It’s time to pick up our crayons (or colored pencils, if you prefer) and fill in the blanks with what we know or have perceived thus far about Colonel Lennox in Sanditon Season 2. Arriving in his handsome red and yellow uniform, draped with medals for his heroism at Waterloo, and riding on his symbolic white horse, comes Tom Weston-Jones, looking rather dashing. As Masterpiece PBS states in their online promo about the characters:
Colonel Lennox is a genuine and gallant war hero who fought in Waterloo. He’s also aristocratic, dashing, and charming (which he hopes will win over a particular Sanditon heroine). As a proud leader, he commands absolute respect from his men, and nothing is more important to him than status and honor. Lennox is keen to establish himself as a respectable member of refined society.SOURCE: PBS MASTERPIECE
In contrast to Colbourne, who would rather hide from society, we see that Lennox takes advantage of refined society to accomplish his goals. What are those goals? From what we’ve seen in three episodes, his outward demeanor certainly exudes one picture, while we are getting a slight shady glimpse of another that makes us question his motives and sincerity.
Justin Young and other writers have done their due diligence when it comes to the historical background of the militia at this point in history. The militia’s reputation is no doubt going to be woven into the storyline. I’ve done a little digging myself about the redcoats and find these tidbits to be telling indeed:
“It is little wonder that the officers often found themselves involved with mischief, for they were considered gentlemen, and engaged in local society as a result. Life in the militia was not an adventure, for there was little to do but drill, and most had little interest in such activities. The officers often spent their days in frivolity and society, flirting, gambling, and other unserious pursuits.”SOURCE: REGINA JEFFRIES REGENCY ENGLAND
Here is another great blog post about the British Army During the Regency Era and the Purchase of Commissions. You’ll see from this background that Lennox may have been the son of an aristocrat, although it hasn’t been confirmed in the series except for the statement above from Masterpiece, “He’s also aristocratic.”
Further articles about the militia can be also found regarding its corruption. Another good article talks about “social mobility for poor and immoral men to ascend in society and marry beyond their class.” SOURCE: The Militia in Pride & Prejudice and Journal Article by Tim Fulford. After reading that tidbit, I naturally thought of Edward, looking for another way to strike it rich. From further reading, it appears the soldiers invited mistresses into their tents at night, too. I doubt we’ll see that action since Sanditon has been toned down in that area.
Since we learned they roam from location to location with no permanent barracks (even though Tom would like them to stay), they arrive at unscrupulous Edward’s recommendation. I’ve stumbled across further reading that it was not uncommon for the militia to run up bills and leave town without paying them, and “tradesman and innkeepers resented them leaving town without paying for services and wares.” SOURCE: English Historical Fiction Authors Aghast! I can see this coming a mile away. This definitely sheds light on Lennox himself, in that he has no doubt come to Sanditon to do just that since we see the bills are not being paid from the dinner they held. Since he approves of the practice for his underpaid men, let’s call that “strike one” for the handsome man in uniform. He did, after all, tell the Parkers while having tea that they don’t tend to stay in one place.
It’s obvious after his first meeting with Charlotte that he is intrigued, and Tom Weston-Jones has stated that he cannot help pursuing her. He is unattached, and no doubt has had other fleeting relationships and admits that to be an army officer’s wife requires a particular kind of forbearance. Nevertheless, there is a definite difference in class here, that may give him pause. He’s probably from an aristocratic family. Charlotte is a farmer’s daughter and a governess, far lower than him in the scheme of society. He’s being an utter gentleman in her presence, yet there was the subtle reminder of her lowly social status, as noted by the seating arrangement at dinner. Governesses were merely one notch above the paid servants in a household, but despite that fact, we must give him some credit for inviting her to attend and dancing with her afterward.
I think that Lennox is truly enchanted by Charlotte, with the same Stringer line that he’s never met a woman quite like her. Of course, we later learn that is not the case, since he states that Lucy, Colbourne’s wife, had a fierce, bright spirit, not unlike her own. Is he attracted to Charlotte because she reminds him of a former love? He prefaces the revelation that it’s not his nature to impugn another man, but does so anyway. It’s obvious that he holds a deep-seated resentment toward Colbourne. The question remains to be seen, is it the whole truth, partial truth, or outright lie to Charlotte in order to gain her approval and discourage any feelings she might be developing for Colbourne! As of writing this, we don’t know that answer but can only speculate. Is he pulling a Wickham here or not?
Lennox, too, is obviously self-assured, proud, authoritative, and engrained in military life. He gives orders to his men and subtly manipulates Tom. Captain Fraser picks the bouquet of flowers for him to give to Charlotte, putting none of himself into that task because deep down he knows it’s a flirtatious, but transient relationship. I don’t see in Lennox a man who falls deeply in love with Charlotte. From his conversation, I see no indication that he is ready to give up the admired status of Colonel and return to civilian life, even though the thought has crossed his mind. As Tom Weston-Jones said, “He’s a real beast of the military and a wealthy man.” It’s his identity. Would Lennox give it up, and would he do it for the love of a woman?
Of course, if Lennox knows that eventually he and the men he commands are going to pull up stakes and move on, he has no long-term goal toward marriage. He may be fascinated with Charlotte and enjoy her company, but she’s not interested in being the wife of a military man, let alone the wife of a recluse either. Perhaps when he realizes there is no future with her, that’s when the militia will disappear in the night and move on to the next town where they can freeload, gamble, and flirt with women. Naturally, that impending scene may have a sad outcome on Alison Heywood’s budding love for Captain Carter.
I dare say there is much to be fleshed out about Lennox. In no way do I think he is a terrible person, but rather a man so ingrained in his lifestyle that it defines him entirely. He’s a hero. He’s shown great courage in battle. He has medals that acclaim such actions dangling from his uniform. If time permitted, we might see a softer and more lovable and romantic version of this man, but I don’t think we will. Of course, there are also our speculations about his relationship with Lucy, Colbourne’s wife. Is Leonora his daughter? Did he have an affair with Lucy? There are plot twist speculations everywhere we patiently (or impatiently) wait to be revealed.
Perhaps, we’ll have to leave him to the fanfiction writers to flesh out his story further, or I might take that trope and write a novel myself.
What are your thoughts on Colonel Lennox?