Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*London. Capital and leading city of Great Britain, that demonstrates both the social and moral sensibilities of the 1750’s. Sir Charles lives in a town house on St. James’s Square, an exclusive neighborhood built around a carefully landscaped park. During the mid-eighteenth century, the square’s town houses were considered extremely fashionable; the fact that Sir Charles lives there demonstrates his high social status.
Grosvenor Street is another fashionable London neighborhood; its homes are not as exclusive as town houses on a square, but appropriate for a well-to-do Northamptonshire family, such as the virtuous young Harriet Byron and her aunt and uncle.
The extraordinary cultural opportunities that London offers, such as playhouses, recreational gardens, and opera houses make it an exciting destination. However, it also crowds together opportunities for vice–such as gambling and usury–and vapid entertainments. The novel conveys the impression that living in London too long coarsens one’s social and moral sensibilities. Minor women characters who have lived for a time in London have attitudes opposed to successful domestic lives: they become either too witty, too ignorant, or too fashionable. Likewise, the male characters who reside there tend to prefer silly women and dissipated entertainments.
*Northamptonshire. County in northern England that is several hours’ travel by carriage from London, in which Harriet has grown up under the care of relatives. Sir Charles goes to Northamptonshire to court Harriet and to marry her, so it offers a background for domestic virtuousness. However, that background is tainted by rural enthusiasm, symbolized by the Methodist Sunday services. Because Anglicanism is part of the domestic ideal, Grandison Hall is superior to Northamptonshire. However, Northamptonshire is more remote from the moral ambiguities of London. It is therefore an appropriate place for young women like Harriet and her cousin Lucy to mature, which is why Emily Jervois spends time there at the close of the novel.
*Bologna (boh-LOH-nyah). North-central Italian city that was favored as a travel destination for English gentlemen on their grand tours because of the opportunities it offered for fine music and for acquiring art objects. Sir Charles spends most of his time in Italy there with the Porretta family. Bologna also represents the temptations available to British gentleman on tour, and Sir Charles faces his ultimate temptation in Lady Clementina, a woman at once noble, beautiful, virtuous, conversant in English, and in love with him. However, in order for him to marry her, she insists that he convert to Roman Catholicism and take up permanent residence in Bologna. Sir Charles rejects the offer and offers a compromise that will allow him to maintain his British identity, but that, in turn, is rejected, and he returns to England, where he encounters Harriet.
Lady Clementina is also delicate of health. When Sir Charles returns to Bologna, he comes equipped with English physicians and their suggestions to assist in curing her and her brother, thereby symbolically bringing British superiority in medicine. After he is satisfied that Clementina and her brother are cured, he returns to England. When the Porretta family unexpectedly arrives in England, bringing European instability to his doorstep, Sir Charles once again facilitates a “cure” by demonstrating the British domestic ideal through his life with Harriet at Grandison Hall.