That’s… if he’s good to you. If he’s not, he’ll have me to answer to.
I always wondered how much Matthew perceived of Mary’s situation with Richard before the CS. He says this very flippantly here and of course he needs to know that she will be safe and happy, but only in a general way. We know that he did not ‘like’ Richard, but here he wants to make it clear that it’s nothing personal, that he ’hardly knows him’, and it’s obvious that he doesn’t want Mary to see that he is disturbed by the news (though of course he goes out of his way to deny/avoid/hide any trace of jealousy, disappointment or pain. Instead, he rather goes a bit mad and invites poor William to go on a fun trip to the German lines…)
Matthew always trusted Mary’s judgement, that she was clever, self-possessed and strong enough to make the ‘right’ choices or at least the choices she really wants in life. At this point he was convinced that Carlisle was truly what she wanted no doubt about it, but I wonder if on a subconscious level he also felt that there was something more sinister or ’wrong’ about Richard’s treatment of Mary. If he did, though, he probably felt that it was not his ‘place’ to say so. Matthew did not trust his own judgement when it came to Carlisle, because he still saw him to some degree through the eyes of the man who loved Mary long before.
Always the lawyer, he tries to judge fairly, but his fear of being ‘biased’ may also make him blind to the reality of both Mary’s love and Richard’s posessive behaviour.
Matthew’s determintion to ‘like’ Richard actually accounts for the fact that he seems to be the only one who takes Mary’s intentions serious. Her sisters mock Richard’s pursuit, Cora and Rosamund support it, but are also aware that it is a fragile bond on Mary’s part, Robert and Carson are against it and try to talk her out of it. Only Matthew keeps repeating to everyone that Mary ‘will’ get married to Richard, that it is an unshakable fact. In the end, it even becomes his strongest argument when he tries to convince Lavinia not to call off the wedding. He has to believe that this is true in order to move on, though it also reminds me of people, incluring myself, who always repeat to themselves the outcome they are dreading (like getting a fail in that maths exam) so that they are not too affected when it does actually happen.
In this scene, Matthew actually has to face the fact that he has really no say in Mary’s future and in her life. Not the least because he may well not be so lucky and return from France next time, thus never get the chance to actually check whether Carlisle treats her right or not…
Oh, I do love your analyses!
I think, in large part (and especially coming into 2x08) it has to do with Matthew’s utter blindness to Mary’s feelings for him. All he knows is that Mary has made her decision to Richard - and why should he question it? Particularly here, in this early stage where he hasn’t seen much of them together at all. And Matthew being Matthew, innocent that he is, what reason would he conceive of that Mary would agree to marry a man unless she loved him? That’s how Matthew thinks marriage works - two people who love each other. Whilst I think he becomes slightly jaded of that view in regard to Mary, at the end of Series 1, I think that even here he’d look at it objectively (ha?) and recognise that Richard can offer Mary money and power, to go along with her society position, which he has told himself since she hesitated on his proposal that those things are what she wants. He just has no reason to suspect that Mary would agree to marry Richard without WANTING to, whatever her reasons might be for wanting to.
Even as Mary and Matthew start spending a lot more time together, from 2x05 onwards, I think Matthew sees this (or Mary’s feelings towards him) as - as he expressed in 2x01 - a sign of what good, amicable FRIENDS and cousins they are. Deep down we know he feels more, but after how sternly he must have spent 1914-16 convincing himself that Mary couldn’t have loved him, any fondness she shows to him throughout Series 2 is just a sign to him that they are over that, and ‘friends’ again. They enjoy each other’s company so much, they get along so well, but he’s completely blinkered to seeing anything in it beyond that friendship - including recognising his own feelings. Again, with that being his perception, why would he question Mary’s engagement to Richard?
I don’t think it’s until 2x07 with Violet, and then 2x08 more explicitly, that he acknowledges not only his own desire for Mary, but hers for him. (but that’s another conversation!)
So even when we get to that point, and Matthew may realise that he and Mary love each other - he still has no facts beyond that she is engaged to Richard. And still, he must believe that she WANTS to marry Richard, because why else would she? And then in the CS he’s developed an understanding that she really, really doesn’t want to… but has no idea why, or why then she can’t get out of it.
Though you know, one does have to wonder how Matthew never got wind of the rumours about Mary/Pamuk, if it was going around London… unless he didn’t spend much time there for the Season, beyond Sybil’s ball.
Oh gosh, I’ve waffled and lost my track completely. Sorry!