The following list, of all the occurrences of the words "persuade" and
"persuasion", is an expanded and revised version of a post to
AUSTEN-L. Note that Jane Austen actually
most probably did not choose the title Persuasion
for her last novel -- probably this was done instead by her brother
Henry, when preparing this novel and
Northanger Abbey for publication after Jane Austen's death
(according to Personal Aspects of Jane Austen by Mary Augusta
Austen-Leigh, Cassandra told her
nieces and nephews in later years that "a name for this last work had been a
good deal discussed between Jane and herself, and that among several possible
titles, the one that seemed most likely was The Elliots").
Even so, the theme of "persuasion" is still important in Persuasion.
[Lady Russel to Anne on the Elliots' need to "retrench":]
"If we can persuade your father to all this," said Lady Russell,
looking over her paper, "much may be done."
[Anne's thoughts on the Elliots' need to "retrench":]
She rated Lady Russell's influence highly, and as to the severe
degree of self-denial, which her own conscience prompted, she believed
there might be little more difficulty in persuading them to a complete,
than to half a reformation.
[Mr. Shephard discusses the retrenchment with Sir Walter:]
"Quit Kellynch Hall." The hint was immediately taken up by
Mr. Shepherd, whose interest was involved in the reality of Sir Walter's
retrenching, and who was perfectly persuaded that nothing would be done
without a change of abode.
[Anne on her engagement to Capt. Wentworth:]
Young and gentle as she was, it might yet have been possible to
withstand her father's ill-will, though unsoftened by one kind word or
look on the part of her sister; but Lady Russell, whom she had always
loved and relied on, could not, with such steadiness of opinion, and such
tenderness of manner, be continually advising her in vain. She was
persuaded to believe the engagement a wrong thing -- indiscreet, improper,
hardly capable of success, and not deserving it.
She did not blame Lady Russell, she did not blame herself for having
been guided by her; but she felt that were any young person, in similar
circumstances, to apply to her for counsel, they would never receive any
of such certain immediate wretchedness, such uncertain future good. She
was persuaded that under every disadvantage of disapprobation at home, and
every anxiety attending his profession, all their probable fears, delays,
and disappointments, she should yet have been a happier woman in
maintaining the engagement, than she had been in the sacrifice of it; and
this, she fully believed, had the usual share, had even more than the
usual share of all such solicitudes and suspense been theirs, without
reference to the actual results of their case, which, as it happened,
would have bestowed earlier prosperity than could be reasonably calculated
on. All his sanguine expectations, all his confidence had been justified.
[Anne at Uppercross:]
Known to have some influence with her sister, she was continually
requested, or at least receiving hints to exert it, beyond what was
practicable. "I wish you could persuade Mary not to be always fancying
herself ill," was Charles's language; and, in an unhappy mood, thus spoke
Mary: -- "I do believe if Charles were to see me dying, he would not think
there was anything the matter with me. I am sure, Anne, if you would, you
might persuade him that I really am very ill -- a great deal worse than I ever
[Anne hears Admiral Croft say that one of his wife's brothers is coming
to stay at Kellynch, but is not sure whether he means Capt. Frederick or
Anne was left to persuade herself, as well as she could, that the same brother must still be in question.
[Charles Musgrove politely urges Anne not to stay the whole day nursing his son:]
he still wanted her to join them in the evening, when the child might
be at rest for the night, and kindly urged her to let him come and fetch
her; but she was quite unpersuadable...
[What Capt. Wentworth thinks about the broken engagement:]
She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of
over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity.
[Louisa and Henrietta, about to take a walk, call on Mary:]
Mary immediately replied, with some jealousy at not being supposed a
good walker, "Oh, yes, I should like to join you very much, I am very fond
of a long walk"; Anne felt persuaded, by the looks of the two girls, that it
was precisely what they did not wish, and admired again the sort of
necessity which the family habits seemed to produce, of everything being to
be communicated, and everything being to be done together, however undesired
[Louisa to Capt. Wentworth:]
"What! would I be turned back from doing a thing that I had
determined to do, and that I knew to be right, by the airs and interference
of such a person -- or of any person, I may say? No, -- I have no idea of
being so easily persuaded. When I have made up my mind, I have made it.
And Henrietta seemed entirely to have made up hers to call at Winthrop
to-day -- and yet, she was as near giving it up, out of nonsensical
[Louisa to Capt. Wentworth on Anne's rejection of Charles Musgrove's
"We should all have liked her a great deal better [than Mary]; and
papa and mamma always think it was her great friend Lady Russell's doing,
that she did not. -- They think Charles might not be learned and bookish
enough to please Lady Russell, and that therefore, she persuaded Anne to
[Mrs. Croft, on marrying Admiral Croft soon after they met:]
"We had better not talk about it, my dear," replied Mrs. Croft,
pleasantly; "for if Miss Elliot were to hear how soon we came to an
understanding, she would never be persuaded that we could be happy together."
[Henrietta on securing a place for Charles Hayter:]
"My only doubt is whether anything could persuade him [Dr. Shirley,
the old rector] to leave his parish. He is so very strict and scrupulous in
his notions; over-scrupulous I must say."
[Henrietta on Lady Russell:]
"I have always heard of Lady Russell as a woman of the greatest
influence with everybody! I always look upon her as able to persuade a
person to any thing! I am afraid of her, as I have told you before, quite
afraid of her, because she is so very clever; but I respect her amazingly"
[Discussions on who stays in Lyme with Louisa:]
Charles... declared his resolution of not going away... Henrietta at
first declared the same. She, however, was soon persuaded to think
differently. The usefulness of her staying! -- She who had not been able to
remain in Louisa's room, or to look at her, without sufferings which made
her worse than helpless!
[Anne on Capt. Wentworth, after he blames himself for Louisa's accident:]
Anne wondered whether it ever occurred to him now, to question the
justness of his own previous opinion as to the universal felicity and
advantage of firmness of character; and whether it might not strike him
that, like all other qualities of the mind, it should have its proportions
and limits. She thought it could scarcely escape him to feel that a
persuadable temper might sometimes be as much in favor of happiness, as a
very resolute character.
[Note from Marianne: I think the preceding is
the key use of "persuasion" in the novel.]
[Charles Musgrove reporting on developments at Lyme:]
In speaking of the Harvilles, he seemed unable to satisfy his own
sense of their kindness, especially of Mrs. Harville's exertions as a nurse.
"She really left nothing for Mary to do. He and Mary had been persuaded to
go early to their inn last night. Mary had been hysterical again this
[Anne and the Musgroves at Uppercross:]
Anne was to leave them on the morrow, an event which they all dreaded.
"What should they do without her? They were wretched comforters for one
another." And so much was said in this way, that Anne thought she could not
do better than impart among them the general inclination to which she was
privy, and persuaded them all to go to Lyme at once.
[Charles and Mary report to Anne and Lady Russel at Kellynch on
Capt. Wentworth at Lyme:]
He had not seen Louisa; and was so extremely fearful of any ill
consequence to her from an interview, that he did not press for it at all;
and, on the contrary, seemed to have a plan of going away for a week or ten
days, till her head was stronger. He had talked of going down to Plymouth for
a week, and wanted to persuade Captain Benwick to go with him; but, as Charles
maintained to the last, Captain Benwick seemed much more disposed to ride over
[Anne's thoughts on hearing of Captain Benwick's marriage; Mary chooses
to believe that Captain Benwick had never been interested in Anne:]
Louisa, just recovering from illness, had been in an interesting state,
and Captain Benwick was not inconsolable. That was a point which Anne had not
been able to avoid suspecting before; and instead of drawing the same
conclusion as Mary, from the present course of events, they served only to
confirm the idea of his having felt some dawning of tenderness toward herself.
She did not mean, however, to derive much more from it to gratify her vanity,
than Mary might have allowed. She was persuaded that any tolerably pleasing
young woman who had listened and seemed to feel for him would have received
the same compliment. He had an affectionate heart. He must love somebody.
[During the concert that brings almost all the characters together in one
The first act was over... Anne was one of the few who did not
choose to move. She remained in her seat, and so did Lady Russell;
but she had the pleasure of getting rid of Mr. Elliot; and she did not
mean, whatever she might feel on Lady Russell's account, to shrink
from conversation with Captain Wentworth, if he gave her the
opportunity. She was persuaded by Lady Russell's countenance that she
had seen him.
[Anne, after Mrs. Smith's revelation, on Lady Russell's support of
Mr. Elliot as a suitor:]
Anne could just acknowledge within herself such a possibility of
having been induced to marry him, as made her shudder at the idea of the
misery which must have followed. It was just possible that she might have
been persuaded by Lady Russell!
[With the Musgrove party at the White Hart:]
Mrs. Musgrove was giving Mrs. Croft the history of her eldest daughter's
engagement, and just in that inconvenient tone of voice which was perfectly
audible while it pretended to be a whisper. Anne felt that she did not belong
to the conversation, and yet, as Captain Harville seemed thoughtful and not
disposed to talk, she could not avoid hearing many undesirable particulars;
such as, "how Mr. Musgrove and my brother Hayter had met again and again to
talk it over; what my brother Hayter had said one day, and what Mr. Musgrove
had proposed the next, and what had occurred to my sister Hayter, and what the
young people had wished, and what I said at first I never could consent to,
but was afterwards persuaded to think might do very well," and a great deal in
the same style of open-hearted communication: minutiæ which, even with
every advantage of taste and delicacy which good Mrs. Musgrove could not give,
could be properly interesting only to the principals.
[Capt. Wentworth and Anne begin to understand one another:]
"To see you," cried he, "in the midst
of those who could not be my well-wishers, to see your cousin close by you,
conversing and smiling, and feel all the horrible eligibilities and
proprieties of the match! To consider it as the certain wish of every being
who could hope to influence you! Even, if your own feelings were reluctant or
indifferent, to consider what powerful supports would be his! Was it not
enough to make the fool of me which I appeared? How could I look on without
agony? Was not the very sight of the friend who sat behind you, was not the
recollection of what had been, the knowledge of her influence, the indelible,
immoveable impression of what persuasion had once done -- was it not all
"You should have distinguished," replied Anne. "You
should not have suspected me now; the case so different, and my age so
different. If I was wrong in yielding to persuasion once, remember that it
was to persuasion exerted on the side of safety, not of risk. When I yielded,
I thought it was to duty; but no duty could be called in aid here. In
marrying a man indifferent to me, all risk would have been incurred, and all
"Perhaps I ought to have reasoned thus," he
replied, "but I could not. I could not derive benefit from the late knowledge
I had acquired of your character. I could not bring it into play; it was
overwhelmed, buried, lost in those earlier feelings which I had been smarting
under year after year. I could think of you only as one who had yielded, who
had given me up, who had been influenced by any one rather than me."
He was evidently a young man of considerable taste in reading, though
principally in poetry; and besides the persuasion of having given him at
least an evening's indulgence in the discussion of subjects, which his usual
companions had probably no concern in, she had the hope of being of real use
to him in some suggestions as to the duty and benefit of struggling against
[Elizabeth Elliot, when the Musgraves arrive in Bath:]
She felt that Mrs. Musgrove and all her party ought to be asked to dine
with them; but she could not bear to have the difference of style, the
reduction of servants, which a dinner must betray, witnessed by those who had
been always so inferior to the Elliots of Kellynch. It was a struggle between
propriety and vanity; but vanity got the better, and then Elizabeth was happy
again. These were her internal persuasions: "Old fashioned notions; country
hospitality; we do not profess to give dinners; few people in Bath do..."
[Anne deduces Capt. Wentworth cares for her from his jealousy of
Their last meeting had been most important in opening his feelings; she
had derived from it a delightful conviction; but she feared from his looks,
that the same unfortunate persuasion, which had hastened him away from the
Concert Room, still governed. He did not seem to want to be near enough for
[After the proposal at the Crofts' house, in Austen's first draft ending to Persuasion:]
When the Eveng closed, it is probable that the
Adml received some new Ideas from his Wife; -- whose particularly
friendly manner in parting with her, gave Anne the gratifying
persuasion of her seeing & approving.