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The Life of Charlotte Bronte - Volume 1 by Elizabeth Claghorn Gaskell

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and though from their own testimony, her patience, firmness, and
resolution, at length obtained their just reward, yet with one so
weak in health and spirits, the reaction after such struggles as
she frequently had with her pupils, must have been very sad and

She thus writes to her friend E.:-

"April, 1843.

"Is there any talk of your coming to Brussels? During the bitter
cold weather we had through February, and the principal part of
March, I did not regret that you had not accompanied me. If I had
seen you shivering as I shivered myself, if I had seen your hands
and feet as red and swelled as mine were, my discomfort would just
have been doubled. I can do very well under this sort of thing;
it does not fret me; it only makes me numb and silent; but if you
were to pass a winter in Belgium, you would be ill. However, more
genial weather is coming now, and I wish you were here. Yet I
never have pressed you, and never would press you too warmly to
come. There are privations and humiliations to submit to; there
is monotony and uniformity of life; and, above all, there is a
constant sense of solitude in the midst of numbers. The
Protestant, the foreigner, is a solitary being, whether as teacher
or pupil. I do not say this by way of complaining of my own lot;
for though I acknowledge that there are certain disadvantages in
my present position, what position on earth is without them? And,
whenever I turn back to compare what I am with what I was--my
place here with my place at Mrs. -'s for instance--I am thankful.
There was an observation in your last letter which excited, for a
moment, my wrath. At first, I thought it would be folly to reply
to it, and I would let it die. Afterwards, I determined to give
one answer, once for all. 'Three or four people,' it seems, 'have
the idea that the future EPOUX of Mademoiselle Bronte is on the
Continent.' These people are wiser than I am. They could not
believe that I crossed the sea merely to return as teacher to
Madame Hegers. I must have some more powerful motive than respect
for my master and mistress, gratitude for their kindness, &c., to
induce me to refuse a salary of 50L. in England, and accept one of
16L. in Belgium. I must, forsooth, have some remote hope of
entrapping a husband somehow, or somewhere. If these charitable
people knew the total seclusion of the life I lead,--that I never
exchange a word with any other man than Monsieur Heger, and seldom
indeed with him,--they would, perhaps, cease to suppose that any
such chimerical and groundless notion had influenced my
proceedings. Have I said enough to clear myself of so silly an
imputation? Not that it is a crime to marry, or a crime to wish
to be married; but it is an imbecility, which I reject with
contempt, for women, who have neither fortune nor beauty, to make
marriage the principal object of their wishes and hopes, and the
aim of all their actions; not to be able to convince themselves
that they are unattractive, and that they had better be quiet, and
think of other things than wedlock."

The following is an extract, from one of the few letters which
have been preserved, of her correspondence with her sister Emily:-

"May 29, 1843

"I get on here from day to day in a Robinson-Crusoe-like sort of
way, very lonely, but that does not signify. In other respects, I
have nothing substantial to complain of, nor is this a cause for
complaint. I hope you are well. Walk out often on the moors. My
love to Tabby. I hope she keeps well."

And about this time she wrote to her father,

"June 2nd, 1818,

"I was very glad to hear from home. I had begun to get low-
spirited at not receiving any news, and to entertain indefinite
fears that something was wrong. You do not say anything about
your own health, but I hope you are well, and Emily also. I am
afraid she will have a good deal of hard work to do now that
Hannah" (a servant-girl who had been assisting Tabby) "is gone. I
am exceedingly glad to hear that you still keep Tabby"
(considerably upwards of seventy). "It is an act of great charity
to her, and I do not think it will be unrewarded, for she is very
faithful, and will always serve you, when she has occasion, to the
best of her abilities; besides, she will be company for Emily,
who, without her, would be very lonely."

I gave a DEVOIR, written after she had been four months under M.
Heger's tuition. I will now copy out another, written nearly a
year later, during which the progress made appears to me very

"31 Mai, 1843.


"Napoleon naquit en Corse et mourut e Ste. Helene. Entre ces deux
iles rien qu'un vaste et brulant desert et l'ocean immense. Il
naquit fils d'un simple gentilhomme, et mourut empereur, mais sans
couronne et dans les fers. Entre son berceau et sa tombe qu'y a-
t-il? la carriere d'un soldat parvenu, des champs de bataille, une
mer de sang, un trone, puis du sang encore, et des fers. Sa vie,
c'est l'arc en ciel; les deux points extremes touchent la terre,
la comble lumi-neuse mesure les cieux. Sur Napoleon au berceau
une mere brillait; dans la maison paternelle il avait des freres
et des soeurs; plus tard dans son palais il eut une femme qui
l'aimait. Mais sur son lit de mort Napoleon est seul; plus de
mere, ni de frere, ni de soeur, ni de femme, ni d'enfant!!
D'autres ont dit et rediront ses exploits, moi, je m'arrete e
contempler l'abandonnement de sa derniere heure!

"Il est le, exile et captif, enchaine sur un ecueil. Nouveau
Promethee il subit le chatiment de son orgueil! Promethee avait
voulu etre Dieu et Createur; il deroba le feu du Ciel pour animer
le corps qu'il avait forme. Et lui, Buonaparte, il a voulu creer,
non pas un homme, mais un empire, et pour donner une existence,
une ame, e son oeuvre gigantesque, il n'a pas hesite e arracher la
vie e des nations entieres. Jupiter indigne de l'impiete de
Promethee, le riva vivant e la cime du Caucase. Ainsi, pour punir
l'ambition rapace de Buonaparte, la Providence l'a enchaine,
jusqu'e ce que la mort s'en suivit, sur un roc isole de
l'Atlantique. Peut-etre le aussi a-t-il senti lui fouillant le
flanc cet insatiable vautour dont parle la fable, peut-etre a-t-il
souffert aussi cette soif du coeur, cette faim de l'ame, qui
torturent l'exile, loin de sa famille et de sa patrie. Mais
parler ainsi n'est-ce pas attribuer gratuitement e Napoleon une
humaine faiblesse qu'il n'eprouva jamais? Quand donc s'est-il
laisse enchainer par un lien d'affection? Sans doute d'autres
conquerants ont hesite dans leur carriere de gloire, arretes par
un obstacle d'amour ou d'amitie, retenus par la main d'une femme,
rappeles par la voix d'un ami--lui, jamais! Il n'eut pas besoin,
comme Ulysse, de se lier au mat du navire, ni de se boucher les
oreilles avec de la cire; il ne redoutait pas le chant des
Sirenes--il le dedaignait; il se fit marbre et fer pour executer
ses grands projets. Napoleon ne se regardait pas comme un homme,
mais comme l'incarnation d'un peuple. Il n'aimait pas; il ne
considerait ses amis et ses proches que comme des instruments
auxquels il tint, tant qu'ils furent utiles, et qu'il jeta de cote
quand ils cesserent de l'etre. Qu'on ne se permette donc pas
d'approcher du sepulcre du Corse avec sentiments de pitie, ou de
souiller de larmes la pierre qui couvre ses restes, son ame
repudierait tout cela. On a dit, je le sais, qu'elle fut cruelle
la main qui le separa de sa femme et de son enfant. Non, c'etait
une main qui, comme la sienne, ne tremblait ni de passion ni de
crainte, c'etait la main d'un homme froid, convaincu, qui avait su
deviner Buonaparte; et voici ce que disait cet homme que la
defaite n'a pu humilier, ni la victoire enorgueiller. 'Marie-
Louise n'est pas la femme de Napoleon; c'est la France que
Napoleon a epousee; c'est la France qu'il aime, leur union enfante
la perte de l'Europe; voile la divorce que je veux; voile l'union
qu'il faut briser.'

"La voix des timides et des traitres protesta contre cette
sentence. 'C'est abuser de droit de la victoire! C'est fouler
aux pieds le vaincu! Que l'Angleterre se montre clemente, qu'elle
ouvre ses bras pour recevoir comme hote son ennemi desarme.'
L'Angleterre aurait peut-etre ecoute ce conseii, car partout et
toujours il y a des ames faibles et timorees bientot seduites par
la flatterie ou effrayees par le reproche. Mais la Providence
permit qu'un homme se trouvat qui n'a jamais su ce que c'est que
la crainte; qui aima sa patrie mieux que sa renommee; impenetrable
devant les menaces, inaccessible aux louanges, il se presenta
devant le conseil de la nation, et levant son front tranquille en
haut, il osa dire: 'Que la trahison se taise! car c'est trahir
que de conseiller de temporiser avec Buonaparte. Moi je sais ce
que sont ces guerres dont l'Europe saigne encore, comme une
victime sous le couteau du boucher. Il faut en finir avec
Napoleon Buonaparte. Vous vous effrayez e tort d'un mot si dur!
Je n'ai pas de magnanimite, dit-on? Soit! que m'importe ce qu'on
dit de moi? Je n'ai pas ici e me faire une reputation de heros
magnanime, mais e guerir, si la cure est possible, l'Europe qui se
meurt, epuisee de ressources et de sang, l'Europe dont vous
negligez les vrais interets, pre-occupes que vous etes d'une vaine
renommee de clemence. Vous etes faibles! Eh bien! je viens vous
aider. Envoyez Buonaparte e Ste. Helene! n'hesitez pas, ne
cherchez pas un autre endroit; c'est le seul convenable. Je vous
le dis, j'ai reflechi pour vous; c'est le qu'il doit etre et non
pas ailleurs. Quant e Napoleon, homme, soldat, je n'ai rien
contre lui; c'est un lion royal, aupres de qui vous n'etes que des
chacals. Mais Napoleon Empereur, c'est autre chose, je
l'extirperai du sol de l'Europe.' Et celui qui parla ainsi
toujours sut garder sa promesse, celle-le comme toutes les autres.
Je l'ai dit, et je le repete, cet homme est l'egal de Napoleon par
le genie; comme trempe de caractere, comme droiture, comme
elevation de pensee et de but, il est d'une tout autre espece.
Napoleon Buonaparte etait avide de renommee et de gloire; Arthur
Wellesley ne se soucie ni de l'une ni de l'autre; l'opinion
publique, la popularite, etaient choses de grand valeur aux yeux
de Napoleon; pour Wellington l'opinion publique est une rumeur, un
rien que le souffle de son inflexible volonte fait disparaitre
comme une bulle de savon. Napoleon flattait le peuple; Wellington
le brusqne; l'un cherchait les applau-dissements, l'autre ne se
soucie que du temoignage de sa conscience; quand elle approuve,
c'est assez; toute autre louange l'obsede. Aussi ce peuple, qui
adorait Buonaparte s'irritait, s'insurgeait contre la morgue de
Wellington: parfois il lui temoigna sa colere et sa haine par des
grognements, par des hurlements de betes fauves; et alors, avec
une impassibilite de senateur romain, le moderne Coriolan toisait
du regard l'emeute furieuse; il croisait ses bras nerveux sur sa
large poitrine, et seul, debout sur son seuil, il attendait, il
bravait cette tempete populaire dont les flots venaient mourir e
quelques pas de lui: et quand la foule, honteuse de sa rebellion,
venait lecher les pieds du maitre, le hautain patricien meprisait
l'hommage d'aujourd'hui comme la haine d'hier, et dans les rues de
Londres, et devant son palais ducal d'Apsley, il repoussait d'un
genre plein de froid dedain l'incommode empressement du peuple
enthousiaste. Cette fierte neanmoins n'excluait pas en lui une
rare modestie; partout il se soustrait e l'eloge; se derobe au
panegyrique; jamais il ne parle de ses exploits, et jamais il ne
souffre qu'un autre lui en parle en sa presence. Son caractere
egale en grandeur et surpasse en verite celui de tout autre heros
ancien ou moderne. La gloire de Napoleon crut en une nuit, comme
la vigne de Jonas, et il suffit d'un jour pour la fletrir; la
gloire de Wellington est comme les vieux chenes qui ombragent le
chateau de ses peres sur les rives du Shannon; le chene croit
lentement; il lui faut du temps pour pousser vers le ciel ses
branches noueuses, et pour enfoncer dans le sol ces racines
profondes qui s'enchevetrent dans les fondements solides de la
terre; mais alors, l'arbre seculaire, inebranlable comme le roc ou
il a sa base, brave et la faux du temps et l'effort des vents et
des tempetes. Il faudra peut-etre un siecle e l'Angleterre pour
qu'elle connaise la valeur de son heros. Dans un siecle, l'Europe
entiere saura combien Wellington a des droits e sa

How often in writing this paper "in a strange land," must Miss
Bronte have thought of the old childish disputes in the kitchen of
Haworth parsonage, touching the respective merits of Wellington
and Buonaparte! Although the title given to her DEVOIR is, "On
the Death of Napoleon," she seems yet to have considered it a
point of honour rather to sing praises to an English hero than to
dwell on the character of a foreigner, placed as she was among
those who cared little either for an England or for Wellington.
She now felt that she had made great progress towards obtaining
proficiency in the French language, which had been her main object
in coming to Brussels. But to the zealous learner "Alps on Alps
arise." No sooner is one difficulty surmounted than some other
desirable attainment appears, and must be laboured after. A
knowledge of German now became her object; and she resolved to
compel herself to remain in Brussels till that was gained. The
strong yearning to go home came upon her; the stronger self-
denying will forbade. There was a great internal struggle; every
fibre of her heart quivered in the strain to master her will; and,
when she conquered herself, she remained, not like a victor calm
and supreme on the throne, but like a panting, torn, and suffering
victim. Her nerves and her spirits gave way. Her health became
much shaken.

"Brussels, August 1st, 1843.

"If I complain in this letter, have mercy and don't blame me, for,
I forewarn you, I am in low spirits, and that earth and heaven are
dreary and empty to me at this moment. In a few days our vacation
will begin; everybody is joyous and animated at the prospect,
because everybody is to go home. I know that I am to stay here
during the five weeks that the holidays last, and that I shall be
much alone during that time, and consequently get downcast, and
find both days and nights of a weary length. It is the first time
in my life that I have really dreaded the vacation. Alas! I can
hardly write, I have such a dreary weight at my heart; and I do so
wish to go home. Is not this childish? Pardon me, for I cannot
help it. However, though I am not strong enough to bear up
cheerfully, I can still bear up; and I will continue to stay (D.
V.) some months longer, till I have acquired German; and then I
hope to see all your faces again. Would that the vacation were
well over! it will pass so slowly. Do have the Christian charity
to write me a long, long letter; fill it with the minutest
details; nothing will be uninteresting. Do not think it is
because people are unkind to me that I wish to leave Belgium;
nothing of the sort. Everybody is abundantly civil, but home-
sickness keeps creeping over me. I cannot shake it off. Believe
me, very merrily, vivaciously, gaily, yours,


The GRANDES VACANCES began soon after the date of this letter,
when she was left in the great deserted pensionnat, with only one
teacher for a companion. This teacher, a Frenchwoman, had always
been uncongenial to her; but, left to each other's sole
companionship, Charlotte soon discovered that her associate was
more profligate, more steeped in a kind of cold, systematic
sensuality, than she had before imagined it possible for a human
being to be; and her whole nature revolted from this woman's
society. A low nervous fever was gaining upon Miss Bronte. She
had never been a good sleeper, but now she could not sleep at all.
Whatever had been disagreeable, or obnoxious, to her during the
day, was presented when it was over with exaggerated vividness to
her disordered fancy. There were causes for distress and anxiety
in the news from home, particularly as regarded Branwell. In the
dead of the night, lying awake at the end of the long deserted
dormitory, in the vast and silent house, every fear respecting
those whom she loved, and who were so far off in another country,
became a terrible reality, oppressing her and choking up the very
life-blood in her heart. Those nights were times of sick, dreary,
wakeful misery; precursors of many such in after years.

In the day-time, driven abroad by loathing of her companion and by
the weak restlessness of fever, she tried to walk herself into
such a state of bodily fatigue as would induce sleep. So she went
out, and with weary steps would traverse the Boulevards and the
streets, sometimes for hours together; faltering and resting
occasionally on some of the many benches placed for the repose of
happy groups, or for solitary wanderers like herself. Then up
again--anywhere but to the pensionnat--out to the cemetery where
Martha lay--out beyond it, to the hills whence there is nothing to
be seen but fields as far as the horizon. The shades of evening
made her retrace her footsteps--sick for want of food, but not
hungry; fatigued with long continued exercise--yet restless still,
and doomed to another weary, haunted night of sleeplessness. She
would thread the streets in the neighbourhood of the Rue
d'Isabelle, and yet avoid it and its occupant, till as late an
hour as she dared be out. At last, she was compelled to keep her
bed for some days, and this compulsory rest did her good. She was
weak, but less depressed in spirits than she had been, when the
school re-opened, and her positive practical duties recommenced.

She writes thus:-

"October 13th, 1843

"Mary is getting on well, as she deserves to do. I often hear
from her. Her letters and yours are one of my few pleasures. She
urges me very much to leave Brussels and go to her; but, at
present, however tempted to take such a step, I should not feel
justified in doing so. To leave a certainty for a complete
uncertainty, would be to the last degree imprudent.
Notwithstanding that, Brussels is indeed desolate to me now.
Since the D.s left, I have had no friend. I had, indeed, some
very kind acquaintances in the family of a Dr. -, but they, too,
are gone now. They left in the latter part of August, and I am
completely alone. I cannot count the Belgians anything. It is a
curious position to be so utterly solitary in the midst of
numbers. Sometimes the solitude oppresses me to an excess. One
day, lately, I felt as if I could bear it no longer, and I went to
Madame Heger, and gave her notice. If it had depended on her, I
should certainly have soon been at liberty; but M. Heger, having
heard of what was in agitation, sent for me the day after, and
pronounced with vehemence his decision, that I should not leave.
I could not, at that time, have persevered in my intention without
exciting him to anger; so I promised to stay a little while
longer. How long that will be, I do not know. I should not like
to return to England to do nothing. I am too old for that now;
but if I could hear of a favourable opportunity for commencing a
school, I think I should embrace it. We have as yet no fires
here, and I suffer much from cold; otherwise, I am well in health.
Mr.--will take this letter to England. He is a pretty-looking and
pretty behaved young man, apparently constructed without a back-
bone; by which I don't allude to his corporal spine, which is all
right enough, but to his character.

"I get on here after a fashion; but now that Mary D. has left
Brussels, I have nobody to speak to, for I count the Belgians as
nothing. Sometimes I ask myself how long shall I stay here; but
as yet I have only asked the question; I have not answered it.
However, when I have acquired as much German as I think fit, I
think I shall pack up bag and baggage and depart. Twinges of
homesickness cut me to the heart, every now and then. To-day the
weather is glaring, and I am stupified with a bad cold and
headache. I have nothing to tell you. One day is like another in
this place. I know you, living in the country, can hardly believe
it is possible life can be monotonous in the centre of a brilliant
capital like Brussels; but so it is. I feel it most on holidays,
when all the girls and teachers go out to visit, and it sometimes
happens that I am left, during several hours, quite alone, with
four great desolate schoolrooms at my disposition. I try to read,
I try to write; but in vain. I then wander about from room to
room, but the silence and loneliness of all the house weighs down
one's spirits like lead. You will hardly believe that Madame
Heger (good and kind as I have described her) never comes near me
on these occasions. I own, I was astonished the first time I was
left alone thus; when everybody else was enjoying the pleasures of
a fete day with their friends, and she knew I was quite by myself,
and never took the least notice of me. Yet, I understand, she
praises me very much to everybody, and says what excellent lessons
I give. She is not colder to me than she is to the other
teachers; but they are less dependent on her than I am. They have
relations and acquaintances in Bruxelles. You remember the letter
she wrote me, when I was in England? How kind and affectionate
that was? is it not odd? In the meantime, the complaints I make
at present are a sort of relief which I permit myself. In all
other respects I am well satisfied with my position, and you may
say so to people who inquire after me (if any one does). Write to
me, dear, whenever you can. You do a good deed when you send me a
letter, for you comfort a very desolate heart."

One of the reasons for the silent estrangement between Madame
Heger and Miss Bronte, in the second year of her residence at
Brussels, is to be found in the fact, that the English
Protestant's dislike of Romanism increased with her knowledge of
it, and its effects upon those who professed it; and when occasion
called for an expression of opinion from Charlotte Bronte, she was
uncompromising truth. Madame Heger, on the opposite side, was not
merely a Roman Catholic, she was DEVOTE. Not of a warm or
impulsive temperament, she was naturally governed by her
conscience, rather than by her affections; and her conscience was
in the hands of her religious guides. She considered any slight
thrown upon her Church as blasphemy against the Holy Truth; and,
though she was not given to open expression of her thoughts and
feelings, yet her increasing coolness of behaviour showed how much
her most cherished opinions had been wounded. Thus, although
there was never any explanation of Madame Heger's change of
manner, this may be given as one great reason why, about this
time, Charlotte was made painfully conscious of a silent
estrangement between them; an estrangement of which, perhaps, the
former was hardly aware. I have before alluded to intelligence
from home, calculated to distress Charlotte exceedingly with fears
respecting Branwell, which I shall speak of more at large when the
realisation of her worst apprehensions came to affect the daily
life of herself and her sisters. I allude to the subject again
here, in order that the reader may remember the gnawing, private
cares, which she had to bury in her own heart; and the pain of
which could only be smothered for a time under the diligent
fulfilment of present duty. Another dim sorrow was faintly
perceived at this time. Her father's eyesight began to fail; it
was not unlikely that he might shortly become blind; more of his
duty must devolve on a curate, and Mr. Bronte, always liberal,
would have to pay at a higher rate than he had heretofore done for
this assistance.

She wrote thus to Emily:-

"Dec.1st, 1843.

"This is Sunday morning. They are at their idolatrous 'messe,'
and I am here, that is in the Refectoire. I should like
uncommonly to be in the dining-room at home, or in the kitchen, or
in the back kitchen. I should like even to be cutting up the
hash, with the clerk and some register people at the other table,
and you standing by, watching that I put enough flour, not too
much pepper, and, above all, that I save the best pieces of the
leg of mutton for Tiger and Keeper, the first of which personages
would be jumping about the dish and carving-knife, and the latter
standing like a devouring flame on the kitchen-floor. To complete
the picture, Tabby blowing the fire, in order to boil the potatoes
to a sort of vegetable glue! How divine are these recollections
to me at this moment! Yet I have no thought of coming home just
now. I lack a real pretext for doing so; it is true this place is
dismal to me, but I cannot go home without a fixed prospect when I
get there; and this prospect must not be a situation; that would
be jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire. YOU call yourself
idle! absurd, absurd! . . . Is papa well? Are you well? and
Tabby? You ask about Queen Victoria's visit to Brussels. I saw
her for an instant flashing through the Rue Royale in a carriage
and six, surrounded by soldiers. She was laughing and talking
very gaily. She looked a little stout, vivacious lady, very
plainly dressed, not much dignity or pretension about her. The
Belgians liked her very well on the whole. They said she
enlivened the sombre court of King Leopold, which is usually as
gloomy as a conventicle. Write to me again soon. Tell me whether
papa really wants me very much to come home, and whether you do
likewise. I have an idea that I should be of no use there--a sort
of aged person upon the parish. I pray, with heart and soul, that
all may continue well at Haworth; above all in our grey half-
inhabited house. God bless the walls thereof! Safety, health,
happiness, and prosperity to you, papa, and Tabby. Amen.

"C. B."

Towards the end of this year (1843) various reasons conspired with
the causes of anxiety which have been mentioned, to make her feel
that her presence was absolutely and imperatively required at
home, while she had acquired all that she proposed to herself in
coming to Brussels the second time; and was, moreover, no longer
regarded with the former kindliness of feeling by Madame Heger.
In consequence of this state of things, working down with sharp
edge into a sensitive mind, she suddenly announced to that lady
her immediate intention of returning to England. Both M. and
Madame Heger agreed that it would be for the best, when they
learnt only that part of the case which she could reveal to them--
namely, Mr. Bronte's increasing blindness. But as the inevitable
moment of separation from people and places, among which she had
spent so many happy hours, drew near, her spirits gave way; she
had the natural presentiment that she saw them all for the last
time, and she received but a dead kind of comfort from being
reminded by her friends that Brussels and Haworth were not so very
far apart; that access from one place to the other was not so
difficult or impracticable as her tears would seem to predicate;
nay, there was some talk of one of Madame Heger's daughters being
sent to her as a pupil, if she fulfilled her intention of trying
to begin a school. To facilitate her success in this plan, should
she ever engage in it, M. Heger gave her a kind of diploma, dated
from, and sealed with the seal of the Athenee Royal de Bruxelles,
certifying that she was perfectly capable of teaching the French
language, having well studied the grammar and composition thereof,
and, moreover, having prepared herself for teaching by studying
and practising the best methods of instruction. This certificate
is dated December 29th 1843, and on the 2nd of January, 1844, she
arrived at Haworth.

On the 23rd of the month she writes as follows:-

"Every one asks me what I am going to do, now that I am returned
home; and every one seems to expect that I should immediately
commence a school. In truth, it is what I should wish to do. I
desire it above all things. I have sufficient money for the
undertaking, and I hope now sufficient qualifications to give me a
fair chance of success; yet I cannot yet permit myself to enter
upon life--to touch the object which seems now within my reach,
and which I have been so long straining to attain. You will ask
me why? It is on papa's account; he is now, as you know, getting
old, and it grieves me to tell you that he is losing his sight. I
have felt for some months that I ought not to be away from him;
and I feel now that it would be too selfish to leave him (at
least, as long as Branwell and Anne are absent), in order to
pursue selfish interests of my own. With the help of God, I will
try to deny myself in this matter, and to wait.

"I suffered much before I left Brussels. I think, however long I
live, I shall not forget what the parting with M. Heger cost me.
It grieved me so much to grieve him who has been so true, kind,
and disinterested a friend. At parting he gave me a kind of
diploma certifying my abilities as a teacher, sealed with the seal
of the Athenee Royal, of which he is professor. I was surprised
also at the degree of regret expressed by my Belgian pupils, when
they knew I was going to leave. I did not think it had been in
their phlegmatic nature . . . I do not know whether you feel as I
do, but there are times now when it appears to me as if all my
ideas and feelings, except a few friendships and affections, are
changed from what they used to be; something in me, which used to
be enthusiasm, is tamed down and broken. I have fewer illusions;
what I wish for now is active exertion--a stake in life. Haworth
seems such a lonely, quiet spot, buried away from the world. I no
longer regard myself as young--indeed, I shall soon be twenty-
eight; and it seems as if I ought to be working and braving the
rough realities of the world, as other people do. It is, however,
my duty to restrain this feeling at present, and I will endeavour
to do so."

Of course her absent sister and brother obtained a holiday to
welcome her return home, and in a few weeks she was spared to pay
a visit to her friend at B. But she was far from well or strong,
and the short journey of fourteen miles seems to have fatigued her

Soon after she came back to Haworth, in a letter to one of the
household in which she had been staying, there occurs this
passage:- "Our poor little cat has been ill two days, and is just
dead. It is piteous to see even an animal lying lifeless. Emily
is sorry." These few words relate to points in the characters of
the two sisters, which I must dwell upon a little. Charlotte was
more than commonly tender in her treatment of all dumb creatures,
and they, with that fine instinct so often noticed, were
invariably attracted towards her. The deep and exaggerated
consciousness of her personal defects--the constitutional absence
of hope, which made her slow to trust in human affection, and,
consequently, slow to respond to any manifestation of it--made her
manner shy and constrained to men and women, and even to children.
We have seen something of this trembling distrust of her own
capability of inspiring affection, in the grateful surprise she
expresses at the regret felt by her Belgian pupils at her
departure. But not merely were her actions kind, her words and
tones were ever gentle and caressing, towards animals: and she
quickly noticed the least want of care or tenderness on the part
of others towards any poor brute creature. The readers of
"Shirley" may remember that it is one of the tests which the
heroine applies to her lover.

"Do you know what soothsayers I would consult?" . . . "The little
Irish beggar that comes barefoot to my door; the mouse that steals
out of the cranny in my wainscot; the bird in frost and snow that
pecks at my window for a crumb; the dog that licks my hand and
sits beside my knee. I know somebody to whose knee the black cat
loves to climb, against whose shoulder and cheek it likes to purr.
The old dog always comes out of his kennel and wags his tail, and
whines affectionately when somebody passes." [For "somebody" and
"he," read "Charlotte Bronte" and "she."] "He quietly strokes the
cat, and lets her sit while he conveniently can; and when he must
disturb her by rising, he puts her softly down, and never flings
her from him roughly: he always whistles to the dog, and gives
him a caress."

The feeling, which in Charlotte partook of something of the nature
of an affection, was, with Emily, more of a passion. Some one
speaking of her to me, in a careless kind of strength of
expression, said, "she never showed regard to any human creature;
all her love was reserved for animals." The helplessness of an
animal was its passport to Charlotte's heart; the fierce, wild,
intractability of its nature was what often recommended it to
Emily. Speaking of her dead sister, the former told me that from
her many traits in Shirley's character were taken; her way of
sitting on the rug reading, with her arm round her rough bull-
dog's neck; her calling to a strange dog, running past, with
hanging head and lolling tongue, to give it a merciful draught of
water, its maddened snap at her, her nobly stern presence of mind,
going right into the kitchen, and taking up one of Tabby's red-hot
Italian irons to sear the bitten place, and telling no one, till
the danger was well-nigh over, for fear of the terrors that might
beset their weaker minds. All this, looked upon as a well-
invented fiction in "Shirley," was written down by Charlotte with
streaming eyes; it was the literal true account of what Emily had
done. The same tawny bull-dog (with his "strangled whistle"),
called "Tartar" in "Shirley," was "Keeper" in Haworth parsonage; a
gift to Emily. With the gift came a warning. Keeper was faithful
to the depths of his nature as long as he was with friends; but he
who struck him with a stick or whip, roused the relentless nature
of the brute, who flew at his throat forthwith, and held him there
till one or the other was at the point of death. Now Keeper's
household fault was this. He loved to steal upstairs, and stretch
his square, tawny limbs, on the comfortable beds, covered over
with delicate white counterpanes. But the cleanliness of the
parsonage arrangements was perfect; and this habit of Keeper's was
so objectionable, that Emily, in reply to Tabby's remonstrances,
declared that, if he was found again transgressing, she herself,
in defiance of warning and his well-known ferocity of nature,
would beat him so severely that he would never offend again. In
the gathering dusk of an autumn evening, Tabby came, half-
triumphantly, half-tremblingly, but in great wrath, to tell Emily
that Keeper was lying on the best bed, in drowsy voluptuousness.
Charlotte saw Emily's whitening face, and set mouth, but dared not
speak to interfere; no one dared when Emily's eyes glowed in that
manner out of the paleness of her face, and when her lips were so
compressed into stone. She went upstairs, and Tabby and Charlotte
stood in the gloomy passage below, full of the dark shadows of
coming night. Down-stairs came Emily, dragging after her the
unwilling Keeper, his hind legs set in a heavy attitude of
resistance, held by the "scuft of his neck," but growling low and
savagely all the time. The watchers would fain have spoken, but
durst not, for fear of taking off Emily's attention, and causing
her to avert her head for a moment from the enraged brute. She
let him go, planted in a dark corner at the bottom of the stairs;
no time was there to fetch stick or rod, for fear of the
strangling clutch at her throat--her bare clenched fist struck
against his red fierce eyes, before he had time to make his
spring, and, in the language of the turf, she "punished him" till
his eyes were swelled up, and the half-blind, stupified beast was
led to his accustomed lair, to have his swollen head fomented and
cared for by the very Emily herself. The generous dog owed her no
grudge; he loved her dearly ever after; he walked first among the
mourners to her funeral; he slept moaning for nights at the door
of her empty room, and never, so to speak, rejoiced, dog fashion,
after her death. He, in his turn, was mourned over by the
surviving sister. Let us somehow hope, in half Red Indian creed,
that he follows Emily now; and, when he rests, sleeps on some soft
white bed of dreams, unpunished when he awakens to the life of the
land of shadows.

Now we can understand the force of the words, "Our poor little cat
is dead. Emily is sorry."


The moors were a great resource this spring; Emily and Charlotte
walked out on them perpetually, "to the great damage of our shoes,
but I hope, to the benefit of our health." The old plan of
school-keeping was often discussed in these rambles; but in-doors
they set with vigour to shirt-making for the absent Branwell, and
pondered in silence over their past and future life. At last they
came to a determination.

"I have seriously entered into the enterprise of keeping a school-
-or rather, taking a limited number of pupils at home. That is, I
have begun in good earnest to seek for pupils. I wrote to Mrs.--"
(the lady with whom she had lived as governess, just before going
to Brussels), "not asking her for her daughter--I cannot do that--
but informing her of my intention. I received an answer from Mr.-
-expressive of, I believe, sincere regret that I had not informed
them a month sooner, in which case, he said, they would gladly
have sent me their own daughter, and also Colonel S.'s, but that
now both were promised to Miss C. I was partly disappointed by
this answer, and partly gratified; indeed, I derived quite an
impulse of encouragement from the warm assurance that if I had but
applied a little sooner they would certainly have sent me their
daughter. I own I had misgivings that nobody would be willing to
send a child for education to Haworth. These misgivings are
partly done away with. I have written also to Mrs. B., and have
enclosed the diploma which M. Heger gave me before I left
Brussels. I have not yet received her answer, but I wait for it
with some anxiety. I do not expect that she will send me any of
her children, but if she would, I dare say she could recommend me
other pupils. Unfortunately, she knows us only very slightly. As
soon as I can get an assurance of only ONE pupil, I will have
cards of terms printed, and will commence the repairs necessary in
the house. I wish all that to be done before winter. I think of
fixing the board and English education at 25L. per annum."

Again, at a later date, July 24th, in the same year, she writes:-

"I am driving on with my small matter as well as I can. I have
written to all the friends on whom I have the slightest claim, and
to some on whom I have no claim; Mrs. B., for example. On her,
also, I have actually made bold to call. She was exceedingly
polite; regretted that her children were already at school at
Liverpool; thought the undertaking a most praiseworthy one, but
feared I should have some difficulty in making it succeed on
account of the SITUATION. Such is the answer I receive from
almost every one. I tell them the RETIRED SITUATION is, in some
points of view, an advantage; that were it in the midst of a large
town I could not pretend to take pupils on terms so moderate (Mrs.
B. remarked that she thought the terms very moderate), but that,
as it is, not having house-rent to pay, we can offer the same
privileges of education that are to be had in expensive
seminaries, at little more than half their price; and as our
number must be limited, we can devote a large share of time and
pains to each pupil. Thank you for the very pretty little purse
you have sent me. I make to you a curious return in the shape of
half a dozen cards of terms. Make such use of them as your
judgment shall dictate. You will see that I have fixed the sum at
35L., which I think is the just medium, considering advantages and

This was written in July; August, September, and October passed
away, and no pupils were to be heard of. Day after day, there was
a little hope felt by the sisters until the post came in. But
Haworth village was wild and lonely, and the Brontes but little
known, owing to their want of connections. Charlotte writes on
the subject, in the early winter months, to this effect -

"I, Emily, and Anne, are truly obliged to you for the efforts you
have made in our behalf; and if you have not been successful, you
are only like ourselves. Every one wishes us well; but there are
no pupils to be had. We have no present intention, however, of
breaking our hearts on the subject, still less of feeling
mortified at defeat. The effort must be beneficial, whatever the
result may be, because it teaches us experience, and an additional
knowledge of this world. I send you two more circulars."

A month later, she says:-

"We have made no alterations yet in our house. It would be folly
to do so, while there is so little likelihood of our ever getting
pupils. I fear you are giving yourself too much trouble on our
account. Depend upon it, if you were to persuade a mamma to bring
her child to Haworth, the aspect of the place would frighten her,
and she would probably take the dear girl back with her,
instanter. We are glad that we have made the attempt, and we will
not be cast down because it has not succeeded."

There were, probably, growing up in each sister's heart, secret
unacknowledged feelings of relief, that their plan had not
succeeded. Yes! a dull sense of relief that their cherished
project had been tried and had failed. For that house, which was
to be regarded as an occasional home for their brother, could
hardly be a fitting residence for the children of strangers. They
had, in all likelihood, become silently aware that his habits were
such as to render his society at times most undesirable.
Possibly, too, they had, by this time, heard distressing rumours
concerning the cause of that remorse and agony of mind, which at
times made him restless and unnaturally merry, at times rendered
him moody and irritable.

In January, 1845, Charlotte says:- "Branwell has been quieter and
less irritable, on the whole, this time than he was in summer.
Anne is, as usual, always good, mild, and patient." The deep-
seated pain which he was to occasion to his relations had now
taken a decided form, and pressed heavily on Charlotte's health
and spirits. Early in this year, she went to H. to bid good-bye
to her dear friend "Mary," who was leaving England for Australia.

Branwell, I have mentioned, had obtained the situation of a
private tutor. Anne was also engaged as governess in the same
family, and was thus a miserable witness to her brother's
deterioration of character at this period. Of the causes of this
deterioration I cannot speak; but the consequences were these. He
went home for his holidays reluctantly, stayed there as short a
time as possible, perplexing and distressing them all by his
extraordinary conduct--at one time in the highest spirits, at
another, in the deepest depression--accusing himself of blackest
guilt and treachery, without specifying what they were; and
altogether evincing an irritability of disposition bordering on

Charlotte and Emily suffered acutely from his mysterious
behaviour. He expressed himself more than satisfied with his
situation; he was remaining in it for a longer time than he had
ever done in any kind of employment before; so that for some time
they could not conjecture that anything there made him so wilful,
and restless, and full of both levity and misery. But a sense of
something wrong connected with him, sickened and oppressed them.
They began to lose all hope in his future career. He was no
longer the family pride; an indistinct dread, caused partly by his
own conduct, partly by expressions of agonising suspicion in
Anne's letters home, was creeping over their minds that he might
turn out their deep disgrace. But, I believe, they shrank from
any attempt to define their fears, and spoke of him to each other
as little as possible. They could not help but think, and mourn,
and wonder.

"Feb. 20th, 1845.

"I spent a week at H., not very pleasantly; headache, sickliness,
and flatness of spirits, made me a poor companion, a sad drag on
the vivacious and loquacious gaiety of all the other inmates of
the house. I never was fortunate enough to be able to rally, for
as much as a single hour, while I was there. I am sure all, with
the exception perhaps of Mary, were very glad when I took my
departure. I begin to perceive that I have too little life in me,
now-a-days, to be fit company for any except very quiet people.
Is it age, or what else, that changes me so?"

Alas! she hardly needed to have asked this question. How could
she be otherwise than "flat-spirited," "a poor companion," and a
"sad drag" on the gaiety of those who were light-hearted and
happy! Her honest plan for earning her own livelihood had fallen
away, crumbled to ashes; after all her preparations, not a pupil
had offered herself; and, instead of being sorry that this wish of
many years could not be realised, she had reason to be glad. Her
poor father, nearly sightless, depended upon her cares in his
blind helplessness; but this was a sacred pious charge, the duties
of which she was blessed in fulfilling. The black gloom hung over
what had once been the brightest hope of the family--over
Branwell, and the mystery in which his wayward conduct was
enveloped. Somehow and sometime, he would have to turn to his
home as a hiding place for shame; such was the sad foreboding of
his sisters. Then how could she be cheerful, when she was losing
her dear and noble "Mary," for such a length of time and distance
of space that her heart might well prophesy that it was "for
ever"? Long before, she had written of Mary T., that she "was
full of feelings noble, warm, generous, devoted, and profound.
God bless her! I never hope to see in this world a character more
truly noble. She would die willingly for one she loved. Her
intellect and attainments are of the very highest standard." And
this was the friend whom she was to lose! Hear that friend's
account of their final interview:-

"When I last saw Charlotte (Jan. 1845), she told me she had quite
decided to stay at home. She owned she did not like it. Her
health was weak. She said she should like any change at first, as
she had liked Brussels at first, and she thought that there must
be some possibility for some people of having a life of more
variety and more communion with human kind, but she saw none for
her. I told her very warmly, that she ought not to stay at home;
that to spend the next five years at home, in solitude and weak
health, would ruin her; that she would never recover it. Such a
dark shadow came over her face when I said, 'Think of what you'll
be five years hence!' that I stopped, and said, 'Don't cry,
Charlotte!' She did not cry, but went on walking up and down the
room, and said in a little while, 'But I intend to stay, Polly.'"

A few weeks after she parted from Mary, she gives this account of
her days at Haworth.

"March 24th, 1845.

"I can hardly tell you how time gets on at Haworth. There is no
event whatever to mark its progress. One day resembles another;
and all have heavy, lifeless physiognomies. Sunday, baking-day,
and Saturday, are the only ones that have any distinctive mark.
Meantime, life wears away. I shall soon be thirty; and I have
done nothing yet. Sometimes I get melancholy at the prospect
before and behind me. Yet it is wrong and foolish to repine.
Undoubtedly, my duty directs me to stay at home for the present.
There was a time when Haworth was a very pleasant place to me; it
is not so now. I feel as if we were all buried here. I long to
travel; to work; to live a life of action. Excuse me, dear, for
troubling you with my fruitless wishes. I will put by the rest,
and not trouble you with them. You must write to me. If you knew
how welcome your letters are, you would write very often. Your
letters, and the French newspapers, are the only messengers that
come to me from the outer world beyond our moors; and very welcome
messengers they are."

One of her daily employments was to read to her father, and it
required a little gentle diplomacy on her part to effect this
duty; for there were times when the offer of another to do what he
had been so long accustomed to do for himself, only reminded him
too painfully of the deprivation under which he was suffering.
And, in secret, she, too, dreaded a similar loss for herself.
Long-continued ill health, a deranged condition of the liver, her
close application to minute drawing and writing in her younger
days, her now habitual sleeplessness at nights, the many bitter
noiseless tears she had shed over Branwell's mysterious and
distressing conduct--all these causes were telling on her poor
eyes; and about this time she thus writes to M. Heger:-

"Il n'y a rien que je crains comme le desoeuvrement, l'inertie, la
lethargie des facultes. Quand le corps est paresseux l'esprit
souffre cruellement; je ne connaitrais pas cette lethargie, si je
pouvais ecrire. Autrefois je passais des journees, des semaines,
des mois entiers e ecrire, et pas tout-e-fait sans fruit, puisque
Southey et Coleridge, deux de nos meilleurs auteurs, e qui j'ai
envoye certains manuscrits, en ont bien voulu temoigner leur
approbation; mais e present, j'ai la vue trop faible; si
j'ecrivais beaueoup je deviendrais aveugle. Cette faiblesse de
vue est pour moi une terrible privation; sans cela, savez-vous ce
que je ferais, Monsieur? J'ecrirais un livre et je le dedierais e
mon maitre de litterature, au seul maitre que j'aie jamais eu--e
vous, Monsieur! Je vous ai dit souvent en francais combien je
vous respecte, combien je suis redevable e votre bonte, e vos
conseils. Je voudrais le dire une fois en anglais. Cela ne se
peut pas; il ne faut pas y penser. La carriere des lettres m'est
fermee . . . N'oubliez pas de me dire comment vous vous portez,
comment Madame et les enfants se portent. Je compte bientot avoir
de vos nouvelles; cette idee me souris, car le souvenir de vos
bontes ne s'effacera jamais de ma memoire, et tant que ce souvenir
durera, le respect que vous m'avez inspire durera aussi. Agreez,
Monsieur," &c.

It is probable, that even her sisters and most intimate friends
did not know of this dread of ultimate blindness which beset her
at this period. What eyesight she had to spare she reserved for
the use of her father. She did but little plain-sewing; not more
writing than could be avoided, and employed herself principally in

"April 2nd, 1845.

"I see plainly it is proved to us that there is scarcely a draught
of unmingled happiness to be had in this world. -'s illness comes
with -'s marriage. Mary T. finds herself free, and on that path
to adventure and exertion to which she has so long been seeking
admission. Sickness, hardship, danger are her fellow travellers--
her inseparable companions. She may have been out of the reach of
these S. W. N. W. gales, before they began to blow, or they may
have spent their fury on land, and not ruffled the sea much. If
it has been otherwise, she has been sorely tossed, while we have
been sleeping in our beds, or lying awake thinking about her. Yet
these real, material dangers, when once past, leave in the mind
the satisfaction of having struggled with difficulty, and overcome
it. Strength, courage, and experience are their invariable
results; whereas, I doubt whether suffering purely mental has any
good result, unless it be to make us by comparison less sensitive
to physical suffering . . . Ten years ago, I should have laughed
at your account of the blunder you made in mistaking the bachelor
doctor for a married man. I should have certainly thought you
scrupulous over-much, and wondered how you could possibly regret
being civil to a decent individual, merely because he happened to
be single, instead of double. Now, however, I can perceive that
your scruples are founded on common sense. I know that if women
wish to escape the stigma of husband-seeking, they must act and
look like marble or clay--cold, expressionless, bloodless; for
every appearance of feeling, of joy, sorrow, friendliness,
antipathy, admiration, disgust, are alike construed by the world
into the attempt to hook a husband. Never mind! well-meaning
women have their own consciences to comfort them after all. Do
not, therefore, be too much afraid of showing yourself as you are,
affectionate and good-hearted; do not too harshly repress
sentiments and feelings excellent in themselves, because you fear
that some puppy may fancy that you are letting them come out to
fascinate him; do not condemn yourself to live only by halves,
because if you showed too much animation some pragmatical thing in
breeches might take it into his pate to imagine that you designed
to dedicate your life to his inanity. Still, a composed, decent,
equable deportment is a capital treasure to a woman, and that you
possess. Write again soon, for I feel rather fierce, and want
stroking down."

"June 13th, 1845.

"As to the Mrs. -, who, you say, is like me, I somehow feel no
leaning to her at all. I never do to people who are said to be
like me, because I have always a notion that they are only like me
in the disagreeable, outside, first-acquaintance part of my
character; in those points which are obvious to the ordinary run
of people, and which I know are not pleasing. You say she is
'clever'--'a clever person.' How I dislike the term! It means
rather a shrewd, very ugly, meddling, talking woman . . . I feel
reluctant to leave papa for a single day. His sight diminishes
weekly; and can it be wondered at that, as he sees the most
precious of his faculties leaving him, his spirits sometimes sink?
It is so hard to feel that his few and scanty pleasures must all
soon go. He has now the greatest difficulty in either reading or
writing; and then he dreads the state of dependence to which
blindness will inevitably reduce him. He fears that he will be
nothing in his parish. I try to cheer him; sometimes I succeed
temporarily, but no consolation can restore his sight, or atone
for the want of it. Still he is never peevish; never impatient;
only anxious and dejected."

For the reason just given, Charlotte declined an invitation to the
only house to which she was now ever asked to come. In answer to
her correspondent's reply to this letter, she says:-

"You thought I refused you coldly, did you? It was a queer sort
of coldness, when I would have given my ears to say Yes, and was
obliged to say No. Matters, however, are now a little changed.
Anne is come home, and her presence certainly makes me feel more
at liberty. Then, if all be well, I will come and see you. Tell
me only when I must come. Mention the week and the day. Have the
kindness also to answer the following queries, if you can. How
far is it from Leeds to Sheffield? Can you give me a notion of
the cost? Of course, when I come, you will let me enjoy your own
company in peace, and not drag me out a visiting. I have no
desire at all to see your curate. I think he must be like all the
other curates I have seen; and they seem to me a self-seeking,
vain, empty race. At this blessed moment, we have no less than
three of them in Haworth parish--and there is not one to mend
another. The other day, they all three, accompanied by Mr. S.,
dropped, or rather rushed, in unexpectedly to tea. It was Monday
(baking day), and I was hot and tired; still, if they had behaved
quietly and decently, I would have served them out their tea in
peace; but they began glorifying themselves, and abusing
Dissenters in such a manner, that my temper lost its balance, and
I pronounced a few sentences sharply and rapidly, which struck
them all dumb. Papa was greatly horrified also, but I don't
regret it."

On her return from this short visit to her friend, she travelled
with a gentleman in the railway carriage, whose features and
bearing betrayed him, in a moment, to be a Frenchman. She
ventured to ask him if such was not the case; and, on his
admitting it, she further inquired if he had not passed a
considerable time in Germany, and was answered that he had; her
quick ear detected something of the thick guttural pronunciation,
which, Frenchmen say, they are able to discover even in the
grandchildren of their countrymen who have lived any time beyond
the Rhine. Charlotte had retained her skill in the language by
the habit of which she thus speaks to M. Heger:-

"Je crains beaucoup d'oublier le francais--j'apprends tous les
jours une demie page de francais par coeur, et j'ai grand plaisir
e apprendre cette lecon, Veuillez presenter e Madame l'assurance
de mon estime; je crains que Maria-Louise et Claire ne m'aient
deje oubliees; mais je vous reverrai un jour; aussitot que
j'aurais gagne assez d'argent pour alter e Bruxelles, j'y irai."

And so her journey back to Haworth, after the rare pleasure of
this visit to her friend, was pleasantly beguiled by conversation
with the French gentleman; and she arrived at home refreshed and
happy. What to find there?

It was ten o'clock when she reached the parsonage. Branwell was
there, unexpectedly, very ill. He had come home a day or two
before, apparently for a holiday; in reality, I imagine, because
some discovery had been made which rendered his absence
imperatively desirable. The day of Charlotte's return, he had
received a letter from Mr. -, sternly dismissing him, intimating
that his proceedings were discovered, characterising them as bad
beyond expression, and charging him, on pain of exposure, to break
off immediately, and for ever, all communication with every member
of the family.

Whatever may have been the nature and depth of Branwell's sins,--
whatever may have been his temptation, whatever his guilt,--there
is no doubt of the suffering which his conduct entailed upon his
poor father and his innocent sisters. The hopes and plans they
had cherished long, and laboured hard to fulfil, were cruelly
frustrated; henceforward their days were embittered and the
natural rest of their nights destroyed by his paroxysms of
remorse. Let us read of the misery caused to his poor sisters in
Charlotte's own affecting words:-

"We have had sad work with Branwell. He thought of nothing but
stunning or drowning his agony of mind. No one in this house
could have rest; and, at last, we have been obliged to send him
from home for a week, with some one to look after him. He has
written to me this morning, expressing some sense of contrition .
. . but as long as he remains at home, I scarce dare hope for
peace in the house. We must all, I fear, prepare for a season of
distress and disquietude. When I left you, I was strongly
impressed with the feeling that I was going back to sorrow."

"August, 1845.

"Things here at home are much as usual; not very bright as it
regards Branwell, though his health, and consequently his temper,
have been somewhat better this last day or two, because he is now
FORCED TO abstain."

"August 18th, 1845.

"I have delayed writing, because I have no good news to
communicate. My hopes ebb low indeed about Branwell. I sometimes
fear he will never be fit for much. The late blow to his
prospects and feelings has quite made him reckless. It is only
absolute want of means that acts as any check to him. One ought,
indeed, to hope to the very last; and I try to do so, but
occasionally hope in his case seems so fallacious."

"Nov. 4th, 1845.

"I hoped to be able to ask you to come to Haworth. It almost
seemed as if Branwell had a chance of getting employment, and I
waited to know the result of his efforts in order to say, dear -,
come and see us. But the place (a secretaryship to a railway
committee) is given to another person. Branwell still remains at
home; and while HE is here, YOU shall not come. I am more
confirmed in that resolution the more I see of him. I wish I
could say one word to you in his favour, but I cannot. I will
hold my tongue. We are all obliged to you for your kind
suggestion about Leeds; but I think our school schemes are, for
the present, at rest."

"Dec. 31st, 1845.

"You say well, in speaking of -, that no sufferings are so awful
as those brought on by dissipation; alas! I see the truth of this
observation daily proved. --and--must have as weary and burdensome
a life of it in waiting upon their unhappy brother. It seems
grievous, indeed, that those who have not sinned should suffer so

In fact, all their latter days blighted with the presence of
cruel, shameful suffering,--the premature deaths of two at least
of the sisters,--all the great possibilities of their earthly
lives snapped short,--may be dated from Midsummer 1845.

For the last three years of Branwell's life, he took opium
habitually, by way of stunning conscience; he drank moreover,
whenever he could get the opportunity. The reader may say that I
have mentioned his tendency to intemperance long before. It is
true; but it did not become habitual, as far as I can learn, until
after he was dismissed from his tutorship. He took opium, because
it made him forget for a time more effectually than drink; and,
besides, it was more portable. In procuring it he showed all the
cunning of the opium-eater. He would steal out while the family
were at church--to which he had professed himself too ill to go--
and manage to cajole the village druggist out of a lump; or, it
might be, the carrier had unsuspiciously brought him some in a
packet from a distance. For some time before his death he had
attacks of delirium tremens of the most frightful character; he
slept in his father's room, and he would sometimes declare that
either he or his father should be dead before the morning. The
trembling sisters, sick with fright, would implore their father
not to expose himself to this danger; but Mr. Bronte is no timid
man, and perhaps he felt that he could possibly influence his son
to some self-restraint, more by showing trust in him than by
showing fear. The sisters often listened for the report of a
pistol in the dead of the night, till watchful eye and hearkening
ear grew heavy and dull with the perpetual strain upon their
nerves. In the mornings young Bronte would saunter out, saying,
with a drunkard's incontinence of speech, "The poor old man and I
have had a terrible night of it; he does his best--the poor old
man! but it's all over with me."


In the course of this sad autumn of 1845, a new interest came up;
faint, indeed, and often lost sight of in the vivid pain and
constant pressure of anxiety respecting their brother. In the
biographical notice of her sisters, which Charlotte prefixed to
the edition of "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey," published in
1850--a piece of writing unique, as far as I know, in its pathos
and its power--she says:-

"One day in the autumn of 1845, I accidentally lighted on a MS.
volume of verse, in my sister Emily's hand-writing. Of course, I
was not surprised, knowing that she could and did write verse: I
looked it over, and something more than surprise seized me--a deep
conviction that these were not common effusions, nor at all like
the poetry women generally write. I thought them condensed and
terse, vigorous and genuine. To my ear they had also a peculiar
music, wild, melancholy, and elevating. My sister Emily was not a
person of demonstrative character, nor one on the recesses of
whose mind and feelings even those nearest and dearest to her
could, with impunity, intrude unlicensed: it took hours to
reconcile her to the discovery I had made, and days to persuade
her that such poems merited publication . . . Meantime, my younger
sister quietly produced some of her own compositions, intimating
that since Emily's had given me pleasure, I might like to look at
hers. I could not but be a partial judge, yet I thought that
these verses too had a sweet sincere pathos of their own. We had
very early cherished the dream of one day being authors. We
agreed to arrange a small selection of our poems, and, if
possible, get them printed. Averse to personal publicity, we
veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell;
the ambiguous choice being dictated by a sort of conscientious
scruple at assuming Christian names, positively masculine, while
we did not like to declare ourselves women, because--without at
the time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not
what is called 'feminine,' we had a vague impression that
authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice; we noticed
how critics sometimes use for their chastisement the weapon of
personality, and for their reward, a flattery, which is not true
praise. The bringing out of our little book was hard work. As
was to be expected, neither we nor our poems were at all wanted;
but for this we had been prepared at the outset; though
inexperienced ourselves, we had read the experience of others.
The great puzzle lay in the difficulty of getting answers of any
kind from the publishers to whom we applied. Being greatly
harassed by this obstacle, I ventured to apply to the Messrs.
Chambers, of Edinburgh, for a word of advice; THEY may have
forgotten the circumstance, but I have not, for from them I
received a brief and business-like, but civil and sensible reply,
on which we acted, and at last made way."

I inquired from Mr. Robert Chambers, and found, as Miss Bronte
conjectured, that he had entirely forgotten the application which
had been made to him and his brother for advice; nor had they any
copy or memorandum of the correspondence.

There is an intelligent man living in Haworth, who has given me
some interesting particulars relating to the sisters about this
period. He says:-

"I have known Miss Bronte, as Miss Bronte, a long time; indeed,
ever since they came to Haworth in 1819. But I had not much
acquaintance with the family till about 1843, when I began to do a
little in the stationery line. Nothing of that kind could be had
nearer than Keighley before I began. They used to buy a great
deal of writing paper, and I used to wonder whatever they did with
so much. I sometimes thought they contributed to the Magazines.
When I was out of stock, I was always afraid of their coming; they
seemed so distressed about it, if I had none. I have walked to
Halifax (a distance of ten miles) many a time, for half a ream of
paper, for fear of being without it when they came. I could not
buy more at a time for want of capital. I was always short of
that. I did so like them to come when I had anything for them;
they were so much different to anybody else; so gentle and kind,
and so very quiet. They never talked much. Charlotte sometimes
would sit and inquire about our circumstances so kindly and
feelingly! . . . Though I am a poor working man (which I have
never felt to be any degradation), I could talk with her with the
greatest freedom. I always felt quite at home with her. Though I
never had any school education, I never felt the want of it in her

The publishers to whom she finally made a successful application
for the production of "Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell's poems,"
were Messrs. Aylott and Jones, Paternoster Row. Mr. Aylott has
kindly placed the letters which she wrote to them on the subject
at my disposal. The first is dated January 28th, 1846, and in it
she inquires if they will publish one volume octavo of poems; if
not at their own risk, on the author's account. It is signed "C.
Bronte." They must have replied pretty speedily, for on January
31st she writes again:-


"Since you agree to undertake the publication of the work
respecting which I applied to you, I should wish now to know, as
soon as possible, the cost of paper and printing. I will then
send the necessary remittance, together with the manuscript. I
should like it to be printed in one octavo volume, of the same
quality of paper and size of type as Moxon's last edition of
Wordsworth. The poems will occupy, I should think, from 200 to
250 pages. They are not the production of a clergyman, nor are
they exclusively of a religious character; but I presume these
circumstances will be immaterial. It will, perhaps, be necessary
that you should see the manuscript, in order to calculate
accurately the expense of publication; in that case I will send it
immediately. I should like, however, previously, to have some
idea of the probable cost; and if, from what I have said, you can
make a rough calculation on the subject, I should be greatly
obliged to you."

In her next letter, February 6th, she says:-

"You will perceive that the poems are the work of three persons,
relatives--their separate pieces are distinguished by their
respective signatures."

She writes again on February 15th; and on the 16th she says:-

"The MS. will certainly form a thinner volume than I had
anticipated. I cannot name another model which I should like it
precisely to resemble, yet, I think, a duodecimo form, and a
somewhat reduced, though still CLEAR type, would be preferable. I
only stipulate for CLEAR type, not too small, and good paper."

On February 21st she selects the "long primer type" for the poems,
and will remit 31L. 10S. in a few days.

Minute as the details conveyed in these notes are, they are not
trivial, because they afford such strong indications of character.
If the volume was to be published at their own risk, it was
necessary that the sister conducting the negotiation should make
herself acquainted with the different kinds of type, and the
various sizes of books. Accordingly she bought a small volume,
from which to learn all she could on the subject of preparation
for the press. No half-knowledge--no trusting to other people for
decisions which she could make for herself; and yet a generous and
full confidence, not misplaced, in the thorough probity of Messrs.
Aylott and Jones. The caution in ascertaining the risk before
embarking in the enterprise, and the prompt payment of the money
required, even before it could be said to have assumed the shape
of a debt, were both parts of a self-reliant and independent
character. Self-contained also was she. During the whole time
that the volume of poems was in the course of preparation and
publication, no word was written telling anyone, out of the
household circle, what was in progress.

I have had some of the letters placed in my hands, which she
addressed to her old school-mistress, Miss W-. They begin a
little before this time. Acting on the conviction, which I have
all along entertained, that where Charlotte Bronte's own words
could be used, no others ought to take their place, I shall make
extracts from this series, according to their dates.

"Jan. 30th, 1846.


"I have not yet paid my visit to -; it is, indeed, more than a
year since I was there, but I frequently hear from E., and she did
not fail to tell me that you were gone into Worcestershire; she
was unable, however, to give me your exact address. Had I known
it, I should have written to you long since. I thought you would
wonder how we were getting on, when you heard of the railway
panic; and you may be sure that I am very glad to be able to
answer your kind inquiries by the assurance that our small capital
is as yet undiminished. The York and Midland is, as you say, a
very good line, yet, I confess to you, I should wish, for my own
part, to be wise in time. I cannot think that even the very best
lines will continue for many years at their present premiums; and
I have been most anxious for us to sell our shares ere it be too
late, and to secure the proceeds in some safer, if, for the
present, less profitable investment. I cannot, however, persuade
my sisters to regard the affair precisely from my point of view;
and I feel as if I would rather run the risk of loss than hurt
Emily's feelings by acting in direct opposition to her opinion.
She managed in a most handsome and able manner for me, when I was
in Brussels, and prevented by distance from looking after my own
interests; therefore, I will let her manage still, and take the
consequences. Disinterested and energetic she certainly is; and
if she be not quite so tractable or open to conviction as I could
wish, I must remember perfection is not the lot of humanity; and
as long as we can regard those we love, and to whom we are closely
allied, with profound and never-shaken esteem, it is a small thing
that they should vex us occasionally by what appear to us
unreasonable and headstrong notions.

"You, my dear Miss W-, know, full as well as I do, the value of
sisters' affection to each other; there is nothing like it in this
world, I believe, when they are nearly equal in age, and similar
in education, tastes, and sentiments. You ask about Branwell; he
never thinks of seeking employment, and I begin to fear that he
has rendered himself incapable of filling any respectable station
in life; besides, if money were at his disposal, he would use it
only to his own injury; the faculty of self-government is, I fear,
almost destroyed in him. You ask me if I do not think that men
are strange beings? I do, indeed. I have often thought so; and I
think, too, that the mode of bringing them up is strange: they
are not sufficiently guarded from temptation. Girls are protected
as if they were something very frail or silly indeed, while boys
are turned loose on the world, as if they, of all beings in
existence, were the wisest and least liable to be led astray. I
am glad you like Broomsgrove, though, I dare say, there are few
places you would NOT like, with Mrs. M. for a companion. I always
feel a peculiar satisfaction when I hear of your enjoying
yourself, because it proves that there really is such a thing as
retributive justice even in this world. You worked hard; you
denied yourself all pleasure, almost all relaxation, in your
youth, and in the prime of life; now you are free, and that while
you have still, I hope, many years of vigour and health in which
you can enjoy freedom. Besides, I have another and very
egotistical motive for being pleased; it seems that even 'a lone
woman' can be happy, as well as cherished wives and proud mothers.
I am glad of that. I speculate much on the existence of unmarried
and never-to-be-married women now-a-days; and I have already got
to the point of considering that there is no more respectable
character on this earth than an unmarried woman, who makes her own
way through life quietly, perseveringly, without support of
husband or brother; and who, having attained the age of forty-five
or upwards, retains in her possession a well-regulated mind, a
disposition to enjoy simple pleasures, and fortitude to support
inevitably pains, sympathy with the sufferings of others, and
willingness to relieve want as far as her means extend."

During the time that the negotiation with Messrs. Aylott and Co.
was going on, Charlotte went to visit her old school-friend, with
whom she was in such habits of confidential intimacy; but neither
then nor afterwards, did she ever speak to her of the publication
of the poems; nevertheless, this young lady suspected that the
sisters wrote for Magazines; and in this idea she was confirmed
when, on one of her visits to Haworth, she saw Anne with a number
of "Chambers's Journal," and a gentle smile of pleasure stealing
over her placid face as she read.

"What is the matter?" asked the friend. "Why do you smile?"

"Only because I see they have inserted one of my poems," was the
quiet reply; and not a word more was said on the subject.

To this friend Charlotte addressed the following letters:-

"March 3rd, 1846.

"I reached home a little after two o'clock, all safe and right
yesterday; I found papa very well; his sight much the same. Emily
and Anne were going to Keighley to meet me; unfortunately, I had
returned by the old road, while they were gone by the new, and we
missed each other. They did not get home till half-past four, and
were caught in the heavy shower of rain which fell in the
afternoon. I am sorry to say Anne has taken a little cold in
consequence, but I hope she will soon be well. Papa was much
cheered by my report of Mr. C.'s opinion, and of old Mrs. E.'s
experience; but I could perceive he caught gladly at the idea of
deferring the operation a few months longer. I went into the room
where Branwell was, to speak to him, about an hour after I got
home: it was very forced work to address him. I might have
spared myself the trouble, as he took no notice, and made no
reply; he was stupified. My fears were not in vain. I hear that
he got a sovereign while I have been away, under pretence of
paying a pressing debt; he went immediately and changed it at a
public-house, and has employed it as was to be expected. --
concluded her account by saying he was a 'hopeless being;' it is
too true. In his present state it is scarcely possible to stay in
the room where he is. What the future has in store I do not

"March 31st, 1846.

"Our poor old servant Tabby had a sort of fit, a fortnight since,
but is nearly recovered now. Martha" (the girl they had to assist
poor old Tabby, and who remains still the faithful servant at the
parsonage,) "is ill with a swelling in her knee, and obliged to go
home. I fear it will be long before she is in working condition
again. I received the number of the 'Record' you sent . . . I
read D'Aubigne's letter. It is clever, and in what he says about
Catholicism very good. The Evangelical Alliance part is not very
practicable, yet certainly it is more in accordance with the
spirit of the Gospel to preach unity among Christians than to
inculcate mutual intolerance and hatred. I am very glad I went
to--when I did, for the changed weather has somewhat changed my
health and strength since. How do you get on? I long for mild
south and west winds. I am thankful papa continues pretty well,
though often made very miserable by Branwell's wretched conduct.
THERE--there is no change but for the worse."

Meanwhile the printing of the volume of poems was quietly
proceeding. After some consultation and deliberation, the sisters
had determined to correct the proofs themselves, Up to March 28th
the publishers had addressed their correspondent as C. Bronte,
Esq.; but at this time some "little mistake occurred," and she
desired Messrs. Aylott and Co. in future to direct to her real
address, "MISS Bronte," &c. She had, however, evidently left it
to be implied that she was not acting on her own behalf, but as
agent for the real authors, since in a note dated April 6th, she
makes a proposal on behalf of "C., E., and A. Bell," which is to
the following effect, that they are preparing for the press a work
of fiction, consisting of three distinct and unconnected tales,
which may be published either together, as a work of three
volumes, of the ordinary novel size, or separately, as single
volumes, as may be deemed most advisable. She states, in
addition, that it is not their intention to publish these tales on
their own account; but that the authors direct her to ask Messrs.
Aylott and Co. whether they would be disposed to undertake the
work, after having, of course, by due inspection of the MS.,
ascertained that its contents are such as to warrant an
expectation of success. To this letter of inquiry the publishers
replied speedily, and the tenor of their answer may be gathered
from Charlotte's, dated April 11th.

"I beg to thank you, in the name of C., E., and A. Bell, for your
obliging offer of advice. I will avail myself of it, to request
information on two or three points. It is evident that unknown
authors have great difficulties to contend with, before they can
succeed in bringing their works before the public. Can you give
me any hint as to the way in which these difficulties are best
met? For instance, in the present case, where a work of fiction
is in question, in what form would a publisher be most likely to
accept the MS.? Whether offered as a work of three vols., or as
tales which might be published in numbers, or as contributions to
a periodical?

"What publishers would be most likely to receive favourably a
proposal of this nature?

"Would it suffice to WRITE to a publisher on the subject, or would
it be necessary to have recourse to a personal interview?

"Your opinion and advice on these three points, or on any other
which your experience may suggest as important, would be esteemed
by us as a favour."

It is evident from the whole tenor of this correspondence, that
the truthfulness and probity of the firm of publishers with whom
she had to deal in this her first literary venture, were strongly
impressed upon her mind, and was followed by the inevitable
consequence of reliance on their suggestions. And the progress of
the poems was not unreasonably lengthy or long drawn out. On
April 20th she writes to desire that three copies may be sent to
her, and that Messrs. Aylott will advise her as to the reviewers
to whom copies ought to be sent.

I give the next letter as illustrating the ideas of these girls as
to what periodical reviews or notices led public opinion.

"The poems to be neatly done up in cloth. Have the goodness to
send copies and advertisements, AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE, to each of
the undermentioned periodicals.

"'Colburn's New Monthly Magazine.'

"'Bentley's Magazine.'

"'Hood's Magazine.'

"'Jerrold's Shilling Magazine.'

"'Blackwood's Magazine.'

"'The Edinburgh Review.'

"'Tait's Edinburgh Magazine.'

"'The Dublin University Magazine.'

"Also to the 'Daily News' and to the 'Britannia' papers.

"If there are any other periodicals to which you have been in the
habit of sending copies of works, let them be supplied also with
copies. I think those I have mentioned will suffice for

In compliance with this latter request, Messrs. Aylott suggest
that copies and advertisements of the work should be sent to the
"Athenaeum," "Literary Gazette," "Critic," and "Times;" but in her
reply Miss Bronte says, that she thinks the periodicals she first
mentioned will be sufficient for advertising in at present, as the
authors do not wish to lay out a larger sum than two pounds in
advertising, esteeming the success of a work dependent more on the
notice it receives from periodicals than on the quantity of
advertisements. In case of any notice of the poems appearing,
whether favourable or otherwise, Messrs. Aylott and Co. are
requested to send her the name and number of those periodicals in
which such notices appear; as otherwise, since she has not the
opportunity of seeing periodicals regularly, she may miss reading
the critique. "Should the poems be remarked upon favourably, it
is my intention to appropriate a further sum for advertisements.
If, on the other hand, they should pass unnoticed or be condemned,
I consider it would be quite useless to advertise, as there is
nothing, either in the title of the work, or the names of the
authors, to attract attention from a single individual."

I suppose the little volume of poems was published some time about
the end of May, 1846. It stole into life; some weeks passed over,
without the mighty murmuring public discovering that three more
voices were uttering their speech. And, meanwhile, the course of
existence moved drearily along from day to day with the anxious
sisters, who must have forgotten their sense of authorship in the
vital care gnawing at their hearts. On June 17th, Charlotte

"Branwell declares that he neither can nor will do anything for
himself; good situations have been offered him, for which, by a
fortnight's work, he might have qualified himself, but he will do
nothing except drink and make us all wretched."

In the "Athenaeum" of July 4th, under the head of poetry for the
million, came a short review of the poems of C., E., and A. Bell.
The reviewer assigns to Ellis the highest rank of the three
"brothers," as he supposes them to be; he calls Ellis "a fine,
quaint spirit;" and speaks of "an evident power of wing that may
reach heights not here attempted." Again, with some degree of
penetration, the reviewer says, that the poems of Ellis "convey an
impression of originality beyond what his contributions to these
volumes embody." Currer is placed midway between Ellis and Acton.
But there is little in the review to strain out, at this distance
of time, as worth preserving. Still, we can fancy with what
interest it was read at Haworth Parsonage, and how the sisters
would endeavour to find out reasons for opinions, or hints for the
future guidance of their talents.

I call particular attention to the following letter of
Charlotte's, dated July 10th, 1846. To whom it was written,
matters not; but the wholesome sense of duty in it--the sense of
the supremacy of that duty which God, in placing us in families,
has laid out for us, seems to deserve especial regard in these

"I see you are in a dilemma, and one of a peculiar and difficult
nature. Two paths lie before you; you conscientiously wish to
choose the right one, even though it be the most steep, strait,
and rugged; but you do not know which is the right one; you cannot
decide whether duty and religion command you to go out into the
cold and friendless world, and there to earn your living by
governess drudgery, or whether they enjoin your continued stay
with your aged mother, neglecting, FOR THE PRESENT, every prospect
of independency for yourself, and putting up with daily
inconvenience, sometimes even with privations. I can well
imagine, that it is next to impossible for you to decide for
yourself in this matter, so I will decide it for you. At least, I
will tell you what is my earnest conviction on the subject; I will
show you candidly how the question strikes me. The right path is
that which necessitates the greatest sacrifice of self-interest--
which implies the greatest good to others; and this path, steadily
followed, will lead, I believe, in time, to prosperity and to
happiness, though it may seem, at the outset, to tend quite in a
contrary direction. Your mother is both old and infirm; old and
infirm people have but few sources of happiness--fewer almost than
the comparatively young and healthy can conceive; to deprive them
of one of these is cruel. If your mother is more composed when
you are with her, stay with her. If she would be unhappy in case
you left her, stay with her. It will not apparently, as far as
short-sighted humanity can see, be for your advantage to remain at
-, nor will you be praised and admired for remaining at home to
comfort your mother; yet, probably, your own conscience will
approve, and if it does, stay with her. I recommend you to do
what I am trying to do myself."

The remainder of this letter is only interesting to the reader as
it conveys a peremptory disclaimer of the report that the writer
was engaged to be married to her father's curate--the very same
gentleman to whom, eight years afterwards, she was united; and
who, probably, even now, although she was unconscious of the fact,
had begun his service to her, in the same tender and faithful
spirit as that in which Jacob served for Rachel. Others may have
noticed this, though she did not.

A few more notes remain of her correspondence "on behalf of the
Messrs. Bell" with Mr. Aylott. On July 15th she says, "I suppose,
as you have not written, no other notices have yet appeared, nor
has the demand for the work increased. Will you favour me with a
line stating whether ANY, or how many copies have yet been sold?"

But few, I fear; for, three days later, she wrote the following:-

"The Messrs. Bell desire me to thank you for your suggestion
respecting the advertisements. They agree with you that, since
the season is unfavourable, advertising had better be deferred.
They are obliged to you for the information respecting the number
of copies sold."

On July 23rd she writes to the Messrs. Aylott:-

"The Messrs. Bell would be obliged to you to post the enclosed
note in London. It is an answer to the letter you forwarded,
which contained an application for their autographs from a person
who professed to have read and admired their poems. I think I
before intimated, that the Messrs. Bell are desirous for the
present of remaining unknown, for which reason they prefer having
the note posted in London to sending it direct, in order to avoid
giving any clue to residence, or identity by post-mark, &c."

Once more, in September, she writes, "As the work has received no
further notice from any periodical, I presume the demand for it
has not greatly increased."

In the biographical notice of her sisters, she thus speaks of the
failure of the modest hopes vested in this publication. "The book
was printed; it is scarcely known, and all of it that merits to be
known are the poems of Ellis Bell.

"The fixed conviction I held, and hold, of the worth of these
poems, has not, indeed, received the confirmation of much
favourable criticism; but I must retain it notwithstanding."


{1} A reviewer pointed out the discrepancy between the age
(twenty-seven years) assigned, on the mural tablet, to Anne Bronte
at the time of her death in 1849, and the alleged fact that she
was born at Thornton, from which place Mr. Bronte removed on
February 25th, 1820. I was aware of the discrepancy, but I did
not think it of sufficient consequence to be rectified by an
examination of the register of births. Mr. Bronte's own words, on
which I grounded my statement as to the time of Anne Bronte's
birth, are as follows:-

"In Thornton, Charlotte, Patrick Branwell, Emily Jane, and Anne
were born." And such of the inhabitants of Haworth as have spoken
on the subject say that all the children of Mr. and Mrs. Bronte
were born before they removed to Haworth. There is probably some
mistake in the inscription on the tablet.

{2} In the month of April 1858, a neat mural tablet was erected
within the Communion railing of the Church at Haworth, to the
memory of the deceased members of the Bronte family. The tablet
is of white Carrara marble on a ground of dove-coloured marble,
with a cornice surmounted by an ornamental pediment of chaste
design. Between the brackets which support the tablet, is
inscribed the sacred monogram I.H.S., in old English letters.

{3} With regard to my own opinion of the present school, I can
only give it as formed after what was merely a cursory and
superficial inspection, as I do not believe that I was in the
house above half an hour; but it was and is this,--that the house
at Casterton seemed thoroughly healthy and well kept, and is
situated in a lovely spot; that the pupils looked bright, happy,
and well, and that the lady superintendent was a most
prepossessing looking person, who, on my making some inquiry as to
the accomplishments taught to the pupils, said that the scheme of
education was materially changed since the school had been opened.
I would have inserted this testimony in the first edition, had I
believed that any weight could be attached to an opinion formed on
such slight and superficial grounds.

{4} "Jane Eyre," vol. I., page 20.

{5} Scott describes the sport, "Shooting at the Popinjay," "as an
ancient game formerly practised with archery, but at this period
(1679) with firearms. This was the figure of a bird decked with
parti-coloured feathers, so as to resemble a popinjay or parrot.
It was suspended to a pole, and served for a mark at which the
competitors discharged their fusees and carbines in rotation, at
the distance of seventy paces. He whose ball brought down the
mark held the proud title of Captain of the Popinjay for the
remainder of the day, and was usually escorted in triumph to the
most respectable change-house in the neighbourhood, where the
evening was closed with conviviality, conducted under his
auspices, and if he was able to maintain it, at his expense."--Old

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