good core values and the greater concern would be if he had no conscience at all. 

Loyalty With a Sacrifice

Indeed t
here was a strong theme in the story around loyalty to Ross. In contrast to Elizabeth whose disloyalty to Ross was consistent from the start to the end of her tenure in the book, Francis's episode was a blip. Thereafter he engaged in clear acts of loyalty to Ross that were reaffirmations of his allegiances being firmly with Ross and remaining unshakeable despite the cost to him. Again these acts will be explored more specifically in the post '
The Redemption of Francis Poldark'. However they include choosing Ross's side against George, but also almost disowning George as a friend despite the risk of financial sanctions by George. They also include physically challenging and defending Ross against attempts to negatively influence his court trial in 'Jeremy Poldark'. The element of sacrifice on Francis’s part again highlights a moral compass by him in this regard which is to be admired. It also demonstrates a conviction of spirit and principle that had self deprecation and true friendship at its core.

Honesty In Rebuilding Bridges 

Ultimately despite Francis's desperation to rebuild his relationship with Ross he showed an 
honourableness in self confession of his past disloyalty to Ross in George's favour. This is the case as he did not have to and Ross had tried to block this confession everytime he tried to make it to him. Against temptation Francis did not take the easy way out in the end by instead confessing through Demelza. In his wisdom he explained why he did not to Demelza when saying "You cant rebuild a friendship by ignoring what had destroyed it."  Another credit to Francis was that he did not then take this as an absolution of his sins in being disloyal. Instead, as Graham narrated he felt that it '...excused him nothing, but it made possible a continuance of their friendship with a new honesty on his side.' 

All of the above documents the softer side to 'the real Francis Poldark'. Aside from the easy-going, charm and wit of his character, they demonstrate even more admirable traits of conscience, wisdom, self correction, lack of discrimination, the ability to recognise the true worth of a person, honesty, integrity and generosity. These are all such qualities which can be easily overlooked because his errors of judgment on other matters are more sensational and therefore more attention grabbing. That said there is still more to consider when looking at Francis's character in light of his infidelity against Elizabeth, gambling, financial irresponsibility and his bullish behaviour over Verity's courtship with Captain Blamey. This will be in the part two 'The Real Francis Poldark (Pt2 A Man Of His Time)'. As that post title suggests this will be done through a lens of the 'Man Of His Time' concept. However it will also show that behind this concept that the lighter parts of Francis's heart were still at play along side the darker side in his behaviour. In fact it was often this lighter side and his fragility that explained some of his less pleasant behaviour,

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