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Post Info TOPIC: Ross and Demelza's children, why only 5?


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Date: Sep 14 9:46 PM, 2018
RE: Ross and Demelza's children, why only 5?
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I'm still not convinced that Demelza would ever resort to any day after tricks - being the person who found pleasure in the smallest of the living things, had some sympathy for the foxes hunted, and even had quibbles over the unnecessariness of Monk Adderley's death in a duel which he has brought about himself. However, I wouldn't disagree that she might have known about some such tricks - it didn't seem to be a particularly secret wisdom, given that even Morwenna had known something: when she tells Drake she has lost her second baby, she adds Oh, not deliberate. I did nothing.

I'm also having second thoughts about my suggestion that Ross might have learned about Demelza's body cycles over time. I checked when that claim that he knew how regular she was appeared in the books, and it was when Demelza first told him that Clowance was coming. So now I'm wondering when exactly was Ross supposed to observe that regularity? He probably didn't know before Jeremy was on the way (how else would he fail to notice it for 5 months?), then for a good while after Jeremy was born he wouldn't get a chance to observe it, then it was May 9th - and again he didn't get much chance to observe it, then came the Christmas reconciliation, and shortly afterwards Demelza was expecting again - and when they had the talk (sometime in March, I guess), Ross was already supposed to know. Hm... This starts to look rather like a little discrepancy across the books to me.

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Just noticed that my last post has a time of 3.48 AM! Presume that must be UK time, 'cause I am not posting in the middle of the night. Mid-afternoon here.



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If Ross was avoiding intimacy in an attempt to prevent a pregnancy, I don't think he would say so, because he knows that Demelza would be very persuasive and knock all his arguments down. He rarely won those sort of arguments, because she was so pragmatic and logical.

Apart from that, I think that Mrs Gimlett's explanation on Sept 9 makes the most sense to me. A combination of all those factors, and possibly including a little wisdom about Demelza's body cycles, probably meant that the spacing of the children was part biological, part logistical, part intentional, and part luck (or bad luck, depending on your perspective).



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Date: Sep 11 6:40 PM, 2018
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Hi all,

I'm back after a bit of offline time - nice to catch up with everything posted here in the meantime.

Re: the number of Ross and Demelza's children - in general I would agree with Dark Mare that if anyone in that couple was to make an attempt at birth control, it must have been Ross (as he was clearly more concerned about the risks involved, and had quite an impressive abstinence record). I doubt he would be able to apply any sort of the calendar method, though - he didn't seem very observant even as to when Demelza was having her periods (you'd think that's something to notice over the first half of your wife's pregnancy?).

But then, maybe he did learn to pay more attention over time? I think at some point Demelza tells him something like "I'm regular as the moon, as you know" - which seems to indicate that he was in the know, after all.

In any case, I don't believe that Ross's withdrawal after May 9th had anything to do with avoiding pregnancy - rather, he was tactful enough to wait for a cue from Demelza as to whether she would still take him. Demelza, in turn, misinterpreted that as rejection - and so the misunderstanding escalated.



-- Edited by Blackleburr on Tuesday 11th of September 2018 06:42:58 PM

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Date: Sep 11 8:45 AM, 2018
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Mrs Gimlett wrote:

... Demelza nursed Julia, which would have acted as a natural, but not entirely reliable, contraceptive.  After Julia died, Demelza was so ill and took some while convalescing, I would guess Ross was more concerned to restore her to normality than anything else.  At the same time, of course, he had the worry of his impending Assizes appearance, which must also have suppressed his ardour.  Jeremy was probably the result of some passionate events before he left for Bodmin. However, by this time Demelza's innate wisdom made her realise that Ross was vulnerable in many ways; he didn't want many children who may die in the next epidemic; his experience of Julia had enhanced for him what he already knew - the fragility of life. Her pregnancies always caused him great anxiety; think how worried he was about the births and those important days immediately after.

Therefore, in the following years which were full of worry, ever increasing economy and further threats of imprisonment for debt, I think it likely Demelza ensured there were no more babies.*  Then May 9th...

Clowance came along within months of the reconciliation and again was nursed by Demelza.  After that time, Ross was risking his life in France and following that, enter Hugh Armitage.  Thank goodness Demelza didn't get the same result with Hugh as Elizabeth did with Ross!

Once Ross went off to London of course, the opportunities weren't there for family increase.  However, in the missing 10 years, I would hazard there were some steamy reunions when Ross returned from his various missions. Result - Bella.


Mrs. G, I have a different take on this. I think Ross was the one who was controlling this lack of production. From the reconciliation with the Trenwith Poldarks until May 9th, we have Demelza feeling avoided and neglected. She takes it to mean he is longing for Elizabeth, but what if he is really just trying to reduce the risk of another pregnancy? Maybe longing for Elizabeth was even part of his strategy. Anything to help him keep his hands off Demelza.

In any case, we have considerable evidence of her feeling neglected and unloved throughout that period. There are even conversations with Francis and Verity in which she suggests Ross prefers Elizabeth to her. And Ross did go through an extended period of abstinence before.

If that is what he is doing, why didn't he tell her? Because he didn't want to end up in an argument about it. Does he have any idea how much damage he is doing to their relationship by not explaining what he is doing? I doubt it.

In the years after that, I think Ross' frequent absences had a lot to do with it. But don't forget the presence of the children. They are older and stay up later. Demelza remembers hearing her parents together late at night. No way she wants her children hearing their parents. 



-- Edited by Dark Mare on Tuesday 11th of September 2018 08:50:28 AM

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Yes, I know you are right. I immediately thought about that after my post. Thanks for the correction. 



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Are you getting muddled between the books and the TV, Dave?  In the books, Elizabeth doesn't go to Bodmin and as far as I remember, Demelza never tells Elizabeth anything about her pregnancies.

Verity was with D in Bodmin, but not a word was uttered, even to her.



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Date: Sep 9 3:49 PM, 2018
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Excellent post-Mrs.G. You give a very good scenario for Demelza's fertility. W.G. has Ross comment that Demelza always delays letting Ross know she is pregnant even when events and prosperity are not so much a factor, although at Bodmin she doesn't so hesitant to let Elizabeth know. Do gals have a natural tendency to discuss this with other women?  Is it Demelza's modesty? Anyway, it is fun to speculate on this. I will post more when I get my thoughts together about fertility and desires for having children. 



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As I was the one who first asked the question, I have been pondering this on and off for some while.

When Ross and Demelza first marry, it takes only a couple of months for her to become pregnant.  She would no doubt think this normal, given her experience of the family life of the Carnes (seven children in seven years) and most likely expected more to follow on a regular basis. 

Demelza nursed Julia, which would have acted as a natural, but not entirely reliable, contraceptive.  After Julia died, Demelza was so ill and took some while convalescing, I would guess Ross was more concerned to restore her to normality than anything else.  At the same time, of course, he had the worry of his impending Assizes appearance, which must also have suppressed his ardour.  Jeremy was probably the result of some passionate events before he left for Bodmin. However, by this time Demelza's innate wisdom made her realise that Ross was vulnerable in many ways; he didn't want many children who may die in the next epidemic; his experience of Julia had enhanced for him what he already knew - the fragility of life. Her pregnancies always caused him great anxiety; think how worried he was about the births and those important days immediately after.

Therefore, in the following years which were full of worry, ever increasing economy and further threats of imprisonment for debt, I think it likely Demelza ensured there were no more babies.*  Then May 9th...

Clowance came along within months of the reconciliation and again was nursed by Demelza.  After that time, Ross was risking his life in France and following that, enter Hugh Armitage.  Thank goodness Demelza didn't get the same result with Hugh as Elizabeth did with Ross!

Once Ross went off to London of course, the opportunities weren't there for family increase.  However, in the missing 10 years, I would hazard there were some steamy reunions when Ross returned from his various missions. Result - Bella.

Henry was the surprise package, what people used to call a 'mistake' - conceived when R&D thought their family complete.

I am not sure that poor nutrition would have pertained in Nampara.  Compared with some families, like the Odgers and Martins, R&D were well-fed. 

We know that unlike Francis and George, Ross and Demelza did nightly share a bed, apart from those awful months after May 9th so it is my belief that *along with other wisdom Demelza imbibed from Meggy Dawes, were a few tips for the day after. She would very well have known the rhythm of her own body and acted accordingly.

Had there been 10 children of the marriage, perhaps we wouldn't have cared so much for each of them - it would have been much more difficult to include them all in the storylines. Probably the devastation caused by Julia's death would not have had quite the same long term impact on R&D or the reader. 

On the other hand think what further material WG would have had.  Sufficient for another few books!  In reality, I suspect WG had so much to include in the books, further children would have got in the way of those marvellous plots, twists and turns.

 

From time to time, I put myself in the shoes of one or other of my ancestors (Family history is a major hobby).  One of them produced 14 children, who all lived in the same village, but only six married. They engendered for him 69 grandchildren, only two of whom were born after his death.  I have difficulty getting the names of three correct...

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mrs Gimlett on Sunday 9th of September 2018 11:02:40 AM

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Dave wrote:

Hi, we seem to be getting off Topic here. I don't know how or if I am permitted to move this discussion to a new topic heading for this discussion.  I know I have more to contribute to this topic on their children, why only 5?

How about this for a title.  Ross and Demelza's children, why only 5?

 



-- Edited by Dave on Wednesday 15th of August 2018 05:27:43 PM


 Dave - Ross and Demelza were apart for long periods throughout their marriage which may be partly an answer to your question. I suggest you start a new topic if you want to extend this discussion.

Posted by Stella Poldark 

This is an old post the topic has now been moved to this "Ross and Demelza children, why only 5?



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Dave wrote:

Hi, we seem to be getting off Topic here. I don't know how or if I am permitted to move this discussion to a new topic heading for this discussion.  I know I have more to contribute to this topic on their children, why only 5?

How about this for a title.  Ross and Demelza's children, why only 5?

 



-- Edited by Dave on Wednesday 15th of August 2018 05:27:43 PM


 Dave - Ross and Demelza were apart for long periods throughout their marriage which may be partly an answer to your question. I suggest you start a new topic if you want to extend this discussion.

Posted by Stella Poldark 

 



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Yes, Dark Mare, I see your point. Here is Dwight's take on what we are discussing. He says this after his own daughter illness is diagnosed. 

Dwight narrowed his eyes and stared at the colourless day. When one sees, as I do, hundreds of children brought into the world in poverty and squalor and deprivation, many of them attended by some clumsy midwife who mishandles the mother, bites the cord with her teeth and gives the child a drop of gin to keep it quiet, and they all, or almost all, in the first place, in the first months of life, whatever happens later, they almost all are perfect in every way, it is very strange to contemplate the paradox of a rich child, attended by her own father and brought up with all the care and attention of a princess, that such a child should be flawed, and flawed in a way that it is beyond the skill of man to cure.

 

Graham, Winston. The Angry Tide: A Novel of Cornwall 1798-1799 (Poldark Book 7) (p. 91). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

 



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Dave wrote:

... I believe that Ross does not think about the chances of Demelza getting pregnant when they make love. Demelza once said in one of the books Ross doesn't think like that about many things, doesn't always think of the consequences of his action, maybe getting Demelza pregnant is one of those things.  The Poldark's lineage, as Dark Mare points out,  is not one that is prone by genetics for procreation ( low sperm count (?) , although that night he spent with Elizabeth.....hhhmmm). Nobody in his family had many children. Demelza's lineage on the other hand is quite different.  Also, Ross was away many times, so the opportunities were not there. This I am sure led to Demelza's frustration and loneliness in regards to Ross.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 Or Elizabeth, clearly. It does make one wonder, considering Ross' father's reputation as a libertine. One would expect Ross to have been well-educated on this subject by his father. Joshua was the bane of Cornish husbands' existence for years after Grace died, but there wasn't one -- child of his out there as far as he knew -- or was it Ross who spoke of it?. (Maybe low sperm count explained Joshua's dearth of illegitimate issue.)

As for Poldark family sizes, the problem seems to be premature death of either the mother or father and infant illness rather than any fertility issue. Ross' mother died at 30, having had two children. Francis and Verity's mother died at 33, having had five children, three of whom died very young. Francis, who died at age 32, fathered only one of Elizabeth's three children. (Of course there was a period of very chilly relations between Francis and Elizabeth after Geoffrey Charles was born that made subsequent children less likely.) Ross and Demelza, who married when he was 27 and she was 17, had five children, one of whom died at 15 months. Their children were well spaced out thanks to periods of aloofness on Ross' part when he was overwhelmed by their financial problems and/or enthralled with Elizabeth and after he entered Parliament. Verity married late and had her only child at age 35, but she also had two teen-age stepchildren. (Ross and Francis' other cousin, the Rev. William Alfred Johns, and his wife supposedly were very prolific [WG just wrote "many children" under their names in the family tree.].)

Demelza's family stopped growing when her mother died, and started again when Nellie produced three more, only one of whom, a daughter, survived childhood. Among those children who died was the son Tom Carne had boasted about being bigger and more robust at birth than Julia during the party after Julia's christening. Sad irony: Both of those cousins died very young.

Dave, I think maybe you have missed my point. Demelza was confident about having children because she and her siblings had grown up healthy despite being born into poverty and squalor. Ross was pessimistic presumably because Julia was not the first child in his life to die young. He had lost a brother and three cousins young when he was a boy. Demelza was unafraid because her children were getting a better start in life than she and her brothers had gotten. Ross was afraid because Julia and Jeremy were not given as good a start in life as he, Francis and their brothers had had. Had Demelza been living with her family when her father's second family was being born and then dying, she might have had a more nuanced point of view.

 



-- Edited by Dark Mare on Wednesday 15th of August 2018 12:11:21 PM 



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Yes I agree.

Dave 



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 agree it was well adapted.  I only miss the word "welcomed" from the book when Ross says "but a prospect is not a child, and a child can be welcomed for all that."

posted by Little Henry



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Date: Aug 17 1:13 AM, 2018
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Glad you liked it. As a father myself that scene always touched me. Like I had written I think it is one of the few times the film outdid the scene in the book. I frequently go back and view previous seasons, I am looking again at season 1. Of course, I am always reading the books, by whole or sections of them. I am glad the link worked for you. 

I am wondering if I should start this as a new topic since I am getting off the original topic. Will see how many responses to this topic regarding children get. 



-- Edited by Dave on Saturday 11th of August 2018 12:31:36 PM



-- Edited by Dave on Saturday 11th of August 2018 12:32:50 PM 



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I loved watching that youtube clip. It was so refreshing to see a scene played out in full with the right amount of dialogue. Just highlighted what I have been missing this season.

You have whetted my appetite to go back and watch the first season again.

posted by Fijane

 



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This is in reply to Dark Mare about Ross and Demelza having children. I have a different view on this situation.

Well, I thought you could distinguish between a theoretical case and a practical one. Evidently, that isn't so. I wasn't well educated No more was I. Look. He thumped the flat of his hand on the mantelpiece. Look. If you ask me, do I want more children, Ill say no. Were nearly paupers, the worlds awry, and we've lost Julia. Correct? That's a theoretical case. But if you say you're having another child, do I dislike the prospect I'd say yes, for all these reasons I still dislike the prospect but a prospect is not a child, and a child can be welcomed for all that. Dyou understand what I mean? No, she said.

Jeremy Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1790-1791 (The Poldark Saga Book 3) (p. 224).

This Ross's argument on accepting the news of Demelza pregnancy.  I feel he gave a very good pro-life argument here.  Abortion issue here in the United States will continue to be a contentious problem in my mind due to the fact the fathers of these babies are never thought about or brought into the discussion of abortion. Ross does a very good job presenting a "the father of the child " view on a pregnancy.

I believe that Ross does not think about the chances of Demelza getting pregnant when they make love. Demelza once said in one of the books Ross doesn't think like that about many things, doesn't always think of the consequences of his action, maybe getting Demelza pregnant is one of those things.  The Poldark's lineage, as Dark Mare points out,  is not one that is prone by genetics for procreation ( low sperm count (?) , although that night he spent with Elizabeth.....hhhmmm). Nobody in his family had many children. Demelza's lineage on the other hand is quite different.  Also, Ross was away many times, so the opportunities were not there. This I am sure led to Demelza's frustration and loneliness in regards to Ross.

She said, By April I shall look like Mr. Trencrom. It was the first time they had laughed together for a long time, but her laughter was still dangerously near tears, his a not quite voluntary surrender of his irritation.

 Jeremy Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1790-1791 (The Poldark Saga Book 3) (p. 226).

 

 

I think this scene in the movie was superior to the book. I have attached the file, hope it works https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Demelza+tells+ross+she+is+pregnant+You+Tube&view=detail&mid=544FE47FA8C7B6FC9DFB544FE47FA8C7B6FC9DFB&FORM=VIRE

 

(to be continued: I have much more to write)



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As for the number of children the Poldarks had, I suspect that Ross' anxiety over childbirth and children dying young had a lot to do with it. The first time I read the books, I thought his hand wringing and crepe hanging every time Demelza was pregnant after Julia's death had to be a bit unnerving for her, but then I took a good look at the Poldark family tree. We know both his mother and his aunt died young, but the family tree also reveals that while seven Poldark children were born in Ross' generation -- five at Trenwith and two at Nampara -- only three survived to adulthood.  Demelza had confidence in happy outcomes because all seven children in her family survived to adulthood despite having grown up with the odds heavily stacked against them. (One brother did die as a young adult, but he survived their impoverished childhood.)  
 
I think Demelza would have been happy with a houseful of children close enough in age to be playmates for one another, but she had to have realized when Jeremy was little that Ross' heart wasn't in parenthood. Yes, he loved his children, but their existence was not a sufficient consideration to keep him from repeatedly risking his life. Rescuing Dwight was justifiable, of course, but the duel with Adderley was not. Did he give the possibility of his children losing their father even one moment's thought? I doubt it. 
posted by Dark Mare 

 



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Do you think that apart from the genuine shock and worry for Ross over Elizabeth's death, that some part of Demelza must have been feeling very relieved?  Surely she would not be human if she didn't have thoughts about her 'rival' finally being unable to come between her and Ross, however deeply she would have suppressed them. 

What a pity WG didn't write another book covering the period immediately after the events of that winter in 1799.  It could have covered so many topics - where did Geoffrey Charles spend Christmas that year for instance? We know nothing about what happened to him until many years later.  Demelza cajoling Ross out of his depressed mood.  The children growing up. (I have often wondered why Ross and Demelza only had 5 children).  I would have liked to know more about the time of Bella's birth too. What do others think?

This Post from Mrs Gimlett is what started this Topic 

 



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One thing that may be a factor was general health of the times. Fertility is somewhat affected by a person's (both male and female) baseline of nutrition and past illnesses. I wonder whether Demelza's early years of starvation may have reduced her fertility a little?

Then again, the miner's families didn't seem to have problem with conceiving, just with creating healthy children.

Maybe, in the nobility, having relations with your wife was considered an occasional act. WG implies that many of the gentlemen spent equal if not more time with mistresses - again, it doesn't explain Ross, though.

Another question that arises is, was Ross attempting to prevent conception after Julia's death, maybe by practising a primitive form of the rhythm method, or just abstinence? Otherwise, why was Jeremy's conception such a surprise?



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  Ross and Demelza's children, why only 5?



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