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Charlotte Brontë and Her Circle by Clement King Shorter


'_August_ 23_rd_, 1849.

'DEAR ELLEN,--Papa has not been well at all lately--he has had
another attack of bronchitis. I felt very uneasy about him for some
days, more wretched indeed than I care to tell you. After what has
happened, one trembles at any appearance of sickness, and when
anything ails papa I feel too keenly that he is the _last_, the
_only_ near and dear relation I have in the world. Yesterday and
to-day he has seemed much better, for which I am truly thankful.

'For myself, I should be pretty well but for a continually recurring
feeling of slight cold, slight soreness in the throat and chest, of
which, do what I will, I cannot quite get rid. Has your cough
entirely left you? I wish the atmosphere would return to a
salubrious condition, for I really think it is not healthy. English
cholera has been very prevalent here.

'I _do_ wish to see you.'


'_August_ 16, 1850.

'DEAR NELL,--I am going on Monday (D.V.) a journey, whereof the
prospect cheers me not at all, to Windermere, in Westmoreland, to
spend a few days with Sir J. K. S., who has taken a house there for
the autumn and winter. I consented to go with reluctance, chiefly to
please papa, whom a refusal on my part would have much annoyed; but I
dislike to leave him. I trust he is not worse, but his complaint is
still weakness. It is not right to anticipate evil, and to be always
looking forward in an apprehensive spirit; but I think grief is a
two-edged sword--it cuts both ways: the memory of one loss is the
anticipation of another. Take moderate exercise and be careful, dear
Nell, and--Believe me, yours sincerely,



'_May_ 10_th_, 1851.

'DEAR NELL,--Poor little Flossy! I have not yet screwed up nerve to
tell papa about her fate, it seems to me so piteous. However, she
had a happy life with a kind mistress, whatever her death has been.
Little hapless plague! She had more goodness and patience shown her
than she deserved, I fear.



'HAWORTH, _July_ 26_th_, 1852.

'DEAR ELLEN,--I should not have written to you to-day by choice.
Lately I have again been harassed with headache--the heavy electric
atmosphere oppresses me much, yet I am less miserable just now than I
was a little while ago. A severe shock came upon me about papa. He
was suddenly attacked with acute inflammation of the eye. Mr.
Ruddock was sent for; and after he had examined him, he called me
into another room, and said papa's pulse was bounding at 150 per
minute, that there was a strong pressure of blood upon the brain,
that, in short, the symptoms were decidedly apoplectic.

'Active measures were immediately taken. By the next day the pulse
was reduced to ninety. Thank God he is now better, though not well.
The eye is a good deal inflamed. He does not know his state. To
tell him he had been in danger of apoplexy would almost be to kill
him at once--it would increase the rush to the brain and perhaps
bring about rupture. He is kept very quiet.

'Dear Nell, you will excuse a short note. Write again soon. Tell me
all concerning yourself that can relieve you.--Yours faithfully,

'C. B.'


'_August_ 3_rd_, 1852.

'DEAR ELLEN,--I write a line to say that papa is now considered out
of danger. His progress to health is not without relapse, but I
think he gains ground, if slowly, surely. Mr. Ruddock says the
seizure was quite of an apoplectic character; there was a partial
paralysis for two days, but the mind remained clear, in spite of a
high degree of nervous irritation. One eye still remains inflamed,
and papa is weak, but all muscular affection is gone, and the pulse
is accurate. One cannot be too thankful that papa's sight is yet
spared--it was the fear of losing that which chiefly distressed him.

'With best wishes for yourself, dear Ellen,--I am, yours faithfully,


'My headaches are better. I have needed no help, but I thank you
sincerely for your kind offers.'


'HAWORTH, _August_ 12_th_, 1852.

'DEAR ELLEN,--Papa has varied occasionally since I wrote to you last.
Monday was a very bad day, his spirits sunk painfully. Tuesday and
yesterday, however, were much better, and to-day he seems wonderfully
well. The prostration of spirits which accompanies anything like a
relapse is almost the most difficult point to manage. Dear Nell, you
are tenderly kind in offering your society; but rest very tranquil
where you are; be fully assured that it is not now, nor under present
circumstances, that I feel the lack either of society or occupation;
my time is pretty well filled up, and my thoughts appropriated.

'Mr. Ruddock now seems quite satisfied there is no present danger
whatever; he says papa has an excellent constitution and may live
many years yet. The true balance is not yet restored to the
circulation, but I believe that impetuous and dangerous termination
to the head is quite obviated. I cannot permit myself to comment
much on the chief contents of your last; advice is not necessary. As
far as I can judge, you seem hitherto enabled to take these trials in
a good and wise spirit. I can only pray that such combined strength
and resignation may be continued to you. Submission, courage,
exertion, when practicable--these seem to be the weapons with which
we must fight life's long battle.--Yours faithfully,


To Miss Nussey we owe many other letters than those here printed--indeed,
they must needs play an important part in Charlotte Bronte's biography.
They do not deal with the intellectual interests which are so marked in
the letters to W. S. Williams, and which, doubtless, characterised the
letters to Miss Mary Taylor. 'I ought to have written this letter to
Mary,' Charlotte says, when on one occasion she dropped into literature
to her friend; but the friendship was as precious as most intellectual
friendships, because it was based upon a common esteem and an unselfish
devotion. Ellen Nussey, as we have seen, accompanied Anne Bronte to
Scarborough, and was at her death-bed. She attended Charlotte's wedding,
and lived to mourn over her tomb. For forty years she has been the
untiring advocate and staunch champion, hating to hear a word in her
great friend's dispraise, loving to note the glorious recognition, of
which there has been so rich and so full a harvest. That she still lives
to receive our reverent gratitude for preserving so many interesting
traits of the Brontes, is matter for full and cordial congratulation,
wherever the names of the authors of _Jane Eyre_ and _Wuthering Heights_
are held in just and wise esteem.

© Митрофанова Екатерина Борисовна, 2009 |