We have a clear example of the effectiveness of this kind of man in Ramsden. Ramsden was appalled to hear that Tanner considered him, “an old man with obsolete ideas” (341), but Ramsden was just like Tanner in his youth. He says to Octavius, “I have stood for equality and liberty of conscience while they were trucking to the Church and to the aristocracy. Whitefield and I lost chance after chance through our advanced opinions” (339). In his day, his opinions were advanced enough to lose him favor in eyes of his contemporaries. Mendoza, an acquaintance they met in Spain, reported that Ramsden, “used to supper with several different ladies” (471). This is something Ramsden staunchly disagreed with in Tanner’s personal life. It is clear that a change occurred in Ramsden. It must also be true that a change occurred in society in order for a man with such radical opinions to become a man of honor.
This suggests that Tanner evolved in the same way that Ramsden did. Their views became milder as did their lifestyles. This is similar to the method of affecting change that was espoused by the Fabian Society. The Fabian Society was and still is a socialist organization that encourages the advancement of socialist principles through gradual rather than revolutionary means. Here, it is implied that Ramsden and now Tanner became more effective at advancing their own principles after adopting their milder lifestyles.
When he says, “construction cumbers the ground with institutions made by busybodies. Destruction clears it and gives us breather space and liberty” (367), Tanner did not realize that these words would apply to his own circumstance. His old life, which he thought was liberated, was actually holding him back. It was only in the destruction of that life that he was able to liberate himself. The taming of his radical nature caused his influence to expand. The Fabian Society believed that the destruction of state created national, political, and moral character. Tanner’s change is a metaphor for this creation of character. Tanner believed he had strong moral passion, but this passion was undirected. Instead, he had the foundation for a strong moral character. In submitting to Ann and accepting the traditional Victorian lifestyle, he gained a springboard from which to extend his social ideas. In so doing, he developed a stronger moral fiber, the moral fiber of a leader rather than an eccentric.