His profession was all that could ever make her friends wish that tenderness less; the dread of a future war all that could dim her sunshine. She gloried in being a sailor's wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance.
In these final lines of the novel, Austen makes a broad observation regarding the role of the Navy in society. She acknowledges that Anne's future may not be entirely happy; being married to a Naval officer means worrying constantly about the prospect of war and long-term separation. In this period of English history, wars and Naval skirmishes occurred with alarming frequency. Though Persuasion might include characters who are officers in the Navy, it never describes them in their professional capacity. Their rank is only important for the degree of esteem with which they are regarded by civilians. Austen is conscious of this significant exclusion and her final line serves as a recognition of it. The Navy, as an institution, does many good things for England; it defends the country, maintains the colonies, functions as a means of social mobility, and instructs its rank on English values. This passage is Austen's way of paying respect to the Navy; it is an honorable means to rise in society through hard work and good fortune.