Mrs. Smith (née Hamilton) is a character in Persuasion. She was governess to Anne Elliot when she was still a child, and they were very fond of each other. She was married to Charles Smith, Esq., and was later widowed. Mrs. Smith is three years older than Anne.
Working as a governessEdit
When Anne had been sent to a girl's seminary when she was younger, she was homesick and sad, since she had recently lost her mother. Mrs. Smith, then Miss Hamilton, befriended her and helped her get over that misery. This is a major reason why Anne goes to visit Mrs. Smith while in Bath, even thought they are from different social classes. Anne knew that she would never remember Mrs. Smith with indifference.
The former Miss Hamilton married Charles Smith, a man of wealth and consequence. Theirs was a happy marriage until the arrival of William Elliot into their lives. Mr. Smith was kind to Mr. Elliot, the latter of whom was impoverished. Mr. Elliot said some disturbing things about his distant relatives, Sir Walter Elliot and Elizabeth Elliot. He wanted nothing to do with them and just wanted to be rich. He planned to get rich by marrying an heiress. The woman he chose was immensely inappropriate for the heir presumptive of a baronet. She was not a gentlewoman, but was at least educated. Upon becoming very wealthy, Mr. Elliot encouraged Mr. Smith to overspend, ruining the Smith family. Since then, she held a profound dislike of Mr. Elliot.
Now poor and ruined, Mrs. Smith moved to Bath. She became reacquainted with her old friend Anne Elliot. She lived in poverty because Mr. Elliot ruined her husband, but she had reason to believe there was still some property she could access in the West Indies, but she did not have the means to hire an attorney.
Mr. Smith was a very sweet man and husband. He was kind, but was easily led astray. Their marriage had been a happy one at first, until William Elliot had urged Smith to spend more than he ought, and to fall into vices. Their marriage had been unhappy after that, although she did not blame him completely.
She helped Anne get out of her misery and grief over her mother while at school, forever endearing her to the girl. When Anne was a woman grown and staying in Bath, she visited Mrs. Smith, at first surprising her. It was awkward in the beginning, but they soon settled and became dear friends.
- "Mr. Elliot is a man without heart or conscience; a designing, wary, cold-blooded being, who thinks only of himself; who, for his own interest or ease, would be guilty of any cruelty, or any treachery, that would be perpetrated without risk of his general character. He has no feeling for others. Those whom he has been the chief cause of leading into ruin, he can neglect and desert without the smallest compunction. He is totally beyond the reach of any sentiment or compassion. Oh! He is black at heart, hollow and black!"
- —Mrs. Smith to Anne Elliot; discussing Mr. Elliot
Mrs. Smith hates Mr. Elliot, since she believes he ruined her husband—and thus her—on purpose. At first she was very cautious about making her feelings about Mr. Elliot known to Anne, as she thought they shared an affection for each other. When she realized Anne did not, she told her the entire story, confirming Anne's original suspicions.