Anne's Letter to Ellen Nussey (April 1849)
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This moving letter was written at the time Anne was very ill with consumption (tuberculosis). She tried to persuade Ellen to accompany her for a period at Scarborough - an event which she hoped would give her a chance of recovery, and a chance to live:

April 5th 1849

I thank you greatly for your kind letter, and your ready compliance with my proposal as far as the will can go at least. I see however that your friends are unwilling that you should undertake the responsibility of accompanying me under present circumstances. But I do not think there would be any great responsibility in the matter. I know, and every body knows that you would be as kind and helpful as any one could possibly be, and I hope I should not be very troublesome. It would be as a companion not as a nurse that I should wish for your company, otherwise I should not venture to ask it. As for your kind and often repeated invitation to Brookroyd, pray give my sincere thanks to your mother and sisters, but tell them I could not think of inflicting my presence upon them as I now am. It is very kind of them to make so light of the trouble but trouble there must be, more or less - and certainly no pleasure from the society of a silent invalid stranger - I hope however that Charlotte will by some means make it possible to accompany me after all, for she is certainly very delicate and greatly needs a change of air and scene to renovate her constitution - And then your going with me before the end of May is apparently out of the question, unless you are disappointed in your visitors, but I should be reluctant to wait till then if the weather would at all permit an earlier departure. You say May is a trying month and so say others. The earlier part is often cold enough I acknowledge, but according to my experience, we are almost certain of some fine warm days in the latter half when the laburnums and lilacs are in bloom; whereas June is often cold and July generally wet. But I have a more serious reason than this for my impatience of delay; the doctors say that change of air or removal to a better climate would hardly ever fail of success in consumptive cases if the remedy were taken in time, but the reason why there are so many disappointments is, that it is generally deferred till it is too late. Now I would not commit this error; and to say the truth, though I suffer much less from pain and fever than I did when you were with us, I am decidedly weaker and very much thinner, my cough still troubles me a good deal, especially in the night, and, what seems worse than all I am subject to great shortness of breath on going up stairs or any slight exertion. Under these circumstances I think there is no time to be lost. I have no horror of death: if I thought it inevitable I think I could quietly resign myself to the prospect, in the hope that you, dear Miss Nussey would give as much of your company as you possibly could to Charlotte and be a sister to her in my stead. But I wish it would please God to spare me not only for Papa's and Charlotte's sakes, but because I long to do some good in the world before I leave it. I have many schemes in my head for future practise - humble and limited indeed - but still I should not like them to come to nothing, and myself to have lived to so little purpose. But God's will be done. Remember me respectfully to your mother and sisters, and believe me, dear Miss N.

Yours most affectionately,


(Sources of letter contents)

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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