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Full text of "The Brontes Life And Letters Vol I"

CARNEGIE INSTITUTE 
OP TECHNOLOGY 




THE LIBRARY 



THE BRONTES 

LIFE AND LETTERS 



THE BRONTES 

LIFE AND LETTERS 

BEING AN ATTEMPT TO PRESENT A FULL 
AND FINAL RECORD OF THE LIVES OF 
THE THREE SISTERS, CHARLOTTE, EMILY 
AND ANNE BRONTE FROM THE BIOGRA- 
PHIES OF MRS. GASKELL AND OTHERS, 
AND FROM NUMEROUS HITHERTO UN- 
PUBLISHED MANUSCRIPTS AND LETTERS 



BY 

CLEMENT SHORTER 



VOL. I 



HODDER AND STOUGHTON 

LONDON : MCMVIII 



First Edition printed September 1908 
Second Edition printed November 1908 



Edinburgh : T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty 



PREFACE 

THE Life of Charlotte Bronte has been written, with 
finality all will agree, by Mrs. Gaskell, but when an author 
has attained to great fame there is a public, however 
small, with whom the interest extends beyond a standard 
biography. It was so with Johnson, and we have not only 
the incomparable * Boswell,' but certain volumes of letters 
edited by Dr. Birkbeck Hill. It was so with Scott, and 
we have not only the always interesting ' Lockhart,' but 
four volumes of letters and diaries that every lover 
of Sir Walter delights in. Thus it is that I have to 
congratulate myself upon the fact that the widespread 
interest in the Brontes has secured for my book, Charlotte 
Bronte and Her Circle, a very large audience, both in 
Great Britain and the United States. The merits of that 
book were due in no measure to the compiler, but rather 
to the happy accident which placed in his hands a great 
deal of material not known to any previous writer on 
the subject. 

During the eleven years that have passed since I first 
published Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle, correspondents 
from all parts of the world have forwarded me documents 
and letters which I am glad to add here, thus making this 
book, which I call The Brontes : Life and Letters, very 
largely a new work. Everything that was in the former 



vi THE BRONTES 

work has been incorporated, and a quantity of extremely 
valuable new material has been added, including many 
hitherto unpublished letters. The placing for the first 
time of the whole of the correspondence in chronological 
order will, it is hoped, be considered in itself sufficient to 
justify this publication. 

It had always been my ambition to present these letters 
in chronological order, but I found that no book of the 
kind could be considered satisfactory that did not include 
all the letters already published, even those that were 
familiar to the readers of Mrs. Gaskell's biography. The 
exhaustion of the copyright of Mrs. Gaskell's book has 
given me my opportunity. I have every reason to hope 
that there are many Bronte enthusiasts who will welcome 
these volumes, which, although avowedly a compilation, 
will make a sympathetic appeal to those who have come 
under the glamour of the Bronte story. 

I have to offer a word of thanks to Dr. Robertson 
Nicoll, to Mr. C. W. Hatfield of Pershore, and to Mr. 
Butler Wood of Bradford, for kindly reading my proof- 
sheets, and for valuable suggestions. I have also to 
acknowledge indebtedness to Mr. Thomas J. Wise and 
Mr. H. Buxton Forman for the loan of correspondence. 

C. S. 



PRELIMINARY 

MRS. GASKELL'S BIOGRAPHY 

THERE have been few biographies that have secured a 
more widespread interest than the Life of Charlotte Bronte 
by Mrs. Gaskell. It has held a position of singular 
popularity for fifty years ; and while biography after bio- 
graphy has come and gone, it still commands a place side 
by side with Boswell's Johnson and Lockhart's Scott > 
although in all essentials it is considerably inferior to 
these. There were obvious reasons for this success, 
Mrs. Gaskell was herself a popular novelist, who com- 
manded a very wide audience, and Cranford, at least, has 
taken a place among the classics of our literature. She 
brought to bear upon the biography of Charlotte Bronte 
some of those literary gifts which had made the charm of her 
eight volumes of romance. And these gifts were employed 
upon a romance of real life, not less fascinating than any 
thing which imagination could have furnished. Charlotte 
Bronte's success as an author turned the eyes of the world 
upon her. Thackeray had sent her his Vanity Fair 
before he knew her name or sex. The precious volume 
lies before me 







And Thackeray did not send many inscribed copies of his 
books even to successful authors. Speculation concerning 
the author of Jane Eyre was sufficiently rife during those 
VOL. i. A 



2 THE BRONTES 

seven sad years of literary renown to make a biography 
imperative when death came to Charlotte Bronte in 1855. 
All the world had heard something of the three marvellous 
sisters, daughters of a poor parson in Yorkshire, going 
one after another to their death with such melancholy 
swiftness, but leaving two of them, at least imperish- 
able work behind them. The old blind father and the 
bereaved husband read the confused eulogy and criticism, 
sometimes with a sad pleasure at the praise, oftener with 
a sadder pain at the grotesque inaccuracy. Small wonder 
that it became impressed upon Mr. Bronte's mind that an 
authoritative biography was desirable. His son-in-law, 
Mr. Arthur Bell Nicholls, who lived with him in the 
Haworth parsonage during the six weary years which 
succeeded Mrs. Nicholls's death, was not so readily won 
to the unveiling of his wife's inner life ; and although we, 
who read Mrs. Gaskell's Memoir, have every reason to be 
thankful for Mr. Bronte's decision, peace of mind would 
undoubtedly have been more assured to Charlotte Bronte's 
surviving relatives had the most rigid silence been main- 
tained. The book, when it appeared in 1857, l gave infinite 
pain to a number of people, including Mr. Bronte and 
Mr. Nicholls; and Mrs. GaskeH's subsequent experiences 
had the effect of persuading her that all biographical 
literature was intolerable and undesirable. She would 
seem to have given instructions that no biography of 
herself should be written. Her daughters have respected 
that wish, and now that forty years have passed since her 
death we have no substantial record of one of the most 
fascinating women of her age. The loss to literature has 
been forcibly brought home to the present writer, who has 
in his possession a number of letters written by Mrs. 
Gaskell to numerous friends of Charlotte Bronte during 

1 Mrs. Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte must be read in the ' Haworth edition/ 
printed in 1900 by Smith, Elder and Co., in England, and by Harper Bros., in the 
United States. In this edition will be found sixty-five letters to her publisher, Mr. 
George Smith, and to his mother, that are not obtainable elsewhere. 



PRELIMINARY 8 

the progress of the biography. They serve, all of them, 
to impress one with the singular, charm of the woman, her 
humanity and breadth of sympathy. They make us think 
better of Mrs. Gaskell, as Thackeray's letters to Mrs. 
Brookfield make us think better of the author of Vanity 
Fair. 

Apart from these letters, a journey in the footsteps, as 
it were, of Mrs. Gaskell reveals to us the remarkable con- 
scientiousness with which she set about her task. It 
would have been possible, with so much fame behind her, 
to have secured an equal success, and certainly an equal 
pecuniary reward, had she merely written a brief mono- 
graph with such material as was voluntarily placed in her 
hands. Mrs. Gaskell possessed a higher ideal of a bio- 
grapher's duties. She spared no pains to find out the 
facts ; she visited every spot associated with the name of 
Charlotte Bronte Thornton, Haworth, Cowan Bridge, 
Birstall, Brussels and she wrote countless letters to the 
friends of Charlotte Bronte's earlier days. 

But why, it may be asked, was Mrs. Gaskell selected as 
biographer ? The choice was made by Mr. Bronte, and 
it would have been difficult to have named any other 
practised writer with equal qualifications. When Mr. 
Bronte had once decided that there should be an authori- 
tative biography and he alone was active in the matter 
there could be but little doubt upon whom the task 
would fall. Among all the friends whom fame had 
brought to Charlotte, Mrs. Gaskell stood prominent for 
her literary gifts and her large-hearted sympathy. She 
had made the acquaintance of Miss Bronte when the latter 
was on a visit to Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth, in 1850; 
and a letter from Charlotte to her father, and others to 
Mr. W. S. Williams, which will be found in due chronolo- 
gical order, indicate the beginning of a friendship which 
was to leave so striking a record in literary history. 

But the friendship, which commenced so late in Char- 



4 THE BRONTES 

lotte Bronte's life, never reached the stage of downright 
intimacy. Of this there is abundant evidence in the 
biography ; and Mrs. Gaskell was forced to rely upon the 
correspondence of older friends of Charlotte's. Mr 
George Smith, the head of the firm of Smith and Elder, 
furnished some twenty letters. Mr. W. S. Williams, to 
whom is due the credit of 'discovering' the author of 
Jane Eyre, lent others; and another member of Messrs. 
Smith and Elder's staff, Mr. James Taylor, furnished 
half-a-dozen more; but the best help came from another 
quarter. 

Of the two schoolfellows with whom Charlotte Bronte 
regularly corresponded from childhood till death, Mary 
Taylor and Ellen Nussey, the former had destroyed every 
letter ; and thus it came about that by far the larger part 
of the correspondence in Mrs. Gaskell's biography was 
addressed to Miss Ellen Nussey, now as 'My dearest 
Nell,' now simply as 'E.' The unpublished correspon- 
dence in my hands, which refers to the biography, opens 
with a letter from Mrs. Gaskell to Miss Nussey, dated July 
6th, I855. 1 It relates how, in accordance with a request 
from Mr. Bronte, she had undertaken to write the work, 
and had been over to Haworth. There she had made 
the acquaintance of Mr. Nicholls for the first time. She 
told Mr, Bronte how much she felt the difficulty of the 
task she had undertaken. Nevertheless, she sincerely 
desired to make his daughter's character known to all who 
took deep interest in her writings. Both Mr. Bronte and 
Mr. Nicholls agreed to help to the utmost, although Mrs. 
Gaskell was struck by the fact that it was Mr. Nicholls, 
and not Mr. Bronte, who was more intellectually alive to 
the attraction which such a book would have for the public. 
His feelings were opposed to any biography at all ; but 

1 An earlier letter, dated June i6th, 1855, from Mr. Bronte to Mrs. Gaskell, 
begging her to undertake the biography of his daughter, is printed in the Haworth 
edition of the Life. 



PRELIMINARY 5 

he had yielded to Mr. Bronte's 'impetuous wish, 1 and he 
brought down all the material? he could find, in the shape 
of about a dozen letters. Mr. Nicholls, moreover, told 
Mrs. Gaskell that Miss Nussey was the person of all 
others to apply to ; that she had been the friend of his 
wife ever since Charlotte was fifteen, and that he was 
writing to Miss Nussey to beg her to let Mrs Gaskell see 
some of the correspondence. 

But here is Mr. Nicholls's actual letter, as well as earlier 
letters from and to Miss Nussey, which would seem to 
indicate that it was really a suggestion from that lady that 
produced the application to Mrs. Gaskell. She desired 
that some attempt should be made to furnish a biography 
of her friend if only to set at rest, once and for all, the 
speculations of the gossiping community with whom 
Charlotte Bronte's personality was still shrouded in 
mystery. 



TO REV. A. B. NICHOLLS 



*, i855- 

DEAR MR. NICHOLLS, I have been much hurt and pained 
by the perusal of an article in Sharpe for this month, entitled 
' A Few Words about Jane Eyre' You will be certain to see the 
article, and I am sure both you and Mr. Bronte will feel acutely 
the misrepresentations and the malignant spirit which characterises 
it. Will you suffer the article to pass current without any 
refutations ? The writer merits the contempt of silence, but there 
will be readers and believers. Shall such be left to imbibe a 
tissue of malignant falsehoods, or shall an attempt be made to do 
justice to one who so highly deserved justice, whose very name 
those who best knew her but speak with reverence and affection ? 
Should not her aged father be defended from the reproach the 
writer coarsely attempts to bring upon him ? 

I wish Mrs. Gaskell, who is every way capable, would under- 
take a reply, and would give a sound castigation to the writer. 
Her personal acquaintance with Haworth, the Parsonage, and its 
inmates, fits her for the task, and if on other subjects she lacked 



8 THE BRONTES 

information I would gladly supply her with facts sufficient to set 
aside much that is asserted, if you yourself are not provided with 
all the information that is needed on the subjects produced. 
Will you ask Mrs. Gaskell to undertake this just and honourable 
defence? I think she would do it gladly. She valued dear 
Charlotte, and such an act of friendship, performed with her 
ability and power, could only add to the laurels she has already 
won. I hope you and Mr. Bronte are well. My kind regards to 
both. Believe me, yours sincerely, E. NUSSEY. 



TO MISS ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORIH./I/JW nM, 1855. 

DF.AK Miss NTSSEY, We had not seen the article in Sharpe, 
and very possibly should not, if you had not directed our attention 
to it. We ordered a copy, and have now read the ' Few Words 
about Jane Eyre! The writer has certainly made many mistakes, 
but apparently not from any unkind motive, as he professes to be 
an admirer of Charlotte's works, pays a just tribute to her genius, 
and in common with thousands deplores her untimely death. 
His design seems rather to be to gratify the curiosity of the 
multitude in reference to one who had made such a sensation in 
the literary world. But even if the article had been of a less 
harmless character, we should not have felt inclined to take any 
notice of it, as by doing so we should have given it an importance 
which it would not otherwise have obtained Charlotte herself 
would have acted thus ; and her character stands too high to 
be injured by the statements in a magazine of small circulation 
and little influence statements which the writer prefaces with the 
remark that he does not vouch for their accuracy. The many 
laudatory notices of Charlotte and her works which appeared 
since her death may well make us indifferent to the detractions 
of a few envious or malignant persons, as there ever will be 
such. 

The remarks respecting Mr. Bronte excited in him only amuse- 
ment indeed, I have not seen him laugh as much for some 
months as he did while I was reading the article to him We are 
both well in health, but lonely and desolate. 

Mr. Bronte unites with me in kind regards. Yours sincerely, 

A. B. NICHOLLS. 



PRELIMINARY 



TO MISS ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH,/W/>' nth, 1855. 

DEAR Miss NUSSEY, Some other erroneous notices of 
Charlotte having appeared, Mr. Bronte has deemed it advisable 
that some authentic statement should be put forth. He has 
therefore adopted your suggestion and applied to Mrs. Gaskell, 
who has undertaken to write a life of Charlotte. Mrs. Gaskell 
came over yesterday and spent a few hours with us. The greatest 
difficulty seems to be in obtaining materials to show the develop- 
ment of Charlotte's character. For this reason Mrs. Gaskell is 
anxious to see her letters, especially those of any early date. I 
think I understood you to say that you had some ; if so, we 
should feel obliged by your letting us have any that you may think 
proper, not for publication, but merely to give the writer an 
insight into her mode of thought. Of course they will be returned 
after a little time. 

I confess that the course most consonant with my own feelings 
would be to take no steps in the matter, but I do not think it 
right to offer any opposition to Mr. Bronte's wishes. 

We have the same object in view, but should differ in our mode 
of proceeding. Mr. Bronte has not been very well. Excitement 
on Sunday (our Rush-bearing) and Mrs. Gaskell's visit yesterday 
have been rather much for him. Believe me, sincerely yours, 

A. B. NlCHOLLS. 

Mrs. Gaskell, however, wanted to make Miss Nussey's 
acquaintance, and asked if she might visit her ; and added 
that she would also like to see Miss Wooler, Charlotte's 
schoolmistress, if that lady were still alive. To this letter 
Miss Nussey made the following reply : 

TO MRS. GASKELL, MANCHESTER 

ILKLEY,/*// 26M, 1855. 

MY DEAR MADAM, Owing to my absence from home your 
letter has only just reached me. I had not heard of Mr. Bronte's 
request, but I am most heartily glad that he has made it. A 
letter from Mr. Nicholls was forwarded along with yours, which 
I opened first, and was thus prepared for your communication, 



8 THE BRONTES 

the subject of which is of the deepest interest to me. I will do 
everything in my power to aid the righteous work you have 
undertaken, but I feel my powers very limited, and apprehend 
that you may experience some disappointment that I cannot 
contribute more largely the information which you desire. I 
possess a great many letters (for I have destroyed but a small 
portion of the correspondence), but I fear the early letters are not 
such as to unfold the character of the writer except in a few 
points. You perhaps may discover more than is apparent to me. 
You will read them with a purpose I perused them only with 
interests of affection. I will immediately look over the corre- 
spondence, and I promise to let you see all that I can confide to 
your friendly custody. I regret that my absence from home 
should have made it impossible for me to have the pleasure of 
seeing you at Brookroyd at the time you propose. I am engaged 
to stay here till Monday week, and shall be happy to see you any 
day you name after that date, or, if more convenient to you to 
come Friday or Saturday in next week, I will gladly return in 
time to give you the meeting. I am staying with our school- 
mistress, Miss Wooler, in this place. I wish her very much to 
give me leave to ask you here, but she does not yield to my 
wishes ; it would have been pleasanter to me to talk with you 
among these hills than sitting in my home and thinking of one 
who had so often been present there. I am, my dear madam, 
yours sincerely, ELLEN NUSSEY. 

Mrs. Gaskell and Miss Nussey met, and the friendship 
which ensued was closed only by death ; indeed one of 
the most beautiful letters in the collection in my hands is 
one signed ' Meta Gaskell/ and dated January 22, 1866. 
It tells in detail, with infinite tenderness and pathos, of 
her mother's last moments. 1 That, however, was ten years 
later than the period with which we are concerned. In 
1856 Mrs. Gaskell was energetically engaged upon a bio- 
graphy of her friend which should lack nothing of thorough- 
ness, as she hoped. She claimed to have visited the scenes 
of all the incidents in Charlotte's life, * the two little pieces 

1 * Mama's last Jays,' it runs, ' had been full of loving thought and tender help for 
others. She was so sweet and dear and noble beyond words.' 



PRELIMINARY 

of private governess-ship excepted.' She went one day 
with Mr. Smith to the Chapter Coffee-House, where the 
sisters first stayed in London. Another day she is in 
Yorkshire, where she makes the acquaintance of Miss 
Wooler, which permitted, as she said, ' a more friendly 
manner of writing towards Charlotte Bronte's old school- 
mistress/ Again she is in Brussels, where Madame H6ger 
refused to see her, although M. H6ger was kind and 
communicative, * and very much indeed I both like and 
respect him. 1 Her countless questions were exceedingly 
interesting. They covered many pages of note-paper. 
1 Did Branwell Bronte know of the publication of Jane 
Eyre' she asks, * and how did he receive the news? ' Mrs. 
Gaskell was persuaded in her own mind that he had never 
known of its publication, and we shall presently see that 
she was right. Charlotte had distinctly informed her, she 
said, that Branwell was not in a fit condition at the time to 
be told. * Where did the girls get the books which they 
read so continually ? Did Emily accompany Charlotte as a 
pupil when the latter went as a teacher to Roe Head ? 
Why did not Branwell go to the Royal Academy in London 
to learn painting? Did Emily ever go out as a governess? 
What were Emily's religious opinions ? Did she ever make 
friends? ' Such were the questions which came quick and 
fast to Miss Nussey, and Miss Nussey fortunately kept 
her replies. 

TO MRS. GASKELL, MANCHESTER 

BROOKROYD, October i2fut, 1856. 

MY DEAR MRS. GASKELL, If you go to London pray try 
what may be done with regard to a portrait of dear Charlotte. It 
would greatly enhance the value and interest of the memoir, and 
be such a satisfaction to people to see something that would 
settle their ideas of the personal appearance of the dear departed 
one. It has been a surprise to every stranger, I think, that she 
was so gentle and lady-like to look upon. 

Emily Bronte went to Roe Head as pupil when Charlotte 



10 THE BRONTES 

went as teacher ; she stayed there but two months ; she never 
settled, and was ill from nothing but home-sickness. Anne took 
her place and remained about two years. Emily was a teacher 
for one six months in a ladies' school in Halifax or the neighbour- 
hood. I do not know whether it was conduct or want of finances 
that prevented Branwcll from going to the Royal Academy. 
Probably there were impediments of both kinds. 

I am afraid if you give me my name I shall feel a prominence 
in the book that I altogether shrink from. My very last wish 
would be to appear in the book more than is absolutely neces- 
sary. If it were possible, I would choose not to be known at all. 
It is my friend only that I care to see and recognise, though your 
framing and setting of the picture will very greatly enhance its 
value. I am, my dear Mrs. Gaskell, yours very sincerely, 

KLLEN NUSSEY. 

The book was published in two volumes, under the title 
of T/te Life of Charlotte Bronte, in the spring of 1857. At 
first all was well. Mr. Bronte's earliest acknowledgment of 
the hook was one of approbation. Sir James Kay -Shuttle- 
worth expressed the hope that Mr. Nicholls would 'rejoice 
that his wife would be known as a Christian heroine who 
could bear her cross with the firmness of a martyr saint.' 
Canon Kingsley wrote a charming letter to Mrs. Gaskell, 
published in his Life, and more than once reprinted since. 

4 Let me renew our long interrupted acquaintance/ he 
writes from St. Leonard's, under date May 141*1, 1857, 'by 
complimenting you on poor Miss Bronte's Life. You 
have had a delicate and a great work to do, and you have 
done it admirably. Be sure that the book will do good. 
It will shame literary people into some stronger belief that 
a simple, virtuous, practical home life is consistent with 
high imaginative genius ; and it will shame, too, the 
prudery of a not over-cleanly though carefully white- 
washed age, into believing that purity is now (as in all ages 
till now) quite compatible with the knowledge of evil I 
confess that the book has made me ashamed of myself. 
Jane Eyre I hardly looked into, very seldom reading a 



PRELIMINARY 11 

work of fiction yours, indeed, and Thackeray's, 'are the 
only ones I care to open. Shirley disgusted me at the 
opening, and I gave up the writer and her books with a 
notion that she was a person who liked coarseness. How 
I misjudged her ! and how thankful I am that I never put 
a word of my misconceptions into print, or recorded my 
misjudgments of one who is a whole heaven above me. 

'Well have you done your work, and given us the 
picture of a valiant woman made perfect by suffering. I 
shall now read carefully and lovingly every word she has 
written, especially those poems, which ought not to have 
fallen dead as they did, and which seem to be (from a 
review in the current Fraser) of remarkable strength and 
purity/ 

It was a short-lived triumph, however, and Mrs. Gaskell 
soon found herself, as she expressed it, 'in a veritable 
hornet's nest.' Mr. Bronte, to begin with, did not care 
for the references to himself and the suggestion that he 
had treated his wife unkindly, although it is clear from the 
correspondence that he did not find anything wrong on his 
first perusal of the book. Mrs. Gaskell had associated 
him with numerous eccentricities and ebullitions of temper, 
which during his later years he always asserted, and 
undoubtedly with perfect truth, were, at the best, the 
fabrications of a dismissed servant. Mr. Nicholls had also 
his grievance. There was just a suspicion implied that 
he had not been quite the most sympathetic of husbands. 
The suspicion was absolutely ill-founded, and arose from 
Mr. Nicholls's intense shyness. But neither Mr. Brontfe 
nor Mr. Nicholls gave Mrs. Gaskell much trouble. They, 
at any rate, were silent. Trouble, however, came from 
many quarters. Yorkshire people resented the air of 
patronage with which, as it seemed to them, a good 
Lancashire lady had taken their county in hand. They 
were not quite the backward savages, they retorted, which 
some of Mrs. Gaskell's descriptions in the beginning of her 



12 THE BRONT&S 

book would seem to suggest. Between Lancashire and 
Yorkshire there is always a suspicion of jealousy. It was 
intensified for the moment by these sombre pictures of 
4 this lawless, yet not unkindly population/ l A son-in-law 
of Mr. Redhead wrote to deny the account of that clergy- 
man's association with Haworth. * He gives another as 
true/ wrote Mrs. Gaskell, 'in which I don't see any great 
difference/ Miss Martineau wrote sheet after sheet ex- 
planatory of her relations with Charlotte Bronte. ' Two 
separate householders in London each declare that the 
first interview between Miss Bronte and Miss Martineau 
took place at her house/ is another of Mrs. Gaskell's 
despairing cries. In one passage Mrs. Gaskell had spoken 
of wasteful young servants, and the young servants in 
question came upon Mr. Bronte for the following testi- 
monial : 

HAWORTH, Attest i;///, 1857 

I beg leave to state to all whom it may concern, that Nancy and 
Sarah Cans, during the time they were in my service, were kind 
to rny children, and honest, and not wasteful, but sufficiently 
careful in regard to food, and all other articles committed to their 
charge. p. BRONTK, A.B., 

Incumbent of //, ; : f <ot ///, Yorkshire. 

Three whole pages were devoted to the dramatic recital 
of a scandal at 1 luworth, and this entirely disappears from 
the third edition. A casual reference to a girl who had 
been seduced, and had found a friend in Miss Bronte, gave 
further trouble. 'I have altered the word "seduced" to 
" betrayed," ' writes Mrs. Gaskell to Martha Brown, ' and I 
hope that this will satisfy the unhappy girl's friends/ But 
all these were small matters compared with the Cowan 
Bridge controversy and the threatened legal proceedings 
over Branwell Bronte's suggested love affairs. Mrs. 

1 ' Some of the West Rtdinger* are very angry, and declare they are half a century in 
civilisation before some of the Lancashire folk, and that thus neighbourhood is a paradise 
compared with some districts not far from Manchester. 'Ellen Nus^ey to Mrs. Gaj-kell, 
April ibih, 1859. 



PRELIMINARY 18 

Gaskell defended the description in Jane Eyre of Cowan 
Bridge with peculiar vigour. Mr. Carus Wilson, the 
Brocklehurst of Jane Eyre, and his friends were furious. 
They threatened an action. There were letters in the 
Times and letters in the Daily News. Mr. Nicholls broke 
silence the only time that he did so during the forty years 
that followed his wife's death with two admirable letters 
to the Halifax Guardian, 1 The Cowan Bridge controversy 
was a drawn battle, in spite of numerous and glowing testi- 
monials to the virtues of Mr. Carus Wilson. Most people 
who know anything of the average private schools of half 
a century ago are satisfied that Charlotte Bronte's descrip- 
tion was substantially correct. * I want to show you many 
letters/ writes Mrs. Gaskell, 'most of them praising the 
character of our dear friend as she deserves, and from 
people whose opinion she would have cared for, such as the 
Duke of Argyll, Kingsley, Greg, etc. Many abusing me. 
I should think seven or eight of this kind from the Carus 
Wilson clique.' 

The Branwell matter was more serious. Here Mrs. 
Gaskell had, indeed, shown a singular recklessness. The 
lady referred to by Branwell was Mrs. Robinson, the wife 
of the Rev. Edmund Robinson of Thorp Green, and after- 
wards Lady Scott. Anne Bronte was governess iti her 
family for four years, and Branwell tutor to the son for 
about two. Branwell, under the influence of opium, 
made certain statements about his relations with Mrs. 
Robinson which have been effectually disproved, although 
they were implicitly believed by the Bronte girls, who, 
womanlike, were naturally ready to regard a woman as 
the ruin of a beloved brother. The recklessness of Mrs. 
Gaskell in accepting such inadequate testimony can be 
explained only on the assumption that she had a novelist's 
satisfaction in the romance which the ' bad woman ' theory 
supplied. She wasted a considerable amount of rhetoric 
upon it. ' When the fatal attack came on/ she says, ' his 

1 See Appendix VIII. 



14 THE BRONTES 

pockets were found filled with old letters from the woman 
to whom he was attached. He died ! she lives still in 
Mayfair. I see her name in county papers, as one of 
those who patronise the Christmas balls ; and I hear of 
her in London drawing-rooms' and so on. There were 
no love-letters found in Branwell Bronte's pockets. 1 
When Mrs. Gaskell's husband came post-haste to Haworth 
to ask for proofs of Mrs. Robinson's complicity in Bran- 
well's downfall, none were obtainable. I was assured by 
the late Sir Leslie Stephen that his father, Sir James 
Stephen, was employed at the time to make careful 
inquiry, and that he and other eminent lawyers came to 
the conclusion that it was one long tissue of lies or halluci- 
nations.* The subject is sufficiently sordid, and indeed 
almost redundant in any biography of the Brontes; but it 
is of moment, because Charlotte Bronte and her sisters 
were so thoroughly persuaded that a woman was at the 
bottom of their brother's ruin ; and this belief Charlotte im- 
pressed upon all the friends who were nearest and dearest 
to her Her letters at the time of her brother's death are 
full of censure of the supposed wickedness of another. 
Here, Mrs. Gaskell did not show the caution which a 
masculine biographer, less prone to take literally a man's 
accounts of his amours, would undoubtedly have dis- 
played. Indeed she told Miss Nussey that she intended 
to revenge the wrongs of the Brontes upon 'that woman ' 
an admirable piece of chivalry if she had been sure of 
her facts. 

Yet, when all is said, Mrs. Gaskell had done her work 

1 'To this txilii statement (i.e. that lovc-lcttcrs were found in Branwell's pockets) 
Martha Rtovtn t;ave to me a flat contradiction, declaring that she was employed in the 
sick-room at the lime, and had personal knowledge that not one letter, nur a vestige 
of one, from the lady in question, was so found ' Lcylaxul. The BtenU Family ^ 
vol. u. p. 284. 

1 Mr. Nicholls believed the story to have had some truth in it, as he could not other- 
wise account for Anne's acceptance of her brother's version of the affair, she being all 
the time in the same family. The piobable explanation is that Anne failed to under- 
stand and to accept at its true worth Mrs. Robinson's irresponsible flirtation with her 
brother. Mrs. Robinson was probably laughing at Branwell all the time 



PRELIMINARY 15 

as thoroughly and well as the documents before her 
permitted. Lockhart's Scott and Froude's Carlyle are 
examples of great biographies which called for abun- 
dant censure upon their publication ; yet both these books 
will live as classics of their kind. To be interesting, 
it is perhaps indispensable that the biographer should be 
indiscreet, and certainly the Branwell incident a matter 
of two or three pages is the only part of Mrs. Gaskell's 
biography in which indiscretion becomes indefensible. 
And for this she suffered cruelly. ' I did so try to tell the 
truth/ she said to a friend, * and I believe now I hit as 
near to the truth as any one could do.' ' I weighed every 
line with my whole power and heart/ she said on another 
occasion, 'so that every line should go to its great purpose 
of making her known and valued, as one who had gone 
through such a terrible life with a brave and faithful heart/ 
And that clearly Mrs. Gaskell succeeded in doing. It is 
quite certain that Charlotte Bronte would not stand on so 
splendid a pedestal to-day but for the single-minded 
devotion of her accomplished biographer. 

It has sometimes been implied that the portrait drawn 
by Mrs. Gaskell was far too sombre, that there are 
passages in Charlotte's letters which show that ofttimes 
her heart was merry and her life sufficiently cheerful. That 
there were long periods of gaiety for all the three sisters, 
surely no one ever doubted. To few people, fortunately, 
is it given to have lives wholly without happiness. And 
yet, when this is acknowledged, how can one say that the 
picture was too gloomy ? Taken as a whole, the life of 
Charlotte Bronte was among the saddest in literature. At 
a miserable school, where she herself was unhappy, she 
saw her two elder sisters stricken down and carried home 
to die. In her home was the narrowest poverty. She 
had, in the years when that was most essential, no mother's 
care ; and perhaps there was a somewhat too rigid disci- 
plinarian in the aunt who took the mother's place. Her 



16 THE BRONTES 

second school brought her, indeed, two kind friends ; but 
her shyness made that school-life in itself a prolonged 
tragedy. Of the two experiences as a private governess 
I shall have more to say. They were periods of torture 
to her sensitive nature. The ambition of the three girls 
to start a school on their own account failed ignominiously. 
The suppressed vitality of childhood and early womanhood 
made Charlotte unable to enter with sympathy and tolera- 
tion into the life of a foreign city, and Brussels was for her 
a further disaster. Then within two years, just as literary 
fame was bringing its consolation for the trials of the past, 
she saw her two beloved sisters taken from her. And, 
finally, when at last a good man won her love, there were 
left to her only nine months of happy married life. * I am 
not going to die. We have been so happy. 1 These words 
to her husband on her death-bed are not the least piteously 
sad in her tragic story. That her life was a tragedy, was 
the opinion of the woman friend with whom on the 
intellectual side she had most in common. Miss Mary 
Taylor wrote to Mrs. Gaskell the following letter from 
New Zealand upon receipt of the Life : 

WELLINGTON, y>th July 1857 

MY DEAR MRS. GASKELL, I am unaccountably in receipt by 
post of two vols. containing the Life of C. Bronte. I have pleasure 
in attributing this compliment to you ; I beg, therefore, to thank 
you for them. The book is a perfect success, in giving a true 
picture of a melancholy life, and you have practically answered 
my puzzle as to how you would give an account of her, not being 
at liberty to give a true description of those around. Though not 
so gloomy as the truth, it is perhaps as much so as people will 
accept without calling it exaggerated, and feeling the desire to 
doubt and contradict it. I have seen two reviews of it. One of 
them sums it up as * a life of poverty and self-suppression,' the 
other has nothing to the purpose at all. Neither of them seems to 
think it a strange or wrong state of things that a woman of first- 
rate talents, industry, and integrity should live all her life in a 
walking nightmare of * poverty and self-suppression.' I doubt 
whether any of them will. 



PRELIMINARY 17 

It must upset most people's notions of beauty to be told that 
the portrait at the beginning is that of an ugly woman. 1 I do not 
altogether like the idea of publishing a flattered likeness. I had 
rather the mouth and eyes had been nearer together, and shown 
the veritable square face and large disproportionate nose. 

I had the impression that Cartwright's mill was burnt in 1820, 
not in 1812. You give much too favourable an account of the 
black-coated and Tory savages that kept the people down, and 
provoked excesses in those clays. Old Roberson said he * would 
\\ade to the knees in blood rather than the then state of things 
should be altered, '--a state including Corn law, Test law, and a 
host of other oppressions 

Once more 1 thank you for the book the first copy, I believe, 
that arrived in New Zealand. Smceiely yours, 

MARY TAYLOR. 

And in another letter, written a little later (28th January 
1858), Miss Mary Taylor writes to Miss Kllen Nussey in 
similar strain : 

'Your account of Mrs. Gaskell's book was very interesting/ she 
says. ' She seems a hasty, impulsive person, and the needful 
drawing back after her warmth gives her an inconsistent look. 
Yet I doubt not her book will be of great use You must be 
aware that many strange notions as to the kind of person Charlotte 
really was will be done away with by a knowledge of the true 
facts of her life. I have heard imperfectly of fartliei printing on 
the subject As to the mutilated edition that is to come, I am 
sorry for it. Libellous or not, the first edition was all true, and 
except the declamation all, in my opinion, useful to be published. 
Of course I don't know how far necessity may make Mrs Gaskdl 
give them up. You know one dare not always say the world 
moves.' 

We who do know the whole story in fullest detail 
will understand that it was desirable to * mutilate ' the 
book, and that, indeed, truth did in some measure require 

1 Mrs. Gaskell had described Charlotte Bronte's features as 'plain, large, and ill-set/ 
and had written of her 'crooked mouth and large nose ' while acknowledging the 
beauty of hair and eyes. 

VOL. I. B 



18 THE BRONTfiS 

It. But with these letters of Mary Taylor's before us, let 
us not hear again that the story of Charlotte Bronte's life 
was not, in its main features, accurately and adequately 
told by her gifted biographer. 

Why then, I am naturally asked, add one further book to 
the Bronte biographical literature ? The reply is, I hope, 
sufficient. Fifty years have gone by, and they have been 
years of growing interest in the subject. In the year 
1895 ten thousand people visited the Bronte Museum at 
Haworth. Interesting books have been written, notably 
Sir Wemyss Reid's monograph and Mr. Leyland's The 
Bronte Family, but they have gone out of print. Dozens 
of letters and many new facts have come to light, and 
details, which seemed too trivial in 1857, are of sufficient 
importance to-day; facts which were rightly suppressed 
then may honestly and honourably be given to the public 
at an interval of half a century. Added to all this, 
fortune has been kind to me. 

Some thirteen or fourteen years ago the late Miss Ellen 
Nussey placed in my hands a printed volume of some 400 
pages, which bore no publisher's name, but contained 
upon its title-page the statement that it was The Story of 
Charlotte Brontes Life, as told through her Letters. 
These are the Letters which Miss Nussey had lent to 
Mrs. Gaskell and to Sir Wemyss Reid. Of these letters 
Mrs. Gaskell published about 100, and Sir Wemyss Reid 
added a few more. It w r as explained to me that the 
volume had been privately printed by Mr. J. Horsfall 
Turner of Idle, Bradford, under a misconception, and that 
only some dozen copies were extant. Miss Nussey 
asked me if I would write something around what might 
remain of the unpublished letters, and if I saw my way 
to do anything which would add to the public appre- 
ciation of the friend who from early childhood until 
then had been the most absorbing interest of her life. 
A careful study of the volume made it perfectly clear 



PRELIMINARY 19 

to me that there were still some letters which might with 
advantage be added to the Bronte story, although Mr, 
Augustine Birrell had advised to the contrary, and Mr, 
John Morley declined, on behalf of Messrs. Macmillan, tc 
accept a book on the subject. At the same time arose 
the possibility of a veto being placed upon the publication 
of these letters. An examination of Charlotte Bronte's 
will, which was proved at York by her husband in 1855, 
suggested an easy way out of the difficulty. I made up 
my mind to try and see Mr. Nicholls. I had heard of his 
disinclination to be in any way associated with the con- 
troversy which had gathered round his wife for all these 
years; but I wrote to him nevertheless, and received a 
cordial invitation to visit him in his Irish home. 

It was exactly forty years to a day after Charlotte died 
March 3ist, 1895 when I alighted at the station in the 
quiet little town of Banagher in Ireland, to receive the 
cordial handclasp of the man into whose keeping Charlotte 
Bronte had given her life. It was one of man) visits, and 
the beginning of an interesting correspondence. Mr. 
Nicholls placed all the papers in his possession in my 
hands. They were more varied and more abundant than 
I could possibly have anticipated. They included countless 
manuscripts written in childhood, and bundles of letters. 
Here were the letters Charlotte Bronte had written to her 
family during her second sojourn in Brussels to * Dear 
Branwell ' and 'Dear E. J.,' as she calls Emily Jane 
Bronte letters that even to handle was calculated to give 
a thrill to the Bronte enthusiast. Here also were the love- 
letters of Maria Branwell to her lover Patrick Bronte, 
which were referred to in Mrs. Gaskell's biography, but 
had never hitherto been printed. 

'The four small scraps of Emily and Anne's manuscript/ 
writes Mr. Nicholls, 'I accidentally found squeezed into the 
little box I send you. They are sad reading, poor girls! 
The others I found in the bottom of a cupboard tied up in 



20 THE BRONTfiS 

a newspaper, where they had lain for nearly thirty years, 
and where, had it not been for your visit, they must have 
remained during my lifetime, and most likely afterwards 
have been destroyed.' 

Some slight extracts from Bronte letters in Macmillaris 
Magazine, signed 4 E. Baumer Williams/ brought me into 
communication with a gifted daughter of Mr. \V. S. Williams, 
who had first discovered the merit of the novelist. Mrs. 
Williams and her husband generously placed the whole 
series of these letters of Charlotte Bronte to their father 
at my disposal. It was of some of these letters that Mrs. 
Gaskell wrote in enthusiastic terms when she had read 
them, and she was only permitted to see a few. Then I 
have to thank Mr. Joshua Taylor, the nephew of Miss 
Mary Taylor, for permission to publish his aunt's letters. 1 
Mr. James Taylor, 2 again, who wanted to marry Charlotte 
Bronte, and who died twenty years afterwards in Bombay, 
left behind him a bundle of letters which I found in the 
possession of a relative in the north of London. 8 I dis- 
covered through a letter addressed to Miss Xussey that 
the ' Brussels friend' referred to by Mrs. Gaskell was a 
Miss Lortitia Wheelwright, and I determined to write to 
ill the Wheelwrights in the London Directory. My first 
effort succeeded, and the Miss Wheelwright kindly lent 
me all the letters that she had preserved. It is scarcely 
possible that time will reveal any more 4 unpublished letters 

from the author of lane Eyre. Several of those alreadv 
. . * 

in print are forgeries, and I have already seen a letter 

addressed from Paris, a city which Miss Bronte never 
visited. I have the assurance of Dr. He"ger of Brussels 
that Miss Bronte's correspondence with his father no 
longer exists. 

1 Some extracts from which weie printed in my Charlotte Rtontt and Htr Circle. 
They are given here in then entirety 

a Who was in no way related to Mary Taylor and her famil) 

3 Mrs. Lawry of Muswell Hill, to whose courtesy in placing these and other papers 
at my disposal I am gieatly indebted. These lettcii, were afterwards purchased by Mr. 
Thomas Wise. 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 21 



CHAPTER I 

PATRICK BRONTE AND MARIA HIS WIFE 

IT would seem quite clear to any careful investigator that 
the Reverend Patrick Bronte, Incumbent of Haworth, and 
the father of three famous daughters, was a much maligned 
man. We talk of the fierce light which beats upon a 
throne, but what is that compared to the fierce light which 
beats upon any man of some measure of individuality who 
is destined to live out his life in the quiet of a country 
village in the very centre, as it were, of personal talk ' 
and gossip not always kindly to the stranger within the 
gate ? The view of Mr. Bronte, presented by Mrs. Gaskell 
in the early editions of her biography of Charlotte Bronte, 
is that of a severe, ill-tempered, and distinctly disagreeable 
character. It is the picture of a man who disliked the 
vanities of life so intensely, that the new shoes of his 
children and the silk dress of his wife were not spared by 
him In sudden gusts of passion. A stern old ruffian, one 
is inclined to consider him. His pistol-shooting rings 
picturesquely, but not agreeably, through Mrs, GaskelPs 
memoir. It has been explained already in more than one 
quarter that this was not the real Patrick Bronte, and that 
much of the unfavourable gossip was due to the chatter of 
a dismissed servant, retailed to Mrs. Gaskell on one of her 
missions of inquiry in the neighbourhood. The stories of 
the burnt shoes and the mutilated dress have been rele- 
gated to the realm of myth, and the pistol-shooting may 
now be acknowledged as a harmless pastime not more 
iniquitous than the golfing or angling of a latter-day 



22 THE BRONTES 

clergyman. It is certain, were the matter of much interest 
to-day, that Mr. Bronte was fond of the use of firearms. 
The late Incumbent of Haworth 1 pointed out to me, on 
the old tower of Haworth Church, the marks of pistol 
bullets, which he had been assured were made by Mr. 
Bronte. I have myself handled both the gun and the 
pistols these latter very ornamental weapons, by the way, 
manufactured at Bradford which Mr. Bronte possessed 
during the later years of his life. 2 From them he had 
obtained much innocent amusement ; but his son-in-law, 
Mr. Nicholls, who, up to the day of his death, professed a 
reverent and enthusiastic affection for old Mr. Bronte, 
informed me that the bullet marks upon Haworth Church 
were the irresponsible frolic of the curate Mr. Smith. It 
does not much matter. All this is trivial enough in any 
case, and one turns very readily to more important factors 
In the life of the father of the Brontes. 

Patrick Bronte was born in a cottage in Emdale, in the 
parish of Drumballyroney, County Down, in Ireland, on 
St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1777. He was one of the ten 
children of Hugh Brunty, farmer, and his nine brothers and 
sisters seem all of them to have spent their lives in their 
Irish home, and most of them to have married and been 
given in marriage, and to have gone to their graves in peace. 3 
The mother, Eleanor M'Clory, had been brought up a 

1 The late Rev. John. Wade, who occupied the parsonage at Haworth from the death 
of Mr. Bronte in 1861 until 1898, when he resigned. 

2 The pistols were sold at Sotheby's Sale Rooms, London, on July 26, 1907. 

8 William, the second son, was baptized on the i6th March 1779. Hugh, the third 
son, on the 27th May 1781. James, the fourth son, on the 3rd November 1783. Welsh 
or Walsh, the fifth son, on the igth February 1786. Jane, the eldest daughter and sixth 
child, on the ist February 1789. Mary, the seventh child, on the 1st May 1791. The 
register containing the names of Patrick, Rose, Sarah and Alice, the remainder of the 
family, was destroyed. Wright's The Brontes in Ireland. Mr. Horsfall Turner shows 
(Patrick Brontes Collected Works} that the name is spelt * Brunty ' in all these six 
entries in Drumgooland Parish Register. James Brunty or Bronte, who died a bachelor 
at the age of 87, is said to have visited Haworth and to have spoken of his niece 
Charlotte as 'terrible sharp and inquisitive.' The ultimate destination of Patrick 
Bronte's nine brothers and sisters is carefully traced by Mr. Horsfall Turner in his book 
Patrick Brontes Collected Works. All the brothers died in Ireland. 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTE 23 

Roman Catholic, but became a Protestant at her marriage. 
Patrick alone of the family had ambition, and, one must 
add, the opportune friend, without whom ambition counts 
for little in the struggle of life. After a brief period of 
schooling, he became a weaver, the principal industry of 
the district, but at sixteen we meet him as a teacher, first 
at the Glascar Hill Presbyterian School, about a mile 
from the Brunty cottage at Emdale, and later probably 
in 1798 at the school connected with the Parish Church 
of Dramballyroney, this new post involving a transfer of 
allegiance to the Episcopal Faith. 

It was at Drumballyroney, it is believed, that he saved 
the hundred pounds or so which enabled him at the age 
of twenty-five, incited thereto by the vicar of his parish, 
Mr. Tighe, to leave Ireland for St. John's College, 
Cambridge. In 1802 Patrick Bronte went to Cambridge, 
and entered his name in the college books. There, 
indeed, we find the name, not of Patrick Bronte, but of 
Patrick Branty, 1 and this brings us to an Interesting 
point as to the origin of the name. In the register of 
baptisms his name is entered, as are those of his brothers 
and sisters, as ' Brunty ? and ' B run tee ' ; and it can 
scarcely be doubted that, as Dr. Douglas Hyde has 
pointed out, the original name was O'Prunty. 2 The Irish, 

1 * Patrick Branty ' is written in another handwriting in the list of admissions at St. 
John's College, Cambridge. Dr. J. A. Erskine Stuart, who has a valuable note on the 
subject in an article on 'The Bronte Nomenclature 5 (Bronte Society's Publications, 
Ft. in.), has found the name as Brunty, Bruntee, Bronty, and Branty but never in 
Patrick Bronte's handwriting. There is, however, no signature of Mr. Bronte's extant 
prior to 1799. His own signatures showed a gradual evolution, however. His matri- 
culation signature the first we have is ( Pa.tr. Bronte' without the diuresis j at 
Wethersfield he signed Bronte"; at Dewsbury, 'Bronte" or 'BronteV Not until he 
arrived at Haworth do we find his signature as Bronte. 

2 'I translated this* (i.e. an Irish romance) 'from a manuscript in my possession 
made by one "Patrick O'Prunty, an ancestor probably of Charlotte Bronte, in 1763.* 
The Story of Early Gaelic Literature, p. 49- By Douglas Hyde, 1895. It is an 
interesting fact that Mr. Bronte was not the first of his own family with an inclination 
for writing. Dr. Hyde has in his possession a manuscript volume in the Irish language, 
written by one Patrick O'Prunty in 1763. Patrick O'Prunty was, I should imagine, an 
elder brother of Mr. Bronte's father. The little book was called The Adventures of the 



24 THE BRONTES 

at the beginning of the century, were well-nigh as primitive 
in such matters as were the English of a century earlier ; 
and one Is not surprised to see variations in the spelling of 
the Bronte name it being in the case of his brothers and 
sisters occasionally spelt ' Brontee.' To me it is clear that 
for the change of name Lord Nelson was responsible, and 
that the dukedom of Bronte, which was conferred upon 
the great sailor in 1799, suggested the more ornamental 
surname. There were no Irish Brontes in existence before 
Nelson became Duke of Bronte ; but all Patrick's brothers 
and sisters, with whom, it must be remembered, he was on 
terms of correspondence his whole life long, gradually, 
with a true Celtic sense of the picturesqueness of the thing, 
seized upon the more attractive surname. For this theory 
there is, of course, not one scrap of evidence ; we only 
know that the registers which record the baptism of 
Patrick's brothers and sisters give us Brunty, and that his 
own signature through his successive curacies Is Bronte, 
with various modifications of the accent on the final e. 

From Cambridge, after taking orders in 1 806, Mr. Bronte 
moved to a curacy at Wethersfield in Essex; and Mr. 
Augustine Birrell has told us 1 how the good-looking Irish 

Son of Ice Counsel > and there is a colophon of which Dr. Hyde sends me the original 
and a translation ; he also sends me the first quatrain of Patrick OTrunty's poem : 

Colophon to the Adventures of the Son of Ice Counsel, 
Guidhim beannocht gach leightheora a n-an6ir na Trionoite agas na h-6ighe Muine 

air an sgribhne6ir Pjidruig ua Pronntuidh mhic Neill, rnhic Seathain, etc. April y e 20, 

1763. 
I pray the blessing of each reader in honour of the Trinity and of the Virgin Mary ora 

the writer, that is Patrick O'Prunty, son of Mall, son of Seathan, etc. April ye 20* 

First Quatrain of Patrick O'Prunty's poem. 

Nochad rnillean failte fior 

Uaim. do theachta an airdriogh 

Thainic clmgainn anois go mbuaidh 

Na stiughraighthdir os cionn priomhshluaglbu 

Ninety millions of true welcomes 
From me to the coming of the high King 
Who is come to us now with victory 
As a guide over the chief-hosts. 
1 In bis Life of Charlotte Bronte, published by Walter Scott in 1887* 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTE 25 

curate made successful love to a young parishioner Miss 
Mary Burder, he having lodged at the house of Miss 
Burder's aunt, Miss Mildred Davy. Mary Burder would 
have married him, it seems, but for an obdurate uncle and 
guardian. She was spirited away from the neighbourhood, 
and the lovers never met again. Mary Burder, as the 
wife of a Nonconformist minister named Silree, died in 
1866, in her seventy-seventh year. This lady, from 
whom doubtless either directly or indirectly the story was 
obtained, may have amplified and exaggerated a very 
mild flirtation. One would like further evidence for the 
statement that when Mr. Bronte lost his wife in 1821 
he asked his old sweetheart, Mary Burder, to become the 
mother of his six children, and that she answered 'no.' 
In any case, Mr. Bronte left Wethersfield early in 1809 
for a curacy at Wellington, in Shropshire, where John 
Eyton was vicar. 1 Near by at Shrewsbury an old friend 
of St. John's College days, John Nunn, was a curate. 2 
Hence probably the recommendation. The Wellington 
curacy lasted only a few months, however, and at the end 
of this year, 1809, we find Mr. Bronte in Yorkshire at 
Dewsbury. His new vicar, Mr. Buckmaster, had some 
title to fame as a hymn-writer, 8 but he will interest the 
lover of Cowper the poet in that he was the successor to 

1 John Eyton's son, Robeit William Eyton, the antiquary and county historian, was 
bora in the vicarage at Wellington in 1815. 

2 A sequel to this friendship belonging to fifty years later is contained in a letter sent 
to me by Mr. Nunn's niece, who writes ; 

{ In 1857 I was staying with Mr. Nunn at Thorndon, in Suffolk, of which place he was rector. The 
good man, had never read a novel in his life, and of course had never heard of the famous Bronte books. 
I was reading Mrs. Ga^kell's Life with absorbed interest, and one day my uncle said, "I have heard 



have read them once more, and now I destroy them.'" 

8 Among the contents of Mr. Bronte's library sold at Sotheby's in 1907, was a book 
entitled: 

' A Series of Discourses containing a System of Devotional, Experimental, and Practical Religion, 
particularly calculated for the Use of Families. Preached at the Parish Church of Dewsbury, York- 
shire, by the Rev. J. Buckmaster, A.M., Vicar, Wakefield. Published by E. Waller.' 

It was inscribed, 'To the Rev. P. Bronte, A. M., A Testimonial of Sincere Esteem 
from the Author,* 



26 THE BRONT&S 

Cowper's friend and correspondent, Matthew Powley, the 
husband of Mary Unwin's only daughter. 1 

What little we know of Mr. Bronte's sojourn in Dews- 
bury is due to the researches of Mr. W. \V. Yates of that 
town. 2 It is practically covered by three incidents. One 
of them tells of a visit of the curate with the children of 
the Sunday-school from Uewsbury to Earlsheaton, a 
neighbouring village. In presence of an offensive bully 
Mr. Bronte showed great courage, seized the man who 
blocked the path and threw him on one ^ide. The story 
was used by Charlotte Bronte in Shirley A second 
incident is that of the intervention of Mr. Bronte in coming 
forward to support a young man named William Nowell, 
who was wrongfully charged with deserting after taking 
the King's shilling. lie was brought before a magistrate 
and sentenced to imprisonment. Mr. Bronte and others 
agitated with the result that Nowell was released and the 
man, James Thackeray, who had charged Xowell with 
enlisting, was tried for perjury and sentenced to seven 
years' transportation. Mr. Bronte took a considerable 
part in agitating ior the release oi Xoweli and for bringing 
his accuser to trial. A letter signed 4 Palmer^ton ' s from 
the War Offire is extant, addressed to Mr Bronte in 
answer to a memorial from him on the subject. Mr. 
Bronte took up Novell's case in the Lccd$ Mcrcnrv, where 
then and after\\ards he wrote under the pseudonym of 
'Sydney/ A third episode is concerned with Mr. Bronte's 
leaving I )ewsbiiry. It is recorded that he declined to 
preach again after hearing the remark of a churchwarden, 
that Mr. Buckmaster should not 'keep a dog and bark 
himself in other words, that the vicar should not preach 

1 The Rev Matthew 1'owley died in 1 806 as vicar of Uewsl.urj ; hi* vufc, Mary 
1'ow ley, died in 1835, a^ed eighty-nine. 

8 rke Father of ttu fronts Jfts Liji and JT0/A at 1 >t , >nn u ;;u' Ha> tshead,l>y 
W. W. Yates. Leeds: Fred K. Spark and Son, 1897. 

* Palmersum \\.is at St. John's College, Cambridge, from AJTI, 1803 lo January 
1806, but it is improbable that the future Minister of State and Mr Bronte were 
ever on speaking terms. 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 27 

and pay a curate for preaching. He solemnly announced 
this grievance, it is said, from the pulpit, and departed from 
Dewsbury, Mr. Ruckmaster, however, assisting him to a 
new curacy at Hartshead. 

Mr. Bronte's next curacy was obtained in 1811, by a 
removal to Hartshead, near Huddersfielci Here, in 1812, 
when thirty-five years of age, he married Miss Maria 
Bran well, of Penzance. 1 Miss Branwell had only a few 
months before left her Cornish home for a visit to an 
uncle in Yorkshire. This uncle was a Mr. John Fennell, 
a Methodist Local Preacher, and Governor of Woodhouse 
Grove Wesleyan Academy. 2 To Methodism, indeed, the 
Cornish Branwells would seem to have been devoted at 
one time or another, for I have seen a copy of the Imitation 
inscribed * M. Branwell, July 1807,' with the following 
title-page : 

AN EXTRACT OF THE CHRISTIAN'S PAT'I ERN : 
OK, A TREATISE ON THE IMITATION OF CHRIST. 
\\RITTEN IN LA'llN BY THOMAS A KEMP1S 
ABRIDGED AND PUBLISHED IN ENGLISH I1Y JOHN 
WESLEY, M.A., LONDON. PRINTED AT THE 
CONFERENCE OFFICE, NORTH GREEN, FINSBURY 
SQUARE. G. STORY, AGENT. SOLD BY G. \VI1IT- 
FIELD, CITY ROAD. 1803. PKICE BOUND IS. 

1 The Bianwells. --Maria Branwell's father, Thomas Krunwcll, was * Assistant ' to 
the Corporation of Pen/Alice, that is, a Councillor. He marrud Anne Carnc, and they 
and many of their children were buried in a vault in the Churchyard of St. Mary's, 



f'enzance The vault is marked ' T. B., 1808.' Thomas Br 
Penzancc, November 28, 1768, and died in 1808 ; his wife 
son, Benjamin Carnc Branwell, born I775> who became May* 
and six daughters Mrs Bronte, Miss Elizabeth Branwell, Mib 11 
married her cousin Joseph Branwtll, and thus did not change he 



was married iti 
i i Suo. They had one 

of iVnzance in 1809, 
anw< 11 (Charlotte, who 

nunu ), Mrs. Kingston 



(Anne), whose one daughter, Elizabeth Jane, died in Penzanu in 1^78, .md two others. 
1 Woodhouse Grove School was opened in 1812, Mr. John 1 enncll being appointed 
its 6rst Governor, the only layman who ever occupied that post. lie was also the first 
Head-master, and his vufe was 'Governess* (i.e. Matron) of the school, their joint 
salary amounting to jC^oo per annum. Mr. Bronte conducted the first examination of 
the boys of Woodhouse Grove School. Mr. Pennell was a year there, and after 
another twelvemonth's preparation he was ordained a curate, his first curacy being at 
Biadford Parish Church, where, on the 23rd June 1816, ht preached the funeral sermon 
on the death of Vicar Crosse. Charles A. tederer in the Yorkshire Daily Observer, 
July 30, 1907. 



28 THE BRONTES 

The book was evidently brought by Mrs. Bronte from 
Penzance, and given by her to her husband or left among 
her effects. The poor little woman had been in her grave 
for nearly five years when it came into the hands of one of 
her daughters, as we learn from Charlotte's handwriting 
on the fly-leaf: 

C. Bronte $ book. This hook was given to me in July 1826. It is 
not certainly knoivn who is the author, but it is generally supposed 
that Thomas a Konpis is. I saw a reivard of ,10,000 offered in 
the Leeds Mercury to any one who could find out for a certainty 
iv ho is the autJior. 

The conjunction of the names of John Wesley, Maria 
Branwell, and Charlotte Bronte surely gives this little 
volume, ' price bound is.,' a singular interest! The intro- 
duction of Mr. Bronte to Miss Branwell doubtless arose 
from his friendship with the Rev. William Morgan, who, 
as we shall see, was married on the same day as Mr. 
Bronte and also performed the ceremony for his friend. 
Mr. Bronte had met Mr. Morgan as a fellow-curate at 
Wellington, and Morgan was engaged to Miss Fennell. 
In Mr. Bronte's scanty library was a book entitled : 

'Sermons or Homilies appointed to be read in Churches in 
the time of Ouecn Elizabeth of Famous Memory.' Oxford : 
Clarendon Tress, 1802. 

It bears the inscription in Mr. Bronte's handwriting: 

The Rev. P. Bronte's Book, presented to him by his Friend 
W. Morgan, as a Memorial of the pleasant and agreeable friend- 
ship which subsisted between them at Wellington and as a token 
of the same friendship which, as is hoped, will continue for ever. 

Here I may refer to the letters which Maria Branwell 
wrote to her lover during the brief courtship. Mrs. 
Gaskell, it will be remembered, makes but one extract 
from this correspondence, which was handed to her 
by Mr. Bronte as part of the material for her memoir. 
Long years before, the little packet had been taken from 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 29 

Mr. Bronte's desk, for we find Charlotte writing to Miss 
Nussey on February i6th, 1850: 

A few days since, a little incident happened which curiously 
touched me, Papa put into my hands a little packet of letters 
and papers, telling me that they were mamma's, and that I might 
read them. I did read them, in a frame of mind I cannot describe. 
The papers were yellow with time, all having been written before 
I was born. It was strange now to peruse, for the first time, the 
records of a mind whence my own sprang ; and most strange, and 
at once sad and sweet, to find that mind of a truly fine, pure, and 
elevated order. They were written to papa before they were 
married. There is a rectitude, a refinement, a constancy, a 
modesty, a sense, a gentleness about them indescribable. I wish 
she had lived, and that I had known her. 

Yet another forty years or so and the little packet came 
into my possession. Handling, with a full sense of their 
sacredness, these letters, written more than ninety years 
ago by a good woman to her lover, one is tempted to hope 
that there is no breach of the privacy which should, even 
in our day, guide certain sides of life, in publishing the 
correspondence in its completeness. With the letters I 
find a little MS., which is also of pathetic interest. It is 
entitled * The Advantages of Poverty in Religious Con- 
cerns/ and it is endorsed in the handwriting of Mr. Bronte, 
written, doubtless, many years afterwards : 

The above was written by my dear wife, and is for insertion in 
one of the periodical publications. Keep it as a memorial of her. 

There is no reason to suppose that the MS. was ever 
published ; there is no reason why any editor should have 
wished to publish it. It abounds in the obvious. 1 At the 
same time, one notes that from both father and mother 
alike Charlotte Bronte and her sisters inherited some 
measure of the literary faculty. It is nothing to say that 
not one line of her father's or mother's would have been 

1 Acting upon the desire of the publishers to preserve every possible rp'-morial of the 
Brontes in these pages, I print the essay in Appendix I. 



80 THE BRONTES 

preserved had it not been for their gifted children. It is 
sufficient that the zest for writing was there, and that the 
intense passion for handling a pen, which seems to have 
been singularly strong in Charlotte Bronte, must have 
come to a great extent from a similar passion alike in 
father and mother. Mr. Bronte, indeed, may be counted 
a prolific author. He published, in all, four books, three 
pamphlets, and two sermons. Of his books, two were in 
verse and two in prose. Cottage Poems 1 was published in 
181 i ; The Rural Minstrel* in 1813 ; The Cottage in the 
Wood* in 1815 ; and The Maid of Killarney* in 1818. 
After his wife's death he published no more books, but 
only occasional sermons and pamphlets. 5 Reading over 
these old-fashioned volumes now, one admits that they 

1 Cottage rocm\, by the Rev. Patrick Bronte, B A., Minister of H.irtshead-cum- 
Clifton, near Leeds, Yoikshirr. Halifax . Printed and sold by P. K Hulden for the 
Author. Sold also by B. Crosby and Co. , Stationers' Court, Lonoon ; F. HouKton 
and Son, Wellington ; and by the Booksellers of Halifax, Leeds, York, etc 1811 

a Thi Rural Ahn\irc! A Miscellany of Descriptive Poems By the Rev P.Bronte, 
A.B. , Minister of I lartshead-cum-l hiton, near Leeds, Yorkshire. Halifax . Printed and 
sold by P K. Ilolden for the Author. Sold also by B. and R. Crosby and Co., 
Stationers' Court, London And by all other Bookseller*; 1813. 

* The Cot/age in tht \Vood, or ^ the Art of Becoming A'lt h and Happy, by the Rev. 
P. Bronte, A.B , Minister of Thornton, Bradford, Yorkshire. Bradford, printed and 
sold by T. Inkersley Sold also by Sherwood and Co , London ; Robinson and Co., 
Leeds; Ilolden, Halifax ; J. Hurst, \Yukeheld ; and all other Booksellers. 1815. 

4 7 he Maid of Killarney ; ot , Albion and frloia' A Modern Tale; in which are 
interwoven some cursory lem.uks on Religion and Politics London, printed by 
Baldwin, Ciadock and Joy, Paternoster Row. Sold also by T. Inkersley, Bradford; 
Robinson and Co , Leeds ; and all other Booksellers. 1818 

B Mi. UionU s other uoiks were. 

1. The Phenomenon , of , An Amount in Vet se of the Extraordinary Disruption of a 
Bog which took Plate in the Moors o/ Haworth on the \2th day of ^tptcmber 1824 
Intended as a Reward Book for the Highei Classes in Sunday schools By the Rev. 
P. Bronte, M.A., Incumbent of llawoith, near Keighle), Bi.idfoid Printed and sold 
by T. Inkersley, Biuljje Street ; and by F. Westlcy, Stationers 1 Coin t, London 1824. 
Price Twopence. 

2. A Sermon I 'readied in the Church of Haworth on Sunday the 1 2th clay of 
September 1824, in lefeience to an Earthquake and Lxtraordinar) Eiuption of Mud 
and Watei that had taken Place ten days before in the Mosv of that Chapelry By the 
Rev. Patrick Bionte, A B. , Incumbent of Ha\\orth, near Keighley, Bradford. Punted 
and sold by T. Inkersley, Bridge Stieet ; and all othei Booksellers. 1824. Price 
Sixpence. 

3. 7*he Signs of the Times ; or, A Familiar Treatise on ^ome Political Indications in 
the Year 1835. By P. Bionte, A.B., Incumbent of Haworth, near Bradford, Yorkshire. 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 81 

possess but little distinction. It has been pointed out, 
indeed, that one of the strongest lines in Jane Eyre 
'To the finest fibre of my nature, sir/ is culled from Mr. 
Bronte's verse. It is the one line of his that will live. 

In iSn Mr. Bronte published at Halifax a volume 
entitled Cottage Poems. Among its contents is * An 

Epistle to the Rev. J B while journeying for the 

recovery of his health' the Rev. J. B. being, of course, 
his Vicar. Like his daughter Charlotte, Mr. Bronte is 
more interesting in his prose than in his poetry. The 
Cottage in the }Vood ; or, the Art of Becoming Rich and 
Happy, is a kind of religious novel a spiritual Pamela, in 
which the reprobate pursuer of an innocent girl ultimately 
becomes converted and marries her. The Maid of 
Killarney ; or, Albion and Flora, is better worth reading. 
Under the guise of a story it has something to say on 
many questions of importance. We know now why 
Charlotte never learnt to dance until she went to Brussels, 
and why children's games were unknown to her, for here 
are many mild diatribes against dancing and card-playing. 
The British Constitution and the British and Foreign 
Bible Society receive a considerable amount of criticism. 
But in spite of this didactic weakness there are one or 

Kcighley, printed by R. Aked, Bookseller, Low Street ; and sold by W. Crofts, 19 
Chancery Lane, London ; and all Booksellers. MDrrcxxxv. 

4. A BtJtf T?cati\f on {he Best Time and Mode of Baptism, chiefly in answer to a 

Tract of Peter Tontifex, also the Rev. M. S , Baptist Minister. By P Bronte, A.B., 

Incumbent of Haworth, Yorkshire. Price Threepence. Keighlcy, printed by R. 
Aked, Book&ellci, Low Street. MDCCCXXXVI. 

5. A Funeral Sermon for the late Rev. William Weightman, M.A. Preached in the 
Church of ILtworth on Sunday the 2nd of October 1842, by the Rev. Patrick Bronte, 
A. B., Incumbent. The Profits, if any, to go in aid of the Sunday-school, Halifax. 
Printed by J. U. Walker, George Street. 1842. Price Sixpence. 

All the above works have been reprinted under the title of: 

'Bronteana, the Rev. Patrick Bronte, A. B. His Collected Works and Life. Edited 
by J. Horsfall Turner of Idle, Bradford. Bingley, printed for the Editor by T. 
Harrison and Sons 1898.' 

Mr. Horsfall Turner also enumerates the fugitive writings of Mr. Bronte, including 
contributions to the Leeds Mercury, the Leeds ////;/.///<;<;, to The Pastoral Visitor 
a Magazine issued at Bradford by thr Rev \V. Morgan, and to the C&ttage Afagazine, 
issued at Dewsbury by the Rev. J. Buckworth. 



82 THE BRONTfiS 

two pieces of really picturesque writing, notably a descrip- 
tion of an Irish wake, and a forcible account of the defence 
of a house against Whiteboys. 

It is true enough that these books are merely of interest 
to collectors and that they live only by virtue of Patrick 
Bronte's remarkable children. But many a prolific writer 
of the day passes muster as a genius among- his contem- 
poraries upon as small a talent ; and Mr. Bronte does not 
seem to have given himself any airs as an author. Thirty 
years were to elapse before there were to be any more 
books from this family of writers ; but Jane Eyre owes 
something, we may be sure, to The Maid of KiHarney. 

Mr. Bronte married Maria Branwell in 1812 at Guiseley 
Church, Yorkshire. She was in her thirtieth year, and 
was one of seven children one son and six daughters 
the father of whom, Mr. Thomas Branwell, had died 
in 1808. He was a member of the town council, or as it 
was then called ' Assistant to the Corporation ' of Penzance, 
and three years before the marriage of Maria Branwell 
her brother, Benjamin Carne Branwell, was Mayor of 
Penzance. 1 By a curious coincidence, another sister, 
Charlotte, was married in Penzance on the same clay that 
Maria was married at Guiseley the 29th of December 
i8i2. 2 Before me are a bundle of samplers worked by 
four of these Branwell sisters. Maria Branwell 'ended 
her sampler' April the I5th, 1791, and it is inscribed with 

1 It is pointed out by k j. II. R.' ( Yorkshut Daily (V>W7<;, AuguM 13, 1907) that Maria 
Branwell's brother could not have been at Woodhoiuse Giove School as sometimes stated. 

8 The late Miss Charlotte Branwell of Penzance wrote to me as follows : ' My Aunt 
Maria Branwell, after the death of her parents, went to Yoikshire on a visit to her 
iclatives, where she met the Rev. Patrick Bionte. They soon became engaged to be 
married. Jane Fcnnell was previously engaged to the Rev. William Morgan. And 
when the time arrived for their marriage, Mr. Fennell said he should have to give his 
daughter and niece away, and if so, he could not marry them ; so it was arranged that 
Mr. Morgan should marry Mr Bronte and Maria Branwell, and afterwards Mr. Bronte 
should perform the same kindly office towards Mr. Morgan and Jane Pennell. So the 
bridegrooms married each other and the brides acted as bridesmaids to each other. My 
father and mother, Joseph and Charlotte Branwell, were mained at Madron, which was 
then the parish church of Penzance, on the same day and hour. Perhaps a similar case 
never happened before or since : two sisters and four first cousins being united in holy 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 88 

the text, Flee from sin as from a serpent, for if thou earnest 
too near to it, it will bite thee. The teeth thereof are as 
the teeth of a lion to slay the souls of men. Another 
sampler is by Elizabeth Branwell ; another by Margaret, 
and another by Anne. These, some miniatures, and the 
book and papers to which I have referred, are all that 
remain to us as a memento of Mrs. Bronte, apart from the 
children that she bore to her husband. The miniatures 
were in the possession of Miss Charlotte Branwell, of 
Penzance, when they came under my notice ; they are of 
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Branwell Charlotte Bronte's 
maternal grandfather and grandmother and of Mrs. 
Bronte and her sister Elizabeth Branwell as children. 

To return, however, to our bundle of love-letters. Com- 
ment is needless, if indeed comment or elucidation were 
possible at this distance of time. 

TO REV. PATRICK BRONTE, A.B., HARTSIIEAD 

WOOD HOUSE GROVE, August 26th, 1812. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, This address is sufficient to convince you 
that I not only permit, but approve of yours to me I do indeed 
consider you as my friend ; yet, when I consider how short a 
time I have had the pleasure of knowing you, I start at my own 
rashness, my heart fails, and did I not think that you would be 
disappointed and grieved at it, I believe I should be ready to 
spare myself the task of writing. Do not think that I am so 
wavering as to repent of what I have already said. No, believe 
me, this will never be the case, unless you give me cause for it. 
You need not fear that you have been mistaken in my character. 
If I know anything of myself, I am incapable of making an 
ungenerous return to the smallest degree of kindness, much less 
to you whose attentions and conduct have been so particularly 

matrimony at one and the same time. And they were all happy marriages. Mr. Bronte 
was perhaps peculiar, but I have always heard my own dear mother say that he was 
devotedly fond cf his wife, and she of him. These marriages were solemnised on the 
29th of December 1812.' 

Mr. Charles A. Federer ( Yorkshire Daily Observer, August 5, 1907) notes that 
Mr. Fennell could not in any case have performed the ceremony, as he was not at the 
time ordained a priest of the Church of England. 

VOL. I. C 



34 THE BRONTES 

obliging. I will frankly confess that your behaviour and what I 
have seen and heard of your character has excited my warmest 
esteem and regard, and be assured you shall never have cause to 
repent of any confidence you may think proper to place in me, and 
that it will always be my endeavour to deserve the good opinion 
which you have formed, although human weakness may in some 
instances cause me to fall short. In giving you these assurances 
I do not depend upon my own strength, but I look to Him who 
has been my unerring guide through life, and in whose continued 
protection and assistance I confidently trust. 

I thought on you much on Sunday, and feared you would not 
escape the rain. I hope you do not feel any bad effects from it ? 
My cousin wrote you on Monday and expects this afternoon to be 
favoured with an answer. Your letter has caused me some foolish 
embarrassment, tho' in pity to my feelings they have been very 
sparing of their raillery. 

I will now candidly answer your questions. The politeness of 
others can never make me forget your kind attentions, neither can 
I walk our accustomed rounds without thinking on you, and, why 
should I be ashamed to add, wishing for your presence. If you 
knew what were my feelings whilst writing this you would pity 
me. I wish to write the truth and give you satisfaction, yet fear 
to go too far, and exceed the bounds of propriety. But whatever 
I may say or write I will never deceive you, or exceed the truth. 
If you think I have not placed the utmost confidence in you, con- 
sider my situation, and ask yourself if I have not confided in you 
sufficiently, perhaps too much. I am very sorry that you will not 
have this till after to-morrow, but it was out of my power to write 
sooner. I rely on your goodness to pardon everything in this 
which may appear either too free or too stiff, and beg that you 
will consider me as a warm and faithful friend. 

My uncle, aunt, and cousin unite in kind regards. 

I must now conclude with again declaring myself to be yours 
sincerely, MARIA BRANWELL. 

TO REV. PATRICK BRONTE, A.B., HARTSHEAD 

WOOD HOUSE GROVE, September yh, 1812. 

MY DEAREST FRIEND, I have just received your affectionate 
and very welcome letter, and although I shall not be able to send 
this until Monday, yet I cannot deny myself the pleasure of 
writing a few lines this evening, no longer considering it a task, 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 85 

but a pleasure, next to that of reading yours. I had the pleasure 
of hearing from Mr. Fennell, who was at Bradford on Thursday 
afternoon, that you had rested there all night Had you pro- 
ceeded, I am sure the walk would have been too much for you ; 
such excessive fatigue, often repeated, must injure the strongest 
constitution. I am rejoiced to find that our forebodings were 
without cause. I had yesterday a letter from a very dear friend 
of mine, and had the satisfaction to learn by it that all at home 
are well. I feel with you the unspeakable obligations I am under 
to a merciful Providence my heart swells with gratitude, and I 
feel an earnest desire that I may be enabled to make some suit- 
able return to the Author of all my blessings. In general, I think 
I am enabled to cast my care upon Him, and then I experience a 
calm and peaceful serenity of mind which few things can destroy. 
In all my addresses to the throne of grace I never ask a blessing 
for myself but I be^ the same for you, and considering the 
important station which you are called to fill, my prayers are 
proportionately fervent that you may be favoured with all the 
gifts and graces requisite for such a calling. O my dear friend, 
let us pray much that we may live lives holy and useful to each 
other and all around us ! 

Monday morn. My cousin and I were yesterday at Calverley 
church, where we heard Mr. Watman preach a very excellent 
sermon from * learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.' 
He displayed the character of our Saviour in a most affecting 
and amiable light. I scarcely ever felt more charmed with his 
excellences, more grateful for his condescension, or more abased 
at my own unworthiness ; but I lament that my heart is so little 
retentive of those pleasing and profitable impressions. 

I pitied you in your solitude, and felt sorry that it was not in 
my power to enliven it. Have you not been too hasty in inform- 
ing your friends of a certain event? Why did you not leave them 
to guess a little longer? I shrink from the idea of its being 
known to everybody. I do, indeed, sometimes think of you, but 
I will not say how often, lest I raise your vanity ; and we some- 
times talk of you and the doctor. But I believe I should seldom 
mention your name myself were it not now and then introduced 
by my cousin. I have never mentioned a word of what is past 
to anybody. Had I thought this necessary I should have 
requested you to do it. But I think there is no need, as by some 
means or other they seem to have a pretty correct notion how 



86 THE BRONTfiS 

matters stand betwixt us ; and as their hints, etc., meet with no 
contradiction from me, my silence passes for confirmation. Mr. 
Fennell has not neglected to give me some serious and encourag- 
ing advice, and my aunt takes frequent opportunities of dropping 
little sentences which I may turn to some advantage. I have 
long had reason to know that the present state of things would 
give pleasure to all parties. Your ludicrous account of the scene 
at the Hermitage was highly diverting, we laughed heartily at it ; 
but I fear it will not produce all that compassion in Miss Fenneirs 
breast which you seem to wish. I will now tell you what I was 
thinking about and doing at the time you mention. I was then 
toiling up the hill with Jane and Mrs. Clapham to take our tea at 
Mr. Tatham's, thinking on the evening when I first took the same 
walk with you, and on the change which had taken place in my 
circumstances and views since then not wholly without a wish 
that I had your arm to assist me, and your conversation to shorten 
the walk. Indeed, all our walks have now an insipidity in them 
which I never thought they would have possessed. When I work, 
if I wish to get forward I may be glad that you are at a distance. 
Jane begs me to assure you of her kind regards. Mr. Morgan is 
expected to be here this evening. I must assume a bold and 
steady countenance to meet his attacks ! 

I have now written a pretty long letter without reserve or 
caution, and if all the sentiments of my heart are not laid open to 
you believe me it is not because I wish them to be concealed, for, 
I hope there is nothing there that would give you pain or dis- 
pleasure. My most sincere and earnest wishes are for your 
happiness and welfare, for this includes my own. Pray much for 
me that I may be made a blessing and not a hindrance to you. 
Let me not interrupt your studies nor intrude on that time which 
ought to be dedicated to better purposes. Forgive my freedom, 
my dearest friend, and rest assured that you are and ever will be 
dear to MARIA BRANWELL. 

Write very soon. 

TO REV. PATRICK BRONTE, A.B., HARTSHEAD 

WOOD HOUSE GROVE, September nth, 1812. 

MY DEAREST FRIEND, Having spent the day yesterday at 
Miry Shay, 1 a place near Bradford, I had not got your letter till 

1 This fine old Jacobean building still stands, and is situated in Barkerend Road, 
about a quarter of a mile from the parish church. 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTE 87 

my return in the evening, and consequently have only a short 
time this morning to write if I send it by this post. You surely 
do not think you trouble me by writing? No, I think I may 
venture to say if such were your opinion you would trouble me no 
more. Be assured, your letters are and I hope always will be 
received with extreme pleasure and read with delight. May our 
Gracious Father mercifully grant the fulfilment of your prayers! 
Whilst we depend entirely on Him for happiness, and receive each 
other and all our blessings as from His hands, what can harm us 
or make us miserable? Nothing temporal or spiritual. 

Jane had a note from Mr. Morgan last evening, and she desires 
me to tell you that the Methodists 1 service in church hours is to 
commence next Sunday week. You may expect frowns and 
hard words from her when you make your appearance here again, 
for, if you recollect, she gave you a note to carry to the Doctor, 
and he has never received it. What have you done with it? If 
you can give a good account of it you may come to see us as soon 
as you please and be sure of a hearty welcome from all parties. 
Next Wednesday we have some thoughts, if the weather be fine, 
of going to Kirkstall Abbey once more, and I suppose your 
presence will not make the walk less agreeable to any of us. 

The old man is come and waits for my letter. In expectation 
of seeing you on Monday or Tuesday next, I remain, yours 
faithfully and affectionately, M. B. 



TO REV. PATRICK BRONTE, A.B., HARTSHEAD 



WOOD HOUSE GROVE, September i8M, 1812. 

How readily do I comply with my dear Mr. B/s request ! You 
see, you have only to express your wishes, and as far as my power 
extends I hesitate not to fulfil them. My heart tells me that it 
will always be my pride and pleasure to contribute to your 
happiness, nor do I fear that this will ever be inconsistent with 
my duty as a Christian. My esteem for you and my confidence 
in you is so great, that I firmly believe you will never exact any- 
thing from me which I could not conscientiously perform. I shall 
in future look to you for assistance and instruction whenever I 
may need them, and hope you will never withhold from me any 
advice or caution you may see necessary. 

For some years I have been perfectly my own mistress, subject 



88 THE BRONTES 

to no control whatever so far from it, that my sisters who are 
many years older than myself, and even my dear mother, used to 
consult me in every case of importance, and scarcely ever doubted 
the propriety of my opinions and actions. Perhaps you will be 
ready to accuse me of vanity in mentioning this, but you must 
consider that I do not boast of it, I have many times felt it a 
disadvantage ; and although, I thank God, it never led me into 
error, yet, in circumstances of perplexity and doubt, I have deeply 
felt the want of a guide and instructor. 

At such times I have seen and felt the necessity of supernatural 
aid, and by fervent applications to a throne of grace I have 
experienced that my heavenly Father is able and willing to supply 
the place of every earthly friend. I shall now no longer feel this 
want, this sense of helpless weakness, for I believe a kind Provi- 
dence has intended that I shall find in you every earthly friend 
united ; nor do I fear to trust myself under your protection, or shrink 
from your control. It is pleasant to be subject to those we love, 
especially when they never exert their authority but for the good of 
the subject. How few would write in this way ! But I do not fear 
thatjw/ will make a bad use of it. You tell me to write my thoughts, 
and thus as they occur I freely let my pen run away with them. 

Sat. morn. I do not know whether you dare show your face 
here again or not after the blunder you have committed. When 
we got to the house on Thursday evening, even before we were 
within the doors, we found that Mr. and Mrs. Bedford had been 
there, and that they had requested you to mention their intention 
of coming a single hint of which you never gave ! Poor I too 
came in for a share in the hard words which were bestowed upon 
you, for they all agreed that I was the cause of it. Mr. Fennell said 
you were certainly mazed, and talked of sending you to York, etc. 
And even I begin to think that this, together with the note, bears 
some marks of insanity] However, I shall suspend my judgment 
until I hear what excuse you can make for yourself. I suppose 
you will be quite ready to make one of some kind or another. 

Yesterday I performed a difficult and yet a pleasing task in 
writing to my sisters. I thought I never should accomplish the 
end for which the letter was designed ; but after a good deal of 
perambulation I gave them to understand the nature of my 
engagement with you, with the motives and inducements which 
led me to form such an engagement, and that in consequence of 
it I should not see them again so soon as I had intended. I con- 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTE 89 

eluded by expressing a hope that they would not be less pleased 
with the information than were my friends here. I think they 
will not suspect me to have made a wrong step, their partiality 
for me is so great. And their affection for me will lead them to 
rejoice in my welfare, even though it should diminish somewhat 
of their own. I shall think the time tedious till I hear from you, 
and must beg you will write as soon as possible. Pardon me, my 
dear friend, if I again caution you against giving way to a weak- 
ness of which I have heard you complain. When you find your 
heart oppressed and your thoughts too much engrossed by one 
subject let prayer be your refuge this you no doubt know by 
experience to be a sure remedy, and a relief from every care and 
error. Oh, that we had more of the spirit of prayer ! I feel that 
I need it much. 

Breakfast-time is near, I must bid you farewell for the time, 
but rest assured you will always share in the prayers and heart of 
your own MARIA. 

Mr. Fennell has crossed my letter to my sisters. With his 
usual goodness he has supplied my deficiencies, and spoken of me 
in terms of commendation of which I wish I were more worthy. 
Your character he has likewise displayed in the most favourable 
light ; and I am sure they will not fail to love and esteem you 
though unknown. 

All here unite in kind regards. Adieu. 



TO REV. PATRICK BRONTK, A.B., HARTSHEAD 

WOOD HOUSL GROVK, September iyd, 1812. 

MY DEAREST FRIEND, Accept of my warmest thanks for your 
kind affectionate letter, in which you have rated mine so highly 
that I really blush to read my own praises. Pray that God would 
enable me to deserve all the kindness you manifest towards me, 
and to act consistently with the good opinion you entertain of me 
then I shall indeed be a helpmeet for you, and to be this shall 
at all times be the care and study of my future life. We have had 
to-day a large party of the Bradford folks the Rands, Fawcetts, 
Dobsons, etc. My thoughts often strayed from the company, 
and I would have gladly left them to follow my present employ- 
ment. To write to and receive letters from my friends were 
always among my chief enjoyments, but none ever gave me so 



40 THE BRONTES 

much pleasure as those which I receive from and write to my 
newly adopted friend. I am by no means sorry you have given 
up all thought of the house you mentioned. With my cousin's 
help I have made known your plans to my uncle and awnt. Mr. 
Fennell immediately coincided with that which respects your 
present abode, and observed that it had occurred to him before, 
but that he had not had an opportunity of mentioning it to you. 
My aunt did not fall in with it so readily, but her objections did 
not appear to me to be very weighty. For my own part, I feel 
all the force of your arguments in favour of it, and the objections 
are so trifling that they can scarcely be called objections. My 
cousin is of the same opinion. Indeed, you have such a method 
of considering and digesting a plan before you make it known to 
your friends, that you run very little risk of incurring their dis- 
approbations, or of having your schemes frustrated. I greatly 
admire your talents this way may they never be perverted by 
being used in a bad cause! And whilst they are exerted for good 
purposes, may they prove irresistible! If I may judge from your 
letter, this middle scheme is what would please you best, so that 
if there should arise no new objection to it, perhaps it will prove 
the best you can adopt. However, there is yet sufficient time 
to consider it further. I trust in this and every other circum- 
stance you will be guided by the wisdom that cometh from above 
a portion of which I doubt not has guided you hitherto. A 
belief of this, added to the complete satisfaction with which I read 
your reasonings on the subject, made me a ready convert to your 
opinions. I hope nothing will occur to induce you to change 
your intention of spending the next week at Bradford. Depend 
on it you shall have letter for letter ; but may we not hope to see 
you here during that time, surely you will not think the way more 
tedious than usual ? I have not heard any particulars respecting 
the church since you were at Bradford. Mr. Rawson is now there, 
but Mr. Hardy and his brother are absent, and I understand 
nothing decisive can be accomplished without them. Jane expects 
to hear something more to-morrow. Perhaps ere this reaches you, 
you will have received some intelligence respecting it from Mr. 
Morgan. If you have no other apology to make for your blunders 
than that which you have given me, you must not expect to be 
excused, for I have not mentioned it to any one, so that however 
it may clear your character in my opinion it is not likely to 
influence any other person. Little, very little, will induce me to 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTE 41 

cover your faults with a veil of charity. I already feel a kind of 
participation in all that concerns you. All praises and censures 
bestowed on you must equally affect me. Your joys and sorrows 
must be mine. Thus shall the one be increased and the other 
diminished. While this is the case we shall, I hope, always find 
'life's cares' to be 'comforts/ And may we feel every trial and 
distress, for such must be our lot at times, bind us nearer to God 
and to each other! My heart earnestly joins in your compre- 
hensive prayers. I trust they will unitedly ascend to a throne of 
grace, and through the Redeemer's merits procure for us peace and 
happiness here and a life of eternal felicity hereafter. Oh, what 
sacred pleasure there is in the idea of spending an eternity together 
in perfect and uninterrupted bliss ! This should encourage us to 
the utmost exertion and fortitude. But whilst I write, my own 
words condemn me I am ashamed of my own indolence and 
backwardness to duty. May I be more careful, watchful, and 
active than I have ever yet been ! 

My uncle, aunt, and Jane request me to send their kind regards, 
and they will be happy to see you any time next week whenever 
you can conveniently come down from Bradford. Let me hear 
from you soon I shall expect a letter on Monday. Farewell, 
my dearest friend. That you may be happy in yourself and 
very useful to all around you is the daily earnest prayer of 
yours truly, 

MARIA BRANWELL. 

TO REV. PATRICK BRONTE, A.B., HARTSHEAD 

WOOD HOUSE GROVE, October yd, 1812. 

How could my dear friend so cruelly disappoint me? Had he 
known how much I had set rny heart on having a letter this 
afternoon, and how greatly I felt the disappointment when the 
bag arrived and I found there was nothing for me, I am sure he 
would not have permitted a little matter to hinder him. But 
whatever was the reason of your not writing, I cannot believe it 
to have been neglect or unkindness, therefore I do not in the 
least blame you, I only beg that in future you will judge of my 
feelings by your own, and if possible never let me expect a letter 
without receiving one. You know in my last which I sent you at 
Bradford I said it would not be in my power to write the next 
day, but begged I might be favoured with hearing from you on 



42 THE BRONTES 

Saturday, and you will not wonder that I hoped you would have 
complied with this request. It has just occurred to my mind that 
it is possible this note was not received ; if so, you have felt dis- 
appointed likewise ; but I think this is not very probable, as the 
old man is particularly careful, and I never heard of his losing 
anything committed to his care. The note which I allude to 
was written on Thursday morning, and you should have received 
it before you left Bradford. I forget what its contents were, but 
I know it was written in haste and concluded abruptly. Mr. 
Fennell talks of visiting Mr. Morgan to-morrow. I cannot lose 
the opportunity of sending this to the office by him as you will 
then have it a day sooner, and if you have been daily expecting 
to hear from me, twenty-four hours are of some importance. I 
really am concerned to find that this, what many would deem 
trifling incident, has so much disturbed my mind. I fear I should 
not have slept in peace to-night if I had been deprived of this 
opportunity of relieving my mind by scribbling to you, and now 
I lament that you cannot possibly receive this till Monday. May 
I hope that there is now some intelligence on the way to me? or 
must my patience be tried till I see you on Wednesday? But 
what nonsense am I writing ! Surely after this you can have no 
doubt that you possess all my heart. Two months ago I could 
not possibly have believed that you would ever engross so much 
of my thoughts and affections, and far less could I have thought 
that I should be so forward as to tell you so. I believe I must 
forbid you to come here again unless you can assure me that you 
will not steal any more of my regard. Enough of this ; I must 
bring my pen to order, for if I were to suffer myself to revise 
what I have written I should be tempted to throw it in the fire, 
but I have determined that you shall see my whole heart. I have 
not yet informed you that I received your serio-comic note on 
Thursday afternoon, for which accept my thanks. 

My cousin desires me to say that she expects a long poem on 
her birthday, when she attains the important age of twenty-one. 
Mr. Fennell joins with us in requesting that you will not fail to 
be here on Wednesday, as it is decided that on Thursday we are 
to go to the Abbey if the weather, etc., permits. 

Sunday morning. I am not sure if I do right in adding a few 
lines to-day, but knowing that it will give you pleasure I wish to 
finish, that you may have it to-morrow. I will just say that if my 
feeble prayers can aught avail, you will find your labours this day 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 48 

both pleasant and profitable, as they concern your own soul and 
the souls of those to whom you preach. I trust in your hours of 
retirement you will not forget to pray for me. I assure you I 
need every assistance to help me forward ; I feel that my heart is 
more ready to attach itself to earth than heaven. I sometimes 
think there never was a mind so dull and inactive as mine is with 
regard to spiritual things. 

I must not forget to thank you for the pamphlets and tracts 
which you sent us from Bradford. I hope we shall make good use 
of them. I must now take my leave. I believe I need scarcely 
assure you that I am yours truly and very affectionately, 

MARIA BRANWELL. 



TO REV. PATRICK HRONTK, A.B., HARTSHEAD 

WOOD HOUSE GROVE, October 2u/, 1812. 

With the sincerest pleasure do I retire from company to 
converse with him whom I love beyond all others. Could my 
beloved friend see my heart he would then be convinced that the 
affection I bear him is not at all inferior to that which he feels 
for me indeed I sometimes think that in truth and constancy it 
excels. But do not think from this that I entertain any suspicions 
of your sincerity no, I firmly believe you to be sincere and 
generous, and doubt not in the least that you feel all you express. 
In return, I entreat that you will do me the justice to believe that 
you have not only a very large portion of my affection and esteem, 
but all that I am capable of feeling, and from henceforth measure 
rny feelings by your own. Unless my love for you were very 
great how could I so contentedly give up rny home and all my 
friends a home I loved so much that I have often thought 
nothing could bribe me to renounce it for any great length of 
time together, and friends with whom I have been so long accus- 
tomed to share all the vicissitudes of joy and sorrow? Yet these 
have lost their weight, and though I cannot always think of them 
without a sigh, yet the anticipation of sharing with you all the 
pleasures and pains, the cares and anxieties of life, of contributing 
to your comfort and becoming the companion of your pilgrimage, 
is more delightful to me than any other prospect which this world 
can possibly present. I expected to have heard from you on 
Saturday last, and can scarcely refrain from thinking you unkind 



44 THE BRONTES 

to keep me in suspense two whole days longer than was necessary, 
but it is well that my patience should be sometimes tried, or I 
might entirely lose it, and this would be a loss indeed ! Lately I 
have experienced a considerable increase of hopes and fears, which 
tend to destroy the calm uniformity of my life. These are not 
unwelcome, as they enable me to discover more of the evils and 
errors of my heart, and discovering them I hope through grace to 
be enabled to correct and amend them. I am sorry to say that 
my cousin has had a very serious cold, but to-day I think she is 
better ; her cough seems less, and I hope we shall be able to come 
to Bradford on Saturday afternoon, where we intend to stop till 
Tuesday. You may be sure we shall not soon think of taking 
such another journey as the last. I look forward with pleasure 
to Monday, when I hope to meet with you, for as we are no 
longer twain separation is painful, and to meet must ever be 
attended with joy. 

Thursday morning. I intended to have finished this before 
breakfast, but unfortunately slept an hour too long. I am every 
moment in expectation of the old man's arrival. I hope my 
cousin is still better to-day ; she requests me to say that she is 
much obliged to you for your kind inquiries and the concern 
you express for her recovery. I take all possible care of her, but 
yesterday she was naughty enough to venture into the yard 
without her bonnet ! As you do not say anything of going to 
Leeds I conclude you have not been. We shall most probably 
hear from the Dr. this afternoon. I am much pleased to hear of 
his success at Bierley ! O that you may both be zealous and 
successful in your efforts for the salvation of souls, and may your 
own lives be holy, and your hearts greatly blessed while you are 
engaged in administering to the good of others! I should have 
been very glad to have had it in my power to lessen your fatigue 
and cheer your spirits by my exertions on Monday last. I will 
hope that this pleasure is still reserved for me. In general, I feel 
a calm confidence in the providential care and continued mercy 
of God, and when I consider His past deliverances and past favours 
I am led to wonder and adore. A sense of my small returns of 
love and gratitude to Him often abases me and make? me think I 
am little better than those who profess no religion. Pray for me, 
my dear friend, and rest assured that you possess a very, very 
large portion of the prayers, thoughts, and heart of yours truly, 

M. BRANWELL. 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 45 

Mr. Fennell requests Mr. Bedford to call on the man who has 
had orders to make blankets for the Grove and desire him to send 
them as soon as possible. Mr. Fennell will be greatly obliged to 
Mr. Bedford if he will take this trouble. 



TO REV. PATRICK BRONTE, A.B., HARTSHEAD 

WOOD HOUSE GROVE, November i8M, 1812. 

MY DEAR SAUCY PAT, Now don't you think you deserve this 
epithet far more than I do that which you have given me? 
I really know not what to make of the beginning of your last ; 
the winds, waves, and rocks almost stunned me. I thought you 
were giving me the account of some terrible dream, or that you 
had had a presentiment of the fate of my poor box, having no idea 
that your lively imagination could make so much of the slight 
reproof conveyed in my last. What will you say when you get a 
real, downright scolding! Since you show such a readiness to 
atone for your offences after receiving a mild rebuke, I am in- 
clined to hope you will seldom deserve a severe one. I accept 
with pleasure your atonement, and send you a free and full 
forgiveness. But I cannot allow that your affection is more 
deeply rooted than mine. However, we will dispute no more 
about this, but rather embrace every opportunity to prove its 
sincerity and strength by acting in every respect as friends and 
fellow-pilgrims travelling the same road, actuated by the same 
motives, and having in view the same end. I think if our lives 
are spared twenty years hence I shall then pray for you with the 
same, if not greater, fervour and delight that I do now. I am 
pleased that you are so fully convinced of my candour, for to 
know that you suspected me of a deficiency in this virtue would 
grieve and mortify me beyond expression. I do not derive any 
merit from the possession of it, for in me it is constitutional. 
Yet I think where it is possessed it will rarely exist alone, and 
where it is wanted there is reason to doubt the existence of 
almost every other virtue. As to the other qualities which your 
partiality attributes to me, although I rejoice to know that I 
stand so high in your good opinion, yet I blush to think in how 
small a degree I possess them. But it shall be the pleasing study 
of my future life to gain such an increase of grace and wisdom as 
shall enable me to act up to your highest expectations and prove 
to you a helpmeet. I firmly believe the Almighty has set us 



46 THE BRONTES 

apart for each other ; may we, by earnest, frequent prayer, and 
every possible exertion, endeavour to fulfil His will in all things! 
I do not, cannot, doubt your love, and here I freely declare I love 
you above all the world besides. I feel very, very grateful to the 
great Author of all our mercies for His unspeakable love and con- 
descension towards us, and desire ' to show forth my gratitude not 
only with my lips, but by my life and conversation.' I indulge a 
hope that our mutual prayers will be answered, and that our 
intimacy will tend much to promote our temporal and eternal 
interest. 

I suppose you never expected to be much the richer for me, 
but I am sorry to inform you that I am still poorer than I thought 
myself. I mentioned having sent for my books, clothes, etc. On 
Saturday evening about the time you were writing the description 
of your imaginary shipwreck, I was reading and feeling the effects 
of a real one, having then received a letter from my sister giving 
me an account of the vessel in which she had sent my box being 
stranded on the coast of Devonshire, in consequence of which the 
box was dashed to pieces with the violence of the sea, and all my 
little property, with the exception of a very few articles, swallowed 
up in the mighty deep. If this should not prove the prelude to 
something worse, I shall think little of it, as it is the first disas- 
trous circumstance which has occurred since I left my home, and 
having been so highly favoured it would be highly ungrateful in 
me were I to suffer this to dwell much on my mind. 

Mr. Morgan was here yesterday, indeed he only left this 
morning. He mentioned having written to invite you to Bierley 
on Sunday next, and if you complied with his request it is likely 
that we shall see you both here on Sunday evening. As we 
intend going to Leeds next week, we should be happy if you would 
accompany us on Monday or Tuesday. I mention this by desire 
of Miss Fennell, who begs to be remembered affectionately to 
you. Notwithstanding Mr. Fennell's complaints and threats, I 
doubt not but he will give you a cordial reception whenever you 
think fit to make your appearance at the Grove. Which you may 
likewise be assured of receiving from your ever truly affectionate 

MARIA. 

Both the doctor and his lady very much wish to know what 
kind of address we make use of in our letters to each other. I 
think they would scarcely hit on this \ \ 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 47 

TO REV. PATRICK BRONTE, A.B., HARTSIIEAD 

WOOD HOUSE GROVE, December $th, 1812. 

MY DEAREST FRIEND, So you thought that perhaps I might 
expect to hear from you. As the case was so doubtful, and you 
were in such great haste, you might as well have deferred writing 
a few days longer, for you seem to suppose it is a matter of 
perfect indifference to me whether I hear from you or not. I 
believe I once requested you to judge of my feelings by your own 
am I to think that you are thus indifferent? I feel very 
unwilling to entertain such an opinion, and am grieved that you 
should suspect me of such a cold, heartless, attachment. But 
I am too serious on the subject ; I only meant to rally you a little 
on the beginning of your last, and to tell you that I fancied there 
was a coolness in it which none of your former letters had con- 
tained. If this fancy was groundless, forgive me for having 
indulged it, and let it serve to convince you of the sincerity and 
warmth of my affection. Real love is ever apt to suspect that 
it meets not with an equal return ; you must not wonder then 
that my fears are sometimes excited. My pride cannot bear the 
idea of a diminution of your attachment, or to think that it is 
stronger on my side than on yours. But I must not permit my 
pen so fully to disclose the feelings of my heart, nor will I tell 
you whether I am pleased or not at the thought of seeing you 
on the appointed day. 

Miss Fennell desires her kind regards, and, with her father, 
is extremely obliged to you for the trouble you have taken about 
the carpet, and has no doubt but it will give full satisfaction. 
They think there will be no occasion for the green cloth. 

We intend to set about making the cakes here next week, but 
as the fifteen or twenty persons whom you mention live probably 
somewhere in your neighbourhood, I think it will be most con- 
venient for Mrs. B. to make a small one for the purpose of 
distributing there, which will save us the difficulty of sending 
so far. 

You may depend on my learning my lessons as rapidly as they 
are given me. I am already tolerably perfect in the ABC, etc. 
I am much obliged to you for the pretty little hymn which I have 
already got by heart, but cannot promise to sing it scientifically, 
though I will endeavour to gain a little more assurance. 

Since I began this Jane put into my hands Lord Lyttelton's 



48 THE BRONTES 

Advice to a Lady. When I read those lines, ' Be never cool reserve 
with passion joined, with caution choose, but then be fondly kind, 
etc./ my heart smote me for having in some cases used too much 
reserve towards you. Do you think you have any cause to com- 
plain of me ? If you do, let me know it. For were it in my power 
to prevent it, I would in no instance occasion you the least pain 
or uneasiness. I am certain no one ever loved you with an 
affection more pure, constant, tender, and ardent than that which 
I feel. Surely this is not saying too much ; it is the truth, and I 
trust you are worthy to know it. I long to improve in every 
religious and moral quality, that I may be a help, and if possible 
an ornament to you. Oh let us pray much for wisdom and grace 
to fill our appointed stations with propriety, that we may enjoy 
satisfaction in our own souls, edify others, and bring glory to the 
name of Him who has so wonderfully preserved, blessed, and 
brought us together. 

If there is anything in the commencement of this which looks 
like pettishness, forgive it ; my mind is now completely divested 
of every feeling of the kind, although I own I am sometimes too 
apt to be overcome by this disposition. 

Let me have the pleasure of hearing from you again as soon 
as convenient. This writing is uncommonly bad, but I too am 
in haste. 

Adieu, my dearest. I am your affectionate and sincere 

MARIA. 

The marriage in Guiseley Church, near Bradford, 1 was 
followed by the setting up house at Hartshead, where Mr. 
Bronte was curate for four years. Mr. William Morgan, 
who married Mrs. Bronte's cousin the same day, was curate 
of the neighbouring village of Bierley. Mr. Morgan per- 
formed the marriage ceremony, and Mr. Bronte officiated 
a few minutes later to make his wife's cousin Mrs. 
Morgan. During his married life at Hartshead, Mr. 
Bronte lived in a house at the top of Clough Lane, 

1 Thus reported in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1813: 'Lately at Guiseley, near 
Bradford, by the Revd. W. Morgan, minister of Bierley, Revd. P. Bronte, B.A., minister 
of Ilartshead-cum-Clifton, to Maria, third daughter of the late T. Branwell, Esq., of 
Penzance. At the same time, by the Revd. P. Bronte, Revd. W. Morgan, to the only 
daughter of Mr. John Fennell, Head-master of the Wesleyan Academy, near Bradford.' 



PATRICK AND MARIA BRONTfi 49 

Hightown. Here his two eldest children, Maria and 
Elizabeth, were born. 1 He then removed to Thornton, 
near Bradford. 

1 Maria Bronte was born in 1813, and christened April 23, 1814. Elizabeth was 
born Feb. 8, 1815, and' was christened at Thornton on August 26 of that year, her 
aunt Elizabeth Branwell of Penzance, and Elizabeth Firth of Thornton, being her 
godmothers, and Mr. Firth of Kipping House, Thornton, her godfather. 



VOL. T D 



50 THE BRONTES 



CHAPTER II 

THE BRONTES AT THORNTON 

PATRICK BRONTE exchanged the living of Hartshead-cum- 
Clifton in 1815 for that of Thornton. He was doubtless in- 
spired thereto by the fact that his wife's cousin, Mrs. William 
Morgan, and her husband were residing in Bradford, about 
four miles distant. It is clear that both Mr. Bronte's 
entry into Yorkshire and his introduction to the lady 
who became his wife were due to Mr. Morgan. The 
friends, as we have seen, first met at Wellington. Through 
the influence of Mrs. Fletcher of Madeley in the same 
county, Mr. Morgan came into communication with the 
Fennells and their friend, Mr. Crosse, Vicar of Brad- 
ford. Mr. John Fennell was a godson of the famous 
Wesleyan, the Rev. John Fletcher, Wesley's friend. Mr. 
Morgan, once a curate at Bradford, it was natural that he 
should help his new friend to a vacant curacy at Dews- 
bury ; it was natural further that he should introduce him 
to the Fennells, and hence the marriage came about. 
Mr. Morgan was curate under the Rev. John Crosse, and 
later, in 1813, became Vicar of Christ Church, Bradford, 1 

1 Mr. Morgan became a widower and married a second time in 1836, and a third 
time in very old age. His second wife was Miss Mary Alice Gibson of Bradford In 
1851 he exchanged bungs with the Rector of llulcott, Bucks. He died there in 1858, 
aged eighty-eight years. His works included an account of Mr. Crosse, his predecessor 
at Bradford; The Pansh Priest Pourttaye.d\ Christian Instructions, consisting of 
Sermons and Addresses; a talc entitled 7 he IVehk Weaver ; a Selection of Psalms 
and Hymns ; also a Memou of his second wife entitled, Simplicty and Godly Sincerity 
eAtmf?(ft(l in the Lije <iW l^calh o/ Mrs A/oigan of Huhott, Bmkinghattuhirc, and 



THE BRONTES AT THORNTON 51 

supplementing his income for a time, it would seem, by keep- 
ing a school. The then minister 1 at Thornton was the 
Rev. Thomas Atkinson. Mr. Atkinson was betrothed to 
a Miss Walker of Lascelles Hall, near Huddersfield, and 
to be near to this lady, it is said that the young curate 
desired to exchange with Mr. Bronte. Mr. Atkinson 
remained in possession of the perpetual curacy of Harts- 
head until 1866, and he lived there until 1870. He was 
the godfather of Charlotte Bronte, 2 and his wife was her 
godmother. 8 The Atkinsons were not, of course, contented 
with Mr. Bronte's modest residence. They resided at 

late of Bradford^ Yorkshire. The second Mrs. Morgan died in 1852. Mr. Morgan 
also edited a maga/me, The Palatal Visitor , to which Mr. Bronte several times 
contributed. 

1 It was a perpetual curacy, serving as did also Haworth as a chapel-of-ease to 
Bradford Parish Church. The cuiate was designed 'minister' until 1855, when the 
Rev R. II. Heap became Vicai of Thornton. The value of the livings of Hartshead 
and Thornton was the same ,320 per annum. 

" A great-niece, Miss Lucy Ethel Fraser, sends me from the Atkinson Pedigree in 
her possession the following information concerning Mr. Atkinson and his wife. It will 
be seen that Mr. Atkinson's mother was a Firth, a family with which we are to become 
acquainted a little later : 

Thomas Atkinson Frances, 3rd d of 

born at Leeds, June Samuel Walker, 

loth, 1780, B.A. of Ksq , of Lascelles 

Magdalene College, Hall, nr. Iludders- 

Cam bridge, and 7th field, by Ksther his 

Junior Optime 1802 wife, d. of John 

Married at Kirk- Firth, of Kipping, 

heaton, December Gent. Born at 

23rd, 1817. M.A. Kirkheaton, Janu- 

1814. Incumbent of ary 28th, 1793. 
I lartshead- cum -Clif- 
ton, Yorkshire. 

Mr. Atkinson died February 28, 1870, at the Green House, Mirfield ; his wife died in 
1881. Miss Fraser further informs me that her mother was at school at Roe Head 
when Charlotte Bronte was a teacher there, and that she ' was a pet of Charlotte's, who 
used to call her " velvet cheeks.'" 

z There is a tradition among the descendants of the Rev. James Clarke Franks, Vicar 
of Huddersfield, who married Miss Elizabeth Firth, that the pair were Charlotte Bronte's 
godfather and godmother It is possible, although there is no direct evidence, that Miss 
Firth may have been the second godmother with Mrs. Atkinson. She was not married 
until 1824. 



52 THE BRONTES 

Green House, Mirfield, and there Charlotte Bronte fre- 
quently visited as a girl. 1 

The historian of Thornton 2 has clearly presented that 
town to us as it was when Mr. Bronte with his wife and 
two children arrived on the scene. His ministrations 
were conducted in a building that was known as the Old 
Bell Chapel, which dated from 1612, a building of un- 
redeemed ugliness. There were only twenty-three houses 
in the main street of Thornton at that date. The Parson- 
age, as it appears to have been called, was in Market 
Street. Many would think it a very mean cottage. But 
Thornton as it may be seen a century later is a much 
sadder sight, considered aesthetically, than it was when 
it presented itself to the eyes of Mr. Bronte. It is now a 
town with workshops, factories, and stone quarries ; the 
old chapel has been superseded by a new, but by no means 
beautiful, church, which stands exactly opposite the ruins, 
divided only by the road. It is some years since I was 
there. First I wandered among the chapel ruins and the 
gravestones which lie around. I found the font, in which 
the young Brontes were baptized, exposed to wind and 
weather, apparently cared for by none. It has since been 
removed into the new church opposite. 8 This church 
also possesses to-day a Bronte organ, built by subscriptions 
from enthusiasts. A still more precious possession is the 
register of births, where are recorded the baptisms of all 
but one of the Bronte children. It will be remembered 

1 Mr. W. W. Yates in The Father of the Brontes. 

2 Mr William Scruton, to whose book Thornton and the Biontts I am indebted for 
many facts in this chapter. It was published in i8qS by John Dale and Co , Ltd., of 
Bridge Street, Bradford. 

1 There arc now three fonts in the new church at Thointon a new one and two old 
ones. The oldest, dating from the seventeenth centvir), \sas discovered among the 
ruins of the Bell Chapel by Mr Charles Forshaw, and at his suggestion removed into 
the church. This was the font m use at the time when Mr. Bronte was curate at 
Thornton. The other font was transferred from the inins to the church at the sugges- 
tion of Mr. W. Brookes. Mr. John J. Stead of Heckmondwike photogiaphed both the 
old fonts when they were among the rums. 



THE BRONTES AT THORNTON 



58 



that Maria Bronte, the eldest child, was baptized 
at Hartshead, where she was born. Elizabeth, the 
second child, although born at Hartshead, was baptized at 
Thornton. 1 

It was essentially a nonconformist village, with many 
Puritan traditions, in which Mr. Bronte came to take up 
his duties in that historic year 1815. Kipping Chapel at 
Thornton, the place of worship belonging to the Indepen- 
dents, had a history more remarkable than any that per- 
tained to the Established Church so far as that locality 
was concerned. Oliver Heywood, that famous Royalist 
and Presbyterian, who suffered for his devotion to royalty 
under Cromwell and for his Prcsbyterianism under 
Charles n., visited Thornton many times. It was the 
scene of the ministration of two famous men, Joseph 
and Accepted Lester, the latter occupying the pulpit of 
Kipping House from 1702 to 1709. In 1760 a brother 
of Dr. Priestley was minister. A certain Robinson Pool 
was pastor during Mr. Bronte's residence at Thornton, 
and with him the father of certain remarkable children, 
who alone interest us much, managed to agree very well. 

At Thornton, then, Charlotte Bronte was born on the 
2ist of April 1816, Branwell in 1817, Emily in 1818, 

1 I am indebted to Mr. J. J. Steal of Jleckmondwike for the following notes: 

FROM IHK RRGISIER o* BAPTISMS, IIAR'ISHUAD-CUM-CLIF'JON, 
YORKSHIRE. 



1814 
April 23 



Maria , daughter of 



Revel. Patrick Bronte William Morgan 
Minister of tins officiating Mini- 
Church, and Maria, : ster. 
his wife. 



FROM THE REGIS i ER 01- BAM ISMS A'i THORNTON CHURCH. 



1815 

Augt. 
26 


Elizabeth 
daughter of 


Patrick 
and 
Maria 


Bronte 


Thorn- 
ton 


J. Fennell 
officiating 
Minister. 



54 



THE BRONTES 



and Anne in I82O. 1 In this last year the family removed 
to Haworth, and in 1821 the poor mother was dead. 
The life of the Brontes at Thornton would be an entire 
blank to us were it not for a slight glimpse of them afforded 
by the diary of his grandmother, which Professor Moore 
Smith of Sheffield has kindly permitted me to publish. 
This lady was Miss Elizabeth Firth, whose father resided 
at Kipping House, Thornton, and was very kind to 
Mr. Bronte, and stood godfather to some of his children. 
Miss F^irth kept a diary, unhappily all too brief, and only the 
Bronte enthusiast will forgive its inclusion in this volume, 
so meagre are its details. 2 But from this document 
we learn that Mr. Bronte was not, at least in the 
early years of his married life, an unsocial person. At 
Haworth he gained that character among the village 
gossips. But, apart from the fact that he did not enjoy 

1 BAPTISMS SOLEMNISED IN THE PARISH OF BRADFORD AND CHAPELRY OF 
THORN i ON IN THE COUNTY ot YORK. 



When 


Child's 


1'ai cat's 


Name 




Quality, 


I?j whom the 


Dapu/< cl. 


Name. 


Chmtian 


c 
Surname 




Profession. 


Performed 


l8l6 
291 h 
June 


Chailotte 
daughter 
of 


The Rev. 
Patrick 
and 
Maria 


Bronte 


Thornton 


Minister 
of 
Thointon 


Wm. Morgan 
Minister of 
Christ Church 
Bradford. 


1817 

July 23 


Patrick 
Branwcll 
son of 


Patrick 
and 
Maria 


Bronte 


Thornton 


Minister 


Jno J'ennell 
officiating 
Minister. 


1818 

20th 

August 


Ktnily 
Jane 
daughter 
of 


The Rev. 
Patrick 
and 
Maria 


Bionte 
A.B. 


Thornton 
Parsonage 


Minister 
of 
Thornton 


Wm. Morgan 
Minister of 
Christ Church 
Bradford. 


1820 
March 
25th 


Anne 
daughter 
of 


The Rev. 
Patrick 
and 
Maria 


Bronte 


Minister of 
Haworth 




Wm. Morgan 
Minister of 
Christ Chinch 
in Bradford. 



a See Appendix II. The Brontes at Thornton. 



THE BRONTES AT THORNTON 55 

many months of married life at Haworth, the following 
letter, which was contributed by Mr. William Dearden of 
Halifax to the Examiner in July 1857, after reading the 
first edition of Mrs. Gaskell's book, is a sufficient answer 
to the charge of moroseness and even savageness that has 
been made against him. The letter has never up to now 
been reprinted : 

In a recent review in the Times of the Life of Charlotte Bronte, 
prominence was given to that portion of the biographer's narrative 
which exhibits in an unfavourable light the domestic character 
of the Rev. P. Bronte, the father of the illustrious Yorkshire- 
woman. As a matter of justice, which it is hoped you will 
honourably concede, the friends of Mr. Bronte claim the privilege, 
through the medium of your columns, of correcting the gross 
misstatements, unscrupulously made, concerning that gentleman 
in the memoir of his daughter. 

The task of a biographer is sacred and responsible. No one 
should undertake it who does not feel sure that he possesses not 
only the ability to furnish, but the judgment to select, the best 
authentic information respecting the personages, living or dead, 
whom he introduces into his pages. If he lack in these essentials 
though his revelations, especially if singular and romantic, may 
interest a large class of readers consequences often ensue, 
mortifying to the unlucky writer, derogatory to the character of the 
dead, and painfully afflicting to the feelings of the living. Hinc 
ilia lacryma in regard to the biographer of Charlotte Bronte. 

It will shortly appear that Mrs. Gaskell has relied for most that 
she has said of Mr. Bronte's conduct towards his family on the 
partial testimony of a single individual the 'good old woman' 
who was the only resident in the parsonage, as a temporary nurse, 
during the illness of Mrs. Bronte. 

That some account should have been given, in the Life of 
Charlotte Bronte, of her father, was naturally to be expected ; 
but then care should have been taken that the materials for 
drawing his domestic portraiture should have been selected from 
undeniably authentic sources ; in other words, that Mr. Bronte 
should have been allowed to sit for his own picture, and not a 
simulacrum been introduced in his stead, which no more resembles 
him than ' I to Hercules. 1 The long-tried and faithful pastor of 



56 THE BRONTfiS 

a flock by whom he is universally revered the father of a family, 
all of whom loved and honoured him, and of whom he is now the 
sole survivor ought to have been treated with at least common 
decency and Christian charity. If it were necessary to introduce 
in the background a gloomy figure to heighten the effect of the 
'Three Bronte Sisters/ surely poor Branwell's spectral shadow 
might have sufficed for such a purpose, without dragging in the 
' child -reft father/ tarred and feathered by the malice of an ignorant 
country gossip. That Mrs. Gaskell did not give the * counterfeit 
presentment' of the Rev. gentleman as the * coinage of her own 
brain/ the public will readily believe ; but they will not so readily 
acquit her of having done a great wrong to a venerable old man, 
'fourscore and upwards' (whom, before she became his public 
accuser, ' the breath of calumny had never tainted '), by credulously 
listening to and recording the malignant misrepresentations of 
a covert and distant enemy, without appealing to those who had 
gathered round his hearth for above a quarter of a century, and 
who, consequently, were best acquainted with the domestic habits 
and conduct of the master of the house. Martha Brown, the 
present housekeeper, an intelligent young woman (who has in her 
possession several interesting letters of Charlotte Bronte's which 
have never been published), has lived in Mr. Bronte's family 
from childhood. Nancy Garrs, now in Bradford, was nurse to 
Mr. Bronte's children during their residence at Thornton ; she 
afterwards removed with the family to Haworth parsonage, and 
became a domestic servant ; there, being joined by her younger 
sister Sarah, who came to assist her, she remained till very near 
the time of Mrs. Bronte's death. Sarah continued with Mr. Bronte 
long after that melancholy event, and is now, I believe, in America. 
One would have imagined that to two at least of the parties 
just mentioned so easily accessible Mrs. Gaskell would have 
applied for information respecting the character and conduct of 
Mr. Bronte, as a husband and a father; but to neither of these, 
nor to any respectable person in Haworth, acquainted with that 
gentleman, has she made application for such a purpose. Had 
she done so, how different would have been the picture she would 
have drawn ! Instead of the cold, stern, stoical, unsympathising 
being she has depicted him in certain fits of hallucination, acting 
the tyrant or the madman she would have represented him as 
an affectionate and considerate husband, and a kind and indulgent 
father. 



THE BRONTfiS AT THORNTON 57 

Mrs. Gaskell -acknowledges that 'the good old woman, Mrs. 
Bronte's nurse, was her informant/ of what she is pleased to term 
'the instances of eccentricity' exemplified by the pastor at 
Haworth a knowledge of which * she holds to be necessary for 
the right understanding of the life of his daughter.' But if these 
'instances,' etc., cannot be proved nay, are absolutely false- 
as we shall shortly see they cannot serve the purpose which 
Mrs. Gaskell ' holds it to be necessary ' that they should serve. 
On the authority of this Abigail, the biographer ends her curious 
category of the qualities of the two sisters, Nancy and Sarah 
Garrs, by designating them ' wasteful ' servants. ' Wasteful ! ' said 
Mr. Bronte to Nancy: 'had you and your sister been wasteful, I 
should have found it out ; but I can truly say that no master was 
ever blessed with two more careful and honest servants.' We 
now see on whose testimony the greatest dependence can be 
placed. 

The nurse says : ' I used to think them (the children) spiritless, 
they were so different to any children I had ever seen. In part I 
set it down to a fancy Mr. Bronte had of not letting them have 
flesh meat to eat It was from no wish for saving, for there was 
plenty and even waste in the house, with young servants, and no 
misiress to see after them ; but he thought the children should 
be brought up simply and hardily ; so they had nothing but potatoes 
for their dinner ; but they never seemed to wish for anything else ; 
they were good little children.' By way of corollary to this 
statement, Mrs. Gaskell adds, ' I imagine Mr. Bronte must have 
formed some of his opinions on the management of children from 
these two theorists' (Rousseau and Mr. Day). She gives an 
example of the evils attending such a mode of treating children, 
which it is not necessary to repeat. ' Mr. Bronte/ she continues, 
' wishes to make his children hardy and indifferent to the pleasures 
oi eating and dress. In the latter he succeeded as far as regarded 
his daughters ; but he went at his object with unsparing earnest- 
ness of purpose/ Nancy Garrs asserts that the children had meat 
at dinner every day in the week, and as much as they could eat ; 
the only article of food from the free use of which they were 
restricted was butter ; but its want was compensated by what is 
called in Yorkshire, * spice-cake/ 

1 Mrs. Bronte's nurse told me/ says Mrs. Gaskell, ' that one day 
when the children had been out on the moor, and rain had come 
on, she thought their feet would be wet, and accordingly she 



58 THE BRONTfiS 

rummaged out some coloured boots which had been given to 
them by a friend, the Mr. Morgan, who married "cousin Jane," 
she believes. The little pairs she ranged round the kitchen fire 
to warm ; but when the children came back, the boots were 
nowhere to be found ; only a very strong odour of burnt leather 
was perceived. Mr. Bronte had come in and seen them ; they 
were too gay and luxurious for his children, and would foster a 
love of dress ; so he put them in the fire. He spared nothing that 
offended his antique simplicity.' It is sufficient to say that there 
is not an atom of truth in this ridiculous story. I make the 
assertion on the authority of Mr. Bronte himself, and of Nancy, 
who declares that such a circumstance as burning the boots could 
not have happened in the kitchen, from which she was rarely 
absent above five minutes at a time during the day, without her 
having a knowledge of it. 

' Long before this,' Mrs. Gaskell declares (on the authority, it is 
presumed, of the aforesaid 'good old woman'), 'some one had 
given Mrs. Bronte a silk gown; either the make, the colour, or the 
material, was not according to his (Mr. Bronte's) notions of con- 
sistent propriety, and Mrs. Bronte in consequence never wore it. 
But for all this she kept it treasured up in her drawers, which 
were generally locked. One day, however, while in the kitchen, 
she remembered that she had left the key in her drawer, and 
hearing Mr. Bronte upstairs, she augured some ill to her dress, 
and running up in haste, she found it cut to shreds. The following 
is the true history of this little affair, as given by Nancy: 'One 
morning Mr. Bronte perceived that his Mrs. had put on a print 
gown, which was made in the fashion of that day, with a long 
waist and what he considered absurd-looking sleeves. In a 
pleasant humour he bantered her about the dress, and she went 
upstairs and laid it aside. Some time after, Mr. Bronte entered 
her room, and cut off the sleeves. In the course of the day, Mrs. 
Bronte found the sleeveless gown, and showed it me in the 
kitchen, laughing heartily. Next day, however, he went to 
Keighley, and bought the material for a silk gown, which was 
made to suit Mr. Bronte's taste.' 

' His strong, passionate, Irish nature/ observes Mrs. Gaskell 
(endorsing, of course, the opinion of her favourite informant), 'was, 
in general, compressed down with resolute stoicism ; but it was 
there, notwithstanding all his philosophic calm and dignity of 
demeanour. He did not speak when he was annoyed or dis- 



THE BRONTfiS AT THORNTON 59 

pleased, but worked off his volcanic wrath by firing pistols out of 
the back door in rapid succession. Mrs. Bronte, lying in bed 
upstairs, would hear the quick explosions, and know that some- 
thing had gone wrong ; but her sweet nature thought invariably 
of the bright side, and she would say, " Ought I not to be thankful 
that he never gave me an angry word? 1 ' Now and then his 
anger took a different form, but still was speechless. Once he got 
the hearthrug, and stuffing it up the grate, deliberately set it on fire, 
remained in the room in spite of the stench, until it had mouldered 
and shrivelled away into uselessness. Another time he took some 
chairs, and sawed away at the backs till they were reduced to the 
condition of stools." All this about firing the pistols, burning the 
hearthrug, and sawing away at the chair-backs, I am assured by 
Mr. Bronte, and by Nancy too, is a tissue of falsehoods. 

' Owing to some illness of the digestive organs/ says Mrs- 
Gaskell, ' Mr. Bronte was obliged to be very careful about his diet; 
and, in order to avoid the temptation, and possibly to have the 
necessary quiet for digestion, he had begun, before his wife's death, 
to take his dinner alone a habit which he always retained. He 
did not require companionship, therefore he did not seek it, either 
in his walks, or in daily life.' Nancy states that she never heard 
of Mr. Bronte's being troubled with indigestion, but even if he 
were, it did not prevent him from dining with his family every 
day. His children were the frequent companions of his walks. I 
remember having seen him more than once conversing kindly and 
affably with them in the studio of a clever artist who resided in 
Keighley ; and many others, both in that town and in Haworth, 
can bear testimony to the fact of his being often seen accompanied 
by his young family in his visits to friends, and in his rambles 
among the hills. 

I may remark, in passing, that the sad story of 'a wealthy 
manufacturer beyond Keighley' unnecessarily and cruelly intro- 
duced has occasioned more pain among his descendants, whom, 
Mrs. Gaskell says, 'the strong feeling of the country-side still 
holds as accursed,' a degree of pain which a whole life's penance 
by the narrator could not remove. 

Mrs. Gaskell speaks truly and well of the good terms on which 
Charlotte Bronte (and she might have added the father and 
Branwell too) lived with the servants Nancy and Sarah Garrs, 
* who cannot,' she says, * speak of the family without tears. 1 To 
show the estimation in which these two sisters were held, I may 



60 THE BRONTES 

remark that Mr. Bronte presented them with ten pounds, when 
the younger finally quitted his service ; and his daughter 
Charlotte, having heard that the latter, shortly after her arrival 
at her home in Bradford, had been attacked by a violent fever, 
went to see her, and in spite of every remonstrance, entered the 
room of the sick girl, threw herself on the bed beside her, and, 
with terms of affectionate regard, repeatedly kissed her burning 
brow. Warmly was this kindly feeling on the part of the Bronte 
family reciprocated by Nancy and her sister; 'the former of 
whom,' says Mrs. Gaskell, ' went over from Bradford to Haworth 
on purpose to see Mr. Bronte, and offer him her true sympathy, 
when his last child died.' An amusing instance is afforded by 
Nancy of her appreciation of Mr. Bronte's character as a husband, 
and of his concern for her welfare. One day he entered the 
kitchen, apparently in great excitement. ' Nancy,' said he, ' is it 
true what I have heard that you are going to marry a Pat?' 
1 Yes, sir, I believe it is,' was her prompt reply ; 'and if he prove 
but a tenth part as kind a husband to me as you have been to 
Mrs. Bronte, I shall think myself very happy in having made a 
Pat my choice.' 

Whether another edition of Mrs. Gaskell's book will see the 
light or not, it is the duty of Mr. Bronte's friends to see to it that 
they do not suffer his grey hairs to go down to the grave with the 
injurious aspersions on his character, contained in it, unremoved. 
'I did not know,' said the venerable old man, a few weeks ago, ' that 
I had an enemy in the world ; much less one who would traduce 
me before my death. Everything in that book (meaning the 
biography of his daughter) which relates to my conduct to my 
family is either false or distorted. I never committed such acts 
as are there ascribed to me. I stated this in a letter which I sent 
to Mrs. Gaskell, requesting her at the same time to cancel the 
false statements about me in the next edition of her book. To 
this I received no other answer than that Mrs. Gaskell was unwell 
and not able to write.' 

I have not the remotest wish to injure Mrs. Gaskell in the 
estimation of the public by exposing these ' false statements ' 
which she has made concerning Mr. Bronte in her biography of his 
daughter; but she has done great injustice to a good and amiable 
man, and it is but right that both she and the world should see 
that she has done so. She ought not, for the sake of establishing 
a theory to account for certain peculiarities in Charlotte Bronte's 



THE BRONTES AT THORNTON 61 

character, to have limited her inquiries to one particular party 
and that party, as has been shown, not the most impartial and 
trustworthy. Character, she has found by humiliating experience, 
is too sacred a thing to be trifled with even though the truth be 
spoken of the living and the dead. The terror of the law, like the 
ancient rack, may extort recantations of former avowed facts and 
opinions ; but the public cannot respect the pusillanimity that 
repudiates what an erring judgment revealed to the world. A 
Branwell's story told with such evident gusto, vanishes into the 
limbo of fiction, when the Medusa of Law shakes her snaky locks 
at the trembling narrator it is a myth imposed upon the credulity 
of one who wished to make a book; and the writer is deeply sorry 
that she has given it publicity. It is to be hoped poor Branwell 
will meet with a more discreet and Spartan biographer than he 
has found in Mrs. Gaskell. No legal threat from the man of 
peace, whom she, no doubt, unintentionally wronged, will ever 
subject her to the painful necessity of making humiliating confes- 
sions of her culpable credulity. He has justified himself; and he 
leaves it to the writer of the Life of Charlotte Bronte to speak of 
him, in future, with candour and truth. 

Neither from the biography of Mrs. Gaskell nor from 
any of the numerous books upon the subject of the 
Brontes do we really learn anything of the life of the family 
at Thornton, although that village is rendered so famous 
by the birth of the Bronte children there. One is the 
more grateful, therefore, for the meagre diary of Elizabeth 
Firth, with its records of constant visits, tea-drinkings, and 
social intercourse. Mr. Bronte appears in it in a quite 
pleasant light, and we may be quite sure that he was, on the 
whole, a gentle, considerate husband. Miss Firth was but 
eighteen years of age when Mr. Bronte removed to 
Thornton in 1815. She had, it is interesting to note, 
been a pupil of Miss Richmal Mangnall, the author of the 
once famous MangnalFs Questions, who for many years 
kept a school at Wakefield. From her we learn much 
that we do not obtain elsewhere, as for example the inter- 
esting fact that when Charlotte was born the future 
author of Jane Eyre was named after an aunt in Cornwall 



62 THE BRONTES 

Mrs. Bronte had her sister Elizabeth staying with her, 
that sister who was to become a second mother to Char- 
lotte in the coming years. Charlotte was nearly four years 
of age when her father exchanged the living of Thornton 
for that of Haworth, six miles away. He had been five 
years at Thornton. Haworth offered him many attrac- 
tions a healthier environment for his delicate wife, a 
better and more commodious house for his six little 
children ; no increase of income, it is true, but no material 
loss and no great separation for so good a walker from 
his great friends, the Firths of Thornton. Mr. Bronte, it 
is clear, took the service at Haworth from February 1820, 
although he did not remove his family to the Haworth 
parsonage until April of that year. ' There are those yet 
alive,' wrote Mrs. Gaskell in 1857, * who remember seven 
heavily laden carts lumbering slowly up the long stone 
street 1 of Haworth 'bearing the new parson's household 
goods to his future abode.' 



INFANCY AT HAWORTH 08 



CHAPTER III 

INFANCY AT HAWORTH AND COWAN BRIDGE 

HAWORTH, we have been told, has been over-described. 
Yet nothing could be more pardonable than the attempt 
to present in word-painting this not particularly pictur- 
esque mill-town of the north. 1 The visitor who drives 
over from Ilkley has glimpses of the glorious moors which 
must alone have served to give moments of buoyancy ancl 
exhilaration to the children who lived the story we have 
to tell. Approached from Keighley, the little town seems 
but a dreary, monotonous climb for the pedestrian, unless 
he recalls the fact that these Bronte children toiled often 
on foot the self-same journey, bringing back books from 
the library of the old Mechanics' Institute, and thereby 
supplementing the scantily furnished book-shelves of their 
own home. Arriving in the little town, one is still arrested 
by the sign of the ' Bull,' an inn that appears more than 
once in the Bronte story. One observes the church not 
the building in which Mr. Bronte officiated and close by, 
separated by a graveyard, the house in which our story 
was in the main lived. The original church, built by 
William GrimshawMn 1755, was destroyed in 1879, and 

1 Pigot's Yorkshire Directory of 1828 gives the census during the first year of 
Mr. Bronte's incumbency thus : 

' HAWORTH, a populous manufacturing village, in the honour of Fontefract, Morley 
wapentake, and in the parish of Bradford, is four miles south of Keighley, containing, 
by the census of 1821, 4668 inhabitants. 

'Gentry and Clergy: Bronte, Rev. Patrick, Haworth ; Heaton, Robert, gent., 
Ponden Hall ; Miles, Rev. Oddy, Haworth ; Saunders, Rev. Moses, Haworth.' 

2 William Grimshaw (1708-1763) was Mr. Bronte's most famous predecessor as 
perpetual incumbent at Haworth, He was here from 1742 to his death, and struck 



tf4 THE BRONTES 

the present new building was opened two years later. 
The tower, however, remains ; and the churchyard ; and 
the house, with all its sad and sacred associations. 

For a good view of Haworth we cannot, however, do 
better than turn to a reference-book of 1848 Pigot's 
Yorkshire Directory and see the place coldly, statistically 
as it appeared at the moment when the Bronte children 
were about to become famous : 

Haworth is a chapelry, comprising the hamlets of Haworth, 
Stanbury, and Near and Far Oxenhope, in the parish of Bradford, 
and wapentake of Morley, West Riding Haworth being ten miles 
from Bradford, about the same distance from Halifax, Colne, and 
Skipton, three and a half miles S. from Keighley, and eight from 
Hebden Bridge, at which latter place is a station on the Leeds and 
Manchester Railway. Haworth is situated on the side of a hill, 
and consists of one irregularly built street the habitations in that 
part called Oxenhope being yet more scattered, and Stanbury still 
farther distant ; the entire chapelry occupying a wide space. The 
spinning of worsted, and the manufacture of stufTs, are branches 
which here prevail extensively. 

The church or rather chapel (subject to Bradford), dedicated 
to St. Michael, was rebuilt in 1755: the living is a perpetual 
curacy, in the presentation of the vicar of Bradford and certain 
trustees ; the present curate is the Rev. Patrick Bronte. The 
other places of worship are two chapels for Baptists, one each 
for Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, and another at Oxenhope 
for the latter denomination. There are two excellent free schools 
one at Stanbury, the other, called the Free Grammar School, 
near Oxenhope ; besides which there are several neat edifices 
erected for Sunday teaching. There are three annual fairs : they 
are held on Easter-Monday, the second Monday after St. Peter's 
day (old style), and the first Monday after Old Michaelmas day. 
The chapelry of Haworth, and its dependent hamlets, contained 
by the returns for 1831, 5835 inhabitants; and by the census 
taken in June 1841, the population amounted to 6303. 

the note of revivalism in Yorkshire simultaneously with John Wesley's efforts. He 
died at llawoith, but was buried in Luddenden church near his wife. John Newton 
of the Olney Hymns wrote his Life. John Wesley pieached at Haworth in 1757, 1761, 
1766, 1772, 1786, 1788 and 1790; and George Whitefield also preached here manv 
times. 



INFANCY AT HA WORTH 65 

Then we may turn to Mrs. Gaskell's own description 
from inquiries made on the spot' soon after Charlotte 
Bronte's death : 

The people in Haworth were none of them very poor. Many 
of them were employed in the neighbouring worsted mills ; a few 
were millowners and manufacturers in a small way ; there were 
also some shopkeepers for the humbler and everyday wants ; but 
for medical advice, for stationery, books, law, dress, or dainties the 
inhabitants had to go to Keighley. There were several Sunday- 
schools ; the Baptists had taken the lead in instituting them, the 
Wesleyans had followed, the Church of England had brought up 
the rear. Good Mr. Grimshaw, Wesley's friend, had built a 
humble Methodist chapel, but it stood close to the road leading 
on to the moor ; the Baptists then raised a place of worship, with 
the distinction of being a few yards back from the highway ; and 
the Methodists have since thought it well to erect another and 
larger chapel, still more retired from the road. Mr. Bronte was 
ever on kind and friendly terms with each denomination as a 
body; but from individuals in the village the family stood aloof, 
unless some direct service was required, from the first. * They 
kept themselves very close/ is the account given by those who 
remember Mr. and Mrs. Bronte's coming amongst them. I 
believe many of the Yorkshire men would object to the system 
of parochial visiting; their surly independence would revolt from 
the idea of any one having the right, from his office, to inquire 
into their condition, to counsel or to admonish them. The old 
hill spirit lingers in them which coined the rhyme, inscribed on 
the under part of one of the seats in the sedilia of Whalley Abbey, 
not many miles from Haworth : 

' Who mells wi' what another does 
Had best go home and shoe his goose.' 

I asked an inhabitant of a district close to Haworth what sort 
of a clergyman they had at the church which he attended. 

' A rare good one/ said he : * he minds his own business, and 
ne'er troubles himself with ours.' 

Haworth needs even to-day no further description, but 
if the village has been over-described, the house in which 
Mr. Bronte resided, from 1820 till his death in 1861, has 

VOL. i. E 



66 THE BRONTfiS 

not been over-described, perhaps because for many years 
the vicar who succeeded Mr. Bronte did not encourage 
visitors. 

Many changes have been made since Mr. Bronte died, 
but the house still retains its essentially interesting features. 
In the time of the Brontes, it is true, the front outlook was 
as desolate as to-day it is attractive. Then there was a 
little piece of barren ground running down to the walls 
of the churchyard, with here and there a currant-bush as 
the sole adornment. Now we see an abundance of trees 
and a well-kept lawn. Ellen Nussey was wont to recall 
seeing Emily and Anne Bronte, on a fine summer after- 
noon, sitting on stools in this bit of garden plucking 
currants from the poor insignificant bushes. There was 
no premonition of the time, not so far distant, when the 
rough doorway separating the churchyard from the garden, 
which was opened for their mother when they were little 
children, should be opened again time after time in rapid 
succession for their own biers to be carried through. 1 This 
gateway is now effectively bricked up. In the days of the 
Brontes it was reserved for the passage of the dead a 
grim arrangement, which, strange to say, finds no place 
in any one of the sisters' stones. We enter the house, and 
the door on the right leads into Mr. Bronte's study, always 
called the parlour ; that on the left into the dining-room, 
where the children spent a great portion of their lives. 
From childhood to womanhood, indeed, the three girls 
regularly breakfasted with their father in his study. In 
the dining-room a square and simple room of a kind 
common enough in the houses of the poorer middle classes 

1 The graves rise in terraces up to the house. It was a cruel irony, considering the 
brief lives of Mrs. Bronte and her children, that against the wall of the church was a short 
headstone recording remarkable instances of longevity of the Murgatroyds of Lee: 
Susan, wife of John, 1785, aged 86; John, 1789, aged 88; James, their son, 1820, 
aged 95; Ann, his wife, 1831, aged 85; Sarah, wife of John, 1846, aged 70; and 
John (son of James), 1862, aged 85. United ages, 509. See Haworth Past and 
Present^ by J liorsfall Turnei, lor a lull account of the Hawoiih tombstones. 



INFANCY AT HAWORTH 67 

they ate their midday dinner, their tea and supper. Mr. 
Bronte joined them at tea, although he frequently dined 
alone in his study. The children's dinner-table has been 
described to me by the late Ellen Nussey, who delighted 
to recall her memories of her many visits to the house. 
At one end sat Miss Bran well, at the other, Charlotte, 
with Emily and Anne on either side. Branwell was then 
absent. The living was of the simplest. A single joint, 
followed invariably by one kind or another of milk-pudding. 
Pastry was unknown in the Bronte household. Milk- 
puddings, or food composed of milk and rice, would seem 
to have made the principal diet of Emily and Anne Bronte, 
and to this they added a breakfast of Scotch porridge, 
which they shared with their dogs. It is more interesting, 
perhaps, to think of all the day-dreams in that room, of the 
mass of writing which was achieved there, of the conversa- 
tions and speculation as to the future. Miss Nussey has 
given a pleasant picture of twilight when Charlotte and 
she walked with arms encircling one another round and 
round the table, and Emily and Anne followed in similar 
fashion. There was no lack of cheerfulness and of hope 
at this period. Behind Mr. Bronte's studio was the 
kitchen ; and there we may easily picture the Bronte 
children telling stories to Tabby or Martha, or to what- 
ever servant reigned at the time, and learning, as all of 
them did, to become thoroughly domesticated Emily 
most of all. Behind the dining-room was a peat-room, 
which, when Charlotte was married in 1854, was cleared 
out and converted into a little study for Mr. Nicholls. 
The staircase with its solid banister remains as it did half 
a century ago ; and at its foot one is still shown the corner 
which tradition assigns as the scene of Emily's conflict 
with her dog Keeper. On the right, at the back, as you 
mount the staircase, was a small room allotted to Branwell 
as a studio. On the other side of this staircase, also at 
the back, was the servants' room. In the front of the 



68 THE BRONTfiS 

house, immediately over the dining-room, was Miss Bran- 
weirs room, afterwards the spare bedroom until Charlotte 
Bronte married. In that room she died. On the left, 
over Mr. Bronte's study, was Mr. Bronte's bedroom. It 
was the room which, for many years, he shared with 
Branwell, and it was in that room that Branwell and his 
father died at an interval of nearly thirteen years. On 
the staircase, half-way up, was a grandfather's clock, which 
Mr. Bronte used to wind up every night on his way to bed. 
He always went to bed at nine o'clock, and Miss Nussey 
well remembers his stentorian tones as he called out as 
he left his study and passed the dining-room door * Don't 
be up late, children' which they usually were. Between 
these two front rooms upstairs, and immediately over the 
passage, with a door facing the staircase, was a box room ; 
This was the children's nursery, where for many years 
the children slept, and where, I believe, the bulk of 
their little books were compiled. Later it became Emily's 
bedroom. 

But this is to anticipate. In September 1821 Mrs. 
Bronte died after less than eighteen months of Haworth. 
Maria, the eldest of her six children, was but eight years 
of age. No wonder that Mr. Bronte sought a stepmother 
for his little ones. Tradition has it, as we have seen, that 
he asked Mary Burder and Elizabeth Firth in succession, 
but that both these ladies refused. In any case, one may 
count Mr. Bronte fortunate that his wife's sister, Elizabeth 
Branwell, whom we have seen upon a visit to her brother- 
in-law in Thornton, consented to come from Penzance to 
watch over the six little ones. Mrs. Gaskell tells, indeed, 
of her distaste for Yorkshire and Haworth after her own 
sunny Cornish home ; but it is clear that she did her duty 
and was profoundly esteemed by the nieces who sur- 
vived her. Miss Branwell arrived at Haworth in 1822. 
Two years later, on July i, 1824, her nieces, Maria and 
Elizabeth, were taken to the Clergy Daughters' School 



INFANCY AT HAWORTH 69 

at Cowan Bridge ; Charlotte followed in August of that 
year and Emily in November. In February of 1825 
Maria was taken away in ill-health, Elizabeth left in May, 
Charlotte and Emily in June. 1 Thus it will be seen that 
Charlotte's impressions were of the most transitory kind, 
but she always believed that the school had practically 
killed her two elder sisters, both of whom died soon after 
they arrived back in Haworth. We know how she 
gibbeted the school in her novel of Jane Eyre> and 
Mrs. Gaskell's identification of Lowood in that novel 
caused much wordy discussion in the years following 
Charlotte Bronte's death. That the school was bad for 
delicate and sensitive children seems now to be beyond 
question. Mr. William Carus Wilson, an energetic 
evangelical clergyman, may have been as well-meaning as 
his friends asserted, but a study of his writings 2 reveals a 
temperament which was in no way exaggerated as pre- 
sented by Charlotte Bronte in her picture of Brocklehurst 
in Jane Eyre. There pretty well we may leave that 
threadbare controversy to rest. 8 

1 !t\\z Journal of Education for January 1900 contained the following extracts from 
the school register of the Clergy Daughters' School at Casterton : 

'Charlotte Bronte. Entered August 10, 1824. Writes indifferently. Ciphers a 
little, and works neatly. Knows nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplish- 
ments. Altogether clever of her age, but knows nothing systematically (at eight years 
old !). Left school June I, 1825. Governess.' 

The following entries may also be of interest : 

* Maria Bronte, aged 10 (daughter of Patrick Bronte, Haworth, near Keighley, 
Yorks). July I, 1824. Reads tolerably. Writes pretty well. Ciphers a little. Works 
badly. Very little of geography or history. lias made some progress in reading 
French, but knows knothmg of the language grammatically. Left February 14, 1825, 
in ill-health, and died May 6, 1825.' 

(Her father's account of her is: 'She exhibited during her illness many symptoms 
of a heart under Divine influence. Died of decline.') 

' Elizabeth Bronte, age 9. (Vaccinated. Scarlet fever, whooping-cough.) Reads 
little. Writes pretty well. Ciphers none (sic). Works very badly. Knows nothing of 
grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments. Left m ill-health, May 31, 1825. 
Died June 15, 1825, in decline.' 

' Emily Bronte. Entered November 25, 1824, aged 6|. Reads very prettily, and 
works a little. Left June I, 1825. Subsequent career. Governess.' 

2 See Appendix in. 7^he Brontes at Cowan Bridge, by the Rev. Angus M. Mackay. 
Repubhshed from The Bookman of October 1894. 

8 At the same time it is worth while quoting from a letter by * A. H.' in August 1855. 



70 THE BRONTES 

A, H. was a teacher who was at Cowan Bridge during the time of the residence of the 
little Brontes there. 

'In July 1824 the Rev. Mr. Bronte arrived at Cowan Bridge with two of his 
daughters, Maria and Eluabeth, 10 and 9 years of age. The children were delicate; 
both had but recently recovered from the measles and whooping-cough- so recently, 
indeed, that doubts were entertained whether they could be admitted with safety to 
the other pupils. They were received, however, and went on so well that in August l 
their father returned, bringing with him two more of his children Charlotte, 9 [she 
was really but 8], and Emily, 6 years of age. During both these visits Mr. Bronte 
lodged at the school, sat at the same table with the children, saw the whole routine of 
the establishment, and, so far as I have ever known, was satisfied with everything that 
came under his observation. 

"' The two younger children enjoyed uniformly good health." Charlotte was a 
general favourite. To the best of my recollection she was never under disgrace, how- 
ever slight j punishment she certainly did not experience while she was at Cowan 
Bridge. 

' In size, Charlotte was remarkably diminutive ; and if, as has been recently asserted, 
she never grew an inch after leaving the Clergy Danghters' School, she must have been 
a literal dwarf, and could not have obtained a situation as teacher in a school at 
Brussels, or anywhere else ; the idea is absurd. In respect of the treatment of the 
pupils at Cowan Bridge, I will say that neither Mr. Bronte's daughters nor any other 
of the children were denied a sufficient quantity of food. Any statement to the contrary 
is entirely false. The daily dinner consisted of meat, vegetables, and pudding, in 
abundance ; the children were permitted, and expected, to ask for whatever they desired, 
and were never limited. 

4 It has been remarked that the food of the school was such that none but starving 
children could eat it ; and m support of this statement reference is made to a certain 
occasion when the medical attendant was consulted about it. In reply to this, let me 
say that during the spring of 1825 a low fever, although not an alarming one, prevailed 
in the school, and the managers, naturally anxious to ascertain whether any local cause 
occasioned the epidemic, took an opportunity to ask the physician's opinion of the food 
that happened to be then on the table. I recollect that he spoke rather scornfully of 
a baked rice pudding ; but as the ingredients of this dish were chiefly rice, sugar, and 
milk, its effects could hardly have been so serious as have been affirmed. I thus furnish 
you with the simple fact from which those statements have been manufactured. 

' I have not the least hesitation in saying that, upon the whole, the comforts were as 
many and the privations as few at Cowan Bridge as can well be found in so large an 
establishment. How far young or delicate children are able to contend with the 
necessary evils of a public school is, in my opinion, a very grave question, and does not 
enter into the present discussion. 

The youngei children in all larger institutions are liable to be oppressed; but the 
exposure to this evil at Cowan Bridge was not more than in other schools, but, as I 
believe, far less. Then, again, thoughtless servants will occasionally spoil food, even 
in private families ; and in public schools they are likely to be still less particular, unless 
they are well looked after. 

* But in ihis respect the institution in question compares very favourably with other 
and more expensive schools, as from personal experience I have reason to know. A H., 
August 1855.' From A Vindication of the Clergy Daughters' School and the Rev. W. 
Carus Wilson from the Remarks m * The I tje of Charlotte Bronte? by the Rev //. 
Shepheard, M.A. London. Suley^Jackson y and Halliday, 1857. 



Emily did not enter the school until Nov. 25, 1824. 



A LITERARY CHILDHOOD 71 



CHAPTER IV 

A LITERARY CHILDHOOD 

FROM her tenth to her fifteenth year Charlotte Bronte was 
at home with her brother and two sisters in the Haworth 
parsonage. We have many glimpses of her of an indirect 
character afforded of these early years. There is a copy 
of The Imitation of Christ extant, given to Charlotte in 
1826, and there are other books that we know the children 
read during this period, including Scott's Tales of a 
Grandfather. They also commenced 'original writing 
compositions/ as so many children of precocious tendencies 
do to the joy of fond and ambitious parents. But I am 
not sure that children often cultivate the minute hand- 
writing that was affected by the Bronte prodigies. There 
are perhaps a hundred little manuscript books in existence, 
principally the work of Charlotte and Branwell, some few, 
however, by Emily and Anne. They were compiled in a 
microscopic handwriting probably from reasons of economy. 
Pence, we may be sure, were scarce with the little ones. 
The booklets were stitched and covered, sugar-paper 
being in most cases used for the wrappers. It is not 
possible to trace any particular talent in these little books, 
many of which bear the date 1829. Assuredly hundreds 
of children who have never come to fame have written 
quite as well. It is noteworthy, however, that the little 
Brontes had their heroes, who were also the heroes of the 
hour. They took the victorious Duke of Wellington to 
their hearts, and also the duke's sons, the Marquis of 
Douro and Lord Charles Wellesley, who figure largely in 



72 THE BRONTfiS 

their tiny pages. It was a life of dreams, of a kind that 
children delight in, that indeed makes the life of childhood 
ever alternately beautiful and terrible. On the wild 
moors behind the house there must have been in any 
case much supreme happiness for the little Brontes in 
the early years that preceded the real schooldays now 
opening to them. 

Of the work of the Bronte children at this period 
a great deal might be written. Mrs. Gaskell gives a list 
of some eighteen booklets, but a great many more from 
the pen of Charlotte are in existence. Branwell was 
equally prolific; and of him, also, there remains an immense 
mass of childish effort. That Emily and Anne were in- 
dustrious in a like measure there is abundant reason to 
believe ; but very few of their juvenile efforts remain to 
us, apart from the unpublished fragments of later years, 
to which reference will be made a little later. Whether 
Emily and Anne on the eve of their death deliberately 
destroyed all their treasures, or whether they were de- 
stroyed by Charlotte in the days of her mourning, will 
never be known. Meanwhile one turns with interest to 
the efforts of Charlotte and Branwell. Charlotte's little 
stories commence in her thirteenth year, and go on until 
she is twenty-three. From thirteen to eighteen she would 
seem to have had one absorbing hero the Duke of 
Wellington. Whether the stories be fairy tales or dramas 
of modern life, they all alike introduce the Marquis of 
Douro, who afterwards became the second Duke of 
Wellington, and Lord Charles Wellesley, whose son is now 
the third Duke of Wellington. The length of some of 
these fragments is indeed incredible. They fill but a few 
sheets of notepaper in that tiny handwriting ; but when 
copied by zealous admirers, it is seen that more than one 
of them is twenty thousand words in length. 1 

The Foundling, by Captain Tree, written in 1833, * s a 

1 See Appendix iv. The Bronte Manuscripts. 



A LITERARY CHILDHOOD 73 

story of thirty-five thousands words, though the manuscript 
has only eighteen pages. The Green Dwarf, written in 
the same year, is even longer," and indeed after her return 
from Roe Head in 1832, Charlotte must have devoted 
herself to continuous writing. The Adventures of Ernest 
Alcmbert is a booklet of these years, and Arthuriana, 
or Odds and Ends: being a Miscellaneous Collection of 
Pieces in Prose and Verse, by Lord Charles A. F. Wel- 
lesley, is yet another. 

The son of the Iron Duke is made to talk, in these little 
books, in a way which would have gladdened the heart of 
a modern interviewer : 

' Lord Charles/ said Mr. Rundle to me one afternoon lately, 
1 1 have an engagement to drink tea with an old college chum 
this evening, so I shall give you sixty lines of the JEneitt to get 
ready during my absence. If it is not ready by the time I come 
back you know the consequences.' * Very well, sir/ said I, bring- 
ing out the books with a prodigious bustle, and making a show as 
if I intended to learn a whole book instead of sixty lines of the 
&neid. This appearance of industry, however, lasted no longer 
than until the old gentleman's back was turned. No sooner had 
he fairly quitted the room than I flung aside the musty tomes, 
took my cap, and speeding through chamber, hall, and gallery, 
was soon outside the gates of Waterloo Palace/ 

The Secret, another story, of which Mrs. Gaskell gave a 
facsimile of the first page, was also written in 1833, an< 3 
indeed in this, her seventeenth year, Charlotte Bronte 
must have written as much as in any year of her life. 
When at Roe Head, 1831-2, she would seem to have 
worked at her studies, and particularly her drawing ; but 
in the interval between Cowan Bridge and Roe Head she 
wrote a great deal. The earliest manuscripts in my pos- 
session bear date 1829 that is to say, in Charlotte's 
thirteenth year. They are her Tales of the Islanders, 
which extend to four little volumes, in brown paper covers, 
neatly inscribed * First Volume,' * Second Volume/ and so 



74 THE BRONTfiS 

on. The Duke is of absorbing importance in these 
'Tales.' 'One evening the Duke of Wellington was 
writing in his room in Downing Street. He was reposing 
at his ease in a simple easy-chair, smoking a homely 
tobacco-pipe, for he disdained all the modern frippery of 
cigars, . . .' and so on in an abundance of childish imagin- 
ings. The Search after Happiness and Characters of Great 
Men of the Present Time were also written in 1829. Per- 
haps the only juvenile fragment which is worth anything is 
also the only one in which she escapes from the Wellington 
enthusiasm. It has an interest, moreover, in indicating that 
Charlotte in her girlhood heard something of her father's 
native land. It is called 



AN ADVENTURE IN IRELAND 

During my travels in the south of Ireland the following adven- 
ture happened to me. One evening in the month of August, after 
a long walk, I was ascending the mountain which overlooks the 
village of Cahin, when I suddenly came in sight of a fine old 
castle. It was built upon a rock, and behind it was a large wood 
and before it was a river. Over the river was a bridge, which 
formed the approach to the castle. When I arrived at the bridge 
I stood still awhile to enjoy the prospect around me : far below 
was the wide sheet of still water in which the reflection of the 
pale moon was not disturbed by the smallest wave ; in the valley 
was the cluster of cabins which is known by the appellation of 
Cahin, and beyond these were the mountains of Killala. Over 
all, the grey robe of twilight was now stealing with silent and 
scarcely perceptible advances. No sound except the hum of the 
distant village and the sweet song of the nightingale in the wood 
behind me broke upon the stillness of the scene. While I was 
contemplating this beautiful prospect, a gentleman, whom I had 
not before observed, accosted me with ' Good evening, sir ; are 
you a stranger in these parts ? ' I replied that I was. He then 
asked me where I was going to stop for the night ; I answered 
that I intended to sleep somewhere in the village. ' I am afraid 
you will find very bad accommodation there/ said the gentle- 
man ; ' but if you will take up your quarters with me at the 



A LITERARY CHILDHOOD 75 

castle, you are welcome.' I thanked him for his kind offer, and 
accepted it. 

When we arrived at the castle I was shown into a large parlour, 
in which was an old lady sitting in an arm-chair by the fireside, 
knitting. On the rug lay a very pretty tortoise-shell cat. As 
soon as mentioned, the old lady rose ; and when Mr. O'Callaghan 
(for that, I learned, was his name) told her who I was, she said in 
the most cordial tone that I was welcome, and asked me to sit 
down. In the course of conversation I learned that she was Mr. 
O'Callaghan's mother, and that his father had been dead about a 
year. We had sat about an hour, when supper was announced, 
and after supper Mr. O'Callaghan asked me if I should like to 
retire for the night. I answered in the affirmative, and a little 
boy was commissioned to show me to my apartment. It was a 
snug, clean, and comfortable little old-fashioned room at the top 
of the castle. As soon as we had entered, the boy, who appeared 
to be a shrewd, good-tempered little fellow, said with a shrug of 
the shoulder, ' If it was going to bed I was, it shouldn't be here 
that you 'd catch me.' * Why ? ' said I. ' Because/ replied the 
boy, * they say that the ould masther's ghost has been seen sitting 
on that there chair.' * And have you seen him ? ' * No ; but I 've 
heard him washing his hands in that basin often and often.* 
4 What is your name, my little fellow ? ' ' Dennis Mulready, please 
your honour.' * Well, good-night to you.' ' Good-night, masther ; 
and may the saints keep you from all fairies and brownies/ said 
Dennis as he left the room. 

As soon as I had laid down I began to think of what the boy 
had been telling me, and I confess I felt a strange kind of fear, 
and once or twice I even thought I could discern something white 
through the darkness which surrounded me. At length, by the 
help of reason, I succeeded in mastering these, what some would 
call idle fancies, and fell asleep. I had slept about an hour when 
a strange sound awoke me, and I saw looking through my curtains 
a skeleton wrapped in a white sheet. I was overcome with terror 
and tried to scream, but my tongue was paralysed and my whole 
frame shook with fear. In a deep hollow voice it said to me, 
1 Arise, that I may show thee this world's wonders/ and in an 
instant I found myself encompassed with clouds and darkness. 
But soon the roar of mighty waters fell upon my ear, and I saw 
some clouds of spray arising from high falls that rolled in awful 
majesty down tremendous precipices, and then foamed and thun- 



76 THE BRONTES 

dered in the gulf beneath as if they had taken up their unquiet 
abode in some giant's cauldron. But soon the scene changed, and 
I found myself in the mines of Cracone. There were high pillars 
and stately arches, whose glittering splendour was never excelled 
by the brightest fairy palaces. There were not many lamps, only 
those of a few poor miners, whose rough visages formed a striking 
contrast to the dazzling figures and grandeur which surrounded 
them. But in the midst of all this magnificence I felt an indescrib- 
able sense of fear and terror, for the sea raged above us, and by 
the awful and tumultuous noises of roaring winds and dashing 
waves, it seemed as if the storm was violent. And now the mossy 
pillars groaned beneath the pressure of the ocean, and the glitter- 
ing arches seemed about to be overwhelmed. When I heard the 
rushing waters and saw a mighty flood rolling towards me, I gave 
a loud shriek of terror. The scene vanished, and I found myself 
in a wide desert full of barren rocks and high mountains. As 
I was approaching one of the rocks, in which there was a large 
cave, my foot stumbled and I fell. Just then I heard a deep 
growl, and saw by the unearthly light of his own fiery eyes a royal 
lion rousing himself from his kingly slumbers. His terrible eye 
was fixed upon me, and the desert rang and the rocks echoed with 
the tremendous roar of fierce delight which he uttered as he sprang 
towards me. 'Well, masther, it's been a windy ni^ht, though 
it's fine now,' said Dennis, as he drew the window-curtain and let 
the bright rays of the morning sun into the little old-fashioned 
room at the top of O'Callaghan Castle. C. BRONTE, 

April the 28M, 1829, 

Six numbers of The Young Meris Magazine were 
written in 1829: a very juvenile poem, The Evening 
Walk, by the Marquis of Douro, in 1830; and another, 
of greater literary value, The Violet, in the same year. In 
1831 we have an unfinished poem, The Trumpet Hath 
Sounded\ and in 1832, a very long poem called The 
Bridal. Some of them, as for example a poem called 
Richard Coeur de Lion and Blondel, are written in penny 
and twopenny notebooks of the kind used by laundresses. 
Occasionally her father has purchased a sixpenny book 
and has written within the cover 



A LITERARY CHILDHOOD 77 

All that is written in this book must be in a good, plain, 
and legible hand. P. B. 

While upon this topic, I may as well carry the record 
up to the date of publication of Currer Bell's poems. 
A Leaf from an Unopened Volume was written in 1834, 
as were also The Death of Darius, and Corner Dishes. 
Saul: a Poem, was written in 1835, anc ^ a number of 
other still unpublished verses. There is a story called 
Lord Dour o, bearing date 1837, and a manuscript book of 
verses of 1838, but that pretty well exhausts the manu- 
scripts before me previous to the days of serious literary 
activity. During the years as private governess (1839- 
1841) and the Brussels experiences (1842-1843), Charlotte 
would seem to have put all literary effort on one side. 

There is only one letter of Charlotte Bronte's childhood. 
It is endorsed by Mr. Bronte on the cover * Charlotte's 
First Letter/ possibly for the guidance of Mrs. Gaskell, 
who may perhaps have thought it of insufficient import- 
ance. That can scarcely be the opinion of any one to-day. 
Charlotte, aged thirteen, is staying with the Fennells, her 
mother's friends of those early love-letters. 

Letter I 

TO THE REV. P. BRONTfi 

PARSONAGE HOUSE, CROSSTONE, 1 

September ?.yd, 1829. 

MY DEAR PAPA, At Aunt's request I write these lines to 
inform you that 'if all be well ' we shall be at home on Friday by 
dinner-time, when we hope to find you in good health. On 
account of the bad weather we have not been out much, but 
notwithstanding we have spent our time very pleasantly, between 
reading, working, and learning our lessons, which Uncle Fennell 
has been so kind as to teach us every day. Branwell has taken 
two sketches from nature, and Emily, Anne, and myself have 
likewise each of us drawn a piece from some views of the lakes 

1 Crosstone is near Todmorden and about twelve miles from Haworth. 



78 THE BRONTES 

which Mr. Fennell brought with him from Westmoreland. The 
whole of these he intends keeping. Mr. Fennell is sorry he 
cannot accompany us to Haworth on Friday, for want of room, 
but hopes to have the pleasure of seeing you soon. All unite in 
sending their kind love with your affectionate daughter, 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 

Mrs. Gaskell gives us an interesting glimpse of the 
family at this period : 

Miss Branwell instructed the children at regular hours in all she 
could teach, converting her bedchamber into their schoolroom. 
Their father was in the habit of relating to them any public news 
in which he felt an interest ; and from the opinions of his strong 
and independent mind they would gather much food for thought ; 
but I do not know whether he gave them any direct instruction. 
Charlotte's deep, thoughtful spirit appears to have felt almost 
painfully the tender responsibility which rested upon her with 
reference to her remaining sisters. She was only two years older 
than Emily ; but Emily and Anne were simply companions and 
playmates, while Charlotte was motherly friend and guardian to 
both ; and this loving assumption of duties beyond her years 
made her feel considerably older than she really was. 

Patrick Branwell, their only brother, was a boy of remarkable 
promise, and, in some ways, of extraordinary precocity of talent. 
Mr. Bronte's friends advised him to send his son to school ; but, 
remembering both the strength of will of his own youth and his 
mode of employing it, he believed that Patrick was better at 
home, and that he himself could teach him well, as he had taught 
others before. So Patrick or, as his family called him, Branwell 
remained at Haworth, working hard for some hours a day with 
his father ; but, when the time of the latter was taken up with 
his parochial duties, the boy was thrown into chance companion- 
ship with the lads of the village for youth will to youth, and boys 
will to boys. 



SCHOOL-DAYS AT ROE HEAD 79 



CHAPTER V 

SCHOOL-DAYS AT ROE HEAD 

FROM 1825 to 1831 Charlotte Bronte was at home with 
her sisters, reading and writing as we have seen, but 
learning nothing very systematically. In 1831-32 she was 
a boarder at Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head, some 
twenty miles from Haworth. Miss Wooler lived to a 
green old age, dying in the year 1885. She would seem 
to have been very proud of her famous pupil, and could 
not have been blind to her capacity in the earlier years. 
Charlotte was with her as governess at Roe Head, and 
later at Dewsbury Moor. It is quite clear that Miss Bronte 
was head of the school in all intellectual pursuits, and she 
made two firm friends Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. 
A very fair measure of French and some skill in drawing 
appear to have been the most striking accomplishments 
which Charlotte carried back from Roe Head to Haworth. 
There are some twenty drawings of about this date, 
and a translation into English verse of the first book of 
Voltaire's Henriade. With Ellen Nussey commenced a 
friendship which terminated only with the pencilled notes 
written from Charlotte Bronte's death-bed. The following 
letter was the first of a correspondence that was to con- 
tinue without any intefmittence to the end of the writer's 
life. Charlotte entered Miss Wooler's school in January 
1831, and the first letter was written in the holidays that 
followed a few months later. It has a note of formality 
that was to break down very quickly : 



80 THE BRONTES 

Letter 2 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May 3U/, 1831. 

DEAR Miss NUSSEY, I take advantage of the earliest oppor- 
tunity to thank you for the letter you favoured me with last week, 
and to apologise for having so long neglected to write to you ; 
indeed, I believe this will be the first letter or note I have ever 

addressed to you. I am extremely obliged to for her kind 

invitation, and I assure you that I should have very much liked to 

hear Mr. 's Lectures on Galvanism, as they would doubtless 

have been amusing and instructive. But we are often compelled 
to bend our inclination to our duty (as Miss Wooler observed the 
other day), and since there are so many holidays this half-year, it 
would have appeared almost unreasonable to ask for an extra 
holiday; besides, we should perhaps have got behind hand with 
our lessons, so that everything considered, it is perhaps as well 
that circumstances have deprived us of this pleasure. Believe me 
to remain, your affectionate friend, C. BRONTE. 

Her other friend, Mary Taylor, was long afterwards to 
give Mrs. Gaskell her earliest impression of Charlotte : 

I first saw her coming out of a covered cart, in very old- 
Mary fashioned clothes, and looking very cold and miserable. 
Taylor's She was coming to school at Miss Woolei's. When 
Narrative. g j ie a pp earec j j n ^ e schoolroom her dress was changed, 
but just as old. She looked a little, old woman, so short-sighted 
that she always appeared to be seeking something, and moving 
her head from side to side to catch a sight of it. She was very 
shy and nervous, and spoke with a strong Irish accent. When 
a book was given her she dropped her head over it till her nose 
nearly touched it, and when she was told to hold her head up, up 
went the book after it, still close to her nose, so that it was not 
possible to help laughing. 

We thought her very ignorant, for she had never learnt grammar 
at all, and very little geography. 

She would confound us by knowing things that were out of our 
range altogether. She was acquainted with most of the short 
pieces of poetry that we had to learn by heart : would tell us the 





///.U. 



SCHOOL-DAYS AT ROE HEAD 81 

authors, the poems they were taken from, and sometimes repeat 
a page or two, and tell us the plot. She had a habit of writing in 
italics (printing characters), and said she had learnt it by writing 
in their magazine. They brought out a ' magazine ' once a month, 
and wished it to look as like print as possible. She told us a tale 
out of it. No one wrote in it, and no one read it, but herself, her 
brother, and two sisters. She promised to show me some of these 
magazines, but retracted it afterwards, and would never be per- 
suaded to do so. In our play hours she sat or stood still, with a 
book, if possible. Some of us once urged her to be on our side 
in a game at ball. She said she had never played, and could not 
play. We made her try, but soon found that she could not see 
the ball, so we put her out. She took all our proceedings with 
pliable indifference, and always seemed to need a previous resolu- 
tion to say ' No ' to anything. She used to go and stand under 
the trees in the playground, and say it was pleasanter. She 
endeavoured to explain this, pointing out the shadows, the peeps 
of sky, etc. We understood but little of it. She said that at 
Cowan Bridge she used to stand in the burn, on a stone, to watch 
the water flow by. I told her she should have gone fishing ; she 
said she never wanted. She always showed physical feebleness in 
everything. She ate no animal food at school. It was about this 
time I told her she was very ugly. Some years afterwards I told 
her I thought I had been very impertinent. She replied, ' You 
did me a great deal of good, Polly, so don't repent of it. 1 She 
used to draw much better, and more quickly, than anything we 
had seen before, and knew much about celebrated pictures and 
painters. Whenever an opportunity offered of examining a 
picture or cut of any kind, she went over it piecemeal, with her 
eyes close to the paper, looking so long that we used to ask her 
' what she saw in it/ She could always see plenty, and explained it 
very well. She made poetry and drawing at least exceedingly 
interesting to me ; and then I got the habit, which I have yet, of 
referring mentally to her opinion on all matters of that kind, 
along with many more, resolving to describe such and such things 
to her, until I start at the recollection that I never shall. 

We used to be furious politicians, as one could hardly help 
being in 1832. She knew the names of the two Ministers ; the 
one that resigned, and the one that succeeded and passed the 
Reform Bill. She worshipped the Duke of Wellington, but said 
that Sir Robert Peel was not to be trusted ; he did not act from 

\ 7 OL. I. F 



82 THE BRONTES 

principle, like the rest, but from expediency. I, being of the 
furious Radical party, told her, ' How could any of them trust one 
another? they were all of them rascals ! ' Then she would launch 
out into praises of the Duke of Wellington, referring to his actions ; 
which I could not contradict, as I knew nothing about him. She 
said she had taken interest in politics ever since she was five years 
old. She did not get her opinions from her father that is, not 
directly but from the papers, etc., he preferred. 

She used to speak of her two elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, 
who died at Cowan Bridge. I used to believe them to have been 
wonders of talent and kindness. She told me, early one morning, 
that she had just been dreaming: she had been told that she was 
wanted in the drawing-room, and it was Maria and Elizabeth. I 
was eager for her to go on, and when she said there was no more, 
I said, ' But go on ! Make it out ! I know you can.' She said she 
would not ; she wished she had not dreamed, for it did not go on 
nicely ; they were changed ; they had forgotten what they used to 
care for. They were very fashionably dressed, and began 
criticising the room, etc. 

This habit of ' making out ' interests for themselves, that most 
children get who have none in actual life, was very strong in her. 
The whole family used to * make out* histories, and invent 
characters and events. I told her sometimes they were like grow- 
ing potatoes in a cellar. She said, sadly, * Yes ! I know we are ! ' 

Some one at school said she ' was always talking about clever 
people Johnson, Sheridan,' etc. She said, * Now you don't know 
the meaning of clever. Sheridan might be clever ; yes, Sheridan 
was clever scamps often are but Johnson hadn't a spark of 
cleverality in him.' No one appreciated the opinion ; they made 
some trivial remark about ' cleverality^ and she said no more. 

This is the epitome of her life. At our house she had just as 
little chance of a patient hearing, for though not school-girlish we 
were more intolerant. We had a rage for practicality, and 
laughed all poetry to scorn. Neither she nor we had any idea but 
that our opinions were the opinions of all the sensible people in the 
world, and we used to astonish each other at every sentence. . . . 
Charlotte, at school, had no plan of life beyond what circumstances 
made for her. She knew that she must provide for herself, and 
chose her trade ; at least chose to begin it once. Her idea of self- 
improvement ruled her even at school. It was to cultivate her 
tastes. She always said there was enough of hard practicality and 



SCHOOL-DAYS AT ROE HEAD 88 

useful knowledge forced on us by necessity, and that the thing 
most needed was to soften and refine our minds. She picked up 
every scrap of information concerning painting, sculpture, poetry, 
music, etc., as if it were gold. 1 

All that we know of Charlotte Bronte during this year 
of schooling at Roe Head we learn from her two friends, 2 
apart from a letter to her brother which I give here : 



Letter 3 

TO BRANWELL BRONTE 

ROE HEAD, May \*]th, 1831. 

DEAR BRANWELL, As usual I address my weekly letter to 
you, because to you I find the most to say. I feel exceedingly 
anxious to know how and in what state you arrived at home after 
your long and (I should think) very fatiguing journey. I could 
perceive when you arrived at Roe Head that you were very much 
tired, though you refused to acknowledge it. After you were 
gone, many questions and subjects of conversation recurred to me 
which I had intended to mention to you, but quite forgot them in 
the agitation which I felt at the totally unexpected pleasure of 
seeing you. Lately I had begun to think that I had lost all the 
interest which I used formerly to take in politics, but the extreme 
pleasure I felt at the news of the Reform Bill's being thrown out 
by the House of Lords, and of the expulsion or resignation of 
Earl Grey, etc., etc., convinced me that I have not as yet lost all 
my penchant for politics. I am extremely glad that aunt has 
consented to take in Eraser's Magazine, for though I know from 
your description of its general contents it will be rather un- 
interesting when compared with Blackwood, still it will be better 
than remaining the whole year without being able to obtain a 
sight of any periodical publication whatever ; and such would 

1 Letter from Mary Taylor to Mrs. Gaskell, dated January 18, 1856, and written from 
New Zealand. 

2 There are only two letters of Charlotte's written at Roe Head that are known to me. 
One is dated May 1831, and was written to Mrs. Franks (Mis', Elizabeth Firth). It 
should rightly be Letter 3 of this Collection, but it seems more natural to place it in 
Appendix n. with the other material kindly supplied by Professor Moore Smith. The 
other, to her brother, appears m this chapter. 



84 THE BRONTES 

assuredly be our case, as in the little wild, moorland village where 
we reside, there would be no possibility of borrowing or obtaining 
a work of that description from a circulating library. I hope with 
you that the present delightful weather may contribute to the 
perfect restoration of our dear papa's health, and that it may 
give aunt pleasant reminiscences of the salubrious climate of her 
native place. 

With love to all, Believe me, dear Branwell, to remain your 
affectionate sister, CHARLOTTE. 

There is absolutely nothing more to add, and so I offer 
no apology for reproducing Ellen Nussey's narrative, which, 
unlike Mary Taylor's, has never been reprinted in book 
form. It first appeared in an American magazine. 1 It is 
thus she writes : 

Arriving at school about a week after the general assembly 
Ellen f the pupils, I was not expected to accompany them 
Nussey's when the time came for their daily exercise, but while 
Narrative, were Qut> j wag j e( j j ntQ ^ sc hoolroom, and 



quietly left to make my observations. I had come to the con- 
clusion that it was very nice and comfortable for a schoolroom, 
though I had little knowledge of schoolrooms in general, when, 
turning to the window to observe the look-out, I became aware 
for the first time that I was not alone ; there was a silent, weeping, 
dark little figure in the large bay-window; she must, i thought, 
have risen from the floor. As soon as I had recovered from my 
surprise, I went from the far end of the room, where the book- 
shelves were, the contents of which I must have contemplated 
with a little awe in anticipation of coming studies. A crimson 
cloth covered the long table down the centre of the room, which 
helped, no doubt, to hide the shrinking little figure from my 
view. I was touched and troubled at once to see her so sad and 
so tearful. 

I said shrinking, because her attitude, when I saw her, was that 
of one who wished to hide both herself and her grief. She did 
not shrink, however, when spoken to, but in very few words con- 
fessed she was 4 homesick.' After a little of such comfort as 
could be offered, it was suggested to her that there was a possi- 

1 Scrifaifr's Ma^azifit t 'Reminiscences of Charlotte Bronte,' by 'E./vol. ii. 1871. 
Reprinted in the Bronte Society's 7*ransafttons, Part x. 1899. 



SCHOOL-DAYS AT ROE HEAD 85 

bility of her too having to comfort the speaker by-and-by for the 
same cause. A faint quivering smile then lighted her face ; the 
tear-drops fell ; we silently took each other's hands, and at once 
we felt that genuine sympathy which always consoles, even 
though it be unexpressed. We did not talk or stir till we heard 
the approaching footsteps of other pupils coming in from their 
play ; it had been a game called ' French and English/ which 
was always very vigorously played, but in which Charlotte 
Bronte never could be induced to join. Perhaps the merry 
voices contesting for victory, which reached our ears in the 
schoolroom, jarred upon her then sensitive misery, and caused 
her ever after to dislike the game ; but she was physically 
unequal to that exercise of muscle, which was keen enjoyment to 
strong, healthy girls, both older and younger than herself. Miss 
Wooler's system of education required that a good deal of her 
pupils' work should be done in classes, and to effect this, new 
pupils had generally a season of solitary study ; but Charlotte's 
fervent application made this period a very short one to her she 
was quickly up to the needful standard, and ready for the daily 
routine and arrangement of studies, and as quickly did she out- 
strip her companions, rising from the bottom of the classes to the 
top, a position which, when she had once gained, she never had 
to regain. She was first in everything but play, yet never was a 
word heard of envy or jealousy from her companions ; every one 
felt she had won her laurels by an amount of diligence and hard 
labour of which they were incapable. She never exulted in her 
successes or seemed conscious of them ; her mind was so wholly 
set on attaining knowledge that she apparently forgot all 
else. 

Charlotte's appearance did not strike me at first as it did 
others. I saw her grief, not herself particularly, till afterwards. 
She never seemed to me the unattractive little person others 
designated her, but certainly she was at this time anything but 
pretty ; even her good points were lost. Her naturally beautiful 
hair of soft silky brown being then dry and frizzy-looking, 
screwed up in tight little curls, showing features that were all 
the plainer from her exceeding thinness and want of complexion, 
she looked * dried in.' A dark, rusty green stuff dress of old- 
fashioned make detracted still more from her appearance; but 
let her wear what she might or do what she would, she had ever 
the demeanour of a born gentlewoman ; vulgarity was an element 



86 THE BRONTES 

that never won the slightest affinity with her nature. Some of 
the elder girls, who had been years at school, thought her ignor- 
ant This was true in one sense ; ignorant she was indeed in 
the elementary education which is given in schools, but she far 
surpassed her most advanced school -fellows in knowledge of 
what was passing in the world at large, and in the literature of 
her country. She knew a thousand things unknown to them. 

She had taught herself a little French before she came to 
school ; this little knowledge of the language was very useful to 
her when afterwards she was engaged in translation or dictation. 
She soon began to make a good figure in French lessons. 
Music she wished to acquire, for which she had both ear and taste, 
but her near-sightedness caused her to stoop so dreadfully in 
order to see her notes, she was dissuaded from persevering in the 
acquirement, especially as she had at this time an invincible 
objection to wearing glasses. Her very taper fingers, tipped with 
the most circular nails, did not seem very suited for instrumental 
execution ; but when wielding the pen or the pencil, they appeared 
in the very office they were created for. 

Her appetite was of the smallest ; for years she had not tasted 
animal food ; she had the greatest dislike to it; she always had 
something specially provided for her at our midday repast. 
Towards the close of the first half-year she was induced to take, 
by little and little, meat gravy with vegetable, and in the second 
half-year she commenced taking a very small portion of animal 
food daily. She then grew a little bit plumper, looked younger 
and more animated, though she was never what is called lively at 
this period She always seemed to feel that a deep responsibility 
rested upon her; that she uas an object of expense to those at 
home, and that she must use every moment to attain the purpose 
for which she was sent to school, i.e. to fit herself for governess 
life. She had almost too much opportunity for her conscientious 
diligence ; we were so little restricted in our doings, the industrious 
might accomplish the appointed tasks of the day and enjoy a little 
leisure, but she chose in many things to do double lessons when 
not prevented by class arrangement or a companion. In two of 
her studies she was associated with her friend, and great was her 
distress if her companion failed to be ready, when she was, with 
the lesson of the day. She liked the stated task to be over, that 
she might be free to pursue her self-appointed ones. Such, how- 
ever, was her conscientiousness that she never did what some girls 



SCHOOL-DAYS AT ROE HEAD 87 

think it generous to do ; generous and unselfish though she was, 
she never whispered help to a companion in class (as she might 
have done) to rid herself of the trouble of having to appear again. 
All her school-fellows regarded her, I believe, as a model of high 
rectitude, close application, and great abilities. She did not play 
or amuse herself when others did. When her companions were 
merry round the fire, or otherwise enjoying themselves during the 
twilight, which was always a precious time of relaxation, she would 
be kneeling close to the window busy with her studies, and this 
would last so long that she was accused of seeing in the dark ; yet 
though she did not play, as girls style play, she was ever ready 
to help with suggestions in those plays which required taste or 
arrangement. 

When her companions formed the idea of having a coronation 
performance on a half-holiday, it was Charlotte Bronte who drew 
up the programme, arranged the titles to be adopted by her com- 
panions for the occasion, wrote the invitations to those who were 
to grace the ceremony, and selected for each a title, either for 
sound that pleased the ear or for historical association. The 
preparations for these extra half-holidays (which were very rare 
occurrences) sometimes occupied spare moments for weeks before 
the event. On this occasion Charlotte prepared a very elegant 
little speech for the one who was selected to present the crown. 
Miss Wooler's younger sister consented after much entreaty to 
be crowned as our queen (a very noble, stately queen she made), and 
did her pupils all the honour she could by adapting herself to the 
r61e of the moment. The following exquisite little speech shows 
Charlotte's aptitude, even then, at giving fitting expression to her 
thoughts : 

1 Powerful Queen ! Accept this Crown, the symbol of dominion, 
from the hands of your faithful and affectionate subjects ! And 
if their earnest and united wishes have any efficacy, you will long 
be permitted to reign over this peaceful, though circumscribed, 
empire. 

'(Signed, etc., etc.), 

1 Your loyal subjects/ 

The little fete finished off with what was called a ball ; but for 
lack of numbers we had to content ourselves with one quadrille 
and two Scotch reels. Last of all there was a supper, which 
was considered very rechercht, most of it having been coaxed out 



88 THE BRONTfiS 

of yielding mammas and elder sisters, in addition to some wise 
expenditure of pocket-money. The grand feature, however, was 
the attendance of a mulatto servant We descended for a 
moment from our assumed dignities to improvise this distinguish- 
ing appanage. The liveliest of our party, ' Jessie Yorke,' volun- 
teered this office, and surpassed our expectations. Charlotte 
evidently enjoyed the fun, in her own quiet way, as much as any 
one, and ever after with great zest helped, when with old school- 
fellows, to recall the performances of the exceptional half-holidays. 

About a month after the assembling of the school, one of the 
pupils had an illness. There was great competition among the 
girls for permission to sit with the invalid. Charlotte was never 
of the number, though she was as assiduous in kindness and 
attention as the rest in spare moments : but to sit with the patient 
was indulgence and leisure, and these she would not permit herself. 

It was shortly after this illness that Charlotte caused such a 
panic of terror by her thrilling relations of the wanderings of a 
somnambulist. She brought together all the horrors her imagina- 
tion could create, from surging seas, raging breakers, towering 
castle walls, high precipices, invisible chasms and dangers. Having 
wrought these materials to the highest pitch of effect, she brought 
out, in almost cloud-height, her somnambulist, walking on shaking 
turrets, all told in a voice that conveyed more than words alone 
can express. A shivering terror seized the recovered invalid ; a 
pause ensued ; then a subdued cry of pain came from Charlotte 
herself, with a terrified command to others to call for help. She 
was in bitter distress. Something like remorse seemed to linger 
in her mind after this incident ; for weeks there was no prevailing 
on her to resume her tales, and she never again created terrors for 
her listeners. Tales, however, were made again in time, till Miss 
W. discovered there was ' late talking.' That was forbidden ; but 
understanding it was 'late talk' only which was prohibited, we 
talked and listened to tales again, not expecting to hear Miss 
Wooler say one morning, ' All the ladies who talked last night 
must pay fines. I am sure Miss Bronte and Miss Nussey were not 
of the number/ Miss Bronte and Miss Nussey were, however, trans- 
gressors like the rest, and rather enjoyed the fact of having to pay 
like them, till they saw Miss Wooler's grieved and disappointed 
look. It was then a distress that they had failed where they were 
reckoned upon, though unintentionally. This was the only school- 
fine that Charlotte ever incurred. At the close of the first half- 



SCHOOL-DAYS AT ROE HEAD 89 

year, Charlotte bore off three prizes. For one she had to draw 
lots with her friend a moment of painful suspense to both, for 
neither wished to deprive the other of her reward. Happily, 
Charlotte won it, and so had the gratifying pleasure of carrying 
home three tangible proofs of her goodness and industry. Miss 
Wooler had two badges of conduct for her pupils which were won- 
derfully effective, except with the most careless. A black ribbon, 
worn in the style of the Order of the Garter, which the pupils 
passed from one to the other for any breach of rules, unladylike 
manners, or incorrect grammar. Charlotte might, in her very 
earliest school-days, have worn * the mark,' as we styled it, but I 
never remember her having it. The silver medal, which was the 
badge for fulfilment of duties, she won the right to in her first 
half-year. This she never afterwards forfeited, and it was 
presented to her on leaving school. 1 She was only three half-years 
at school. In this time she went through all the elementary 
teaching contained in our school-books/ She was in the habit of 
committing long pieces of poetry to memory, and seemed to do 
so with real enjoyment and hardly any effort. 

In these early days, when she was certain of being quite alone 
with her friend, she would talk much of her two dead sisters, 
Maria and Elizabeth. Her love for them was most intense; a 
kind of adoration dwelt in her feelings, which, as she conversed, 
almost imparted itself to her listener. 

She described Maria as a little mother among the rest, super- 
human in goodness and cleverness. But the most touching of all 
were the revelations of her sufferings how she suffered with the 
sensibility of a grown-up person, and endured with a patience and 
fortitude that were Christ-like. Charlotte would still weep and 
suffer when thinking of her. She talked of Elizabeth also, but 
never with the anguish of expression which accompanied her 
recollections of Maria. When surprise was expressed that she 
should know so much about her sisters when they were so young, 
and she herself still younger, she said she began to analyse char- 
acter when she was five years old, and instanced two guests who 
were at her home for a day or two, and of whom she had taken 
stock, and of whom after-knowledge confirmed first impressions. 

During one of our brief holidays Charlotte was guest in a family 
who had known her father when he was a curate in their parish. 
They were naturally inclined to show kindness to his daughter, 

1 It is now in the Bronte Museum at Haworth. 



90 THE BRONTES 

but the kindness here took a form which was little agreeable. 
They had had no opportunity of knowing her abilities or disposi- 
tion, and they took her shyness and smallness as indications of 
extreme youth. She was slow, very slow, to express anything 
that bordered on ingratitude, but here she was mortified and hurt. 
4 They took me for a child, and treated me just like one/ she said. 
I can now recall the expression of that honest face as she added, 
'one tall lady would nurse me/ 

The tradition of a lady ghost who moved about in rustling silk 
in the upper stones of Roe Head had a great charm for Charlotte. 
She was a ready listener to any girl who could relate stones of 
others having seen her ; but on Miss Wooler hearing us talk of our 
ghost, she adopted an effective measure for putting our belief in 
such an existence to the test, by selecting one or other from 
among us to ascend the stairs after the dimness of evening hours 
had set in, to bring something down which could easily be found. 
No ghost made herself visible even to the frightened imaginations 
of the foolish and the timid ; the whitened face of apprehension 
soon disappeared, nerves were braced, and a general laugh soon 
set us all right again. 

It was while Charlotte was at school that she imbibed the germ 
of many of those characters which she afterwards produced in 
Shirley ; but no one could have imagined that, in the unceasing 
industry of her daily applications, she was receiving any kind of 
impress external to her school-life. 

She was particularly impressed with the goodness and saintli- 
ness of one of Miss Wooler's guests the Miss Ainley of Shirley^ 
long since gone to her rest. The character is not, of course, a 
literal portrait, for the very reasons Charlotte herself gave. She 
said : ' You are not to suppose any of the characters in Shirley 
intended as literal portraits. It would not suit the rules of art nor 
of my own feelings to write in that style. We only suffer reality 
to suggest, never to dictate. Qualities I have seen, loved, and 
admired, are here and there put in as decorative gems, to be 
preserved in that setting.' I may remark here that nothing 
angered Charlotte more, than for any one to suppose they could 
not be in her society without incurring the risk of * being put in 
her books.' She always stoutly maintained she never thought of 
persons in this light when she was with them. 

In the seldom-recurring holidays Charlotte made sometimes 
short visits with those oi her companions whose homes were 



SCHOOL-DAYS AT ROE HEAD 91 

within reach of school. Here she made acquaintance with the 
scenes and prominent characters of, the Luddite period; her 
father materially helped to fix her impressions, for he had held 
more than one curacy in the very neighbourhood which she de- 
scribes in Shirley. He was present in some of the scenes, an 
active participator as far as his position permitted. Sometimes 
on the defensive, sometimes aiding the sufferers, uniting his 
strength and influence with Mr. Helstone of Shirley. Between 
these two men there seems to have been in some respects a strik- 
ing affinity of character which Charlotte was not slow to perceive, 
and she blended the two into one, though she never personally 
beheld the original of Mr. Helstone, except once when she was 
ten years old. He was a man of remarkable vigour and energy, 
both of mind and will. An absolute disciplinarian, he was some- 
times called ' Duke Ecclesiastic,' a very Wellington in the Church. 

Mr. Bronte used to delight in recalling the days he spent in 
the vicinity of this man. Many a breakfast hour he enlivened by 
his animated relations of his friend's unflinching courage and 
dauntless self-reliance how the ignorant and prejudiced popula- 
tion around misunderstood and misrepresented his worthiest 
deeds. In depicting the Luddite period, Charlotte had the power 
of giving an almost literal description of the scenes then enacted, 
for in addition to her father's personal acquaintance with what 
occurred, she had likewise the aid of authentic records of the 
eventful time, courteously lent to her by the editors of the Leeds 
Mercury. 

I must not forget to state that no girl in the school was equal 
to Charlotte in Sunday lessons. Her acquaintance with Holy 
Writ surpassed others in this as in everything else. She was very 
familiar with all the sublimest passages, especially those in 
Isaiah, in which she took great delight. Her confirmation took 
place while she was at school, and in her preparation for that, as 
"in all other studies, she distinguished herself by application and 
proficiency. 

At school she acquired that habit which she and her sisters 
kept up to the very last, that of pacing to and fro in the room. 
In days when out-of-door exercise was impracticable, Miss 
Wooler would join us in our evening hour of relaxation and con- 
verse (for which she had rare talent) ; her pupils used to hang 
about her as she walked up and down the room, delighted to 
listen to her, or have a chance of being nearest in the walk. The 



92 THE BRONTES 

last day Charlotte was at school she seemed to realise what a 
sedate, hard-working season it had been to her. She said, C I 
should for once like to feel out and out a schoolgirl ; let us run 
round the fruit garden (running was what she never did) ; perhaps 
we shall meet some one, or we may have a fine for trespass/ 
She evidently was longing for some never-to-be-forgotten incident 
Nothing, however, arose from her little enterprise. She had to 
leave school as calmly and quietly as she had lived there. 



HAWORTH, 1882-1835 98 



CHAPTER VI 

HAWORTH, 1832-1835 

AFTER eighteen months of school-life at Roe Head Char- 
lotte Bronte returned to her home once more. But the 
world had changed for her. She had enlarged her know- 
ledge of life. She could write to one or other of her two 
friends, and she could continue her interest in some other 
of her old schoolfellows ' little Miss Boisterous' or Martha 
Taylor, for example, to whom there is a reference in the 
following letter written during the Christmas holidays : 

Letter 4 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH,/rtflry '3^ 1832. 

DEAR ELLEN, The receipt of your letter gave me an agree- 
able surprise, for, notwithstanding your faithful promises, you 
must excuse me if I say that I had little confidence in their 
fulfilment, knowing that when schoolgirls once get home they 
willingly abandon every recollection which tends to remind them 
of school, and, indeed, they find such an infinite variety of circum- 
stances to engage their attention, and employ their leisure hours, 
that they are easily persuaded that they have no time to fulfil 
promises made at school. It gave me great pleasure, however, to 
find that you and Miss Taylor are exceptions to the general rule. 

I am sorry to hear that has been ill ; likewise that Miss 

Wooler has suffered from bad colds. The cholera still seems slowly 
advancing, but let us yet hope, knowing that all things are under 
the guidance of a Merciful Providence. England has hitherto 
been highly favoured, for the disease has neither raged with the 
astounding violence, nor extended itself with the frightful rapidity 
which marks its progress in many of the continental countries. 



9* THE BRONTfiS 

I am glad to hear Mr. was pleased with Mercy's drawings. 

Tell her I hope she will derive benefit from the perusal of 
Cobbett's lucubrations, but I beg she will on no account burden 
her memory with passages to be repeated for my edification, lest 
I should not appreciate either her kindness or their merit, since 
that worthy personage and his principles (whether private or 

political) are no great favourites of mine. Remember me to , 

give my love to dear Mary Taylor and little Miss Boisterous, and 
accept the same, dearest Ellen, from your affectionate friend, 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 



Letter 5 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, July 2IJ/, 1832. 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, Your kind and interesting letter gave 
me the sincerest pleasure. I have been expecting to hear from 
you almost every day since my arrival at home, and I at length 
began to despair of receiving the wished-for letter. You ask me 
to give you a description of the manner in which I have passed 
every day since I left school ; this is soon done, as an account of 
one day is an account of all. In the mornings from 9 o'clock 
to half-past 12, I instruct rny sisters and draw, then we walk till 
dinner, after dinner I sew till tea time, and after tea I either read, 
write, do a little fancy work, or draw, as I please. Thus in one 
delightful, though somewhat monotonous course, my life is passed. 
I have only been out to tea twice since I came home. We are 
expecting company this afternoon, and on Tuesday next we shall 
have all the female teachers of the Sunday-school to tea. I do 
hope, my dearest, that you will return to school again for your 
own sake, though for mine I would rather that you would remain 
at home, as we shall then have more frequent opportunities of 
correspondence with each other. Should your friends decide 
against your returning to school, I know you have too much good 
sense and right feeling not to strive earnestly for your own 
improvement. Your natural abilities are excellent, and, under 
the direction of a judicious and able friend (and I know you have 
many such), you might acquire a decided taste for elegant 
literature and even poetry, which, indeed, is included under that 
general term. I was very much disappointed by your not sending 



HAWORTH, 1832-1835 95 

the hair ; you may be sure, my dearest, that I would not grudge 
double postage to obtain it, but I must offer the same excuse for 
not sending you any. My aunt and sisters desire their love to 
you, remember me kindly to your mother and sisters, and accept 
all the fondest expressions of genuine attachment, From your 
real friend, CHARLOTTE BRONT&. 

P S. Remember the mutual promise we made of a regular 
correspondence with each other. Excuse all faults in this 
wretched scrawl. Give my love to the Miss Taylors, when you 
see them. Farewell my dear, dear, dear Ellen. 



Letter 6 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, September 5^, 1832. 

DEAREST ELLEN, I am really very much indebted to you 
for your well-filled and interesting letter; it forms a striking 
contrast to my brief, meagre epistles, but I know you will ex- 
cuse the utter dearth ot news visible in them when you consider 
the situation in which I am placed, quite out of the reach of all 
intelligence except what I obtain through the medium of the 
newspapers, and I believe you would not find much to interest 
you in a political discussion or a summary of the accidents of the 
week. Papa was sorry to hear that his old friend Mr. Roberson 
has suffered from an attack of paralysis ; I should think his age 
precludes all hope of his ultimate recovery. It gave me pleasure 
to learn that you take lessons at Roe Head once a week, as I 
have no doubt your improvement will be rapid in those two im- 
portant branches of education. Your account of Miss Martha 
Taylor's fit of good behaviour amused me exceedingly; I only 
hope it may be permanent. En passant, is Polly yet in the 
larrd of the living? If she is, I wish you would tell her the first 
time you have an opportunity that I should be glad to receive a 
letter from her. I am sorry, very sorry that Miss H. has turned 
out to be so different from what you thought her, but, my dearest 
Ellen, you must never expect perfection in this world, and I 
know your naturally confiding and affectionate disposition had 
led you to imagine that Miss H. was almost faultless. I now 
come to the latter part of your letter ; I feel greatly obliged to 



96 THE BRONTES 

your mother and yourself for the very kind invitation therein 
contained. When I consulted Papa and Aunt about it, they both 
said they could not possibly have any objection to my accepting 
it. It is therefore with great pleasure that I am enabled to return 
an affirmative to your kind and pressing request. I think, dearest 
Ellen, our friendship is destined to form an exception to the 
general rule regarding school friendships. At least I know that 
absence has not in the least abated the sisterly affection which I 
feel toward you. Remember me to your mother and sisters, and 
accept every profession of genuine regard which the English 
tongue affords, from your friend, CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 

P.S. Do not criticise the execrable penmanship visible in this 
letter. Adieu pour le present. 

And so in this same month of September 1832 we find 
Charlotte Bronte paying her first visit to her school-fellow 
at Rydings, a handsome house near Birstall, standing in 
many acres of ground. The house has battlements, a 
rookery, and all that a country gentleman's seat might 
aspire to. It shares with Norton Conyers near Ripon the 
credit of having inspired the picture of ' Thornfield Hall' 
in Jane Eyre. 

The latter house may at any time have been seen by 
Charlotte Bronte, as she was governess in a family that 
once rented the place. It has further the advantage of a 
story of a mad woman being associated with it, besides 
corresponding with Thornfield in many important details. 
That Rydings played some part in her word-picture is 
not, however, to be doubted, and she had much more 
intimate associations with this smaller house. 1 

Rydings at this time was the property of an uncle of 
Ellen Nussey's Reuben Walker, a distinguished court 
physician. The family in that generation and in this has 
given many of its members to high public service in 
various professions one in our own generation has served 
many years in Parliament. Two Nusseys, and two 

1 The subject is discussed at length in The Literary Shtines of Yorkshire^ by J. A. 
Erskine Stuart. Longmans, 1892. 



HA WORTH, 1882-1885 97 

Walkers, were court physicians in their day. When Earl 
Fitzwilliam was canvassing for the county in 1 809, he was 
a guest at Rydings for two weeks, and on his election was 
chaired by the tenantry. Reuben Walker, this uncle of 
Miss Nussey 's, was the only Justice of the Peace for the 
district which included Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, and 
Halifax, during the Luddite riots a significant reminder 
of the growth of population since that day. Ellen 
Nussey's home was at Rydings, then tenanted by her 
brother John, until 1837, and she then removed to Brook- 
royd, where she lived until long after Charlotte Bronte 
died. 

Charlotte travelled from Haworth to Rydings in a 
two-wheeled gig, the only conveyance to be had in Ha- 
worth, except the covered cart that brought her to school. 
Branwell accompanied his sister. He was then a red- 
haired boy of fifteen, full of enthusiasm, and told Char- 
lotte that he 'was leaving her in Paradise.' 1 The visit 
passed, says Miss Nussey, * without much to mark it except 
that we crept away together from household life as much 
as we could. Charlotte liked to pace the plantations or seek 
seclusion in the fruit-garden ; she was safe from visitors in 
these retreats. She was so painfully shy, she could not 
bear any special notice. One clay, on being led in to 
dinner by a stranger, she trembled and nearly burst into 
tears.' 

One of the good resolutions of the continuation of friend- 
ship evoked by this visit seems to have been a desire on 
the part of Charlotte to improve her facility in French 
through correspondence in that language. Hence the 
next letter announcing her safe arrival at home. The 
letter is full of errors in punctuation, and even in spelling. 
Herein it offers an interesting contrast to that proficiency 
that she was to attain to at a later date. 

1 Ellen Nussey in Scribner's Magazine^ vol. ii. 1871. 
VOL. I. G 



98 THE BRONTES 



Letter 7 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

A HAWORTH, le 18 Octobre, 1832. 

MA TRfcS CHfcRE AMIE, Nous sommcs encore partu et il y a 
entre nous dix sept milles de chemin ; le bref quinzaine pendant 
lequel je fus chez vous c'est envol& et desormais il faut compter 
ma visite agreable parmi le nombre de choses passes. J'arrivait 
a Haworth en parfaite sauvetd sans le moindre accident ou mal- 
heur. Mes petites soeurs couraient hors de la maison pour me 
rencontrer aussit6t que la voiture se fit voir, et elles m'embras- 
saient avec autant d'empressement et de plaisir comme si j'avais 
6t& absente pour plus d'un an. Mon Papa ma Tante, et le 
Monsieur dont mon frcre avait parl, furent tons assembles dans 
le salon, et en peu de temps je m'y rendis aussi. C'est souvent 
1'ordre du Ciel que quand on a perdu un plaisir il y en a un autre 
prt a prendre sa place. Ainsi je venois de partir de tr&s chers 
amis, mais tout a 1'heure je revins ik des parens aussi chers et bons 
dans le moment. Meme que vous me perdiez (ose-je croire que 
mon depart vous tait un chagrin?) vous attendites 1'arrivde de 
votre frere, et de votre soeur. J'ai donn a mes soeurs les pom- 
mes que vous leur envoyiez avec tant de bont : elles disent 
qu'elles sont stir que Mademoiselle Nussey est trds aimable et 
bonne : Tune et 1'autre sont extremement impatientes de vous 
voir: j'esp^re que dans peu de mois elles auront ce plaisir. Je 
n'ai plus de temps et pour le present il faut conclure. Donnez 
mes plus sincdres amitids a Mademoiselle Mercy et maintenant 
ma bien aimee, ma pr<5cieuse Ellen mon amie chere, Croyez-moi 
de rester a vous pour la vie, CHARLOTTE. 

P.S. You cannot imagine in what haste I have written this. 
If you do not like me to write French letters tell me so, and I 
will desist, but I beg and implore your reply may be in the 
universal language, never mind a few mistakes at first, the attempt 
will contribute greatly to your improvement. Farewell, Write 
soon, very soon ; I shall be all impatience till I hear from you. 



HA WORTH, 1832-1835 99 

Letter 8 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, January ist, 1833. 

DEAR ELLEN, I believe we agreed to correspond once a 
month ; that space of time has now elapsed since I received your 
last interesting letter, and I now therefore hasten to reply. 
Accept my congratulations on the arrival of the ' New Year,' 
every succeeding day of which will, I trust, find you wiser and 
better in the true sense of those much-used words. The first day 
of January always presents to my mind a train of very solemn 
and important reflections, and a question more easily asked than 
answered, frequently occurs, viz. : How have I improved the past 
year, and with what good intentions do I view the dawn of its 
successor? These, my dearest Ellen, are weighty considerations 
which (young as we are) neither you nor I can too deeply or too 
seriously ponder. I am sorry your two great diffidences, arising, 
I think, from the want of sufficient confidence in your own capa- 
bilities, prevented you from writing to me in French, as I think 
the attempt would have materially contributed to your improve- 
ment in that language. You very kindly caution me against 
being tempted by the fondness of my sisters to consider myself 
of too much importance, and then in a parenthesis you beg me 
not to be offended. O ! Ellen, do you think I could be offended 
by any good advice you may give me? No, I thank you heartily, 
and love you, if possible, better for it. I had a letter about a fort- 
night ago from Miss Taylor, in which she mentions the birth of 
Mrs. Clapham's little boy, and likewise tells me you had not been 
at Roe Head for upwards of a month, but does not assign any reason 
for your absence. I hope it does not arise from ill-health. I am 
glad you like Kenilworth ; it is certainly a splendid production, 
more resembling a Romance than a Novel, and in my opinion 
one of the most interesting works that ever emanated from the 
great Sir Walter's pen. I was exceedingly amused at the charac- 
teristic and nafve manner in which you expressed your detestation 
of Varney's character, so much so, indeed, that I could not forbear 
laughing aloud when I perused that part of your letter ; he is 
certainly the personification of consummate villainy, and in the 
delineation of his dark and profoundly artful mind, Scott exhibits 
a wonderful knowledge of human nature, as well as surprising 



100 THE BRONTES 

skill in embodying his perceptions so as to enable others to 
become participators in that knowledge. Excuse the want of 
news in this very barren epistle, for I really have none to com- 
municate. Emily and Anne beg to be kindly remembered to you. 
Give my best love to your mother and sisters, and as it is very 
late permit me to conclude with the assurance of my unchanged, 
unchanging, and unchangeable affection for you. Adieu, my 
sweetest Ellen ; I am, ever yours, CHARLOTTE. 



Letter 9 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH,/tf<? 20M, 1833. 

DEAR ELLEN, I know you will be very angry because I have 
not written sooner ; my reason, or rather my motive for this 
apparent neglect was, that I had determined not to write until I 
could ask you to pay us your long-promised visit. Aunt thought 
it would be better to defer it till about the middle of summer, as 
the winter and even the spring seasons are remarkably cold and 
bleak among our mountains. Papa now desires me to present his 
respects to Mrs. Nussey, and say that he would feel greatly obliged 
if she would allow us the pleasure of your company for a few 
weeks at Haworth. I will leave it to you to fix whatever day 
may be most convenient, but, dear Ellen, let it be an early one. 
I received a letter from Poll Taylor yesterday ; she was in high 
dudgeon at my inattention at not promptly answering her last 
epistle. I, however, sat down immediately and wrote a very 
humble reply, candidly confessing my faults and soliciting for- 
giveness. I hope it has proved successful. Have you suffered 
much from that troublesome though not (I am happy to hear) 
generally fatal disease, the Influenza? We have so far steered 
clear of it, but I know not how long we may continue to escape. 
Miss Taylor tells me that H. Pi. has been elevated to the office of 
housekeeper at Colne Bridge ; doubtless she will fulfil its duties 
with great self-complacency. Do you not think Mrs. Bradbury 
has made excellent choice of a partner for life ? Your last letter 
revealed a state of mind which seemed to promise much. As I 
read it I could not help wishing that my own feelings more nearly 
resembled yours ; but unhappily all the good thoughts which 
enter my mind evaporate almost before I have had time to ascer- 



HA WORTH, 1882-1835 101 

tain their existence ; every right resolution which I form is so 
transient, so fragile, and so easily broken, that I sometimes fear I 
shall never be what I ought ; earnestly hoping that this may not 
be your case, that you may continue steadfast till the end, I 
remain, dearest Ellen, your ever faithful friend. 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 

P.S. Write soon and let the answer be favourable. 

Ellen Nussey's promised visit was paid this summer, and 
her description of it is interesting : 

My first visit to Haworth was full of novelty and freshness. 
The scenery for some miles before we reached Haworth 
was wild and uncultivated, with hardly any popula- Nussey's 
tion ; at last we came to what seemed a terrific hill, Reminis- 
such a deep declivity no one thought of riding down cences * 
it ; the horse had to be carefully led. We no sooner reached 
the foot of this hill than we had to begin to mount again, over 
a narrow, rough, stone-paved road ; the horse's feet seemed to 
catch at the boulders as if climbing. When we reached the 
top of the village there was apparently no outlet, but we were 
directed to drive into an entry which just admitted the gig ; we 
wound round in this entry and then saw the church close at hand, 
and we entered on the short lane which led to the parsonage 
gateway. Here Charlotte was waiting, having caught the sound 
of the approaching gig. When greetings and introductions were 
over, Miss Branwell (the aunt of the Brontes) took possession of 
their guest and treated her with the care and solicitude due to a 
weary traveller. Mr. Bronte, also, was stirred out of his usual re- 
tirement by his own kind consideration, for not only the guest 
but the man-servant and the horse were to be made comfortable. 
He made inquiries about the man, of his length of service, etc., 
with the kind purpose of making a few moments of conversation 
agreeable to him. 

Even at this time, Mr. Bronte struck me as looking very vener- 
able, with his snow-white hair and powdered coat-collar. His 
manner and mode of speech always had the tone of high-bred 
courtesy. He was considered somewhat of an invalid, and always 
lived in the most abstemious and simple manner. His white 
cravat was not then so remarkable as it grew to be afterwards. 
He was in the habit of covering this cravat himself. We never 



102 THE BRONTES 

saw the operation, but we always had to wind for him the white 
sewing-silk which he used. Charlotte said it was her father's one 
extravagance he cut up yards and yards of white lute-string (silk) 
in covering his cravat ; and, like Dr. Joseph Woolflfe (the renowned 
and learned traveller), who, when on a visit and in a long fit of 
absence, 'went into a clean shirt every day for a week, without 
taking one off/ so Mr. Bronte's cravat went into new silk and 
new size without taking any off, till at length nearly half his 
head was enveloped in cravat. His liability to bronchial attacks, 
no doubt, attached him to this increasing growth of cravat. 

Miss Branwell, their aunt, was a small, antiquated little lady. 
She wore caps large enough for half a dozen of the present fashion, 
and a front of light auburn curls over her forehead. She always 
dressed in silk. She had a horror of the climate so far north, and 
of the stone floors of the parsonage. She amused us by clicking 
about in pattens whenever she had to go into the kitchen or look 
after household operations. 

She talked a great deal of her younger days ; the gaieties of 
her native town, Penzance, in Cornwall ; the soft, warm climate 
etc. The social life of her younger days she used to recall with 
regret; she gave one the idea that she had been a belle among 
her own home acquaintances. She took snuff out of a very pretty 
gold snuff-box, which she sometimes presented to you with a little 
laugh, as if she enjoyed the slight shock and astonishment visible 
in your countenance. In summer she spent part of the afternoon 
in reading aloud to Mr. Bronte. In the winter evenings she must 
have enjoyed this ; for she and Mr. Bronte had often to finish 
their discussions on what she had read when we all met for tea. 
She would be very lively and intelligent, and tilt arguments against 
Mr. Bronte without fear. 

* Tabby/ the faithful, trustworthy old servant, was very quaint 
in appearance very active, and, in these days, the general servant 
and factotum. We were all 'childer ' and 4 bairns/ in her estima- 
tion. She still kept to her duty of walking out with the 'childer' 
if they went any distance from home, unless Branwell were sent 
by his father as a protector. Poor ' Tabby ' in later days, after 
she had been attacked with paralysis, would most anxiously look 
out for such duties as she was still capable of. The postman was 
her special point of attention. She did not approve of the 
inspection which the younger eyes of her fellow-servant bestowed 
on his deliveries. She jealously seized them when she could, and 



HAWORTH, 1832-1885 108 

carried them off with hobbling step, and shaking head and hand, 
to the safe custody of Charlotte. 

Emily Bronte had by this time acquired a lithesome, graceful 
figure. She was the tallest person in the house, except her father. 
Her hair, which was naturally as beautiful as Charlotte's, was in 
the same unbecoming tight curl and frizz, and there was the same 
want of complexion. She had very beautiful eyes kind, kindling, 
liquid eyes ; but she did not often look at you : she was too 
reserved. Their colour might be said to be dark grey, at other 
times dark blue, they varied so. She talked very little. She and 
Anne were like twins inseparable companions, and in the very 
closest sympathy, which never had any interruption. 

Anne dear, gentle Anne was quite different in appearance 
from the others. She was her aunt's favourite. Her hair was a 
very pretty light brown, and fell on her neck in graceful curls. 
She had lovely violet-blue eyes, fine pencilled eyebrows, and clear, 
almost transparent complexion. She still pursued her studies, 
and especially her sewing, under the surveillance of her aunt. 
Emily had now begun to have the disposal of her own time. 

Branwell studied regularly with his father, and used to paint in 
oils, which was regarded as study for what might be eventually 
his profession. All the household entertained the idea of his 
becoming an artist, and hoped he would be a distinguished one. 

In fine and suitable weather delightful rambles were made 
over the moors, and down into glens and ravines that here and 
there broke the monotony of the moorland. The rugged bank 
and rippling brook were treasures of delight. Emily, Anne, 
and Branwell used to ford the streams, and sometimes placed 
stepping-stones for the other two ; there was always a lingering 
delight in these sports every moss, every flower, every tint and 
form, were noted and enjoyed. Emily especially had a glee- 
some delight in these nooks of beauty her reserve for the time 
vanished. One long ramble made in these early days was far 
away over the moors, to a spot familiar to Emily and Anne, 
which they called * The Meeting of the Waters. 1 It was a small 
oasis of emerald green turf, broken here and there by small clear 
springs ; a few large stones served as resting-places; seated here, 
we were hidden from all the world, nothing appearing in view but 
miles and miles of heather, a glorious blue sky, and brightening 
sun. A fresh breeze wafted on us its exhilarating influence ; we 
laughed and made mirth of each other, and settled we would call 



104 THE BRONTES 

ourselves the quartette. Emily, half reclining on a slab of stone, 
played like a young child with the tadpoles in the water, making 
them swim about, and then fell to moralising on the strong and 
the weak, the brave and the cowardly, as she chased them with 
her hand. No serious care or sorrow had so far cast its gloom on 
nature's youth and buoyancy, and nature's simplest offerings were 
fountains of pleasure and enjoyment. 

The interior of the now far-famed parsonage lacked drapery of 
all kinds. Mr. Bronte's horror of fire forbade curtains to the 
windows ; they never had these accessories to comfort and appear- 
ance till long after Charlotte was the only inmate of the family 
sitting-room, she then ventured on the innovation when her 
friend was with her ; it did not please her father, but it was not 
forbidden. 

There was not much carpet anywhere except in the sitting- 
room, and on the study floor. The hall floor and stairs were done 
with sandstone, always beautifully clean, as everything was about 
the house ; the walls were not papered, but stained in a pretty 
dove-coloured tint; hair-seated chairs and mahogany tables, book- 
shelves in the study, but not many of these elsewhere. Scant 
and bare indeed, many will say, yet it was not a scantness that 
made itself felt. Mind and thought, I had almost said elegance, 
but certainly refinement, diffused themselves over all, and made 
nothing really wanting. 

A little later on there was the addition of a piano. Emily, 
after some application, played with precision and brilliancy. 
Anne played also, but she preferred soft harmonies and vocal music. 
She sang a little ; her voice was weak, but very sweet in tone. 

Mr. Bronte's health caused him to retire early. He assembled 
his household for family worship at eight o'clock ; at nine he 
locked and barred the front door, always giving, as he passed 
the sitting-room door, a kindly admonition to the ' children ' not 
to be late ; half-way up the stairs he stayed his steps to wind up 
the clock. 

Every morning was heard the firing of a pistol from Mr. Bronte's 
room window ; it was the discharging of the loading which was 
made every night. Mr. Bronte's tastes led him to delight in the 
perusal of battle-scenes, and in following the artifice of war; had 
he entered on military service instead of ecclesiastical, he would 
probably have had a very distinguished career. The self-denials 
and privations of camp-life would have agreed entirely with his 



HA WORTH, 1882-1885 105 

nature, for he was remarkably independent of the luxuries and 
comforts of life. The only dread he had was of fire, and this 
dread was so intense it caused him to prohibit all but silk or 
woollen dresses for his daughters ; indeed, for any one to wear 
any other kind of fabric was almost to forfeit his respect 

Mr. Bronte at times would relate strange stories, which had 
been told to him by some of the oldest inhabitants of the parish, 
of the extraordinary lives and doings of people who had resided 
in far-off, out-of-the-way places, but in contiguity with Haworth 
stories which made one shiver and shrink from hearing ; but they 
were full of grim humour and interest to Mr. Bronte and his 
children, as revealing the characteristics of a class in the human 
race, and as such Emily Bronte has stereotyped them in her 
Wuthering Heights. 

During Miss Branwell's reign at the parsonage, the love of 
animals had to be kept in due subjection. There was then but 
one dog, which was admitted to the parlour at stated times. 
Emily and Anne always gave him a portion of their breakfast, 
which was, by their own choice, the old north country diet of 
oatmeal porridge. Later on, there were three household pets 
the tawny, strong-limbed c Keeper,' Emily's favourite : he was so 
completely under her control, she could quite easily make him 
spring and roar like a lion. She taught him this kind of 
occasional play without any coercion. ' Flossy ' long, silky- 
haired, black and white ' Flossy ' was Anne's favourite ; and 
black 'Tom,' the tabby, was everybody's favourite. It received 
such gentle treatment it seemed to have lost cat's nature, and 
subsided into luxurious amiability and contentment. The 
Brontes' love of dumb creatures made them very sensitive of the 
treatment bestowed upon them. For any one to offend in this 
respect was with them an infallible bad sign, and a blot on the 
disposition. 

The services in church in these days were such as can only be 
seen (if ever seen again) in localities like Haworth. The people 
assembled, but it was apparently to listen. Any part beyond 
that was quite out of their reckoning. All through the prayers, 
a stolid look of apathy was fixed on the generality of their faces. 
There they sat, or leaned, in their pews ; some few, perhaps, were 
resting, after a long walk over the moors. The children, many of 
them in clogs (or sabots), pattered in from the school after 
service had commenced, and pattered out again before the ser- 



106 THE BRONTES 

mon. The sexton, with a long staff, continually walked round 
in the aisles, * knobbing ' sleepers where he dare, shaking his head 
at and threatening unruly children ; but when the sermon began 
there was a change. Attitudes took the listening forms, eyes 
were turned on the preacher. It was curious, now, to note the 
expression. A rustic, untaught intelligence gleamed in their 
faces ; in some, a daring, doubting, questioning look, as if they 
would like to offer some defiant objection. Mr. Bronte always 
addressed his hearers in extempore style. Very often he selected 
a parable from one of the Gospels, which he explained in the 
simplest manner sometimes going over his own words and 
explaining them also, so as to be perfectly intelligible to the 
lowest comprehension. 

Letter 10 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, September ii///, 1833. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have hitherto delayed answering your last 
letter because from what you said I imagined you might be from 
home. Since you were here Emily has been very ill ; her ailment 
was Erysipelas in the arm, accompanied by severe bilious attacks, 
and great general debility. Her arm was obliged to be cut in 
order to relieve it; it is now, I am happy to say, nearly healed, 
her health is, in fact, almost perfectly re-established ; the sickness 
still continues to recur at intervals. Were I to tell you of the 
impression you have made on every one here, you would accuse 
me of flattery. Papa and Aunt are continually adducing you as 
an example for me to shape my actions and behaviour by. Emily 
and Anne say 'they never saw any one they liked so well as Miss 
Nussey/ and Tabby talks a great deal more nonsense about you 
than I choose to report. You must read this letter, dear Ellen, 
without thinking of the writing, for I have indited it almost all 
in the twilight. It is now so dark, that notwithstanding the 
singular property of 'seeing in the night-time/ which the young 
ladies at Roe Head used to attribute to me, I can scribble no 
longer. All the family unite with me in wishes for your welfare. 
Remember me respectfully to your mother and sisters, and supply 
all those expressions of warm and genuine regard which the 
increasing darkness will not permit me to insert. 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 



HAWORTH, 1832-1835 107 



Letter 11 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, February iiM, 1834, 

DEAR ELLEN, My letters are scarcely worth the postage, and 
therefore I have, till now, delayed answering your last com- 
munication ; but upwards of two months having elapsed since I 
received it, I have at length determined to take up my pen in 
reply lest your anger should be roused by my apparent negligence. 
It grieved me extremely to hear of your precarious state of health. 
I trust sincerely that your medical adviser is mistaken in suppos- 
ing y u have any tendency to a pulmonary affection. Dear 
Ellen, that would indeed be a calamity. I have seen enough of 
consumption to dread it as one of the most insidious and fatal 
diseases incident to humanity. But I repeat it, I hope> nay pray y 
that your alarm is groundless. If you remember, I used fre- 
quently to tell you at school that you were constitutionally 
nervous guard against the gloomy impressions which such a 
state of mind naturally produces. Take constant and regular 
exercise, and all, I doubt not, will yet be well. What a remark- 
able winter we have had ! Rain and wind continually, but an 
almost total absence of frost and snow. Has general ill-health 
been the consequence of wet weather at Birstall or not ? With 
us an unusual number of deaths have lately taken place. Accord- 
ing to custom I have no news to communicate, indeed I do not 
write either to retail gossip or to impart solid information; my 
motives for maintaining our mutual correspondence are, in the 
first place, to get intelligence from you, and in the second that we 
may remind each other of our separate existences ; without some 
such medium of reciprocal converse, according to the nature of 
things, you, who are surrounded by society and friends, would 
soon forget that such an insignificant being as myself ever lived. 
/, however, in the solitude of our wild little hill village, think of 
my only unrelated friend, my dear ci-devant school companion 
daily nay, almost hourly. Now Ellen, don't you think I have 
very cleverly contrived to make up a letter out of nothing? 
Good-bye, dearest. That God may bless you is the earnest 
prayer of your ever faithful friend, CHARLOTTE BRONTfi. 

P. S. Write to me very soon. 



108 THE BRONTES 

Letter 12 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, February 2oM, 1834. 

DEAREST ELLEN, Your letter gave me real and heartfelt 
pleasure, mingled with no small degree of astonishment. Mary 
previously informed me of your departure for London, and I had 
not ventured to calculate on receiving any communication from 
you while surrounded by the splendours and novelties of that 
great city, which has been called the mercantile metropolis of 
Europe. Judging from human nature, I thought that a little 
country girl, placed for the first time in a situation so well calcu- 
lated to excite curiosity, and to distract attention, would lose all 
remembrance, for a time at least, of distant and familiar objects, 
and give herself up entirely to the fascination of those scenes 
which were then presented to her view. Your kind, interesting, 
and most welcome epistle showed me, however, that I had been 
both mistaken and uncharitable in my supposition. I was greatly 
amused at the tone of nonchalance which you assumed while 
treating of London, and its wonders, which seem to have excited 
anything rather than surprise in your mind ; did you not feel 
awed while gazing at St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey ? Had 
you no feeling of ardent and intense interest, when in St. James' 
you saw the Palace where so many of England's kings have held 
their court, and beheld the representations of their persons on the 
walls? The magnificence of London has drawn exclamations ot 
astonishment from travelled men, experienced in the world, its 
wonders and beauties. Have you yet seen any of the great 
personages whom the sitting of Parliament now detains in 
London? The Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Earl de 
Grey, Mr. Stanley, Mr. O'Connell, etc. If I were you, Ellen, I 
would not be anxious to spend my time in reading while in town. 
Make use of your own eyes for the purpose of observation, now 
and for a time at least lay aside the spectacles with which authors 
would furnish us in their works. It gives me more pleasure than I 
can express to hear of your renewed health. About a week before 
I received yours I had written to you, supposing you to be still at 
Birstall ; fearing that letter may be sent in mistake for the present 
one, I have hastened to return an answer with as little delay as 
possible. I shall be quite impatient, dear Ellen, till I receive 



HAWORTH, 1832-1885 109 

another letter from you. Pray continue to remember me. Give 
my love to your sisters, and accept the kindest wishes from your 
affectionate friend, C. BRONTE. 

P.S. Will you be kind enough to inform me of the number of 
performers in the King's Military Band ? Branwell wishes for 
this information. 



Letter 13 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, June 19^, 1834. 

MY OWN DEAR ELLEN, I may rightfully and truly call you 
so now you have returned, or are returning from London, from 
the great city which to me is almost apocryphal as Babylon or 
Nineveh, or ancient Rome. You are withdrawing from the world 
(as it is called) and bringing with you, if your letters enable me to 
form a correct judgment, a heart as unsophisticated, as natural, as 
true, as that you carried there. I am slow, very slow to believe 
the protestations of another. I know my own sentiments because 
I can read my own mind, but the minds of the rest of men and 
women kind are to me as sealed volumes, hieroglyphical, which I 
cannot easily either unseal or decipher. Yet time, careful study, 
long acquaintance, overcome most difficulties ; and in your case I 
think they have succeeded well in bringing to light and construing 
that hidden language, whose turnings, windings, inconsistencies, 
and obscurities, so frequently baffle the researches of the honest 
observer of human nature. Mow many after having, as they 
thought, discovered the word friend in the mental volume, have 
afterwards found they should have read /#/.$ friend ! I have long 
seen ' friend ' in your mind, in your words, in your actions, but 
now distinctly visible, and clearly written in characters that can- 
not-be distrusted, I discern true friend! I am really grateful for 
your mindfulness of so obscure a person as myself, and I hope the 
pleasure is not altogether selfish ; I trust it is partly derived from 
the consciousness that my friend's character is of a higher, a more 
steadfast order than I was once perfectly aware of. Few girls 
would have done as you have done would have beheld the glare 
and glitter and dazzling display of London, with dispositions so 
unchanged, hearts so uncontaminated. I see no affectation in your 
letter, no trifling, no frivolous contempt of plain, and weak admira- 



110 THE BRONTfiS 

tion of showy persons and things. I do not say this in flattery 
but in genuine sincerity. Put such an one as A. W. in the 
same situation, and mark what a mighty difference there would be 
in the result ! I say no more ; remember me kindly to your 
excellent sisters, accept the good wishes of my Papa, Aunt, 
Sisters, and Brother, and continue to spare a corner of your warm, 
affectionate heart for your true and grateful friend, 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 



Letter 14 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH,////)/ 4/$, 1834. 

DEAR ELLEN, You will be tired of paying the postage of my 
letters, but necessity must plead my excuse for their frequent 
recurrence. I must thank you for your very handsome present. 
The bonnet is pretty, neat, and simple, as like the giver as 
possible ; it brought Ellen Nussey, with her fair quiet face, brown 
eyes, and dark hair, full to my remembrance. I wish I could find 
some other way to thank you for your kindness than words. The 
load of obligation under which you lay me is positively over- 
whelming, and I make no return. In your last you tell me to tell 
you of your faults and cease flattering you. Now, really, Ellen, 
how can you be so foolish ! I won't tell you of your faults, 
because I don't know them. What a creature would that be, 
who, after receiving an affectionate and kind letter from a beloved 
friend, should sit down and write a catalogue of defects by way of 
answer! Imagine me doing so, and then consider what epithets 
you would bestow upon me conceited, dogmatical, hypocritical, 
little humbug, I should think would be the mildest. Why, child ! 
I 've neither time nor inclination to reflect on your faults when 
you are so far from me, and when, besides kind letters and 
presents, and so forth, you are continually bringing forth your 
goodness in the most prominent light. Then, too, there are 
friends always round you who can much better discharge that 
unpleasant office. I have no doubt their advice is completely at 
your service; why then should I intrude mine? Let us have no 
more nonsense about flattery, Ellen, if you love me. Mr. R. 
Nussey is going to be married, is he? Well, his wife elect 



HA WORTH, 1882-1835 111 

appeared to me a clever and amiable lady, as far as I could 
judge from the little I saw of her, and from your account, 
Now to this flattering sentence must I tack on a list of her 
faults? You say it is in contemplation for you to leave Rydings ; 
I am sorry for it. Rydings is a pleasant spot, one of the old 
family halls of England surrounded by lawn and woodland, 
speaking of past times, and suggesting to me, at least, happy 
feelings, it would be smooth and easy ; but it is the living in 
other people's houses, the estrangement from one's real character, 
the adoption of a cold, frigid, apathetic exterior, that is painful. 

Martha Taylor thought you grown less, did she ? That 's like 
Martha. I am not grown a bit, but as short and dumpy as 
ever. I wrote to Mary, but have as yet received no answer. You 
ask me to recommend some books for your perusal. I will do 
so in as few words as I can. If you like poetry let it be first-rate ; 
Milton, Shakespeare, Thomson, Goldsmith, Pope (if you will, 
though I don't admire him), Scott, Byron, Campbell, Wordsworth, 
and Southey. Now don't be startled at the names of Shake- 
speare and Byron. Both these were gieat men, and their works 
are like themselves. You know how to choose the good and 
avoid the evil ; the finest passages are always the purest, the 
bad are invariably revolting ; you will never wish to read them 
over twice. Omit the comedies of Shakespeare and the Don 
Juan, perhaps the Cain of Byron, though the latter is a mag- 
nificent poem, and read the rest fearlessly ; that must indeed be 
a depraved mind which can gather evil from Henry VI 11. , Richard 
III., from Macbeth, and Hamlet, and Julius C&sar. Scott's sweet, 
wild, romantic poetry can do you no harm. Nor can Words- 
worth's, nor Campbell's, nor Southey 's the greatest part at 
least of his ; some is certainly objectionable. For history, read 
Hume, Rollin, and the Universal History, if you can : I never did. 
For fiction, read Scott alone ; all novels after his are worthless. 
For biography, read Johnson's Lives of the Poets, Boswell's Life 
of Johnson, Southey's Life of Nelson, Lockhart's Life of Burns, 
Moore's Life of Sheridan, Moore's Life of Byron, Wolfe's Remains. 
For natural history, read Bewick, and Audubon, and Goldsmith, 
and White's History of Selbornc. For divinity your brother 
Henry will advise you there. I can only say adhere to standard 
authors, and avoid novelty. If you can read this scrawl it will be 
to the credit of your patience. With love to your sisters, believe 
me to be, for ever yours, CHARLOTTE BRONT. 



112 THE BRONTES 

Letter 15 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, November io//&, 1834. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have been a long while, a very long while 
without writing to you. A letter I received from Mary Taylor 
this morning reminded me of my neglect, and made me instantly 
sit down to atone for it, if possible. She tells me your Aunt 
Nussey, of Brookroyd, is dead, and that poor Sarah is very ill ; 
for this I am truly sorry, but I hope her case is not yet without 
hope. You should however remember that death, should it 
happen, will undoubtedly be great gain to her. Can you give 
me any particulars respecting the failure of Huliby, Brooke & Co.? 
I am thus particular in my inquiries, because papa is anxious to 
hear the details of a matter so seriously affecting his old friends 
at Dewsbury, and because I cannot myself help feeling interested 
in a misfortune, which must fall heavily on some of my late school- 
fellows. Poor Leah and Maria Brooke ! In your last, dear Ellen, 
you ask my opinion respecting the amusement of dancing, and 
whether I thought it objectionable when indulged in for an hour 
or two in parties of boys and girls. I should hesitate to express 
a difference of opinion from Mr. Allbut, or from your excellent 
sister, but really the matter seems to me to stand thus: It is 
allowed on all hands that the sin of dancing consists not in the 
mere action of shaking the shanks (as the Scotch say), but in the 
consequences that usually attend itnamely, frivolity and waste 
of time ; when it is used only, as in the case you state, for the 
exercise and amusement of an hour among people (who surely 
may without any breach of God's commandments be allowed a 
little light-heartedness), these consequences cannot follow. Ergo 
(according to my manner of arguing), the amusement is at such 
times perfectly innocent. Having nothing more to say, I will 
conclude with the expression of my sincere and earnest attach- 
ment for, Ellen, your own dear self. 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 

Pray write soon ; forgive mistakes, erasures, bad writing, etc. 
Farewell. 



HAWORTH, 1882-1835 113 

Letter 16 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, January iith, 1835. 

DEAREST ELLEN, I thought it better not to answer your very 
kind letter too soon, lest I should (in the present fully occupied 
state of your time) appear intrusive. I am happy to inform you 
papa has given me permission to accept the invitation it conveyed, 
and ere long I hope once more to have the pleasure of seeing 
almost the only and certainly the dearest friend I possess (out of 
our own family). I leave it to you to fix the time, only requesting 
you not to appoint too early a day ; let it be a fortnight or three 
weeks at least from the date of the present letter. I am greatly 
obliged to you for your kind offer of meeting me at Bradford, 
but papa thinks that such a plan would involve uncertainty, and 
be productive of trouble to you. He recommends that I should 
go direct in a gig from Haworth at the time you shall determine, 
or, if that day should prove unfavourable, the first subsequent 
fine one. Such an arrangement would leave us both free, and if 
it meets with your approbation would perhaps be the best we 
could finally resolve upon. Excuse the brevity of this epistle, 
dear Ellen, for I am in a great hurry, and we shall, I trust, soon 
see each other face to face, which will be better than a hundred 
letters. Give my respectful love to your mother and sisters, 
accept the kind remembrances of all our family, and Believe 
me in particular to be, your firm and faithful friend, 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 

PS. You ask me to stay a month when I come, but as I do 
not wish to tire you with my company, and as, besides, papa 
and aunt both think a fortnight amply sufficient, I shall not 
exceed that period. Farewell, dearest, dearest. 



Letter 17 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, March itfh, 1835. 

DEAR ELLEN, I suppose by this time you will be expecting 
to hear from me. You did not fix any precise period when I 
VOL i. H 



114 THE BRONTfiS 

should write, so I hope you will not be very angry on the score of 
delay, etc. Well, here I am, as completely separated from you as 
if a hundred instead of seventeen miles intervened between us. I 
can neither hear you, nor see you, nor feel you, you are become a 
mere thought, an unsubstantial impression on the memory which, 
however, is happily incapable of erasure. My journey home was 
rather melancholy, and would have been very much so, but for the 
presence and conversation of my worthy companion. I found K. 
a very intelligent man and really not unlike Cato (you will under- 
stand the allusion). He told me the adventures of his sailor's life, 
his shipwreck, and the hurricane he had witnessed in the West 
Indies, with a much better flow of language than many of far 
greater pretensions are masters of. I thought he appeared a little 
dismayed by the wildness of the country round Haworth, and I 
imagine he has carried back a pretty report of it. He was very 
inquisitive, and asked several questions respecting the names of 
places, directions of roads, etc., which I could not answer. I fancy 
he thought me very stupid. 

What do you think of the course Politics are taking? I make 
this inquiry because I now think you have a wholesome interest in 
the matter ; formerly you did not care greatly about it. Brougham 
you see is triumphant. Wretch ! I am a hearty hater, and if there 
is any one I thoroughly abhor, it is that man. But the opposition 
is divided, red hots, and luke warms ; and the Duke (par 
excellence the Duke) and Sir Robert Peel show no sign of 
insecurity, though they have already been twice beat(en) ; so 
* courage, mon amie/ Heaven defend the right ! as the old 
chevaliers used to say, before they joined battle Now Ellen, laugh 
heartily at all this rodomontade, but you have brought it on your- 
self ; don't you remember telling me to write such letters to you as 
I write to Mary Taylor? Here's a specimen; hereafter should 
follow a long disquisition on books, but I '11 spare you that. Give 
my sincerest love to your mother and sisters. Every soul in this 
house unites with me in best wishes to yourself. I am, dear Ellen, 
thy friend, CHARLOTTE. 

p S. Did Kelly request you to send the umbrella I left to the 
Bull's Head Inn, Bradford ? Our carrier called for it on Thursday, 
but it was not there. Happily it was of no great value, so it does 
not much signify. 



HAWORTH, 1882-1835 115 

Letter 18 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, May 8M, 1835. 

DEAREST ELLEN,Judging by the date of your letter pre- 
viously, one month and four days intervened between the period 
in which it was written and that which brought it to my hands. I 
received it last Monday, and till that time it continued to lie 
snugly enclosed in the umbrella at the Bull's Head Inn at Brad- 
ford, our carrier having neglected to inquire for it. Poor Mr. 
Buckmaster, who was only ill when you wrote, is now dead and 
buried. He had a troubled sojourn in Dewsbury, but undoubtedly 
he has now found rest in Heaven. Mr. T. Allbut, according to the 
papers, has succeeded him. Will Miss Marianne Wooler change her 
name soon ? I should suppose all cause of delay is now removed. 

The Election ! The Election ! That cry has rung even amongst 
our lonely hills like the blast of a trumpet ; how has it roused the 
populous neighbourhood of Birstall ? Under what banner have 
your brothers ranged themselves ? The Blue or the Yellow ? Use 
your influence with them, entreat them, if it be necessary, on your 
knees to stand by their country and religion in this day of danger. 
Oh ! I wish the whole West Riding of our noble Yorkshire would 
feel the necessity of exertion. Oh, how I wish Stuart Wortley, 
the son of the most patriotic Patrician Yorkshire owns, would be 
elected the representative of his native Province ; Lord Morpeth 
was at Haworth last week, and I saw him. My opinion of his 
Lordship is recorded in a letter I wrote yesterday to Mary Taylor ; 
it is not worth writing over again, so I will not trouble you with 
it here. Give my regards, tender and true, to your sister Mercy. 
Surely Mr. Harrison is not going to leave for ever. Believe me, 
my own dear Ellen, that I remain, yours with true affection, 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 

P.S. Aunt and my sisters beg their kind love to you. 

Letter 19 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, July 6th, 1835. 

DEAREST ELLEN, I had hoped to have had the extreme plea- 
sure of seeing you at Haworth this summer, but human affairs are 



116 THE BRONTES 

mutable, and human resolutions must bend to the course of events. 
We are all about to divide, break up, separate. Emily is going to 
school, Branwell is going to London, and I am going to be a 
governess. This last determination I formed myself, knowing I 
should have to take the step sometime, and ' better sune as syne/ 
to use the Scotch proverb ; and knowing well that papa would 
have enough to do with his limited income, should Branwell be 
placed at the Royal Academy, and Emily at Roe Head. Where 
am I going to reside? you will ask. Within four miles of your- 
self, dearest, at a place neither of us is unacquainted with, being 
no other than the identical Roc Head mentioned above. Yes, I 
am going to teach in the very school where I was myself taught. 
Miss Wooler made me the offer, and I preferred it to one or two 
proposals of private governess-ship, which I had before received. 
I am sad very sad at the thought of leaving home ; but duty 
necessity these are stern mistresses, who will not be dis- 
obeyed. Did I not once say, Ellen you ought to be thankful for 
your independence? I felt what I said at the time, and I repeat 
it now with double earnestness ; if anything would cheer me, it is 
the idea of being so near you. Surely you and Polly will come 
and see me ; it would be wrong in me to doubt it ; you were never 
unkind yet. Emily and I leave home on the 29th of this month ; 
the idea of being together consoles us both somewhat, and, in 
truth, since I must enter a situation, * My lines have fallen in 
pleasant places.' I both love and respect Miss Wooler. What did 
you mean, Ellen, by saying that you knew the reason why I 
wished to have a letter from your sister Mercy ? The sentence 
hurt me, though I did not quite understand it. My only reason 
was a desire to correspond with a person I have a regard for. 
Give my love both to her and to Sarah, and Miss Nussey. 

Remember me respectfully to Mrs. Nussey, and believe me, my 
dearest friend, Affectionately, warmly yours, C. BRONTE. 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 117 



CHAPTER VII 
GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD AND DEWSBURY MOOR 

A DISTINGUISHED critic, when visiting Dewsbury to address 
the Bronte Society, 1 complained that he could find but little 
to guide him as to Charlotte Bronte's association with the 
place. That most just complaint may be extended by the 
biographer to Roe Head. Many pupils who were at 
school at both places when Charlotte Bronte was governess 
there, were proud to boast of it in after life, but not one 
would seem to have been of the writing fraternity, and so 
we are thrown back entirely on Charlotte's letters for any 
account of those three years of but very moderate happi- 
ness, eilthough it is clear that the headmistress, Margaret 
Wooler, and her sisters treated her entirely as a friend, 
and that her evenings at least, when free from the strain 
of teaching, were not disagreeably passed with these 
ladies. One glimpse we have from Mary Taylor, who 
wrote thus to Mrs. Gaskell : 2 

I heard that she had gone as a teacher to Miss Wooler's. 
I went to see her, and asked how she could give so Ma 
much for so little money, when she could live without Taylor's 
it. She owned that, after clothing herself and Anne, Narrati . 
there was nothing left, though she had hoped to be able to save 
something. She confessed it was not brilliant, but what could 
she do? I had nothing to answer. She seemed to have no 
interest or pleasure beyond the feeling of duty, and, when she 

1 ' The Challenge of the Brontes.' An Address delivered at the Annual Meeting of 
the Bionte Society at Dewsbury, March 28, 1903, by Edmund Gosse. Bronte Society's 
Transactions, Part XIV. Also thirty copies printed by the author for private 
distribution. 

a Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte^ Haworth edition, pp. 140-142. 



118 THE BRONTES 

could get the opportunity, used to sit alone and 'make out.' 
She told me afterwards that one evening she had sat in the 
dressing-room until it was quite dark, and then observing it all 
at once had taken sudden fright. 

From that time her imaginations became gloomy or fright- 
ful ; she could not help it, nor help thinking. She could not 
forget the gloom, could not sleep at night, nor attend in the 
day. 

She told me that one night, sitting alone, about this time, she 
heard a voice repeat these lines : 

4 Come, thou high and holy feeling, 
Shine o'er mountain, flit o'er wave, 
Gleam like light o'er dome and shieling.' 

There were eight or ten more lines which 1 forget. She insisted 
that she had not made them, that she had heard a voice repeat 
them. It is possible that she had read them, and unconsciously 
recalled them. They are not in the volume of poems which 
the sisters published. She repeated a verse of Isaiah, which she 
said had inspired them, and which I have forgotten. Whether 
the lines were recollected or invented, the tale proves such 
habits of sedentary, monotonous solitude of thought as would 
have shaken a feebler mind. 

Cowper's poem The Castaway was known to them all, and they 
all at times appreciated, or almost appropriated it. Charlotte 
told me once that Branwell had done so ; and though his de- 
pression was the result of his faults, it was in no other respect 
different from hers. Both were not mental but physical illnesses. 
She was well aware of this, and would ask how that mended 
matters, as the feeling was there all the same, and was not re- 
moved by knowing the cause. She had a larger religious tolera- 
tion than a person would have who had never questioned, and her 
manner of recommending religion was always that of offering 
comfort, not fiercely enforcing a duty. One time I mentioned 
that some one had asked me what religion I was of (with a view 
of getting me for a partisan), and that I had said that that was 
between God and me. Emily (who was lying on the hearthrug) 
exclaimed, * That's right.' This was all I ever heard Emily say 
on religious subjects. Charlotte was free from religious depres- 
sion when in tolerable health ; when that failed, her depression 
returned. You have probably seen such instances. They don't 
get over their difficulties ; they forget them when their stomach 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 119 

(or whatever organ it is that inflicts such misery in sedentary 
people) will let them. I have heard her condemn Socinianism, 
Calvinism, and many other ' isms ' inconsistent with Church of 
Englandism. I used to wonder at her acquaintance with such 
subjects. 

But it is to the letters to her friend Ellen Nussey alone 
that we are able to turn for any real knowledge of this 
period : 

Letter 20 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

ROE HEAD, May xoM, 1836. 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, Just now I am not at all comfortable; 
for if you are thinking of me at all at this moment I know you 
are thinking of me as an ungrateful and indifferent being. You 
imagine I do not appreciate the kind, constant heart whose 
feelings were revealed in your last letter ; but I do. Why then 
did I not answer it ? you will say. Because I was waiting to 
receive a letter from Miss Wooler that I might know whether or 
not I should have time enough to give you an invitation to 
Haworth, before the School reopened, but Miss Wooler's letter, 
when it came, summoned me immediately away, and I had no 
time to write. Do you forgive me? I know you do ; you could 
not persevere in anger against me long ; if you would, I defy you. 
You seemed kindly apprehensive about my health ; I am perfectly 
well now, and never was very ill. I was struck with the note you 
sent me with the umbrella; it showed a degree of interest about 
my concerns, which 1 have no right to expect from any earthly 
creature. I won't play the hypocrite, I won't answer your kind, 
gentle, friendly questions in the way you wish me to. Don't deceive 
yourself by imagining that I have a bit of real goodness about me. 
My Darling, if I were like you, I should have to face Zionward, 
though prejudice and error might occasionally fling a mist over 
the glorious vision before me, for with all your single-hearted 
sincerity you have your faults, but I am not like you. If you knew 
my thoughts ; the dreams that absorb me; and the fiery imagina- 
tion that at times eats me up and makes me feel society, as it is, 
wretchedly insipid, you would pity me and I dare say despise me. 
But, Ellen, I know the treasures of the Bible, and love and adore 



120 THE BRONTfiS 

them. I can see the Well of Life in all its clearness and bright- 
ness ; but when I stoop down to drink of the pure waters, they fly 
from my lips as if I were Tantalus. I have written like a fool. 
Remember me to your mother and sisters. Good-bye. 

CHARLOTTE. 

Come and see me soon ; don't think me mad. This is a silly 
letter. 

Letter 21 

TO ELLEN NUSSEV 

ROE HEAD. 

MY DEAR, DEAR ELLEN, I am at this moment trembling all 
over with excitement after reading your note ; it is what I never 
received before it is the unrestrained pouring out of a warm, 
gentle, generous heart; it contains sentiments unrestrained by 
human motives, prompted by the pure God himself; it expresses 
a noble sympathy which I do not, cannot deserve. Ellen, Religion 
has indeed elevated your character. I thank you with energy 
for this kindness. I will no longer shrink from your questions. 
I do wish to be better than I am. I pray fervently sometimes 
to be made so. I have stings of conscience visitings of remorse 
glimpses of Holy, inexpressible things, which formerly I used 
to be a stranger to. It may all die away, I may be in utter 
midnight, but I implore a Merciful Redeemer that if this be the 
real dawn of the Gospel, it may still brighten to perfect day. 
Do not mistake me, Ellen, do not think I am good, I only wish 
to be so, I only hate my former flippancy and forwardness. O! 
I am no better than I ever was. I am in that state of horrid, 
gloomy uncertainty, that at this moment I would submit to be 
old, grey-haired, to have passed all my youthful days of enjoy- 
ment and be tottering on the verge of the grave, if 1 could only 
thereby ensure the prospect of reconcilement to God and Re- 
demption through His Son's merits. I never was exactly care- 
less of these matters, but I have always taken a clouded and 
repulsive view of them ; and now, if possible, the clouds are 
gathering darker, and a more oppressive despondency weighs 
continually on my spirits. You have cheered me, my darling; 
for one moment, for an atom of time, I thought I might call you 
my own sister, in the spirit, but the excitement is past, and I am 
now as wretched and hopeless as ever. This very night I will 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 121 

pray as you wish me. May the Almighty hear me compassion- 
ately ! and I humbly trust He will for you will strengthen my 
polluted petition with your own pure requests. All is bustle and 
confusion round me, the ladies pressing with their sums and their 
lessons. Miss Wooler is at Rouse Mill. She has said every day 
this week, I wonder Miss Ellen does not come. If you love me, 
do, do, do come on Friday ; I shall watch and wait for you, and if 
you disappoint me, I shall weep. I wish you could know the 
thrill of delight which I experienced, when, as I stood at the 
dining-room window, I saw your brother George as he whirled 
past toss your little packet over the wall. I dare write no more, 
I am neglecting my duty. Love to your mother and both your 
sisters. Thank you again a thousand times for your kindness 
farewell, my blessed Ellen, CHARLOTTE. 



Letter 22 

TO ELLEN NUSSEV 

ROE HEAD. 

Weary with a day's hard work, during which an unusual degree 
of stupidity has been displayed by my promising pupils, I am 
sitting down to write a few hurried lines to my dear Ellen. 
Excuse me if I say nothing but nonsense, for my mind is 
exhausted and dispirited. It is a stormy evening, and the wind 
is uttering a continual moaning sound that makes me feel very 
melancholy. At such times, in such moods as these, Ellen, it is 
my nature to seek repose in some calm, tranquil idea, and I have 
now summoned up your image to give me rest. There you sit 
upright and still in your black dress and white scarf, your pale, 
marble-like face, looking so serene and kind just like reality. 
I wish you would speak to me. If we should be separated if it 
should be our lot to live at a great distance, and never to see 
each other again in old age how I should conjure up the memory 
of my youthful days, and what a melancholy pleasure I should feel 
in dwelling on the recollection of my early friend Ellen Nussey. 
If I like people it is my nature to tell them so, and I am not afraid 
of offering incense to your vanity. It is from religion you derive 
your chief charm, and may its influence always preserve you as 
pure, as unassuming, and as benevolent in thought and deed as 
you are now. What am I compared to you ? I feel my own utter 



122 THE BRONTES 

worthlcssness when I make the comparison. I am a very coarse, 
commonplace wretch, Ellen. I have some qualities which make 
me very miserable, some feelings that you can have no participa- 
tion in, that few, very few people in the world can understand. 
I don't pride myself on these peculiarities, I strive to conceal and 
suppress them as much as I can, but they burst out sometimes, 
and those who see the explosion despise me, and I hate myself 
for days afterwards. We are going to have prayers, so I can 
write no more of this trash, yet it is too true. I must send this 
note for want of a better. I don't know what to say. I have just 
received your epistle and what accompanied it. I can't tell what 
should induce your sisters to waste their kindness on such a one 
as me; I'm obliged to them, and I hope you'll tell them so. 
I 'm obliged to you also, more for your note than for your 
present. The first gave me pleasure, the last something like pain. 
Give my love to both your sisters, and my thanks. The bonnet 
is too handsome for me. I dare write no more. When shall we 
meet again ? C. BRONTE. 



Letter 23 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

ROE HEAD. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, You are far too kind and frequent in your 
invitations. You puzzle me ; I hardly know how to refuse, and it 
is still more embarrassing to accept. At any rate I cannot come 
this week, for we are in the very thickest mel^e of the Repetitions. 
I was hearing the terrible fifth section when your note arrived. 
But Miss Wooler says I must go to Gomersall next Friday as she 
promised for me on Whit-Sunday ; and on Sunday morning I 
will join you at church if it be convenient, and stay at Rydings 
till Monday morning. There's a free and easy proposal ! Miss 
Wooler has driven me to it ; she says her character is implicated ! 
I am very sorry to hear that your mother has been ill, I do hope 
she is better now, and that all the rest of the family are well. 
Will you be so kind as to deliver the accompanying note to Miss 
Taylor when you see her at church on Sunday. Dear Ellen, 
excuse the most horrid scrawl ever penned by mortal hands. 
Remember me to your mother and sisters, and believe me, 
Ellen Nussey's friend, CHARLOTTE. 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 128 



Letter 24 

TO MISS ELLEN NUSSEY 

ROE HEAD, 1836, 

Last Saturday afternoon being in one of my sentimental 
humours, I sat down and wrote to you such a note as I ought to 
have written to none but Mary, who is nearly as mad as myself; 
to-day, when I glanced it over, it occurs to me that Ellen's calm eye 
would look at this with scorn, so I determined to concoct some 
production more fit for the inspection of common-sense. I will 
not tell you all I think and feel about you, Ellen. I will preserve 
unbroken that reserve which alone enables me to maintain a decent 
character for judgment ; but for that, I should have long ago 
been set down by all who know me as a Frenchified fool. You 
have been very kind to me of late, and gentle, and you have 
spared me those little sallies of ridicule, which, owing to my 
miserable and wretched touchiness of character, used formerly to 
make me wince, as if I had been touched with hot iron. Things 
that nobody else cares for enter into my mind and rankle there 
like venom. I know these feelings are absurd, and therefore I 
try to hide them, but they only sting the deeper for concealment. 
I 'm an idiot ! I am informed that your brother George was at 
Mirfield Church last Sunday. Of course I did not see him, though 
guessed his presence because I heard him cough ; my short- 
sightedness makes my ears very acute. The Miss Woolers told 
me he was there. They were quite smitten ; he was the sole 
subject of their conversation during the whole of the subsequent 
evening. Miss Eliza described to me every part of his dress, and 
likewise that of a gentleman who accompanied him, with astonish- 
ing minuteness. I laughed most heartily at her graphic details, 
and so would you if you had been with me. 

Ellen, I wish I could live with you always. I begin to cling to 
you more fondly than ever I did. If we had but a cottage and a 
competency of our own, I do think we might live and love on till 
Death without being dependent on any third person for happiness. 
Farewell, my own dear Ellen. 



124 THE BRONTES 



Letter 25 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, , 1836. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, Every day during the last fortnight I have 
been expecting to hear from you, but seeing that no intelligence 
arrives, I begin to get a little anxious. When will you come? But 
three weeks now remain of the holidays, and you seem resolved to 
defer your visit till nearly the last. I hope no whim has got into 
your head which makes you consider your presence indispensable 
at home. I do think they could do without you for a little while ; 
and above all and seriously, Ellen, I hope no little touch of anger 
is still lingering in your mind. Write to me very soon, and dispel 
my uncertainty, or I shall get impatient, almost irritable. When 

I was at Huddersficld, whom do you think I saw? Amelia 

and her sister, and mamma, papa, and brother were all at the 
vicarage when we arrived there on Friday. They were wondrously 
gracious. Amelia was almost enthusiastic in her professions of 
friendship ; she is taller, thinner, paler, and more delicate-looking 
than she used to be, very pretty still, very ladylike and polished, 
but spoilt, utterly spoilt by the most hideous affectation. I wish 
she would copy her sister, who is indeed an example that affable, 
unaffected manners and a sweet disposition may fascinate power- 
fully without the aid of beauty. We spent the Tuesday at Lascelles 
Hall, and had on the whole a very pleasant day. Miss Amelia 
changed her character every half-hour ; now she assumed the 
sweet sentimentalist, now the reckless rattler. Sometimes the 
question was, ' Shall I look prettiest lofty ? ' and again, * Would 
not tender familiarity suit me better?' At one moment she 
affected to inquire after her old school-acquaintance, the next she 
was detailing anecdotes of high life. At last I got so sick of this, 
I turned for relief to her brother ; but W., though now grown a 
tall, well-built man, is an incorrigible booby. From him I could 
not extract a word of sense. 

Papa, aunt, and all the rest unite in kind regards to you. 
Remember me affectionately and respectfully to your mother and 
sisters. I hope the former is now quite well. Write soon, very 
soon, fix the day, and believe me, Yours truly, 

CHARLOTTE. 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 125 

Letter 26 , 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY, CLEVELAND ROW, LONDON 

Rob HhAD, 1836. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I have long been waiting an opportunity 
of sending a letter to you, as you wished, but as no such oppor- 
tunity offers itself, I have at length determined to write by post, 
fearing if I delayed any longer you would attribute my tardiness 
to indifference. I can scarcely realise the distance that lies 
between, or the length of time that may elapse before we meet 
again. Now, Ellen, I have no news to tell you, no changes to 
communicate. My life since I saw you last has passed on as 
monotonously and unvaryingly as ever, nothing but teach, teach, 
teach, from morning till night. The greatest variety I ever have 
is afforded by a letter from you, or a call from the Taylors, or by 
meeting with a pleasant new book. T/ie Life of Oberlin and 
Leigh Richmond's Domestic Portraiture are the last of this 
description I have perused. The latter work strongly attracted, 
and strangely fascinated, my attention. Beg, borrow, or steal it 
without delay; and read the Memoir of Wilberforcc, that short 
record of a brief, uneventful life, I shall never forget ; it is beauti- 
ful, not on account of the incidents it details, but because of the 
simple narration it gives of the life and death of a young, talented, 
and sincere Christian. Get the book, Ellen (I wish I had it to 
give you), read it, and tell me what you think of it. Yesterday I 
heard you had been ill since you were in London. What has 
been your complaint? Are you happier than you were? Try to 
reconcile your mind to circumstances, and exert the quiet forti- 
tude of which I know you are not destitute. Your absence leaves 
a sort of vacancy in my feeling which nothing has yet offered 
of sufficient interest to supply. I do not forget ten o'clock, I 
remember it every night, and if a sincere petition for your welfare 
will do you any good, you will be benefited. I know the Bible 
says, ' The prayer of the Righteous availeth much/ and I am not 
righteous, nevertheless I believe God despises no supplication that 
is uttered in sincerity. Give my most affectionate love to your 
sister, and a kiss for me to your little favourite niece Georgina, 
whom I never saw, but whom I almost love in idea for her aunt's 
sake. My own dear Ellen, good-bye ; I can write no more, for I 
am called to a less pleasant avocation. Do return before winter. 



126 THE BRONTfiS 

I don't know how I shall get over next half-year without the hope 
of seeing you. Write soon, a long, long letter. Excuse my 
scrawl. 

Letter 27 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Monday Morning, &OE HEAD. 

Return me a scrap by the bearer if it be only a single line, to 
satisfy me that you have got your bag safely. I met your brother 
George on the road this afternoon. I did not know it was he until 
after he was passed, and then Anne told me he would think me 
amazingly stupid in not moving. Can't help it. I wish I could 
come to Brookroyd for a single night, but I don't like to ask 
Miss Wooler. She is at Dewsbury, and I am alone at this 
moment, eleven o'clock on Tuesday night. I wish you were here. 

C. B. 

In the Christmas holidays of the year 1836 she wrote 
to Robert Southey, the Poet Laureate, a letter which I 
regret does not appear to have been preserved. Southey's 
reply was printed in his son's Life l of him : 

Mrs. Gaskell, who prints only a portion of it, tells us 
that she was with Charlotte at the time Mr. Cuthbert 
Southey's letter arrived asking permission to insert this 
letter in his father's Life. She said to Mrs. Gaskell, 
' Mr. Southey's letter was kind and admirable ; a little 
stringent, but it did me good. 1 I reproduce the letter as 
it appears in the biography. A footnote states that ' the 
lady to whom this and the next letter are addressed is 
now well known as a prose-writer of no common powers/ 

Letter 28 

TO 



KESWICK, March 1837. 

MADAM, You will probably, ere this, have given up all 
expectation of receiving an answer to your letter of December 29. 

1 The Life and Correspondence of the late Robert Southey, in six volumes, edited by his 
son, the Rev. Charles Cuthbert Southey. Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1850. 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 127 

I was on the borders of Cornwall when the letter was written ; 
it found me a fortnight afterwards in Hampshire. During my 
subsequent movements in different parts of the country, and a 
tarriance of three busy weeks in London, I had no leisure for 
replying to it ; and now that I am once more at home, and am 
clearing off the arrears of business which have accumulated during 
a long absence, it has lain unanswered till the last of a numerous 
file, not from disrespect or indifference to its contents, but because, 
in truth, it is not an easy task to answer it, nor a pleasant one to 
cast a damp over the high spirits and the generous desires of youth. 
What you are I can only infer from your letter, which appears to 
be written in sincerity, though I may suspect that you have used 
a fictitious signature. Be that as it may, the letter and the verses 
bear the same stamp ; and I can well understand the state of 
mind they indicate. What I am you might have learnt by such 
of my publications as have come into your hands ; and had you 
happened to be acquainted with me, a little personal knowledge 
would have tempered your enthusiasm. You might have had 
your ardour in some degree abated by seeing a poet in the decline 
of life, and witnessing the effect which age produces upon our 
hopes and aspirations ; yet I am neither a disappointed man nor 
a discontented one, and you would never have heard from me any 
chilling sermons upon the text 'All is vanity.' 

It is not my advice that you have asked as to the direction of 
your talents, but my opinion of them ; and yet the opinion may 
be worth little, and the advice much. You evidently possess, and 
in no inconsiderable degree, what Wordsworth calls the 'faculty 
of verse.' I am not depreciating it when I say that in these times 
it is not rare. Many volumes of poems are now published every 
year without attracting public attention, any one of which, if it 
had appeared half a century ago, would have obtained a high 
reputation for its author. Whoever, therefore, is ambitious of 
distinction in this way ought to be prepared for disappointment. 

But it is not with a view to distinction that you should cultivate 
this talent, if you consult your own happiness. I, who have made 
literature my profession, and devoted my life to it, and have never 
for a moment repented of the deliberate choice, think myself, 
nevertheless, bound in duty to caution every young man who 
applies as an aspirant to me for encouragement and advice against 
taking so perilous a course. You will say that a woman has no 
need of such a caution ; there can be no peril in it for her. In a 



128 THE BRONTfiS 

certain sense this is true ; but there is a danger of which I would, 
with all kindness and all earnestness, warn you. The day dreams 
in which you habitually indulge are likely to induce a distempered 
state of mind ; and, in proportion as all the ordinary uses of the 
world seem to you flat and unprofitable, you will be unfitted for 
them without becoming fitted for anything else. Literature 
cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. 
The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will 
she have for it, even as an accomplishment and a recreation. To 
those duties you have not yet been called, and when you are you 
will be less eager for celebrity. You will not seek in imagination 
for excitement, of which the vicissitudes of this life, and the 
anxieties from which you must not hope to be exempted, be your 
state what it may, will bring with them but too much. 

But do not suppose that I disparage the gift which you possess, 
nor that I would discourage you from exercising it. I only exhort 
you so to think of it, and so to use it, as to render it conducive to 
your own permanent good. Write poetry for its own sake ; not 
in a spirit of emulation, and not with a view to celebrity ; the less 
you aim at that the more likely you will be to deserve and finally 
to obtain it. So written, it is wholesome both for the heart and 
soul ; it may be made the surest means, next to religion, of 
soothing the mind, and elevating it. You may embody in it your 
best thoughts and your wisest feelings, and in so doing discipline 
and strengthen them. 

Farewell, madam. It is not because I have forgotten that I was 
once young myself, that I write to you in this strain ; but because 
I remember it. You will neither doubt my sincerity, nor my good- 
will ; and, however ill what has here been said may accord with 
your present views and temper, the longer you live the more 
reasonable it will appear to you. Though I may be an un- 
gracious adviser, you will allow me, therefore, to subscribe myself, 
with the best wishes for your happiness here and hereafter, your 
true friend, ROBERT SOUTHEY. 

The original of this letter was sold at Sotheby's Sale 
Rooms seventy years later. On the cover were the words 
in Charlotte Bronte's handwriting ' Southey's advice to 
be kept for ever. My twenty-first birthday. Roe Head, 
April 21, 1837.' Here is her reply: 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 129 

Letter 29 

TO ROBERT SOUTHEY 

ROE HEAD, March i6M, 1837. 

I cannot rest till I have answered your letter, even 
though by addressing you a second time I should appear a little 
intrusive ; but I must thank you for the kind and wise advice you 
have condescended to give me. I had not ventured to hope for 
such a reply ; so considerate in its tone, so noble in its spirit. 
I must suppress what I feel, or you will think me foolishly 
enthusiastic. 

At the first perusal of your letter I felt only shame and regret 
that I had ever ventured to trouble you with my crude rhapsody ; 
I felt a painful heat rise to my face when I thought of the quires 
of paper I had covered with what once gave me so much delight, 
but which now was only a source of confusion ; but after I had 
thought a little, and read it again and again, the prospect seemed 
to clear. You do not forbid me to write ; you do not say that 
what I write is utterly destitute of merit. You only warn me 
against the folly of neglecting real duties for the sake of imagina- 
tive pleasures ; of writing for the love of fame ; for the selfish 
excitement of emulation. You kindly allow me to write poetry 
for its own sake, provided I leave undone nothing which I ought 
to do, in order to pursue that single, absorbing, exquisite gratifica- 
tion. I am afraid, sir, you think me very foolish. I know the 
first letter I wrote to you was all senseless trash from beginning 
to end ; but I am not altogether the idle, dreaming being it would 
seem to denote. 

My father is a clergyman of limited though competent income, 
and I am the eldest of his children. He expended quite as much 
in my education as he could afford in justice to the rest. I 
thought it therefore my duty, when I left school, to become a 
governess. In that capacity I find enough to occupy my thoughts 
all day long, and my head and hands too, without having a 
moment's time for one dream of the imagination. In the evenings, 
I confess, I do think, but I never trouble any one else with my 
thoughts. I carefully avoid any appearance of preoccupation and 
eccentricity, which might lead those I live amongst to suspect the 
nature of my pursuits. Following my father's advice who from 
my childhood has counselled me, just in the wise arid friendly 

VOL. i. I 



180 THE BRONTES 

tone of your letter I have endeavoured not only attentively to 
observe all the duties a woman ought to fulfil, but to feel deeply 
interested in them. I don't always succeed, for sometimes when 
I 'm teaching or sewing I would rather be reading or writing ; but 
I try to deny myself ; and my father's approbation amply rewarded 
me for the privation. Once more allow me to thank you with 
sincere gratitude. I trust I shall never more feel ambitious to see 
my name in print ; if the wish should rise, I '11 look at Southey's 
letter, and suppress it. It is honour enough for me that I have 
written to him, and received an answer. That letter is conse- 
crated ; no one shall ever see it but papa and my brother and 
sisters. Again I thank you. This incident, I suppose, will be 
renewed no more ; if I live to be an old woman, I shall remember 
it thirty years hence as a bright dream. The signature which 
you suspected of being fictitious is my real name. Again, there- 
fore, I must sign myself C BRONTE. 

P.S. Pray, sir, excuse me for writing to you a second time ; I 
could not help writing, partly to tell you how thankful I am for 
your kindness, and partly to let you know that your advice shall 
not be wasted, however sorrowfully and reluctantly it may at first 
be followed. C. B. 

Letter 30 

TO CHARLOTTE BRONTfi 

KESWICK, March 22nd, 1837. 

DEAR MADAM, Your letter has given me great pleasure, and 
I should not forgive myself if 1 did not tell you so. You have 
received admonition as considerately and as kindly as it was 
given. Let me now request that, if you ever should come to 
these Lakes while I am living here, you will let me see you. You 
would then think of me afterwards with the more good-will, 
because you would perceive that there is neither severity nor 
moroseness in the state of mind to which years and observation 
have brought me. 

It is, by God's mercy, in our power to attain a degree of self- 
government, which is essential to our own happiness, and contri- 
butes greatly to that of those around us. Take care of over- 
excitement, and endeavour to keep a quiet mind (even for your 
health it is the best advice that can be given you) : your moral 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 181 

and spiritual improvement will then keep pace with the culture of 
your intellectual powers. 

And now, madam, God bless you ! 

Farewell, and believe me to be your sincere friend, 

ROBERT SOUTHEY. 

Meanwhile Branwell Bronte had been cherishing similar 
ambitions for literary fame. There is one letter of his or 
a fragment of a letter, that tells of his art ambitions. 



Letter 31 

TO THE SECRETARY, ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS 

SIR, Having an earnest desire to enter as probationary student 
in the Royal Academy, but not being possessed of information as 
to the means of obtaining my desire, I presume to request from 
you, as Secretary to the Institution, an answer to the questions 
When am I to present my drawings? 
At what time? 

and especially, 

Can I do it in August or September? 
Your obedient servant, BRANWELL BRONTE. 

Branwell never seems to have studied at the Royal 
Academy. He went up to London, but soon returned to 
Haworth, and had lessons in portrait - painting from 
William Robinson of Leeds. This was in 1835. In that 
year we have the first external glimpse of his literary 
ambitions. In the History of the Publishing House of 
Blackwood, by Mrs. Oliphant, the famous novelist, there 
are three letters from Branwell. 1 

Branwell is only eighteen years old when he addresses 
a long letter to the editor of Blackwood 's Magazine with 
the words, * SIR, READ WHAT I WRITE,' in large letters on 
his opening page. 

1 See Annals of a Publishing House, William Blackwood and His Sons, Their 
Magazine and Friends, by Mrs. Oliphant, 2 vols. (W. Blackwood & Sons, 1897). I 
have to thank the courtesy of the present Mr. William Blackwood for permission to 
publish these three Branwell letters. 



182 THE BRONTfiS 

Letter 32 

TO THE EDITOR OF * BLACK WOOD'S MAGAZINE* 

HAWORTH, NEAR BRADFORD, 

YORKS., December 1835. 

And would to Heaven you would believe in me, for then you 
would attend to and act upon it ! 

I have addressed you twice before, and now I do it again. But 
it is not from affected hypocrisy that I begin my letter with the 
name of James Hogg ; for the writings of that man in your 
numbers, his speeches in your Nodes, when I was a child, laid a 
hold on my mind which succeeding years have consecrated into a 
most sacred feeling. I cannot express, though you can under- 
stand, the heavenliness of associations connected with such articles 
as Professor Wilson's, read and re-read while a little child, with 
all their poetry of language and divine flights into that visionary 
region of imagination which one very young would believe 
reality, and which one entering into manhood would look back 
upon as a glorious dream. I speak so, sir, because as a child 
1 Blackwood ' formed my chief delight, and I feel certain that no 
child before enjoyed reading as I did, because none ever had such 
works as The Noctes, Christmas Dreams, Christopher in his 
Sporting Jacket to read. And even now, * Millions o' reasonable 
creatures at this hour na', no at this hour,' etc. ' Long, long ago 
seems the time when we danced hand in hand with our golden- 
haired sister, whom all who looked on loved. Long, long ago, 
the day on which she died. That hour so far more dreadful than 
any hour than can darken us on earth, when she, her coffin and 
that velvet pall descended, and descended slowly, slowly into the 
horrid clay, and we were borne deathlike, and wishing to die, out 
of the churchyard that from that moment we thought we could 
never enter more.' Passages like these, sir (and when that last 
was written my sister died) passages like these, read then and re- 
membered now, afford feelings which, I repeat, I cannot describe. 
But one of those who roused these feelings is dead, and neither 
from himself nor yourself shall I hear him speak again. I quiver 
for his death, because to me he was a portion of feelings which I 
suppose nothing can rouse hereafter : because to you he was a 
contributor of sterling originality, and in the Nodes a subject for 
your unequalled writing. He and others like him gave your 
Magazine the peculiar character which made it famous ; as these 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 183 

men die it will decay unless their places are supplied by others 
like them. Now, sir, to you I appear writing with conceited 
assurance : but / am not ; for I know myself so far as to believe 
in my own originality, and on that ground to desire admittance 
into your ranks. And do not wonder that I demand so de- 
terminedly : for the remembrances I spoke of have fixed you and 
your Magazine in such a manner upon my mind that the idea of 
striving to aid another periodical is horribly repulsive. My resolu- 
tion is to devote my ability to you, and for God's sake, till you 
see whether or not I can serve you, do not coldly refuse my aid. 
All, sir, that I desire of you is : that in answer to this letter you 
would request a specimen or specimens of my writing, and I even 
wish that you would name the subject on which you would wish me 
to write. In letters previous to this I have perhaps spoken too 
openly in respect to the extent of my powers. But I did so 
because I determined to say what I believed. I know that I am 
not one of the wretched writers of the day. I know that I 
possess strength to assist you beyond some of your own contri- 
butors ; but I wish to make you the judge in this case and give 
you the benefit of its decision. 

Now, sir, do not act like a commonplace person, but like a man 
willing to examine for himself. Do not turn from the native 
truth of my letters, but prove me ; and if I do not stand the proof, 
I will not further press myself on you. If I do stand it why 
You have lost an able writer in James Hogg, and God grant you 
you may get one in PATRICK BRANWELL BRONTE. 

This letter was unanswered, as hundreds of such letters 
from youthful aspirants fail of answers to-day. Four 
months later came another letter inscribed with large 
printed characters * Sir, Read Now At Least.' Mrs. 
Oliphant suggests that Mr. Robert Blackwood probably 
thought the writer was crazy. 

Letter 33 

TO THE EDITOR OF ' BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE* 

HAWORTH, April %th, 1836. 

The affair which accompanies my letter is certainly sent for 
insertion in * Blackwood ' as a Specimen which, whether bad or 



184 THE BRONTES 

good, I earnestly desire you to look over ; it may be disagree- 
able, but you will thus KNOW whether, in putting it into the 
fire, you would gain or lose. It would now be impudent in me 
to speak of my powers, since in five minutes you can tell whether 
or not they are fudge or nonsense. But this I know, that if they 
are such, I have no intention of stooping under them. New 
powers I will get if I can, and provided I keep them, you, sir, 
shall see them. 

But don't think, sir, that I write nothing but Miseries. My 
day is far too much in the morning for such continual shadow. 
Nor think either (and this I entreat) that I wish to deluge you 
with poetry. I send it because it is soon read and comes from 
the heart. If it goes to yours, print it, and write to me on the 
subject of contribution. Then I will send prose. But if what I 
now send is worthless, what I have said has only been conceit and 
folly, yet CONDEMN NOT UNHEARD. 

Letter 34 

TO THE EDITOR OF ' BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE* 

<)th January 1837. 

In a former letter I hinted that I was in possession of some- 
thing, the design of which, whatever might be its execution, would 
be superior to that of any series of articles which has yet appeared 
in BlackwoocTs Magazine. But being prose, of course, and of 
great length, as well as peculiar in character, a description of it 
by letter would be quite impossible. So surely a journey of three 
hundred miles shall not deter me from a knowledge of myself 
and a hope of utterance into the open world. 

Now, sir, all I ask you is to permit this interview, and in 
answer to this letter to say that you will see me, were it only 
for one half-hour. The fault be mine if you have reason to repent 
your permission. 

Now, is the trouble of writing a single line to outweigh the 
certainty of doing good to a fellow-creature and the possibility of 
doing good to yourself? Will you still so wearisomely refuse me 
a word when you can neither know what you refuse nor whom 
you are refusing ? Do you think your Magazine so perfect that 
no addition to its power would be either possible or desirable ? 
Is it pride which actuates you or custom or prejudice? Be a 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 185 

man, sir ! and think no more of these things. Write to me : 
tell me that you will receive a visit ; and rejoicingly will I take 
upon myself the labour, which if it succeed, will be an advantage 
both to you and me, and if it fail, will still be an advantage, 
because I shall then be assured of the impossibility of suc- 
ceeding. 

Mrs. Oliphant tells us that not one of these letters was 
ever answered, but that in spite of the chilling reception 
Branwell wrote again in September 1842, * begging most 
respectfully to offer the accompanying lines for insertion 
in Blackwood's Edinbtirgh Magazine' 

Meanwhile Branwell was writing to Wordsworth, but it 
is probable with even less success : 

Letter 35 

TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

HAWORTH, NEAR BRADFORD, 

YORKSHIRE,/tff/d77 JQ///, 1837. 

Sir, I most earnestly entreat you to read and pass your 
judgment upon what I have sent you, because from the day of 
my birth to this the nineteenth year of my life I have lived 
among secluded hills, where I could neither know what I was or 
what I could do. I read for the same reason that I ate or drank, 
because it was a real craving of nature. I wrote on the same 
principle as I spoke out of the impulse and feelings of the mind ; 
nor could I help it, for what came, came out, and there was the 
end of it. For as to self-conceit, that could not receive food from 
flattery, since to this hour not half-a-dozen people in the world 
know that I have ever penned a line. 

But a change has taken place now, sir ; and I am arrived at an 
age wherein I must do something for myself; the powers I 
possess must be exercised to a definite end, and as I don't know 
them myself I must ask of others what they are worth. Yet 
there is not one here to tell me ; and still, if they are worthless, 
time will henceforth be too precious to be wasted on them. 

Do pardon me, sir, that I have ventured to come before one 
whose works I have most loved in our literature, and who most 
has been with me a divinity of the mind, laying before him one 



136 THE BRONTES 

of my writings, and asking of him a judgment of its contents. 
I must come before some one from whose sentence there is no 
appeal ; and such a one is he who has developed the theory of 
poetry as well as its practice, and both in such a way as to claim 
a place in the memory of a thousand years to come. 

My aim, sir, is to push out into the open world, and for this I 
trust not poetry alone ; that might launch the vessel, but could 
not bear her on. Sensible and scientific prose, bold and vigorous 
efforts in my walk in life, would give a further title to the notice 
of the world ; and then again poetry ought to brighten and crown 
that name with glory. But nothing of all this can be ever begun 
without means, and as I don't possess these I must in every shape 
strive to gain them. Surely, in this day, when there is not a 
writing poet worth a sixpence, the field must be open, if a better 
man can step forward. 

What I send you is the Prefatory Scene of a much longer 
subject, in which I have striven to develop strong passions and 
weak principles struggling with a high imagination and acute 
feelings, till, as youth hardens towards age, evil deeds and short 
enjoyments end in mental misery and bodily ruin. Now, to 
send you the whole of this would be a mock upon your patience ; 
what you see does not even pretend to be more than the descrip- 
tion of an imaginative child. But read it, sir; and, as you would 
hold a light to one in utter darkness as you value your own 
kind-heartedness return me an answer, if but one word, telling 
me whether I should write on, or write no more. Forgive undue 
warmth, because my feelings in this matter cannot be cool ; and 
believe me, sir, with deep respect, your really humble servant, 

P. B. BRONTE. 

Letter 36 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Roi' HEAD, February 2o///, 1837. 

I read your letter with dismay, Ellen what shall I do without 
you? Why are we so to be denied each other's society? It is 
an inscrutable fatality. I long to be with you because it seems 
as if two or three days or weeks spent in your company would 
beyond measure strengthen me in the enjoyment of those feelings 
which I have so lately begun to cherish. You first pointed out 
to me that way in which I am so feebly endeavouring to travel, 



GOVERNESS AT ROE HEAD 187 

and now I cannot keep you by my side, I must proceed sorrow- 
fully alone. 

Why are we to be divided? Surely, Ellen, it must be because 
we are in danger of loving each other too well of losing sight of 
the Creator in idolatry of the creature. At first I could not say, 
* Thy will be done/ I felt rebellious ; but I know it was wrong 
to feel so. Being left a moment alone this morning, I prayed 
fervently to be enabled to resign myself to every decree of God's 
will though it should be dealt forth with a far severer hand than 
the present disappointment. Since then, I have felt calmer and 
humbler and consequently happier. Last Sunday I took up my 
Bible in a gloomy frame of mind ; I began to read ; a feeling 
stole over me such as I have not known for many long years a 
sweet, placid sensation like those that I remember used to visit 
me when I was a little child, and on Sunday evenings in summer 
stood by the open window reading the life of a certain French 
nobleman who attained a purer and higher degree of sanctity 
than has been known since the days of the early Martyrs. I 
thought of my own Ellen I wished she had been near me that 
I might have told her how happy I was, how bright and glorious 
the pages of God's holy word seemed to me. But the ' foretaste' 
passed away, and earth and sin returned. I must see you before 
you go, Ellen ; if you cannot come to Roe Head I will contrive 
to walk over to Brookroyd, provided you will let me know the 
time of your departure. Should you not be at home at Easter, I 
dare not promise to accept your mother's and sisters' invitation. 
I should be miserable at Brookroyd without you, yet I would 
contrive to visit them for a few hours if I could not for a few days. 
I love them for your sake. I have written this note at a venture. 
When it will reach you I know not, but I was determined not to 
let slip an opportunity for want of being prepared to embrace it. 
Farewell ; may God bestow on you all His blessings. My darling 
Farewell. Perhaps you may return before midsummer do 
you think you possibly can? I wish your brother John knew 
how unhappy I am ; he would almost pity me. 

C. BRONTE. 

The next letter is from Dewsbury Moor whither Miss 
Wooler's school was now removed. The new school was 
in a house that has had interesting associations. Heald's 
House, Dewsbury Moor, had been used by the followers 



188 THE BRONTES 

of George Fox, the Quaker, as a meeting-place in an 
earlier period, and later it was the birthplace of the Rev. 
W. M. Heald, the clergyman who is supposed to have 
possessed many of the characteristics of the Rev. Cyril 
Hall of Shirley. ' Dewsbury is a poisonous place for me,' 
was Charlotte Bronte's comment long afterwards. 

Letter 37 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

DEWSBURY MOOR, April ind, 1837. 

DEAR, DEAR ELLEN, I should have written to you a week ago, 
but my time has of late been so wholly taken up that till now I 
have really not had an opportunity of answering your last letter. 
I assure you I feel the kindness of so early a reply to my late, 
tardy correspondence it gave me a sting of self-reproach. A 
day or two after I received your last letter, I took a walk over to 
Brookroyd for the purpose of seeing your sister Mercy, who, you 
will have heard, has been very ill. I found her much better, and 
altogether occupied with her poultry-yard, dove-cote, hen-coop, 
and more especially a batch of nearly-hatched chickens. Mercy 
has a kindness of heart about her which I like. Your sister A. 
seemed very dejected. Your mother I thought in somewhat 
better spirits than usual. All were anxious for your return. The 
Taylors have got home after their Welsh tour. They spent three 
weeks at Aberystwyth on the coast. I have not seen Mary since, 
but Martha rode over a few days ago to give me an account of 
their proceedings, and r rom what she said of her sister, I fear her 
health is not materially improved. The medical men, however, 
are of opinion that her complaints do not arise from disease in the 
lungs, but from a disordered stomach. This seems to afford 
ground for hope. My sister Emily is gone into a situation as 
teacher in a large school of near forty pupils, near Halifax. I 
have had one letter from her since her departure ; it gives an 
appalling account of her duties hard labour from six in the 
morning until near eleven at night, with only one half-hour of 
exercise between. This is slavery. I fear she will never stand it. 
It gives me sincere pleasure, my dear Ellen, to learn that you have 
at last found a few associates of congenial minds. I cannot con- 
ceive a life more dreary than that passed amidst sights, sounds, 



GOVERNESS AT DEWSBURY MOOR 139 

and companions all alien to the nature within us. From the 
tenour of your letter it seems your mind remains fixed as it ever 
was ; in no wise dazzled by novelty or warped by evil example. 
I am thankful for it. I could not help smiling at the paragraphs 

which related to ; there was in them a touch of genuine, 

unworldly simplicity. Ellen, depend upon it, all people have their 
dark side though some possess the power of throwing a fair veil 
over the defects ; close acquaintance slowly removes the screen, 
and one by one the blots appear, till at length we sometimes see 
the pattern of perfection all slurred over with blots, that even 
partial affection cannot efface. I hope my next communication 
with you will be face to face, and not as through a letter darkly. 
Commending you to the care of One above us all, I remain, still, 
my dear Ellen, Your friend, C. BRONTE. 

Of Emily's stay near Halifax there is even less to 
record than of Charlotte's stay near Dewsbury, because 
there are not even her letters. The school at Law Hill 
was kept at first by Elizabeth and Maria Patchet, but 
Maria had married before Emily became governess. 
Elizabeth also married and abandoned the school shortly 
after Emily had left her. Charlotte in the above letter 
gives us practically our one glimpse of her sister in this 
school, and it is a tragic picture. 

Letter 38 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH,///^ 8///, 1837. 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, The enclosed, as you will perceive, was 
written before I received your last. I had intended to send it by 
this; what you said altered my intention. I scarce dare build 
a hope upon the foundation your letter lays we have been dis- 
appointed so often and I fear I shall not be able to prevail on 
them to part with you ; but I will try my utmost, and, at any rate, 
there is a chance of our meeting soon ; with that thought I will 
comfort myself. You do not know how selfishly glad I am that 
you still continue to dislike London and the Londoners : it seems 
to afford a sort of proof that your affections are not changed. 
Shall we really stand once again together on the moors of 



140 THE BRONTES 

Haworth? I dare not flatter myself with too sanguine an 
expectation. I see many doubts, and difficulties. But, with 
Miss Wooler's leave, which I have asked and in part obtained, 
I will go to-morrow and try to remove them. Give my love to 
my little sweet correspondent Georgina, and believe me, my own 
Ellen, Yours always, and truly, C. BRONTE. 



Letter 39 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

MY DEAR ELLEN, You will excuse a very brief and meagre 
answer to your kind note, when I tell you that at the moment 
it reached me, and that just now whilst I am scribbling a reply, 
the whole house is in the bustle of packing and preparation, for 
on this day we all go HOME. 

Your palliation of my defects is kind and charitable, but I dare 
not trust its truth ; few would regard them with so lenient an eye 
as you do. Your consolatory admonitions are kind, and when 
I can read them over in quietness and alone, I trust I shall derive 
comfort from them ; but just now, in the unsettled, excited state 
of mind which I now feel, I cannot enter into the pure scriptural 
spirit which they breathe. It would be wrong of me to continue 
the subject, my thoughts are distracted and absorbed by other 
ideas. You do not mention your visit to Haworth. Have you 
spoken of it to the family? Have they agreed to let you come? 
but I will write when I get home. Ever since last Friday I have 
been as busy as I could be in finishing up the half-year's lessons, 
which concluded with a terrible fag in Geographical Problems 
(think of explaining that to Misses M. and L.), and subsequently 
in mending Miss E. L.'s clothes. I am very sorry to hear that 

poor is ill again. Give my love to her, etc. Miss Wooler 

is calling for me something about my protge*'s nightcaps. 
Good-bye. We shall meet again ere many days, I trust. 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 40 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

I am sure, Ellen, you will conclude that I have taken a final 
leave of my senses, to forget to send your bag when I had had it 



GOVERNESS AT DEWSBURY MOOR 141 

hanging before my eyes in the dressing-room for a whole week. I 
stood for ten minutes considering before I sent the boy off; I felt 
sure I had something else to intrust to him besides the books, but 
I could not recollect what it was. These aberrations of memory 
warn me pretty intelligibly that I am getting past my prime. 

I hope you will not be much inconvenienced by my neglect. I '11 
wait till to-morrow, to see if George will call for it on his way to 
Huddersfield, and if he does not, I '11 try to get a person to go 
over with it to Brookroyd on purpose. I am most grieved lest 
you should think me careless, but I assure you it was merely a 
temporary fit of absence. I wish exceedingly that I could come 
to see you before Christmas ; but I trust ere another three weeks 
elapse I shall again have my comforter beside me under the roof 
of my own dear quiet home. If I could always live with you, 
if your lips and mine could at the same time drink the same 
draught at the same pure fountain of mercy, I hope, I trust, I 
might one day become better, far better than my evil wandering 
thoughts, my corrupt heart, cold to the spirit and warm to the 
flesh, will now permit me to be. I often plan the pleasant life 
which we might lead together, strengthening each other in that 
power of self-denial, that hallowed and glowing devotion which 
the past Saints of God often attained to. My eyes fill with tears 
when I contrast the bliss of such a state, brightened with hopes of 
the future, with the melancholy state I now live in ; uncertain that 
I have ever felt true contrition, wandering in thought and deed, 
longing for holiness which I shall never, never attain, smitten at 

times to the heart with the conviction that ghastly Calvinistic 

doctrines are true, darkened, in short, by the very shadows of 
Spiritual Death! If Christian perfections be necessary to Salva- 
tion, I shall never be saved. My heart is a real hot-bed for sinful 
thoughts, and as to practice, when I decide on an action, I scarcely 
remember to look to my Redeemer for direction. 

I know not how to pray ; I cannot bend my life to the grand 
end of doing good. I go on constantly seeking my own pleasure, 
pursuing the gratification of my own desires. I forget God, and 
will not God forget me ? and meantime I know the greatness of 
Jehovah. I acknowledge the truth, the perfection of His Word. 
I adore the purity of the Christian faith. My theory is right, my 
practice horribly wrong. Good-bye, Ellen, C. BRONTE. 

Write to me again, if you can. Your notes are meat and drink 
to me. Remember me to the family. I hope Mercy is better. 



142 THE BRONTES 

Letter 41 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY, BATHEASTON, BATH 

ROE HEAD, 1837. 

My notes to you, Ellen, are written in a hurry I am now 
snatching an opportunity. Mr. J. Wooler is here, and by his 
means this will be transmitted to you. I do not blame you for 
not coming to see me, for I am sure you have been prevented by 
sufficient reasons, but I do long to see you, and I hope I shall be 
gratified momentarily at least ere long. Next Friday, if all be 
well, I shall go to Gomersall ; on Sunday, I shall at least catch a 
glimpse of you. Week after week I have lived on the expecta- 
tion of your coming. Week after week I have been disappointed. 
I have not regretted what I said in my last note to you ; the con- 
fession was wrung from me by sympathy and kindness such as I 
can never be sufficiently thankful for. I feel in a strange state of 
mind, still gloomy but not despairing. I keep trying to do right, 
checking wrong feelings, repressing wrong thoughts but still, 
every instant, 1 feel myself going astray. I have a constant 
endency to scorn people who are far better than I am, horror at 
the idea of becoming one of a certain set a dread lest, if I made 
the slightest profession, I should sink at once into Fhariseeism, 
merge wholly into the rank of the self-righteous. In writing at 
this moment I feel an irksome disgust at the idea of using a single 
phrase that sounds like religious cant. I abhor myself I despise 
myself; if the doctrine of Calvin be true, I am already an outcast. 
You cannot imagine how hard, rebellious, and intractable all my 
feelings are. When I begin to study on the subject, I almost 
grow blasphemous, atheistical in my sentiments. Don't desert 
me, don't be horrified at me. You know what I am. I wish I 
could see you, my darling ; I have lavished the warmest affec- 
tions of a very hot, tenacious heart upon you if you grow cold, it 
is over. Love to your mother and sisters. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 42 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

DEWSBURY MOOR, August 24^, 1837. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I have determined to write lest you should 
begin to think I have forgotten you, and in revenge resolve to 



GOVERNESS AT DEWSBURY MOOR 148 

forget me. As you will perceive by the date of this letter, I am 
again engaged in the old business teach, teach, teach. Miss Eliza 
Wooler and Mrs. Wooler are coming here next Christmas. Miss 
Wooler will then relinquish the school in favour of her sister Eliza, 
but I am happy to say worthy Miss Wooler will continue to reside 
in the house. I should be sorry indeed to part with her. When 
will you come home ? Make haste, you have been at Bath long 
enough for all purposes. By this time you have acquired polish 
enough, I am sure. If the varnish is laid on much thicker, I am 
afraid the good wood underneath will be quite concealed, and 
your old Yorkshire friends won't stand that. Come, come, I am 
getting really tired of your absence. Saturday after Saturday 
comes round, and I can have no hope of hearing your knock at 
the door and then being told that * Miss Ellen Nussey is come.' 
Oh dear! in this monotonous life of mine that was a pleasant 
event. I wish it would recur again, but it will take two or three 
interviews before the stiffness, the estrangement of this long 
separation will quite wear away. I have nothing at all to tell 
you now but that poor Mary Taylor is better, and that she and 
Martha are gone to take a tour in Wales. Patty came on her 
pony about a fortnight since to inform me that this important 
event was in contemplation. She actually began to fret about 
your long absence, and to express the most eager wishes for your 
return. I heard something from your sister about Mr. and Mrs. 
John Nussey wishing you to stay over the winter ; don't be per- 
suaded by them, Ellen, you've been from home long enough 
come back. I 've just had a visit from Ann Carter. She has stayed 
at home some weeks longer than the regular vacation ; during this 
time I have seen a great deal of her, and I don't think her at all 
altered except that her carriage, etc., is improved. She is still the 
same warm-hearted, affectionate, prejudiced, handsome girl as ever. 
Write to me as soon as ever you get this scrawl. I should be 
ashamed of such writing as this, only I am past all shame. My 
own dear Ellen, good-bye. If we are all spared I hope soon to 
see you again. God bless you, C. BRONTE. 

Miss Wooler is from home or she would send her love, I am 
sure. Little Edward Carter and his baby sister are staying with 
us, so that between nursing and teaching I have my time pretty 
well occupied. So far my health keeps up very well. 



144 THE BRONTES 

Letter 43 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

December igfJf, 1837. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I am sure you will have thought me very 
remiss in not sending my promised letter long before now ; but 1 
have a sufficient and very melancholy excuse in an accident that 
befell our old faithful Tabby, a few days after my return home. 
She was gone out into the village on some errand, when, as she 
was descending the steep street, her foot slipped on the ice, and 
she fell : it was dark, and no one saw her mischance, till after a 
time her groans attracted the attention of a passer-by. She was 
lifted up and carried into the druggist's near ; and, after the 
examination, it was discovered that she had completely shattered 
and dislocated one leg. Unfortunately, the fracture could not be 
set till six o'clock the next morning, as no surgeon was to be had 
before that time, and she now lies at our house in a very doubtful 
and dangerous state. Of course we are all exceedingly distressed 
at the circumstance, for she was like one of our own family. 
Since the event we have been almost without assistance a 
person has dropped in now and then to do the drudgery, but we 
have as yet been able to procure no regular servant ; and conse- 
quently the whole work of the house, as well as the additional 
duty of nursing Tabby, falls on ourselves. Under these circum- 
stances I dare not press your visit here, at least until she is 
pronounced out of danger ; it would be too selfish of me. Aunt 
wished me to give you this information before, but papa and all 
the rest were anxious I should delay until we saw whether 
matters took a more settled aspect, and 1 myself kept putting 
it off from day to day, most bitterly reluctant to give up all the 
pleasure I had anticipated so long. However, remembering what 
you told me, namely, that you had commended the matter to a 
higher decision than ours, and that you were resolved to submit 
with resignation to that decision, whatever it might be, I hold 
it my duty to yield also, and to be silent ; it may be all for the 
best. I fear, if you had been here during this severe weather, 
your visit would have been of no advantage to you, for the 
moors are blockaded with snow, and you would never have been 
able to get out. After this disappointment I never dare reckon 
with certainty on the enjoyment of a pleasure again ; it seems as 



GOVERNESS AT DEWSBURY MOOR 145 

if some fatality stood between you and me. I am not good 
enough for you, and you must be kept from the contamination 
of too intimate society. I would urge your visit yet I would 
entreat and press it but the thought comes across me, should 
Tabby die while you are in the house, I should never forgive 
myself. No! it must not be, and in a thousand ways the con- 
sciousness of that mortifies and disappoints me most keenly, 
and I am not the only one who is disappointed. All in the 
house were looking to your visit with eagerness. Papa says 
he highly approves of my friendship with you, and he wishes 
me to continue it through life. I hope your sister is better, and 
that all the rest of the family are well. Give my love to your 
brothers and sisters, and believe me, vexed and grieved, your 
friend, C. BRONTE. 

If you don't write soon, in my crabbed state of mind I shall 
conclude that you 've cut me. 



Letter 44 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January tfh, 1838. 

Your letter, Ellen, was a welcome surprise, even though it 
contains something like a reprimand. I had not, however, for- 
gotten our agreement ; I had prepared a note to be forthcoming 
against the arrival of your messenger, but things so happened 
that it was of no avail. You were right in your conjectures 
respecting the cause of my sudden departure. Anne continued 
wretchedly ill neither the pain nor the difficulty of breathing left 
her and how could I feel otherwise than very miserable? I 
looked upon her case in a different light to what I could wish or 
expect any uninterested person to view it in. Miss Wooler 
thought me a fool, and by way of proving her opinion treated me 
with marked coldness. We came to a little claircissement one 
evening. I told her one or two rather plain truths, which set her 
a-crying, and the next day, unknown to me, she wrote to papa, 
telling him that I had reproached her bitterly taken her 
severely to task, etc., etc. Papa sent for us the day after he had 
received her letter. Meantime, I had formed a firm resolution 
to quit Miss Wooler and her concerns for ever but just before I 
went away she took me into her room, and giving way to her 

VOL. I. K 



146 THE BRONTES 

feelings, which in general she restrains far too rigidly, gave me to 
understand that in spite of her cold repulsive manners she had a 
considerable regard for me and would be very sorry to part with 
me. If anybody likes me I can't help liking them, and 
remembering that she had in general been very kind to me, I 
gave in and said I would come back if she wished me so 
we're settled again for the present; but I am not satisfied. I 
should have respected her far more if she had turned me out 
of doors instead of crying for two days and two nights 
together. I was in a regular passion; my ' warm temper' quite 
got the better of me of which I don't boast, for it was a weak- 
ness ; nor am I ashamed of it, for I had reason to be angry. 
Anne is now much better, though she still requires a great deal 
of care. However, I am relieved from my worst fears respecting 
her. 

I approve highly of the plan you mention, except as it regards 
committing a verse of the psalms to memory ; I do not see the 
direct advantage to be derived from that. We have entered on a 
new year ; will it be stained as darkly as the last, with all our 
sins, follies, secret vanities, and uncontrolled passions and pro- 
pensities? I trust not, but I feel in nothing better neither 
humbler nor purer. It will want three weeks next Monday to 
the termination of the holidays. Come to see me, my dear Ellen, 
as soon as you can. However bitterly I sometimes feel towards 
other people, the recollection of your mild, steady friendship 
consoles and softens me. I am glad you are not such a weak fool 
as myself. Give my best love to your mother and sisters, excuse 
the most hideous scrawl that ever was penned, and believe me 
always tenderly yours, C. BRONTE. 



Letter 45 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY, 4 CLEVELAND ROW, ST. JAMES'S, LONDON 

DEWSIHJRY MOOR, May s///, 1838. 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, Yestei day I heard that you were ill. 
Mr. and Miss Heald were at Dewsbury Moor, and it was from 
them I obtained the information. This morning I set off to 
Brookroyd to learn further particulars, from whence I am but just 
leturned. Your mother is in great distress about you; she can 



GOVERNESS AT DEWSBURY MOOR 147 

hardly mention your name without tears; and both she and 
Mercy wish very much to see you at home again. Poor girl, you 
have been a fortnight confined to your bed ; and while I was 
blaming you in my own mind for not writing, you were suffering 
in sickness without one kind female friend to watch over you. I 
should have heard all this before and have hastened to express 
my sympathy with you in this crisis had I been able to visit 
Brookroyd in the Easter holidays, but an unexpected summons 
back to Dewsbury Moor, in consequence of the illness and death 
of Mr. Wooler, prevented it. Since that time I have been a 
fortnight and two days quite alone, Miss Wooler being detained 
in the interim at Rouse Mill. You will now see, Ellen, that it 
was not neglect or failure of affection which has occasioned my 
silence, though I fear you will long ago have attributed it to those 
causes. If you are well enough, do write to me just two lines 
just to assure me of your convalescence ; not a word, however, if 
it would harm you not a syllable. They value you at home. 
Sickness and absence call forth expressions of attachment which 
might have remained long enough unspoken if their object had 
been present and well. I wish your friends (I include myself in 
that word) may soon cease to have cause for so painful an excite- 
ment of their regard. As yet I have but an imperfect idea of the 
nature of your illnessof its extent or of the degree in which it 
may now have subsided. When you can let me know all, no 
particular, however minute, will be uninteresting to me. How 
have your spirits been ? I trust not much overclouded, for that is 
the most melancholy result of illness. You are not, I understand, 
going to Bath at present ; they seem to have arranged matters 
strangely. When I parted from you near White-lee Bar, I had a 
more sorrowful feeling than ever I experienced before in our 
temporary separations. It is foolish to dwell too much on the 
idea of presentiments, but I certainly had a feeling that the time 
of our reunion had never been so indefinite or so distant as then. 
I doubt not, my dear Ellen, that amidst your many trials, amidst 
the sufferings that you have of late felt in yourself, and seen in 
several of your relations, you have still been able to look up and 
find support in trial, consolation in affliction, and repose in 
tumult, where human interference can make no change. I think 
you know in the right spirit how to withdraw yourself from the 
vexation, the care, the meanness of life, and to derive comfort 
from purer sources than this world can afford. You know how to 



148 THE BRONTES 

do it silently, unknown to others, and can avail yourself of that 
hallowed communion the Bible gives us with God. I am charged 
to transmit your mother's and sister's love. Receive mine in the 
same parcel ; I think it will scarcely be the smallest share. Fare- 
well my dear Ellen. C. BRONTE. 



MRS. SIDGWICK'S NURSERY GOVERNESS 149 



CHAPTER VIII 

MRS. SIDGWICK'S NURSERY GOVERNESS 

IF Charlotte Bronte found her whole soul in revolt at the 
life of a governess in a small school where the two head- 
mistresses looked upon themselves as her personal friends, 
she was not likely to meet with a happier lot when she 
elected to try the life of a private governess. Yet it 
seemed to be the only career that offered itself to Miss 
Bronte aged twenty-two at this time. Anne was with 
her at Haworth, back from Miss Wooler's school, but 
eager for independence. Emily had had enough of such 
* independence ' ; she had left the hateful discipline of Miss 
Patchett's uncongenial 'Academy.' Branwell, although 
of an age when he should have been earning money, had 
already begun that restless, ill-judged career of dissipation 
that was so soon to wreck his life. He alternated 
between Haworth and Bradford, where he rented a studio 
in Fountain Street ; painting now and again a portrait, 
one, for example, of his uncle, the Rev. William Morgan, 
but lounging for the most part in the bar of the George 
Hotel in this latter town, where among his cronies were 
John James, the future historian of Bradford; Wilson 
Anderson, a landscape-painter ; Geller, the mezzotinto- 
engraver; Richard Waller, a portrait-painter, and occa- 
sionally Leyland the sculptor. 1 Branwell clearly was 
costing his father money, and Charlotte and Anne had to 
think of a plan to help. Meanwhile a way of escape for the 
elder sister had presented itself. Charlotte Bronte received 

1 The Bronte Family, with special reference to Patrick Branwell Brontt, by Francis 
A. Leyland. 2 vols. Hurst and Biackett. 1886. 



150 THE BRONTES 

an offer of marriage. The lover was her friend Ellen 
Nussey's brother Henry. He was at this time a curate 
at Donnington in Sussex. He afterwards became rector 
of Earnley, near Chichester, and later of Hathersage in 
Derbyshire. 1 The next five letters prior to her leaving 
Haworth explain themselves. 

1 I have read a volume of Mr. Nussey's Diary and Sermons in manuscript. It is 
in the possession of Mr. J. J. Stead, of Ileckmondwike, Yorkshire. Mr. Nussey 
has one point at least in common with Rivers, in Jane Eyre, that during his days 
at Cambridge he more than once records in his diary that he has heard Mr. Simeon 
preach ; and Simeon was the great Evangelical light of that epoch. Mr. Nussey 
certainly did not lack for rigour, for even when an undergraduate he recalls with satisfac- 
tion, ' This evening at a full meeting Mr. Heald exhorted from 2 Corinthians vi. 14, on 
the action of a rm mbcr having married a worldly-minded man ' ; on another occasion, 
that * Stayed to supper ; never asked to take family prayers nor to say grace. Much 
hurt that they did not see the propriety and feel the necessity of this line of conduct'; 
and once more, Mr. Nussey writes in his diary : * Friday, II June 1839. Obtained an 
advance of l from Mr. Wake ford, a farmer and coal-merchant m Earnley, with whom 
I spent the evening at his house. He unfortunately became offended at something Mr. 
Browne once uttered in the pulpit, and thereupon left the Church and joined the 
Dissenters at Cluchester, where he still continues. There seem some good traits in the 
man, and I think he errs through ignorance rather than wilfulness. May he be brought 
back again, wandering sheep ! ' Side by side with such quotations as these we have 
Mr. Nussey's matter-of-fact attempts to get a wife. lie first asked the daughter of his 
former vicar, Lutwiggc, whom he characterises as * a steady, intelligent, sensible and, I 
trust, good girl, named Mary ' ; she refused him, and we have the following lines in his 
diary : * On Tuesday last received a decisive reply from M A. L.'s papa ; a loss, but I 
trust a pi evidential one. Believe not her will, but her father's. All right, but God 
knows best what is good for us, for His church, and for His own glory. Write to a 
Yorkshire friend, C. B ' A little later on, March 8, 1839, we find the record 
* Received an unfavourable reply from " C. B." The will of the Lord be done.' 
1 C. B.,' of course, is Charlotte Bronte, and some might find satisfaction in the fact that 
the marriage which this matter-of-fact individual attained to a very few months later 
should have turned out unhappily. In Mr. Nussey, however, we have not in the least 
Charlotte Bronte's creation, St. John Kiveis. There are a few references to missionary 
work in Mr. Nussey's diary, but on the whole it is the chary ol a dull, uninspired person, 
with not sufficient biams to be a high-smiled fanatic ; and it is a high-souled fanatic 
that Miss Bronte depicts in her book That is why I am inclined to think that the real 
prototype of Rivers existed for her not in life but in literature ; that she had read from 
the Keighley Library Sat gent's Memoir of Henry Afaityn, that devoted missionary from 
Cornwall, of whom her aunt must have constantly spoken to her, and her father also, 
for he was practically contemporaneous with him at St. John's College, Cambridge, a 
fact which probably led her to give Rivers his Christian name of St. John. It was 
Charles Simeon again, her father's favourite preacher, who led Martyn to become a 
missionary. Martyn, it will be remembered, translated the New Testament into Hindu- 
stani. There are points also in the relations with Miss Lydia Grenfell, whom he had hoped 
to take back with him to India when he died of the plague, that unquestionably recall 
St. John Rivers. Martyn has been described by Sir James Stephen as 'the one heroic 
name which adorns the Church of England from the days of Queen Elizabeth to our own.' 
From CharlotU Brontt and Her Sisters. Literary Lives Series (Hodder and Stoughton). 



MRS. SIDGWICK'S NURSERY GOVERNESS 151 

Letter 46 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, June ;M, 1838. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I received your packet of despatches on 
Wednesday. It was brought me by Mary and Martha Taylor, 
who have been staying at Haworth for a few days. They leave 
us to-day, and I am hastily scrawling this letter to be ready for 
transmission by them to your friends when they return. You 
will be surprised when you see the date of this letter. I ought to 
be at Dewsbury Moor, you know, but I stayed as long as I was 
able, and at length I neither could nor dared stay any longer. 
My health and spirits had utterly failed me, and the medical man 
whom I consulted enjoined me, if I valued my life, to go home. 
So home I went ; the change has at once roused and soothed me, 
and I am now, I trust, fairly in the way to be myself again. A 
calm and even mind like yours, Ellen, cannot conceive the feelings 
of the shattered wretch who is now writing to you, when, after 
weeks of mental and bodily anguish not to be described, some- 
thing like tranquillity and ease began to dawn again. I will not 
enlarge on the subject ; to me, every recollection of the past half- 
year is painful to you it cannot be pleasant. Mary Taylor is 
far from well. I have watched her narrowly during her visit to 
us. Her lively spirits and bright colour might delude you into 
a belief that all was well, but she breathes short, has a pain in her 
chest, and frequent flushings of fever. I cannot tell you what 
agony these symptoms give me. They remind me strongly of my 
two sisters whom no power of medicine could save. I trust she 
may recover ; her lungs certainly are not ulcerated yet, she has 
no cough, no pain in the side, and perhaps this hectic fever may 
be only the temporary effects of a severe winter and a late spring 
on a delicate constitution. Martha is now very well ; she has 
kept in a constant flow of good-humour during her stay here, 
and has consequently been very fascinating. I fear from what 
you say I cannot rationally entertain hopes of seeing you before 
winter. For your own sake, I am glad of it. I do not now fear 
that society will estrange your heart, and I know it will so polish 
you externally, that the mind will be generally appreciated through 
the medium of the manners. They are making such a noise 
about me I cannot write any more. Mary is playing on the 



152 THE BRONTES 

piano ; Martha is chattering as fast as her little tongue can run ; 
and Branwell is standing before her, laughing at her vivacity. 
My dear Ellen, good-bye. Aunt and my sisters unite in best love 
to you. Good-bye, love. 

P.S. Write to me as often as you can find time. 

Letter 47 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January \ith, 1839. 

MY DEAR, KIND ELLEN, I can hardly help laughing when I 
reckon up the number of urgent invitations I have received from 
you during the last three months. Had I accepted all or even 
half of them, the Birstallians would certainly have concluded that 
I had come to make Brookroyd my permanent residence. When 
you set your mind upon it, you have a peculiar way of edging one 
in with a circle of dilemmas, so that they hardly know how to 
refuse you ; however, I shall take a running leap and clear them 
all. Frankly, my dear Ellen, I cannot come. Reflect for yourself 
a moment. Do you see nothing absurd in the idea of a person 
coming again into a neighbourhood within a month after they 
have taken a solemn and formal leave of all their acquaintance ? 
However, I thank both you and your mother for the invitation, 
which was most kindly expressed. You give no answer to my 
proposal that you should come to Haworth with the Taylors. 
I still think it would be your best plan. I wish you and the 
Taylors were safely here ; there is no pleasure to be had without 
toiling for it. You must invite me no more, my dear Ellen, until 
next Midsummer at the nearest. All here desire to be remem- 
bered to you, aunt particularly. Angry though you are, I will 
venture to sign myself as usual (no, not as usual, but as suits 
circumstances). Yours, under a cloud, C. BRONT. 

Letter 48 

TO THE REV. HENRY NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, March tfh, 1839. 

MY DEAR SIR, Before answering your letter I might have 
spent a long time in consideration of its subject ; but as from the 
first moment of its reception and perusal I determined on what 



MRS. SIDGWICK'S NURSERY GOVERNESS 158 

course to pursue, it seemed to me that delay was wholly unneces- 
sary. You are aware that I have many reasons to feel grateful to 
your family, that I have peculiar reasons for affection towards one 
at least of your sisters, and also that I highly esteem yourself do 
not therefore accuse me of wrong motives when I say that my 
answer to your proposal must be a decided negative. In forming 
this decision, I trust I have listened to the dictates of conscience 
mo/e than to those of inclination. I have no personal repugnance 
to the idea of a union with you, but I feel convinced that mine is 
not the sort of disposition calculated to form the happiness of a 
man like you. It has always been my habit to study the charac- 
ters of those amongst whom I chance to be thrown, and I think 
I know yours and can imagine what description of woman would 
suit you for a wife. The character should not be too marked, 
ardent, and original, her temper should be mild, her piety un- 
doubted, her spirits even and cheerful, and her personal attractions 
sufficient to please your eyes and gratify your just pride. As for 
me, you do not know me ; I am not the serious, grave, cool- 
headed individual you suppose ; you would think me romantic 
and eccentric ; you would say I was satirical and severe. How- 
ever, I scorn deceit, and I will never, for the sake of attaining the 
distinction of matrimony and escaping the stigma of an old maid, 
take a worthy man whom I am conscious I cannot render happy. 
Before I conclude, let me thank you warmly for your other pro- 
posal regarding the school near Donnington. It is kind in you to 
take so much interest about me ; but the fact is, I could not at 
present enter upon such a project because I have not the capital 
necessary to insure success. It is a pleasure to me to hear that 
you are so comfortably settled and that your health is so much 
improved. I trust God will continue His kindness towards you. 
Let me say also that I admire the good sense and absence of 
flattery and cant which your letter displayed. Farewell. I shall 
always be glad to hear from you as a friend. Believe me, yours 
truly, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 49 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, March iith, 1839. 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, When your letter was put into my 
hands, I said, * She is coming at last, I hope,' but when I opened 



154 THE BRONTES 

it and found what the contents were, I was vexed to the heart. 
You need not ask me to go to Brookroyd any more. Once for 
all, and at the hazard of being called the most stupid little wretch 
that ever existed, I wont go till you have been to Haworth. I 
don't blame you, I believe you would come if you might; perhaps 
I ought not to blame others, but I am grieved. 

Anne goes to Blake Hall on the 8th of April, unless some further 
unseen cause of delay should occur. I Ve heard nothing more 
from Mrs. Thos. Brooke as yet. Papa wishes me to remain at 
home a little longer, but I begin to be anxious to set to work 
again ; and yet it will be hard work after the indulgence of so 
many weeks, to return to that dreary ' gin-horse' round. 

You ask me, my dear Ellen, whether I have received a letter 
from Henry. I have, about a week since. The contents, I 
confess, did a little surprise me, but I kept them to myself, and 
unless you had questioned me on the subject, I would never 
have adverted to it. Henry says he is comfortably settled at 
Donnington, that his health is much improved, and that it is his 
intention to take pupils after Easter. He then intimates that in 
due time he should want a wife to take care of his pupils, and 
frankly asks me to be that wife. Altogether the letter is written 
without cant or flattery, and in a common-sense style, which does 
credit to his judgment. 

Now, my dear Ellen, there were in this proposal some things 
which might have proved a strong temptation. I thought if I 
were to marry Henry Nussey, his sister could live with me, and 
how happy I should be. But again I asked myself two questions : 
Do I love him as much as a woman ought to love the man she 
marries? Am I the person best qualified to make him happy? 
Alas! Ellen, my conscience answered no to both these questions. 
I felt that though I esteemed, though I had a kindly leaning 
towards him, because he is an amiable and well-disposed man, yet 
1 had not, and could not have, that intense attachment which 
would make me willing to die for him ; and, if ever I marry, it 
must be in that light of adoration that I will regard my husband. 
Ten to one 1 shall never have the chance again ; but n'importe. 
Moreover, I was aware that Henry knew so little of me he could 
hardly be conscious to whom he was writing. Why, it would 
startle him to see me in my natural home character ; he would 
think I was a wild, romantic enthusiast indeed. I could not sit 
all day long making a grave face before my husband. I would 



MRS. SIDGWICK'S NURSERY GOVERNESS 155 

laugh, and satirise, and say whatever came into my head first. 
And if he were a clever man, and loved me, the whole world 
weighed in the balance against his smallest wish should be light 
as air. Could I, knowing my mind to be such as that, con- 
scientiously say that I would take a grave, quiet, young man like 
Henry? No, it would have been deceiving him, and deception 
of that sort is beneath me. So I wrote a long letter back, in 
which I expressed my refusal as gently as I could, and also 
candidly avowed my reasons for that refusal. I described to 
him, too, the sort of character that would suit him for a wife. 
Write to me soon and say whether you are angry with me or not. 
Good-bye, my dear Ellen. C BRONTE. 



Letter 50 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, April ij///, 1839. 

I could not write to you in the week you requested, as about 
that time we were very busy in preparing for Anne's departure. 
Poor child ! she left us last Monday ; no one went with her ; it 
was her own wish that she might be allowed to go alone, as she 
thought she could manage better and summon more courage if 
thrown entirely upon her own resources. We have had one 
letter from her since she went. She expresses herself very well 
satisfied, and says that Mrs. Ingham is extremely kind ; the two 
eldest children alone are under her care, the rest are confined to 
the nursery, with which and its occupants she has nothing to 
do. Both her pupils are desperate little dunces ; neither of them 
can read, and sometimes they profess a profound ignorance of 
their alphabet. The worst of it is they are excessively indulged, 
and she is not empowered to inflict any punishment. She is 
requested, when they misbehave themselves, to inform their 
mamma, which she says is utterly out of the question, as in that 
case she might be making complaints from morning till night. 
So she alternately scolds, coaxes, and threatens, sticks always 
to her first word, and gets on as well as she can. I hope 
she'll do. You would be astonished what a sensible, clever 
letter she writes ; it is only the talking part that I fear. But I do 
seriously apprehend that Mrs. Ingham will sometimes conclude 
that she has a natural impediment of speech. For my own part, 



156 THE BRONTES 

I am as yet ' wanting a situation/ like a housemaid out of place. 
By the way, I have lately discovered I have quite a talent for 
cleaning, sweeping up hearths, dusting rooms, making beds, etc. ; 
so, if everything else fails, I can turn my hand to that, if anybody 
will give me good wages for little labour. I won't be a cook ; I 
hate cooking. I won't be a nursery-maid, nor a lady's-maid, far 
less a lady's companion, or a mantua-maker, or a straw-bonnet 
maker, or a taker-in of plain work. I won't be anything but a 
housemaid. Setting aside nonsense, I was very glad, my dear 
Ellen, to learn by your last letter that some improvement had 
taken place in your health, for occasionally I have felt more 
uneasy about you than I would willingly confess to yourself. I 
verily believe that a visit to Haworth would now greatly help to 
restore you, and there can be no objection on account of cold 
when the weather is so much milder. However angry you are, I 
still stick to my resolution that I will go no more to Brookroyd 
till you have been to Haworth. I think I am right in this deter- 
mination, and I '11 abide by it. It does not arise from resent- 
ment, but from reason. I have never for a moment supposed that 
the reluctance of your friends to allow you to leave home arose 
from any ill-will to me. It was quite natural, in your precarious 
state of health, to desire to keep you at home, but that argument 
does not now hold good. With regard to my visit to Gomersall, 
I have as yet received no invitation ; but if I should be asked, 
though I should feel it a great act of self-denial to refuse, yet I 
have almost made up my mind to do so, though the society of 
the Taylors is one of the most rousing pleasures I have ever 
known. I wish you good-bye, my darling Ellen, and I tell you 
once more that I want to see you. Strike out that word darling, 
it is humbug, where 's the use of protestations? We've known 
each other, and liked each other a good while> that 's enough. 

C. BRONTE. 

Behold Charlotte Bronte then at Stonegappe, some four 
miles from Skipton. The house, * a commodious but plain 
residence/ is beautifully situated on the side of a hill looking 
down into the valley of a little stream called Lothersdale 
Beck. It was built at the end of the eighteenth century 
by Mr. William Sidgwick of Skipton, father of Mr. John 
Benson Sidgwick, to whose children Charlotte Bronte 



MRS. SIDGWICK'S NURSERY GOVERNESS 157 

acted as governess. 1 Mr. Sidgwick was a cousin of Arch- 
bishop Benson, who, although a frequent visitor to 
Stonegappe, did not apparently meet Charlotte Bronte. 
His son and biographer, Mr. A. C. Benson, says : 

Charlotte Bronte acted as governess to my cousins at Stone- 
gappe for a few months in 1839. Few traditions of her connection 
with the Sidgwicks survive. She was, according to her own account, 
very unkindly treated, but it is clear that she had no gifts for the 
management of children, and was also in a very morbid condition 
the whole time. My cousin Benson Sidgwick, now vicar of Ashby 
Parva, certainly on one occasion threw a Bible at Miss Bronte ! 
and all that another cousin can recollect of her is that if she was 
invited to walk to church with them, she thought she was being 
ordered about like a slave ; if she was not invited, she imagined 
she was excluded from the family circle. Both Mr. and Mrs. John 
Sidgwick were extraordinarily benevolent people, much beloved, 
and would not wittingly have given pain to any one connected 
with them. 2 

Elsewhere Mr. Benson tells us that one of the children 
told him that if Miss Bronte was desired to accompany 
them to church 'Oh, Miss Bronte, do run up and put 
on your things, we want to start' she was plunged in 
dudgeon because she was being treated as a hireling. If, 
in consequence, she was not invited to accompany them, 
she was infinitely depressed because she was treated as 
an outcast and a friendless dependent. 

This is to show the other side of the shield to the one 
presented by the unhappy governess. The two views are 
not necessarily conflicting, and it would embody but half 
the truth to assert that Charlotte Bronte saw everything 
through a distorted vision. The attitude of many kindly 

1 The house is two and a half miles from Cononley Station on the mam line of the 
Midland Railway. See for a fuller description Mr. Herbert E. Wroot's Persons and 
Places of the Bronte Novels. 'Jane Eyre.' Bronte Society Publications. 

2 The Life of Edward White Benson, sometime Archbishop of Canterbury, 2 vols. 
Macmillan. Two clever members of this gifted family, Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick the novelist, 
and Miss G. E. Mitton the biographer and essayist, have also written to me as to the 
lovable qualities of Mrs. John Sidgwick. 



158 THE BRONTES 

and humane people towards their dependants differs entirely 
from that adopted towards their equals, and there is much 
significance in the story related by Mrs. Gaskell of one 
of the little boys when heard saying, ' I love 'ou, Miss 
Bronte/ being remonstrated with by his mother, who 
exclaimed before all the children, ' Love the governess, 
my dear ! 

Letter 51 

TO EMILY J. BRONTfi 

STONEGAPPE, June $>th, 1839. 

DEAREST LAVINIA, I am most exceedingly obliged to you 
for the trouble you have taken in seeking up my things and 
sending them all right. The box and its contents were most 
acceptable. I only wish I had asked you to send me some letter- 
paper. This is my last sheet but two. When you can send the 
other articles of raiment now manufacturing, I shall be right 
down glad of them. 

I have striven hard to be pleased with my new situation. The 
country, the house, and the grounds are, as I have said, divine. 
But, alack-a-day ! there is such a thing as seeing all beautiful 
around you pleasant woods, winding white paths, green lawns, 
and blue sunshiny sky and not having a free moment or a free 
thought left to enjoy them in. The children are constantly with 
me, and more riotous, perverse, unmanageable cubs never grew. 
As for correcting them, I soon quickly found that was entirely 
out of the question : they are to do as they like. A complaint to 
Mrs. Sidgwick brings only black looks upon oneself, and unjust, 
partial excuses to screen the children. I have tried that plan 
once. It succeeded so notably that I shall try it no more. I 
said in my last letter that Mrs. Sidgwick did not know me. I 
now begin to find that she does not intend to know me, that she 
cares nothing in the world about me except to contrive how the 
greatest possible quantity of labour may be squeezed out of me, 
and to that end she overwhelms me with oceans of needlework, 
yards of cambric to hem, muslin nightcaps to make, and, above 
all things, dolls to dress. I do not think she likes me at all, 
because I can't help being shy in such an entirely novel scene, 
surrounded as I have hitherto been by strange and constantly 



MRS. SIDGWICK'S NURSERY GOVERNESS 159 

changing faces. I see now more clearly than I have ever done 
before that a private governess has no existence, is not considered 
as a living and rational being except as connected with the 
wearisome duties she has to fulfil. While she is teaching the 
children, working for them, amusing them, it is all right. If she 
steals a moment for herself she is a nuisance. Nevertheless, 
Mrs. Sidgwick is universally considered an amiable woman. Her 
manners are fussily affable. She talks a great deal, but as it 
seems to me not much to the purpose. Perhaps I may like her 
better after a while. At present I have no call to her. Mr. 
Sidgwick is in my opinion a hundred times better less profession, 
less bustling condescension, but a far kinder heart. It is very 
seldom that he speaks to me, but when he does I always feel 
happier and more settled for some minutes after. He never asks 
me to wipe the children's smutty noses or tie their shoes or fetch 
their pinafores or set them a chair. One of the pleasantest after- 
noons I have spent here indeed, the only one at all pleasant 
was when Mr. Sidgwick walked out with his children, and I had 
orders to follow a little behind. As he strolled on through his 
fields with his magnificent Newfoundland dog at his side, he 
looked very like what a frank, wealthy, Conservative gentleman 
ought to be. He spoke freely and unaffectedly to the people he 
met, and though he indulged his children and allowed them to 
tease himself far too much, he would not suffer them grossly to 
insult others. 

I am getting quite to have a regard for the Carter family. At 
home I should not care for them, but here they are friends. 
Mr. Carter was at Mirfield yesterday and saw Anne. He says 
she was looking uncommonly well. Poor girl, she must indeed 
wish to be at home. As to Mrs. Collins' report that Mrs. Sidg- 
wick intended to keep me permanently, I do not think that such 
was ever her design. Moreover, I would not stay without some 
alterations. For instance, this burden of sewing would have to be 
removed. It is too bad for anything. I never in my whole life 
had my time so fully taken up. Next week we are going to 
Swarcliffe, Mr. Greenwood's place near Harrogate, to stay three 
weeks or a month. After that time I hope Miss Hoby will 
return. Don't show this letter to papa or aunt, only to Branwell. 
They will think I am never satisfied, wherever I am. I complain 
to you because it is a relief, and really I have had some un- 
expected mortifications to put up with. However, things may 



160 THE BRONTES 

mend, but Mrs. Sidgwick expects me to do things that I cannot 
do to love her children and be entirely devoted to them. I am 
really very well. I am so sleepy that I can write no more. I 
must leave off. Love to all. Good-bye. 

Direct your next despatch J. Greenwood, Esq., Swarcliffe, near 
Harrogate. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 52 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July u/, 1839. 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, I am writing a letter to you with 
pencil because I cannot just now procure ink without going into 
the drawing-room where I do not wish to go. I only received 
your letter yesterday, for we are not now residing at Stonegappe, 
but at Swarcliffe, a summer residence of Mr. Greenwood's, Mrs. 
Sidgwick's father. It is near Harrogate and Ripon ; a beautiful 
place in a beautiful country rich and agricultural. I should have 
written to you long since, and told you of every detail of the 
utterly new scene into which I have lately been cast, had I not 
been daily expecting a letter from yourself, and wondering and 
lamenting that you did not write, for you will remember it was 
your turn. I must not bother you too much with my sorrows, 
Ellen, of which I fear you have heard an exaggerated account ; 
if you were near me, perhaps I might be tempted to tell you all 
to grow egotistical and pour out the long history of a Private 
Governess' trials and crosses in her first situation. As it is, I will 
only ask you to imagine the miseries of a reserved wretch like me, 
thrown at once into the midst of a large family proud as 
peacocks and wealthy as Jews at a time when they were particu- 
larly gay, when the house was full of company all strangers, 
people whose faces I had never seen before in this state of 
things having the charge given me of a set of pampered, spoilt, 
and turbulent children, whom I was expected constantly to 
amuse as well as instruct. I soon found that the constant demand 
on my stock of animal spirits reduced them to the lowest state of 
exhaustion ; at times I felt and I suppose seemed depressed. To 
my astonishment I was taken to task on the subject by Mrs. 
Sidgwick with a stress of manner and a harshness of language 
scarcely credible. Like a fool, I cried most bitterly ; I could not 
help it my spirits quite failed me at first. I thought I had done 



MRS. SIDGWICK'S NURSERY GOVERNESS 161 

my best strained every nerve to please her and to be treated in 
that way merely because I was shy and sometimes melancholy 
was too bad. At first I was for giving all up and going home, 
but after a little reflection I determined to summon what energy 
I had and to weather the storm. I said to myself I have never 
yet quitted a place without gaining a friend. Adversity is a good 
school the Poor are born to labour, and the Dependent to endure. 
I resolved to be patient to command my feelings and to take 
what came ; the ordeal, I reflected, would not last many weeks, 
and I trusted it would do me good. I recollected the fable of the 
Willow and the Oak ; I bent quietly, and I trust now the storm 
is blowing over me. Mrs. Sidgwick is generally considered an 
agreeable woman ; so she is, I dare say, in general Society. Her 
health is sound, her animal spirits are good ; consequently she 
is cheerful in company. But, oh ! Ellen, does this compensate for 
the absence of every fine feeling, of every gentle and delicate 
sentiment ? 

She behaves somewhat more civilly to me now than she did at 
first, and the children are a little more manageable ; but she 
does not know my character, and she does not wish to know it. I 
have never had five minutes' conversation with her since I came 
except while she was scolding me. Do not communicate the con- 
tents of this letter to any one I have no wish to be pitied, 
except by yourself do not even clatter with Martha Taylor 
about it. If I were talking to you I would tell you much more ; 
but I hope my term of bondage will soon be expired, and then I 
can go home and you can come to see me ; and I hope we shall 
be happy. Good-bye, dear, dear Ellen. 

Write to me again veiy soon and tell me how you are ; direct 
J. Greenwood, Esquire, SwarclifTe, Nr. Harrogate. Perhaps, though 
I may be at home before you write again. I don't intend to stay 
long after they leave SwarclifTe, which they expect shortly to do. 

Letter 53 

TO EMILY J. F,RONTfi 

July , 1839. 

Mine bonnie love, I was as glad of your letter as tongue can 
express : it is a real, genuine pleasure to hear from home ; a thing 
to be saved till bedtime, when one has a moment's quiet and rest 

VOL T. L 



162 THE BRONTES 

to enjoy it thoroughly. Write whenever you can. I could like to 
be at home. I could like to work in a mill. I could feel mental 
liberty. I could like this weight of restraint to be taken off. But 
the holidays will come. Corragio* 

Charlotte Bronte was rather less than three months in 
the Sidgwick family, and more than half the time was 
spent at Swarcliffe whence she accompanied the house 
party to see Norton Conyers, and heard the story of the 
mad woman associated with the mansion that she used to 
good purpose in Jane Eyre. 



THE ART OF LOVE 168 



CHAPTER IX 

THE ART OF LOVE 

THE experiment of governess to Mrs. Sidgwick having 
failed, there was nothing for it but to begin again. And 
so the weary round of applications went on, some of which 
are reflected in the following letters. The correspondence 
is here enlivened by a second proposal of marriage and 
above all by much sound advice on the part of Charlotte 
Bronte on the whole theory and practice of love and the 
relations of a wife to her husband. 

Letter 54 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, /w/x 26M, 1839. 

Your proposal has almost driven me ' clean daft.' If you don't 
understand that ladylike expression you must ask me what it 
means when I see you. The fact is, an excursion with you any- 
where, whether to Cleathorpe or Canada, just by ourselves, would 
be to me most delightful. I should indeed like to go ; but I can't 
get leave of absence for longer than a week, and I'm afraid that 
would not suit you. Must I, then, give it up entirely? I feel as 
if I could not. I never had such a chance of enjoyment before ; I 
do^want to see you and talk to you, and be with you. When do 
you wish to go? Could I meet you at Leeds? To take a gig 
from Haworth to Birstall would be to me a very serious increase 
of expense, and I happen to be very low in cash. Oh ! Ellen, 
rich people seem to have many pleasures at their command which 
we are debarred from! However, no repining. If I could take 
the coach from Keighley to Bradford, and thence to Leeds, and 
you could meet me at the inn, it would be the most convenient 
plan for me. I left Stonegappe a week since. I never was so glad 



164 THE BRONTES 

to get out of a house in my life, but I '11 trouble you with no 
complaints at present. Write to me directly ; explain your 
plans more fully. 

Say when you go, and I shall be able in my answer to say 
decidedly whether I can accompany you or not. I must I will 
I 'm set upon it I '11 be obstinate and bear down all opposition. 
Good-bye, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

P.S. If I find it impossible to stay for longer than a week, 
could you get some one else to bear you company for the remain- 
ing fortnight? Since writing the above I find that aunt and papa 
have determined to go to Liverpool for a fortnight, and take 
us all with them. It is stipulated, however, that I should give up 
the Cleathorpe scheme. I yield reluctantly. But Aunt suggests 
that you may be able to join us at Liverpool, What do you say ? 
We shall not go for a fortnight or three weeks, because till that 
time papa's expected assistant will not be ready to undertake his 
duties. 

Letter 55 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

August 4/^, 1839 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, The Liverpool journey is yet a matter 
of talk, a sort of castle in the air ; but, between you and me, I 
fancy it is very doubtful whether it will ever assume a more solid 
shape. Aunt, like many other elderly people, likes to talk of 
such things ; but when it comes to putting them into practice, she 
rather falls off. Such being the case, I think you and I had 
better adhere to our first plan of going somewhere together, 
independently of other people. I have got leave to accompany 
you for a week, at the utmost stretch a fortnight. Where do 
you wish to go? Burlington, I should think from what Mary 
Taylor says, would be as eligible a place as any. When do you 
wish to set off? Arrange all these things according to your own 
convenience ; I shall start no objections. The idea of seeing the 
sea of being near it watching its changes by sunrise, sunset, 
moonlight, and noonday in calm, perhaps in storm fills and 
satisfies my mind. I shall be discontented at nothing And then 
I am not to be with a set of people with whom I have nothing in 
common, who would be nuisances and bores; but with you, 



THE ART OF LOVE 165 

Ellen Nussey, whom I like, and who know and like me. I have 
an odd circumstance to relate to you prepare for a hearty laugh! 
The other day Mr. Hodgson, papa's former curate, now a vicar, 
came over to spend the day with us, bringing with him his own 
curata The latter gentleman, by name, Mr. Bryce, is a young 
Irish clergyman, fresh from Dublin University. It was the first 
time we had any of us seen him, but however, after the manner of 
his countrymen, he soon made himself at home. His character 
quickly appeared in his conversation : witty, lively, ardent, clever 
too, but deficient in the dignity and discretion of an Englishman. 
At home, you know, Ellen, I talk with ease, and am never shy, 
never weighed down and oppressed by that miserable mauvaise 
honte which torments and constrains me elsewhere. So I con- 
versed with this Irishman and laughed at his jests, and though I 
saw faults in his character, excused them because of the amuse- 
ment his originality afforded. I cooled a little, indeed, and drew 
in towards the latter part of the evening, because he began to 
season his conversation with something of Hibernian flattery 
which I did not quite relish. However, they went away, and no 
more was thought about them. A few days after I got a letter, 
the direction of which puzzled me, it being in a hand I was not 
accustomed to see. Evidently, it was neither from you nor Mary 
Taylor, my only correspondents. Having opened and read it, it 
proved to be a declaration of attachment and proposal of matri- 
mony, expressed in the ardent language of the sapient young 
Irishman! Well! thought I, I have heard of love at first sight, 
but this beats all. I leave you to guess what my answer would 
be, convinced that you will not do me the injustice of guessing 
wrong. When we meet I '11 show you the letter. I hope you are 
laughing heartily. This is not like one of my adventures, is it? 
It more resembles Martha Taylor's. I am certainly doomed to be 
an old maid. Never mind, I made up my mind to that fate ever 
since I was twelve years old. Write soon. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 56 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Augustqth, 1839. 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, In the greatest haste I scrawl an 
answer to your letter I am very sorry to throw you back in 
your arrangements, but I really cannot go to-morrow I could 



166 THE BRONTES 

not get my baggage and myself to Leeds by 10 o'clock to-morrow 
morning if I was to be hanged for it. You must write again, and 
fix a day which will give me a little more time for preparation. 
Haworth, you know, is such an out-of-the-way place, one should 
have a month's warning before they stir from it You were very 
kind to try to get me fetched but indeed Ellen, it was wrong 
of you do you think I could comfortably have accepted so 
unreasonable a favour ? my best plan will certainly be to come to 
Brookroyd the day before we start. I '11 try to manage it. Good- 
bye, my dearest Ellen. The Post is just going. Friday morning. 

C. B. 

Letter 57 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, August 14^, 1839. 

I have in vain packed my box, and prepared everything for 
our anticipated journey. It so happens that I can get no con- 
veyance this week or the next. The only gig let out on hire in 
Haworth is at Harrogate, and likely to remain there, for aught I 
can hear. Papa decidedly objects to my going by the coach, and 
walking to Birstall, though I am sure I could manage it. Aunt 
exclaims against the weather, and the roads, and the four winds 
of heaven ; so I am in a fix, and, what is worse, so are you. On 
reading over, for the second or third time, your last letter (which, 
by the bye, was written in such hieroglyphics that, at the first 
hasty perusal, I could hardly make out two consecutive words), 
I find you intimate that if I leave this journey till Thursday 1 
shall be too late. I grieve that I should have so inconvenienced 
you ; but I need not talk of either Friday or Saturday now, for 
I rather imagine there is small chance of my ever going at all. 
The elders of the house have never cordially acquiesced in the 
measure; and now that impediments seem to start up at every 
step opposition grows more open. Papa, indeed, would willingly 
indulge me, but this very kindness of his makes me doubt whether 
I ought to draw upon it ; so, though I could battle out aunt's 
discontent, I yield to papa's indulgence. He does not say so, 
but I know he would rather I stayed at home ; and aunt meant 
well too, I dare say, but I am provoked that she reserved the 
expression of her decided disapproval till all was settled between 
you and myself. Reckon on me no more ; leave me out in your 



THE ART OF LOVE 167 

calculations : perhaps I ought, in the beginning, to have had 
prudence sufficient to shut my eyes against such a prospect of 
pleasure, so as to deny myself the hope of it. Be as angry as 
you please with me for disappointing you. I did not intend it, 
and have only one thing more to say if you do not go immedi- 
ately to the sea, will you come and see us at Haworth? This 
invitation is not mine only, but papa's and aunt's. Dear Ellen, 
do come. If you could come here I would go back with you to 
Birstall for a few days if you could have me and your return 
should be no expense to you. This would be, of course, cheaper 
than the sea scheme if it would only be as effectual. How is Mr. 
Taylor? Any better? Good-bye. C. BRONX , 

Letter 58 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, October 24^, 1839. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, You will have concluded by this time that 
I never got home at all but evaporated by the way: however, I 
did get home, and very well too, by the aid of the Dewsbury 
coachman, though if I had not contrived to make friends with 
him I don't know how I should have managed. He showed me 
the way to the inn where the Keighley coach stopped, carried 
my box, took my place and saw my luggage put in, and helped 
me to mount on to the top. I assure you I felt exceedingly 
obliged to him. I had a long letter from your brother Henry, 
giving an account of his bride elect. Have you forgot the sea 
by this time? 1 Is it grown dim in your mind? Or still can you 
see it, dark blue, and green, and foam-white ; and hear it roaring 
roughly when the wind is high, or rushing softly when it is calm ? 
How is your health? Have good effects resulted from the 
change? I am as well as need be, and very fat. I think of 
Easton very often, and of worthy Mr. Hudson, and his kind-hearted 
helpmate, and of our pleasant walks to Harlequin Wood, to 
Boynton ; our merry evenings, our romps with little Hancheon, 
etc., etc. If we both live, this period of our lives will long be a 
theme of pleasant recollection. Did you chance in your letter to 
Mrs. Hudson to mention my spectacles? I am sadly inconvenienced 
by the want of them. I can neither read, write, nor draw with 

1 ' Charlotte sobbed bitterly and was overwhelmed with emotion when she first saw 
the sea.' Note by Ellen Nusscy. 



168 THE BRONTfiS 

comfort in their absence. I hope Madame Booth won't refuse 
to give them up. I wonder when we shall meet again. Have 
you yet managed to get any definite period for your visit to us ? 
Excuse the brevity of this letter, for I have been drawing all day, 
and my eyes are so tired it is quite a labour to write. Give my 
best love to your mother and sister. Believe me, your old friend, 

C. BRONTE. 

The above letter reveals a pleasant episode in Char- 
lotte's life: her sojourn with Mr. John Hudson, a farmer 
at Easton near Bridlington. Little Hancheon was his 
niece or adopted daughter, Fanny Whipp, then about 
eight years of age. She married a Mr. North and died 
in 1866 aged thirty-five. Mr. Hudson died at Bridlington 
in 1878 and his wife two years earlier. Charlotte had 
very little acquaintance with children, and we may fairly 
assume that Fanny Whipp inspired the ' Pauline Mary ' 
of Villette. 1 

Miss Ellen Nussey has left us an interesting account 
of this first visit to the seaside of what was clearly the 
most glorious September holiday that Charlotte Bronte 
ever spent. 

Charlotte's first visit to the sea-coast deserves a little more 
Ellen notice than her letters give of the circumstances it 
Nussey's was an event eagerly coveted, but hard to attain. 
Narrative. ^ r Bronte and Miss Branwell had all manners of 
doubts and fears and cautions to express, and Charlotte was 
sinking into despair there seemed only one chance of securing 
her the pleasure ; her friend must fetch her ; this she did 
through the aid of a dear relative, who sent her to Haworth 
under safe convey, and in a carriage that would bring both 
Charlotte and her luggage this step proved to be the very best 
thing possible, the surprise was so good in its effects, there was 
nothing to combat everybody rose into high good humours, 
Branwell was grandiloquent, he declared ' it was a brave defeat, 
that the doubters were fairly taken aback. 1 You have only to 
will a thing to get it, so Charlotte's luggage was speedily prepared, 
and almost before the horse was rested there was a quiet but 

1 Transactions of the Brontt Society ', Part iv., Charlotte Bronte and the East Riding. 



THE ART OF LOVE 169 

triumphant starting; the brothers and sisters at home were not 
less happy than Charlotte herself in her now secured pleasure. It 
was the first of ical freedom to be enjoyed either by herself or 
her friend, a first experience in railway travelling, which however, 
only conveyed them through half of the route, the stage-coach 
making the rest of the journey. Passengers being too numerous 
for this accommodation, Charlotte and her friend were sent on in 
an open ' Fly ' ; the weather was most delightful, the drive was 
enjoyed immensely, but they were unconsciously hastening on to 
a disappointment. Friends in the vicinity of the coast whither 
they were bound had been informed of their coming, and were 
ready to seize upon them ; they met the coach, but it did not 
bring their expected young friends, and they had to depart, but 
not without leaving orders at the Hotel where the coach stopped 
for the capture of the occupants of the ' Fly ' ; a post-chaise was in 
readiness, in which they were to be driven off not to the bourne 
they were longing for (the seaside) but two or three miles away 
from it, here they were (though most unwilling) hospitably enter- 
tained and detained for a month. The day but one after their 
capture they walked to the sea, and as soon as they were near 
enough for Charlotte to see it in its expanse, she was quite over- 
powered, she could not speak till she had shed some tears she 
signed to her friend to leave her and walk on ; this she did for a 
few steps, knowing full well what Charlotte was passing through, 
and the stern effoits she was making to subdue her emotions her 
friend turned to her as soon as she thought she might without 
inflicting pain ; her eyes were red and swollen, she was still 
trembling, but submitted to be led onwards where the view was 
less impressive ; for the remainder of the day she was very quiet, 
subdued, and exhausted. Distant glimpses of the German Ocean 
had been visible as the two friends neared the coast on the day of 
their arrival, but Charlotte being without her glasses, could not 
seje them, and when they were described to her, she said, ' Don't 
tell me any more. Let me wait/ Whenever the sound of the 
sea reached her ears in the grounds around the house wherein she 
was a captive guest, her spirit longed to rush away and be close 
to it. At last their kind and generous entertainers yielded to 
their wishes and permitted them to take wing and go into lodgings 
for one week, but still protecting them by every day visits, and 
bounteous provision from their dairy. What Charlotte and her 
friend had desired for themselves was, to be their own providers, 



170 THE BRONTES 

believing in their inexperience that they could do great things 
with the small sum of money they each had at their disposal, but 
at the end of the week when bills were asked for, they were 
thoroughly enlightened as to the proprietors of the kind care 
which had guarded them they discovered that moderate appetites 
and modest demands for attendance were of no avail as regarded 
the demands made upon their small finances. A week's experi- 
ence sufficed to show them the wisdom of not prolonging their 
stay, though the realisation of enjoyment had been as intense as 
anticipation had depicted. 

The conventionality of most of the seaside visitors amused 
Charlotte immensely. The evening Parade on the Pier struck 
her as the greatest absurdity. It was an old Pier in those days, 
and of short dimensions, but thither all the visitors seemed to as- 
semble in such numbers, it was like a packed ball-room ; people had 
to march round and round in regular file to secure any movement 
whatever. Charlotte and her friend thought they would go away 
from this after making one essay to do as others did ; they took 
themselves off to the cliffs to enjoy the moonlight, but they had 
not done this long, ere some instinct as to safety warned them to 
return ; on entering their lodgings another novelty impressed it- 
self upon them, they encountered sounds which came from a 
Ranters' meeting-house across the street, there was violent excite- 
ment within its walls, and Charlotte was wild to go in amongst 
the congregation and see as she said, 'What they were up to'; 
but was restrained by the reflection that those people who were 
making such awful noises were acting as they believed on religious 
impulse, and ought neither to be criticised nor ridiculed in their 
midst. Charlotte's impressions of the sea never wore off; she 
would often recall her views of it, and wonder what its aspect 
would be just at the time she was speaking of it. 



Letter 59 

TO THE REV. HENRY NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, October it>th, 1839. 

DEAR SIR, I have delayed answering your last communication 
in the hopes of receiving a letter from Ellen, that I might be able 
to transmit to you the latest news from Brookroyd ; however, as 
she does not write, I think I ought to put off my reply no longer 



THE ART OF LOVE 171 

lest you should begin to think me negligent As you rightly 
conjecture, I had heard a little hint of what you allude to before, 
and the account gave me pleasure, coupled as it was with the 
assurance that the object of your regard is a worthy and estimable 
woman. The step no doubt will by many of your friends be 
considered scarcely as a prudent one, since fortune is not amongst 
the number of the young lady's advantages. For my own part, 
I must confess that I esteem you the more for not hunting after 
wealth if there be strength of mind, firmness of principle, and 
sweetness of temper to compensate for the absence of that usually 
all-powerful attraction. The wife who brings riches to her husband 
sometimes also brings an idea of her own importance and a 
tenacity about what she conceives to be her rights, little calcu- 
lated to produce happiness in the married state. Most probably 
she will wish to control when nature and affection bind her to 
submit in this case there cannot, I should think, be much 
comfort. 

On the other hand, it must be considered that when two 
persons marry without money, there ought to be moral courage 
and physical exertion to atone for the deficiency there should 
be spirit to scorn dependence, patience to endure privation, and 
energy to labour for a livelihood. If there be these qualities, I 
think, with the blessing of God, those who join heart and hand 
have a right to expect success and a moderate share of happiness, 
even though they may have departed a step or two from the stern 
maxims of worldly prudence. The bread earned by honourable 
toil is sweeter than the bread of idleness ; and mutual love and 
domestic calm are treasures far preferable to the possessions rust 
can corrupt and moths consume away. 

I enjoyed my late excursion with Ellen with the greater zest 
because such pleasures have not often chanced to fall in my way. 
I will not tell you what I thought of the sea, because I should 
fall into my besetting sin of enthusiasm. I may, however, say 
that its glories, changes, its ebbs and flow, the sound of its rest- 
less waves, formed a subject for contemplation that never wearied 
either the eye, the ear, or the mind. Our visit at Easton was 
extremely pleasant ; I shall always feel grateful to Mr. and Mrs. 
Hudson for their kindness. We saw Agnes Burton, during our 
stay, and called on two of your former parishioners Mrs. Brown 
and Mrs. Dalton. I was pleased to hear your name mentioned 
by them in terms of encomium and sincere regard. Ellen will 



172 THE BRONTES 

have detailed to you all the minutia of our excursion ; a recapitu- 
lation from me would therefore be tedious. I am happy to say 
that her health appeared to be greatly improved by the change 
of air and regular exercise. I am still at home, as I have not yet 
heard of any situation which meets with the approbation of my 
friends. I begin, however, to grow exceedingly impatient of a 
prolonged period of inaction. I feel I ought to be doing some- 
thing for myself, for my health is now so perfectly re-established 
by this long rest that it affords me no further pretext for indo- 
lence. With every wish for your future welfare, and with the 
hope that whenever your proposed union takes place it may 
contribute in the highest sense to your good and happiness, 
Believe me, your sincere friend, C. BRONTE. 

PS. Remember me to your sister Mercy, who, I understand, 
is for the present your companion and housekeeper. 

Letter 60 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

December list) 1839. 

DEAR ELLEN, We are at present, and have been during the 
last month, rather busy, as, for that space of time, we have been 
without a servant, except a little girl to run errands. Poor Tabby 
became so lame that she was at length obliged to leave us. She 
is residing with her sister, in a little house of her own, which she 
bought with her savings a year or two since. She is very com- 
fortable, and wants nothing ; as she is near we see her very often. 
In the meantime Emily and I are sufficiently busy, as you may 
suppose: I manage the ironing, and keep the rooms clean ; Emily 
does the baking, and attends to the kitchen. We are such odd 
animals that we prefer this mode of contrivance to having a new 
face amongst us. Besides, we do not despair of Tabby's return, 
and she shall not be supplanted by a stranger in her absence. 
I excited aunt's wrath very much by burning the clothes, the first 
time I attempted to iron ; but I do better now. Human feelings 
are queer things ; I am much happier black-leading the stoves 
making the beds, and sweeping the floors at home than I should 
be living like a fine lady anywhere else. I must indeed drop my 
subscription to the Jews, because I have no money to keep it up. 
I ought to have announced this intention to you before, but I 



THE ART OF LOVE 178 

quite forgot I was a subscriber. I intend to force myself to take 
another situation when I can get one, though I hate and abhor the 
very thoughts of governess-ship. But I must do it; and therefore 
I heartily wish I could hear of a family where they need such a 
commodity as a governess. 

Good-bye, my dear Ellen ; may you have a happy Christmas, 
and may the next year be pleasanter to you than the last has 
been. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 61 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January \2th, 1840. 

Your letter, which I received this morning, was one of painful 
interest. Anne Carter it seems, is dead; when I saw her last she 
was a young, beautiful, and happy girl; and now 'life's fitful 
fever ' is over with her, and she ' sleeps well/ I shall never see her 
again. It is a sorrowful thought ; for she was a warm-hearted, 
affectionate being, and I cared for her. Wherever I seek for her 
now in this world she cannot be found, no more than a flower or 
a leaf which withered twenty years ago. A bereavement of this 
kind gives one a glimpse of the feeling those must have who have 
seen all drop round them, friend after friend, and are left to end 
their pilgrimage alone. But tears are fruitless and I try not to 
repine. 

I have not repeated my invitation to you, because aunt has 
taken it into her head to object to having any visitors during the 
winter. I did not at first like to tell you of this, but candour is 
the best plan after all ; the matter has weighed on my mind a 
long while and made me uncomfortable now that I have fairly 
written it down I feel far more easy. 

I intend ta take full advantage of this penny postage, 1 and to 
write to you often whether I continue at home or 'go out,' that is, 
as often as I have time. All send their love to you, papa has just 
been telling me that I am to be sure and say I am much obliged 
to you for your intimations respecting Mrs. H . I told him on 

1 This was one of the last letters written by Charlotte Bronte under the 
old order. It was folded in the usual style before envelopes were adopted, 
and there was no stamp only the circular as here reproduced, with post- 
mark, Bradford, Yorks , Jan. 13, 1840 Postage adhesive stamps were 
introduced in Jan. 10, 1840, and the uniform penny rate of postage came 
into operation in the United Kingdom, May 6, 1840. 




174 THE BRONTfiS 

the contrary, that I should scold you well for their vagueness, 
and for the very illegible writing in which they were conveyed 
in solid truth, Ellen, I believe I was half an hour in making 

out the letter. Pray write immediately, as Mrs. H is daily 

expecting my reply, and I cannot write till I hear from you. 

I shall be sure not to mention your name or anything you 
may say. I have written to Miss Wooler also for information. 
Good-bye, dear Ellen, C. BRONTE. 

P.S. As far as I can judge, the resolution you mention is a 
right one, and I wish you may be able to carry it into execution. 
You seem to doubt your own abilities you need not. 

Letter 62 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January 24^, 1840. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I have given Mrs. Edward her coup de 

l\&A. is to say, I have relinquished the idea of becoming an 
inmate of her family. I have no doubt she will be very cross with 
me, especially as when I first declined going she pressed me to 
take a trial of a month. I am now therefore again adrift, without 
an object. I am sorry for this, but something may turn up ere 
long. I know not whether to encourage you in your plan of going 
out or not ; your health seems to me the great obstacle. If you 
could obtain a situation like Mary Brooke you might do very 
well. But you could never live in an unruly, violent family of 
modern children, such, for instance, as those at Blake Hall. Anne 
is not to return. Mrs. Ingham is a placid, mild woman ; but as for 
the children, it was one struggle of life-wearing exertion to keep 
them in anything like decent order. 

I am miserable when 1 allow myself to dwell on the necessity 
of spending my life as a governess. The chief requisite for that 
station seems to me to be the power of taking things easily as 
they come, and of making oneself comfortable and at home where- 
ever we may chance to be qualities in which all our family are 
singularly deficient I know I cannot live with a person like 
Mrs. Sidgwick, but I hope all women are not like her ; and my 
motto is, ' try again/ 

Mary Taylor, I am sorry to hear, is ill. Have you seen her, or 
heard anything of her lately? Sickness seems very general, and 



THE ART OF LOVE 175 

Death, too, at least in this neighbourhood. Mr. Bryce is dead. 
He had fallen into a state of delicate health for some time, and 
the rupture of a blood-vessel carried him off. He was a strong, 
athletic-looking man when I saw him, and that is scarcely six 
months ago. Though I knew so little of him, and of course could 
not be deeply or permanently interested in what concerned him, 
I confess, when I suddenly heard he was dead, I felt both shocked 
and saddened ; it was no shame to feel so, was it ? I scold you, 
Ellen, for writing illegibly and badly, and I think you may repay 
the compliment with cent, per cent, interest. I am not in the 
humour for writing a long letter, so good-bye. God bless you. 

C. BRONT. 



Letter 63 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March i;M, 1840. 

MY DEAR MRS. ELEANOR, I wish to scold you with a forty- 
horse power for having told Mary Taylor that I had requested 
you not to tell her everything, which piece of information has 
thrown her into tremendous ill-humour, besides setting the teeth 
of her curiosity on edge. Tell her forthwith every individual 
occurrence, including Valentine's, ' Fair Ellen, Fair Ellen/ etc. ; 
1 Away fond love,' etc. ; ' Soul divine/ and all ; likewise the paint- 
ing of * Miss Celia Amelia' Weightman's portrait, and that young 
lady's frequent and agreeable visits. By the bye, I inquired into 
the opinion of that intelligent and interesting young person 
respecting you. It was a favourable one. 'She' thought you a 
fine-looking girl, and a very good girl into the bargain. Have 
you received the newspaper which has been despatched, contain- 
ing a notice of 'her' lecture at Keighley? Mr. Morgan came 
and stayed three days. By Miss Weightman's aid, we got on 
pretty well. It was amazing to see with what patience and 
good-temper the innocent creature endured that fat Welshman's 
prosing, though she confessed afterwards that she was almost 
done up by his long stories. We feel very dull without you. I 
wish those three weeks were to come over again. Aunt has been 
at times precious cross since you went however, she is rather 
better now. I had a bad cold on Sunday and stayed at home 
most of the day. Anne's cold is better, but I don't consider her 



176 THE BRONTES 

strong yet. What did your sister Ann say about my omitting 
to send a drawing for the Jew basket ? I hope she was too much 
occupied with the thoughts of going to Earnley to think of it. 
I am obliged to cut short my letter. Everybody in the house 
unites in sending their love to you. Miss Celia Amelia Weight- 
man also desires to be remembered. Write soon again and 
Believe me, yours unalterably, CHARIVARI. 

P.S. To your hand and Mary Taylor's do I resign myself in 
the spirit of a martyr, that is to say, with much the same feeling 
that I should experience if I were sitting down on the plat to 
have a tooth drawn. 

From this next letter it will be seen that the curate- 
bating which henceforth was to make up a page of Char- 
lotte Bronte's life, had commenced. Mr. Bronte's new 
curate, William Weightman, is playfully nicknamed * Celia 
Amelia/ 1 presumably on account of a certain effeminacy of 
appearance. Ellen Nussey hints that the young curate is 
in love with her friend, but the suggestion is repudiated 
Emily seems to have had a more tolerant feeling for this 
young curate than for any one of his successors. 

1 Celia Amelia, Mr. Bronte's curate, a lively, handsome young man fresh from Durham 
University, an excellent classical scholar. He gave a very good lecture on the Claries 
at Keighlcy. The young ladies at the Parsonage must hear his lecture, so he went off 
to a married clergyman to get him to write to Mr. Bronte and invite the young ladies to 
tea, and offer his escort to the lecture, and back again to the Parsonage. Great fears 
were entertained that permission \\ould not be given it was a walk of four miles each 
way. The Parsonage was not leached till 12 r. M The two clergymen lushed in with 
their charges, deeply disturbing Miss Branwell, who had prepared hot coffee for the 
home party, which of course fell short when two more were to be supplied. Poor Miss 
Branwell lost her temper, Charlotte was troubled, and Mr. Weightman, who enjoyed 
teasing the old lady, was very thirsty. The great spmts of the walking party had a 
trying suppression, but twinkling fun sustained some of the party 

There was also a little episode as to valentines. Mr. Weightman discovered that 
none of the party had ever received a valentine a great discovery ! Whereupon he 
indited verses to each one, and walked ten miles to post them, lest Mr. Bronte should 
discover his dedicatory nonsense, and the quiet liveliness going on under the sedate 
espionage of Miss Branwell and Mr. Bronte himself. Then I recall the taking of Mr. 
Weightman *s portrait by Charlotte. The sittings became alarming for length of time 
required, and the guest had to adopt the gown, whuh the owner was very proud to 
exhibit, amusing the jwrty with his critical remarks on the materials used, and pointing 
out the adornments, silk velvet, etc. Footnote b) Mis>s Ellen Nussey in the privately 
printed volume. 



THE ART OF LOVE 177 

Letter 64 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 9M, 1840. 

MY DEAR MRS. MENELAUS, I think I am exceedingly good 
to write to you so soon, indeed I am quite afraid you will begin 
to consider me intrusive with my frequent letters. I ought by 
right to let an interval of a quarter of a year elapse between each 
communication, and I will, in time ; never fear me. I shall 
improve in procrastination as I get older. 

My hand is trembling like that of an old man, so I don't expect 
you will be able to read my writing ; never mind, put the letter 
by and I '11 read it to you the next time I see you. 

Little Haworth has been all in a bustle about church rates 
since you were here. We had a most stormy meeting in the 
schoolroom. Papa took the chair, and Mr. Collins and Mr. Weight- 
man acted as his supporters, one on each side. There was violent 
opposition, which set Mr. Collins's Irish blood in a ferment, and if 
papa had not kept him quiet, partly by persuasion and partly 
by compulsion, he would have given the Dissenters their * kale 
through the reek ' a Scotch proverb, which I will explain to you 
another time. He and Mr. Weightman both bottled up their 
wrath for that time, but it was only to explode with redoubled 
force at a future period. We had two sermons on dissent, and 
its consequences, preached last Sunday one in the afternoon by 
Mr. Weightman, and one in the evening by Mr. Collins. All the 
Dissenters were invited to come and hear, and they actually shut 
up their chapels and came in a body ; of course the church was 
crowded. Miss Celia Amelia delivered a noble, eloquent, High- 
Church, Apostolical-Succession discourse, in which he banged the 
Dissenters most fearlessly and unflinchingly. I thought they 
had got enough for one while, but it was nothing to the dose 
that was thrust down their throats in the evening. A keener, 
cleverer, bolder, and more heart-stirring harangue than that which 
Mr. Collins delivered from Haworth pulpit, last Sunday evening, 
I never heard. He did not rant; he did not cant; he did not 
whine ; he did not sniggle ; he just got up and spoke with the 
boldness of a man who was impressed with the truth of what 
he was saying, who has no fear of his enemies and no dread of 
consequences. His sermon lasted an hour, yet I was sorry when 

VOL. I. M 



178 THE BRONTES 

it was done. I do not say that I agree either with him or 
Mr. Weightman, either in all or half their opinions. I consider 
them bigoted, intolerant, and wholly unjustifiable on the ground 
of common-sense. My conscience will not lot me be either a 
Puseyite or a Hookist ; nay, if I were a Dissenter, I would have 
taken the first opportunity of kicking or of horsewhipping both 
the gentlemen for their stern, bitter attack on my religion and its 
teachers. But in spite of all this, I admired the noble integrity 
which could dictate so fearless an opposition against so strong 
an antagonist. 

I have been painting a portrait of Agnes Walton, for our friend 
Miss Celia Amelia. You would laugh to see how his eyes sparkle 
with delight when he looks at it, like a pretty child pleased with 
a new plaything. Good-bye to you, let me have no more of your 
humbug about Cupid, etc. You know as well as I do, it is all 
groundless trash. Mr. Weightman has given another lecture at 
the Keighley Mechanics' Institute, and papa has also given a 
lecture ; both are spoken of very highly in the newspaper, and it 
is mentioned as a matter of wonder that such displays of intellect 
should emanate from the village of Haworth, situated amongst 
the bogs and mountains, and, until very lately, supposed to be in 
a state of semi-barbarism. Such are the words of the newspaper. 

C. BRONTE. 

At this point we return to Branwell, whose portrait- 
painting talent has proved unremunerative. All the work 
by him that we have seen is crude and ineffective. His 
best-known picture is the family group that has been much 
reproduced in photography, the portrait of Emily having 
been separately ' worked up ' for an edition of her great 
novel. The group lacks all but a sentimental value. There 
is no character in it or quality of any kind. When looked 
at long years afterwards by those who knew the family, it 
was averred that it contained a suggestion of likeness, the 
type in each separate case being recognisable. But as any 
index to the actual appearance of the three sisters, such 
as can be obtained from a very moderately competent paint- 
ing of any individual, it is worthless. Branwell, then, was 
a failure as an artist, and he had to look out for other work. 



THE ART OF LOVE 179 

An opportunity came in tutorship, and he entered the 
family of Mr. Postlethwaite of Rroughton-in-Furness in 
January 1840. A few weeks later on March 13, 1840 
he recounted his experiences to the master of the Lodge 
of the Three Graces at Haworth a masonic lodge of 
which Branwell had for a time been secretary in 1837. 



Letter 65 

OLD KNAVE OF TRUMPS, Don't think I have forgotten you, 
though I have delayed so long in writing to you. It was my 
purpose to send you a yarn as soon as I could find materials to 
spin one with, and it is only just now that I have had time to turn 
myself round and know where I am. If you saw me now, you would 
not know me, and you would laugh to hear the character the people 
give me. Oh, the falsehood and hypocrisy of this world ! I am 
fixed in a little retired town by the sea-shore, among wild, woody 
hills that rise round me huge, rocky, and capped with clouds. 
My employer is a retired County magistrate, a large landowner, 
and of a right hearty and generous disposition. His wife is a quiet, 
silent, and amiable woman, and his sons are two fine, spirited lads. 
My landlord is a respectable surgeon, two days out of seven is as 
drunk as a lord ! His wife is a bustling, chattering, kind-hearted 
soul ; and his daughter ! oh ! death and damnation ! Well, what 
am I ? That is, what do they think I am ? A most calm, 
sedate, sober, abstemious, patient, mild-hearted, virtuous, gentle- 
manly philosopher, the picture of good works, and the treasure- 
house of righteous thoughts. Cards are shuffled under the 
table-cloth, glasses are thrust into the cupboard if I enter the 
room. I take neither spirits, wine, nor malt liquors. I dress in 
black, and smile like a saint or martyr. Everybody says, ' what 
a good young gentleman is Mr. Postlethwaite's tutor ! ' This is 
a fact, as I am a living soul, and right comfortably do I laugh at 
them. I mean to continue in their good opinion. I took a half- 
year's farewell of old friend whisky at Kendal on the night after 
I left. There was a party of gentlemen at the Royal Hotel, and 
I joined them. We ordered in supper and whisky-toddy as ( hot 
as hell ! ' They thought I was a physician, and put me in the 
chair. I gave sundry toasts, that were washed down at the same 



180 THE BRONTES 

time, till the room spun round and the candles danced in our 
eyes. One of the guests was a respectable old gentleman with 
powdered head, rosy cheeks, fat paunch, and ringed fingers. He 
gave ' The Ladies/ . . . after which he brayed off with a speech ; 
and in two minutes, in the middle of a grand sentence, he stopped, 
wiped his head, looked wildly round, stammered, coughed, 
stopped again, and called for his slippers. The waiter helped 
him to bed. Next a tall Irish squire and a native of the land of 
Israel began to quarrel about their countries; and, in the warmth 
of argument, discharged their glasses, each at his neighbour's 
throat instead of his own. I recommended bleeding, purging, 
and blistering ; but they administered each other a real ' Jem 
Warder/ so I flung my tumbler on the floor, too, and swore I 'd 
join 'Old Ireland!' A regular rumpus ensued, but we were 
tamed at last. I found myself in bed next morning, with a bottle 
of porter, a glass, and a corkscrew beside me. Since then I have 
not tasted anything stronger than milk-and-water, nor, I hope, 
shall, till I return at Midsummer ; when we will see about it. I 
am getting as fat as Prince William at Springhead, and as godly 
as his friend, Parson Wintcrbotham. My hand shakes no longer. 
I ride to the banker's at Ulverston with Mr. Postlethwaite, and 
sit drinking tea and talking scandal with old ladies. As to the 
young ones ! I have one sitting by me just now fair-faced, blue- 
eyed, dark-haired, sweet eighteen she little thinks the devil is so 
near her ! 

I was delighted to see thy note, old squire, but I do not 
understand one sentence you will perhaps know what I mean. 
. . . How are all about you? I long to hear and see them again. 

How is the ' Devil's Thumb/ whom men call , and the 

* Devil in Mourning/ whom they call . How are 

1 and , and the Doctor ; and him who will be used 

as the tongs of hell he whose eyes Satan looks out of, as from 

windows I mean , esquire? How are little , 

* Longshanks/ , and the rest of them ? Are they 

married, buried, devilled, and damned ? When I come I '11 
give them a good squeeze of the hand ; till then I am too godly 
for them to think of. That bow-legged devil used to ask me 
impertinent questions which I answered him in kind. Beelzebub 
will make of him a walking-stick ! Keep to thy teetotalism, old 
squire, till I return ; it will mend thy old body. . . . Does ' Little 
Nosey 1 think I have forgotten him? No, by Jupiter! nor his 



THE ART OF LOVE 181 

clock either. 1 I '11 send him a remembrance some of these days ! 
But I must talk to some one prettier than thee ; so good-night, 
old boy, and believe me thine, THE PHILOSOPHER. 

Write directly. Of course you won't show this letter; and, 
for Heaven's sake, blot out all the lines scored with red ink. 

This letter 2 is sufficient to explain how it was that 
Branwell held his position as guide to the two young 
Postlethwaites only for a few months. He returned to 
Haworth in June. A letter that he had forwarded to 
Hartley Coleridge while in Broughton indicates a worthier 
ambition. The letter has an additional interest because it 
was addressed to one whose infirmity of purpose was 
almost as marked as that of Branwell Bronte, and who was 
destined to die a few months after his correspondent and 
from much the same cause. 8 



Letter 66 

TO HARTLEY COLERIDGE 

BkOUGHTON-IN-FURNESS, 

LANCASHIRE, April 2oth> 1840. 

SIR, It is with much reluctance that I venture to request, for 
the perusal of the following lines, a portion of the time of one 
upon whom I can have no claim, and should not dare to intrude ; 
but I do not, personally, know a man on whom to rely for an 
answer to the questions I shall put, and I could not resist my 
longing to ask a man from whose judgment there would be little 
hope of appeal. 

Since my childhood I have been wont to devote the hours I 
could spare from other and very different employments to efforts 
at literary composition, always keeping the results to myself, nor 

1 The clock mentioned by Branwell was one that stood in a corner of the * Snug' at 
'The Bull,' inside the door of which the landlord ' Little Nosey' used to chalk up 
the ' shots ' of his guests. 

2 The letter is reprinted from Leyland's The Brontt Family. It may be found in 
segments m Miss Mary F. Robinson's Emily Bronte. It was long in the possession of 
Mr. William Wood of Haworth, who lent it to Miss Robinson. 

3 Branwell Bronte died September 24th, 1848 ; Hartley Coleridge on the 6th of 
January 1849. 



182 THE BRONTES 

have they in more than two or three instances been seen by any 
other. But I am about to enter active life, and prudence tells 
me not to waste the time which must make my independence ; 
yet, sir, I like writing too well to fling aside the practice of it 
without an effort to ascertain whether I could turn it to account, 
not in wholly maintaining myself, but in aiding my maintenance, 
for I do not sigh after fame, and am not ignorant of the folly or 
the fate of those who, without ability, would depend for their 
lives upon their pens ; but I seek to know, and venture, though 
with shame, to ask from one whose word I must respect: whether, 
by periodical or other writing, 1 could please myself with writing, 
and make it subservient to living. 

I would not, with this view, have troubled you with a composi- 
tion in verse, but any piece I have in prose would too greatly 
trespass upon your patience, which, I fear, if you look over the 
verse, will be more than sufficiently tried. 

I feel the egotism of my language, but I have none, sir, in my 
heart, for I feel beyond all encouragement from myself, and I 
hope for none from you. 

Should you give any opinion upon what I send, it will, however 
condemnatory, be most gratefully received by, Sir, your most 
humble servant, P. B. BRONTE. 

P.S. The first piece is only the sequel of one striving to depict 
the fall from unguided passion into neglect, despair, and death. 
It ought to show an hour too near those of pleasure for repent- 
ance, and too near death for hope. The translations are two out 
of many made from Horace, and given to assist an answer to the 
question would it be possible to obtain remuneration for transla- 
tions for such as those from that or any other classic author ? 

A second letter from Branwell makes it clear that he 
met Hartley Coleridge at the Lakes : 

Letter 67 

TO HARTLEY COLERIDGE 



//, 1840. 

SIR, You will, perhaps, have forgotten me, but it will be long 
before I forget my first conversation with a man of real intellect, 
in my first visit to the classic lakes of Westmoreland. 



THE ART OF LOVE 188 

During the delightful day which I had the honour of spending 
with you at Ambleside, I received permission to transmit to you, 
as soon as finished, the first book of a translation of Horace, in 
order that, after a glance over it, you might tell me whether it 
was worth further notice or better fit for the fire. 

I have I fear most negligently, and amid other very different 
employments striven to translate two books, the first of which I 
have presumed to send to you. And will you, sir, stretch your 
past kindness by telling me whether I should amend and pursue 
the work or let it rest in peace ? 

Great corrections I feel it wants, but till I feel that the work 
might benefit me, I have no heart to make them ; yet if your 
judgment prove in any way favourable, I will re-write the whole, 
without sparing labour to reach perfection. 

I dared not have attempted Horace but that I saw the utter 
worthlessness of all former translations, and thought that a better 
one, by whomsoever executed, might meet with some little 
encouragement. I long to clear up my doubts by the judgment 
of one whose opinion I should revere, and but I suppose I am 
dreaming one to whom I should be proud indeed to inscribe 
anything of mine which any publisher would look at, unless, as 
is likely enough, the work would disgrace the name as much as 
the name would honour the work. 

Amount of remuneration I should not look to as anything 
would be everything and whatever it might be, let me say that 
my bones would have no rest unless by written agreement a 
division should be made of the profits (little or much) between 
myself and him through whom alone I could hope to obtain a 
hearing with that formidable personage, a London bookseller. 

Excuse my unintelligibility, haste, and appearance of pre- 
sumption, and Believe me to be, sir, your most humble and 
grateful servant, P. B. BRONTE. 

If anything in this note should displease you, lay it, sir, to 
the account of inexperience and not impudence. 

At this time, also, Charlotte was trying to win the ver- 
dict of the literary giants of her age. She would seem to 
have sent Wordsworth the beginnings of a story. He 
replied, and her answer has been preserved. 1 

1 In Mrs. Gaskell's Life, p. 189-190 of Haworth Edition. 



184 THE BRONTES 

Letter 68 

TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

Authors are generally very tenacious of their productions, but 
I am not so much attached to this but that I can give it up 
without much distress. No doubt, if I had gone on, I should 
have made quite a Richardsonian concern of it. ... I had 
materials in my head for half-a-dozen volumes. ... Of course it 
is with considerable regret I relinquish any scheme so charming 
as the one I have sketched. It is very edifying and profitable to 
create a world out of your own brains, and people it with inhabit- 
ants, who are so many Mclchisedecs, and have no father nor 
mother but your own imagination. ... I am sorry I did not 
exist fifty or sixty years ago, when the ladies' Magazine' was 
flourishing like a green bay tree. In that case, I make no doubt, 
my aspirations after literary fame would have met with due 
encouragement, and I should have had the pleasure of introducing 
Messrs. Percy and West into the very best society, and recording 
all their sayings and doings in double-columned, close-printed 
pages. ... I recollect, when I was a child, getting hold of some 
antiquated volumes, and reading them by stealth with the most 
exquisite pleasure. You give a correct description of the patient 
Grisels of those days. My aunt was one of them ; and to this 
day she thinks the tales of the 'Ladies' Magazine' infinitely 
superior to any trash of modern literature. So do I ; for I read 
them in childhood, and childhood has a very strong faculty of 
admiration, but a very weak one of criticism. ... I am pleased 
that you cannot quite decide whether I am an attorney's clerk or 
a novel-reading dressmaker. I will not help you at all in the 
discovery ; and as to my handwriting, or the ladylike touches in 
my style and imagery, you must not draw any conclusion from 
that I may employ an amanuensis. Seriously, sir, I am very 
much obliged to you for your kind and candid letter. I almost 
wonder you took the trouble to read and notice the novelette of 
an anonymous scribe, who had not even the manners to tell you 
whether he was a man or a woman, or whether his ' C. TV meant 
Charles Timms or Charlotte Tomkins. 



THE ART OF LOVE 185 

Letter 69 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 3oM, 1840. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I am not ungrateful for the gift, not 
unmindful of the giver. I wished before I wrote to finish my bag 
and send it with the letter of thanks for the very pretty Turkish- 
looking thing you sent me, but I can get no cord and tassels at 
Keighley, and as I have no opportunity of going elsewhere, I 
must continue to let it lie by a time longer. I read the letters you 
sent me with real interest. Amelia's character is indeed developed. 
I see something in the whole spirit of that letter which makes me 
thankful you are unlike some of your friends. Fashion, wealth, 
standing-in-society, seem to be the sole standard for measuring the 
worth of a character. Amelia thinks she has given up the world, 
but some of the most absurd notions of that world cling to her 
like a pestilence. I trust you will ever eschew those doctrines, 
still keep your truth about you. Amelia has been originally a 
clever woman, but her judgment has been corrupted. She has 
utterly lost the power of discriminating character. Her feelings, 
once perhaps warm, have been weakened and perverted, and 
heartless ambition has done it all ; the wish to rise in the world, 
to be distinguished by those to whose opinion wealth and fashion 
have, in her eyes, given great value. Aunt was vastly pleased 
with the knitting-needle case. 

Letter 70 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May 15^, 1840. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I read your last letter with a great deal of 
interest. Perhaps it is not always well to tell people when we 
approve of their actions, and yet it is very pleasant to do so ; and 
as, if you had done wrongly, I hope I should have had honesty 
enough to tell you so, so now, as you have done rightly, I shall 
gratify myself by telling you what I think. 

If I made you my Father Confessor I could reveal weaknesses 
which you do not dream of. I do not mean to intimate that I 
attach a high value to empty compliments, but a word of pane- 
gyric has often made me feel a sense of confused pleasure which 



186 THE BRONTfiS 

it required my strongest effort to conceal and on the other 
hand, a hasty expression which I could construe into neglect or 
disapprobation has tortured me till I have lost half a night's rest 
from its rankling pangs. 

Do not be over-persuaded to marry a man you can never 
respect I do not say love, because, I think, if you can respect 
a person before marriage, moderate love at least will come after ; 
and as to intense passion, I am convinced that that is no desirable 
feeling. In the first place, it seldom or never meets with a 
requital ; and, in the second place, if it did, the feeling would be 
only temporary : it would last the honeymoon, and then, perhaps, 
give place to disgust, or indifference, worse perhaps than disgust. 
Certainly this would be the case on the man's part ; and on the 
woman's God help her, if she is left to love passionately and 
alone. 

I am tolerably well convinced that I shall never marry at all. 
Reason tells me so, and I am not so utterly the slave of feeling 
but that I can occasionally hear her voice. 

C. BRONTE. 

P.S. Don't talk any more of sending for me when I come I 
will send myself. All send their love to you. I have no prospect 
of a situation any more than of going to the moon. Write to me 
again as soon as you can. 

Letter 71 

TO THE REV. HENRY NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, May i6tk, 1840. 

DEAR SIR, In looking over my papers this morning I found 
a letter from you of the date of last February with the mark upon 
it unanswered. Your sister Ellen often accuses me of want of 
punctuality in answering letters, and I think her accusation is here 
justified. However, I give you credit for as much considerateness 
as will induce you to excuse a greater fault than this, especially 
as I shall hasten directly to repair it. 

The fact is, when the letter came Ellen was staying with me, 
and I was so fully occupied in talking to her that I had no time 
to think of writing to others. This is no great compliment, but 
it is no insult either. You know Ellen's worth, you know how 
seldom I see her, you partly know my regard for her ; and from 



THE ART OF LOVE 187 

these premises you may easily draw the inference that her 
company, when once obtained, is too valuable to be wasted for 
a moment. One woman can appreciate the value of another 
better than a man can do. Men very often only see the outside 
gloss which dazzles in prosperity, women have opportunities for 
closer observation, and they learn to value those qualities which 
are useful in adversity. 

There is much, too, in that mild even temper and that placid 
equanimity which keep the domestic hearth always bright and 
peaceful this is better than the ardent nature that changes 
twenty times a day. I have studied Ellen and I think she would 
make a good wife that is, if she had a good husband. If she 
married a fool or a tyrant there is spirit enough in her composition 
to withstand the dictates of either insolence or weakness, though 
even then I doubt not her sense would teach her to make the best 
of a bad bargain. 

You will see my letters are all didactic. They contain no news, 
because I know of none which I think it would interest you to 
hear repeated. I am still at home, in very good health and spirits, 
and uneasy only because I cannot yet hear of a situation. 

I shall always be glad to have a letter from you, and I promise 
when you write again to be less dilatory in answering. I trust 
your prospects of happiness still continue fair ; and from what 
you say of your future partner I doubt not she will be one who 
will help you to get cheerfully through the difficulties of this 
world and to obtain a permanent rest in the next ; at least I hope 
such may be the case. You do right to conduct the matter with 
due deliberation, for on the step you are about to take depends 
the happiness of your whole lifetime. 

You must not again ask me to write in a regular literary way 
to you on some particular topic. I cannot do it at all. Do you 
think I am a blue-stocking? I feel half inclined to laugh at you 
for the idea, but perhaps you would be angry. What was the 
topic to be? Chemistry? or astronomy? or mechanics? or 
conchology? or entomology? or what other ology? I know 
nothing at all about any of these. I am not scientific ; I am not 
a linguist. You think me far more learned than I am. If I told 
you all my ignorance, I am afraid you would be shocked ; how- 
ever, as I wish still to retain a little corner in your good opinion, 
I will hold my tongue. Believe me, yours respectfully, 

C BRONT. 



188 THE BRONTES 

Letter 72 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

June 2nd, 1840, 

MY DEAR ELLEN, Mary Taylor is not yet come to Haworth ; 
but she is to come, on the condition that I first go and stay a few 
days there. If all be well, I shall go next Wednesday. I may 
stay at Gomersall until Friday or Saturday, and the early part 
of the following week I shall pass with you, if you will have me 
which last sentence indeed is nonsense, for as I should be glad to 
see you, so I know you will be glad to see me. This arrange- 
ment will not allow much time, but it is the only practical one 
which, considering the circumstances, I can effect. Do not urge 
me to stay more than two or three days, because I shall be 
obliged to refuse you. I intend to walk to Keighley, then to take 
the coach as far as Bradford, then to get some one to carry my 
box, and to walk the rest of the way to Gomersall. If I manage 
this I think I shall contrive very well. I shall reach Bradford 
by about 5 o'clock, and then I shall have the cool of the evening 
for the walk. I have communicated the whole of the arrange- 
ments to Mary. I desire exceedingly to see both her and you. 
Good-bye. 

If you have any better plan to suggest I am open to conviction, 
provided your plan is practical. C. B. 

C. B. 

C. B. 

C. B. 

Letter 73 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July \tfh, 1840. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, Will you be so kind as to deliver the 
enclosed to Martha Taylor do not go up to Gomersall on 
purpose with it, do not on any account send, but give it her 
yourself when you see her at church. You will think it extra- 
ordinary that I should send a letter to Martha under a cover 
addressed to you. I have a reason for so doing of course, but 
it is not my own reason, and therefore I do not think I have any 
right to communicate it. Martha will, of course, please herself. 
Do not suppose from this apparent mystery that there is anything 



THE ART OF LOVE 189 

of importance in the business ; it is, I assure you, the veriest 
trifle but trifles are sometimes magnified into matters of con- 
sequence. 

I am very glad you continue so heart-whole. I rather feared 
our mutual nonsense might have made a deeper impression on 
you than was safe. Mr. Weightman left Haworth this morning ; 
we do not expect him back again for some weeks. I am fully 
convinced, Ellen, that he is a thorough male-flirt ; his sighs are 
deeper than ever, and his treading on toes more assiduous. I 
find he has scattered his impressions far and wide. Keighley has 
yielded him a fruitful field of conquest. Sarah Sugden is quite 
smitten, so is Caroline Dury. She, however, has left, and his 
Reverence has not yet ceased to idolise her memory. I find he 
is perfectly conscious of his irresistibleness, and is as vain as a 
peacock on the subject. I am not at all surprised at all this ; it 
is perfectly natural ; a handsome, clever, prepossessing, good- 
humoured young man will never want troops of victims amongst 
young ladies so long as you are not among the number it is all 
right. He has not mentioned you to me, and I have not men- 
tioned you to him. I believe we fully understand each other on 
the subject. I have seen little of him lately, and talked precious 
little to him ; and when he was lonely and rather melancholy I 
had a great pleasure in cheering and amusing him. Now that he 
has got his spirits up and found plenty of acquaintances, I don't 
care, and he does not care either. 

I have no doubt he will get nobly through his examinations ; 
he is a clever lad. 

Letter 74 

MISS ELLEN NUSSEY 

August I4///, 1840. 

Mv DEAR ELLEN, As you only sent me a note I shall only 
send you one, and that not out of revenge, but because, like you, 
I have but little to say. The freshest news in our house is that 
we had about a fortnight ago a visit from some of our South of 
England relations John Branwell Williams and his wife and 
daughter. They have been staying about a month with Uncle 
Fennell at Crosstone. They reckon to be very grand folks 
indeed, and talk largely I thought assumingly. I cannot say 
I much admired them ; to my eyes there seemed to be an attempt 



190 THE BRONTfiS 

to play the great Mogul down in Yorkshire. Mr. Williams him- 
self was much less assuming than the womenites ; he seemed a 
frank, sagacious kind of man, very tall and vigorous, with a keen, 
active look. The moment he saw me he explained that I was 
the very image of my aunt Charlotte. Mrs. Williams sets up for 
being a woman of great talents, tact, and accomplishment; I 
thought there was more noise than work. My cousin Eliza is 
a young lady intended by Nature to be a bouncing, good-looking 
girl ; Art has trained her to be a languishing, affected piece of 
goods. I would have been friendly to her, but I could get no 
talk except about the Low Church Evangelical Clergy, the 
Millennium, Baptist Noel, botany, and her own conversion. A 
mistaken education has utterly spoiled the lass ; her face tells 
that she is naturally good-natured, though perhaps indolent; in 
manner she is something of a sanctified Amelia Ringrose, affect- 
ing at times a saintly, childlike innocence so utterly out of 
keeping with her round rosy face and tall bouncing figure that 
I could hardly refrain from laughing as I watched her. Write a 
long letter to me next time, and I '11 write you ditto. Good-bye. 



Letter 75 

TO MISS ELLEN NUSSEY 

August 20th, 1840. 

DEAR MRS. ELLEN, I was very well pleased with your capital 
long letter. A better farce than the whole affair of that letter- 
opening (ducks and Mr. Weightman included) l was never imagined. 
By the bye, speaking of Mr. Weightman, 1 told you he was gone 
to pass his examination at Ripon six weeks ago. He is not come 
back yet, and what has become of him we don't know. Branwell 
has received one letter since he went, speaking rapturously of 
Agnes Walton, describing certain balls at which he had figured, 
and announcing that he had been twice over head and ears 
desperately in love. It is my devout belief that his reverence left 
Haworth with the fixed intention of never returning. If he does 
return, it will be because he has not been able to get a ' living.' 
Haworth is not the place for him. He requires novelty, a change 
of faces, difficulties to be overcome. He pleases so easily that he 
soon gets weary of pleasing at all. He ought not to have been a 

1 The curate had sent Ellen Nussey a present of ducks. 



THE ART OF LOVE 191 

parson ; certainly he ought not. I told Branwell all you said in 
your last ; he said little, but laughed. The name you gave him 
was Tastril. I am glad you have not broken your heart because 
John B. is married. Our august relations, as you choose to call 
them, are gone back to London. They never stayed with us, 
they only spent one day at our house. I hope George will be 
better soon ; did Mr. Heald accompany him to Scotland? Have 
you seen anything of the Miss Woolers lately? I wish they, or 
somebody else, would get me a situation. I have answered 
advertisements without number, but my applications have met 
with no success. I have got another bale of French books from 
Gomersall, containing upwards of forty volumes. I have read 
about half. They are like the rest, clever, sophistical, and im- 
moral. The best of it is, they give one a thorough idea of France 
and Paris, and are the best substitute for French conversation 
that I have met with. 

I positively have nothing more to say to you, for I am in a 
stupid humour. You must excuse this letter not being quite as 
long as your own. I have written to you soon, that you might 
not look after the postman in vain. Preserve this writing as a 
curiosity in caligraphy I think it is exquisite all brilliant black 
blots and utterly illegible letters. CALIBAN. 

Letter 76 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

September zqth, 1840. 

4 The wind bloweth where it listeth. Thou nearest the sound 
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth.' 
That, I believe, is Scripture, though in what chapter or book, or 
whether it be correctly quoted, I can't justly say. However, it 
behoves me to write a letter to a young woman of the name of 
Ellen Nussey, with whom I was once acquainted, 'in life's morn- 
ing march, when my spirit was young.' This young woman asked 
me to write to her some time since, though having nothing to 
say, I e'en put it off, day by day, till at last, fearing that she will 
'curse me by her gods,' I feel constrained to sit down and tack 
a few lines together, which she may call a letter or not as she 
pleases. Now, if the young woman expects sense in this pro- 
duction, she will find herself miserably disappointed. I shall 



192 THE BRONTfiS 

dress her a dish of salmagundi, I shall cook a hash, compound 
a stew, toss up an omelette souffl6e a la Franchise, and send it to 
her with my respects. The wind, which is very high up in our 
hills of Judea, though, I suppose, down in the Philistine flats of 
Batley parish it is nothing to speak of, has produced the same 
effects on the contents of my knowledge-box that a quaigh 
of usquebaugh does upon those of most other bipeds. I see 
everything couleur de rose, and am strongly inclined to dance a 
jig, if I knew how. I think I must partake of the nature of a pig 
or an ass both which animals are strongly affected by a high 
wind. From what quarter the wind blows I cannot tell, for I 
never could in my life ; but I should very much like to know how 
the great brewing tub of Bridlington Bay works, and what sort of 
yeasty froth rises just now on the waves. 

A woman of the name of Mrs. Brooke, it seems, wants a teacher. 
I wish she would have me ; and I have written to another woman 
denominated Peg Wooler, to tell her so. Verily, it is a delightful 
thing to live here at home, at full liberty to do just what one 
pleases. But I recollect some fable or other about grasshoppers 
and ants by a scrubby old knave, yclept ^Esop ; the grasshoppers 
sung all the summer and starved all the winter. 

A distant relation of mine, one Patrick Boanerges, has set off 
to seek his fortune in the wild, wandering, adventurous, romantic, 
knight-errant-hke capacity of clerk on the Leeds and Manchester 
Railroad. Leeds and Manchester, where are they? Cities in a 
wilderness like Tadmor, alias Palmyra are they not? I know 
Mrs. Ellen is burning with eagerness to hear something about 
Wm. Weightman, whom she adores in her heart, and whose 
image she cannot efface from her memory. I think I '11 plague 
her by not telling her a word. To speak Heaven's truth, I have 
precious little to say, inasmuch as I seldom see him, except on 
a Sunday, when he looks as handsome, cheery, and good-tempered 
as usual. I have indeed had the advantage of one long conversa- 
tion since his return from Westmoreland, when he poured out his 
whole, warm, fickle soul in fondness and admiration of Agnes 
Walton. Whether he is in love with her or not I can't say ; I 
can only observe that it sounds very like it. He sent us a pro- 
digious quantity of game while he was away. A brace of wild 
ducks, a brace of black grouse, a brace of partridges, ditto of 
snipes, ditto of curlews, and a large salmon. There is one little 
trait respecting him which lately came to my knowledge, whicn 



THE ART OF LOVE 193 

gives a glimpse of the better side of his character. Last Saturday 
night he had been sitting an hour in the parlour with papa ; and, 
as he went away, I heard papa say to him ' What is the matter 
with you? You seem in very low spirits to-night?' * Oh, I 
don't know. I 've been to see a poor young girl, who, I 'm afraid, 
is dying/ 'Indeed, what is her name? 1 'Susan Bland, the 
daughter of John Bland, the Superintendent. 1 Now Susan Bland 
is my oldest and best scholar in the Sunday-school ; and, when I 
heard that, I thought I would go as soon as I could to see her. 
I did go on Monday afternoon, and found her very ill and weak, 
and seemingly far on her way to that bourne whence no traveller 
returns. After sitting with her some time, I happened to ask her 
mother if she thought a little port wine would do her good. She 
replied that the doctor had recommended it, and that when 
Mr. Weightman was last there he had sent them a bottle of wine 
and a jar of preserves. She added that he was always good to 
poor folks, and seemed to have a deal of feeling and kind- 
heartedness about him. This proves that he is not all selfishness 
and vanity. No doubt there are defects in his character, but 
there are also good qualities. God bless him ! I wonder who, 
with his advantages, would be without his faults. I know many 
of his faulty actions, many of his weak points ; yet, where I am, 
he shall always find rather a defender than an accuser. To be 
sure, my opinion will go but a very little way to decide his 
character ; what of that ? People should do right as far as their 
ability extends. You are not to suppose from all this that 
Mr. Weightman and I are on very amiable terms ; we are not at 
all. We are cold, distant, and reserved. We seldom speak ; and 
when we do, it is only to exchange the most commonplace 
remarks. If you were to ask Mr. Weightman's opinion of my 
character just now, he would say that at first he thought me a 
cheerful, chatty kind of body, and that on further acquaintance 
he found me of a capricious, changeful temper, never to be 
reckoned on. He does not know that I have regulated my 
manner by his, that I was cheerful and chatty so long as he was 
respectful, and that when he grew almost contemptuously familiar 
I found it necessary to adopt a degree of reserve which was not 
natural, and therefore was very painful to me. I find this reserve 
very convenient, and consequently I intend to keep it up. 

Branwell, it will be seen, was at Mr. Postlethwaite's 

VOL. I. N 



194 THE BRONTES 

from January to June 1840. He obtained his post as a 
booking clerk at Sowerby Bridge in September 1840, and 
was here until his transfer in 1841 to the station at 
Luddenden Foot. There he remained twelve months. 

Letter 77 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

November I2tk, 1840. 

MY DEAR NELL, You will excuse this scrawled sheet of paper, 
inasmuch as I happen to be out of that article, this being the only 
available sheet I can find in my desk. I have effaced one of the 
delectable portraitures, but have spared the others lead pencil 
sketches of horse's head, and man's head being moved to that 
act of clemency by the recollection that they are not the work of 
my hand, but of the sacred fingers of his reverence William 
Weightman. You will discern that the eye is a little too elevated 
in the horse's head, otherwise I can assure you it is no such bad 
attempt. It shows taste and something of an artist's eye. The 
fellow had no copy for it. He sketched it, and one or two other 
little things, when he happened to be here one evening, but you 
should have seen the vanity with which he afterwards regarded 
his productions. One of them represented the flying figure of 
Fame inscribing his own name on the clouds. 

Mrs. Brooke and I have interchanged letters. She expressed 
herself pleased with the style of my application with its candour, 
etc. (I took care to tell her that if she wanted a showy, elegant, 
fashionable personage, I was not the man for her), but she wants 
music and singing. J can't give her music and singing, so of 
course the negotiation is null and void. Being once up, however, 
1 don't mean to sit down till I have got what I want ; but there 
is no sense in talking about unfinished projects, so we'll drop 
the subject Consider this last sentence a hint from me to be 
applied practically. It seems Miss Wooler's school is in a con- 
sumptive state of health. I have been endeavouring to obtain 
a reinforcement of pupils for her, but I cannot succeed, because 
Mrs. Heap is opening a new school in Bradford. 

You remember Mr. and Mrs. C ? Mrs. C came here the 

other day, with a most melancholy tale of her wretched husband's 
drunken, extravagant, profligate habits. She asked papa's advice ; 



THE ART OF LOVE 195 

there was nothing, she said, but ruin before them. They owed 

debts which they could never pay. She expected Mr. C 's 

instant dismissal from his curacy ; she knew, from bitter experience, 
that his vices were utterly hopeless. He treated her and her child 
savagely ; with much more to the same effect. Papa advised her 
to leave him for ever, and go home, if she had a home to go to. 
She said this was what she had long resolved to do; and she 
Vould leave him directly, as soon as Mr. B. dismissed him. She 
expressed great disgust and contempt towards him, and did not 
affect to have the shadow of regard in any way. I do not wonder 
at this, but I do wonder she should ever marry a man towards 
whom her feelings must always have been pretty much the same 
as they are now. I am morally certain no decent woman could 

experience anything but aversion towards such a man as Mr.C . 

Before I knew or suspected his character, and when I rather 
wondered at his versatile talents, I felt it in an uncontrollable 
degree. I hated to talk with him hated to look at him ; though, 
as I was not certain that there was substantial reason for such a 
dislike, and thought it absurd to trust to mere instinct, I both 
concealed and repressed the feeling as much as I could ; and, on 
all occasions, treated him with as much civility as I was mistress 
of. I was struck with Mary's expression of a similar feeling at 
first sight; she said, when we left him, 'That is a hideous man, 
Charlotte!' I thought, ' He is indeed.' In what precise way he 

has committed himself in Ireland I know not, but Mrs. C says 

he dare not follow her there. 

This is a very disagreeable letter on account of the subject, and 
you must necessarily owe me a grudge for writing such a one ; 
but never mind, I '11 send you a better one another time (if all is 
well ) C. BRONTE. 



Letter 78 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

November 2O//5, 1840. 

MY DEAREST NELL, That last letter of thine treated of 
matters so high and important I cannot delay answering it for 
a day. Now I am about to write thee a discourse, and a piece 
of advice which thou must take as if it came from thy grand- 
mother. But in the first place, before I begin with thee, I have 



196 THE BRONTES 

a word to whisper in the ear of Mr. Vincent, and I wish it could 
reach him. 

In the name of St. Chrysostom, St. Simon, and St. Jude, why 
does not that amiable young gentleman come forward like a man 
and say all that he has to say personally, instead of trifling with 
kinsmen and kinswomen. * Mr. Vincent/ I say, ' walk or ride 
over to Brookroyd some fine morning, when you will find Miss 
Ellen sitting in the drawing-room making a little white frock 
for the Jew's basket, and say: "Miss Ellen, I want to speak to 
you." Miss Ellen will of course civilly answer : "I am at your 
service, Mr. Vincent." And then, when the room is cleared of 
all but yourself 'and herself, just take a chair near her, insist upon 
her laying down that silly Jew basket-work, and listening to you. 
Then begin, in a clear, distinct, deferential, but determined voice : 
"Miss Ellen, I have a question to put to you a very important 
question to put to you : * Will you take me as your husband, for 
better, for worse ? I am not a rich man, but I have sufficient to 
support us. I am not a great man, but I love you honestly and 
truly. Miss Ellen, if you knew the world better you would see 
that this is an offer not to be despised a kind attached heart and 
a moderate competency.'" Do this, Mr. Vincent, and you may 
succeed. Go on writing sentimental and love-sick letters to 
Henry and I would not give sixpence for your suit.' 

So much for Mr. Vincent. Now, Nell, your turn comes to swallow 
the black bolus, called a friend's advice. Here I am under difficulties 
because I don't know Mr. Vincent. If I did, I would give my 
opinion roundly in two words. ' Is the man a fool ? is he a knave? 
a humbug, a hypocrite, a ninny, a noodle ? If he is any or all of 
these, of course there is no sense in trifling with him. Cut him 
short at once blast his hopes with lightning rapidity and keen- 
ness. Is he something better than this? has he at least common- 
sense, a good disposition, a manageable temper? Then, Nell, 
consider the matter.' Say further: 'You feel a disgust towards 
him now an utter repugnance. Very likely. But be so good as 
to remember you don't know him ; you have only had three or 
four days' acquaintance with him. Longer and closer intimacy 
might reconcile you to a wonderful extent. And now I '11 tell 
you a word of truth, at which you may be offended or not as you 
like.' Say to her : * From what I know of your character, and I 
think I know it pretty well, I should say you will never love before 
marriage. After that ceremony is over, and after you have had 



THE ART OF LOVE 197 

some months to settle down, and to get accustomed to the 
creature you have taken for your worse half, you will probably 
make a most affectionate and happy wife ; even if the individual 
should not prove all you could wish you will be indulgent 
towards his little follies and foibles, and will not feel much 
annoyance at them. This will especially be the case if he should 
have sense sufficient to allow you to guide him in important 
matters/ Say also : * I hope you will not have the romantic folly 
to wait for what the French call " une grande passion." My good 
girl, "une grande passion" is "une grande folie." I have told 
you so before and I tell it you again, moderation in all things is 
wisdom ; moderation in the sensations is superlative wisdom. 
When you are as old as I am, Nell (I am sixty at least, being 
your grandmother), you will find that the majority of those worldly 
precepts, whose seeming coldness shocks and repels us in youth, 
are founded in wisdom/ 

Did you not once say to me in all childlike simplicity, ' I 
thought, Charlotte, no young lady should fall in love till the offer 
was actually made ? ' I forget what answer I made at the time, but 
I now reply, after due consideration, Right as a glove, the maxim 
is just, and I hope you will always attend to it. I will even 
extend and confirm it : No young lady should fall in love till the 
offer has been made, accepted, the marriage ceremony performed, 
and the first half-year of wedded life has passed away. A woman 
may then begin to love, but with great precaution, very coolly, 
very moderately, very rationally If she ever loves so much that 
a harsh word or a cold look cuts her to the heart she is a fool. If 
she ever loves so much that her husband's will is her law, and 
that she has got into a habit of watching his looks in order that 
she may anticipate his wishes, she will soon be a neglected fool. 
Did I not once tell you of an instance of a relative of mine who 
cared for a young lady until he began to suspect that she cared 
more for him and then instantly conceived a sort of contempt for 
her? You know to whom I allude never, as you value your ears, 
mention the circumstance but I have two studies, you are my 
study for the success, the credit, and the respectability of a quiet, 
tranquil character. Mary is my study for the contempt, the 
remorse, the misconstruction which follow the development of 
feelings in themselves noble, warm, generous, devoted, and 
profound ; but which being too freely revealed, too frankly 
bestowed, are not estimated at their real value. God bless her. 



198 THE BRONTfiS 

I never hope to see in this world a character more truly noble ; 
she would die willingly for one she loved ; her intellect and her 
attainments are of the highest standard. Yet I doubt whether 
Mary will ever marry. 

I think I may as well conclude the letter, for after all I can 
give you no advice worth receiving; all I have to say may be 
comprised in a very brief sentence. On one hand, don't accept 
if you are certain you cannot tolerate the man ; on the other hand, 
don't refuse because you cannot adore him. As to little William 
Weightman, I think he will not die for love of anybody ; you might 
safely coquette with him a trifle if you were so disposed, without 
fear of having a broken heart on your conscience. His reverence 
expresses himself very strongly on the subject of young ladies 
saying 'No' when they mean 'Yes.' He assures me he means 
nothing personal. I hope not. I tried to find something 
admirable in him and failed. 

Assuredly I quite agree with him in his disapprobation of such 
a senseless course. It is folly indeed for the tongue to stammer 
a negative, when the heart is proclaiming an affirmative. Or 
rather, it is an act of heroic self-denial of which I for one confess 
myself wholly incapable. / would not tell such a lie to gain a 
thousand pounds. Write to me again soon and let me know how 
all goes on. What made you say I admired Hippocrates? It is 
a confounded ' fib.' I tried to find something in him and failed. 

Ellen, Helen, Eleonora, Helena, Nell, Nelly Mrs. Vincent. 
Does it sound well, Nell ? I think it does. I '11 never come to 
see you after you are married. 



Letter 79 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January 3^, 1841. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I received the news in your last with no 
surprise, and with the feeling that this removal must be a relief 
to Mr. Taylor himself and even to his family. The bitterness of 
death was past a year ago, when it was first discovered that his 
illness must terminate fatally ; all between has been lingering 
suspense. This is at an end now, and the present certainty, how- 
ever sad, is better than the former doubt. What will be the 
consequence of his death is another question ; for my own part, 



THE ART OF LOVE 199 

I look forward to a dissolution and dispersion of the family, 
perhaps not immediately, but in the course of a year or two. It 
is true, causes may arise to keep them together awhile longer, 
but they are restless, active spirits, and will not be restrained 
always. Mary alone has more energy and power in her nature 
than any ten men you can pick out in the united parishes of 
Birstall and Gomersall. It is vain to limit a character like hers 
within ordinary boundaries she will overstep them. I am morally 
certain Mary will establish her own landmarks, so will the rest of 
them. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 80 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January loth, 1841. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I promised to write to you, and therefore 
I must keep my promise, though I have neither much to say nor 
much time to say it in. 

Mary Taylor's visit has been a very pleasant one to us, and 
I believe to herself also. She and Mr. Weightman have had 
several games at chess, which generally terminated in a species of 
mock hostility. Mr. Weightman is better in health ; but don't set 
your heart on him, I 'm afraid he is very fickle not to you in 
particular, but to half-a-dozen other ladies. He has just cut his 
inamorata at Swansea, and sent her back all her letters. His 
present object of devotion is Caroline Dury, to whom he has just 
despatched a most passionate copy of verses. Poor lad, his 
sanguine temperament bothers him grievously. 

That Swansea affair seems to me somewhat heartless as far 
as I can understand it, though I have not heard a very clear ex- 
planation. He sighs as much as ever. I have not mentioned your 
name to him yet, nor do I mean to do so until I have a fair 
opportunity of gathering his real mind. Perhaps I may never 
mention it at all, but on the contrary carefully avoid all allusion 
to you. It will just depend upon the further opinion I may form 
of his character. I am not pleased to find that he was carrying 
on a regular correspondence with this lady at Swansea all the 
time he was paying such pointed attention to you ; and now the 
abrupt way in which he has cut her off, and the evident wandering 
instability of his mind is no favourable symptom at all. I shall not 
have many opportunities of observing him for a month to come. 



200 THE BRONTES 

As for the next fortnight, he will be sedulously engaged in pre- 
paring for his ordination, and the fortnight after he will spend at 
Appleby and Crackenthorp with Mr. and Miss Walton. Don't 
think about him ; I am not afraid you will break your heart, but 
don't think about him. 

Give my love to Mercy and your mother, and, Believe me, 
yours sincerely, A IRA. 



Letter 81 

TO THE REV. H. NUSSEY, EARNLEY RECTORY, NR. CHICHESTER 

January n///, 1841. 

DEAR SIR, It is time I should reply to your last or I shall 
fail in fulfilling my promise of not being so dilatory as on a former 
occasion. I think I told you I had heard something of Mr. 
Vincent's affair before, but I thought from the long interval that 
had elapsed between his visit to Brookroyd and his late declara- 
tion that some impediment had occurred to prevent his proceeding 
further. I own I am glad to hear that this is not the case, for I 
know few things that would please me better than to hear of 
Ellen's being well married. This little adverb ivell is, however, 
a condition of importance ; it implies a great deal fitness of 
character, temper, pursuits, and competency of fortune. Your 
description of Mr. Vincent seems to promise all these things ; 
there is but one word in it that appears exceptionable you say 
he is eccentric. If his eccentricity is not of a degrading or ridi- 
culous character, if it does not arise from weakness of mind, I 
think Kllen would hardly be justified in considering it a serious 
objection ; but there is a species of eccentricity which, showing 
itself in silly and trifling forms, often exposes its possessor to 
ridicule this, as it must necessarily weaken a wife's respect for 
her husband, may be a great evil. I have advLsed Ellen as strongly 
as my limited knowledge of the business gives me a right to do, 
to accept Mr. Vincent in case he should make decided proposals. 
In consequence of this advice she seems to suspect that I have 
had some hand in helping ( to cook a certain hash which has been 
concocted at Earnley.' I use her own words which I cannot 
interpret, for I do not comprehend them you can clear me of 
any such underhand and meddling dealings. What I have had 
to say on the subject has been said entirely to herself, and it 



THE ART OF LOVE 201 

amounted simply to this: ' If Mr. Vincent is a good, honourable, 
and respectable man, take him, even though you should not at 
present feel any violent affection for him ; the folly of what the 
French call "une grande passion " is not consistent with your tranquil 
character do not therefore wait for such a feeling. If Mr. Vincent 
be sensible and good-tempered, I do not doubt that in a little 
while you would find yourself very happy and comfortable as his 
wife.' 

You will see by these words that I am no advocate for the false 
modesty which you complain of, and which induces some young 
ladies to say * No ' when they mean * Yes ' ; but if I know Ellen, 
she is not one of this class she ought not therefore to be too 
closely urged. Let her friends state their opinion and give their 
advice, and leave it to her own sense of right and reason to do the 
rest. It seems to us better that she should be married but if she 
thinks otherwise, perhaps she is the best judge. We know many 
evils are escaped by eschewing matrimony, and since so large a 
proportion of the young ladies of these days pursue that rainbow- 
shade with such unremitting eagerness, let us respect one excep- 
tion who turns aside and pronounces it only a coloured vapour 
whose tints will fade on a close approach. 

I shall be glad to receive the poetry which you offer to send 
me; you ask me to return the gift in kind. How do you know 
that I have it in my power to comply with that request? Once 
indeed, I was very poetical, when I was sixteen, seventeen, eigh- 
teen, and nineteen years old, but I am now twenty-four, approach- 
ing twenty-five, and the intermediate years are those which begin 
to rob life of some of its superfluous colouring. At this age it is 
time that the imagination should be pruned and trimmed that 
the judgment should be cultivated, and a few, at least, of the 
countless illusions of early youth should be cleared away. I have 
not written poetry for a long while. 

You will excuse the dulness, morality, and monotony of this 
epistle, and believe me, with all good wishes for your welfare 
here and hereafter, Your sincere friend, C. BRONTE. 



202 THE BRONTES 



CHAPTER X 

UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON MARCH TO 
DECEMBER 1841 

RAWDON is still a village, six miles from Bradford, con- 
sisting largely of the residences of wealthy Bradford 
merchants. Woodhouse Grove School, where the Rev. 
John Fennell was headmaster, is very near by. Upper- 
wood House, where Charlotte Bronte was governess for 
a few months in 1841, no longer exists; some years ago 
it was pulled down, and the gardens contributed to 
add further glories to the neighbouring residence of 
Ashfield. 

Rawdon has yet another interest in addition to the fact 
of Charlotte Bronte's brief governess-ship to the children 
of Mr. John White. Five years later Mr. William Edward 
Forster took a residence which is known as Lane Head, 
Rawdon, and several letters in his biography are dated 
from here at this period. 1 

Perhaps the most interesting point of Forster's residence 
here was the visit to him of Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle in the 
summer of 1847 and of the constant visits to him at 
Rawdon of Mr. Richard Monckton Milnes, who became 
Lord Hough ton. A story is told by Sir Wemyss Reid 
of Forster driving Mrs. Carlyle, when both were thrown 
out of the gig. 

Of Charlotte Bronte's sojourn at Upperwood House, 
Rawdon, I can find only one slight record apart from her 

1 See The Life of the Rt. Hon. William Edward Forster, by T. Wemyss Reid. 
2 vols. (Chapman and Hall, 1888.) Vol. i., Chapter 7. 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 203 

letters. It is contained in a communication to the West- 
minster Gazette. The writer says : 

My mother, Mrs. Glade of Hastings, now in her seventy-ninth 
year, distinctly remembers meeting the afterwards distinguished 
authoress at the house of Mr. White, a Bradford merchant . . . 
something like sixty years ago. At that time Miss Bronte was 
acting as governess to Mr. White's children, and my mother 
has a vivid recollection of seeing her sitting apart from the 
rest of the family in a corner of the room, poring, in her short- 
sighted way, over a book. The impression she made on my 
mother was that of a shy nervous girl, ill at ease, who desired to 
escape notice and to avoid taking part in the general conversation. 1 



Letter 82 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March yd, 1841. 

I told you some time since that I meant to get a situation, 
and when 1 said so my resolution was quite fixed. I felt that, 
however often I was disappointed, I had no intention of relin- 
quishing my efforts. After being severely baffled two or three 
times after a world of trouble, in the way of correspondence and 
interviews I have at length succeeded, and am fairly established 
in my new place. It is in the family of Mr. White of Upperwood 
House, Rawdon. 

The house is not very large, but exceedingly comfortable and 
well regulated ; the grounds are fine and extensive. In taking 
the place I have made a large sacrifice in the way of salary, in the 
hope of securing comfort by which word I do not mean to 
express good eating and drinking, or warm fire, or a soft bed, 
but the society of cheerful faces, and minds and hearts not dug out 
of a lead mine, or cut from a marble quarry. My salary is not 
really more than 16 per annum, though it is nominally 20, but 
the expense of washing will be deducted therefrom. My pupils 
are two in number, a girl of eight and a boy of six. As to my 
employers, you will not expect me to say much about their 
characters when I tell you that I only arrived here yesterday. 
I have not the faculty of telling an individual's disposition at 

1 Mr. Strickland of Halsteads, Hastings, in The Westminster Gazette^ May 1901. 



204 THE BRONTES 

first sight Before I can venture to pronounce on a character 
I must see it first under various lights and from various points 
of view. All I can say, therefore, is, both Mr. and Mrs. 
White seem to me good sort of people. I have as yet had no 
cause to complain of want of considerateness or civility. My 
pupils are wild and unbroken, but apparently well disposed. 
I wish I may be able to say as much next time I write to you. 
My earnest wish and endeavour will be to please them. If I can 
but feel that I am giving satisfaction, and if at the same time I 
can keep my health, I shall, I hope, be moderately happy. But 
no one but myself can tell how hard a governess's work is to me 
for no one but myself is aware how utterly averse my whole 
mind and nature are to the employment. Do not think that I 
fail to blame myself for this, or that I leave any means un- 
employed to conquer this feeling. Some of my greatest diffi- 
culties lie in things that would appear to you comparatively 
trivial. I find it so hard to repel the rude familiarity of children. 
I find it so difficult to ask either servants or mistress for anything 
I want, however much I want it. It is less pain to me to endure 
the greatest inconvenience than to request its removal. I am 
a fool. Heaven knows I cannot help it ! 

Now can you tell me whether it is considered improper for 
governesses to ask their friends to come and see them. I do not 
mean, of course, to stay, but just for a call of an hour or two? If 
it is not absolute treason, I do fervently request that you will 
contrive, in some way or other, to let me have a sight of your 
face. Yet I feel at the same time, that I am making a very 
foolish and almost impracticable demand ; yet Rawdon is only 
nine miles from Brookroyd. 

I dare say you have received a valentine this year from our 
bonny-faced friend the curate of Haworth. 1 I got a precious 

1 Valentines were of course very much the vogue in those days, and one sent by 
Charlotte Bronte to a clergyman of a neighbouring parish was religiously preserved by 
his family and printed a few years ago in the Whitchavcn News-. 
A Roland for your Oliver 

We think you 've justly earned ; 
You sent us such a valentine, 
Youi gift is now returned. 

\Ve cannot write or talk like you ; 

We're plain folks every one ; 
You 've played a clever jest on ui, 

We thank you for the fun. 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 205 

specimen a few days before I left home, but I knew better how to 
treat it than I did those we received a year ago. I am up to the 
dodges and artifices of his lordship's character. He knows I 
know him, and you cannot conceive how quiet and respectful he 
has long been. Mind I am not writing against him I never 
will do that. I like him very much. I honour and admire his 
generous, open disposition, and sweet temper but for all the 

Believe us when we frankly say 

(Our words, though blunt, are true), 
At home, abroad, by night or day, 

We all wish well to you. 

And never may a cloud come o'er 

The sunshine of your mind ; 
Kind friends, warm hearts, and happy hours 

Through life we trust you Ml find. 

Where'er you go, however far 

In future years you stray, 
There shall not want our earnest prayer 

To speed you on your way. 

A Granger and a pilgrim here 

We know you sojourn now ; 
But brighter hopes, with brighter wreaths, 

Are doomed to bind your brow. 

Not always in these lonely hills 

Your humble lot shall he ; 
The oracle of fate fortells 

A worthier destiny. 

And though her words are veiled in gloom 

Though clouded her decree, 
Yet doubt not that a juster doom 

She keeps in store for thee. 

Then cast hope's anchor near the shore, 

'Twill hold your vessel fast, 
And fear not for the tide's deep roar, 

And dread not for the blast. 

For though this station now seems near, 

'Mid land-lorkcd creeks to be, 
The helmsman soon his ship will steer, 

Out to the wide blue sea. 

W r ell officered and staunchly manned, 

Well built to meet the blast ; 
With favouring winds, the bark must land 

On glorious shores at last. 

CHARLOTTE ERONT&. 
February 1840. 



206 THE BRONTES 

tricks, wiles, and insincerities of love, the gentleman has not his 
match for twenty miles round. He would fain persuade every 
woman under thirty whom he sees that he is desperately in love 
with her. I have a great deal more to say, but I have not a 
moment's time to write it in. My dear Ellen, do write to me 
soon, don't forget. Good-bye. 



Letter 83 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March 2isf, 1841. 

MY DEAREST ELLEN, You must excuse a very short answer 
to your most welcome letter ; for my time is entirely occupied, 
Mrs. White expects a good deal of sewing from me. I cannot sew 
much during the day, on account of the children, who require the 
closest attention. I am obliged, therefore, to devote the evenings 
to this business. You are depressed and unhappy, I see, whatever 
your uneasiness is owing to. You give me no further explanation 
of Mary's behaviour. Take comfort, Nell write to me often very 
long letters. It will do both of us good. This place is far 
better than Stonegappe, but, God knows, I have enough to do to 
keep a good heart in the matter. What you said has cheered me 
a little. I wish I could always act according to your advice. 
Home-sickness afflicts me sorely. I like Mr. White extremely. 
Respecting Mrs. White I am for the present silent. I am trying 
hard to like her. The children are not such little devils incarnate 
as the Sidgwicks', but they are over-indulged, and at times hard to 
manage. Do, do, do come to see rne ; if it be a breach of etiquette, 
never mind. If you can only stop an hour, come. Talk no more 
about my forsaking you ; my dear Nell, I could not afford to do 
so. I find it is not in my nature to get on in this weary world 
without sympathy and attachment in some quarter ; and seldom, 
indeed, do we find it. It is too great a treasure to be ever wantonly 
thrown away when once secured. I do not know how to wear 
your pretty little handcuffs. When you come you shall explain 
the mystery. I send you the precious valentine. Make much of 
it. Remember the writer's blue eyes, auburn hair, and rosy 
cheeks. You may consider the concern addressed to yourself, for 
I have no doubt he intended it to suit anybody. Fare-thee-well 
Nell. 



UPPER WOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 207 

Letter 84 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

UPPERWOOD HOUSE, April isf, 1841. 

MY DEAR NELLY, It is twelve o'clock at night, but I must just 
write to you a word before I go to bed. If you think I am going 
to refuse your invitation, or if you sent it me with that idea, 
you're mistaken. As soon as I read your shabby little note, I 
gathered up my spirits directly, walked on the impulse of the 
moment into Mrs. White's presence, popped the question, and for 
two minutes received no answer. Will she refuse me when I work 
so hard for her? thought I. ( Ye-e-es' was said in a reluctant, 
cold tone. * Thank you, ma'am,' said I, with extreme cordiality, 
and was marching from the room when she recalled me with : 
* You 'd better go on Saturday afternoon then, when the children 
have holiday, and if you return in time for them to have all their 
lessons on Monday morning, I don't see that much will be lost.' 
You are a genuine Turk, thought I, but again I assented. Satur- 
day after next, then, is the day appointed not next Saturday^ 
mind. I do not quite know whether the offer about the gig is not 
entirely out of your head or, if George has given his consent to it, 
whether that consent has not been wrung from him by the most 
persevering and irresistible teasing on the part of a certain young 
person of my acquaintance. I make no manner of doubt that if 
he does send the conveyance (as Miss Wooler used to denominate 
all wheeled vehicles) it will be to his own extreme detriment and 
inconvenience, but for once in my life I '11 not mind this, or bother 
my head about it. I '11 come God knows with a thankful and 
joyful heart glad of a day's reprieve from labour. If you don't 
send the gig I '11 walk. Now mind, I am not coming to Brookroyd 
with- the idea of dissuading Mary Taylor from going to New 
Zealand. I 've said everything I mean to say on that subject, and 
she has a perfect right to decide for herself. I am coming to taste 
the pleasure of liberty, a bit of pleasant congenial talk, and a 
sight of two or three faces I like. God bless you. I want to 
see you again. Huzza for Saturday afternoon after next ! Good- 
night, my lass. C. BRONTE. 

Have you lit your pipe with Mr. Weightman's valentine? 



208 THE BRONTES 



Letter 85 

TO EMILY J. BRONTfi 

UPPERWOOD HOUSE, April 2nd, 1841. 

DEAR E. J., I received your last letter with delight as usual 
I must write a line to thank you for it and the inclosure, which 
however is too bad you ought not to have sent me those packets, 
I had a letter from Anne yesterday ; she says she is well. I hope 
she speaks absolute truth. I had written to her and Branwell a 
few days before. I have not heard from Branwell yet. It is to 
be hoped that his removal to another station will turn out for the 
best. As you say, it looks like getting on at any rate. 

I have got up my courage so far as to ask Mrs. White to grant 
me a day's holiday to go to Birstall to see Ellen Nussey, who has 
offered to send a gig for me. My request was granted, but so 
coldly and slowly. However, I stuck to my point in a very 
exemplary and remarkable manner. I hope to go next Saturday. 
Matters are progressing very strangely at Gomersall. Mary 
Taylor and Waring have come to a singular determination, but I 
almost think under the peculiar circumstances a defensible one, 
though it sounds outrageously odd at first. They are going to 
emigrate to quit the country altogether. Their destination 
unless they change is Port Nicholson, in the northern island of 
New Zealand ! ! ! Mary has made up her mind she can not and 
will not be a governess, a teacher, a milliner, a bonnet-maker nor 
housemaid. She sees no means of obtaining employment she 
would like in England, so she is leaving it. I counselled her to 
go to France likewise and stay there a year before she decided on 
this strange unlikely-sounding plan of going to New Zealand, but 
she is quite resolved. I cannot sufficiently comprehend what her 
views and those of her brothers may be on the subject, or what is 
the extent of their information regarding Port Nicholson, to say 
whether this is rational enterprise or absolute madness. With 
love to papa, aunt, Tabby, etc. Good-bye. C. B. 

. I am very well ; I hope you are. Write again soon. 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 209 

Letter 86 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

UPPERWOOD HOUSE, May 4^, 1841. 

DEAR NELL, I have been a long time without writing to you ; 
but I think, knowing as you do how I am situated in the matter 
of time, you will not be angry with me. Your brother George 
will have told you that he did not go into the house when we 
arrived at Rawdon, for which omission of his Mrs. White was very 
near blowing me up. She went quite red in the face with vexation 
when she heard that the gentleman had just driven within the 
gate and then back again, for she is very touchy in the matter of 
opinion. Mr. White also seemed to regret the circumstance from 
more hospitable and kindly motives. I assure you, if you were 
to come and see me you would have quite a fuss made over you. 
During the last three weeks that hideous operation called ' a 
thorough clean ' has been going on in the house. It is now nearly 
completed, for which I thank my stars, as during its progress I- 
have fulfilled the twofold character of nurse and governess, while 
the nurse has been transmuted into cook and housemaid. That 
nurse, by the bye, is the prettiest lass you ever saw, and when 
dressed has much more the air of a lady than her mistress. Well 
can I believe that Mrs. White has been an exciseman's daughter, 
and I am convinced also that Mr. White's extraction is very low. 
Yet Mrs. White talks in an amusing strain of pomposity about 
his and her family connections, and affects to look down with 
wondrous hauteur on the whole race of tradesfolk, as she terms 
men of business I was beginning to think Mrs. White a good 
sort of body in spite of all her bouncing and boasting, her bad 
grammar and worse orthography, but I have had experience of 
one little trait in her character which condemns her a long way 
with me. After treating a person in the most familiar terms of 
equality for a long time, if any little thing goes wrong she does 
not scruple to give way to anger in a very coarse, unladylike 
manner. I think passion is the true test of vulgarity or refine- 
ment. 

This place looks exquisitely beautiful just now. The grounds 
are certainly lovely, and all is as green as an emerald. I wish 
you would just come and look at it. Mrs. White would be as 
proud as Punch to show it you. Mr. White has been writing 

VOL I o 



210 THE BRONTES 

an urgent invitation to papa, entreating him to come and spend 
a week here. I don't at all wish papa to come, it would be like 
incurring an obligation. Somehow, I have managed to get a 
good deal more control over the children lately this makes my 
life a good deal easier ; also, by dint of nursing the fat baby, it 
has got to know me and be fond of me. I suspect myself of 
growing rather fond of it. Exertion of any kind is always 
beneficial. Come and see me if you can in any way get, I want 
to see you. It seems Martha Taylor is fairly gone. Good-bye, 
my lassie. Yours insufferably, C. BRONTE. 



Letter 87 

TO THE REV. HENRY NUSSEY, EARNLEY RECTORY 

UPPER WOOD HOUSE, RAWDON, 
May gth, 1841. 

DEAR SIR, I am about to employ part of a Sunday evening 
in answering your last letter. You will perhaps think this hardly 
right, and yet I do not feel that I am doing wrong. Sunday 
evening is almost my only time of leisure. No one would blame 
me if I were to spend this spare hour in a pleasant chat with a 
friend is it worse to spend it in a friendly letter? 

I have just seen my little noisy charges deposited snugly in 
their cribs, and I am sitting alone in the school-room with the 
quiet of a Sunday evening pervading the grounds and gardens 
outside my window. I owe you a letter can I choose a better 
time than the present for paying my debt ? Now, Mr. Nussey, 
you need not expect any gossip or news, I have none to tell 
you even if I had I am not at present in the mood to com- 
municate them. You will excuse an unconnected letter. If I 
had thought you critical or captious I would have declined the 
task of corresponding with you. When I reflect, indeed, it seems 
strange that I should sit down to write without a feeling of 
formality and restraint to an individual with whom I am person- 
ally so little acquainted as I am with yourself; but the fact is, I 
cannot be formal in a letter if I write at all I must write as I 
think. It seems Ellen has told you that I am become a governess 
again. As you say, it is indeed a hard thing for flesh and blood 
to leave home, especially a good home not a wealthy or splendid 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 211 

one. My home is humble and unattractive to strangers, but to 
me it contains what I shall find nowhere else in the world the 
profound, the intense affection which brothers and sisters feel 
for each other when their minds are cast in the same mould, their 
ideas drawn from the same source when they have clung to each 
other from childhood, and when disputes have never sprung up to 
divide them. 

We are all separated now, and winning our bread amongst 
strangers as we can my sister Anne is near York, my brother 
in a situation near Halifax, I am here. Emily is the only one 
left at home, where her usefulness and willingness make her 
indispensable. Under these circumstances should we repine ? 
I think not our mutual affection ought to comfort us under 
all difficulties. If the God on whom we must all depend will 
but vouchsafe us health and the power to continue in the strict 
line of duty, so as never under any temptation to swerve from 
it an inch, we shall have ample reason to be grateful and 
contented. 

I do not pretend to say that I am always contented. A 
governess must often submit to have the heartache. My em- 
ployers, Mr. and Mrs. White, are kind worthy people in their 
way, but the children are indulged. I have great difficulties to 
contend with sometimes. Perseverance will perhaps conquer 
them. And it has gratified me much to find that the parents 
are well satisfied with their children's improvement in learning 
since I came. But I am dwelling too much upon my own con- 
cerns and feelings. It is true they are interesting to me, but it is 
wholly impossible they should be so to you, and, therefore, I hope 
you will skip the last page, for I repent having written it. 

A fortnight since I had a letter from Ellen urging me to go 
to Brookroyd for a single day. I felt such a longing to have a 
respite from labour, and to get once more amongst ' old familiar 
faces,' that I conquered diffidence and asked Mrs. White to let 
me go. She complied, and I went accordingly, and had a most 
delightful holiday. I saw your mother, your sisters, Mercy, Ellen, 
and poor Sarah, and your brothers Richard and George all were 
well. Ellen talked of endeavouring to get a situation somewhere. 
I did not encourage the idea much. I advised her rather to go 
to Earnley for a while. I think she wants a change, and I dare 
say you would be glad to have her as a companion for a few 
months. I remain, yours respectfully, C. BRONTE. 



212 THE BRONTES 

Letter 88 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

UPPLRWOOD HOUSE, June lofk, 1841. 

DEAR NELL, If I don't scrawl you a line of some sort I know 
you will begin to fancy that I neglect you, in spite of all I said 
last time we met. You can hardly fancy it possible, I dare say, 
that I cannot find a quarter of an hour to scribble a note in ; but 
when a note is written it is to be carried a mile to the post, and 
consumes nearly an hour, which is a large portion of the day. 
Mr. and Mrs. White have been gone a week. I heard from them 
this morning ; they are now at Hexham. No time is fixed for 
their return, but I hope it will not be delayed long, or I shall 
miss the chance of seeing Anne this vacation. She came home, 
I understand, last Wednesday, and is only to be allowed three 
weeks' holidays, because the family she is with are going to 
Scarborough. / should like to see her to judge for myself of the 
state of her health. 1 cannot trust any other person's report, no 
one seems minute enough in their observations. I should also 
very much have liked you to see her. 

I have got on very well with the servants and children so far, 
yet it is dreary, solitary work. You can tell as well as me the 
lonely feeling of being without a companion. I offered the Irish 
concern to Mary Taylor, but she is so circumstanced that she 
cannot accept it. Her brothers, like George, have a feeling of 
pride that revolts at the thought of their sister 'going out.' I 
hardly knew that it was such a degradation till lately. 

Your visit did me much good. I wish Mary Taylor would 
cornc, and yet I hardly know how to find time to be with her. 
Good-bye. God bless you. C. BRONTE. 

I am very well, and I continue to get to bed before twelve 
o'clock P.M. I don't tell people that I am dissatisfied with my 
situation. I can drive on ; there is no use in complaining. I 
have lost my chance of going to Ireland. 

Letter 89 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July \st, 1841. 

DEAR NELL, I was not at home when I got your letter, but 
I am at home now, and it feels like Paradise. I came last night. 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 218 

When I asked for a vacation, Mrs. White offered me a week or 
ten days, but I demanded three weeks, and stood to my tackle 
with a tenacity worthy of yourself, lassie. I gained the point, but 
I don't like such victories. I have gained another point. You 
are unanimously requested to come here next Tuesday and stay 
as long as you can. Aunt is in high good-humour. I need not 
write a long letter. Good-bye, dear Nell. C. B. 

P.S. I have lost the chance of seeing Anne. She is gone 
back to ' the land of Egypt and the house of Bondage. 1 Also, 
little black Tom is dead ; every cup, however sweet, has its drop 
of bitterness in it. Probably you will be at a loss to ascertain the 
identity of black Tom, but don't fret about it, I '11 tell you when 
you come. Keeper is as well, big, and grim as ever. I'm too 
happy to write. Come, come, lassie. 



Letter 90 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July 

MY DEAR ELLEN, We waited long and anxiously for you on 
the Thursday that you promised to come. I quite wearied my 
eyes with watching from the window, eyeglass in hand, and 
sometimes spectacles on nose. However, you are not to blame ; 
I believe you have done right in going to Earnley ; and as to the 
disappointment, why, all must suffer disappointment at some 
period or other of their lives. But a hundred things I had to 
say to you will now be forgotten, and never said. There is a 
project hatching in this house, which both Emily and I anxiously 
wished to discuss with you. The project is yet in its infancy, 
hardly peeping from its shell ; and whether it will ever come out 
a fine full-fledged chicken, or will turn addle, and die before it 
cheeps, is one of those considerations that are but dimly revealed 
by the oracles of futurity. Now, don't be nonplussed by all this 
metaphorical mystery. I talk of a plain and everyday occurrence, 
though, in Delphic style, I wrap up the information in figures 
of speech concerning eggs, chickens, etcetera, etceterorum. To 
come to the point, papa and aunt talk, by fits and starts, of our 
id est, Emily, Anne, and myself commencing a school. I 
have often, you know, said how much I wished such a thing ; but 



214 THE BRONTES 

I never could conceive where the capital was to come from for 
making such a speculation, I was well aware, indeed, that aunt 
had money, but I always considered that she was the last person 
who would offer a loan for the purpose in question. A loan, 
however, she has offered, or rather intimates that she perhaps will 
offer, in case pupils can be secured, an eligible situation obtained, 
etc. This sounds very fair, but still there are matters to be 
considered which throw something of a damp upon the scheme. 
I do not expect that aunt will risk more than 150 on such a 
venture ; and would it be possible to establish a respectable (not 
by any means a showy} school and to commence housekeeping 
with a capital of only that amount? Propound the question to 
your sister Ann, if you think she can answer it ; or if not, don't 
say a word on the subject. As to getting into debt, that is a thing 
we could none of us reconcile our minds to for a moment. We 
do not care how modest, how humble a commencement be, so it 
be made on sure ground, and have a safe foundation. In think- 
ing of all possible and impossible places where we could establish 
a school, I have thought of Burlington, or rather of the neigh- 
bourhood of Burlington. Do you remember whether there was 

any other school there besides that of Miss J ? This is, of 

course, a perfectly crude and random idea. There are a hundred 
reasons why it should be an impracticable one. We have no con- 
nections, no acquaintances there ; it is far from here, etc. Still, I 
fancy the ground in the East Riding is less fully occupied than 
in the West. Much inquiry and consideration will be necessary, 
of course, before any place is decided on ; and I fear much time 
will elapse before any plan is executed. 

Our revered friend, William Weightman, is quite as bonny, 
pleasant, light-hearted, good-tempered, generous, careless, fickle, 
and unclerical as ever. He keeps up his correspondence with 
Agnes Walton. During the last spring he went to Appleby, and 
stayed upwards of a month. 

Write as soon as you can. I shall not leave my present situa- 
tion till my future prospects assume a more fixed and definite 
aspect. Good-bye, dear Ellen. C. B. 

I here come to some manuscripts of exceptional value 
the only autobiographical glimpses of the sisters Emily and 
Anne. They came to me in a little black box some two or 
three inches long, of a kind that one might use for pins or 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 215 

perhaps for snuff. 1 Here were four little pieces of paper 
neatly folded to the size of a sixpence. These papers 
were covered with handwriting, two of them by Emily, 
and two by Anne Bronte. They revealed a pleasant if 
eccentric arrangement on the part of the sisters, which 
appears to have been settled upon even after they had 
passed their twentieth year. They had agreed to write a 
kind of reminiscence every four years, to be opened by 
Emily on her birthday. The papers, however, tell their 
own story, and I give here the two which were written 
in 1841. Emily writes at Haworth, and Anne from her 
situation as governess to Mr. Robinson's children at Thorp 
Green. At this time, at any rate, Emily was fairly happy 
and in excellent health ; and although it is five years from 
the publication of the volume of poems, she is full of 
literary projects, as is also her sister Anne. The Gonda- 
land Chronicles, to which reference is made, must remain 
a mystery for us. They were doubtless destroyed, with 
abundant other memorials of Emily, by the heart-broken 
sister who survived her. We have plentiful material in 
the way of childish effort by Charlotte and by Branwell, 
but there is hardly a scrap in the early handwriting of 
Emily and Anne. 

A PAPER to be opened 

when Anne is 

25 years old, 

or my next birthday after 

if 

all be well. 
Emily Jane Bronte. July the y^th, 1841. 

// is Friday evening, near 9 o'clock wild rainy weather. I am 
stated in the dining-room, having just concluded tidying our desk 

1 ' The four small scraps of Emily and Anne's MSS. I found in the small box I send 
you. They are sad reading, poor girls ! ' Letter from the Rev. A. B. Nicholls to the 
author, 4th January 1895. See page 19. 



216 THE BRONTES 

boxes ', writing this document. Papa is in the parlour aunt upstairs 
in her room. She has been reading Blackwood's Magazine to papa. 
Victoria and Adelaide are ensconced in the peat-house. Keeper is in 
the kitchen Hero in his cage. We are all stout and hearty, as I 
hope is the case with Charlotte, Branwell, and Anne, of whom the 
first is at John White, Esq., Upperwood House, Rawdon; the second 
is at Luddenden Foot ; and the third is, I believe, at Scarborough, 
inditing perhaps a paper corresponding to this. 

A scheme is at present in agitation for setting us up in a school of 
our own ; as yet nothing is determined, but I hope and trust it may 
go on and prosper and answer our highest expectations. This day 
four years I wonder whether we shall still be dragging on in our 
present condition or established to our hearts' content. Time will 
show. 

I guess that at the time appointed for the opening of this paper we 
i.e. Charlotte, Anne, and 1, shall be all merrily seated in our own 
sitting-room in some pleasant and flourishing seminary, having just 
gathered in for the midsummer lady day. Our debts will be paid off, 
and we sJtall have cash in hand to a considerable amount. Papa, 
aunt, and Branwell will cither have been or be coming to visit us. 
It ivill be a fine warm summer evening, very different from this 
bleak look-out, and Anne and I will perchance slip out into the 
garden for a few minutes to peruse our papers. I hope either this or 
something better will be the case. 

The Gondaland are at present in a threatening state, but there is 
no open rupture as yet. All the princes and princesses of the Royalty 
are at t/if Palace of Instruction. 1 have a good many books on 
hand, but I am sorry to say that as usual I make small progress with 
any. However, I have just made a new regularity paper ! and I 
must verb sap to do great things. And now I must close, sending 
from far an exhortation, * Courage, boys / courage} to exiled and 
harassed Anne, wishing she was here. 



Anne, as I have said, writes from Thorp Green. 

July the 3O///, A.D. 1841. 

This is Emily's birthday. She has now completed her 
year, and is, I believe, at home. Charlotte is a governess in the 
family of Mr. White. Branwell is a clerk in the railroad station at 
Luddenden Foot, and I am a governess in the family of Mr. Robinson. 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 217 

I dislike the situation and wish to change it for another. I am now 
at Scarborough. My pupils are gone to bed and / am hastening to 
finish this before I follow them. 

We are thinking of setting up a school of our own, but nothing 
definite is settled about it yet ', and we do not knoiv whet/ier we shall 
be able to or not. I hope we shall. And I wonder what will be our 
condition and how or where we shall all be on this day four years 
hence ; at which time, if all be well, I shall be 25 years and 6 months 
old, Emily will be 27 years old, Branwell 28 years and \ month, 
and Charlotte 29 years and a quarter. We are now all separate and 
not likely to meet again for many a weary week, but we are none of 
us ill that I know of, and all are doing something for our own liveli- 
hood except Emily, who, however, is as busy as any of us, and in 
reality earns her food and raiment as much as we do. 

How little know we what we art 
How less what we may be ! 

Four years ago I was at school. Since then I have been a gover- 
ness at Blake Hall, left it, come to Thorp Green, and seen the sea 
and York Minster. Emily has been a teacher at Miss Patchefs 
school, and left it. Charlotte has left Miss Wooler's, been a governess 
at Mrs. Sidgwick's, left her, and gone to Mrs. White's. Branwell 
has given up painting, been a tutor in Cumberland, left it, and become 
a clerk on the railroad. Tabby has left us, Martha Brown has come 
in her place. We have got Keeper, got a sweet little cat and lost it, 
and also got a hawk. Got a wild goose which has flown away, and 
three tame ones, one of which has been killed. All these diversities, 
with many others, are things we did not expect or foresee in the July 
0/183 7. What will the next four years bring forth? Providence 
only knows. But we ourselves have sustained very little alteration 
since that time. I have the same faults that 1 had then, only I have 
more wisdom and experience, and a little more self-possession than I 
tJicn enjoyed. How will it be when we open this paper and the one 
Emily has written f I wonder whether the Gond aland will still be 
flourishing, and what ivill be their condition. I am now engaged in 
writing the fourth volume 0/"Solala Vernon's Life. 

For some time I have looked upon 25 as a sort of era in my 
existence. It may prove a true presentiment, or it may be. only 
a superstitious fancy ; the latter seems most likely, but time will 
show. 

Anne Brontf. 



218 THE BRONTES 

Letter 91 

TO ELLEN NUSSKY, EARNLEY RECTORY, 
CHICHESTER, SUSSEX 

UPPLRWOOD HOUSE, August 7^, 1841, 

MY DEAR ELLEN, This is Saturday evening ; I have put the 
children to bed ; now I am going to sit down and answer your 
letter. I am again by myself housekeeper and governess for 
Mr. and Mrs White are staying with a Mrs. Duncan of Bleak 
Hall, near Tadcaster. To speak the truth, though I am solitary 
while they are away, it is still by far the happiest part of my 
time. The children are at least under decent control, the servants 
are very observant and attentive to me, and the occasional absence 
of the master and mistress relieves me from the duty of always 
endeavouring to seem cheerful and conversable. Martha, it ap- 
pears, is in the way of enjoying great advantage ; so is Mary, for 
you will be surprised to hear that she is returning immediately 
to the Continent with her brother John ; not, however, to stay 
there, but to take a month's tour and recreation. I have had a 
long letter from Mary, and a packet containing a present of a very 
handsome black silk scarf, and a pair of beautiful kid gloves, bought 
at Brussels. Of course I was in one sense pleased with the gift 
pleased that they should think of me so far off, amidst the excite- 
ments of one of the most splendid capitals of Europe ; and yet it 
felt irksome to accept it. I should think they have not more than 
sufficient pocket-money to supply themselves. I wish they had 
testified their regard by a less expensive token. Mary's letters 
spoke of some of the pictures and cathedrals she had seen pictures 
the most exquisite, cathedrals the most venerable. I hardly know 
what swelled to my throat as I read her letter: such a vehement 
impatience of restraint and steady work ; such a strong wish for 
wings wings such as wealth can furnish ; such an earnest thirst 
to see, to know, to learn ; something internal seemed to expand 
boldly for a minute. I was tantalised with the consciousness of 
faculties unexercised ; then all collapsed, and I despaired. My 
dear, I would hardly make that confession to any one but your- 
self; and to you, rather in a letter than vivd voce. These rebellious 
and absurd emotions were only momentary ; 1 quelled them in five 
minutes. I hope they will not revive, for they were acutely painful. 
No further steps have been taken about the project I mentioned 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 219 

to you, nor probably will be for the present ; but Emily, and 
Anne, and I, keep it in view. It is our polar star, and we look 
to it under all circumstances of despondency. I begin to suspect 
I am writing in a strain which will make you think I am unhappy. 
This is far from being the case ; on the contrary, I know my place 
is a favourable one, for a governess. What dismays and haunts 
me sometimes, is a conviction that I have no natural knack for 
my vocation. If teaching only were requisite, it would be smooth 
and easy ; but it is the living in other people's houses, the estrange- 
ment from one's real character, the adoption of a cold, frigid, 
apathetic exterior, that is painful. . . . On the whole I am glad 
you went with Henry to Sussex. Our disappointment was bitter 
enough. You will not mention our school scheme at present. 
A project not actually commenced is always uncertain. Write 
to me often, dear, you know your letters are valued. Give my 
regards to your brother and sister and believe me, your ' loving 
child ' (as you choose to call me so). C. B. 

P.S. I have one aching feeling at my heart (I must allude to 
it, though I had resolved not to). It is about Anne ; she has so 
much to endure : far, far more than I have. When my thoughts 
turn to her, they always see her as a patient, persecuted stranger. 
I know what concealed susceptibility is in her nature, when her 
feelings are wounded. I wish I could be with her, to administer 
a little balm. She is more lonely, less gifted with the power of 
making friends, even than I am. Drop the subject. 



Letter 92 

TO ELIZABETH BRANWELL, HA WORTH 

UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON, September 29^, 1841. 
DEAR AUNT, I have heard nothing of Miss Wooler yet since 
I wrote to her intimating that I would accept her offer. I cannot 
conjecture the reason of this long silence, unless some unforeseen 
impediment has occurred in concluding the bargain. Meantime, 
a plan has been suggested and approved by Mr. and Mrs. White, 
and others, which I wish now to impart to you. My friends 
recommend me, if I desire to secure permanent success, to delay 
commencing the school for six months longer, and by all means 
to contrive, by hook or by crook, to spend the intervening time 



220 THE BRONTES 

in some school on the Continent. They say schools in England 
are so numerous, competition so great, that without some such 
step towards attaining superiority we shall probably have a very 
hard struggle, and may fail in the end. They say, moreover, that 
the loan of 100, which you have been so kind as to offer us, will, 
perhaps, not be all required now, as Miss Wooler will lend us the 
furniture ; and that, if the speculation is intended to be a good 
and successful one, half the sum, at least, ought to be laid out in 
the manner I have mentioned, thereby insuring a more speedy 
repayment both of interest and principal. 

I would not go to France or to Paris. I would go to Brusseli, 
in Belgium. The cost of the journey there, at the dearest rate 
of travelling, would be $ ; living is there little more than half as 
dear as it is in England, and the facilities for education are equal 
or superior to any other place in Europe. In half a year, I could 
acquire a thorough familiarity with French. I could improve 
greatly in Italian, and even get a dash of German, i.e. providing 
my health continued as good as it is now. Martha Taylor is now 
staying in Brussels, at a first-rate establishment there. I should 
not think of going to the Chateau de Kockleberg, where she is 
resident, as the terms are much too high ; but if I wrote to her, 
she, with the assistance of Mrs. Jenkins, the wife of the British 
Consul, would be able to secure me a cheap and decent residence 
and respectable protection. I should have the opportunity of 
seeing her frequently, she would make me acquainted with the 
city ; and, with the assistance of her cousins, I should probably 
in time be introduced to connections far more improving, polished, 
and cultivated, than any I have yet known. 

These are advantages which would turn to vast account, when 
we actually commenced a school and, if Emily could share them 
with me, only for a single half-year, we could take a footing in 
the world afterwards which we can never do now. I say Emily 
instead of Anne ; for Anne might take her turn at some future 
period, if our school answered. I feel certain, while I am writing, 
that you will see the propriety of what I say ; you always like to 
use your money to the best advantage ; you are not fond of 
making shabby purchases ; when you do confer a favour, it is 
often done in style ; and depend upon it $o, or 100, thus laid 
out, would be well employed. Of course, I know no other friend 
in the world to whom I could apply on this subject except your- 
self. I feel an absolute conviction that, if this advantage were 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 221 

allowed us, it would be the making of us for life. Papa will 
perhaps think it a wild and ambitious scheme ; but who ever rose 
in the world without ambition ? When he left Ireland to go to 
Cambridge University, he was as ambitious as I am now. I want 
us all to go on. I know we have talents, and I want them to be 
turned to account. I look to you, aunt, to help us. I think you 
will not refuse. I know, if you consent, it shall not be my fault if 
you ever repent your kindness. With love to all, and the hope that 
you are all well, Believe me, dear aunt, your affectionate niece, 

C BRONTE. 



Letter 93 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

UPPERWOOD HOUSE, October i;M, 1841. 

DEAR NELL, It is a cruel thing of you to be always upbraiding 
me when I am a trifle remiss or so in writing a letter. I see I 
can't make you comprehend that I have not quite as much time 
on my hands as Miss Harris of S. Lane, or Mrs. Mills. I never 
neglect you on purpose. I could not do it, you little teasing, 
faithless wretch. 

The humour 1 am in is worse than words can describe. I have 
had a hideous dinner of some abominable spiced-up indescribable 
mess, and it has exasperated me against the world at large. So 
you are coming home, are you ? Then don't expect me to write 
a long letter. I am not going to Dewsbury Moor, as far as I can 
see at present. It was a decent friendly proposal on Miss Wooler's 
part, and cancels all or most of her little foibles, in my estimation ; 
but Dewsbury Moor is a poisoned place to me ; besides, I burn to 
go somewhere else. I think, Nell, I see a chance of getting to 
Brussels. 1 Mary Taylor advises me to this step. My own mind 
and feelings urge me. I can't write a word more. C. B. 

1 The following note shows the manner in which Brussels first became a place of 
interest to Miss Bronte it is from the 'Jessie' who died there, as described in Shirley, 
and is written to Miss Nussey : 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I received your letter from Mary, and you say I am to write 
tho' I have nothing to say. My sister will tell you all about me, for she has more time 
to write than I have. 

Whilst Mary and John have been with me, we have been to Liege and Spa where we 
staid eight days. I found my little knowledge of French very useful in our travels. I 



222 THE BRONTES 

Letter 94 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

RAW DON, November 2, 1841. 

Let us discuss business matters first and then quarrel like cat 
and dog afterwards. Mr. White has already five applications 
from ex-governesses under consideration. Now let us begin 
to quarrel. In the first place, I must consider whether I will 
commence operations on the defensive or the offensive. The 
defensive, I think. You say, and I see plainly, that your feelings 
have been hurt by an apparent want of confidence on my part 
You heard from others of Miss Wooler's overtures before I 
communicated them to you myself. This is true. I was de- 
liberating on plans important to my future prospects. I never 
exchanged a letter with you on the subject. True again. This 
appears strange conduct to a friend, near and dear, long known, 
and never found wanting. Most true. I cannot give you my 
excuses for this behaviour; this word excuse implies confession of 
a fault, and I do not feel that I have been in fault. The plain 
fact is, I was not, I am not now, certain of my destiny. On the 
contrary, I have been most uncertain, perplexed with contradic- 
tory schemes and proposals. My time, as I have often told you, 
is fully occupied ; yet I had many letters to write, which it was 
absolutely necessary should be written. I knew it would avail 
nothing to write to you then to say I was in doubt and uncertainty 
hoping this, fearing that, anxious, eagerly desirous to do what 
seemed impossible to be done. When I thought of you in that 
busy interval, it was to resolve that you should know all when 
my way was clear, and my grand end attained. If I could I 
would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts 
be known by their results. Miss Wooler did most kindly propose 
that I should come to Dewsbury Moor, and attempt to revive the 
school her sister had relinquished. She offered me the use of her 

am going to begin working again very hard, now that John and Mary are going away, 
I intend beginning German directly. I would write some more, but this pen of Mary's 
won't write, you must scold hei for it and tell her to write you a long account of my 
proceedings. You must write to me sometimes. George Dixon is coming here the last 
week in September, and you must send a letter for me to Mary to be forwarded by him. 
Good-bye. May you be happy. MARTHA TAYLOR. 

BRUSSELS, bepbr. yh y 1841. 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 228 

furniture. At first I received the proposal cordially, and prepared 
to do my utmost to bring about success ; but a fire was kindled 
in my very heart, which I could not quench. I so longed to in- 
crease my attainments to become something better than I am ; a 
glimpse of what I felt I showed to you in one of my former 
letters only a glimpse ; Mary cast oil upon the flames 
encouraged me, and in her own strong, energetic language 
heartened me on. I longed to go to Brussels ; but how could 
I get there ? I wished for one, at least, of my sisters to share the 
advantage with me. I fixed on Emily. She deserved the 
reward, I knew. How could the point be managed? In extreme 
excitement I wrote a letter home, which carried the day. I 
made an appeal to my aunt for assistance, which was answered 
by consent. Things are not settled ; yet it is sufficient to say we 
have a chance of going for half a year. Dewsbury Moor is 
relinquished. Perhaps fortunately so, for it is an obscure, dreary 
place, not adapted for a school. In my secret soul I believe there 
is no cause to regret it. My plans for the future are bounded to 
this intention : if I once get to Brussels, and if my health is 
spared, I will do my best to make the utmost of every advantage 
that shall come within my reach. When the half-year is expired 
I will do what I can. 

.. . 

Believe me, though I was born in April, the month of cloud 
and sunshine, I am not changeful. My spirits are unequal, and 
sometimes I speak vehemently, and sometimes I say nothing at 
all ; but I have a steady regard for you, and if you will let the 
cloud and shower pass by, be sure the sun is always behind, 
obscured, but still existing. 

Write to say all is forgiven ; I 'm fit to cry. 

C. B. 

Letter 95 

TO EMILY J. IJKONTE 

UPPER WOOD HOUSE, RAWDON, 
November 7///, 1841. 

DEAR E. J., You are not to suppose that this note is written 
with a view of communicating any information on the subject we 
both have considerably at heart. I have written letters, but I 
have received no letters in reply yet. Belgium is a long way off, 



224 THE BRONTES 

and people are everywhere hard to spur up to the proper speed, 
Mary Taylor says we can scarcely expect to get off before 
January. I have wished and intended to write to both Anne and 
Branwell, but really I have not had time. 

Mr. Jenkins I find was mistakenly termed the British Consul 
at Brussels ; he is in fact the English Episcopal clergyman. 

I think perhaps we shall find that the best plan will be for 
papa to write a letter to him by-and-by, but not yet. I will give 
an intimation when this should be done, and also some idea of 
what had best be said. Grieve not over Dewsbury Moor. You 
were cut out there to all intents and purposes, so in fact was 
Anne; Miss Wooler would hear of neither for the first half- 
year. 

Anne seems omitted in the present plan, but if all goes right 
I trust she will derive her full share of benefit from it in the 
end. I exhort all to hope. I believe in my heart this is acting 
for the best ; my only fear is lest others should doubt and be dis- 
mayed. Before our half-year in Brussels is completed, you and I 
will have to seek employment abroad. It is not my intention 
to retrace my steps home till twelve months, if all continues well 
and we and those at home retain good health. 

I shall probably take my leave of Upperwood about the I5th 
or I7th of December. When does Anne talk of returning? 
How is she? What does William Weightman say to these 
matters? How are papa and aunt, do they flag? How will 
Anne get on with Martha? Has William Weightman been seen 
or heard of lately? Love to all. Write quickly. Good-bye. 

C. BRONTE. 

I am well. 

Letter 96 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

RAWPON, December loth, 184! 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I hear from Mary Taylor that you are 
come home, and also that you have been ill. If you are able to 
write comfortably, let me know the feelings that preceded your 
illness and also it* effects. I wish to see you. Mary Taylor 
reports that your looks are much as usual. I expect to get 
back to Haworth in the course of a fortnight or three weeks. I 
hope I shall then see you. I would rather you came to Haworth 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 225 

than I went to Brookroyd My plans advance slowly and I am 
not yet certain where I shall go, or what I shall do when I leave 
Upperwood House. Brussels is still my promised land, but there 
is still the wilderness of time and space to cross before I reach it 
I am not likely, I think, to go to the Chateau de Kockleberg. 
I have heard of a less expensive establishment. So far I had 
written when I received your letter. I was glad to get it. 
Why don't you mention your illness? I had intended to have 
got this note off two or three days past, but I am more straitened 
for time than ever just now. We have gone to bed at twelve 
or one o'clock during the last three nights. I must get this 
scrawl off to-day or you will think me negligent. The new 
governess, that is to be, has been to see my plans, etc. My 
dear Ellen, Good-bye. Believe me, in heart and soul, your 
sincere friend, C. B. 

Letter 97 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

December 17 'M, 1841. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I am yet uncertain when I shall leave 
Upperwood, but of one thing I am very certain : when I do 
leave I must go straight home. It is absolutely necessary that 
some definite arrangement should be commenced for our future 
plans before I go visiting anywhere. That I wish to see you I 
know, that I intend and hope to see you before long I also know ; 
that you will at the first impulse accuse me of neglect, I fear ; 
that upon consideration you will acquit me, I devoutly trust. 
Dear Ellen, come to Haworth if you can ; if you cannot, I will 
endeavour to come for a day at least to Brookroyd, but do 
not depend on this come to Haworth. I thank you for Mr. 
Jenkins' address. You always think of other people's con- 
venience, however ill and affected you are yourself. How very 
much I wish to see you, you do not know ; but if I were to go 
to Brookroyd now, it would deeply disappoint those at home. 
I have some hopes of seeing Branwell at Xmas, and when 
I shall be able to see him afterwards I cannot tell. He has 
never been at home for the last five months. Good-night, dear 
Ellen. C. B. 

VOL. I. p 



226 THE BRONTES 

Letter 98 

TO MERCY NUSSEY 

RAWDON, December 17 th, 1841. 

MY DEAR MISS MERCY, Though I am very much engaged 
I must find time to thank you for the kind and polite contents 
of your note. I should act in the manner most consonant with 
my own feelings if I at once, and without qualification, accepted 
your invitation. I do not, however, consider it advisable to indulge 
myself so far at present. When I leave Upperwood I must go 
straight home. Whether I shall afterwards have time to pay 
a short visit to Brookroyd I do not yet know circumstances 
must determine that. I would fain see Ellen at Haworth in- 
stead ; our visitations are not shared with any show of justice. 
It shocked me very much to hear of her illness may it be the 
first and last time she ever experiences such an attack! Ellen, 
I fear, has thought I neglected her, in not writing sufficiently 
long or frequent letters. It is a painful idea to me that she 
has had this feeling it could not be more groundless. I know 
her value, and I would not lose her affection for any probable 
compensation I can imagine. Remember me to your mother. 
I trust she will soon regain her health. Believe me, my dear 
Miss Mercy, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 99 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, January loth, 1842. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, Will you write as soon as you get this and 
fix your own day for coming to Haworth? I got home on 
Christmas Eve. The parting scene between me and my late 
employers was such as to efface the memory of much that 
annoyed me while I was there, but indeed, during the whole of 
the last six months they only made too much of me. Anne has 
rendered herself so valuable in her difficult situation that they 
have entreated her to return to them, if it be but for a short time. 
I almost think she will go back, if we can get a good servant who 
will do all our work. We want one about forty or fifty years old, 
good-tempered, clean, and honest You shall hear all about 



UPPERWOOD HOUSE, RAWDON 227 

Brussels, etc., when you come. Mr. Weightman is still here, just 
the same as ever. I have a curiosity to see a meeting between 
you and him. He will be again desperately in love, I am con- 
vinced. Come. C. B. 

Letter 100 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I had forgotten when I asked you to come 
on Tuesday that there is no coach from Birstall to Bradford 
except on Thursday. Moreover, Aunt is proposing to pay a visit 
to Uncle Fenneli, at Cross-stone, who is very ill. She has fixed 
next Thursday to go, and as she will probably stay a week or 
two, she will leave her room at liberty, which will be much more 
comfortable for you than being crowded into our little closet. I 
wish therefore, my dear Ellen, you could make it convenient to 
come on that day it will be a real pleasure both to Emily and 
myself to have you with us, and a great disappointment if you 
fail to come. Believe me, vours sincerely, C. B. 

Write by return of post. 

Letter 101 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January 2oM, 1 842. 

DEAR ELLEN, I cannot quite enter into your friends' reasons 
for not permitting you to come to Haworth ; but as it is at 
present, and in all human probability will be for an indefinite 
time to come, impossible for me to get to Brookroyd, the balance 
of accounts is not so unequal as it might otherwise be. We ex- 
pect to leave England in less than three weeks, but we are not yet 
certain of the day, as it will depend upon the convenience of a 
French lady now in London, Madame Marzials, under whose 
escort we are to sail. Our place of destination is changed. Papa 
received an unfavourable account from Mr., or rather Mrs., Jenkins 
of the French schools in Brussels, and on further inquiry, an Insti- 
tution in Lille, in the North of France, was recommended by 
Baptist Noel and other clergymen, and to that place it is decided 
that we are to go. The terms are fifty pounds for each pupil for 
board and French alone. 

I considered it kind in aunt to consent to an extra sum for a 



228 THE BRONTES 

separate room. We shall find it a great privilege in many ways. 
I regret the change from Brussels to Lille on many accounts, 
chiefly that I shall not see Martha Taylor. Mary has been inde- 
fatigably kind in providing me with information. She has 
grudged no labour, and scarcely any expense, to that end. Mary's 
price is above rubies. I have, in fact, two friends you and her 
staunch and true, in whose faith and sincerity I have as strong a 
belief as I have in the Bible. I have bothered you both, you 
especially ; but you always get the tongs and heap coals of fire 
upon my head. I have had letters to write lately to Brussels, to 
Lille, and to London. I have lots of chemises, night-gowns, 
pocket-handkerchiefs, and pockets to make besides clothes to 
repair. I have been, every week since I came home, expecting to 
see Branwell, and he has never been able to get over yet. We 
fully expect him, however, next Saturday. Under these circum- 
stances how can I go visiting? You tantalise me to death with 
talking of conversations by the fireside. Depend upon it, we are 
not to have any such for many a long month to come. I get an 
interesting impression of old age upon my face, and when you see 
me next I shall certainly wear caps and spectacles. 

Write long letters to me, and tell me everything you can think 
of, and about everybody. * His young reverence,' as you tenderly 
call him, is looking delicate and pale ; poor thing, don't you pity 
him ? I do from my heart ! When he is well, and fat and jovial, 
I never think of him, but when anything ails him I am always 
sorry. He sits opposite to Anne at church, sighing softly, and 
looking out of the corners of his eyes to win her attention, and 
Anne is so quiet, her look so downcast, they are a picture. Yours 
affectionately, C. B. 



//> .(><'//.///////// . fL& 




THE PENSIONNAT H&GER, BRUSSELS 229 



CHAPTER XI 

THE PENSIONNAT HEGER, BRUSSELS 

HAD not the impulse come to Charlotte Bronte to add 
somewhat to her scholastic accomplishments by a sojourn 
in Brussels, our literature would have lost that powerful 
novel Villette, and the singularly charming Professor. The 
impulse came, as we have seen, from the persuasion that 
without * languages ' the school project was an entirely 
hopeless one. Mary and Martha Taylor were at Brussels, 
staying with friends, and thence, as one of Charlotte's 
letters tells us, they had sent kindly presents to her, at 
this time fretting under the yoke of governess at Upperwood 
House. Charlotte wrote the diplomatic letter to her aunt 
which ended so satisfactorily. The good lady Miss 
Branwell was then about sixty years of age behaved 
handsomely by her nieces, and it was agreed that Charlotte 
and Emily were to go to the Continent, Anne retaining 
her post of governess with Mrs. Robinson at Thorp 
Green. But Brussels schools did not seem at the first 
blush to be very satisfactory. Something better promised 
at Lille. 

The Mr. Jenkins referred to in the last letter was 
chaplain to the British Embassy at Brussels, and not 
Consul, as Charlotte had at first supposed. The brother of 
his wife was a clergyman living in the neighbour- 
hood of Haworth. Mr. Jenkins, whose English Episcopal 
chapel Charlotte attended during her stay in Brussels, 
finally recommended the Pensionnat H^ger in the Rue 



230 THE BRONTES 

d'Isabelle. 1 Madame H6ger wrote, accepting the two 
girls as pupils, and to Brussels their father escorted them 
in February 1842, staying one night at the house of 
Mr. Jenkins and then returning to Haworth. 

The life of Charlotte Bronte at Brussels has been 
mirrored for us with absolute accuracy in Villttte and 
The Professor. That, indeed, from the point of view of 
local colour, is made sufficiently plain to the casual visitor 
of to-day who calls in the Rue d'Isabelle. The house, 
it is true, has been dismantled and incorporated into some 
city buildings in the background. But when I was there 
one might still eat pears from the * old and huge fruit-trees ' 
which flourished when Charlotte and Emily walked under 

I The circulai issued by Madame Iltgcr ran as follows : 

MAISON D'toUCATION 
Pour les feune\ Demoiselles. 

SOU 1 . LA DIRECTION 

DE MADAME HtXiER-PARENT, 
Kuf d'lsabellt & Prvveltts 

Get e*tablissement est situ6 dans Tendroit le plus salubre de la ville. 

Le cours destruction, base* sur la Religion, comprend essentiellcment la Langne 
Francaise, 1'Histoire, TAnthm^tique, la Geographic, 1'Fcriture, amsi que tous les ouvrnges 
a 1'aiguille que doit connaitre vine demoiselle bien tlevee. 

La sante" des eM^ves est 1'objet d'une surveillance active ; les parents peuvent se 
reposer avec se'curite sur les mesures qui ont M prises cet <?gard dans l'e'tablise- 
ment. 

Le prix de la pension est de 650 frnncs, celui de la demi-pension est de 350 francs, 
payables par quai tiers et d'a\ance. II n'y a d'autres frais accessoires que les etrennes 
des domestiques. 

II n'est fait aucune deduction pour le temps que les Sieves passent che? elles dans le 
courant de I'anncfe. Le nombre des Sieves etant limite, les parents qui desireraient 
repiendre leurs cnfants sont tenus d'en preVenir la directnce trois mois d'avance. 

Les Ie9ons de musique, de langues etrangeres, etc. etc., sont au compte des parents. 
Lc costume des pensionnaires est uniforme. 

La directnce s'engage a repondre a toutes les demandes qui pourraicnt lui etre 
adress^es par les parents relativement aux autres details de son institution. 

OBJETS X FOURNIR. 

Lit complet, bassin, aiguiere et draps de lit. 
Serviettes de table. 
Une malle fermant a clef. 
Un couvert d'argent 
Un gobelet. 

Si les Sieves ne sont pas de Bruxelles, on leur foumira un lit garni moyennant 34 
francs par an. 



THE PENSIONNAT HfiGER, BRUSSELS 281 

them sixty-six years ago. One might still wander through 
the school-rooms, the long dormitories, and into the ' vine- 
draped berceau' little enough is changed within and 
without Here was the dormitory with its twenty beds, 
the two end ones being occupied by Emily and Charlotte, 
they alone securing the privilege of age or English eccen- 
tricity to curtain off their beds from the gaze of the 
eighteen girls who shared the room with them. The 
crucifix, indeed, had been removed from the niche in the 
Oratoire where the children offered up prayer every 
morning ; but with a copy of Villette in hand it was possible 
to restore every feature of the place, not excluding the 
adjoining Ath6n6e with its small window overlooking the 
garden of the Pensionnat and the alltfe d^f endue. It was 
from this window that Mr. Crimsworth of The Professor 
looked down upon the girls at play. It was here, indeed, 
at the Royal Ath6nee, that M. Hger was Professor of 
Latin. Externally, then, the Pensionnat H6ger remains 
practically the same as it appeared to Charlotte and Emily 
Bronte in February 1842, when they made their first 
appearance in Brussels. The Rue Fossette of Villette, 
the Rue d' Isabella of The Professor, are the veritable Rue 
d'Isabelle of Currer Bell's experience. 

What, however, shall we say of the people who wandered 
through these rooms and gardens the fifty or more chil- 
dren, the three or four governesses, the professor and his 
wife? Here there has been much speculation and not a 
little misreading of the actual facts. Charlotte and Emily 
went to Brussels to learn. They did learn with energy. 
It was their first experience of foreign travel, and it came 
too late in life for them to enter into it with that breadth 
of mind and tolerance of the customs of other lands, lack- 
ing which the Englishman abroad is always an offence. 
Charlotte and Emily hated the country and people. They 
had been brought up ultra- Protestants. Their father was 
an Ulster man, and his one venture into the polemics of 



232 THE BRONTES 

his age was to attack the proposals for Catholic emancipa- 
tion. With this inheritance of intolerance, how could 
Charlotte and Emily face with kindliness the Romanism 
which they saw around them ? How heartily Charlotte 
disapproved of it many a picture in Villette has made 
plain to us. 

Charlotte had been in Brussels three months when 
she made the friendship to which I am indebted for any- 
thing that there may be to add to this episode in her 
life. Miss Laetitia Wheelwright was one of five sisters, 
the daughters of a doctor in Lower Phillimore Place, 
Kensington. Dr. Wheelwright went to Brussels for his 
health and for his children's education. The girls were 
day boarders at the Pensionnat, but they lived in the 
house for a full month or more at a time when their father 
and mother were on a trip up the Rhine. Otherwise their 
abode was a flat in the Hotel Clusyenaar in the Rue 
Royale, and there during her later stay in Brussels 
Charlotte frequently paid them visits. In this earlier 
period Charlotte and Emily were too busy with their books 
to think of * calls ' and the like frivolities, and it must be con- 
fessed also that at the beginning of their friendship Laetitia 
Wheelwright would have thought it too high a price to pay 
for a visit from Charlotte to receive as a fellow-guest the 
apparently unamiable Emily. Miss Wheelwright, who 
was herself fourteen years of age when she entered the 
Pensionnat H6ger, recalls the two sisters, thin and sallow- 
looking, pacing up and down the garden, friendless and 
alone. It was the sight of Laetitia standing up in the 
class-room and glancing round with a semi-contemptuous 
air at all these Belgian girls which attracted Charlotte 
Bronte to her. ' It was so very English,' Miss Bronte 
laughingly remarked at a later period to her friend. 
There was one other English girl at this time of sufficient 
age to be companionable; but with Miss Maria Miller, 
whom Charlotte Bronte has depicted under the guise of 



THE PENSIONNAT HEGER, BRUSSELS 288 

Ginevra Fanshawe, she had less in common. In later 
years Miss Miller became Mrs. Robertson, the wife of an 
author in one form or another. 1 

To Miss Wheelwright, and those of her sisters who are 
still living, the descriptions of the Pensionnat H6ger which 
are given in Villette and The Professor are perfectly 
accurate. M. Hger, with his heavy black moustache and 
his black hair, entering the class-room of an evening to 
read to his pupils, was a sufficiently familiar object, and 
his keen intelligence amounting almost to genius had 
affected the Wheelwright girls as forcibly as it had done 
the Brontes. Mme. H6ger, again, for ever peeping from 
behind doors and through the plate-glass partitions which 
separate the passages from the school-rooms, was a 
constant source of irritation to all the English pupils. 
This prying and spying is, it is possible, more of a fine 
art with the school-mistresses of the Continent than 
with those of our own land. Much may doubtless be 
said for it. In any case, Mme. H6ger, we are informed, 
was an accomplished spy, and in the midst of the most 
innocent work or recreation the pupils would suddenly 
see a pair of eyes pierce the dusk and disappear. This, 
and a hundred similar trifles, went to build up an antipathy 
on both sides, which had, however, scarcely begun when 
Charlotte and Emily were suddenly called home by their 
aunt's death in October. Meanwhile, the first letter from 
Brussels after Charlotte and Emily had arrived there is 



V There was also a certain Susanna Mills, as the following letter, addressed to the 
Editor of the South Wales Echo in May 1901, will indicate : 

DEAR SIR, Referring to your article of the loth inst. re Charlotte Bronte : If it be 
a matter of interest, I may state that I, also, was a pupil at the Pensionnat He*ger at 
the same time as Charlotte and her sister Emily, also the Miss Wheelrights, and it was 
only last summer (during my annual visit to Brussels) that I had the pleasure of meeting 
again Mademoiselle Louise Heger (daughter of the late celebrated professor), with whom 
I had a long chat, referring to days gone by, and our conversation naturally turned upon 
the two ladies in question, whom I remember perfectly well, although quite a young 
girl at the tire. Believe me, dear sir, yours truly, SUSANNA BANDY (nc MILLS). 



284 THE BRONTES 

from Mary Taylor to Ellen Nussey. Mary is at the 
Chateau de Kockleberg with with her sister. 



Letter 102 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, March 1842. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, Do not think that I have forgotten you 
because I have so many things to do that I can no more write to 
you now and then than I used to be able to run down to Brook- 
royd every other day. As for Miss Bronte, I have not seen her 
since I came here, so that you may judge I do not spend my time 
just as I like. Before breakfast I draw, after breakfast I practise, 
say German lessons and draw y after dinner walk out, learn German 
and draw> go to bed sometimes at nine o'clock heartily tired and 
without a word to throw at any one. If it were not Sunday, I 
could not write to you ; fortunately the weather is too wet for us 
to go to church, so I have time for everything. In the enumera- 
tion of my employments I have forgotten the writing of French 
compositions. This is the plague of Kockleberg schoolroom. 
* Avez-vous fait votre composition ? ' ' Oui, mais je ne puis pas 
put a beginning to it? ' Pouvez-vous m'aider ? ' Silence ! ' What 's 
the French for " invite " ? It is eight hours ! When shall we have 
the tea? How many years have you?' This is a French girl 
talking English the Germans make an equal mess of both 
languages, the German teacher worst of all. I must now tell you 
of our teachers. Miss Evans is a well-educated Englishwoman 
who has been eight years in France, whom I should like very well 
if she were not so outrageously civil, that I every now and then 
suspect her of hypocrisy. The French teacher we have not yet 
got, so I can tell you nothing of her except that she is coming in 
a few days (which she has been doing ever since Christmas). 
Madame Ferdinand, the music-mistress, is a little, thin, black, 
talkative Frenchwoman ; Monsieur her husband a tall, broad- 
shouldered man with a tremendous mouth, who is constantly 
telling his pupils that the voice has but a very little hole to get 
out at, and that there are both tongue and teeth to interrupt it in 
its road, and that the orifice ought by all means to be opened as 
wide as possible. Then comes M. Gaune, a little black old 



THE PENSIONNAT HEGER, BRUSSELS 235 

Frenchman with his history written on his face, and a queer one 
it is I speak either of the face or the history which you please. 
He has a good appreciation of the literature of his own country 
and speaks some curious English. I think him a good master. 
Mons. Huard, the drawing-master, is a man of some talent, a good 
judgment, and an intelligible manner of teaching. He would be 
my favourite if he did not smell so of bad tobacco. Last and 
least is Mons. Sciere", not that he appears to me to want sense, 
and being a dancing-master he ought not to want manner but 
he has the faults of a French puppy, and they make it advisable 
not to exchange more words with him than the everlasting ' Oui, 
monsieur Non, monsieur.' Martha is considerably improved. I 
can't put out my feet Allongez ! plus long! more! All our 
awkwardnesses, however, are thrown into the shade by those of a 
Belgian girl who does not know right foot from left, and obsti- 
nately dances with her mouth open. There is also a Mons. Hisard, 
who makes strange noises in the back schoolroom teaching 
gymnastics to some of the girls, and I had nearly forgotten a grin- 
ning, dirty, gesticulating Belgian who teaches cosmography, and 
says so often * Ainsi done! c'est bien compris ! n'est-ce pas?' that 
he has earned himself the names of * Ainsi done ' and ' Mr. Globes.' 
Amongst all the noise and bustle we have every possible oppor- 
tunity of learning if we choose. I must except French, in which 
we make very little progress owing to the want of a governess. 
There are more English and Germans than French girls in the 
school, consequently very little French is spoken and that little is 
bad. I will write no more till I have seen the Bronte*?. 

MARY TAYLOR. 



March ibth, 1842. 

DEAR ELLEN, Mary Taylor says I am to write to you on this 
side of her letter. You will have heard that we have settled at 
Bjussels instead of Lille. I think we have done well we have 
got into a very good school and are considerably comfortable. 
Just now we are at Kockleberg spending the day with Mary and 
Martha Taylor to us such a happy day for one's blood requires 
a little warming, it gets cold with living amongst strangers. You 
are not forgotten as you feared you would be. I will write 
another letter sometime and tell you how we are placed and 
amongst what sort of people. Mary and Martha are not changed ; 
I have a catholic faith in them that they cannot change. Good- 



236 THE BRONTES 

bye. Remember me to your mother and Mercy. Write to me, 
Ellen, as soon as you can. 

C. BRONTE. 



April 4*6, 1842. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am going to add my bit to this newspaper 
which you are going to have sometime, but no one knows when. 
We have had holiday for the last ten days, and I don't feel at all 
inclined to begin lessons again. I am tired of this everlasting 
German, and long for the day after to-morrow when our new 
French mistress will come and we shall continue our French. I 
have the cousin of the Mr. Jenkins who took tea with my brother 
Joe atBrookroyd sitting by me, chattering like a magpie, and hoping 
it may be true that her cousin will come to Brussels before July. 
Mary is on the other side of me staring into a German dictionary, 
and looking as fierce as a tiger. There is a very sweet, ladylike, 
elegant girl here, who has undertaken to civilise our dragon,zx\& she 
is actually improving a little under her hands. Would you like 
to be here cracking your head with French and German ? By the 
way, you must excuse me if I send you some unintelligible 
English, for in attempting to acquire other languages I have 
almost forgotten the little I knew of my own. 

But I believe we are going to have prayers, so I must put this 
away, but I will write some more some day. Good-night. 

MARTHA TAYLOR. 

Lest you should think yourself forgotten, I take the first oppor- 
tunity of sending you a letter. Keep up your spirits and look 
forward to crossing the Channel sometime. Send me particulars 
of your mother by my brothers and anything else you may have 
to say. MARY TAYLOR. 

April 5, '42. 

And send me news about every one that I know. It is all the 
fashion for gentlemen to paint themselves. Shall I send you some 
paint for George? When you see my brother Joe, have the 
kindness to pull him his hair right well for me and give John 
a good pinch. 

Remember me to your Mother and Sisters, and believe me to 
be still MARTHA TAYLOR. 

All the five letters or apparent letters printed above 
were contained on one large sheet of notepaper. We may 



THE PENSIONNAT H&GER, BRUSSELS 237 

imagine the high spirits that prevailed when the three 
friends wrote thus in playful mood. 

Letter 103 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, May 1842. 

DEAR ELLEN, It is the fashion nowadays for persons to send 
shoals of blank paper instead of letters to their friends in a foreign 
land. 

I was twenty-six years old a week or two since, and at this 
ripe time of life I am a schoolgirl, a complete schoolgirl, and, on 
the whole, very happy in that capacity. It felt very strange at 
first to submit to authority instead of exercising it to obey 
orders instead of giving them ; but I like that state of things. I 
returned to it with the same avidity that a cow, that has long been 
kept on dry hay, returns to fresh grass. Don't laugh at my simile. 
It is natural to me to submit, and very unnatural to command. 

This is a large school, in which there are about forty externes 
or day-pupils, and twelve pensionnaires or boarders. Madame 
Hger, the head, is a lady of precisely the same cast of mind, 
degree of cultivation, and quality of intellect as Miss Catherine 
Wooler. I think the severe points are a little softened, because 
she has not been disappointed, and consequently soured. In a 
word, she is a married instead of a maiden lady. There are three 
teachers in the school Mademoiselle Blanche, Mademoiselle 
Sophie, and Mademoiselle Marie. The two first have no par- 
ticular character. One is an old maid, and the other will be one. 
Mademoiselle Marie is talented and original, but of repulsive and 
arbitrary manners, which have made the whole school, except 
myself and Emily, her bitter enemies. No less than seven 
masters attend to teach the different branches of education 
French, Drawing, Music, Singing, Writing, Arithmetic, and 
German. All in the house are Catholics except ourselves, one 
other girl, and the gouvernante of Madame's children, an English- 
woman, in rank something between a lady's-maid and a nursery 
governess. The difference in country and religion makes a broad 
line of demarcation between us and all the rest. We are com- 
pletely isolated in the midst of numbers. Yet I think I am never 
unhappy ; my present life is so delightful, so congenial to my own 
nature, compared with that of a governess. My time, constantly 



288 THE BRONTES 

occupied, passes too rapidly. Hitherto both Emily and I have 
had good health, and therefore we have been able to work well. 
There is one individual of whom I have not yet spoken 
M. Hdger, the husband of Madame. He is professor of rhetoric, 
a man of power as to mind, but very choleric and irritable in 
temperament; a little black being, with a face that varies in 
expression. Sometimes he borrows the lineaments of an insane 
tom-cat, sometimes those of a delirious hyena ; occasionally, but 
very seldom, he discards these perilous attractions and assumes 
an air not above 100 degrees removed from mild and gentleman- 
like. He is very angry with me just at present, because I have 
written a translation which he chose to stigmatise *s peu correcte. 
He did not tell me so, but wrote the accusation on the margin of 
my book, and asked in brief, stern phrase, how it happened that 
my compositions were always better than my translations? adding 
that the thing seemed to him inexplicable. The fact is, some 
weeks ago, in a high-flown humour, he forbade me to use either 
dictionary or grammar in translating the most difficult English 
compositions into French. This makes the task rather arduous, 
and compels me now and then to introduce an English word, 
which nearly plucks the eyes out of his head when he sees it. 
Emily and he don't draw well together at all. When he is very 
ferocious with me I cry ; that sets all things straight. Emily 
works like a horse, and she has had great difficulties to contend 
with, far greater than I have had. Indeed, those who come to a 
French school for instruction ought previously to have acquired 
a considerable knowledge of the French language, otherwise they 
will lose a great deal of time, for the course of instruction is 
adapted to natives and not to foreigners; and in these large 
establishments they will not change their ordinary course for one 
or two strangers. The few private lessons M. Hger has vouch- 
safed to give us are, I suppose, to be considered a great favour, 
and I can perceive they have already excited much spite and 
jealousy in the school. 

You will abuse this letter for being short and dreary, and there 
are a hundred things which I want to tell you, but I have not 
time. Brussels is a beautiful city. The Belgians hate the 
English. Their external morality is more rigid than ours. Do 
write to me and cherish Christian charity in your heart ! Re- 
member me to Mercy and your Mother, and believe me, my dear 
Ellen, Yours, sundered by the sea, C. BRONTE. 



THE PENSIONNAT HfiGER, BRUSSELS 289 

Letter 104 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, 1842. 

DEAR ELLEN, I began seriously to think you had no par- 
ticular intention of writing to me again. However, let me make 
no reproaches, thanking you for your letter. I consider it 
doubtful whether I shall come home in September or not. 
Madame Hger has made a proposal for both me and Emily to 
stay another half-year, offering to dismiss her English master, and 
take me as English teacher ; also to employ Emily some part of 
each day in teaching music to a certain number of the pupils. 
For these services we are to be allowed to continue our studies 
in French and German, and to have board, etc., without paying 
for it ; no salaries, however, are offered. The proposal is kind, 
and in a great selfish city like Brussels, and a great selfish school, 
containing nearly ninety pupils (boarders and day-pupils included), 
implies a degree of interest which demands gratitude in return. 
I am inclined to accept it. What think you? I don't deny I 
sometimes wish to be in England, or that I have brief attacks of 
home-sickness ; but, on the whole, I have borne a very valiant 
heart so far ; and I have been happy in Brussels, because I have 
always been fully occupied with the employments that I like. 
Emily is making rapid progress in French, German, music and 
drawing. Monsieur and Madame H^ger begin to recognise the 
valuable parts of her character, under her singularities. 

If the national character of the Belgians is to be measured by 
the character of most of the girls in this school, it is a character 
singularly cold, selfish, animal, and inferior. They are very 
mutinous and difficult for the teachers to manage ; and their 
principles are rotten to the core. We avoid them, which is not 
difficult to do, as we have the brand of Protestantism and 
Anglicism upon us. People talk of the danger which Protestants 
expose themselves to in going to reside in Catholic countries, and 
thereby running the chance of changing their faith. My advice 
to all Protestants who are tempted to do anything so besotted as 
to turn Catholics is, to walk over the sea on to the Continent ; 
to attend Mass sedulously for a time ; to note well the mummeries 
thereof; also the idiotic, mercenary aspect of all the priests; and 
then, if they are still disposed to consider Papistry in any other 
light than a most feeble, childish piece of humbug, let them turn 



240 THE BRONTfiS 

Papists at once that's all. I consider Methodism, Quakerism, 
and the extremes of High and Low Churchism foolish, but Roman 
Catholicism beats them all At the same time, allow me to tell 
you that there are some Catholics who are as good as any 
Christians can be to whom the Bible is a sealed book, and much 
better than many Protestants, Believe me present occasionally 
in spirit when absent in the flesh. C. B. 

Mary and Martha Taylor apparently were home again 
in August as the following brief note implies. They re- 
turned to Brussels, however, and Martha died there in 
October. 

Letter 105 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HUNSWORTH MILLS, 
Friday, August 19, 1842. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, We have just returned from Leeds, where 
we have fixed that we will have the house warmed next Wednes- 
day, and my cousins, my uncle, and my Aunt Sarah are coming 
over. ... My brothers and I shall be exceedingly gratified if 
you, your sister Mercy, and your brothers will come to tea on 
that day to meet them. Now, will you come? or you will be 
stupid as you were about going to Brier Hall, and if you refuse 
you will make me seriously angry with you, and you had better 
not, or I will tell all kinds of things of you to Miss Bronte. 

We leave here for Birmingham on Thursday next, so you must 
bring your letters with you. I remain conditionally, yours truly, 

MARTHA TAYLOR. 

Merely because it comes here in order of date I give 
a glimpse of Branwell Bronte, who had made friends with 
one Francis H. Grundy, an engineer on the railway while 
he was engaged as booking-clerk at Luddenden Foot 
Station Grundy says as station-master. Grundy had 
been one of the pioneers of the railways between Leeds 
and Bradford. His picture of the Bronte family is inter- 
esting though inaccurate : 

That Rector of Haworth little knew how to bring up and bring 
out his clever family, and the boy least of all. He was a hard, 



THE PENSIONNAT HEGER, BRUSSELS 241 

matter-of-fact man. So the girls worked their own way to fame 
and death, the boy to death only! I knew them all. The 
father, upright, handsome, distantly courteous, white-haired, 
tall ; knowing me as his son's friend, he would treat me in the 
grandisonian fashion, coming himself down to the little inn to 
invite me, a boy, up to his house, where I would be coldly 
uncomfortable until I could escape with Patrick Branwell to the 
moors. The daughters, distant and distrait, large of nose, small 
of figure, red of hair, prominent of spectacles ; showing great 
intellectual development, but with eyes constantly cast down, 
very silent, painfully retiring. This was about the time of 
their first literary adventures, I suppose say 1843 or I844. 1 

When it is considered that the sisters had not red hair, 
that only one Charlotte wore spectacles, and that their 
' literary adventures ' did not begin until two or three years 
after this, it will be seen that Mr. Grundy is not a very 
accurate purveyor of information. But the following letters 
from Branwell to him give us a glimpse of yet another 
tragedy that affected the Bronte family in the autumn of 
1842. 

Letter 106 

TO FRANCIS H. GRUNDY 

HAWORTH, tyhjunc 1842. 

DEAR SIR, Any feeling of disappointment which the perusal 
of your letter might otherwise have caused, was allayed by its 
kindly and considerate tone ; but I should have been a fool, under 
present circumstances, to entertain any sanguine hopes respecting 
situations, etc. You ask me why I do not turn my attention 
elsewhere ; and so I would have done, but that most of my 
relatives and more immediate connections are clergymen, or by a 
private life somewhat removed from this busy world. As for the 
Church I have not one mental qualification, save, perhaps, 
hypocrisy, which would make me cut a figure in its pulpits. Mr. 
James Montgomery and another literary gentleman who have 
lately seen something of my ' head work ' wish me to turn my 

1 Pictures of the Past. Memoirs of Men I have Met, and Places I have Seen. By 
Francis H. Gnindy, C.E. Griffith and Fauen 1870 

VOL. I. Q 



242 THE BRONTES 

attention to literature, and along with that advice, they give me 
plenty of puff and praise. All very well, but I have little conceit 
of myself, and great desire for activity. You say that you write 
with feelings similar to those with which you last left me ; keep 
them no longer. I trust I am somewhat changed, or should not 
be worth a thought ; and though nothing could ever give me your 
buoyant spirits and an outward man corresponding therewith, I 
may, in dress and appearance, emulate something like ordinary 
decency. And now, wherever coming years may lead Green- 
land's snows or sands of Afric I trust, etc., PATRICK B. BRONTE. 

Letter 107 

TO FRANCIS H. GRUNDY 

October 2$th, 1842. 

MY DEAR SIR, There is no misunderstanding. I have had 
a long attendance at the death-bed of the Rev. Mr. Weightman, 
one of my dearest friends, and now I am attending at the death- 
bed of my aunt, who has been for twenty years as my mother. 
I expect her to die in a few hours. 

As my sisters are far from home, I have had much on my mind, 
and these things must serve as an apology for what was never 
intended as neglect of your friendship to us. 

I had meant not only to have written to you, but to the 
Rev. James Martineau, gratefully and sincerely acknowledging 
the receipt of his most kindly and truthful criticism at least in 
advice, though too generous far in praise ; but one sad ceremony 
must, I fear, be gone through first. Give my most sincere respects 
to Mr. Stephenson, and excuse this scrawl my eyes are too dim 
with sorrow to see well. Believe me, your not very happy but 
obliged friend and servant, P. B. BRONTE. 

Letter 108 

TO FRANCIS H. GRUNDY 

2<)th October 1842. 

MY DEAR SlR,~ As I don't want to lose a real friend, I write 
in deprecation of the tone of your letter. Death only has made 
me neglectful of your kindness, and I have lately had so much 
experience with him, that your sister would not now blame me 



THE PENSIONNAT HEGER, BRUSSELS 248 

for indulging in gloomy visions either of this world or another. 
I am incoherent, I fear, but I have been waking two nights 
witnessing such agonising suffering as 1 would not wish my worst 
enemy to endure ; and I have now lost the guide and director 
of all the happy days connected with my childhood, I have 
suffered such sorrow since I last saw you at Ha worth, that I do 

not now care if I were fighting in India or , since, when the 

mind is depressed, danger is the most effectual cure. But you 
don't like croaking, I know well, only I request you to understand 
from my two notes that I have not forgotten you, but myself. 
Yours, etc., P. B. BRONTiL 

Letter 109 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

1 1 RUE DE LA RGENCE, BRUSSELS, 
October 30/7/, 1842. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, You will have heard by this time the end 
of poor Martha ; and with my head full of this event and still 
having nothing to say upon it, or rather not feeling inclined to 
say it, I scarcely know why I write to you. But I don't wish you 
to think that this misfortune will make me forget you more than 
the rest did ; having the opportunity of sending you a letter 
postage free, I just write to tell you I think of you. You will wish 
to hear the history of Martha's illness I will give you it in a few 
months if you have not heard it then ; till then you must excuse 
me. A thousand times I have reviewed the minutest circum- 
stances of it, but I cannot without great difficulty give a regular 
account of them. There is nothing to regret, nothing to recall 
not even Martha. She is better where she is. But when I recall 
the sufferings that have purified her, my heart aches I can't help 
it, and every trivial accident, sad or pleasant, reminds me of her 
and of what she went through. 

I am going to walk with Charlotte and Emily to the Protestant 
cemetery this afternoon (Sunday, 3<Dth October). It is long since 
I have seen them, and we shall have much to say to each other. 
I am now staying with the Dixons in Brussels. I find them very 
different to what I expected. They are the most united, affec- 
tionate family I ever met with. They have taken me as one of 
themselves, and made me such a comfortable happy home that 
I should like to live here all my life. 



244 THE BRONTES 

This I could do if I had not a counter liking (so consistent we 
are) to go into Germany and another to live at Hunsworth. I 
have finally chosen to go to Germany activity being in my 
opinion the most desirable state of existence both for my spirits, 
health, and advantage. 

I shall finish my letter after I have seen Charlotte. 

1st November 1842. 

Well, I have seen her and Emily. We have walked about six 
miles to see the cemetery and the country round it. We then 
spent a pleasant evening with my cousins, and in presence of my 
uncle and Emily, one not speaking at all, the other once or 
twice. 

I like to hear from you, and thank you much for your letter. 
Remember me to your sister Mercy and your mother, and to all 
who enquire about me, if you think they do it more from kindness 
than curiosity. To Miss Cockhill, Mary Carr, the Misses Wooler, 
particularly to Miss Wooler, Miss Bradbury, and the Healds. 

MARY TAYLOR. 

If this letter should not reach you for some time after the date, 
it will not be because it has been delayed on the road, but because 
an opportunity did not occur of sending it sooner by a private 
hand. 

Mary Dixon wishes me to begin again to express her kind 
remembrances to you and your sister. 

The culminating trouble for Charlotte and Emily was 
the death of their aunt, news of which reached them 
as they were preparing to start for England. Miss 
Branwell's death changed many things for her two nieces, 
and put each of them in possession of a small income. A 
perusal of her will is not without interest. 

Extracted from the District Probate Registry at York 
attached to Her Majesty's High Court of Juatice. 

Depending on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for peace here, and 
glory and bliss forever liereafter, I leave this my last Will and Testa- 
ment : Should I die at Haworth, I request that my remains may be 
deposited in the churcli in that place as near as convenient to the 
remains of my dear sister ; I moreover will that all my just debts 
and funeral expenses be paid out of my property, and that my funeral 



THE PENSIONNAT HEGER, BRUSSELS 245 

shall be conducted in a moderate and decent manner. My Indian 
workbox I leave to my niece, Charlotte Bronte ; my workbox with a 
china top I leave to my niece, Emily Jane Bronte, together with my 
ivory fan ; my Japan dressing-box I leave to my nephew, Patrick 
Branwell Bronte ; to my niece Anne Bronte, I leave my watch with 
all that belongs to it ; as also my eye-glass and its chain, my rings, 
silver-spoons, books, clothes, etc., etc., I leave to be divided between my 
above-named three nieces, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Jane Bronte, and 
Anne Bronte, according as their father shall think proper. And 1 
will that all the money that shall remain, including twenty-five 
pounds sterling, being the part of the proceeds of the sale of my goods 
which belong to me in consequence of my having advanced to my 
sister Kingston the sum of twenty-five pounds in lieu of her share oj 
the proceeds of my goods aforesaid, and deposited in the bank of 
Bo lit ho Sons and Co., Esqrs., of Chiandower, near Penzance, after 
the aforesaid sums and articles shall have been paid and deducted, 
shall be put into some safe bank or lent on good landed security, and 
there left to accumulate for the sole benefit of my four nieces, Charlotte 
Bronte, Emily Jane Bronte, Anne Bronte, and Elizabeth Jane 
Kingston ; and this sum or sums, and whatever other property I may 
have, shall be equally divided between them when the youngest of 
them then living shall have arrived at the age of twenty-one years. 
And should any one or more of tJiesc my four nieces die, her or their 
part or parts shall be equally divided amongst the survivors; and if 
but one is left, all shall go to that one : And should they all die before 
the age of tiventy-one years, all their parts shall be given to my 
sister, Anne Kingston ; and should she die before that time specified, 
I will tJiat all that was to have been hers shall be equally divided 
between all the surviving children of my dear brother and sisters. 
I appoint my brother-in-law, the Rev. P Bronte, A.B , now Incum- 
bent of Haworth, Yorkshire ; the Rev. John Fennell, now Incumbent 
of Cross Stone, near Halifax ; the Rev. Theodore Dury, Rector of 
Keighley, Yorkshire ; and Mr. George Taylor of Stanbury, in the 
chapelry of Haworth aforesaid, my executors. Written by me, 
ELIZABETH BRANWELL, and signed, sealed, and delivered on the 
3<D/// of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred 
and thirty-three, ELIZABETH BRANWELL. Witnesses present, 
William Brown, John Tootill, William Brown, Junr. 

The twenty -eighth day of December, 1842, the Will of ELIZABETH 
BRANWELL, late of Haworth, in the parish of Bradford, in 
the county of York, spinster (having bona notabilia within 



246 THE BRONTES 

the province of York), Deceased \ was proved in the prerogative 
court of York by the oaths of the Reverend Patrick Bronte, 
clerk) brother-in-law ; and George Taylor, two of the executors 
to whom administration was granted (the Reverend Theodore 
Dury, another of the executors, having renounced), they having 
been first sworn duly to administer. 

Effects sworn under ^1500. 

Testatrix died 29th October 1842, 



Letter no 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, November loth, 1842. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I was not yet returned to England when 
your letter arrived. We received the first news of aunt's illness, 
Wednesday, Nov. 2nd. We decided to come home directly. 
Next morning a second letter informed us of her death. We 
sailed from Antwerp on Sunday ; we travelled day and night 
and got home on Tuesday morning and of course the funeral 
and all was over. We shall see her no more. Papa is pretty 
well. We found Anne at home ; she is pretty well also. You 
say you have had no letter from me for a long time. I wrote to 
you three weeks ago. When you answer this note, I will write 
to you more in detail. Martha Taylor's illness was unknown to 
me till the day before she died. I hastened to Kockleberg the 
next morning unconscious that she was in great danger and 
was told that it was finished. She had died in the night. Mary 
was taken away to Bruxelles. I have seen Mary frequently since. 
She is in no ways crushed by the event ; but while Martha was 
ill she was to her more than a mother more than a sister : 
watching, nursing, cherishing her so tenderly, so unweariedly. 
She appears calm and serious now : no bursts of violent emotion, 
no exaggeration of distress. I have seen Martha's grave the 
place where her ashes lie in a foreign country. Aunt, Martha 
Taylor, and Mr. Weightman are now all gone ; how dreary and 
void everything seems. Mr. Weightman's illness was exactly 
what Martha's was he was ill the same length of time and died 
in the same manner. Aunt's disease was internal obstruction; 
she also was ill a fortnight. 

Good-bye, my dear Ellen. C. BRONTE. 



THE PENSIONNAT HEGER, BRUSSELS 247 

A few facts more about the first sojourn of Charlotte 
Bronte in Brussels we may learn from a letter written from 
New Zealand to Mrs. Gaskell by Mary Taylor. 

Letter in 

TO MRS. GASKELL 

The first part of her time at Brussels was not uninteresting. 
She spoke of new people and characters, and foreign ways of the 
pupils and teachers. She knew the hopes and prospects of the 
teachers, and mentioned one who was very anxious to marry, 
' she was getting so old.' She used to get her father or brother 
(I forget which) to be the bearer of letters to different single men, 
who she thought might be persuaded to do her the favour, saying 
that her only resource was to become a sister of charity if her 
present employment failed, and that she hated the idea. Charlotte 
naturally looked with curiosity to people of her own condition. 
This woman almost frightened her. ' She declares there is nothing 
she can turn to, and laughs at the idea of delicacy and she is 
only ten years older than I am ! ' I did not see the connection 
till she said, ' Well, Polly, I should hate being a sister of charity ; 
I suppose that would shock some people, but I should. 1 I thought 
she would have as much feeling as a nurse as most people, and 
more than some. She said she did not know how people could 
bear the constant pressure of misery, and never to change except 
to a new form of it. It would be impossible to keep one's natural 
feelings. I promised her a better destiny than to go begging any 
one to marry her, or to lose her natural feelings as a sister of 
charity. She said, ' My youth is leaving me ; I can never do 
better than I have done, and I have done nothing yet.' At such 
times she seemed to think that most human beings were destined 
by the pressure of worldly interests to lose one faculty and feeling 
after another * till they went dead altogether. I hope I shall be 
put in my grave as soon as I 'm dead ; I don't want to walk about 
so.' Here we always differed. I thought the degradation of 
nature she feared was a consequence of poverty, and that she 
should give her attention to earning money. Sometimes she 
admitted this, but could find no means of earning money. At 
others she seemed afraid of letting her thoughts dwell on the 
subject, saying it brought on the worst palsy of all. Indeed, in 



248 THE BRONTES 

her position, nothing less than entire constant absorption in petty 
money matters could have scraped together a provision. 

Of course artists and authors stood high with Charlotte, and 
the best thing after their works would have been their company. 
She used very inconsistently to rail at money and money-getting, 
and then wish she was able to visit all the large towns in Europe, 
see all the sights, and know all the celebrities. This was her 
notion of literary fame a passport to the society of clever people. 
. . . When she had become acquainted with the people and ways 
at Brussels her life became monotonous, and she fell into the 
same hopeless state as at Miss Wooler's, though in a less degree. 
I wrote to her, urging her to go home or elsewhere ; she had got 
what she wanted (French), and there was at least novelty in a 
new place, if no improvement. That if she sank into deeper 
gloom she would soon not have energy to go, and she was too 
far from home for her friends to hear of her condition and order 
her home as they had done from Miss Wooler's. She wrote that 
I had done her a great service, that she would certainly follow 
my advice, and was much obliged to me. I have often wondered 
at this letter. Though she patiently tolerated advice she could 
always quietly put it aside, and do as she thought fit. More than 
once afterwards she mentioned the * service ' I had done her. She 
sent me 10 to New Zealand, on hearing some exaggerated 
accounts of my circumstances, and told me she hoped it would 
come in seasonably ; it was a debt she owed me * for the service 
I had done her. 1 I should think 10 was a quarter of her income. 
The ' service ' was mentioned as an apology, but kindness was the 
real motive. 

As the two girls were returning home from Brussels 
M. Hger wrote a letter to their father. 

Letter 112 

AU RVREND MONSIEUR BRONTE, PASTEUR VANGLIQUE, 

ETC., ETC. 

SAMEDI, 5 Obrc. 

Monsieur, Un 6ve*nement bien triste decide mesdemoiselles 
vos filles a retourner brusquement en Angleterre. Ce depart qui 
nous afflige beaucoup a cependant ma complete approbation ; il 
est bien naturel qu'elles cherchent a vous consoler de ce que le 



THE PENSIONNAT H&GER, BRUSSELS 249 

ciel vient de vous oter, en se serrant autour de vous, pour mieux 
vous faire appr6cier ce que le ciel vous a donn ct ce qu'il vous 
laisse encore. J'espere que vous me pardonnerez, monsieur, de 
profiler de cette circonstance pour vous faire parvenir Texpression 
de mon respect ; je n'ai pas Thonneur de vous connaitre person- 
nellement, et cependant j'eprouve pour votre personne un senti- 
ment de sincere veneration, car en jugeant un pere de famille par 
ses enfants on ne risque pas de se tromper, et sous ce rapport 
1'education et les sentiments que nous avons trouvds dans mesde- 
moiselles vos filles n'ont pu que nous donner une tres haute idee 
de votre m^rite et de votre caract&re. Vous apprendrez sans 
doute avec plaisir que vos enfants ont fait du progres tr&s remar- 
quable dans toutes les branches de 1'enseignement, et que ces 
progres sont cntierement dus leur amour pour le travail et a leur 
perseverance ; nous n'avons eu que bien peu a faire avec de 
pareilles ei&ves ; leur avancement est votre ceuvre bien plus que 
la ndtre ; nous n'avons pas eu a leur apprendre le prix du temps 
et de 1'instruction, elles avaient appris tout cela dans la maison 
paternelle, et nous n'avons eu, pour notre part, que le faible 
merite de diriger leurs efforts et de fournir un aliment convenable 
a la louable activite que vos filles ont puisne dans votre exemple 
et dans vos lemons. Puissent les eioges m^ritds que nous donnons 
a vos enfants vous ctre de quelque consolation dans le malheur 
qui vous afflige ; c'est la notre espoir en vous ecrivant, et ce sera, 
pour mesdemoiselles Charlotte et Emily, une douce et belle 
recompense de leurs travaux. 

En perdant nos deux cheres Sieves, nous ne devons pas vous 
cachcr que nous eprouvons a la fois et du chagrin et de 1'in- 
quietude ; nous sommes afflig6s parce que cette brusque separa- 
tion vient briser 1'affection presque paternelle que nous leur 
avons vouee, ct notre peine s'augmente a. la vue de tant de tra- 
vaux interrompus, de tant de choses bien commencees, et qui ne 
dcmandent que quelque temps encore pour etre menes a bonne 
fin. Dans un an chacune de vos demoiselles eut ete entierement 
premunie contre les cventualites de 1'avenir ; chacune d'elles 
acqurait a la fois et 1'instruction et la science d'enseignement ; 
Mile Emily allait apprendre le piano ; recevoir des leons du 
meilleur professeur que nous ayons en Belgique, et deja elle avait 
elle-meme de petites eieves ; elle perdait done a la fois un reste 
d'ignorance et un reste plus genant encore de timidite ; Mile 
Charlotte commengait a donner des lemons en fran^ais, et d'ac- 



250 THE BRONTES 

que*rir cette assurance, cet aplomb si n^cessaire dans 1'enseigne- 
ment ; encore un an tout au plus et Poeuvre tait achev^e et bien 
achev^e. Alors nous aurions pu, si cela vous eut convenu, offrir a 
mesdemoiselles vos filles ou du moins a Tune des deux une 
position qui eut e*t dans ses gouts, et qui lui eut donn cette 
douce inddpendance si difficile a trouver pour une jeune personne. 
Ce n'est pas, croyez-le bien, monsieur, ce n'est pas ici pour nous 
une question d'inte>t personnel, c'est une question d'affection ; 
vous me pardonnerez si nous vous parlons de vos enfants, si nous 
nous occupons de leur avenir, comme si elles faisaient partie de 
notre famille ; leurs qualite"s personnelles, leur bon vouloir, leur 
zele extreme sont les seules causes qui nous poussent a nous 
hasarder de la sorte. Nous savons, monsieur, que vous peserez 
plus murement et plus sagement que nous la consequence qu'au- 
rait pour 1'avenir une interruption complete dans les Etudes de 
vos deux filles ; vous de"ciderez ce qu'il faut faire, et vous nous 
pardonnerez notre franchise, si vous daignez consideYer que le 
motif qui nous fait agir est une affection bien de\sint6resse"e et qui 
s'affligerait beaucoup de devoir deja se rsigner a n'tre plus utile 
a vos chers enfants. 

Agreez, je vous prie, monsieur, 1'expression respectueuse de 
mes sentiments de haute consideration. C. HfiGER. 

All thing's considered, by the light of this letter, there 
was nothing strange in the fact that Charlotte should 
determine to return once more to Brussels, that she should 
aspire to a greater proficiency in many of the subjects 
which she had begun to study under such satisfactory 
auspices. A quiet Christmas at Haworth with her father, 
brother and sisters, and Charlotte returned to Brussels. 
One or two letters to her friend Ellen Nussey fill up the 
intervening days. 

Letter 113 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, November 2otk, 1842. 

DEAR ELLFN, I hope your brother George is sufficiently 
recovered now to dispense with your constant attendance. Papa 
desires his compliments to you, and says he should be very glad 



THE PENSIONNAT HfiGER, BRUSSELS 251 

if you could give us your company at Haworth a little while. 
Can you come on Friday next? I mention so early a day 
because Anne leaves us to return to Y6rk on Monday, and she 
wishes very much to see you before her departure. I think 
George is too good-natured to object to your coming. There is 
little enough pleasure in this world, and it would be truly unkind 
to deny to you and me that of meeting again after so long a 
separation. Do not fear to find us melancholy or depressed. We 
are all much as usual. You will see no difference from our former 
demeanour. Send an immediate answer. 

My love and best wishes to your sister and mother. 

C. BRONT. 



Letter 114 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

November 25/7/, 1842. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I hope that invitation of yours was given 
in real earnest, for I intend to accept it. I wish to see you, and 
as in a few weeks I shall probably again leave England, I will 
not be too delicate and ceremonious and so let the present 
opportunity pass. 

Something says to me that it will not be too convenient to 
have a guest at Brookroyd while there is an invalid there. How- 
ever, I listen to no such suggestions. I find, however, that I 
cannot come on Monday, because Anne's present arrangements 
will not suit that day. She leaves Haworth on Tuesday at six 
o'clock in the morning, and we should reach Bradford at half- 
past eight an early hour for you to be there with the gig. 

If Tuesday will not suit you write immediately and tell me so. 
The circumstances of its being Leeds market-day may perhaps 
render it inconvenient. If so, I will defer my visit to any day 
you please. 

There are many reasons why I should have preferred your 
coming to Haworth ; but as it appears there are always obstacles 
which prevent that I '11 break through ceremony, or pride, or 
whatever it is, and like Mahomet go to the mountain which won't 
or can't come to me. 

The coach stops at the Bowling-Green Inn in Bradford. 

Give my love to Mercy and your Mother. C. BRONTfi. 



252 THE BRONTfiS 

Letter 115 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

No date. 

ANN wants shaking to be put out about his appearance 
what does it matter whether her husband dines in a dress-coat or 
a market-coat, provided there be worth and honesty and a clean 
shirt underneath ? 

I should like to make Ann sorne small present. Give me a 
hint what would be acceptable. 

I suppose you have not yet heard anything more of poor 
Mr. Graham, since you do not mention him. Does Rosy Ringrose 
continue to improve ? How are Mrs. Atkinson and Mrs. Charles 
Carr? I am glad to hear that Miss Heald continues tolerable 
but, as you say, it really seems wonderful. I hope Mercy will 
derive benefit from her excursion. 

Good-bye for the present. Write to me again soon. 

C B. 

With what remains after paying for the furs you must buy 
something for yourself to make your bridesmaid gear. 

Letter 116 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, January io//fc, 1843. 

DEAR NELL, It is a singular state of things to be obliged to 
write and have nothing worth reading to say. I am glad you 
got home safe. You are an excellent good girl for writing to me 
two letters, especially as they were such long ones. Branwell 
wants to know why you carefully exclude all mention of him 
when you particularly send your regards to every other member 
of the family. He desires to know whether and in what he has 
offended you, or whether it is considered improper for a young 
lady to mention the gentlemen of a house. We have been one 
walk on the moors since you left. We have been to Keighley, 
where we met a person of our acquaintance, who uttered an 
interjection of astonishment on meeting us, and when he could 
get his breath, informed us that he had heard I was dead and 
buried. You say nothing about Mr. 's pocket-book. Has he 



THE PENSIONNAT HEGER, BRUSSELS 253 

found it? I don't know what to think about Joe coming so often 
to Brookroyd. There exists a tragedy entitled The Rival Brothers. 
I have got down into the realms of nonsense, so I '11 drop it. 

I have been as solid as a large dumpling since you left. F 's 

note I return because it must be precious. Anne's I keep. 
Alas for O. P. V. ! Alas ! Alas ! C. BRONTE. 



Letter 1 1 7 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, January, 1843. 

DEAR NELL, My striped dress is not cut crossways. I am 
much obliged to you for transferring the roll of muslin. I found 
the brush under the sofa, and last Saturday I found the bustle 
for which you deserve smothering. 

I will deliver Branwell your message. You have left your 
Bible; how can I send it? I cannot tell precisely what day I 
shall leave home, but it will be the last week in this month. Are 
you going with me ? 

I admire exceedingly the costume you have chosen to appear 
in at the Birstall rout. I think you say pink petticoat, black 
jacket, and a wreath of roses beautiful! For a change I would 
advise a black coat velvet stock and waistcoat white pantaloons 
and smart boots ! 

I have addressed you in this note as plain Ellen for though I 
know it will soon be Mrs. J. Taylor I can't for the life of 
me tell whether the initial J. stands for John or Joe. It is a 
complete enigma. When I have time I mean to write Mr. 
Vincent's elegy. Poor man ! the manufacturers are beating him 
hollow. 

My address is Miss Bronte, Chez M de Heger-Parent, No. 32 
Rue d'Isabelle, Bruxelles, Belgium. 

~Write to me again ; that 's a good girl. Very soon in a 
fortnight, you know there will be no more scribbling. 

Respectful remembrances to your mother and Mercy. 

C. BRONTE. 



254 THE BRONTES 



CHAPTER XII 

SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 

MUCH needless ink has been wasted over a discussion of 
the causes which led Charlotte Bronte to return to Brussels 
alone. The village gossips of that day of course suggested 
that there was a lover there. The city gossips of a later 
day have insisted that M. Constantin H^ger was the hero 
of this episode. If the fictitious characters of an author's 
creation are to be taken for realities in his or her eyes, 
there is sufficient excuse for this view. Paul Emanuel of 
Villette was undoubtedly M. H6ger in many pleasant and 
unpleasant characteristics, and if Lucy Snowe be assumed 
to be Charlotte Bronte, and here also there were certain 
indisputable points of likeness then the passionate love 
that Charlotte Bronte felt for her professor is beyond 
dispute. But this attitude towards an artist's work is, as 
it seems to me, a very mean one on the part of the critics. 
It is in a way an act of treachery to a great writer's 
memory to attempt to pry too closely into his heart. A 
perusal of these letters, now brought together for the first 
time with any completeness, reveals in Charlotte Bronte 
an entirely good and honourable nature. If there were 
moments during that sad year at Brussels when the neurotic 
little woman permitted herself to think of the might-have- 
beens of life, to imagine to herself what a wife she would 
have made to the brilliant little professor, she kept all such 
thoughts well in subjection, and with speculation concerning 
them the world has nothing to do. The censorious reader 
may discover in Charlotte Bronte an occasional aptitude for 
a too severe judgment on men and women, a cruel severity 



SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 255 

towards the manners of curates faults she had, as all of 
us have ; but her inherent purity of nature cannot for a 
moment be impugned. That is granted, I admit, by the 
successive writers who have emphasised this episode in 
Charlotte Bronte's life by Sir Wemyss Reid, Mr. 
Augustine Birrell, Dr. Robertson Nicoll, 1 and Mr. Angus 
MacKay. In a striking essay 2 Mr. MacKay has sum- 
marised the point of view of those who think that all the 
passionate devotion that Lucy Snowe feels for her professor 
Paul Emanuel is but a reflection of a similar devotion 
felt by Charlotte Bronte for Constantin H6ger. A few 
lines contained in a letter to Ellen Nussey are most relied 
upon for this view : 

I returned to Brussels after aunt's death against my conscience, 
prompted by what then seemed an irresistible impulse. I was 
punished for my selfish folly by a withdrawal for more than two 
years of happiness and peace of mind. 

Miss Nussey and Mr. Nicholls interpreted this to mean 
that she had left her father to over-conviviality which her 
influence would have modified, and that her brother took 
some further steps towards the precipice over which he 
was destined to fall. Mr. MacKay and the other critics 
discover a secret in her life : 

We see her sore wounded in her affections, but unconquerable 
in her will. The discovery . . . does not degrade the noble figure 
we know so well ; it adds to it a pathetic significance. The moral 
of her greatest works that conscience must reign absolute at 
whatever cost acquires a greater force when we realise how she 
herself came through the furnace of temptation with marks of 
torture on her, but with no stain on her soul. 

To continue the discussion of this subject is scarcely 
within my province. Madame Heger and her family, it 
must be admitted, have kept the impression afloat that is 

1 See his two brilliant essays, the one as an Introduction to Jane Eyre (Hodder and 
Stoughton), the other in Chambers's Cyclopedia of English Literature. 

2 The Brontes, Fact and Fiction, by Angus M. MacKay. Service and Paton, 1897. 



260 THE BRONTES 

schoolroom, without the supervision of Madame or M. H6ger. 
They offered to be present, with a view to maintain order among 
the unruly Belgian girls ; but she declined this, saying that she 
would rather enforce discipline by her own manner and character 
than be indebted for obedience to the presence of a gendarme. 
She ruled over a new schoolroom, which had been built on the 
space in the playground adjoining the house. Over that First 
Class she was surveillante at all hours ; and henceforward she was 
called Mademoiselle Charlotte by M. Hger's orders. She con- 
tinued her own studies, principally attending to German and to 
Literature ; and every Sunday she went alone to the German and 
English chapels. Her walks too were solitary, and principally 
taken in the alUe dtfendue, where she was secure from intrusion. 
The solitude was a perilous luxury to one of her temperament, so 
liable as she was to morbid and acute mental suffering. 1 



Letter 118 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, January 30^, 1843. 

DEAR ELLEN, I left Leeds for London last Friday at nine 
o'clock ; owing to delay we did not reach London till ten at night 
two hours after time, I took a cab the moment I arrived at 
Euston Square, and went forthwith to London Bridge Wharf. 
The packet lay off that wharf, and I went on board the same 
night. Next morning we sailed. We had a prosperous and 
speedy voyage, and landed at Ostend at seven o'clock next 
morning. I took the train at twelve and reached Rue d'Isabelle 
at seven in the evening. Madame Hger received me with great 
kindness. I am still tired with the continued excitement of three 
days' travelling. I had no accident, but of course some anxiety. 
Miss Dixon called this afternoon. Mary Taylor had told her I 
should be in Brussels the last week in January. You can tell Joe 
Taylor she looks very elegant and ladylike. I am going there 
on Sunday, D.V. Address Miss Bronte, Chez Mme. H6ger, 
32 Rue d'Isabelle, Bruxelles.- Good-bye, dear. C. B. 

1 Lift of Charlotte Bronte^ by Mrs. Gaskell, Haworth Edition, pp. 252-3. 



SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 261 



Letter 119 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

[GERMANY], Feb. 16, 1843. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your descriptions and opinions of the Miss 
Woolers, etc. etc., are more interesting than you imagine. Why 
do you not send me more of them ? It is something very interest- 
ing to me [to] hear the remarks, exclamations, etc., that people 
make when they see any one from * foreign parts.' I know well 
how you would spend the month you talk of when Miss Bronte 
was with you, and how you would discuss all imaginable topics 
and all imaginable people all day and half the night. Tell me 
something about Emily Bronte. I can't imagine how the newly 
acquired qualities can fit in, in the same head and heart that is 
occupied by the old ones. I imagine Emily turning over prints 
or ' taking wine ' with any stupid pup and preserving her temper 
and politeness ! Do you know, your specimens of * people with 
good taste ' who admire The Sea shocks me by its vulgarity. The 
Sea is but a simple air! You should admire elaborate fantasias 
made on elaborate subjects, that want three hands or twelve 
fingers to play them when you are left to invent now and then 
a Brilliant appogiatura, cadence, harfenspiel, or what not, to 
modulate through the fifth into the next key, or from a minor 
seventh close to a' the devil knows what! If you can't under- 
stand it all remember I 've been learning German and how is 
it possible to keep one's brain clear in this land of Swedenborg, 
philosophy, abstract ideas, and cabbaged This last word is a 
literal translation of a German one, always applied to anything 
very confused my letter, for instance. However, I thrive with 
it all. I am decidedly better, better than I have been since I left 
England. Brussels, or perhaps my moral condition there, did not 
agree with me. I felt overpowered with weakness; now I am 
cheerful and active. Do not think if I don't write to you often 
that I forget you. I write a public letter, which I hope you see ; 
and when I have written all the news I have, what can I put in 
your letter ? I will wait a day or two, and if I find a great secret 
I will put it at the bottom of this page. 



262 THE BRONTES 

Feb. 

I find nothing to-day that I have not said in the public letter, 
and I must close my packet to-day for fear an estafette comes to 
know why I don't write. I have heard from Charlotte since her 
arrival ; she seems content at least, but fear her sister's absence 
will have a bad effect. When people have so little amusement 
they cannot afford to lose any. However, we shall see. Present 
my remembrances to Miss Heald if she sent any to me, and I 
have really forgotten, and your letters are so abominably written 
that I cannot afford time to read it over again. Cannot you take 
pains and write neatly as I do? I fully understand your regrets 
at being forced to remain at home, but there is always your 
Mother for a reason, and perhaps if you left her you might regret 
as much that you had not remained by her. Remember me to 
her and your sister, Miss Wooler, and the Cockhills. 

MARY TAYLOR. 



Letter 120 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, March 6, 1843. 

DEAR NELL, Whether you received my last billet or not I 
do not know, but as an opportunity offers of despatching to you 
another I will avail myself of it. 

I am settled by this time, of course. I am not too much over- 
loaded with occupation ; and besides teaching English I have 
time to improve myself in German. I ought to consider myself 
well off, and to be thankful for my good fortune. I hope I am 
thankful ; and if I could always keep up my spirits, and never 
feel lonely, or long for companionship, or friendship, or whatever 
they call it, I should do very well. As I told you before, M. and 
Madame Hger are the only two persons in the house for whom 
I really experience regard and esteem, and, of course, I cannot 
always be with them, nor even often. They told me, when I first 
returned, that I was to consider their sitting-room my sitting-room 
also, and to go there whenever I was not engaged in the school- 
room. This, however, I cannot do. In the daytime it is a public 
room, where music masters and mistresses are constantly passing 
in and out ; and in the evening I will not and ought not to intrude 



SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 263 

on M. and Madame Hger and their children. Thus I am a 
good deal by myself, out of school hours ; but that does not 
signify. I now regularly give English lessons to M. Hger and 
his brother-in-law, M. Chapelle. M. Roger's first wife was sister 
of M. Chapelle's present wife. They get on with wonderful 
rapidity, especially the first. He already begins to speak English 
very decently. If you could see and hear the efforts I make to 
teach them to pronounce like Englishmen, and their unavailing 
attempts to imitate, you would laugh to all eternity. 

The Carnival is just over, and we have entered upon the gloom 
and abstinence of Lent. The first day of Lent we had coffee 
without milk for breakfast ; vinegar and vegetables, with a very 
little salt fish, for dinner ; and bread for supper. The Carnival 
was nothing but masking and mummery. M. H6ger took me 
and one of the pupils into the town to see the masks. It was 
animating to see the immense crowds, and the general gaiety, 
but the masks were nothing. I have been twice to the Dixons. 
They are very kind to me. This letter will probably go by 
Mr. Tom. Miss Dixon is certainly an elegant and accomplished 
person. When she leaves Bruxelles I shall have nowhere to go. 
I shall be very sorry to lose her society. I hear that Mary W. is 
going to be married, and that Mr. J. Taylor has been and is very 
poorly. I have had two letters from Mary. She does not tell 
me she has been ill, and she does not complain ; but her letters 
are not the letters of a person in the enjoyment of great happi- 
ness. She has nobody to be as good to her as M. Hger is to me ; 
to lend her books, to converse with her sometimes, etc. Tell me 
if any chances or changes have happened. 

Good-bye. When I say so it seems to me that you will hardly 
hear me ; all the waves of the Channel heaving and roaring 
between must deaden the sound. Good-bye. C. B. 



Letter 121 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, April u/, 1843. 

DEAR ELLEN, That last letter of yours merits a good dose of 
panegyric it was both long and interesting ; send me quickly 
such another, longer still if possible. You will have heard of 



264 THE BRONTES 

Mary Taylor's resolute and intrepid proceedings. Her public 
letters will have put you in possession of all details nothing is 
left for me to say except perhaps to express my opinion upon it. 
I have turned the matter over on all sides, and really I cannot 
consider it otherwise than as very rational. Mind, I did not 
jump to this opinion at once, but was several days before I formed 
it conclusively. 

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 com- 
pare what I am with what I was my place here with my place 
at Mrs. Sidgwick's or Mrs. White's 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 tyoux 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 H6ger's. 
I must have some more powerful motive than respect for my 
master and mistress, gratitude for their kindness, etc., to induce 
me to refuse a salary of 5O/. in England and accept one of i6/. 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 Hger, and seldom 



SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 265 

indeed with him they would, perhaps, cease to suppose that any 
such chimerical and groundless notion had influenced my pro- 
ceedings. 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 con- 
tempt, 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. I hope sincerely that all at 
Brookroyd are well. Remember me to your Mother and Mary. 
Any news of Ann yet ? Good-bye. Write to me soon, nicely and 
pleasantly. Don't cut me up with any second-hand nonsense. 
Yours, C. B. 

Letter 122 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May , '43. 

DEAR Miss NUSSEY, I should be wanting in common civility 
if I did not thank you for your kindness in letting me know of an 
opportunity to send postage free. 

I have written as you directed, though if next Tuesday means 

to-morrow, I fear it will be too late to go with Mr. . Charlotte 

has never mentioned a word about coming home. If you would 
go over for half a year, perhaps you might be able to bring her 
back with you, otherwise she might vegetate there till the age of 
Methusaleh for mere lack of courage to face the voyage. 

All here are in good health ; so was Anne according to her last 
account. The holidays will be here in a week or two, and then, 
if she be willing, I will get her to write you a proper letter, a feat 
that I have never performed. With love and good wishes, 

EMILY J. BRONTE. 

Letter 123 

TO BRANWELL BRONTfi 

BRUSSELS, May ist, 1843. 

DEAR BRANWELL, I hear you have written a letter to me. 
This letter, however, as usual, I have never received, which I am 



266 THE BRONTES 

exceedingly sorry for, as I have wished very much to hear from 
you. Are you sure that you put the right address and that you 
paid the English postage, is. 6d.? Without that, letters are never 
forwarded. I heard from papa a day or two since.- All appears 
to be going on reasonably well at home. I grieve only that Emily 
is so solitary; but, however, you and Anne will soon be returning 
for the holidays, which will cheer the house for a time. Are you 
in better health and spirits, and does Anne continue to be pretty 
well? I understand papa has been to see you. Did he seem 
cheerful and well ? Mind when you write to me you answer these 
questions, as I wish to know. Also give me a detailed account 
as to how you get on with your pupil and the rest of the family. 
I have received a general assurance that you do well and are in 
good odour, but I want to know particulars. 

As for me, I am very well and wag on as usual. I perceive, 
however, that I grow exceedingly misanthropic and sour. You 
will say that this is no news, and that you never knew me possessed 
of the contrary qualities philanthropy and sugariness. Das ist 
wahr (which being translated means, that is true) ; but the fact is, 
the people here are no go whatsoever. Amongst 120 persons 
which compose the daily population of this house, I can discern 
only one or two who deserve anything like regard. This is not 
owing to foolish fastidiousness on my part, but to the absence of 
decent qualities on theirs. They have not intellect or politeness 
or good-nature or good-feeling. They are nothing. I don't hate 
them hatred would be too warm a feeling. They have no sensa- 
tions themselves and they excite none. But one wearies from 
day to day of caring nothing, fearing nothing, liking nothing, 
hating nothing, being nothing, doing nothing yes, I teach and 
sometimes get red in the face with impatience at their stupidity. 
But don't think I ever scold or fly into a passion. If I spoke 
warmly, as warmly as I sometimes used to do at Roe Head, they 
would think me mad. Nobody ever gets into a passion here. 
Such a thing is not known. The phlegm that thickens their 
blood is too gluey to boil. They are very false in their relations 
with each other, but they rarely quarrel, and friendship is a folly 
they are unacquainted with. The black Swan, M. Hger, is the 
only sole veritable exception to this rule (for Madame, always 
cool and always reasoning, is not quite an exception). But I 
rarely speak to Monsieur now, for not being a pupil I have little 
or nothing to do with him. From time to time he shows his 



SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 267 

kind-heartedness by loading me with books, so that I am still 
indebted to him for all the pleasure or amusement I have. 
Except for the total want of companionship I have nothing to 
complain of. I have not too much to do, sufficient liberty, and 
I am rarely interfered with. I lead an easeful, stagnant, silent 
life, for which, when I think of Mrs. Sidgwick, I ought to be very 
thankful. Be sure you write to me soon, and beg of Anne to 
inclose a small billet in the same letter ; it will be a real charity 
to do me this kindness. Tell me everything you can think of. 

It is a curious metaphysical fact that always in the evening 
when I am in the great dormitory alone, having no other company 
than a number of beds with white curtains, I always recur as 
fanatically as ever to the old ideas, the old faces, and the old 
scenes in the world below. 

Give my love to Anne. And believe me, yourn 

DEAR ANNE, Write to me. Your affectionate Schwester, 

C. B. 

Letter 124 

TO EMILY J. BRONTfi 

BRUSSELS, May 29^, 1843. 

DEAR E. J., The reason of the unconscionable demand for 
money is explained in my letter to papa. Would you believe it, 
Mdlle. Muhl demands as much for one pupil as for two, namely, 
10 francs per month. This, with the 5 francs per month to the 
Blanchisseuse, makes havoc in 16 per annum. You will perceive 
I have begun again to take German lessons. Things wag on much 
as usual here. Only Mdlle. Blanche and Mdlle. Hausse are at 
present on a system of war without quarter. They hate each 
other like two cats. Mdlle. Blanche frightens Mdlle. Hausse* by 
her white passions (for they quarrel venomously). Mdlle. Hausse* 
complains that when Mdlle. Blanche is in fury, ' elle ria pas de 
levres! I find also that Mdlle. Sophie dislikes Mdlle. Blanche 
extremely. She says she is heartless, insincere, and vindictive, 
which epithets, I assure you, are richly deserved. Also I find she 
is the regular spy of Mme. Hger, to whom she reports everything. 
Also she invents which I should not have thought. I have now 
the entire charge of the English lessons. I have given two lessons 
to the first class. Hortense Jannoy was a picture on these occa- 
sions ; her face was black as a ' blue-piled thunder-loft/ and her 



268 THE BRONTS 

two ears were red as raw beef. To all questions asked her 
reply was, 'je ne sais pas' It is a pity but her friends could meet 
with a person qualified to cast out a devil. I am richly off for 
companionship in these parts. Of late days, M. and Mde. He*ger 
rarely speak to me, and I really don't pretend to care a fig for 
any body else in the establishment. You are not to suppose by 
that expression that I am under the influence of warm affection 
for Mde. Hdger. I am convinced she does not like me why, I 
can't tell, nor do I think she herself has any definite reason for the 
aversion ; but for one thing, she cannot comprehend why I do not 
make intimate friends of Mesdames Blanche, Sophie, and Hausse*. 
M. Hger is wonderously influenced by Madame, and I should not 
wonder if he disapproves very much of my unamiable want of 
sociability. He has already given me a brief lecture on universal 
bienveillancC) and, perceiving that I don't improve in consequence. 
I fancy he has taken to considering me as a person to be let alone 
left to the error of her ways ; and consequently he has in a great 
measure withdrawn the light of his countenance, and I get on from 
day to day in a Robinson-Crusoe-like condition very lonely. 
That does not signify. In other respects I have nothing sub- 
stantial to complain of, nor is even this a cause for complaint. 
Except the loss of M. H^ger's goodwill (if I have lost it) I care for 
none of 'em. I hope you are well and hearty. Walk out often on 
the moors. Sorry am I to hear that Hannah is gone, and that she 
has left you burdened with the charge of the little girl, her sister. 
I hope Tabby will continue to stay with you give my love to 
her. Regards to the fighting gentry, and to old asthma. Your 

C. B. 

I have written to Branwell, though I never got a letter from 
him. 

Letter 125 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, August 6th, 1843. 

DEAR ELLEN, You never answered my last letter ; but, how- 
ever, forgiveness is a part of the Christian Creed, and so having an 
opportunity to send a letter to England, I forgive you and write 
to you again. 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 



SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 269 

few days our vacation will begin ; everybody is joyous and ani- 
mated 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. Last Sunday afternoon, being at the Chapel Royal, in 
Brussels, I was surprised to hear a voice proceed from the pulpit 
which instantly brought all Birstall and Batley before my mind's 
eye. I could see nothing, but certainly thought that that unclerical 
little Welsh pony, Jenkins, was there. I buoyed up my mind with 
the expectation of receiving a letter from you, but as, however, I 
have got none, I suppose I must have been mistaken. 

Since I wrote the preceding pages, Mr. Jenkins has called. He 
brought no letter from you, but said you were at Harrogate, and 
that they could not find the letter you had intended to send. He 
informed me of two melancholy events. Poor Sarah, when I last 
bid her good-bye I little thought I should never see her more. 
Certainly, however, she is happy where she is gone far happier 
than she was here. When the first days of mourning are past, you 
will see that you have reason rather to rejoice at her removal than 
to grieve for it. Your mother will have felt her death much and 
you also. I fear from the circumstance of your being at Harro- 
gate that you are yourself ill. Write to me soon. 

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. 
You may scold me or say what you like about this being a scanty, 
shabby letter ; if you had answered my last I might perhaps have 
had courage to write more. As it is I am incapable. Remember 
me to your mother and Mercy, and believe me, very merrily, 
vivaciously, gaily yours, C. B. 



270 THE BRONTfiS 

Letter 126 

TO EMILY J. BRONTE 

BRUX?;LLES, September 2nd, 1843. 

DEAR E. J., Another opportunity of writing to you coming to 
pass, I shall improve it by scribbling a few lines. More than half 
the holidays are now past, and rather better than I expected. 
The weather has been exceedingly fine during the last fortnight, 
and yet not so Asiatically hot as it was last year at this time. 
Consequently I have tramped about a great deal and tried to get 
a clearer acquaintance with the streets of Bruxelles. This week, 
as no teacher is here except Mdlle. Blanche, who is returned from 
Paris, I am always alone except at meal-times, for Mdlle. Blanche's 
character is so false and so contemptible I can't force myself to 
associate with her. She perceives my utter dislike and never now 
speaks to me a great relief. 

However, I should inevitably fall into the gulf of low spirits if I 
stayed always by myself here without a human being to speak to, 
so I go out and traverse the Boulevards and streets of Bruxelles 
sometimes for hours together. Yesterday I went on a pilgrimage 
to the cemetery, and far beyond it on to a hill where there was 
nothing but fields as far as the horizon. When I came back it 
was evening ; but I had such a repugnance to return to the house, 
which contained nothing that I cared for, I still kept threading 
the streets in the neighbourhood of the Rue d'Isabelle and avoid- 
ing it. I found myself opposite to Ste. Gudule, and the bell, 
whose voice you know, began to toll for evening salut I went in, 
quite alone (which procedure you will say is not much like me), 
wandered about the aisles where a few old women were saying 
their prayers, till vespers begun. I stayed till they were over. 
Still I could not leave the church or force myself to go home to 
school I mean. An odd whim came into my head In a solitary 
part of the Cathedral six or seven people still remained kneeling 
by the confessionals. In two confessionals I saw a priest. I felt 
as if I did not care what I did, provided it was not absolutely 
wrong, and that it served to vary my life and yield a moment's 
interest. I took a fancy to change myself into a Catholic and go 
and make a real confession to see what it was like. Knowing me 
as you do, you will think this odd, but when people are by them- 
selves they have singular fancies. A penitent was occupied in 
confessing. They do not go into the sort of pew or cloister which 
the priest occupies, but kneel down on the steps and confess 



SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 271 

through a grating. Both the confessor and the penitent whisper 
very low, you can hardly hear their voices. After I had watched 
two or three penitents go and return, I approached at last and 
knelt down in a niche which was just vacated. I had to kneel 
there ten minutes waiting, for on the other side was another 
penitent invisible to me. At last that went away and a little 
wooden door inside the grating opened, and I saw the priest 
leaning his ear towards me. I was obliged to begin, and yet I did 
not know a word of the formula with which they always commence 
their confessions. It was a funny position. I felt precisely as I 
did when alone on the Thames at midnight. I commenced with 
saying I was a foreigner and had been brought up a Protestant. 
The priest asked if I was a Protestant then. I somehow could 
not tell a lie, and said ' yes.' He replied that in that case I could 
not 'jouir du bonheur de la confesse ' ; but I was determined to 
confess, and at last he said he would allow me because it might 
be the first step towards returning to the true church. I actually 
did confess a real confession. When I had done he told me his 
address, and said that every morning I was to go to the rue du 
Pare to his house and he would reason with me and try to con- 
vince me of the error and enormity of being a Protestant ! ! ! I 
promised faithfully to go. Of course, however, the adventure stops 
there, and I hope I shall never see the priest again. I think you 
had better not tell papa of this. He will not understand that it 
was only a freak, and will perhaps think I am going to turn 
Catholic. Trusting that you and papa are well, and also Tabby 
and the Holyes, 1 and hoping you will write to me immediately, 
I am, yours, C. B. 

Letter 127 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, October 13^, 1843 

DEAR ELLEN, 1 was glad to receive your last letter; but 
when I read it, its contents gave me some pain. It was melan- 
choly indeed that so soon after the death of a sister you should 
be called from a distant county by the news of the severe illness 
of a brother, and, after your return home, your sister Ann should 
fall ill too. Mary Dixon informs me your brother is scarcely 
expected to recover is this true? I hope not, for his sake and 
yours. His loss would indeed be a blow a blow which I hope 

1 A playful reference to the curates. 



272 THE BRONTES 

Providence may avert. Do not, my dear Ellen, fail to write to 
me soon of affairs at Brookroyd. I cannot fail to be anxious on 
the subject, your family being amongst the oldest and kindest 
friends I have. I trust this season of affliction will soon pass. It 
has been a long one. 

Mary Taylor 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 un- 
certainty, would be to the last degree imprudent. Notwithstand- 
ing that, Brussels is indeed desolate to me now. Since Mary 
Dixon left, I have had no friend. I had, indeed, some very kind 
acquaintances in the family of Dr. Wheelwright, but they too are 
gone now. They left in the latter part of August, and I am 
completely alone. I cannot count the Belgians as anything. 
Madame Hger is a politic, plausible, and interested person. I 
no longer trust to her. 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 Hger and gave her notice. If it 
had depended on her I should certainly have soon been at liberty ; 
but M. Hger, 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 passion ; 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 I have much 
to say many little odd things, queer and puzzling enough 
which I do not like to trust to a letter, but which one day perhaps, or 
rather one evening if ever we should find ourselves by the fire- 
side at Haworth or at Brookroyd, with our feet on the fender, 
curling our hair I may communicate to you. We have as yet no 
fires here, and I suffer much from cold ; otherwise I am well in 
health. Mr. George Dixon will take this letter to England. He 
is a pretty-looking and pretty-behaved young man, apparently 
constructed without a backbone ; by which I don't allude to his 
corporal spine, which is all right enough, but to his character. 

Farewell, dear Ellen. Give my love to your mother and sisters, 



SECOND SOJOURN IN BRUSSELS 273 

and good wishes to Mr. George; anything you like to yourself, 
dear Nell. C. B. 

Letter 128 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS, Nov. 1843. 

DEAR ELLEN, What a little sturdy body you are, and your 
sturdiness is a good thing, if you are quite sure you are in the 
right. ... I get on here after a fashion ; but now that Mary Dixon 
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 home-sickness cut me to the heart, every now and then. I do 
not give to the (I am forced to take a pencil my pen is un- 
manageable) I say, I do not give to the step Mary Taylor has 
taken the unqualified approbation you do. It is a step proving 
an energetic and active mind, proving the possession of courage, 
independence, talent, but it is not a prudent step. Often genius, 
like Mary's, triumphs over every obstacle without the aid of 
prudence, and I hope she may be successful hitherto she is so, 
but opinion and custom run so strongly against what she does, 
that I see there is danger of her having much uneasiness to suffer. 
If her pupils had been girls, it would be all well ; the fact of their 
being boys, or rather young men, is the stumbling-block. This 
opinion is for YOU only, mind. 

The portrait you sent of Henry is like, but not a likeness worth 
preserving. His notion of being a Missionary is amusing; he 
would not live a year in the climates of those countries where 
Missionaries are wanted. 

None of your family have much stamina in the constitution ; on 
the contrary, all are delicate, and he one of the most so. 

To-day the weather is gloomy, and I am stupefied with a bad cold 
and headache. I have nothing to tell you, my dear Ellen. One day 
is like another in this place. I know you, living in the country, can 
hardly believe it 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 

VOL. I. S 



274 THE BRONTfiS 

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 Hger (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 enjoy- 
ing the pleasures of a fte-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 Brussels. You 
remember the letter she wrote me, when I was in England ? How 
kind and affectionate that was? Is it not odd ? I fancy I begin 
to perceive the reason of this mighty distance and reserve ; it some- 
times makes me laugh, and at other times nearly cry. When I am 
sure of it, I will tell it you. In the meantime, the complaints I make 
at present are for your car only a sort of relief which I permit 
myself. In all other respects I am well satisfied with my posi- 
tion, and you may say so to people who inquire after me (if any 
one does). Write to me, dear Nell, whenever you can. You do a 
good deed when you send me a letter, for you comfort a very 
desolate heart. Good-bye. Love to your mother and sisters. 

C. B. 

Letter 129 

TO EMILY J. BRONTE 

BRUSSELS, December 19^, 1843. 

DEAR E, J., I have taken my determination. I hope to be 
at home the day after New Year's Day. I have told Mme. H^ger. 
But in order to come home I shall be obliged to draw on my cash 
for another 5. I have only 3 at present, and as there are 
several little things I should like to buy before I leave Brussels 
which you know cannot be got as well in England 3 would not 
suffice. Low spirits have afflicted me much lately, but I hope all 
will be well when I get home above all, if I find papa and you 
and B. and A. well. I am not ill in body. It is only the mind 
which is a trifle shaken for want of comfort. 

I shall try to cheer up now. Good-bye. C. B. 



A QUIET YEAR AT HA WORTH 275 



CHAPTER XIII 

A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 

UPON Charlotte Brontes return to England in January 
1844, she immediately took up once again the project of 
a school. Leaving Haworth was now out of the question. 
Her father wanted her care. So it was determined that 
the school should be in the Haworth parsonage, and a 
circular was widely circulated among her friends. 1 

1 The circular ran as follows : 

THE MISSES BRONTE'S ESTABLISHMENT 

FOR 
THE BOARD AND EDUCATION 

OF A LIMITED NUMBER OF 

YOUNG LADIES, 

THE PARSONAGE, IIAU'ORTH, 

NFAR BRADFORD. 



TERMS. 

' * 

Board and Education, including Writing, Arithmetic, History, 

Grammar, Geography, and Needle Work, per Annum . 35 o O 
French \ 

German j> each per Quarter I I O 

Latin J 

Music | eac h per Quarter I I o 

Drawing J 

Use of Piano Forte, per Quarter ... ..050 

Washing, per Quarter 0150 



Each Young Lady to be provided with One Pair of Sheets, Pillow Cases, 
Four Towels, a Dessert and Tea Spoon. 



A Quarter's Notice, or a Quarter's Board, is required previous to the 
Removal of a Pupil. 



276 THE BRONTES 

Letter 130 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, January , 1844. 

DEAR ELLEN, I cannot tell what occupies your thoughts and 
time. Are you ill? Is some one of your family ill ? Are you 
married? Are you dead? If it be so, you may as well write a 
word and let me know for my part, I am again in old England 
I shall tell you nothing further till you write to me. 

C. BRONTE. 

Write to me directly, that is a good girl ; I feel really anxious, 
and have felt so for a long time, to hear from you. 



Letter 131 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY, EARNLEY RECTORY, CHICHESTER 

HAWORTH, January 2$rd, 1844. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, It was a great disappointment to me to 
hear that you were in the south of England. I had counted upon 
seeing you soon, as one of the great pleasures of my return ; now, I 
fear, our meeting will be postponed for an indefinite time. 

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 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 277 

live, I shall not forget what the parting with M. H6ger 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 Athne"e 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. When do you think I shall see you ? I 
have, of course, much to tell you, and 1 dare say you have much 
also to tell me, of things which we should neither of us wish to 
commit to paper. I am much disquieted at not having heard 
from Mary Taylor for so long a time. Joe called at Rue d'Isabelle 
with a letter from you, but I was already gone. 1 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. Write to me soon, my 
dear Ellen, and believe as far as regards yourself, your unchanged 
friend, C. BRONTE. 

Remember me with kindness to your brother Henry. Anne 
and Branwell have just left us to return to York. They are both 
wondrously valued in their situations. 



Letter 132 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March i$th, 1844. 

DEAR NELL, I got home safely, and was not too much tired 
on arriving at Haworth. I feel rather better to-day than I have 
been, and in time I hope to regain more strength. I found Emily 
and Papa well, and a letter from Branwell intimating that he and 
Anne are pretty well too. Emily is much obliged to you for the 
flower seeds. She wishes to know if the Sicilian pea and crimson 



278 THE BRONTfiS 

corn-flower are hardy flowers, or if they are delicate, and should 
be sown in warm and sheltered situations ? Write to me, and let 
me know how you are, and if George is better. Tell me also if 
you went to Mrs. John Swain's on Friday, and if you enjoyed 
yourself; talk to me, in short, as you would do if we were 
together. Good morning, dear Nell ; I shall say no more to you 
at present. C, BRONTE. 

P.S. 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. 



Letter 133 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 5/A, 1844. 

DEAR NELL, We were all very glad to get your letter this 
morning. We> I say, as both Papa and Emily were anxious to 
hear of the safe arrival of yourself and the little varmint* 

As you conjecture, Emily and I set to shirt-making the very 
day after you left, and we have stuck to it pretty closely ever 
since. We miss your society at least as much as you miss ours, 
depend upon it. Would that you were within calling distance, 
that you could as you say burst in upon us in an afternoon, and, 
being despoiled of your bonnet and shawl, be fixed in the rocking- 
chair for the evening once or twice every week. I certainly 
cherished a dream during your stay that such might one day be 
the case, but the dream is somewhat dissipating. I allude of 
course to Mr. Smith, to whom you do not allude in your letter, 
and I think you foolish for the omission. I say the dream is 
dissipating, because Mr. Smith has not mentioned your name 
since you left, except once when papa said you were a nice girl, 
he said, ' Yes, she is a nice girl rather quiet. I suppose she has 
money/ and that is all. I think the words speak volumes ; they 
do not prejudice one in favour of Mr. Smith. I can well believe 
what papa has often affirmed, and continues to affirm, i.e. y that 
Mr. Smith is a very fickle man, that if he marries he will soon get 
tired of his wife, and consider her as a burden, also that money 
will be a principal consideration with him in marrying. 

1 A little dog, called 'Flossy, junr.,' which indicates its parentage. Flossy was the 
little dcg given by the Robinsons to Anne. 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 279 

Papa has two or three times expressed a fear that since Mr. 
Smith paid you so much attention he will perhaps have made an 
impression on your mind which will interfere with your comfort. 
I tell him I think not, as I believe you to be mistress of yourself 
in those matters. Still, he keeps saying that I am to write to you 
and dissuade you from thinking of him. I never saw papa make 
himself so uneasy about a thing of the kind before ; he is usually 
very sarcastic on such subjects. 

Mr. Smith be hanged ! I never thought very well of him, and 
I am much disposed to think very ill of him at this blessed 
minute. I have discussed the subject fully, for where is the use 
of being mysterious and constrained ? it is not worth while. 

Be sure you write to me and immediately, and tell me whether 
you have given up eating and drinking altogether. I am not sur- 
prised at people thinking you looked pale and thin. I shall 
expect another letter on Thursday don't disappoint me. 

My best regards to your mother and sisters. Yours, somewhat 
irritated, C. B. 



Letter 134 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April -]th, 1844. 

DEAR NELL, I have received your note. It communicated a 
piece of good news which 1 certainly did not expect to hear. I 
want, however, further enlightenment on the subject. Can you 
tell me what has caused the change in Mary's plans, and brought 
her so suddenly back to England ? Is it on account of Mary 
Dixon ? Is it the wish of her brother, or is it her own determina- 
tion ? I hope, whatever the reason be, it is nothing which can 
give her uneasiness or do her harm. Do you know how long she 
is likely to stay in England ? or when she arrives at Hunsworth ? 

You ask how I am. I really have felt much better the last 
week I think my visit to Brookroyd did me good. What 
delightful weather we have had lately. I wish we had had such 
while I was with you. Emily and I walk out a good deal on the 
moors, to the great damage of our shoes, but I hope to the benefit 
of our health. 

Good-bye, dear Ellen. Send me another of your little notes 
soon. Kindest regards to all, C. B. 



280 THE BRONTES 

Letter 135, much mutilated 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

BRUSSELS [1844]. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am just now in a terribly talking humour, 
and if you were here I should entertain you for hours with 
interesting trifles ; interesting to me, and if they were not to 
you, why, you would have to bear it ! But as I can't enter into 
a long circumstantial explanation of the state of things here, and 
there is nothing important going forward, I have just nothing to 
say. I am alone and melancholy. We sometimes take it into 
our heads at least I do to wonder what we live for, to look all 
round and see nothing in this world worth getting up for in the 
morning. I am particularly apt to be of this opinion when some- 
thing has occurred to show me that those things which I value, 
those virtues I strive after, that moral beauty which makes the 
charm of everyday life all that is worth living for, in fact, is 
despised ... by other people. This sometimes gives me the 
idea that . . . taken, and always makes me feel alone in the world. 

. . . very have I lately made. Persons whom I considered 
. . . their conduct that they had no more . . . sider virtue and 
morality than if they had . . . particulars cannot be written or 
are not . . . you them when I see you, and if I never tell . . . 
self the repetition of a vexatious history. . . . you when my 
outlandish friends . . . what Charlotte is doing? I think of her 
too. . . . since I left England. What is the . . . nervous? I 
have heard of your being . . . you for a full account of her state 
of health and occupations. I can easily imagine that she is 
grown low-spirited with solitude and want of interesting employ- 
ment. Pray write write sooner than I have done to you and 
tell me how she goes on. I half expect Joe this Autumn, but if 
M. Dixon and Wilfram come as they talk of doing, perhaps he 
will think that is enough. In any case write to me, particularly 
about Miss Bronte. I have neglected writing to Miss Corkhill. 
Tell her I will do it shortly. The reason is, we have had neither 
earthquake nor revolution here, so I have nothing to say. My 
own affairs go on as usual. I teach and practise music. You 
must have heard this till you are tired of it, Yours truly, 

M. TAYLOR. 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 281 

Letter 136 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

CHAD ROAD, April 1844. 

DEAR ELLEN, Many thanks for your welcome to England. 
How did you smell out so speedily that I was come? I shall 
see you and ask you this and a thousand other questions in about 
a fortnight, and then I hope to see C. B. too. I am going to 
stretch the house at Hunsworth and make it hold three or four 
people to sleep, whereas I understand that now it only holds 
two (strangers). Wish M. Carr much happiness for me ; she will 
be married before I see her again. I have nothing to write, and 
live in hopes of seeing you, so I will not crack my brain to find 
anything. 

Remember me to your Mamma and sisters. Yours, 

M. TAYLOR. 

Letter 137 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May 1 844. 

I did not * swear at the postman ' when I saw another letter 
from you, Nell. And I hope you will not 'swear* at me when 
I tell you that I cannot think of leaving home at present, even 
to have the pleasure of joining you at H arrogate, but I am 
obliged to you for thinking of me. Thank you, 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 to 
seek in good earnest for pupils. I wrote to Mrs. White, not 
asking her for her daughter, I cannot do that, but informing her 
of my intentions. I received an answer from Mr. White expres- 
sive 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 Stott's, but that 
now both were promised to Miss Corkhill. I was partly dis- 
appointed 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 



282 THE BRONTES 

also to Mrs. Busfeild, of Keighley, and have enclosed the diploma 
which M. Hger 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. Un- 
fortunately, 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 ,25 per annum. I have nothing 
new about Rev. Lothario Lovelace Smith ; I think I like him a 
little bit less every day. Mr. Weightman was worth 200 Mr. 
Smiths tied in a bunch. Good-bye. I fear by what you say, 
' Flossy jun. 1 behaves discreditably, and gets his mistress into 
scrapes. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 138 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

June 9/>fc, 1 844. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, Anne and Branwell are now at home, and 
they and Emily add their request to mine, that you will join us 
at the beginning of next week. Write and let us know what 
day you will come, and how if by coach, we will meet you at 
Keighley. Do not let your visit be later than the beginning of 
next week, or you will see little of Anne and Branwell, as their 
holidays are very short. They will soon have to join the family 
at Scarborough. Remember me kindly to your mother and 
sisters. I hope they are all well. C. B. 

Letter 139 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July 2QM, 1844. 

DEAR NELL, I am very glad to hear of Henry's good fortune. 
It proves to me what an excellent thing perseverance is for 
getting on in the world. Calm self-confidence (not impudence, 
for that is vulgar and repulsive) is an admirable quality ; but how 
are those not naturally gifted with it to attain it? 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 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 283 

whom I have no claim Mrs. Busfeild, 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 
moderateMrs. Busfeild 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 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 35, which I think is the just medium, considering 
advantages and disadvantages. What does your wisdom think 
about it? We all here get on much as usual. Papa wishes 
he could hear of a curate, that Mr. Smith may be at liberty to 
go. Good-bye, dear Ellen. I wish to you and yours happiness, 
health, and prosperity. 

Write again before you go to Burlington. My best love to 
Mary. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 140 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

August 15/7*, 1844. 

DEAR NELL, I send you two additional circulars, and will 
send you two more, if you desire it, when I write again. I have 
no news to give you. Mr. Smith leaves in the course of a fort- 
night. He will spend a few weeks in Ireland previously to 
settling at Keighley. He continues just the same: often anxious 
and bad-tempered, sometimes rather tolerable just supportable. 
How did your party go off? How are you? Write soon, and 
at length, for your letters are a great comfort to me. We are 
all pretty well. Remember me kindly to each member of the 
household at Brookroyd. Yours, C. B. 



284 THE BRONTES 

Letter 141 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Sept. 1 6#, 1844. 

DEAR ELLEN, I received your kind note last Saturday, and 
should have answered it immediately, but in the meantime I 
had a letter from Mary Taylor, and had to reply to her, and 
to write sundry letters to Brussels to send by opportunity. My 
sight will not allow me to write several letters per day, so I was 
obliged to do it gradually. 

I send you two more circulars because you ask for them, not 
because I hope their distribution will produce any result I hope 
that if a time should come when Emily, Anne, or I shall be able 
to serve you, we shall not forget that you have done your best to 
serve us. 

Mr. Smith has gone hence, He is in Ireland at present, and 
will stay there six weeks. He has left neither a bad nor a good 
character behind him. Nobody regrets him, because nobody 
could attach themselves to one who could attach himself to 
nobody. 1 thought once he had a regard for you, but I do not 
think so now. He has never asked after you since you left, nor 
even mentioned you in my hearing, except to say once when I 
purposely alluded to you, that you were 'not very locomotive.' 
The meaning of the observation I leave you to divine. 

Yet the man is not without points that will be most useful to 
himself in getting through life. His good qualities, however, are 
all of the selfish order, but they will make him respected where 
better and more generous natures would be despised, or at least 
neglected. 

Mr. Grant fills his shoes at present decently enoughbut one 
cares naught about these sort of individuals, so drop them. 

Mary Taylor is going to leave our hemisphere. To me it is 
something as if a great planet fell out of the sky. Yet, unless she 
marries in New Zealand, she will not stay there long. 

Write to me again soon, and I promise to write you a regular 
long letter next time. C. BRONTE. 

These references to Mr. Smith and Mr. Grant bring 
us face to face with two of the curates made famous in 
Shirley. Of these gentlemen I shall have more to say 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 285 

later. The point of immediate interest is the advent in 
this year of Mr. Arthur Bell Nicholls as Mr. Bronte's 
curate upon Mr. Smith's promotion to a curacy at the 
Parish Church of Keighley. Miss Bronte's first impression 
of Mr. Nicholls was not, it will be seen, very favourable. 

Letter 142 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Oct. 2, '44. 

DEAR ELLEN, I, Emily, and Anne are truly obliged to you 
for the efforts you have made on 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 the world. 

Miss Ringrose's letters are distressing indeed. It appears 
to me most desirable that either you should go to her or she 
should come to you. It would seem as if there was no one 
to look after her no one to take care of her at home. If her 
mother is so absorbed in her wretched cravings and indulgences 
as to be incapable of perceiving her daughter's state has the 
father no eyes and no understanding? The poor girl is more to 
be pitied than many a beggar's child, and it is hard indeed that 
one who deserves all affection and care should be so solitary, so 
neglected, as she apparently is. 

Probably by this time you will know more of her condition, 
and such a plan would, I am morally certain, be most efficient 
for her welfare and it is a pity there is not some one to suggest 
it to him. 

We are getting on here the same as usual only that Branwell 
has been more than ordinarily troublesome and annoying of late ; 
he leads Papa a wretched life. Mr. Nicholls is returned just the 
same ; I cannot for my life see those interesting germs of good- 
ness in him you discovered ; his narrowness of mind always strikes 
me chiefly. I fear he is indebted to your imagination for his 
hidden treasure. 

I am sorry to hear that Mercy occasionally spits blood, but 1 



286 THE BRONTfiS 

should think it is more likely to proceed from the lungs than 
from the stomach. She ought, however, to be ... [the rest lost} 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 143 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

November i4//%, 1844. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your letter came very apropos, as, indeed, 
your letters always do ; but this morning I had something of a 
headache, and was consequently rather out of spirits, and the 
epistle (scarcely legible though it be excuse a rub) cheered me. 
In order to evince my gratitude, as well as to please my own 
inclination, I sit down to answer it immediately. I am glad, in 
the first place, to hear that Henry is going to be married, and still 
more so to learn that his wife-elect has a handsome fortune 
not that I advocate marrying for money in general, but I think 
in many cases (and this is one) money is a very desirable con- 
tingent of matrimony. 

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. 

I wonder when Mary Taylor is expected in England. It sur- 
prises me to hear of Joe being in Switzerland. Probably she is 
with him. I trust you will be at home while she is at Hunsworth, 
and that you, she, and I may meet again somewhere under the 
canopy of heaven. I cannot, dear Ellen, make any promise about 
myself and Anne going to Brookroyd at Christmas ; her vacations 
are so short she would grudge spending any part of them from 
home. 

The catastrophe, which you related so calmly, about your book- 
muslin dress, lace bertha, etc., convulsed me with cold shudderings 
of horror. You have reason to curse the day when so fatal a 
present was offered you as that infamous little ' varmint. 1 The 
perfect serenity with which you endured the disaster proves most 
fully to me that you would make the best wife, mother, and 



A QUIET YEAR AT HA WORTH 287 

mistress in the world. You and Ann are a pair for marvellous 
philosophical powers of endurance ; no spoilt dinners, scorched 
linen, dirtied carpets, torn sofa-covers, squealing brats, cross 
husbands, would ever discompose either of you. You ought 
never to marry a good-tempered man ; it would be mingling honey 
with sugar, like sticking white roses upon a black-thorn cudgel. 
With this very picturesque metaphor I close my letter. Good- 
bye, and write very soon. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 144 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Monday M r orning \ 1844. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I received your note this morning. I shall 
have great pleasure in accepting the kind invitation which it 
conveys from your mother. I know nothing which can prevent 
me from coming on the day you fix, viz. Thursday next. If, 
therefore, Mr. George will be kind enough to meet me at Bradford, 
I shall (D.v.) be at the Talbot Inn at half-past four P.M., the time 
the mail-coach arrives from Keighley. How glad shall I be to 
see you once more in good health, but I shall try to meet you 
gravely and quietly. No enthusiasm, mind ; all that shall be put 
by for our evenings, when we curl our hair. Good-bye, dear Nell ; 
there 's a warm corner remains in my heart for you at any rate. 
Remember me kindly to your mother, sisters, and brothers. 

C. BRONT. 

Letter 145 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January , 1845. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, We were at breakfast when your note 
reached me, and I consequently write in great hurry. Your trials 
seem to thicken. I trust God will either remove them, or give 
you strength to bear them. If I could but come to you and 
offer you all the little assistance either my head or my hands 
could afford, but that is impossible. I scarcely dare offer to 
comfort you about W., lest my consolation should seem like 
mockery. I know that in cases of sickness, strangers cannot 
measure what relations feel. One thing, however, I need not 
remind you of. You will have repeated it over and over to your- 



288 THE BRONTfiS 

self before now. ' God does all for the best/ and even should the 
worst happen, and death seem finally to destroy hope, remember, 
Ellen, that this will be but a practical test of the strong faith 
and calm devotion which have marked you a Christian so long. 
I would hope, however, the time for this test is not yet come, that 
your brother may recover and all be well. It grieves me to hear 
that your own health is so indifferent ; once more I wish I were 
with you, to lighten at least by sympathy the burden that seems 
so unsparingly laid upon you. Let me thank you, Ellen, for 
remembering me in the midst of such hurry and affliction. We 
are all apt to grow selfish in distress. This, so far as I have 
found, is not your case. When shall I see you again? The 
uncertainty in which the answer to that question must be involved 
gives me a bitter feeling. Through all changes, and through all 
chances, I trust I shall love you as I do now. We can pray 1 for 
each other, and think of each other. Distance is no bar to 
recollection. You have promised to write to me soon, and I do 
not doubt that you will keep your word. Give my love to M. and 
your mother. Take with you my blessing and affection, all the 
warmest wishes of a warm heart for your welfare. Miss W. sends 
her love. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 146 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January i$th, 1845. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I have often said and thought that you 
have had many and heavy trials to bear in your still short life. 
You have always borne them with great firmness and calm so far 
I hope fervently you will still be enabled to do so. Yet there 
is something in your letter that makes me fear the present is 
the greatest trial of all, and the most severely felt by you. I 
hope it will soon pass over and leave no shadow behind it. A 
certain space of time, complete rest, such care as you will give to 
George, must, with God's blessing, produce the best results. I do 
earnestly desire to be with you, to talk to you, to give you what 
comfort I can. I cannot go with you to Harrogate, but in a letter 
I had from Mary Taylor this morning, she tells me George will 

probably soon be going with Henry to , and you will be 

returning to Brookroyd. Branwell and Anne leave us on Satur- 
day. Branwell has been quieter and less irritable on the whole 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 289 

this time than he was in summer. Anne is as usual always good, 
mild, and patient. I think she too is a little stronger than she 
was. Shortly after Branwell and Anne leave I shall go to 
Hunsworth for a week, if all be well. If you are likely to come 
home shortly, I will put off my visit till that time. Write to me 
as soon as you can, and tell me how George and yourself are. 
Good-bye, dear Ellen, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 147 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Undated, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have lately wondered very much why you did 
not write to me. I now know the cause. Mary Taylor is staying 
with us at present, and she has told me the distressing circum- 
stances which absorb both your time and thought at present. 

Poor Mr. George ! I am very sorry for him, very sorry ; he did 
not deserve this suffering. I know, too, what a calamity his severe 
illness will be to all the family, and most especially for you. 

This morning (Monday) Mary has had a letter from one of her 
brothers, which informs us that Mr. George is rather better. 

Do not write to me, Ellen, till you have time and composure 
to write without too much trouble. What can be the cause of 
these severe attacks to which Mr. George has been subjected ? 
Does his medical attendant treat him properly? 

When you do write, inform me how you all bear the fatigue of 
body and anxiety of mind you have had to go through. 

Mary Taylor is looking very well, and is in good spirits. Good- 
bye, dear Ellen. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 148 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Feb. 2oth, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, You ought to have written to me before now 
you promised I should hear from you soon and the non-fulfil- 
ment of this promise makes me rather afraid that some disagree- 
able event or other is the occasion of the delay. I hope George 
continues to improve in health ; write soon and let me know 
whether such is the case or not. I spent a week at Hunsworth 
not very pleasantly ; headache, sickliness, and flatness of spirits 
made me a poor companion, a sad drag on the vivacious and 

VOL. I. T 



290 THE BRONTES 

loquacious gaiety of all the other inmates of the house. I never 
was fortunate enough to be able to rally, for so 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, nowadays, to be fit com- 
pany for any except very quiet people. Is it age, or what else, 
that changes one so ? I had a note from Mary yesterday. She 
said she was to leave Hunsworth on Friday. She asked for your 
address. I did not know the address of the lodgings, so I gave 

her that of Mr. , where I shall also send this note. If you 

have any French newspapers send them soon. I had one sent, 
I think, direct from Hunsworth to-day; but there is one missed 
between, and I should like to read that one first Write to me, if 
possible, immediately. C. BRONTE. 



Letter 149 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Mar. tfh, '45. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I must just acknowledge your last note, 
though I have not, this morning, time to write a long letter. 

From what you say of George's state of health, it seems to me 
that decidedly the best plan would be (if possible) to isolate him 
for a time from all his relations yourself included, and let him 
travel with a judicious and conscientious medical man ; such a 
mode of cure would be expensive, but certainly it would be the 
surest and speediest. 

It is an unvarying symptom in cases of diseased brain, for the 
patient to feel irritation in the presence of his relations, and to be 
averse to receive their services, and I believe they often feel most 
antipathy to those whom, in health, they were most attached to. 

If you stay with George you will probably suffer much in mind, 
be worn down in body, and do no real good. Take the advice of 
the medical man you have consulted at Burlington, and let your 
other relations take it otherwise they will probably repent here- 
after. I believe it is of great importance not to lose time in such 
cases. All of course depends upon what resources there are for 
meeting expense, and of that you can judge. 

Remember me very kindly to Mrs. Hudson, to whom I shall 
again direct this letter not knowing your address at the Quay. 
Tell her that our stay at Easton is one of the pleasant recollections 
of my life one of the green spots that I look back on with real 



A QUIET YEAR AT HA WORTH 291 

pleasure. I often think it was singularly good of her to receive 
me, a perfect stranger, so kindly as she did. 

I know of no new books unless it be The Chimes, by Dickens, 
which I have not read. I have had no news from Huns worth since 
I last wrote to you. I should like to hear whether Mary is actually 
gone. Write to me a^ain soon, dear Ellen, as I am truly anxious 
to hear of you and of George, both for your sake and his own. 
Yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 150 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March 2U/, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, I received the enclosed letters from Mary this 
morning, with directions from Joe Taylor to send them on to you 
as soon as I had read them, and request you to despatch instanter 
back to Hunsworth. 

He likewise says I ought by all means to have sent you the 
French newspapers, and no doubt thinks me exquisitely stupid 
because I did not. 

Mary is in her element now. She has done right to go out to 
New Zealand. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 151 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March 24^, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, I repeat what you say sometimes to me 
'Take care of yourself; you are not strong enough to travel 
seventy miles in an open gig in very cold weather. Don't do it 
again. . . . You have done quite right to leave George for a 
time : your absence cannot harm him, and a total estrangement 
from the presence and things that were about him in his illness 
will do him good. Do not, dear Ellen, be disheartened because 
his improvement in health is slow. When one thinks of the 
nature of his illness, of the extreme delicacy of the organ affected, 
the brain, it is obvious that that organ after the cessation of fever 
and inflammation cannot all at once regain its healthy state. 
Have you heard any particulars of Mary Taylor's departure, what 
day she sailed, etc. ? 

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 



292 THE BRONTES 

baking day, and Saturday are the only ones that have any dis- 
tinctive 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. Vet 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. Do 
you know anything about Miss Wooler? Write very soon, dear 
Ellen. Good-bye. I shall be sorry when you are gone to Hather- 
sage, you will be so far off again. How long will Mary want you 
to stay? C. BRONT& 

Letter 152 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 2nd, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, I send you herewith a French newspaper which, 
however, will be of little interest, as you have missed so many in 
consequence of your absence. You should ask Joe Taylor to give 
you those you have missed. I should think he still has them in 
his possession. I am greatly obliged to your mother for her 
kindness in asking me to come to see you now, but I would much 
rather put off my visit till after all stirs are over, till your brides- 
maid duties are all discharged; and when you are quite alone, 
quite settled and quiet, somewhere about the beginning of autumn, 
I will, if all be well, make shift to toddle over and see you. I see 
plainly, it is proved to us, that there is scarcely a draught of 
unmingled happiness to be had in this world. George's illness 
comes with Mary's marriage. Mary Taylor 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, 



A QUIET YEAR AT HA WORTH 293 

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. I repeat, 
then, Mary Taylor has done well to go to New Zealand, but I 
wish we could soon have another letter from her. I hope she 
may write soon from Madeira. Ten years ago I should have 
laughed at your account of the blunder you made in mistaking 
the bachelor doctor of Burlington for a married man. I should 
have certainly thought you scrupulous overmuch, 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 them- 
selves, 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. Good-bye, dear 
Nell C. B. 

Letter 153 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 24^, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, You are a very good girl indeed to send me 
such a long and interesting letter. In all that account of the 
young lady and gentleman in the railway carriage, I recognise 



294 THE BRONTES 

your faculty for observation, which is a rarer gift than you imagine. 
You ought to be thankful for it. I never yet met with an 
individual devoid of observation whose conversation was interest- 
ing; nor with one possessed of that power, in whose society I 
could not manage to pass a pleasant hour. I was amused with 
your allusions to Hunsworth. I have little doubt of the truth of 
the report you mention. Money would decide that point as it 
does most others of a similar nature. You are perfectly right in 
saying that Mr. Joe is more influenced by opinion than he himself 
suspects. I saw his lordship in a new light last time I was at 
Hunsworth. I could scarcely believe my ears when I heard the 
stress he laid on wealth, appearance, family, and all those advan- 
tages which are the acknowledged idols of the world. I raised 
no argument against anything he said ; I listened and laughed 
inwardly to think how indignant I should have been eight years 
since if any one had accused Joe Taylor of being a worshipper of 
Mammon and of interest. The world with its hardness and 
selfishness has utterly changed him. He thinks himself grown 
wiser than the wisest ; in a worldly sense he is wise, his feelings 
have gone through a process of petrifaction which will prevent 
them from ever warring against his interest, but Ichabod ! all 
glory of principle and much elevation of character is gone ! 

I have just received a note from Ellen Taylor requesting me to 
write to you, as they do not know your address, and beg you to 
send the French papers when you have done with them to Mr. T. 
Dixon, care of Mr. J., Civil Engineer, Sheffield. Be sure and write 
to me soon. No further news yet from Mary. Many happy 
returns of your birthday. In my answer to Ellen Taylor I gave 
her your address. C. BRONTE. 



Letter 154 

TO FRANCIS H, GRUNDY 

October 1845. 

I fear you will burn my present letter on recognising the hand- 
writing ; but if you will read it through, you will perhaps rather 
pity than spurn the distress of mind which could prompt my 
communication, after a silence of nearly three (to me) eventful 
years. While very ill and confined to my room, I wrote to you 
two months ago, hearing that you were resident engineer of the 
Skipton Railway, to the inn at Skipton. I never received any 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 295 

reply, and as to my letter asked only for one day of your society 
to ease a very weary mind in the company of a friend who always 
had what I always wanted, but most want now, cheerfulness. I 
am sure you never received my letter, or your heart would have 
prompted an answer. 

Since I last shook hands with you in Halifax, two summers 
ago, my life till lately has been one of apparent happiness and 
indulgence. You will ask, 'Why does he complain then?' I 
can only reply by showing the under-current of distress which 
bore my bark to a whirlpool, despite the surface waves of life that 
seemed floating me to peace. In a letter begun in the spring of 
1844 and never finished, owing to incessant attacks of illness, I 

tried to tell you that I was tutor to the son of , a wealthy 

gentleman whose wife is sister to the wife of , M.P., for the 

county of , and the cousin of Lord . This lady (though 

her husband detested me) showed me a degree of kindness which, 
when I was deeply grieved one day at her husband's conduct, 
ripened into declarations of more than ordinary feeling. My 
admiration of her mental and personal attractions, my knowledge 
of her unselfish sincerity, her sweet temper, and unwearied care 
for others, with but unrequited return where most should have 
been given . . . although she is seventeen years my senior, all 
combined to an attachment on my part, and led to reciprocations 
which I had little looked for. During nearly three years I had 
daily troubled pleasure soon chastised by fear.' Three months 
since I received a furious letter from my employer, threatening to 
shoot me if I returned from my vacation, which I was passing at 
home; and letters from her lady's-maid and physician informed 
me of the outbreak, only checked by her firm courage and resolu- 
tion that whatever harm came to her, none should come to me 
... I have lain during nine long weeks utterly shattered in body 
and broken down in mind. The probability of her becoming free 
to give me herself and estate never rose to drive away the prospect 
of her decline under her present grief. I dreaded, too, the wreck 
of my mind and body, which, God knows, during a short life have 
been severely tried. Eleven continuous nights of sleepless horror 
reduced me to almost blindness, and being taken into Wales to 
recover, the sweet scenery, the sea, the sound of music caused me 
fits of unspeakable distress. You will say, * What a fool ! ' but if 
you knew the many causes I have for sorrow which I cannot even 
hint at here, you would perhaps pity as well as blame. At the 
kind request of Mr. Macaulay and Mr. Baines, I have striven to 



296 THE BRONTfiS 

arouse my mind by writing something worthy of being read, but 
I really cannot do so. Of course, you will despise the writer of 
all this. I can only answer that the writer does the same, and 
would not wish to live if he did not hope that work and change 
may yet restore him. 

Apologising sincerely for what seems like whining egotism, 
and hardly daring to hint about days when in your company I 
could sometimes sink the thoughts which ' remind me of departed 
days, 1 I fear departed never to return, I remain, etc. 

P. B. BRONTE. 

Letter 155 

TO FRANCIS II. GRUNDY 

HAWORTH, NR. BRADFORD, 

ind May 1846. 

DEAR SIR, I cannot avoid the temptation to cheer my spirits 
by scribbling a few lines to you while I sit here alone all the 
household being at church the sole occupant of an ancient 
parsonage among lonely hills, which probably will never hear the 
whistle of an engine till I am in my grave. 1 

After experiencing, since my return home, extreme pain and 
illness, with mental depression worse than either, I have at length 
acquired health and strength and soundness of mind, far superior, 
I trust, to anything shown by that miserable wreck you used to 
know under my name. I can now speak cheerfully and enjoy 
the company of another without the stimulus of six glasses of 
whisky ; I can write, think, and act with some apparent approach 
to resolution, and I only want a motive for exertion to be happier 
than I have been for years. But I feel my recovery from almost 
insanity to be retarded by having nothing to listen to except the 
wind moaning among old chimneys and older ash trees, nothing 
to look at except heathery hills walked over when life had all to 
hope for and nothing to regret with me no one to speak to 
except crabbed old Greeks and Romans who have been dust the 
last five thousand years. And yet this quiet life, from its contrast, 
makes the year passed at Luddenden Foot appear like a nightmare, 
for I would rather give my hand than undergo again the grovel- 
ling carelessness, the malignant yet cold debauchery, the determina- 
tion to find how far mind could carry body without both being 
chucked into hell, which too often marked my conduct when 

1 The line from Keighley to Haworth was opened J3th April 1867. 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 297 

there, lost as I was to all I really liked, and seeking relief in the 
indulgence of feelings which form the black spot on my character. 

Yet I have something still left in me which may do me service. 
But I ought not to remain too long in solitude, for the world soon 
forgets those who have bidden it * Good-bye/ Quiet is an excel- 
lent cure, but no medicine should be continued after a patient's 
recovery, so I am about, though ashamed of the business, to dun 
you for answers to ... (Here follow inquiries as to obtaining 
some appointment). 

Excuse the trouble I am giving to one on whose kindness I 
have no claim, and for whose services I am offering no return 
except gratitude and thankfulness, which are already due to you. 
Give my sincere regards to Mr. Stephenson. A word or two to 
show that you have not altogether forgotten me will greatly 
please yours, etc. P. B. BRONTE. 

Letter 156 

TO FRANCIS H. GRUNDY 

HAWORTH, BRADFORD, YORK. 
July 1846. 

DEAR SIR, I must again trouble you with (Here comes 

another prayer for employment, with, at the same time, a con- 
fession that his health alone renders the wish all but hopeless). 
Subsequently he says : ' The gentleman with whom I have been 
is dead. His property is left in trust for the family, provided I 
do not see the widow ; and if I do, it reverts to the executing 
trustees, with ruin to her. She is now distracted with sorrows 
and agonies ; and the statement of her case, as given by her 
coachman who has come to see me at Haworth, fills me with 
inexpressible grief. Her mind is distracted to the verge of 
insanity, and mine is so wearied that I wish I were in my grave. 
Yours very sincerely, P. B. BRONTE. 

Since I saw Mr. George Gooch, I have suffered much from the 
accounts of the declining health of her whom I must love most in 
this world, and who, for my fault, suffers sorrows which surely 
were never her due. My father, too, is now quite blind, and from 
such causes literary pursuits have become matters I have no heart 
to wield. If I could see you it would be a sincere pleasure, but 
. . . Perhaps your memory of me may be dimmed, for you have 
known little in me worth remembering ; but I still think often 



298 THE BRONTES 

with pleasure of yourself, though so different from me in head 
and mind. 

If I have strength enough for the journey, and the weather be 
tolerable, I shall feel happy in visiting you at the Devonshire 1 on 
Friday, the 3ist of this month. The sight of a face I have been 
accustomed to see and like when I was happier and stronger, 
now proves my best medicine. 

Letter 157 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Sunday Evening, June u/, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, You probably know that another letter has 
been received from Mary Taylor. It is, however, possible that 
your absence from home will have prevented your seeing it, so I 
will give you a sketch of its contents. It was written at about 
4 N. of the Equator. The first part of the letter contained an 
account of their landing at Santiago. Her health at that time 
was very good, and her spirits seemed excellent. They had had 
contrary winds at first setting out, but their voyage was then 
prosperous. In the latter portion of the letter she complains of 
the excessive heat, and says she lives chiefly on oranges ; but still 
she was well, and freer from headache and other ailments than any 
other person on board. The receipt of this letter will have relieved 
all her friends from a weight of anxiety. I am uneasy about 
what you say respecting the French newspapers do you mean to 
intimate that you have received none since you went to Harrogate? 
I have despatched them regularly. Emily and I keep them 
usually three days, sometimes only two, and then send them 
forward to you. I see by the cards you sent and also by the 
newspaper that Henry is at last married. How did you like your 
office of bridesmaid ? and how do you like your new sister and 
her family? You must write to me as soon as you can, and give 
me an observant account of everything. It seems strange that 
after all Henry should be married, and well married, before George. 
Who would have thought that such would have been the case 
ten years ago ? I saw in the papers some weeks since a notice of 
the death of Mr. Ringrose, merchant of Hull. Is that the father 
of Amelia Ringrose? If so, in what way will the event affect 
George's interests, favourably or otherwise ? I still believe these 

1 A well-known hotel in Keigliley. 



A QUIET YEAR AT HA WORTH 299 

matters will terminate happily for him. I still fancy there is 
comfort in store for him somewhere. Should it turn out other- 
wise, my ideas on the subject of Compensation and Providential 
Care will be singularly baffled. Still I know that the course of 
events cannot be calculated by human sagacity, nor the justice of 
destinies decided on by human opinion ; therefore it is absurd 
either to predict or to prejudge, so I hold my tongue. 

Write to me soon, dear Ellen, and don't forget to tell me about 
the newspapers. I sent one yesterday, and I shall send one with 
the letter to-morrow. How is your health, and how is Mary? 
Remember me kindly to her. C. B. 

Letter 158 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

June 13, '45. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your letter was, as usual, very interesting to 
me. You really must have a great deal to do, but if the responsi- 
bility does not harass your mind and fatigue your body too much, 
it is, on the whole, rather a good thing for you. It is practice in 
case you should soon marry yourself, and have a house of your 
own to look after and if you should not, it is still exercise of the 
faculties, which is always beneficial. These brides, by the bye, 
are well off, to have everything done to their hand so nicely. 
What I should like the least, if I were in your place, would be 
the choosing of servants and the ordering of furniture the parish 
business I should object far less to. 

I am very glad you like your new sister so well, and I hope the 
longer you know her the more meritorious she will appear. As 

to Mrs. P , 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 a rather shrewd, very 
ugly, meddling, talking woman. 

How long are you going to stay at Hathersage? As to my 
going to see you there, it is quite out of the question. It is 
hardly worth while to take so long a journey for a week or a 
fortnight, and longer I could not stay. I feel reluctant indeed to 



300 THE BRONTfiS 

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 
now has 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. 

I read Miss Ringrose's note attentively. There is great pro- 
priety and discretion in it ; it seems to me somewhat calm, 
perhaps too calm for the circumstances ; yet she may be an 
excellent and affectionate girl, notwithstanding that, to me, 
incomprehensible tranquillity. I should say she would pre- 
cisely have suited George as a wife, if she be ladylike, 
affectionate, and sensible her decorum and touch of phlegm 
would have been in decided recommendation to most men, as 
a wife. Those are the people that are made for marriage such, 
at least, is my belief. I think if I were in your place, I would 
answer that one letter, but by no means carry on a reckless 
correspondence ; it is evidently not a case in which a third person 
ought to interfere. 

When you return to Brookroyd, I hope I shall be able to pay 
you a short visit, for I certainly long to see you. Write to me 
again as soon as you can. I was on the point of saying, 
remember me to Mary Gorham, as if she had been an acquaint- 
ance of mine ; somehow from your description I always imagine 
her to resemble Mary Taylor, and feel a respect for her 
accordingly. 

You do not tell me how Mercy is is she still at Hathersage? 
If she be, give my love to her. Good-bye, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 159 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

/^i8,'45- 

DEAR NELL, 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 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 801 

now a little changed. Branwell and Anne are both come home, 
and Anne, I am rejoiced to say, has decided not to return to Mr. 
Robinson's ; her presence at home certainly makes me feel more 
at liberty. Then, dear Ellen, if all be well, I will come and see 
you at Hathersage. 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 to see your 
medical-clerical curate. I think he must be like most 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 God knows, there is not one to 
mend another. The other day, they all three, accompanied by 
Mr. Smidt 1 (of whom, by the way, I have grievous things to tell 
you), 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. I don't regret 
it. Give my respects (as Joe Taylor says) to Miss Gorham. By 
the bye, I reserve the greatest part of Master Joe's epistle till we 
meet. I can only say that it is highly characteristic. Write soon. 
Come to Sheffield to meet me, if you can. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 160 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

June iind, 1845. 

DEAR NELL, When did you write your letter? I only got it 
to-day, therefore, of course, I cannot come till Tuesday. Mind 
you do not put yourself to any inconvenience to come to Sheffield 
to meet me. I am sorry I shall not be in time to go with you to 
Chatsworth and the Peak ; but observe, I will certainly make you 
go again. I feel shy at the thought of seeing Miss Gorham, though 
I am a middle-aged person, and she is a young lady. Good-bye, 
dear Nell, C. BRONTE. 

1 A playful reference to the new curate of Keighley. 



802 THE BRONTES 

Letter 161 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

June 24/yfc, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, It is very vexatious for you to have had to go 
to Sheffield in vain. I am glad to hear that there is an omnibus 
on Thursday, and I have told Emily and Anne I will try to come 
on that day. The opening of the railroad is now postponed till 
July 7th. I should not like to put you off again, and for that and 
some other reasons they have decided to give up the idea of going 
to Scarbro', and instead, to make a little excursion next Monday 
and Tuesday to Ilkley or elsewhere. I hope no other obstacle 
will arise to prevent my going to Hathersage. I do long to be 
with you, and I feel nervously afraid of being prevented, or put 
off in some way. Branwell only stayed a week with us, but he 
is to come home again when the family go to Scarboro'. I will 
write to Brookroyd directly. Yesterday I had a little note from 
Henry inviting me to go to see you. This is one of your con- 
trivances, for which you deserve smothering. You have written 
to Henry to tell him to write to me. Do you think I stood on 
ceremony about the matter? 

The French papers have ceased to come. Good-bye for the 
present. C. B. 

Letter 162 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July 2$rd, '45. 

DEAR ELLEN, I was glad to get your little packet ; it was 
quite a treasure of interest to me. I think the intelligence about 
George is cheering. I read the lines to Miss Ringrose ; they are 
expressive of the affectionate feelings of his nature, and are 
poetical in so much as they are true faults in expression, rhythm, 
metre, were of course to be expected. 

I got home very well. There was a gentleman in the railroad 
carriage whom I recognised by his features immediately as a 
foreigner and Frenchman. So sure was I of it, that I ventured to 
say to him in French ' Monsieur est fran^ais, n'est-ce pas? ' He 
gave a start of surprise, and answered immediately in his own 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 808 

tongue; he appeared still more astonished, and even puzzled, 
when after a few minutes' further conversation, I inquired if he 
had not passed the greater part of his life in Germany. He 
said the surmise was correct. I had guessed it from his speaking 
French with the German accent. 

It was ten o'clock at night when I got home. I found Branwcll 
ill ; he is so very often owing to his own fault. I was not there- 
fore shocked at first, but when Anne informed me of the 
immediate cause of his present illness, I was greatly shocked. 
He had last Thursday received a note from Mr. Robinson 
sternly dismissing him, intimating that he had discovered his 
proceedings, which he characterised as bad beyond expression, 
and charging him on pain of exposure to break off instantly and 
for ever all communication with every member of his family. We 
have had sad work with Branwell since. He thought of nothing 
but stunning or drowning his distress of mind. No one in the 
house could have rest. 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, and expresses some sense of 
contrition for his frantic folly ; he promises amendment on his 
return, but so 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. I 
cannot now ask Miss Wooler or any one else. Give my love to 
Miss Ringrose, and ask her to forgive me for disfiguring her 
album. Write to me soon as you can, after the bride and bride- 
groom are come home. Good-bye, dear Nell, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 163 

TO MRS. NUSSEY 

July2,?>rd, 1845. 

MY DEAR MRS. NUSSEY, I lose no time after my return home 
in writing to you and offering you my sincere thanks for the kind- 
ness with which you have repeatedly invited me to go and stay 
a few days at Brookroyd. It would have given me great pleasure 
to have gone, had it been only for a day, just to have seen you 
and Miss Mercy (Miss Nussey, I suppose, is not at home) and to 
have been introduced to Mrs. Henry, but I have stayed so long with 
Ellen at Hathersage that I could not possibly now go to Brook- 



304 THE BRONTfiS 

royd. I was expected at home ; and after all, home should always 
have the first claim on our attention. When I reached home (at 
ten o'clock on Saturday night) I found papa, I am thankful to 
say, pretty well, but he thought I had been a long time away. 

I left Ellen well, and she had generally good health while I 
stayed with her, but she is very anxious about matters of business, 
and apprehensive lest things should not be comfortable against 
the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Henry she is so desirous that the 
day of their arrival at Hathersage should be a happy one to 
both. 

I hope, my dear Mrs. Nussey, you are well ; and I should be 
very happy to receive a little note either from you or from Miss 
Mercy to assure me of this. Believe me, yours affectionately and 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

At this point we are admitted once more to a glimpse 
of the interior of the Haworth parsonage even more 
interesting than Charlotte's letters. I have already given 
two fragments of the diary of Emily and Anne under 
date 1841. In the little box that contained these frag- 
ments were two further scraps of paper. They were 
written on July the 3ist, 1845. I S IVG Emily's memo- 
randum first of all : 

Haworth, Thursday, July $Qth, 1845. 

My birthday showery, breezy, cool. I am twenty-seven years 
old to-day. This morning Anne and I opened the papers we wrote 
four years since, on my twenty-third birthday. This paper we 
intend, if all be well, to open on my thirtieth three years hence, in 
1848. Since the 1841 paper the following events have taken place. 
Our school scheme has been abandoned, and instead Charlotte and I 
went to Brussels on the 8/// of February 1842. 

Branwell left his place at Luddenden Foot. C. and I returned 
from Brussels, November 8///, 1842, in consequence of aunfs death. 

Branwell went to TJiorp Green as a tutor, where Anne still 
continued, January \ 843. 

Charlotte returned to Brussels the same month, and after staying 
a year y came back again on New Year's Day 1844. 

Anne left her situation at Thorp Green of her own accord, June 
1845. 

Anne and I went our first long journey by ourselves together, 



A QUIET YEAR AT HA WORTH 805 

leaving home on the $oth of June, Monday, sleeping at York, 
returning to Keighley Tuesday evening, sleeping there and walking 
home on Wednesday morning. Though the weather was broken 
we enjoyed ourselves very much, except during a few hours at 
Bradford. And during our excursion we were, Ronald Macalgin, 
Henry Angora, Juliet Angusteena, Rosabella Esmaldan, Ella and 
Julian Egremont, Catharine Navarre, and Cordelia Fitzaphnold, 
escaping from the palaces of instruction to join the Royalists who 
are hard driven at present by ttie victorious Republicans. The 
Gondals still flourish bright as ever. I am at present writing 
a work on the First War. Anne has been writing some articles 
on this, and a book by Henry Sophona. We intend sticking firm 
by the rascals as long as they delight us, which I am glad to say 
ttiey do at present. I should have mentioned that last summer the 
school scheme was revived in full vigour. We had prospectuses 
printed^ despatched letters to all acquaintances imparting our plans ', 
and did our little all ; but it was found no go. Now I dont desire 
a school at all, and none of us have any great longing for it. We 
have cash enough for our present wants, with a prospect of accu- 
mulation. We are all in decent health, only that papa has a complaint 
in his eyes, and with the exception of B. , who, I hope, will be better 
and do better hereafter. I am quite contented for myself : not as 
idle as formerly, altogether as hearty, and having leatnt to make 
the most of the present and long for the future ^v^th the fidgetiness 
that I cannot do all I wish ; seldom or ever troubled with nothing 
to do, and merely desiring that everybody could be as comfortable 
as myself and as undesponding, and then we should have a very 
tolerable world of it. 

By mistake I find we have opened the paper on the ^\st instead of 
the $otk. Yesterday was much such a day as this, but the morning' 
was divine. 

Tabby, who was gone in our last paper, is come back, and has 
lived wit /i us two years and a half, and is in good health. Martha, 
who also departed, is here too. We have got Flossy ; got and lost 
Tiger ; lost the hawk Hero, which, with the geese, was given away, 
and is doubtless dead, for when I came back from Brussels I inquired 
on all hands and could hear nothing of him. Tiger died early last 
year. Keeper and Flossy are well, also the canary acquired four 
years since. We are now all at home, and likely to be there some 
time. Branwcll went to Liverpool on Tuesday to stay a week. 
Tabby has just been teasing me to turn as formerly to ' Pilloputate! 

VOL. I. U 



806 THE BRONTES 

Anne and I should have picked the black currants if it had been 
fine and sunshiny. I must hurry off now to my turning and ironing. 
I have plenty of work on hands, and writing, and am altogether fuh 
of business. With best wishes for the whole house till 1 848, July $Qth> 
and as much longer as may be, I conclude. Emily Bronte. 

Finally, I give Anne's last fragment : 

Thursday ', July the ^\st, 1845. Yesterday was Emily's birthday, 
and the time when we should have opened our 1841 paper, but 
by mistake we opened it to-day instead. How many things have 
happened since it was written some pleasant, some far otherwise. 
Yet I was then at Thorp Green, and now I am only just escaped 
from it. I was wishing to leave it then, and if I had known that 
I had four years longer to stay how wretched I should have been ; 
but during my stay I have had some very unpleasant and undreamt- 
of experience of human nature. Others have seen more changes. 
Charlotte has left Mr. Whites, and been twice to Brussels, where 
she stayed each time nearly a year. Emily has been there too, and 
stayed nearly a year. Branwell has left Luddenden Foot, and 
been a tutor at Thorp Green, and had much tribulation and ill 
health. He was very ill on Thursday, but he went with John 
Brown to L iverpool, where he now is, I suppose ; and we hope he 
will be better and do better in future. This is a dismal, cloudy, 
wet evening. We have had so far a very cold, wet summer. 
Charlotte has lately been to Hathersagc, in Derbyshire, on a visit 
of three weeks to Ellen Nussey. She is now sitting sewing in the 
dining-room. Emily is ironing upstairs. I am sitting in the 
dining-room in the rocking-chair before the fire with viy feet on 
the fender. Papa is in the parlour. Tabby and Martha are, I 
think, in the kitchen. Keeper and Flossy are, I do not know 
where. Little Dick is hopping in his cage. When the last paper 
was written we were thinking of setting up a school. The scheme 
has been dropt, and long after taken up again, and dropt again, 
because we could not get pupils. Charlotte is thinking about getting 
another situation. She wishes to go to Paris. Will she go ? She 
has let Flossy in, by-the-by, and he is now lying on the sofa. Emily 
is engaged in writing the Emperor Julius's Life. She has read 
some of it, and 1 want very much to hear the rest. She is writing 
some poetry, too. I wonder what it is about ? I have begun the 
third volume of Passages in the Life of an Individual. I wish I 
had finished it. This afternoon I began to set about making my 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 807 

grey figured silk frock that was dyed at Keighley. What sort 
of a tiand shall I make of it ? E. and I have a great deal of 
work to do. When shall we sensibly diminish it? I want to get 
a habit of early rising. Shall I succeed? We have not yet finished 
our Gondal Chronicles that we began three years and a half ago. 
When will they be done? The Gondals are at present in a sad 
state. The Republicans are uppermost, but the Royalists are not 
quite overcome. The young sovereigns^ with their brothers and 
sisters, are still at the Palace of Instruction. The Unique Society \ 
about half a year ago % were wrecked on a desert island as they were 
returning from Gaul. 7* hey are still there \ but we have not played 
at them much yet. The Gondals in general are not in first-rate 
playing condition. Will they improve? I wonder how we shall all 
be, and where and how situated, on the thirtieth of July 1848, when, 
if we are all alive, Emily will be just 30. / shall be in my ZQth 
year, Charlotte in her 33^, and Branwell in his $2nd ; and what 
changes shall we have seen and known ; and shall we be much 
changed ourselves? I hope not ', for the worse at least. I for my 
fart, cannot well be flatter or older in mind than I am now. Hoping 
for the best, I conclude. Anne Bronte. 

The two girls still keep young in the four years of acute 
experience. There is wonderfully little difference in the 
tone or spirit of the journals. Emily's concluding ' best 
wishes for this whole house till July the 3Oth, 1848, and as 
much longer as may be/ contain no premonition of coming 
disaster. Yet July 1848 was to find Branwell Bronte on 
the verge of the grave, and Emily almost in similar plight. 
She died on the i4th of December of that year. 

Letter 164 

TO ELLKN NUSSEY, IIATI1ERSAGE 

Aug. \%th, '45. 

DEAR ELLEN, You will think I have been long in writing to 
you, and long in sending you the French newspaper. I did not 
send the paper because I did not get it myself. 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. His bad habits seem more deeply rooted than 



808 THE BRONTES 

I thought. 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 
a fallacy. I am writing to you, not because I have anything to 
tell you, but because I want you to write to me. I am glad to see 
that you were pleased with your new sister. When I was at Hather- 
sage, you were talking of writing to Mary Taylor. I have lately 
written to her, a brief, shabby epistle of which I am ashamed, but 
I found when I began to write I had really very little to say. I 
sent the letter to Hunsworth, and I suppose it will go sometime. 
You must write to me soon, a long letter. Remember me respect- 
fully to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Nussey. Give my love to Miss R. 
Yours, C. B. 

Letter 165 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY, HATHERSAGE 

HAWORTH, August, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, I shall just scribble a line or two in answer to 
your last, as you wished me to write soon. 

Things here at home are much as usual not very bright as 
regards Branwcll, though his health and consequently his temper 
have been somewhat better this last day or two, because he is now 
forced to abstain. 

Poor Miss Ringrose's note interested me greatly ; your 
position with regard to her is a difficult one, and I feel it 
hazardous to advise you ; I can only say that were you or I 
either of us in her place, we should be most anxious to know the 
truth. Still, if you do tell her all, Ellen, convey your intelligence 
in careful and guarded language ; above all, remove from her 
mind the idea that she is the cause of this disaster, otherwise 
the news would be too dreadful. 

You are, however, far the best judge as to whether disclosures 
are advisable or not ; and I would not, on this point, bias your 
judgment one grain. 

Dr. B.'s letter did not please me much it seems so cold, so 
formal, so little explanatory yet \\e cannot judge ; what to you 
is a matter where your very best affections are concerned, to 
him is only business; and if he discharges that business with 
integrity, I suppose it is all we can expect from him. 



A QUIET YEAR AT HA WORTH 809 

You must be sure and not leave Hathersage till Joe Taylor has 
paid his visit, and tell me how he looks and what he says ; if 
he comes out in the colours in which we have seen him, he will be 
a strong dose to Mrs. Henry. 

I am not, just at present, disposed to augur so well of her as I 
was. It seems most astonishing to me that she should not be 
most desirous to receive you. 

Write again very soon. C B. 

Letter 166 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Sep. 8M, '45. 

DEAR ELLEN, You will wonder why I have not sent the 
French newspaper. I did not finish reading it till yesterday. I 
am glad you have got home, and yet I scarcely know why I should 
be. I neither intend to go and see you soon, nor to ask you to 
come and see us. Branwell makes no effort to seek a situation, 
and while he is at home I will invite no one to come and share 

our discomfort. I was much struck with . I could not live 

with one so cold and narrow, though she were correct as a 
mathematical straight line, and upright as perpendicularity itself. 
Emily and Anne regret, as I do, that we cannot ask you to come 
to Haworth ; we think during this fine weather how we should 
enjoy your company. Write to me soon, dear Nell. 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 167 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Sep. i8M, '45. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have just read Mary's letters; they are very 
interesting, and show the vigorous and original cast of her mind. 
There is but one thing I could wish otherwise in them, that is 
a certain tendency to flightiness-- it is not safe, it is not wise, and 
will often cause her to be misconstrued. Perhaps flightiness is not 
the right word, but it is a devil-may-care tone ; which I do not 
like when it proceeds from under a hat, and still less from under 
a bonnet I long to hear of Mary being arrived at her remote 
destination and occupied in serious business, then she will be in 
her element ; then her powerful faculties will be put to their 
right use. Write to me again soon. All continues the same here. 
Good-bye. C. B. 



310 THE BRONTES 

Letter 168 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Oct. -jih, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your position seems to be one full of difficulties 
and embarrassments, but how often does it happen that in situa- 
tions precisely similar to yours, when a hedge of danger and trial 
seems to enclose us on every side, an opening is suddenly made 
and a way of escape afforded where we thought it least practicable. 

I see you have courage and calmness ; this is the state of mind 
which will enable you best to take advantage of the means of 
safety should they offer. I have complete faith in your moral 
fortitude, and I trust and believe God will grant you physical 
health and strength to bear up against whatever trial may await 
you. You and your sister Ann could work your way well you 
have each in a different way resources within yourselves but 
your poor mother, Mercy, George, Joseph, what can they do, what 
can be done for them? If these Swaines are really acting a false 
and dishonest part, I would not be in their place for the wealth of 
a Rothschild ; no one ever yet unjustly oppressed the defenceless 
without his sin being visited fearfully upon him. 

Depend upon it, dear Ellen, it is better that you should have 
no visitors at present, not even one so insignificant as me. I 
have told you without apology, that I cannot ask you to Haworth 
at present. I told Miss Wooler the same. 

It gave me a feeling of painful surprise to learn that you had 
not yet seen Joe Taylor. Surely with a man so strong-minded 
and firm-principled as we have always been accustomed to believe 
Joe Taylor to be, even the circumstance of his being about to 
become closely connected with the Nusseys of White-Lee ought 
not fairly to extinguish his regard for old friends. When is he 
likely to be married to Isabella Nussey, do you think? Possibly 
it may be the pressure of business which prevents his coming to 
Brookroyd. I had a note from Ellen Taylor to-day in which it 
was mentioned that John Taylor was gone from home. 

Let me hear from you again, dear Ellen, with as little delay as 
possible. Such a long interval elapsed between your last letter 
and the one before, that I began to grow quite uneasy. 

I have scribbled this note by candle-light my eyes are tired 
which must plead my excuse for the almost illegible writing. 



A QUIET YEAR AT HA WORTH 811 

Give my best love to your mother and sisters. Emily was 
wondering the other day how poor little Flossy gets on. 

Good-night, dear Nell. C. B. 

Letter 169 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

November tfh, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, You do not reproach me in your last, but I fear 
you must have thought me unkind in being so long without 
answering you. The fact is, I had hoped to be able to ask you 
to come to Haworth. Branwell seemed to have a prospect of 
getting employment, and I waited to know the result of his efforts 
in order to say, * Dear Ellen, come and see us/ but the place (a 
secretaryship to a railroad 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 
know of him. I wish I could say one word to you in his favour, 
but I cannot, therefore I will hold my tongue. 

Poor Miss Ringrose's letters interest me much they are quiet 
and unpretending, but seem affectionate and sincere. Will she 
and George ever be married ? Such an event seems to human 
eyes very unlikely now ; yet that is no proof that it will not one 
day take place. Oh, I wish brighter days would come for all 
your family, and they may do so sooner than we calculate. We 
are all obliged to you, dear Ellen, for your kind suggestion about 
Leeds, but I think our school schemes arc for the present at rest. 
Emily and Anne wish me to tell you that they think it very 
unlikely for little Flossy to be expected to rear so numerous a 
family ; they think you are quite right in protesting against all 
the pups being preserved, for if kept they will pull their poor little 
mother to pieces. The French newspaper I send you to-day is 
the first we have had for an age two have missed. Be sure I 
shall always be punctual in despatching them to you, so that 
when there is a long gap you will know to what quarter to ascribe 
the delay. I believe Joe Taylor is at present at Ilkley, or has 
been there lately. I saw his name in the newspaper in the list 
of visitors * at this fashionable watering-place.' 

Do not think about my coming to Brookroyd for the present, 
Ellen. Give my sincere love to your mother, Ann, and Mercy, 
and believe me, yours faithfully, C. B. 



312 THE BRONTES 

Letter 170 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Nov. 2oM, '45. 

DEAR ELLEN, I was very glad to get your little note, short 
as it was. I consider on the whole it contained good news ; the 
last sentence concerning George is quite cheering. I persist in 
saying good times are still in store for Brookroyd, for I have ever 
remarked that after much distress comes a proportionate degree 
of happiness. And so Joseph Taylor, Esq., of Hunsworth Mills, 
Cleckheaton, has rediscovered the way to Brookroyd. High time 
he did so. I am not surprised to hear that Mr. and Mrs. T. are 
about to leave the old lady; her unhappy disposition is preparing 
for her a most desolate old age. 

Good-bye, write directly. Once more I tell you not to ask 
me to go to Brookroyd. I have no thought of leaving home at 
present. C. B. 

Letter 171 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Dec. 14th, 1845. 

DEAR ELLEN, I was glad to get your last note, though it was 
so short and crusty. Three weeks had elapsed without my having 
heard a word from you, and I began to fear that some new mis- 
fortune had occurred that George was worse, or something of 
that kind. I was relieved to find that such was not the case. 
Anne is obliged to you for the kind regret you express at not 
being able to ask her to Brookroyd ; she wishes you could come 
to Haworth. I think you are a trifle 'out of your head/ Do 
you scold me out of habit, Ellen, or are you really angry? In 
either case it is all nonsense. You know as well as I do that to 
go to Brookroyd is always a great pleasure to me, and that to one 
who has so little change and so few friends as I have, it must be 
a great pleasure but I am not at all times in the mood or 
circumstances to take my pleasure. I wish so much to see you, 
that I shall certainly sometime after New Year's Day, if all be 
well, be going over for a day or two to Birstall. Now I could not 
go if I would. At the latter end of February or the beginning of 
March I may be able to do so. If you think I stand upon 
ceremony in this matter, you miscalculate sadly. I have known 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 818 

you, your mother and sisters, too long to be ceremonious with any 
of you. 

invite me no more now, Nell, till I invite myself, be too proud 
to trouble yourself, and if, when at last I mention coming (for I 
shall give you warning), it does not happen to suit you, tell me 
so with quiet hauteur. 

I should like a long letter next time, with full particulars, and 
in the name of Common Sense, no more lover's quarrels. 

Good-bye. C. B. 

My best love to your mother and sisters. 



Letter 172 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Dec. 3U/, '45. 

DEAR ELLEN, I don't know whether most to thank you for 
the very pretty slippers you have sent me, or to scold you for 
occasioning yourself, in the slightest degree, trouble or expense 
on my account. I will have them made up and bring them with 
me, if all be well, when I come to Brookroyd. 

Reading your letter left me a somewhat ' sair heart.' These 
Swaines seem to be so selfish and mean a set, and it seems so 
hard that people like them should have it in their power to annoy 
you. I greatly fear they will not scruple to use such power with- 
out reserve of delicacy as far as they can. I only hope that their 
capability to injure your mother may be limited. Never doubt 
that I shall come to Birstall as soon as I can, Nell. I dare say 
my wish to see you is equal to your wish to see me. I had a note 
on Saturday from Ellen Taylor informing me that letters had 
been received from Mary, and that she was very well and in good 
spirits. I suppose you have not yet seen them as you do not 
mention them but you will probably have them in your possession 
before you get this note : I am glad you are pretty well satisfied 
respecting George's position. I should think the calm, tranquil 
state of his mind is a favourable symptom. Miss Ringrose, I 
suppose, has ceased to write to you, as you do not mention her 
now. You say well, in speaking of Bran well, that no sufferings 
are so awful as those brought on by dissipation : alas ! I see the 
truth of this observation daily proved. Ann and Mercy must 
have a weary and burdensome life of it, in waiting upon their 



314 THE BRONTES 

unhappy brother. It seems grievous, indeed, that those who 
have not sinned should suffer so largely. Write to me a little 
oftener, I am very glad to get your notes. Remember me 
kindly to your mother and sisters. Yours faithfully, 

C BRONT. 

Letter 173 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Jan. yd, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I must write to you to-day whether I have 
anything to say or not, or else you will begin to think that I 
have forgotten you ; whereas, never a day passes, seldom an 
hour, that I do not think of you, and the scene of trial in which 
you live, move, and have your being. Mary Taylor's letter was 
deeply interesting and strongly characteristic. I have no news 
whatever to communicate. No changes take place here. Bran- 
well offers no prospect of hope, he professes to be too ill to think 
of seeking for employment, he makes comfort scant at home. I 
hold to my intention of going to Birstall as soon as I can, that is, 
provided you will have me. 

Give my best love to your mother and sisters. Yours, dear 
Nell, always faithful, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 174 

TO MISS WOOLER 

January 30^, 1846. 

MY DEAR MlSS WOOLER, I have not yet paid my usual 
visit to Brookroyd, but I frequently hear from Ellen, and she 
did not fail to tell me that you were gone into Worcestershire. 
She was unable, however, to give me your 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 I 
am very glad to be able to answer your kind inquiries by an 
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 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 



A QUIET YEAR AT HAWORTH 315 



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 at 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 very unshaken 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 
Wooler, know full as well as I do the value of sisters' affections 
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 employ- 
ment, and I begin to fear 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 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 half sufficiently guarded from 
temptations. Girls are protected as if they were something very 
frail and silly indeed, while boys are turned loose on the world as 
if they, of all beings in existence, were the wisest and the least 
liable to be led astray. 

I am glad you like Bromsgrove, 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 to me that there is really such a thing 
as retributive justice even in this 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 'alone 
woman ' can be happy, as well as cherished wives and proud 



316 THE BRONTES 



mothers. I am glad of that I speculate much on the existence 
of unmarried and never-to-be married woman 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, per- 
severingly, without support of husband or mother, 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, fortitude to support inevitable pains, sympathy with 
the sufferings of others, and willingness to relieve want as far as 

her means extend. Jane had the pleasure of seeing Mfs. M 

at . Will you offer her my respectful remembrances. I 

wish to send this letter off by to-day's post, I must therefore con- 
clude in haste. Believe me, my dear Miss Wooler, yours, most 
affectionately, C. BRONTE. 

Write to me again when you have time. 

Letter 175 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Feb. i$th, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, Will it suit you if I come to Brookroyd next 
Wednesday, and stay till the Wednesday after ; if convenient tell 
me so at once and fix your own time. Is there a coach from 
Bradford to Birstall on Wednesday? If so, do you know what 
time it leaves Bradford ? I should be there at the Talbot about 
4.30 P.M. 

Letter 176 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HA WORTH, Feb. 2$th, 1846. 

DEAR Miss NUSSEY, I fancy this note will be too late to decide 
one way or other with respect to Charlotte's stay. Yours only came 
this morning (Wednesday), and unless mine travels faster you will 
not receive it till Friday. Papa, of course, misses Charlotte, and 
will be glad to have her back. Anne and I ditto ; but as she 
goes from home so seldom, you may keep her a day or two longer, 
if your eloquence is equal to the task of persuading her that is, 
if she still be with you when you get this permission. Love from 
Anne. Yours truly, EMILY J. BRONTE. 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 317 



CHAPTER XIV 
CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 

OUR last chapter began and concluded in a merely 
domestic strain, taking us up to the end of February 
1846. But in January of this year had begun a corre- 
spondence which was entirely to revolutionise the life of 
this quiet family in a remote Yorkshire village. Charlotte 
wrote a letter to a firm of booksellers in Paternoster Row 
as to the publication by them of a volume of poems. 
She has herself told the story of this project in an eloquent 
introduction to an edition of her sisters' novels published 
in 1850. 

One day in the autumn of 1845 I accidentally lighted on a 
MS. volume of verse in my sister Emily's handwriting. 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 con- 
densed 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. . . . Mean- 
time my younger sister quietly produced some of her own com- 
positions, 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 per- 
sonal publicity, we veiled our own names under those of Currer, 



818 THE BRONTES 

Ellis, and Acton Bell ; the ambiguous choice being dictated by a 
sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names posi- 
tively 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 used 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 of the 
experience of others. The great puzzle lay in the difficulty ot 
getting answers of any kind from the publishers to whom we 
applied. Being greatly harassed by this obstacle, I ventured to 
apply to Messrs. Chambers of Edinburgh for a word of advice ; 
they may have forgotten the circumstance, but / 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. 

Letter 177 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

January 28^, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, May I request to be informed whether you 
would undertake the publication of a collection of short poems 
in one volume, 8vo. 

If you object to publishing the work at your own risk, would 
you undertake it on the author's account? I am, gentlemen, 
your obedient humble servant, C. BRONTE. 

Address Rev. P. Bronte, Ilaworth, Bradford, Yorkshire. 

Letter 178 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

January 3U/, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, Since you agree to undertake the publication 
of the work respecting which 1 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 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 819 

edition of Wordsworth. The poems will occupy, I should think, 
from 200 to 250 pages. They are not the production of a clergy- 
man, 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. C. BRONTE. 

Address Rev. P. Bronte, Haworth, Bradford, Yorkshire. 

Letter 179 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

Feb. 6M, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, You will perceive that the poems are the work 
of three persons, relatives ; their separate pieces are distinguished 
by their respective signatures. C. BRONTfc. 

Letter 180 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

Feb. i6/>&, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, 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 pre- 
ferable. I only stipulate for clear type, not too small, and good 
paper. C. BRONTE. 

Address Rev. P. Bronte, Haworth, Bradford, Yorkshire. 

Letter 181 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

March $rd, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, I send a draft for 31, ios., being the amount 
of your estimate. 

I suppose there is nothing now to prevent your immediately 
commencing the printing of the work. 

When you acknowledge the receipt of the draft, will you state 
how soon it will be completed ? I am, gentlemen, yours truly, 

C. BRONT. 



320 THE BRONTES 

I have not been able to find out very much about the 
individuality of the two young men to whom belongs the 
distinction of issuing the first book by Charlotte Bronte 
and her sisters. They were booksellers and stationers 
rather than publishers, but they were responsible for two 
noteworthy literary undertakings, neither of which implied 
any financial success. Not only did they publish the 
poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, but they issued in 
common for Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Pre-Raphaelite 
colleagues the parts of T/ie Germ : Thoughts towards 
Nature in Poetry, Literature, and Art) 

Meanwhile two domestic tragedies were going on side 
by side with this aspiration to success in poetry, as the 
following letter indicates; one was the father's approaching 
blindness and the question of an operation by a Manchester 
oculist, the other was the moral deterioration of Branwell. 

Letter 182 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March -$rd, 1846. 

DEAR ELLEN, I reached home a little after two o'clock, all 
safe and right, yesterday ; I found papa very well ; his sight 

1 Mrs. Martyn, a daughter of Mr. Aylott, has written to a correspondent as follows 
concerning her father's publishing cfiorts : 

' I thank you very much for your kind reply to my note, and I will endeavour to give 
you what information I can about my fathers business life It m so many years since he 
died (1872) and many more years since his connection with Charlotte Bronte for I was 
quite a young gul when he used to tell us about her, and how she would make a 
three days' journey from the Yorkshire Moors to come and see him about her books. 
I believe it was only her poems that my lather published, for he refused her novels, 
as he was rather old-fashioned and had very narrow views regarding light literature, 
so that he suggested that she should take tlu m to Messrs Smith and Elder. My father 
much preferred publishing classical and theological books, and the enclosed list is the 
only one 1 have, showing some of his publications. He commenced business in 1828 
in Chancery Lane, and from there he went to 8 Paternoster Row. Mr. Jones was his 
partner for a few years, but I believe he was rather a hard man, and my father being 
of a very amiable and genial disposition, they did not pull together very veil, and so 
that partnership was dissolved and the firm was Aylott and Co., as another partner was 
taken in, though not having his n.ime known. After that my brother was made partner 
and the firm was then Aylott and Son until my father retired in 1866. Besides publish- 
ing he did a very gieat deal in export with the Church Missionary Society in West 
Africa, and his house of business was the centre for the Church of England Book 
Hawking Union. Our home was in Mildmay Park, and for many years we belonged 
to the late Rev W. PennefatherV church, where my father was churchwarden and a 
much-loved friend of the Vicar's.* 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 321 

much the same. Emily and Anne were gone 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 a 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. 
Carr's opinion, and of old Mrs. Carr's experience ; but I could 
perceive he caught gladly at the idea of deferring the operations 
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 stupe- 
fied. My fears were not in vain. I hear that he had got a 
sovereign from papa 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. Emily 
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 know. 

I hope Mary and Miss B got home without any wet; give my 

love to your mother and sisters. Let me hear from you if possible 
on Thursday. Believe me, dear Nell, yours faithfully, C. B. 

Emily calls her brother 'a hopeless being,' and Branwell 
had already reached that stage of physical and moral 
wreckage where even his most broadminded sister had 
had to give him up. We who have read his weak and 
foolish letters have seen what a moral degenerate he had 
long since become, but much of his crookedness of nature 
was never revealed to his sisters his infinite capacity for 
lying for example. 

Branwell after the many changes of occupation that we 
have noted had obtained a post as tutor to the son of Mr. 
Robinson in the very house at Thorp Green in which his 
sister Anne was a governess. He had commenced his 
duties in December 1842. 

It would not be rash to assume although it is only an 
assumption that Branwell took to opium soon after he 

VOL. i. x 



822 THE BRONTES 

entered upon his duties at Thorp Green. I have already 
said something of the trouble which befell Mrs. Gaskell in 
accepting the statements of Charlotte Bronte, and after 
Charlotte's death of her friends, to the effect that Bran- 
well became the prey of a designing woman, who promised 
to marry him when her husband a venerable clergyman 
should be dead. The story has been told too often. 
Branwell was dismissed, and returned to the parsonage to 
rave about his wrongs. If Mr. Robinson should die, the 
widow had promised to marry him, he assured his friends. 
Mr. Robinson did die (May 26, 1846), and then Branwell 
insisted that by his will he had prohibited his wife from 
marrying, under penalties of forfeiting the estate. A copy 
of the document is in my possession : 

The eleventh day of September 1846 the Will of the Reverend 
Edmund Robinson late of Thorp Green, in the Parish of Little 
Ouseburn, in the County of York^ Clerk, deceased, was proved in the 
Prerogative Court of York by the oaths of Lydla Robinson, Widow, 
his Relict , the Venerable Charles Thorp and Henry Newton, the 
Executors, to whom administration was granted. 

Needless to say, the will, a lengthy document, put no 
restraint whatever upon the actions of Mrs. Robinson. 
Upon the publication of Mrs. Gaskell's Life she was eager 
to clear her character in the law-courts, but was dissuaded 
therefrom by friends, who pointed out that a withdrawal 
of the obnoxious paragraphs in succeeding editions of the 
Memoir, and the publication of a letter in the Times, 
would sufficiently meet the case. 

Here is the letter from the advertisement pages of the 

Times : 

8 BEDFORD Row, 
LONDON, May 26///, 1857. 

DEAR SIRS, As solicitor for and on behalf of the Rev. W. Gas- 
kell and of Mrs. Gaskell, his wife, the latter of whom is authoress 
of the Life of Charlotte Bronte, I am instructed to retract every 
statement contained in that work which imputes to a widowed 
lady, referred to, but not named therein, any breach of her con- 
jugal, of her maternal, or of her social duties, and more especially 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 323 

of the statement contained in chapter 13 of the first volume, and 
in chapter 2 of the second volume, which imputes to the lady in 
question a guilty intercourse with the late Branwell Bronte. All 
those statements were made upon information which at the time 
Mrs. Gaskell believed to be well founded, but which, upon in- 
vestigation, with the additional evidence furnished to me by 
you, I have ascertained not to be trustworthy. I am therefore 
authorised not only to retract the statements in question, but to 
express the deep regret of Mrs. Gaskell that she should have been 
led to make them. I am, dear sirs, yours truly, 

WILLIAM SHAEN. 
Messrs. Newton & Robinson, Solicitors, York. 

A certain * Note ' in the Atkenaum a few days later is 
not without interest now : 

We are sorry to be called upon to return to Mrs. Gaskell's 
Life of Charlotte Bronte, but we must do so, since the book has 
gone forth with our recommendation. Praise, it is needless to 
point out, implied trust in the biographer as an accurate collector 
of facts. This, we regret to state, Mrs. Gaskell proves not to 
have been. To the gossip which for weeks past has been seething 
and circulating in the London coteries, we gave small heed ; but 
the Times advertises a legal apology, made on behalf of Mrs. 
Gaskell, withdrawing the statements put forth in her book respect- 
ing the cause of Branwell Bronte's wreck and ruin. These Mrs. 
GaskelPs lawyer is now fain to confess his client advanced on 
insufficient testimony. The telling of an episodical and gratuitous 
tale so dismal as concerns the dead, so damaging to the living, 
could only be excused by the story of sin being severely, strictly 
true ; and every one will have cause to regret that due caution was 
not used to test representations not, it seems, to be justified. It 
is in the interest of Letters that biographers should be deterred 
from rushing into print with mere impressions in place of proofs, 
however eager and sincere those impressions may be. They may 
be slanders, and as such they may sting cruelly. Meanwhile the 
Life of Charlotte Bronte must undergo modification ere it can be 
further circulated/ 

It is pleasant after this to return to the little publishing 
project, and I give the remainder of the letters treating 
of the issue of the poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, 
the first book issued by the three sisters. 



324 THE BRONTES 

Letter 183 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

March Mth, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, I have received the proof-sheet, and return it 
corrected. If there is any doubt at all about the printer's com- 
petency to correct errors, I would prefer submitting each sheet 
to the inspection of the authors, because such a mistake, for 
instance, as tumbling stars, instead of trembling \ would suffice to 
throw an air of absurdity over a whole poem ; but if you know 
from experience that he is to be relied on, I would trust to your 
assurance on the subject, and leave the task of correction to him, 
as I know that a considerable saving both of time and trouble 
would be thus effected. 

The printing and paper appear to me satisfactory. Of course 
I wish to have the work out as soon as possible, but I am still 
more anxious that it should be got up in a manner creditable to 
the publishers and agreeable to the authors. I am, gentlemen, 
yours truly, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 184 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

March 13^, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, I return you the second proof. The authors 
have finally decided that they would prefer having all the proofs 
sent to them in turn, but you need not enclose the MS., as they 
can correct the errors from memory. I am, gentlemen, yours 
truly, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 185 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

March i^rd, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, As the proofs have hitherto come safe to hand 
under the direction of C. Bronte, Esq., I have not thought it 
necessary to request you to change it, but a little mistake having 
occurred yesterday, I think it will be better to send them to 
me in future under my real address, which is Miss Bronte, Rev. 
P. Bronte, etc. I am, gentlemen, yours truly, 

C. BRONTE. 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 825 

Letter 186 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

April bth, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, C, E., and A. Bell are now preparing for the 
press a work of fiction, consisting of three distinct and uncon- 
nected tales, which may be published either together, as a work 
of three volumes, of the ordinary novel size, or separately as 
single volumes, as shall be deemed most advisable. 

It is not their intention to publish these tales on their own 
account. They direct me to ask you whether you 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. 

An early answer will oblige, as, in case of your negativing 
the proposal, inquiry must be made of other publishers. I am, 
gentlemen, yours truly, C. BRONTE. 



Letter 187 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

April nth, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, 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 contribu- 
tions 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. C. BRONTE. 



326 THE BRONTES 

Letter 188 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

April I5/A, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, I have to thank you for your obliging answer 
to my last. The information you give is of value to us, and when 
the MS. is completed your suggestions shall be acted on. 

There will be no preface to the poems. The blank leaf may be 
filled up by a table of contents, which I suppose the printer will 
prepare. It appears the volume will be a thinner one than was 
calculated on. I am, gentlemen, yours truly, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 189 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

April 20, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, The poems are 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: 

Colburris 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 newspapers. I 
am, gentlemen, yours truly, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 190 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

May uM, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, The books may be done up in the style of 
Moxon's duodecimo edition of Wordsworth. 

The price may be fixed at 55., or if you think that too much for 
the size of the volume, say 45. 

I think the periodicals I mentioned in my last will be sufficient 
for advertising in at present, and I should not wish you to lay out 
a larger sum than 2, especially as the estimate is increased by 
nearly $, in consequence, it appears, of a mistake. I should 
think the success of a work depends more on the notice it receives 
from periodicals, than on the quantity of advertisements. 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 327 

If you do not object, the additional amount of the estimate can 
be remitted when you send in your account at the end of the first 
six months. 

I should be obliged to you if you could let me know how soon 
copies can be sent to the editors of the magazines and newspapers 
specified. I am, gentlemen, yours truly, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 191 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

May 25///, 1846 

GENTLEMEN, I received yours of the 22nd this morning. 
I now transmit 5, being the additional sum necessary to defray 
the entire expense of paper and printing. It will leave a small 
surplus of us. 9d., which you can place to my account. 

I am glad you have sent copies to the newspapers you mention, 
and in case of a notice favourable or otherwise appearing in them, 
or in any of the other periodicals to which copies have been sent, 
I should be obliged to you if you would send me down the 
numbers ; otherwise, I have not the opportunity of seeing these 
publications regularly. I might miss it, and should the poems be 
remarked upon favourably, it is my intention to appropriate a 
further sum to advertisements. If, on the other hand, they should 
pass unnoticed or be condemned, I consider it would be quite use- 
less 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 am, gentlemen, yours truly, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 192 

TO AYLOTT & JONES 

July xoM, 1846. 

GENTLEMEN, I am directed by the Messrs. Bell to acknow- 
ledge the receipt of the Critic and the Athenczum containing 
notices of the poems. 

They now think that a further sum of 10 may be devoted to 
advertisements, leaving it to you to select such channels as you 
deem most advisable. 

They would wish the following extract from the Critic to be 
appended to each advertisement : 

'They in whose hearts are chords strung by Nature to sym- 
pathise with the beautiful and the true, will recognise in these 
compositions the presence of more genius than it was supposed 



328 THE BRONTES 

this utilitarian age had devoted to the loftier exercises of the 
intellect. 1 

They likewise request you to send copies of the poems to 
Eraser's Magazine^ Chambers 's Edinburgh Journal^ the Globe, and 
Examiner. I am, gentlemen, yours truly, C. BRONTE. 

The book then was published, and the title-page ran as 
follows : 

Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. London : Ay lot t and 
Jones, 8 Paternoster Row. \ 846. 

Two years later the unbound copies were issued with a 
title-page bearing the imprint of Smith, Elder, & Co., 
and the same date, 1846, although the sheets were not 
taken over by Smith, Elder, & Co. until 1848. 

The book secured reviews such as any volume of verse 
might obtain, and the kind of reception from the public 
that, then as now, verse, when it is real poetry, always 
commands two copies were sold. The Athenaeum critic 
declared that Ellis possessed *a fine quaint spirit' and 
'an evident power of wing that may reach heights not 
here attempted. 1 Here is a letter of thanks to a critic. 

Letter 193 

TO THE EDITOR OF THE 'DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 

October 6th, 1846. 

SIR, I thank you in my own name and that of my brothers, 
Ellis and Acton, for the indulgent notice that appeared in your 
last number of our first humble efforts in literature ; but I thank 
you far more for the essay on modern poetry which preceded 
that notice an essay in which seems to me to be condensed the 
very spirit of truth and beauty. If all or half your other readers 
shall have derived from its perusal the delight it afforded to 
myself and my brothers, your labours have produced a rich 
result. 

After such criticism an author may indeed be smitten at first 
by a sense of his own insignificance as we were but on a second 
and a third perusal he finds a power and beauty therein which 
stirs him to a desire to do more and better things. It fulfils the 
right end of criticism : without absolutely crushing, it corrects 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 829 

and rouses. I again thank you heartily, and beg to subscribe 
myself, Your constant and grateful reader, 

CURRER BELL. 

While treating of the Poems, I may as well carry the 
correspondence a stage further. Six or eight months later 
Charlotte Bronte sent copies of the little volume to several 
of the leading authors of the day. Reference to the 
biographies of Wordsworth, Tennyson, Lockhart, and 
De Quincey shows that the same letter accompanied each 
little volume. 

Letter 194 

TO THOMAS DE QUINCEY 

June i6M, 1847. 

SIR, My relatives, Ellis and Acton Bell, and myself, heedless 
of the repeated warnings of various respectable publishers, have 
committed the rash act of printing a volume of poems. 

The consequences predicted have, of course, overtaken us: our 
book is found to be a drug ; no man needs it or heeds it. In the 
space of a year our publisher has disposed but of two copies, and 
by what painful efforts he succeeded in getting rid of these two, 
himself only knows. 

Before transferring the edition to the trunkmakers, we have 
decided on distributing as presents a few copies of what we can- 
not sell ; and we beg to offer you one in acknowledgment of the 
pleasure and profit we have often and long derived from your 
works. 1 am, sir, yours very respectfully, CURRER BELL. 1 

Apart from this tantalising and exciting venture into 
book-publishing concerning which the three sisters did not 
breathe a word to any member of their household, and 
not even to Ellen Nussey, all the history of the year is 
contained in letters to her friend. 

Letter 195 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March 31 sf, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I begin to feel somewhat uneasy about your 
long silence. Is all well at Brookroyd? I have sometimes 

1 De Quincey Memorials^ by Alexander H. Jap p. See also Alfred^ Lord Tennyson: 
a Afcmetr, by his son, 1898, and Lockhart's Life by Andrew Lang, 1897. 



830 THE BRONTES 

feared your mother is worse, for the late sharp change in the 
weather has been a most trying one for many weak and elderly 
persons about here. 

Our poor old servant Tabby had a sort of fit a fortnight since, 
but is nearly recovered now. Martha is ill with a swelling in her 
knee, and obliged to go home. I fear it will be some time before 
she will be in working condition again. I received the number of 
the Record you sent, and sent it forward to Mr. Young. I read 
D'Aubigne^s letter. 1 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. Any visits from Huns- 
worth lately ? I begin to be anxious to hear again from Mary 
Taylor. I am very glad I went to Brookroyd 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 Bran well's wretched conduct. 
There there is no change but for the worse. 

I have no news to tell you, and I only scribble these few lines 
to entreat you to write to me immediately. I sent you a French 
newspaper yesterday. 

Good-morning. Love to all. C. BRONTE. 



Letter 196 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 14^, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I assure you I was very glad indeed to get 
your last note for when three or four days elapsed after my 
second despatch to you and I got no answer, I scarcely doubted 
something was wrong. It relieved me much to find my apprehen- 
sions unfounded. I return you Miss Ringrose's notes with thanks. 
I always like to read them, they appear to me so true an index 
of an amiable mind, and one not too conscious of its own worth; 
beware of awakening in her this consciousness by undue praise. 
It is the privilege of simple-hearted, sensible but not brilliant 

1 Jean Henri Merle D'Aubigne" (1794-1872), born near Geneva. In 1818 he became 
pastor of the French Protestant Church at Hamburg, and in 1823, the Court preacher 
at Brussels. He returned to Geneva after 1830. His History of the Reformation is his 
best known book. 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 331 

people that they can be and do good without comparing their 
own thoughts and actions too closely with those of other people, 
and thence drawing strong food for self-appreciation. Talented 
people almost always know full well the excellence that is in 
them. I am very glad that you have seen George; still, the inter- 
view must have been a painful one in many respects. It disap- 
pointed me rather that you mentioned it so briefly. How did he 
receive you ? Joe Taylor has performed a good action in the best 
manner. You ask if we are more comfortable. I wish I could 
say anything favourable, but how can we be more comfortable so 
long as Branwell stays at home, and degenerates instead of 
improving? It has been lately intimated to him, that he would 
be received again on the railroad where he was formerly stationed 
if he would behave more steadily, but he refuses to make an 
effort ; he will not work and at home he is a drain on every 
resource an impediment to all happiness. But there is no use 
in complaining. 

My love to all. Write again soon. C. B. 

Letter 197 

TO ELLEN NUSFEY 

June '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I hope all the mournful contingencies of death 
are by this time removed from Brookroyd, and that some little 
sense of relief is beginning to be experienced by its wearied 

inmates. suffered greatly. I trust and even believe that his 

long sufferings on earth will be taken as sufficient expiation. 
I wish you all may get a little repose and enjoyment now. 
I should like to hear from you shortly, and whether any new 
plans are in contemplation about poor George. Give my love 
to all. C. BRONT& 

Letter 198 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

June ilth, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I was glad to perceive by the tone of your last 
letter, that you are beginning to be a little more settled and com- 
fortable. I should think Dr. Belcombe is quite right in opposing 
George's removal home. We, I am sorry to say, have been some- 
what more harassed than usual lately. The death of Mr. Robinson, 
which took place about three weeks or a month ago, served 



882 THE BRONTES 

Branwell for a pretext to throw all about him into hubbub and con- 
fusion with his emotions, etc., etc. Shortly after, came news from 
all hands that Mr. Robinson had altered his will before he died and 
effectually prevented all chance of a marriage between his widow 
and Branwell, by stipulating that she should not have a shilling if 
she ever ventured to reopen any communication with him. Of 
course, he then became intolerable. To papa he allows rest 
neither day nor night, and he is continually screwing money out 
of him, sometimes threatening that he will kill himself if it is 
withheld from him. He says Mrs. Robinson is now insane ; that her 
mind is a complete wreck owing to remorse for her conduct to- 
wards Mr. Robinson (whose end it appears was hastened by distress 
of mind) and grief for having lost him. I do not know how much 
to believe of what he says, but I fear she is very ill. Branwell 
declares that he neither can nor will do anything for himself; 
good situations have been offered him more than once, for which, 
by a fortnight's work, he might have qualified himself, but he will 
do nothing, except drink and make us all wretched. I had a note 
from Ellen Taylor a week ago, in which she remarks that letters 
were received from New Zealand a month since, and that all was 
well. I should like to hear from you again soon. I hope one 
day to see Brookroyd again, though I think it will not be yet 
these are not times of amusement. Love to all. C. B. 

Letter 199 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July ioth> '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I see you are in a dilemma, and one of a 
peculiar and difficult nature. Two paths lie before you, you con- 
scientiously 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 com- 
mand you to go out into the cold and friendless world, and there 
to earn your bread 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. 
Dear Ellen, 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 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 833 

me. The right path is that which necessitates the greatest sacri- 
fice of self-interest which implies the greatest pood 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 few sources of happiness, 
fewer almost than the comparatively young and healthy can con- 
ceive ; 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 Brookroyd, 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. 
Who gravely asked you whether Miss Bronte was not going to 
be married to her Papa's Curate ? I scarcely need say that never 
was rumour more unfounded. A cold far-away sort of civility 
are the only terms on which I have ever been with Mr. Nicholls. 
I could by no means think of mentioning such a rumour to him 
even as a joke. It would make me the laughing-stock of himself 
and his fellow curates for half a year to come. They regard me 
as an old maid, and I regard them, one and all, as highly un- 
interesting, narrow and unattractive specimens of the coarser sex. 

Write to me again soon, whether you have anything particular 
to say or not. Give my sincere love to your mother and sisters, 

C. BRONTE. 

The enigmas are very smart and well worded. 

Letter 200 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July 24/A, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, A series of tooth-aches, prolonged and severe, 
bothering me both day and night, have kept me very stupid of 
late, and prevented me from writing to you. More than once I 
have sat down and opened my desk, but have not been able to 
get up to par ; to-day, after a night of fierce pain, I am better 
much better, and I take advantage of the interval of ease to dis- 
charge my debt. I wish I had .50 to spare at present, and that 
you, Emily, Anne and I, were all at liberty to leave home without 
our absence being detrimental to anybody. How pleasant to set 



834 THE BRONTES 

off en masse to the sea- side, and stay there a few weeks taking in 
a stock of health and strength. We could all do with recreation. 
I retain Miss Ringrose's * portrait.' It is skilfully painted a little 
flattering to be exposed to the view of the original but it gives 
a stranger a sweet and attractive idea of ' notre Amlie/ I will 
not attempt a companion picture of my friend \ for it is unnecessary. 
Miss Ringrose's own letters had delineated her clearly and faith- 
fully enough without the aid of this finished miniature ; and yours 
will, I know, do for you the same office, independently of elaborate 
assistance from me. 

You have acted well, very well, in telling Miss Ringrose the 
simple truth respecting the position of your family. Adversity 
agrees with you, Ellen. Your good qualities are never so obvious 
as when under the pressure of affliction. Continued prosperity 
might develop too much a certain germ of ambition latent in 
your character. I saw this little germ putting out green shoots 
when I was staying with you at Hathersage. It was not then 
obtrusive, and perhaps might never become so. Your good sense, 
firm principle, and kind feeling, might keep it down ; but if riches 
were ever to accrue to you, I prophesy that your many virtues 
would have a severe struggle with this one defect. Still I wish 
Fortune would try you, but not with too strong a temptation. 
Holding down my head does not suit my tooth-ache. Give my 
love to your mother and sisters. Write again as soon as may 
be. Yours faithfully, C. B. 

Letter 201 

TO ELLEN NUSSKY 

August 9/k, 1846. 

DEAR NELL, Anne and I both thank you for your kind in- 
vitation, and our thanks are not mere words of course they are 
very sincere, both as addressed to yourself and your mother and 
sisters, but we cannot accept it, and 1 t/nnk even JY>W will consider 
our motives for declining valid this time. 

In a fortnight I hope to go with papa to Manchester to have 
his eyes couched. Emily and I made a pilgrimage there a week 
ago to search out an operator, and we found one in the person of 
Mr. Wilson. He could not tell from the description whether the 
eyes were ready for an operation. Papa must therefore necessarily 
take a journey to Manchester to consult him. If he judges the 
cataract ripe, we shall remain, if, on the contrary, he thinks it not 
yet sufficiently hardened, we shall have to return and papa must 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 885 

remain in darkness a while longer. Poor Bessy H. ! I was 
thinking about her only a day or two before. Do you know 
whether she suffered much pain, or whether her death was easy? 

There is a defect in your reasoning about the feelings a wife 
ought to experience. Who holds the purse will wish to be master, 
Ellen, depend on it, whether man or woman. Who provided the 
cash will now and then value himself or herself upon it, and even 
in the case of ordinary minds, reproach the less wealthy partner. 
Besides, no husband ought to be an object of charity to his wife, 
as no wife to her husband. No, dear Ellen, it is doubtless pleasant 
to marry well> as they say, but with all pleasures are mixed bitters. 
I do not wish for you a very rich husband, I should not like you 
to be regarded by any man ever as *a sweet object of charity/ 
Give my sincere love to all. Yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 202 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

83 MOUNT PLEASANT, BOUNDARY ST., OXFORD ROAD, 
MANCHESTER, Augitst 2u/, '46 

DEAR ELLEN, I just scribble a line to let you know where I 
am, in order that you may write to me here, for it seems to me 
that a letter from you would relieve me from the feeling of 
strangeness I have in this big town. Papa and I came here on 
Wednesday ; we saw Mr. Wilson, 1 the oculist, the same day ; he 
pronounced papa's eyes quite ready for an operation, and has 
fixed next Monday for the performance of it. Think of us* on 
that day ! We got into our lodgings yesterday. I think we shall 
be comfortable ; at least, our rooms are very good, but there is 
no mistress of the house (she is very ill, and gone out into the 
country), and I am somewhat puzzled in managing about pro- 
visions ; we board ourselves. I find myself excessively ignorant. 
I 'can't tell what to order in the way of meat. For ourselves I 
could contrive, papa's diet is so very simple ; but there will be a 
nurse coming in a day or two, and I am afraid of not having 
things good enough for her. Papa requires nothing, you know, 
but plain beef and mutton, tea and bread and butter ; but a nurse 

1 Dr. William James Wilson, M.R.C.S., was born at Leeds, but the exact date is 
not known. He was honorary surgeon to the Manchester Infirmary from 1826 to 
1855, and was mainly instrumental in founding the Manchester Institution for curing 
diseases of the eye. He died at Tickwood, near Wellington, I9th July 1855. See 
Honorary Medical Stajf of the Manchester Infirmary^ by Dr. E. M. Brockbank. 410. 
1904. Pp. 269-272. 



886 THE BRONTES 

will probably expect to live much better ; give me some hints if 
you can. Mr. Wilson says we shall have to stay here for a month 
at least. It will be dreary. I wonder how poor Emily and Anne 
will get on at home with Branwell ? They too will have their 
troubles. What would I not give to have you here! One is 
forced, step by step, to get experience in the world ; but the 
learning is so disagreeable. One cheerful feature in the business 
is that Mr. Wilson thinks most favourably of the case. Write 
very soon remember me kindly to all. Yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 203 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

MANCHESTER, August 26^, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, The operation is over ; it took place yesterday. 
Mr. Wilson performed it ; two other surgeons assisted. Mr. 
Wilson says he considers it quite successful ; but papa cannot yet 
see anything. The affair lasted precisely a quarter of an hour ; it 
was not the simple operation of couching Mr. Carr described, but 
the more complicated one of extracting the cataract. Mr. Wilson 
entirely disapproves of couching. Papa displayed extraordinary 
patience and firmness ; the surgeons seemed surprised. I was in 
the room all the time, as it was his wish that I should be there ; 
of course, I neither spoke nor moved till the thing was done, and 
then I felt that the less I said, either to papa or the surgeons, the 
better. Papa is now confined to his bed in a dark room, and is 
not to be stirred for four days ; he is to speak and be spoken to as 
little as possible. I am greatly obliged to you for your letter and 
your kind advice, which gave me extreme satisfaction, because I 
found 1 had arranged most things in accordance with it, and, as 
your theory coincides with my practice, I feel assured the latter is 
right. I hope Mr. Wilson will soon allow me to dispense with the 
nurse ; she is well enough, no doubt, but somewhat too obsequious, 
and not, I should think, to be much trusted ; yet I am obliged to 
trust her in some things. Your friend Charlotte has had a letter 
from M. T., and she was only waiting to hear from one Ellen 
Nussey, that she had received a similar document. Greatly was 
I amused by your account of Joe's flirtations, and yet some- 
what saddened also. I think Nature intended him for something 
better than to fritter away his time in making a set of poor, un- 
occupied spinsters unhappy. The girls, unfortunately, are forced 
to care for him, because, while their minds are mostly unemployed, 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 837 

their sensations are all unworn, and consequently, fresh and keen ; 
and he, on the contrary, has had his fill of pleasure, and can with 
impunity make a mere pastime of other people's torments. This 
is an unfair state of things ; the match is not equal. I only wish 
I had the power to infuse into the souls of the persecuted a little 
of the quiet strength of pride, of the supporting consciousness 
of superiority (for they are superior to him, because purer), of the 
fortifying resolve of firmness to bear the present, and wait the end. 
Could all the virgin population of Birstall and Gomersall receive 
and retain these sentiments, he would eventually have to vail his 
crest before them. Perhaps, luckily, their feelings are not so acute 
as one would think, and the gentleman's shafts consequently don't 
wound so deeply as he might desire. I hope it is so. Give my 
best love to your mother and sisters. Write soon. 

C. BRONTK. 

Letter 204 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

MANCHESTER, August 31^, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, Thank you for Mary Taylor's letter. It contains 
later news than mine, and good news too. Papa is still lying in 
bed, in a dark room, with his eyes bandaged. No inflammation 
ensued, but still it appears the greatest care, perfect quiet, and 
utter privation of light are necessary to ensure a good result from 
the operation. He is very patient, but of course depressed and 
weary. He was allowed to try his sight for the first time yester- 
day. He could see dimly. Mr. Wilson seemed perfectly satisfied, 
and said all was right. I have had bad nights from the toothache 
since I came to Manchester. Give my sincere love to Miss 
Wooler when you see her. Give her my address too. In great 
haste ; love to all, and hopes and good wishes for George. Yours, 

C. B. 

Letter 205 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

MANCHESTER, September i^th, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, Papa thinks his own progress rather slow, but 
the doctor affirms he is getting on very well. He complains of 
extreme weakness and soreness in the eye, but I suppose that is 
VOL. I. Y 



838 THE BRONTES 

to be expected for some time to come. He is still kept in the 
dark, but now sits up the greater part of the day, and is allowed 
a little fire in the room from the light of which he is carefully 
screened. 

By this time you will have got Mary's letters ; most interesting 
they are, and she is in her element because she is where she has a 
toilsome task to perform, an important improvement to effect, a 
weak vessel to strengthen. You ask if I have any enjoyment 
here ; in truth, I can't say I have and I long to get home, 
though, unhappily, home is not now a place of complete rest. It 
is sad to think how it is disquieted by a constant phantom, or 
rather two sin and suffering ; they seem to obscure the cheer- 
fulness of day and to disturb the comfort of evening. 

Give my love to all at Brookroyd, and believe me, yours faith- 
fully, C. B. 

PS. I am sorry for Joe. Does Ellen Taylor live at Huns- 
worth now ? 

Letter 206 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

MANCHESTER, September 2ind, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have nothing new to tell you except that 
papa continues to do well, though the process of recovery appears 
to me very tedious. I dare say it will yet be many weeks before 
his sight is completely restored, yet every time Mr. Wilson comes, 
he expresses his satisfaction at the perfect success of the opera- 
tion, and assures me papa will ere long be able to both read and 
write. He is still a prisoner in his dark room, into which, how- 
ever, a little more light is admitted than formerly. The nurse 
goes to-day ; her departure will certainly be a relief, though she 
is, I dare say, not the worst of her class. Write to me again soon, 
and believe me, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 207 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, September 28^, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, When I wrote to you last, our return to 
Haworth was uncertain indeed, but Mr. Wilson was called away 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 889 

to Scotland ; his absence set us at liberty. I hastened our 
departure, and now we are at home. Papa is daily gaining 
strength ; he cannot yet exercise his sight much but it improves, 
and I have no doubt will continue to do so. I feel truly thankful 
for the good ensured, and the evil exempted during our absence. 
What you say about Joe grieves me much, and surprises me too. 
Mary Taylor sits on a wooden stool without a back, in a log house 
without a carpet, and neither is degraded nor thinks herself 
degraded by such poor accommodation. C. BRONTE. 



Letter 208 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

October i^th^ '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I read your letter with attention, not on my 
own account, for any project which infers the necessity of my 
leaving home is impracticable to me. If I could leave home I 
should not be at Haworth now I know life is passing away and 
I am doing nothing, earning nothing a very bitter knowledge it 
is at moments but I see no way out of the mist. More than 
one very favourable opportunity has now offered which I have 
been obliged to put aside ; probably when I am free to leave home 
I shall neither be able to find a place nor employment ; perhaps, 
too, I shall be quite past the prime of life, my faculties will be 
rusted, and my few acquirements in a great measure forgotten. 
These ideas sting me keenly sometimes ; but whenever I consult 
my conscience, it affirms that I am doing right in staying at 
home, and bitter are its upbraidings when I yield to an eager 
desire for release. I returned to Brussels after aunt's death 
against my conscience, prompted by what then seemed an 
irresistible impulse. I was punished for my selfish folly by a total 
withdrawal for more than two years of happiness and peace of 
mind. I could hardly expect success if I were to err again in the 
same way. 

I should like to hear from you again soon. Bring R. to the 
point, and make him give you a clear, not a vague, account of 
what pupils he really could procure ; people often think they can 
do great things in that way till they have tried ; but getting 
pupils is unlike getting any other sort of goods. 

C. BRONTE. 



840 THE BRONTES 

Letter 209 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

November 17 th, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I will just write a brief despatch to say that I 
received yours, and that I was very glad to get it. I do not know 
when you have been so long without writing to me before ; I had 
begun to imagine you were gone to your brother Joshua's. 

Papa continues to do very well. He read prayers twice in the 
church last Sunday. Next Sunday he will have to take the whole 
duty of the three services himself, as Mr. Nicholls is in Ireland. 
Remember me to your mother and sisters. Write as soon as you 
possibly can, after you get to Oundle. Good luck go with you. 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 210 

TO MISS \VOOLER 

Papa's spirits are improved since his restoration to sight. 
This last circumstance alone furnishes a continual subject for 
gratitude ; those were indeed mournful days when papa's vision 
was wholly obscured, when he could do nothing for himself, and 
sat all day long in darkness and inertion. Now to see him walk 
about independently, read, write, etc., is indeed a joyful change. 

There is still one point on which I do not feel quite easy it is 
that he continues to sec spots before the very eye which has been 
operated on, and from which the lens is removed ; he mentioned 
the circumstance to Mr. Wilson, who put it off as a matter of no 
consequence, but without offering any explanation of the cause 
or nature of the appearance. I should much like to know Mr. 
Wilson's opinion on the point. Will you ask him some day when 
you have an opportunity ? 

I pity Mr. Taylor from my heart. For ten years he has now, 
I think, been a sufferer from nervous complaints, for ten years he 
has felt the tyranny of Hypochondria, a most dreadful doom, far 
worse than that of a man with healthy nerves buried for the same 
length of time in a subterranean dungeon. I endured it but a 
year, and assuredly I can never forget the concentrated anguish 
of certain insufferable moments, and the heavy gloom of many long 
hours, besides the preternatural horrors which seemed to clothe 
existence and nature, and which made life a continual waking 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 841 

nightmare. Under such circumstances the morbid nerves can 
know neither peace nor enjoyment ; whatever touches pierces them, 
sensation for them is suffering. A weary burden nervous patients 
become to those about them ; they know this and it infuses a new 
gall, corrosive in its extreme acritude, into their bitter cup. When 
I was at Dewsbury Moor I could have been no better company 
for you than a stalking ghost, and I remember I felt my incapa- 
city to impart pleasure fully as much as my powerlessness to 
receive it. Mr. Taylor, no doubt, feels the same. How grievous, 
with his principles, talents, and acquirements. 

Letter 211 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

December 15^, '46. 

DEAR ELLEN, I hope you are not frozen up in Northampton- 
shire ; the cold here is dreadful. I do not remember such a series 
of North-Pole days. England might really have taken a slide up 
into the Arctic Zone : the sky looks like ice ; the earth is frozen ; 
the wind is as keen as a two-edged blade. I cannot keep myself 
warm. We have all had severe colds and coughs in consequence 
of the severe weather. Poor Anne has suffered greatly from 
asthma, but is now, I am glad to say, rather better. She had two 
nights last week when her cough and difficulty of breathing were 
painful indeed to hear and witness, and must have been most 
distressing to suffer ; she bore it, as she does all affliction, without 
one complaint, only sighing now and then when nearly worn out. 
She has an extraordinary heroism of endurance. I admire, but I 
certainly could not imitate her. . . . You say I am to tell you 
plenty. What would you have me say? Nothing happens at 
Haworth ; nothing, at least, of a pleasant kind. One little incident 
occurred about a week ago to sting us to life ; but if it gives no 
more pleasure for you to hear than it did for us to witness, you 
will scarcely thank me for adverting to it. It was merely the 
arrival of a sheriff's officer on a visit to Branwell, inviting him 
either to pay his debts or take a trip to York. Of course his 
debts had to be paid. It is not agreeable to lo'se money, time 
after time, in this way ; but it is ten times worse to witness the 
shabbiness of his behaviour on such occasions ; but where is the 
use of dwelling on such subjects ? It will make him no better. I 
send you the last French newspaper ; several have missed coming. 



842 THE BRONTES 

Do you intend paying a visit to Sussex before you return home ? 
Write again soon ; your last epistle was very interesting. I am, 
dear Nell, yours in spirit and flesh, C. B. 

Letter 212 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

December 2%tk, 1846. 

DEAR ELLEN, I feel as if it was almost a farce to sit down 
and write to you now, with nothing to say worth listening to ; 
and, indeed, if it were not for two reasons, I should put off the 
business at least a fortnight hence. The first reason is, I want 
another letter from you, for your letters are interesting, they have 
something in them ; some information, some results of experience 
and observation. One receives them with pleasure, and reads 
them with relish ; and these letters I cannot expect to get unless 
I reply to them. I wish the correspondence could be so managed 
so as to be all on your side. The second reason is derived from 
a remark in your last, that you felt lonely, something as I was at 
Stonegappe and Brussels, and that consequently you had a peculiar 
desire to hear from old acquaintance. I can understand and sym- 
pathise with this. I remember the shortest note was a treat to 
me when I was at the above-named places ; therefore I now write. 
I have also a third reason : it is a haunting terror lest you should 
imagine I forget you-- that my regard cools with absence. Nothing 
irritates and stings me like this. It is not in my nature to forget 
your nature ; though I dare say, I should spit fire and explode 
sometimes if we lived together continually; and you too would 
be angry now and then, and then we should get reconciled and 
jog on as before. Do you ever get dissatisfied with your own 
temper when you are long fixed to one place, in one scene, sub 
jected to one monotonous species of annoyance? I do: I am 
now in that unenviable frame of mind ; my humour, I think, is 
too soon overthrown, too sore, too demonstrative and vehement. 
I almost long for some of the uniform serenity you describe in 

Mrs. 's disposition ; or, at least, I would fain have her power 

of self-control and concealment ; but I would not take her artificial 
habits and ideas along with her composure. Alter all, I should 
prefer being as I am. You do right not to be annoyed at any 
nuisances of conventionality you meet with. Regard all new 
ways in the light of fresh experience for you: if you see any 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 343 

honey, gather it. (See Punch.) 1 1 don't, after all, consider that 
we ought to despise everything in the world, merely because it is 
not what we are accustomed to. I suspect, on the contrary, that 
there are not unfrequently substantial reasons underlaid, for 
customs that appear to us absurd ; AND IF I WERE EVER AGAIN 

TO FIND MYSELF AMONGST STRANGERS, I SHOULD BE SOLICI- 
TOUS TO EXAMINE BEFORE I CONDEMNED. Indiscriminating 
irony and fault-finding are just sumphishness^ and that is all. 
Anne is now much better, but papa has been for near a fortnight 
far from well with the influenza ; he has at times a most dis- 
tressing cough, and his spirits are much depressed. This cold 
weather would try anybody. 

I wish you a happy Christmas ; write again soon. C. B. 

Letter 213 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January , '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, I thank you again for your last letter, which I 
found as full or fuller of interest than either of the preceding ones ; 
it is just written as I wish you to write to me, not a detail too 
much, a correspondence of that sort is the next best thing to 
actual conversation though it must be allowed that between the 
two there is a wide gulf still. 

I imagine your face, voice, presence, very plainly when I read 
your letters; still, imagination is not reality, ancL when I return 
them to their envelopes, and put them by in myticsk I feel the 
difference sensibly enough. My curiosity is a little piqued about 
that Countess you mention. 

I cannot decide from what you say whether she is really clever 
or only eccentric ; the two sometimes go together but are often 
seen apart. I generally feel inclined to fight very shy of eccentri- 
city, and have no small horror of being thought eccentric myself, 
by which observation I don't mean to insinuate that I class myself 
under the head Clever ; God knows, a more consummate ass in 

1 A recent number of Punch (No. 241, vol. x. p. 91, February 21, 1846) had con- 
tained a paper entitled * Little Fables for Little Politicians.' The second of these 
fables, entitled 'The Drones,' sets forth how *a swarm of drones Itved for a number of 
years in a rich beehive, helping themselves to the best of the honey, and contributing 
nothing to the store.' Finally, the drones that is to say, the Protectionists were 
driven out by the bees ; and Punch implores ' our venerable Dukes to have the above 
little Fable read to them at least once a day.' 



344 THE BRONTES 

sundry important points has seldom browsed the green herb of 
His bounties than I. Oh ! dear, I 'm in danger sometimes of falling 
into self- weariness. ... As to money, from all I can hear and see 
it seems to be regarded as the Alpha and Omega of requisites in 
a wife. As to society, I don't understand much about it, but from 
the few glimpses I have had of its machinery it seems to me to be 
a very strange, complicated affair indeed, wherein Nature is turned 
upside down. Your well-bred people appear to me (figuratively 
speaking) to walk on their heads, to see everything the wrong way 
up ; a lie is with them truth, truth a lie ; eternal and tedious 
botheration is their notion of happiness, sensible pursuits their 
ennui. But this may be only the view ignorance takes of what it 
cannot understand. I refrain from judging them, therefore, but if 
I were called upon to 'swap' (you know the word, I suppose?), to 
swap tastes and ideas and feelings, I should prefer walking into a 
good Yorkshire kitchen fire, and conclude the bargain at once by 
an act of voluntary combustion. 

All here is as usual. Write again soon. Yours faithfully, 

C. BKONT& 

Letter 214 

TO ELLEN NUSSFY 

January 2S//&, '47. 

DEAR NFLL, I got your letter, but it had been opened the 
paper was burnt in melting the wax, and an unsuccessful attempt 
had been made to reseal it with a blank seal fortunately the 
contents were not abstracted. The pretty little cuffs were safe, 
and I am obliged for them they are just the sort of thing I 
wanted to keep my wrists warm. 

I am truly glad you arc safe at home. Was nut your mother 
delighted to see you? I wish somebody would have the sense to 
leave you a fortune of ^10,000 or so it would be fun to witness 

the servile adulation of such people as Mr. and Mrs. . There 

I am afraid, however, there is no chance of such a prize falling to 
your share out of the wheel of fortune. I must say that from 
what you say of the coldness, dreariness, and barrenness of these 
respected individuals' minds and hearts, I pity them full as much 
as I dislike them. 

To-day you will be at W r . It is too late to tell you to adopt 

the white and scarlet by all means you know I always consider 
that white suits you. Be sure and tell me all about the party I 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 845 

hope Joe and John Taylor will not fail to be there, and to lay 
themselves out properly to your observation. 

I had a note a very short one from Ellen Taylor yesterday 
I had not heard from her before for months. They had just 
received letters from Waring, but none from Mary both were 
well. Don't think of my coming to Brookroyd yet, Ellen per- 
haps before the summer is over we may meet again, but let the 
matter rest at present. I am sorry to hear of your sister Ann's 
bad health I fear she makes herself too anxious, and constant 
anxiety will wear any nerves and fibres. Give my very best love 
to them all, and say I thank them sincerely for their kind remem- 
brance of me. 

What is it that makes Mrs. . . . such a very disagreeable person, 
and that renders her own friends so anxious to be rid of her? Is 
her upper story sound ? Write again to me as soon as ever you 
can. Yours faithfully, C. BRONT& 

Letter 215 

TO ELLEN NUSSKY 

February 8/// ? '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, I shall scribble you a short note about nothing, 
just to have a pretext for screwing a letter out of you in return. I 
was sorry you did not go to Woodhouse, firstly because you lost 
the pleasure of observation and enjoyment, and secondly because 
I lost the second-hand indulgence of hearing your account of what 
you had seen. It was stupid of Mr. and Mrs. Richard not to think 
of asking you when they asked the Taylors. I laughed at the 
candour with which you quote your reason for wishing to be there. 
Thou hast an honest soul, Nell, as ever animated human frame, 
and a clean one, for it is not ashamed of showing its inmost 
recesses, only be careful with whom you are frank some would 
not rightly appreciate the value of your frankness and never cast 
pearls before swine. 

You are quite right in wishing to look well in the eyes of those 
whom you desire to please ; it is natural to desire to appear to 
advantage (honest, r\otfa/se advantage, of course) before people we 
respect Long may the power and inclination to do so be spared 
you. Long may you look young and handsome enough to dress 
in white, dear Nell, and long may you have a right to feel the con- 
sciousness that you look agreeable. I know you have too much 



346 THE BRONTES 

judgment to let an overdose of vanity spoil the blessing and turn 
it into a misfortune. After all, though, age will come on, and it is 
well you have something better than a nice face for friends to 
turn to when that is changed. I hope this excessively cold 
weather has not harmed you or yours much. It has nipped me 
severely, taken away my appetite for a while, and given me tooth- 
ache ; in short, put me in the ailing condition in which I have 
more than once had the honour of making myself such a nuisance 
both at Brookroyd and Hunsworth. The consequence is that at 
this present speaking I look almost old enough to be your mother 
grey, sunk, and withered. To-day, however, it is milder, and I 
hope soon to feel better ; indeed, I am not ill now, and my tooth- 
ache is now subsided, but I experience a loss of strength and a 
deficiency of spirit which would make me a sorry companion to 
you or any one else. I would not be on a visit now for a large 
sum of money. 

Write soon. Give my best love to your mother and sisters. 
Good-bye, dear Nell, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 216 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, March u/, '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, Even at the risk of appearing very exacting, 
I can't help saying that I should like a letter as long as your last 
every time you write. Short notes give one the feeling of a very 
small piece of a very good thing to eat they set the appetite on 
edge, and don't satisfy it ; a letter leaves you more contented ; 
and yet, after all, I am very glad to get notes ; so don't think, 
when you are pinched for time and materials, that it is useless to 
write a few lines. Be assured, a few lines are very acceptable as 
far as they go ; and though I like long letters, I would by no 
means have you to make a task of writing them. 

Dear Nell, as you wish to avoid making me uneasy, say nothing 
more about my coming to Brookroyd. Let your visit to Sussex 
be got over, let the summer arrive, and then we shall see how 
matters stand. To confess the truth, I really should like you to 
come to Haworth before I again go to Brookroyd, and it is 
natural and right that I should have this wish. To keep friend- 
ship in proper order, the balance of good offices must be preserved, 
otherwise a disquieting and anxious feeling creeps in, and destroys 



CIJRRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 347 

mutual comfort. In summer and in fine weather, your visit here 
might be much better managed than in winter. We could go out 
more, be more independent of the house and of one room. 
Branwell has been conducting himself very badly lately. I 
expect from the extravagance of his behaviour, and from 
mysterious hints he drops (for he never will speak out plainly), 
that we shall be hearing news of fresh debts contracted by him 
soon, The Misses Robinson, who had entirely ceased their corre- 
spondence with Anne for half a year after their father's death, have 
lately recommenced it. For a fortnight they sent her a letter 
almost every day, crammed with warm protestations of endless 
esteem and gratitude. They speak with great affection too of 
their mother, and never make any allusion intimating acquaint- 
ance with her errors. We take special care that Branwell docs 
not know of their writing to Anne. My health is better: I lay 
the blame of its feebleness on the cold weather, more than on an 
uneasy mind. For after all, I have many things to be thankful 
for. Write again soon. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 217 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March 24///, '47. 

DEAR NELL, As I am going to send the French newspaper 
to-day, I will send a line or two with it, just to ask how you arc, 
and to request you to let me have another letter or note as soon 
as may be. I am sorry for poor Miss Ringrosc. Do you think 
there is any chance of her father permitting her to visit you at 
Brookroyd ? I wish he would, both for your sake and hers ; she 
would have a comforter, and you a companion, and then you 
would let me alone awhile. 

I should like you to be pleasantly occupied till I can ask you 
to come to Haworth with some prospect of making you decently 
comfortable. It is at Haworth, if all be well, that we must next 
see each other again. There was a word in your last note which 
I could not make out. After remarking that two of Miss Ring- 
rose's younger sisters are far from well, you said Amy was very 

something I don't know what and then asked, could Miss 

Ringrose have learned this superstition in Holland ? What super- 
stition is it ? 

Did Miss Wooler come to Brookroyd on the occasion of 



348 THE BRONTES 

your mother's birthday? If so, was she well, and in good 
spirits ? I owe you a grudge for giving Miss Wooler some 
very exaggerated account about my not being well and setting 
her on to urge my leaving home as quite a duty. I '11 take care 
not to tell you next time, when I think I am looking specially 
old and ugly; as if people could not have that privilege without 
being supposed to be at the last gasp ! I shall be thirty- 
one next birthday. My youth is gone like a dream ; and very 
little use have I ever made of it. What have I done these last 
thirty years? Precious little. 

No arguments in the next epistle. Yours faithfully, 

C. B. 

Letter 218 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 4///, '47. 

DEAR NELL, Your last letter amused and edified me exceed- 
ingly. I could not but laugh at your account of the fall in 
Birstall, yet I should by no means have liked to have made a 
third party in that exhibition. I have endured one fall in your 
company, and undergone one of your ill-timed laughs, and don't 
wish to repeat my experience. Allow me to compliment you on 
the skill with which you can seem to give an explanation without 
enlightening one one whit on the question. I know no more 
about Miss Ringrose's superstition than I did before. What is the 
superstition ? When a dead body is limp what is the inference 
drawn ? 

It seems strange that should attempt to gloss over what is 

deplorable ; such efforts are vain and never answer. We should 
not unnecessarily expose relations under such circumstances, but 
neither should we degrade ourselves and them by inventing false 
excuses. 

Do you remember my telling you, or did I ever tell you, about 

that wretched and most criminal Mr. C , after running an 

infamous career of vice, both in England and France, abandoned 
his wife with two children and without a farthing in a strange 
lodging-house? Yesterday evening Martha came upstairs to say 
that a woman, rather ladylike, she said, wished to speak to me in 

the kitchen. I went down : there stood Mrs. C , pale and 

worn, but still interesting-looking and neatly dressed, as was her 
little girl who was with her. I kissed her heartily. I could 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 349 

almost have cried to see her, for I had pitied her with my whole 
soul when I had heard of her undeserved sufferings and agonies 
and physical degradation. She took tea with us and entered 
frankly into the narrative of her appalling distresses ; her excellent 
sense, her activity and perseverance, have enabled her to procure 
a respectable maintenance for herself and her children. She 

keeps a lodging-house at . She is now staying at House 

with the , who, I believe, have been all along very kind to 

her, and the circumstance is greatly to their credit 

I wish to know whether about Whitsuntide would suit you for 
coming to Haworth. We often have fine weather just then, at 
least I remember last year it was beautiful at that season. 
Winter seems to have returned with severity upon us at present, 
consequently we are all in the full enjoyment of colds ; much 
blowing of noses is heard, and much making of gruel goes on in 
the house. How are you all ? Give my best love to your 
mother, and believe me, yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 219 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 21 tf, '47. 

DEAR NELL, I am very much obliged to you for your gift, 
which you must not undervalue, for I like the articles, they look 
extremely pretty and light. They are for wrist frills, are they 
not? Will you condescend to accept a scrubby yard of lace 
made up into nothing? I thought I would not offer to spoil it by 
stitching it into any shape. Your creative fingers will turn it to 
better account than my destructive ones. I hope such as it is 
they will not pick it out of the envelope at the Bradford Post 
Office, where they generally take the liberty of opening letters 
when they feel soft as if they contained anything. I had forgotten 
all about your birthday and mine, till your letter arrived to remind 
me of it. I wish you many happy returns of yours. Are both 
Ann and Mercy from home? Of course, your visit to Haworth 
must be regulated by Miss Ringrose's movements. I was rather 
amused at your fearing I should be jealous. I never thought of 
it, Nell. She and I could not be rivals in your affections. You 
allot her, I know, a different set of feelings to what you allot me. 
She is peculiarly amiable and estimable, I am not amiable, but 
still we shall stick to the last I don't doubt. In short, I should as 



350 THE BRONTES 

soon think of being jealous of Emily and Anne in these days as 
of you. If Miss Ringrose does not come to Brookroyd about 
Whitsuntide, I should like you to come about the middle of the 
week before Whitsunday, if it suits you. I shall feel a good deal 
disappointed if the visit is put off I would rather Miss Ringrose 
fixed her time in summer, and then I would come to see you 
(D.v.) in the autumn. I don't think it will be at all a good plan 
to go back with you. We see each other so seldom, that I would 

far rather divide the visits. I wish Mrs. N 's daughter may 

be a nice child, and that you may get her for a pupil. Remember 
me to all. Any news about poor George lately? Yours faith- 
fully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 220 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May I2//&, '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, We shall all be glad to see you on the Thursday 
or Friday of next week, whichever day will suit you best About 
what time will you be likely to get here, and how will you come? 
By coach to Keighley, or by a gig all the way to Haworth? 
There must be no impediments now? I cannot do with them ; I 
want very much to see you ; I hope you will be decently comfort- 
able while you stay. 

Branwell is quieter now and for a good reason ; he has got to 
the end of a considerable sum of money, and consequently is 
obliged to restrict himself in some degree. You must expect to 
find him weaker in mind, and a complete rake in appearance. 
I have no apprehension of his being at all uncivil to you ; on the 
contrary, he will be as smooth as oil. I pray for fine weather 
that we may be able to get out while you stay. Good-bye for the 
present. Prepare for much dulness and monotony. Give my 
love to all at Brookroyd. Did you get Mary Taylor's letter? 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 221 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May 14/yfc, '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your letter and its contents were most welcome. 
You must direct your luggage to Mr. Bronte's, and we will tell 
the carrier to inquire for it. The railroad has been opened some 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 851 

time, but it only comes as far as Keighley. If you arrive about 4 
o'clock in the afternoon, Emily, Anne, and I will all meet you at 
the station. We can take tea jovially together at the Devonshire 
Arms, and walk home in the cool of the evening. This arrange- 
ment will be much better than fagging through four miles in the 
heat of noon. Write by return of post if you can, and say if 
this plan suits you. Yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 222 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May ijth y '47. 

DEAR NELL, Friday will suit us very well. I do trust nothing 
will now arise to prevent your coming. I shall be anxious about 
the weather on that day ; if it rains, I shall cry. Don't expect me 
to meet you ; where would be the good of it? I neither like to 
meet, nor to be met. Unless, indeed, you had a box or a basket 
for me to carry ; then there would be some sense in it. Come in 
black, blue, pink, white, or scarlet, as you like. Come shabby or 
smart ; neither the colour nor the condition signifies ; provided 
only the dress contain Ellen Nussey, all will be right : d bientdt. 

C. BRONTE. 



Letter 223 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May 2oM, '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your letter of yesterday did indeed give me a 
cruel chill of disappointment. I cannot blame you, for I know it 

was not your fault. I do not altogether exempt from 

reproach. . . . This is bitter, but I feel bitter. As to going to 
Brookroyd, I will not go near the place till you have been to 
Haworth. My respects to all and sundry, accompanied with a 
large amount of wormwood and gall, from the effusion of which 
you and your mother are alone excepted. C. B. 

You are quite at liberty to tell what I think, if you judge 
proper. Though it is true I may be somewhat unjust, for I am 
deeply annoyed. I thought I had arranged your visit tolerably 
comfortably for you this time. I may find it more difficult on 
another occasion. 



852 THE BRONTES 

Letter 224 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May 25/V47- 

DEAR NELL, I acknowledge I was in fault in my last letter, 
and that it was as you say quite unreasonable, especially as it 
regards Ann. After all, I cannot deny that she was in the right 
to take the chance that offered of going from home. I forgive her, 
and I hope she will forgive me for my cross words. ... I have a 
small present for Mercy. You must fetch it, for I repeat you shall 
come to Haworth before I go to Brookroyd. 

I do not say this from pique or anger, I am not angry now, but 
because my leaving home at present would from solid reasons be 
difficult to manage. If all be well I will visit you in the autumn, 
at present I cannot come. Be assured that if I could come I 
should, after your last letter, put scruples and pride away and ' go 
over into Macedonia 1 at once. I never could manage to help you 
yet. You have always found me something like a new servant, 
who requires to be told where everything is, and shown how 
everything is to be done. 

My sincere love to your mother and Mercy. Yours, 

C. B. 

Letter 225 

TO ELLKN NUSSEY 

June 5/A, '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return you Mary Taylor's letter ; it made me 
somewhat sad to read it, for I fear she is not quite content with 
her existence in New Zealand. She finds it too barren. I believe 
she is more home-sick than she will confess. Her gloomy ideas 
respecting you and me prove a state of mind far from gay. I 
have also received a letter, its tone is similar to your own and its 
contents too. 

What brilliant weather we have had. Oh ! Nell, I do indeed 
regret you could not come to Haworth at the time fixed, these 
warm sunny days would have suited us exactly ; but it is not to 
be helped. Give my best love to your mother and Mercy. Yours 
faithfully, C B. 



CURRER, ELMS, AND ACTON BELL 853 

Letter 226 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

June 2QM, 1847. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return you Miss Ringrose's letter. I was 
amused by what she says respecting her wish that, when she 
marries, her husband will, at least, have a will of his own, even 
should he be a tyrant. Tell her, when she forms that aspiration 
again, she must make it conditional ; if her husband has a strong 
will, he must also have strong sense, a kind heart, and a thoroughly 
correct notion of justice ; because a man with a weak brain, chill 
affections^ and a strong will, is merely an intractable fiend ; you 
can have no hold of him ; you can never lead him right. A 
tyrant under any circumstances is a curse. 

When can you come to Haworth? Another period of fine 
weather is passing without you. I fear now your visit will be dull 
indeed, for it is doubtful whether there will even be a curate to 
enliven you. Mr. Nicholls is likely to get a distiict ere long. The 
whole duty is too much for papa at his a^e. He is pretty well, but 
often complains of weakness. Write again, and tell me how soon 
you are likely to come. Yours faithfully, C. BKONTiL 



Letter 227 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

August I2///, '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, Your letter made us all serious enough, for 
though truly thankful that you escaped so well, one cannot but 
reflect, with a degree of horror, upon what might have happened ; 
had a limb been broken, or had something worse taken place, what 
a dreadful conclusion to your visit here ! l What tidings to send to 
your mother! What news to send back to Haworth! Indeed, I 
am grateful it is no worse. May you be protected from every peril 
as effectually! It is evidently urgent that Miss Amelia Ringrose 
should have a change of scene ; the sadness and oppression of 
mind are part of her complaint, which, it appears to me certain, is 
all on the nerves, and by that I do not mean she is fanciful but 
that her mind is cramped in some points and over-wrought in 

1 A carriage accident. 
VOL. I. Z 



:i54 THE BRONTES 

others, and wants freedom and repose, both of which she will 
enjoy at Brookroyd, and therefore to Brookroyd it is to be hoped 
her parents will let her migrate without the children. 

I received yesterday a letter from Miss Wooler it is written 
under the impression that you were still with me and she desires 
me to tell you with her love that she has at length procured a copy 
of the Sunday Scholar's Christian Year, and hopes soon to take 
it to Brookroyd. Miss Catherine, it appears, is gone on a visit to 
Scotland, and Miss Sarah has been spending some time at 
the house of a former pupil in London, where she had a livery 
servant daily at her disposal to accompany her to see all the Lions 
of the Capital of which privilege, Miss W. says, she availed 
herself freely. 

Give my best love to your mother and sisters. Emily and Anne 
unite in love to you. Yours thankfully, C. B. 



Letter 228 

TO ELLKN NILSSEY 

August 29^, '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am very glad to hear Miss Ringrose has come 
at last ; glad both for your sake and for hers. I know it would 
have been a severe disappointment to you had she failed to come, 
and I believe it would have been an injury to her had her visit 
been prohibited. You do not say how she is now, but I trust 
her health is improved since her arrival at Brookroyd. Cheerful 
change and congenial society is, I have no doubt, the best thing 
for her. As to my visit, Nell, I certainly do think in my own 
mind it would be more judicious to place an interval between 
Miss Ringrose's departure and my arrival, than to have us treading 
on each other's heels. Consider the matter, and when you have 
considered it ripely, I will be guided by your deliberate judgment, 
only be sure and give me a few days' notice whatever time you fix. 
And be sure also to take into consideration the convenience and 
inclinations of your mother and sisters. We have glorious weather 
for which we cannot be too thankful. I sincerely hope a day of 
general thanksgiving will be appointed after the harvest is got in. 
Write to me again soon. Yours, C. B. 



CURHEK, ELLIS, AND ACTON HELL 355 

Letter 229 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

September 25/A, '47. 

DEAR NELL, I got to Leeds all right at ten, but the train was 
just gone, and I had to cool my heels at the station for two hours. 
I had a very wet, windy walk home from Keighley ; but my fatigue 
quite disappeared when I reached home and found all well. Thank 
God for it. 

My boxes came safe this morning. I have distributed the 
presents. Papa says I am to remember him most kindly to you. 
The screen will be very useful, and he thanks you for it. Tabby 
was charmed with her cap. She said, ' she never thought o' naught 
o't j sort as Miss Nussey sending her aught, and she is sure, she 
can never thank her enough for it.' I was infuriated on finding 
a jar in my trunk. At first, I hoped it was empty, but when I 
found it heavy and replete, I could have hurled it all the way back 
to Birstall. However, the inscription A. B. softened me much. It 
was at once kind and villainous fn you to send it. You ought first 
to be tenderly kissed, and then afterwards as tenderly whipped. 
Emily is just now sitting on the floor of the bedroom where I am 
writing, looking at her apples. She smiltd when I gave them and 
the collar to her as your presents, with an expression at once well 
pleased and slightly surprised. Anne thanks you much. All 
send their love. 

It appears Emily did send off a letter for me yesterday under 
the delusion that it would reach me by the evening post. Tell 
me what you had to pay for it, and I will send the amount in 
postage stamps. 

Give my best love to your mother and Ann and Mary, and 
believe me, Yours, in a mixture of anger and love, C. B. 

Letter 230 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTIT, October 4/$, '47. 

MY DEAR MlSS NUSSEY, Many thanks to you for your un- 
expected and welcome epistle. Charlotte is well, and meditates 
writing to you. Happily for all parties the east wind no longer 
prevails. During its continuance she complained of its influence 



356 THE BRONTES 

as usual. I too suffered from it in some degree, as I always do, 
more or less ; but this time, it brought me no reinforcement of 
colds and coughs which is what I dread the most. Emily con- 
siders it a very uninteresting wind, but it does not affect her 

nervous system. Charlotte agrees with me in thinking the l 

a very provoking affair. You are quite mistaken about her 
parasol, she affirms she brought it back and I can bear witness to 
the fact, having seen it yesterday in her possession. As for my 
book, I have no wish to see it again till I see you along with it, 
and then it will be welcome enough for the sake of the bearer. We 
are all here much as you left us. I have no news to tell you, except 
that Mr. Nicholls begged a holiday and went to Ireland three or 
four weeks ago, and is not expected back till Saturday, but that, 
I dare say, is no news at all. We were all and severally pleased 
and gratified for your kind and judiciously selected presents, from 
papa down to Tabby, or down to myself, perhaps I ought rather 
to say. The crab cheese is excellent and likely to be very useful, 
but I don't intend to need it. It is not choice, but necessity has 
induced me to choose such a tiny sheet of paper for my letter, 
having none more suitable at hand ; but perhaps it will contain 
as much as you need wish to read, and I to write, for I find I have 
nothing more to say, except that your little Tabby must be a 

charming little creature. And , and that is all, for as Charlotte 

is writing, or about to write to you herself, I need not send any 
messages from her. Therefore, accept my best love. I must 
not omit the Major's 2 compliments. And believe me to be your 
affectionate friend, ANNE BRONTE. 



Letter 231 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

October y/, '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have been expecting you to write to me, but 
as you don't do it, and as moreover you may possibly think it is 
my turn, and not yours, though on that point I am far from clear, 
I shall just send you one of my scrubby notes for the express 
purpose of eliciting a reply. Anne was very much pleased with 

1 The original of this letter is lost, so that it is not possible to fill in the hiatus. 

2 Emily who was called the Major, because on one occasion she guarded Miss 
Nussey from the attentions of Mi. \Veightman during an evening walk. 



CURRER, ELLIS, AND ACTON BELL 357 

your letter ; I presume she has answered it before now. I would 
fain hope that her health is a little stronger than it was, and her 
spirits a little better, but she leads much too sedentary a life, and 
is continually sitting stooping either over a book or over her desk. 
It is with difficulty we can prevail upon her to take a walk or 
induce her to converse. I look forward to next summer with the 
confident intention that she shall if possible make at least a 
brief sojourn at the sea-side. 

I am sorry I inoculated you with fears about the east wind. 
I did not feel the last blast so severely as I have often done. My 
sympathies were much awakened by the touching anecdote re- 
specting you, Dr. Lewis, and Mrs. Jenkins. Did you salute your 
boy-messenger with a box on the ear the next time he came across 
you? I think I should have been strongly tempted to have done 
as much. Mr. Nicholls is not yet returned. I am sorry to say that 
many of the parishioners express a desire that he should not 
trouble himself to recross the Channel. This is not the feeling 
that ought to exist between shepherd and flock. It is not such 
as is prevalent at Birstall. It is not such as poor Mr. Weightman 
excited. Mr. and Mrs. Grant called a day or two ago, and were 
full of unintelligible apologies about not having paid you more 
attention while you were here. One cannot owe a grudge where 
no suffering is inflicted. When you write, dear Nell, be sure to 
tell me how Miss Ringrose is getting on ; I certainly know few 
persons whom I have not seen that excite in me more interest than 
she does. 

Give my best love to all, and believe me, yours faithfully, 

C. BRONTE. 



358 THE BRONTES 



CHAPTER XV 

'THE PROFESSOR' AND 'JANE EYRE 1 

FULL justice has never been done to the real excellence of 
Charlotte Bronte's first novel The Professor. It was 
rejected by many publishers, and has been dispraised by 
competent critics, but to some of us it will always stand 
forth as a remarkable work of genius, inferior though it 
be to the three great romances that succeeded it from 
the same pen. Six publishers in succession rejected the 
manuscript. It returned again and again to the author, 
who with the inexperience of a novice often sent it off 
again on its travels in the tell-tale wrappers that told of 
previous rejections. Mrs. Gaskell informs us that it was 
actually returned by a short-sighted publisher while the 
author was at Manchester and on the very day that her 
father underwent his operation for the eyes. Mrs. 
Gaskell tells further of the courage with which she not only 
sent off The Professor once again upon its travels, but 
began a second novel Jane Jiyre in a certain darkened 
room in Boundary Street, Manchester, while in attendance 
on her father. The first record of her book during these 
journeyings is contained in a letter to the firm which 
ultimately issued all her works. 

Letter 232 

TO MESSRS. SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

July I5M, 1847 

GENTLEMEN, I beg to submit to your consideration the ac- 
companying manuscript. I should be glad to learn whether it 



6 THE PROFESSOR' AND 'JANE EYRE' 859 

be such as you approve, and would undertake to publish at as 
early a period as possible. Address, Mr. Currer Bell, under cover 
to Miss Bronte, Haworth, Bradford, Yorkshire. 

CURRER BELL. 

Letter 233 

TO MESSRS, SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

August 2nd, 1847. 

GENTLEMEN, About three weeks since I sent for your con- 
sideration a MS. entitled ' The Professor, a tale by Currer Bell.' 
I should be glad to know whether it reached your hands safely, 
and likewise to learn, at your earliest convenience, whether it be 
such as you can undertake to publish. I am, gentlemen, yours 
respectfully, CURRER BELL. 

I enclose a directed cover for your reply. 

The reply when it came was more encouraging than any 
previous publisher had given. In a * Biographical Notice ' 
to the second edition of Wuthering Heights she says : 

As a forlorn hope he tried one publishing house more. Ere 
long, in a much shorter space than that on which experience had 
taught him to calculate, there came a letter, which he opened in 
the dreary anticipation of finding two hard, hopeless lines, inti- 
mating that f Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. were not disposed to 
publish the MS.,' and instead, he took out of the envelope a 
letter of two pages. He read it trembling. It declined, indeed, 
to publish that tale for business reasons, but it discussed its 
merits and demerits so courteously, so considerately, in a spirit 
so rational, with a discrimination so enlightened, that this very 
refusal cheered the author better than a vulgarly expressed 
acceptance would have done. It was added that a work in three 
volumes would meet with careful attention. 

Letter 234 

TO MESSRS. SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

August 24/7*, 1847. 

I now send you per rail a MS. entitled Jane Eyre, a novel in 
three volumes, by Currer Bell. I find I cannot prepay the carriage 
of the parcel, as money for that purpose is not received at the 



860 THE BRONTfiS 

small station-house where it is left. If, when you acknowledge the 
receipt of the MS., you would have the goodness to mention 
the amount charged on delivery, I will immediately transmit it in 
postage- stamps. It is better in future to address Mr. Currer Bell, 
under cover to Miss Bronte, Haworth, Bradford, Yorkshire, as 
there is a risk of letters otherwise directed not reaching me at 
present. To save trouble, I enclose an envelope. 

CURRER BELL. 

Jane Eyre appeared on October 16, 1847. Meanwhile 
Emilys novel Wuthcring Heights and Anne's novel 
Agnes Grey had been accepted by another publisher, 
Mr. Thomas Cautley Newby of Mortimer Street. He 
had demanded money in part payment, and had apparently 
driven rather a hard bargain with the two unknown writers, 
Ellis and Acton Bell. Not till Jane Eyre had become 
a success, however, did he issue the two books, taking 
care to give it out to ' the trade ' that Ellis, Acton, and 
Currer Bell were a single writer. 

Jane Eyre was a success from the first The reviewers 
were enthusiastic. The second edition of Jane Eyre, of 
which a copy is before me, contains no less than seven 
pages of 'opinions of the press.' 'Decidedly the best 
novel of the season,' said the Westminster Review, and 
others were similarly laudatory. Here, however, are 
further letters which better tell the tale than any para- 
phrase of them could do. The first is to Mr. William 
Smith Williams the ' reader ' or literary adviser to Smith 
and Elder, for whom she soon came to feel a strong 
friendship. 

Letter 235 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

October tfh, '47. 

DEAR SIR, I thank you sincerely for your last letter. It 
is valuable to me because it furnishes me with a sound opinion 
on points respecting which I desired to be advised ; be assured I 
shall do what I can to profit by your wise and good counsel. 



'THE PROFESSOR' AND 'JANE EYRE' 361 

Permit me, however, sir, to caution you against forming too 
favourable an idea of my powers, or too sanguine an expectation 
of what they can achieve. I am myself sensible both of deficien- 
cies of capacity and disadvantages of circumstance which will, I 
fear, render it somewhat difficult for me to attain popularity as an 
author. The eminent writers you mention Mr. Thackeray, Mr. 
Dickens, Mrs. Marsh, 1 etc., doubtless enjoyed facilities for observa- 
tion such as I have not ; certainly they possess a knowledge of 
the world, whether intuitive or acquired, such as I can lay no 
claim to, and this gives their writings an importance and a variety 
greatly beyond what I can offer the public. 

Still, if health be spared and time vouchsafed me, I mean to do 
my best ; and should a moderate success crown my efforts, its 
value will be greatly enhanced by the proof it will seem to give 
that your kind counsel and encouragement have not been bestowed 
on one quite unworthy. Yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 236 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

October 9^, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, I do not know whether the Dublin University 
Magazine is included in the list of periodicals to which Messrs 
Smith & Elder are accustomed to send copies of new publica- 
tions, but as a former work, the joint production of myself and 
my two relatives, Ellis and Acton Bell, received a somewhat 
favourable notice in that magazine, it appears to me that if the 
editor's attention were drawn to Jane Eyre he might possibly 
bestow on it also a few words of remark. 

The Critic and the Athenceum also gave comments on the work 
I allude to. The review in the first-mentioned paper was un- 
expectedly and generously eulogistic, that in the Athenccum more 
qualified, but still not discouraging. I mention these circumstances 
and leave it to you to judge whether any advantage is derivable 
from them. 

You dispensed me from the duty of answering your last letter, 

1 Anne Marsh (1791-1874), a daughter of James Caldwell, J.P., of Linley Wood, 
Staffordshire, married a son of the senior partner in the London banking firm of Marsh, 
Stacey, and Graham. Her first volume appeared in 1834, and contained, under the 
title of Two Old Men's J^ales, two stories, The Admiral's Daughter and The Deformed^ 
which won considerable popularity. Emilia Wyndham, Time the Avenger, Mount 
Sort/, and Castle Avon, are perhaps the best of her many subsequent novels. 



862 THE BRONTfiS 

but my sense of the justness of the views it expresses will not 
permit me to neglect this opportunity both of acknowledging it 
and thanking you for it. Yours sincerely, C. BELL. 

Letter 237 

TO MESSRS. SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

October \tyh> 1847. 

GENTLEMEN, The six copies of Jane Eyre reached me this 
morning. You have given the work every advantage which good 
paper, clear type, and a seemly outside can supply ; if it fails the 
fault will lie with the author ; you are exempt. 

I now await the judgment of the press and the public. I am 
gentlemen, yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 238 

TO MESSRS. SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

October 26///, 1847. 

GENTLEMEN, I have received the newspapers. They speak 
quite as favourably of Jane Eyre as I expected them to do. The 
notice in the Literary Gazette seems certainly to have been indited 
in rather a flat mood, and the Athen&um has a style of its own, 
which I respect, but cannot exactly relish ; still, when one con- 
siders that journals of that standing have a dignity to maintain 
which would be deranged by a too cordial recognition of the claims 
of an obscure author, I suppose there is every reason to be satisfied. 

Meantime a brisk sale would be effectual support under the 
hauteur of lofty critics. I am, gentlemen, yours respectfully, 

C BELL. 
Letter 239 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HA WORTH, October 28^, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, Your last letter was very pleasant to me to read, 
and is very cheering to reflect on. I feel honoured in being 
approved by Mr. Thackeray, because I approve Mr. Thackeray. 
This may sound presumptuous perhaps, but I mean that I have 
long recognised in his writings genuine talent, such as I admired, 



'THE PROFESSOR 1 AND 'JANE EYRE' 868 

such as I wondered at and delighted in. No author seems to 
distinguish so exquisitely as he does dross from ore, the real from 
the counferfcit. I believed too he had deep and true feelings under 
his seeming sternness. Now I am sure he has. One good word 
from such a man is worth pages of praise from ordinary judges. 

You are right in having faith in the reality of Helen Burns's 
character ; she was real enough. I have exaggerated nothing 
there. I abstained from recording much that I remember respect- 
ing her, lest the narrative should sound incredible. Knowing 
this, I could not but smile at the quiet self-complacent dogmatism 
with which one of the journals lays it down that ( such creations 
as Helen Burns are very beautiful but very untrue.' 

The plot of Jane Eyre may be a hackneyed one. Mr. Thackeray 
remarks that it is familiar to him. But having read comparatively 
few novels I never chanced to meet with it, and I thought it 
original. The work referred to by the critic of the Athcnceum I 
had not the good fortune to hear of. 

The Weekly Chronicle seems inclined to identify me with Mrs. 
Marsh. I never had the pleasure of perusing a line of Mrs. 
Marsh's in my life, but I wish very much to read her works, and 
shall profit by the first opportunity of doing so. I hope I shall 
not find I have been an unconscious imitator. 

I would still endeavour to keep my expectations low respecting 
the ultimate success of Jane Eyre. But my desire that it should 
succeed augments, for you have taken much trouble about the 
work, and it would grieve me seriously if your active efforts 
should be baffled and your sanguine hopes disappointed. Excuse 
me if I again remark that I fear they are rather too sanguine : it 
would be better to moderate them. What will the critics of the 
monthly reviews and magazines be likely to see in Jane Eyre (if 
indeed they deign to read it), which will win from them even 
a stinted modicum of approbation? It has no learning, no 
research, it discusses no subject of public interest. A mere 
domestic novel will, I fear, seem trivial to men of large views and 
solid attainments. 

Still, efforts so energetic and indefatigable as yours ought to 
realise a result in some degree favourable, and I trust they will. 
I remain, dear sir, yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

I have just received the Tablet and the Morning Advertiser. 
Neither paper seems inimical to the book, but I see it produces a 



364 THE BRONTfiS 

very different effect on different natures. I was amused at the 
analysis in the Tablet, it is oddly expressed in some parts. I 
think the critic did not always seize my meaning ; he speaks, for 
instance, of 'Jane's inconceivable alarm at Mr. Rochester's 
repelling manner.' I do not remember that. 

Letter 240 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

November 6tk, 1 847. 

DEAR SIR, I should be obliged to you if you will direct the 
enclosed to be posted in London as I wish to avoid giving any 
clue to my place of residence, publicity not being my ambition. 

It is an answer to the letter I received yesterday, favoured by 
you. This letter bore the signature G. H. Lewes, and the writer 
informs me that it is his intention to write a critique on Jane 
Eyre for the December number of Eraser s Magazine, and possibly 
also, he intimates, a brief notice to the Westminster Review. 
Upon the whole he seems favourably inclined to the work, though 
he hints disapprobation of the melodramatic portions. 

Can you give me any information respecting Mr. Lewes? 
what station he occupies in the literary world and what works he 
has written? He styles himself 'a fellow novelist' There is 
something in the candid tone of his letter which inclines me to 
think well of him. 

I duly received your letter containing the notices from the 
Critic, and the two magazines, and also the Morning Post. I 
hope all these notices will work together for good ; they must 
at any rate give the book a certain publicity. Yours sincerely, 

C. BELL. 

The literary lights of London began now to shed their 
beams. George Henry Lewes was one of the first. He 
wrote thus to Mrs. Gaskell : 



When /<0 Eyre first appeared, the publishers courteously sent 
me a copy. The enthusiasm with which I read it made me go 
down to Mr. Parker, and propose to write a review of it for 
Eraser's Magazine. He would not consent to an unknown novel 
for the papers had not yet declared themselves receiving such 
importance, but thought it might make one on * Recent Novels : 
English and French,' which appeared in Eraser, December 1 847. 



4 THE PROFESSOR' AND 'JANE EYRE' 865 

Meanwhile I had written to Miss Bronte to tell her the delight 
with which her book filled me ; and seem to have * sermonised ' 
her, to judge from her reply. 

Letter 241 

TO G. H. LEWES 

November 6M, 1 847. 

DEAR SIR, Your letter reached me yesterday. I beg to assure 
you that I appreciate fully the intention with which it was written, 
and I thank you sincerely both for its cheering commendation 
and valuable advice. 

You warn me to beware of melodrama, and you exhort me to 
adhere to the real. When I first began to write, so impressed was 
I with the truth of the principles you advocate, that I determined 
to take Nature and Truth as my sole guides, and to follow to their 
very footprints ; I restrained imagination, eschewed romance, 
repressed excitement ; over-bright colouring, too, I avoided, and 
sought to produce something which should be soft, grave, and true. 

My work (a tale in one volume) being completed, I offered it to 
a publisher. He said it was original, faithful to nature, but he did 
not feel warranted in accepting it ; such a work would not sell. 
I tried six publishers in succession ; they all told me it was 
deficient in ' startling incident' and 'thrilling excitement,' that it 
would never suit the circulating libraries, and as it was on those 
libraries the success of works of fiction mainly depended, they 
could not undertake to publish what would be overlooked there. 

Jane Eyre was rather objected to at first, on the same grounds, 
but finally found acceptance. 

I mention this to you, not with a view of pleading exemption 
from censure, but in order to direct your attention to the root of 
certain literary evils. If, in your forthcoming article in Fraser, 
you would bestow a few words of enlightenment on the public who 
support the circulating libraries, you might, with your powers, do 
some good. 

You advise me, too, not to stray far from the ground of experi- 
ence, as I become weak when I enter the region of fiction ; and 
you say 'real experience is perennially interesting, and to all men/ 
I feel that this also is true ; but, dear sir, is not the real experi- 
ence of each individual very limited ? And, if a writer dwells upon 
that solely or principally, is he not in danger of repeating himself, 



866 THE BRONTES 

and also of becoming an egotist ? Then, too, imagination is a 
strong, restless faculty, which claims to be heard and exercised : 
are we to be quite deaf to her cry, and insensate to her struggles? 
When she shows us bright pictures, are we never to look at them, 
and try to reproduce them ? And when she is eloquent, and speaks 
rapidly and urgently in our ear, are we not to write to her dictation ? 
I shall anxiously search the next number of Fraser for your 
opinions on these points. Believe me, dear sir, yours gratefully, 

C. BELL. 

Letter 242 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

November io/^, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, I have received the Britannia and the Sun, but not 
the Spectator, which I rather regret, as censure, though not pleasant, 
is often wholesome. 

Thank you for your information regarding Mr. Lewes. I am 
glad to hear that he is a clever and sincere man : such being the 
case, I can await his critical sentence with fortitude ; even if it 
goes against me I shall not murmur; ability and honesty have a 
right to condemn, where they think condemnation is deserved. 
From what you say, however, I trust rather to obtain at least a 
modified approval. 

Your account of the various surmises respecting the identity of 
the brothers Bell amused me much : were the enigma solved it 
would probably be found not worth the trouble of solution ; but I 
will let it alone : it suits ourselves to remain quiet, and certainly 
injures no one else. 

The reviewer who noticed the little book of poems, in the Dublin 
Magazine, conjectured that the soi-disant three personages were 
in reality but one, who, endowed with an unduly prominent organ 
of self-esteem, and consequently impressed with a somewhat 
weighty notion of his own merits, thought them too vast to be 
concentrated in a single individual, and accordingly divided him- 
self into three, out of consideration, I suppose, for the nerves of 
the much-to-be-astounded public ! This was an ingenious thought 
in the reviewer very original and striking, but not accurate. We 
are three. 

A prose work, by Ellis and Acton, will soon appear: it should 
have been out, indeed, long since ; for the first proof-sheets were 



'THE PROFESSOR' AND 'JANE EYRE* 367 

already in the press at the commencement of last August, before 
Currer Bell had placed the MS. of Jane Eyre in your hand^. Mr. 
Newby, however, does not do business like Messrs. Smith & 
Elder ; a different spirit seems to preside at Mortimer Street to 
that which guides the helm at 65 Cornhill. . . . My relations have 
suffered from exhausting delay and procrastination, while I have 
to acknowledge the benefits of a management at once businesslike 
and gentlemanlike, energetic and considerate. 

I should like to know if Mr. Newby often acts as he has done 
to my relations, or whether this is an exceptional instance of his 
method. Do you know, and can you tell me anything about 
him ? You must excuse me for going to the point at once, when 
I want to learn anything ; if my questions are impertinent you 
are, of course, at liberty to decline answering them. I am yours 
respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 243 

TO MESSRS. SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

November ijM, 1847. 

GENTLEMEN, I have to acknowledge the receipt of yours of 
the nth inst., and to thank you for the information it communi- 
cates. The notice from the People 's Journal also duly reached 
me, and this morning I received the Spectator. The critique in 
the Spectator gives that view of the book which will naturally be 
taken by a certain class of minds ; I shall expect it to be followed 
by other notices of a similar nature. The way to detraction has 
been pointed out, and will probably be pursued. Most future 
notices will in all likelihood have a reflection of the Spectator in 
them. I fear this turn of opinion will not improve the demand 
for the book but time will show. If Jane Eyre has any solid 
worth in it, it ought to weather a gust of unfavourable wind. I 
"am, gentlemen, yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 244 

TO G. H. LEWES 

November 2ind, 1 847. 

DEAR SIR, I have now read Ranthorpe. I could not get it till 
a day or two ago ; but I have got it and read it at last ; and in 



868 THE BRONTfiS 

reading Ranthorpe I have read a new book not a reprint not 
a reflection of any other book, but a new book. 

1 did not know such books were written now. It is very 
different to any of the popular works of fiction ; it fills the mind 
with fresh knowledge. Your experience and your convictions are 
made the reader's ; and to an author, at least, they have a value 
and an interest quite unusual. I await your criticism on Jane 
Eyre now with other sentiments than I entertained before the 
perusal of Ranthorpe. 

You were a stranger to me. I did not particularly respect you. 
I did not feel that your praise or blame would have any special 
weight. I knew little of your right to condemn or approve. Now 
I am informed on these points. 

You will be severe ; your last letter taught me as much. Well! 
I shall try to extract good out of your severity ; and besides, 
though I am now sure you are a just, discriminating man, yet 
being mortal, you must be fallible; and if any part of your 
censure galls me too keenly to the quick gives me deadly pain 
I shall for the present disbelieve it, and put it quite aside, till such 
time as I feel able to receive it without torture. I am, dear sir, 
yours very respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 245 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

November 27th, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, Will you have the goodness in future to direct all 
communications to me to Haworth, near Kcigliley, instead of to 
Bradford"? With this address they will, owing to alterations in 
local post-office arrangements, reach me a day earlier than if sent 
by Bradford. I have received this week the Glasgow Examiner 
the Bath Herald, and Douglas Jerrold's Newspaper. The Examiner^ 
it appears, has not yet given a notice. I am, dear sir, yours 
respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 246 

TO MESSRS. SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

November 3O/^, 1 847. 

GENTLEMEN, I have received the Economist, but not the 
Examiner ; from some cause that paper has missed, as the 



'THE PROFESSOR ' AND 'JANE EYRE' 869 

Spectator did on a former occasion ; I am glad, however, to learn 
through your letter that its notice of Jane Eyre was favourable, 
and also that the prospects of the work appear to improve. 

I am obliged to you for the information respecting Withering 
Heights. I am, gentlemen, yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 247 

TO MESSRS. SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

December I.?/, 1847. 

GENTLEMEN, The Examiner reached me to-day : it had been 
missent on account of the direction, which was to Currer Bell, 
care of Miss Bronte. Allow me to intimate that it would be 
better in future not to put the name of Currer Bell on the outside 
of communications ; if directed simply to Miss Bronte they will 
be more likely to reach their destination safely. Currer Bell is 
not known in the district, and I have no wish that he should 
become known. The notice in the Examiner gratified me very 
much ; it appears to be from the pen of an able man who has 
understood what he undertakes to criticise ; of course approba- 
tion from such a quarter is encouraging to an author, and I trust 
it will prove beneficial to the work. I am, gentlemen, yours 
respectfully, C. BELL. 

I received likewise seven other notices from provincial papers 
enclosed in an envelope. I thank you very sincerely for so 
punctually sending me all the various criticisms on Jane Eyre. 

Letter 248 

TO MESSRS. SMITH, ELDER AND CO. 

December loth, 1847. 

GENTLEMEN, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter 
enclosing a bank post bill, for which I thank you. Having al- 
ready expressed my sense of your kind and upright conduct, I 
can now only say that I trust you will always have reason to be 
as well content with me as I am with you. If the result of any 
future exertions I may be able to make should prove agreeable 
and advantageous to you, I shall be well satisfied ; and it would 
be a serious source of regret to me if I thought you ever had 
reason to repent being my publishers. 

You need not apologise, gentlemen, for having written to me so 
seldom ; of course I am always glad to hear from you, but 1 am 

VOL. I. 2 A 



370 THE BRONTES 

truly glad to hear from Mr. Williams likewise ; he was my first 
favourable critic ; he first gave me encouragement to persevere as 
an author, consequently I naturally respect him and feel grateful 
to him. 

Excuse the informality of my letter, and believe me, gentlemen, 
yours respectfully, CURRER BELL. 

Meanwhile we must not forget Miss Ellen Nussey. 
That the letters to her friend during the last three months 
of this memorable year were not numerous is not sur- 
prising. So much energy must have gone into the new 
correspondence with Cornhill. But a visit to Brookroyd 
which took place while the pages of Jane Eyre were 
being passed for press, and her friend's visit to Haworth, 
partially account for the fact that there are but few letters 
of this period. 

Letter 249 

TO ELLKN NUSSEY 

November 2gtk t '47. 

DEAR ELLEN, The old pang of fearing you should fancy I 
forget you drives me to write to you, though heaven knows I 
have precious little to say, and if it were not that I wish to hear 
from you, and hate to appear disregardful when I am not so, I 
might let another week or perhaps two slip away without writing. 
R. Robinson's letter, as you say, docs her credit. There is a pleasing 
simplicity and absence of affectation in the style. There is much 
in R.'s letter that 1 thought very melancholy. Poor girlb ! theirs, 
I fear, must be a very unhappy home. Yours and mine, with all 
disadvantages, all absences of luxury and wealth and style, are I 
doubt not, happier. I wish to goodness you were rich that you 

might give Miss a temporary asylum, and a relief from 

uneasiness, suffering and gloom. What you say about the effects 
of ether on C. S. rather startled me. I had always consoled 
myself with the idea of having some teeth extracted some day 
under its soothing influence, but now I should think twice before 
1 consented to inhale it ; one would not like to make a fool of 
oneself. When you write again, and let it be soon, don't forget 
to give me a bulletin of R.'s health. I am, yours faithfully, 

C. BRONTE. 



4 THE PROFESSOR' AND MANE EYRE' 371 

Letter 250 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

Thursday, 

DEAR ELLEN, I shall expect you on Saturday, and have ordered 
a gig to meet you at Keighley Station at 3$ past. Don't dis- 
appoint me if you can possibly help it. I am very sorry to hear 
your mother is not so well, but trust she will be better. Give 
her my love. Mercy is tiresome. At Haworth you will have 
rest and repose at any rate. I truly long to see you, C. B. 

Letter 251 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

December , 1847. 

DEAR ELLEN, It was high time you wrote ; I should soon have 
begun to think something was wrong if you had delayed much 
longer. 

I am glad Miss Ringrose has returned with you, both for her 
sake and yours ; still, with two visitors in the house you must 
have plenty to do. It is really most desirable to be able to 
provide attendance on such occasions without having constantly 
to deprive oneself of the pleasure of one's guests' company. 

People who can afford servants who can comfortably trust 
the preparation of meals to the superintendence of a cook 
enjoy a very great privilege under such circumstances. 

I have no patience with either your brother John or the Duke 
of Devonshire. In the first place, what an illogical ass the Duke 
must be to make one brother responsible for the acts of another 
to cut John because Henry had made what seems to me a not 
unreasonable demand that of compensation for improvements 
on a living in the Duke's gift ! 

In the second place, what earthly business had John to write 
his mother and sisters an unpleasant letter on the subject? 
What right had he to annoy them ? I intensely dislike some of 
his conduct to the female members of his family it is unjust, it 
is coldly tyrannous. His brothers wrong him and annoy him? 
It is possible ; but why mix up his sisters, his mother, with conduct 
in which they had no share why lavish his revenge on them ? 

I should think Rosy Ringrose, from what you say, must be a 



872 THE BRONTES 

very attractive personage to the ' worthier sex ' as some say, or 
the ' coarser sex ' as others phrase it much more so probably 
than her sister, though for sterling worth Amelia no doubt bears 
away the palm. A pretty Martha Taylor (for Martha, though 
piquant, was not pretty) must be a very charming creature indeed. 
I had a letter from Mary Taylor last week short and without 
one word of news in it, except that she was in better health and 
spirits than she had usually enjoyed in Europe. She asks after 
you. 

I wish all Brookroyd a happy Christmas and to yourself double 
good wishes. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 252 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

December uth> 1847. 

DEAR SIR, I have delayed writing to you in the hope that the 
parcel you sent would reach me ; but after making due inquiries 
at the Keighley, Bradford, and Leeds Stations and obtaining no 
news of it, I must conclude that it has been lost. 

However, I have contrived to get a sight of Frasers Magazine 
from another quarter, so that I have only to regret Mr. Home's 
kind present. Will you thank that gentleman for me when you 
see him, and tell him that the railroad is to blame for my not 
having acknowledged his courtesy before ? 

Mr. Lewes is very lenient : I anticipated a degree of severity 
which he has spared me. This notice differs from all the other 
notices. He must be a man of no ordinary mind: there is a 
strange sagacity evinced in some of his remarks : yet he is not 
always right. I am afraid if he knew how much I write from 
intuition, how little from actual knowledge, he would think me 
presumptuous ever to have written at all. 1 am sure such would 
be his opinion if he knew the narrow bounds of my attainments, 
the limited scope of my reading. 

There are moments when 1 can hardly credit that anything 
I have done should be found worthy to give even transitory 
pleasure to such men as Mr. Thackeray, Sir John Herschel, Mr. 
Fonblanque, Leigh Hunt, and Mr. Lewes that my humble 
efforts should have had such a result is a noble reward. 

I was glad and proud to get the bank bill Mr. Smith sent me 
yesterday, but I hardly ever felt delight equal to that which 



'THE PROFESSOR ' AND 'JANE EYRE' 373 

cheered me when I received your letter containing an extract 
from a note by Mr. Thackeray, in which he expressed himself 
gratified with the perusal of Jane Eyre. Mr. Thackeray is a keen, 
ruthless satirist. I had never perused his writings but with 
blended feelings of admiration and indignation. Critics, it 
appears to me, do not know what an intellectual boa-constrictor 
he is. They call him 'humorous,' 4 brilliant' his is a most 
scalping humour, a most deadly brilliancy : he does not play with 
his prey, he coils round it and crushes it in his rings. He seems 
terribly in earnest in his war against the falsehood and follies of 
' the world/ I often wonder what that ' world ' thinks of him. I 
should think the faults of such a man would be distrust of any- 
thing good in human nature galling suspicion of bad motives 
lurking behind good actions. Are these his failings? 

They are, at any rate, the failings of his written sentiments, for 
he cannot find in his heart to represent either man or woman as 
at once good and wise. Does he not too much confound bene- 
volence with weakness and wisdom with mere craft ? 

But I must not intrude on your time by too long a letter. 
Believe me, yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 253 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

UAWORIH, December i3//r, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, Your advice merits and shall have my most 
serious attention. I feel the force of your reasoning. It is my 
wish to do my best in the career on which I have entered. So 
I shall study and strive ; and by dint of time, thought, and effort, 
1 hope yet to deserve in part the encouragement you and others 
have so generously accorded me. But time will be necessary 
that I feel more than ever. In case of Jane Eyre reaching a 
second edition, I should wish some few corrections to be made, 
and will prepare an errata. How would the accompanying 
preface do ? I thought it better to be brief. 

The Observer has just reached me. I always compel myself to 
read the analysis in every newspaper-notice. It is a just punish- 
ment, a clue though severe humiliation for faults of plan and 
construction. I wonder if the analyses of other fictions read as 
absurdly as that of Jane Eyre always does. I am, dear sir, yours 
respectfully, C BELL. 



374 THE BRONTES 

Letter 254 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

December I4/A, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, I have just received your kind and welcome letter 
of the nth. I shall proceed at once to discuss the principal 
subject of it. 

Of course a second work has occupied my thoughts much. I 
think it would be premature in me to undertake a serial now 
I am not yet qualified for the task : I have neither gained a 
sufficiently firm footing with the public, nor do I possess sufficient 
confidence in myself, nor can I boast those unflagging animal 
spirits, that even command of the faculty of composition, which 
as you say, and, I am persuaded, most justly, is an indispensable 
requisite to success in serial literature. I decidedly feel that ere 
I change my ground I had better make another venture in the 
three-volume novel form. 

Respecting the plan of such a work, I have pondered it, but as 
yet with very unsatisfactory results. Three commencements 
have I essayed, but all three displease me. A few days since 
I looked over The Professor. I found the beginning very feeble, 
the whole narrative deficient in incident and in general attractive- 
ness. Yet the middle and latter portion of the work, all that 
relates to Brussels, the Belgian school, etc., is as good as I can 
write: it contains more pith, more substance, more reality, in my 
judgment, than much of Jane Eyre. It gives, I think, a new view 
of a grade, an occupation, and a class of characters all very 
commonplace, very insignificant in themselves, but not more so 
than the materials composing that portion of Jane Eyre which 
seems to please most generally. 

My wish is to recast The Professor, add as well as I can what is 
deficient, retrench some parts, develop others, and make of it a 
three-volume work no easy task, I know, yet I trust not an 
impracticable one. 

I have not forgotten that The Professor was set aside in my 
agreement with Messrs. Smith & Elder ; therefore before I take 
any step to execute the plan I have sketched, I should wish to 
have your judgment on its wisdom. You read or looked over the 
MS. what impression have you now respecting its worth ? and 
what confidence have you that I can make it better than it is ? 

Feeling certain that from business reasons as well as from 



'THE PROFESSOR' AND 'JANE EYRE' 375 

natural integrity you will be quite candid with me, I esteem it 
a privilege to be able thus to consult you. Believe me, dear sir, 
yours respectfully, C BELL. 

Withering Heights is, I suppose, at length published, at least 
Mr. Newby has sent the authors their six copies. I wonder how 
it will be received. I should say it merits the epithets of 'vigor- 
ous* and 'original' much more decidedly than Jane Eyre did. 
Agnes Grey should please such critics as Mr. Lewes, for it is 
1 true* and ' unexaggerated ' enough. The books are not well got 
up they abound in errors of the press. On a former occasion 
I expressed myself with perhaps too little reserve regarding Mr. 
Newby, yet I cannot but feel, and feel painfully, that Ellis and 
Acton have not had the justice at his hands that I have had at 
those of Messrs. Smith & Elder. 

Mr. R. H. Home 1 sent her his Orion. 



Letter 255 

TO R. II. HORNE 

December i$th, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, You will have thought me strangely tardy in 
acknowledging your courteous present, but the fact is it never 
reached me till yesterday ; the parcel containing it was missent 
consequently it lingered a fortnight on its route. 

1 have to thank you, not merely for the gift of a little book of 
137 pages, but for that of a poem. Very real, very sweet is the 
poetry of Orion ; there are passages I shall recur to again and 
yet again passages instinct both with power and beauty. All 
through it is genuine pure from one flaw of affectation, rich in 
noble imagery. How far the applause of critics has rewarded the 
author of Orion I do not know, but I think the pleasure he 
enjoyed in its composition must have been a bounteous meed in 
itself. You could not, I imagine, have written that epic without 
at times deriving deep happiness from your work. 

With sincere thanks for the pleasure its perusal has afforded 
me, I remain, clear sir, yours faithfully, C. BELL. 

1 Richard Ilengist Home (1803-1884). Published Cosmo dc Medici, 1837; Orion y 
an epic poem in ten books, passed through six editions in 1843, the first three editions 
being issued at a farthing ; A New Spirit of the A&e, 1844 ; Letters of E. B. Browning 
to R. H. Horne, 1877. 



376 THE BRONTES 

Letter 256 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HAWORTH, December i$th, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, I write a line in haste to apprise you that I have 
got the parcel. It was sent, through the carelessness of the 
railroad people, to Bingley, where it lay a fortnight, till a Haworth 
carrier happening to pass that way brought it on to me. 

I was much pleased to find that you had been kind enough to 
forward the Mirror along with Fraser. The article on * the last 
new novel ' is in substance similar to the notice in the Sunday 
Times. One passage only excited much interest in me ; it was 
that where allusion is made to some former work which the 
author of Jane Eyre is supposed to have published there, I own, 
my curiosity was a little stimulated. The reviewer cannot mean 
the little book of rhymes to which Currer Bell contributed a 
third ; but as that, and Jane Eyre, and a brief translation of some 
French verses sent anonymously to a magazine, are the sole 
productions of mine that have ever appeared in print, I am 
puzzled to know to what else he can refer. 

The reviewer is mistaken, as he is in perverting my meaning, 
in attributing to me designs I know not, principles I disown. 

I have been greatly pleased with Mr. R. H. Home's poem of 
Orion. Will you have the kindness to forward to him the enclosed 
note, and to correct the address if it is not accurate? Believe me, 
dear sir, yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 257 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

December 2 1 sf, 1 847. 

DEAR SIR, I am, for my own part, dissatisfied with the 
preface I sent I fear it savours of flippancy. If you see no 
objection I should prefer substituting the enclosed. It is rather 
more lengthy, but it expresses something I have long wished to 
express. 

Mr. Smith is kind indeed to think of sending me The Jar of 
Honey. When I receive the book I will write to him. I cannot 
thank you sufficiently for your letters, and I can give you but a 
faint idea of the pleasure they afford me ; they seem to introduce 



'THE PROFESSOR' AND 'JANE EYRE' 377 

such light and life to the torpid retirement where we live like 
dormice. But, understand this distinctly, you must never write 
to me except when you have both leisure and inclination. I 
know your time is too fully occupied and too valuable to be often 
at the service of any one individual. 

You are not far wrong in your judgment respecting Wuthering 
Heights and Agnes Grey. Ellis has a strong, original mind, full 
of strange though sombre power. When he writes poetry that 
power speaks in language at once condensed, elaborated, and 
refined, but in prose it breaks forth in scenes which shock more 
than they attract. Ellis will improve, however, because he knows 
his defects. Agnes Grey is the mirror of the mind of the writer. 
The orthography and punctuation of the books are mortifying to 
a degree : almost all the errors that were corrected in the proof- 
sheets appear intact in what should have been the fair copies. If 
Mr. Newby always does business in this way, few authors would 
like to have him for their publisher a second time. Believe me, 
dear sir, yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 258 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HAWORTH, December 2yd, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, I am glad that you and Messrs. Smith & Elder 
approve the second preface. 

I send an errata of the first volume, and part of the second. I 
will send the rest of the corrections as soon as possible. 

Will the enclosed dedication suffice? I have made it brief, 
because I wished to avoid any appearance of pomposity or pre- 
tension. 

The notice in the Church of England Journal gratified me much, 
and chiefly because it was the Church of England Journal. What- 
ever such critics as he of the Mirror may say, I love the Church 
of England. Her ministers, indeed, I do not regard as infallible 
personages. I have seen too much of them for that, but to the 
Establishment, with all her faults the profane Athanasian creed 
preluded I am sincerely attached. 

Is the forthcoming critique on Mr. Thackeray's writings in the 
Edinburgh Review written by Mr. Lewes ? I hope it is. Mr. 
Lewes, with his penetrating sagacity and fine acumen, ought to 
be able to do the author of Vanity Fair justice. Only he must 



378 THE BRONTfiS 

not bring him down to the level 01 rieicung he is far, far above 
Fielding. It appears to me that Fielding's style is arid, and 
his views of life and human nature coarse, compared with 
Thackeray's. 

With many thanks for your kind wishes, and a cordial re- 
ciprocation of them, I remain, dear sir, yours respectfully, 

C. BELL. 

On glancing over this scrawl, I find it so illegibly written that 
I fear you will hardly be able to decipher it; but the cold is 
partly to blame for this my fingers are numb. 



Letter 259 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

December 3U/, 1847. 

DEAR SIR, I think, for the reasons you mention, it is better 
to substitute author for editor. \ should not be ashamed to be 
considered the author of Wuthcring Heights and Agnes Grey, but, 
possessing no real claim to that honour, I would rather not have 
it attributed to me, thereby depriving the true authors of their 
just meed. 1 

You do very rightly and very kindly to tell me the objections 

1 A cutting fiom The Atlas newspaper was found among others in Emily Bronte's 
dcsls. ITeie is the opening of its review of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey : 

* About two years ago a small volume of poems by " Currer, Acton, and Ellis " Bell was 
given to the woikl. The poems were of varying excellence ; those by Currer Bell, for 
the most part, exhibiting the highest order of merit ; but, as a whole, the little work 
pioduced little or no sensation, and was speedily forgotten. Currer, Acton, and Ellis 
Hell have now all come before us as novelists, and all with so much success as to make 
their future career a matter of interesting speculation in the literary world. 

Whethei, as there is little reason to believe, the names which we have written are the 
genuine names of actual personages whether they are, on the other hand, mere 
publishing names, as is our own private conviction whether they represent three 
distinct individuals, or whether a single personage is the actual representative of the 
* three gentlemen at once ' of the title-pageswhether the authorship of the poems and 
the novels is to be assigned to one gentleman or one lady, to three gentlemen or three 
ladies, or to a mixed male and female triad of authors are questions over which the 
curious may puzzle themselves, but are matters really of little account. One thing is 
certain ; as in the poems, so in the novels, the signature of " Currer Bell " is attached to 
pre-eminently the best performance. We were the first to welcome the authoi of Jane 
Eytc as a new writer of no ordinary power. A new edition of that singular work has 
been called for, and we do not doubt that its success has done much to ensure a favour- 
able reception for the volumes which are now before us.' 



'THE PROFESSOR 1 AND 'JANE EYRE' 379 

made against Jane Eyre they are more essential than the praises. 
I feel a sort of heart-ache when I hear the book called 'godless 1 
and ' pernicious ' by good and earnest-minded men ; but I know 
that heart-ache will be salutary at least I trust so. 

What is meant by the charges of trickery and artifice I have 
yet to comprehend. It was no art in me to write a tale it was 
no trick in Messrs. Smith & Elder to publish it. Where do the 
trickery and artifice lie ? 

I have received the Scotsman, and was greatly amused to see 
Jane Eyre likened to Rebecca Sharp the resemblance would 
hardly have occurred to me. 

I wish to send this note by to-day's post, and must therefore 
conclude in haste. I am, dear sir, yours respectfully, 

C. BELL. 



380 THE BRONTES 



CHAPTER XVI 

A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 

IT is at this point that the letters of Charlotte Bronte 
become profoundly interesting. Hers was a courageous, 
independent nature, and she delighted at all times to say 
what she thought about men and things. It was not until 
she came into contact with London literary life that real 
opportunity was afforded her of a direct expression of her 
outlook. If the letters to M. H^ger had not been destroyed 
we should doubtless have found in them the beginnings of 
that disposition to fearless opinion upon books and men in 
which M. Heger encouraged his pupil. The letters we have 
read so far those written before Jane Eyre was published 
have been addressed for the most part to her friend Ellen 
Nussey. Miss Nussey was a kindly, amiable girl whom 
those who knew her as a woman will recall with reverence 
as devout, hero-worshipping, but of no strong intellectual 
or critical capacity. She was one of thousands of estimable 
churchwomen who place the portraits of the bishop of the 
diocese and their parish priest upon their mantelpiece, and 
whose life in the main centres round their Church. We have 
from Charlotte in a later letter to Mr. Williams a quite frank 
analysis of her friend's nature. Henceforth she is to live 
in a wider world, and the attraction of her letters increases 
accordingly. Mr. William Smith Williams, her principal 
correspondent, was in many ways a remarkable man. 

Charlotte has emphasised the fact that she adapted 
herself to her correspondents, and in her letters to 
Mr. Williams we have her at her very best. Mr. 




r (( (Unun (^///////TV MuvnA&tof.. 

Jn>t<><jntli /// //.'< ,>"// M/r-//^/Y\ '////// T 






A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 381 

Williams occupied for many years the post of ' reader ' in 
the firm of Smith & Elder. That is a position scarcely 
less honourable and important than authorship itself. In 
our own days Mr. George Meredith and Viscount Morley 
have been 'readers,' and Mr. James Payn once held the 
same post in the firm which published the Bronte novels. 

Mr. Williams, who was born in 1800, and died in 1875, 
had an interesting career even before he became associated 
with Smith & Elder. In his younger days he was 
apprenticed to Taylor & Hessey of Fleet Street ; and he 
used to relate how his boyish ideals of Coleridge were 
shattered on beholding, for the first time, the bulky and 
ponderous figure of the great talker. When Keats left 
England, for an early grave in Rome, it was Mr. 
Williams who saw him off. Hazlitt, Leigh Hunt, and 
many other well-known men of letters were friendly with 
Mr. Williams from his earliest days, and he had for 
brother-in-law, Wells, the author of Joseph and his Brethren. 
In his association with Smith & Elder he secured the 
friendship of Thackeray, of Mrs. Gaskell, and of many 
other writers. Some of Mrs. Gaskell's letters to him are 
in my possession. He attracted the notice of Ruskin by 
a keen enthusiasm for the work of Turner. It was he, in 
fact, who compiled that most interesting volume of Selec- 
tions from the Writings of John Ruskin^ which has long 
gone out of print in its first form, but is still greatly sought 
for by the curious. 1 

1 In connection with this volume I may print here a letter written by John Ruskin's 
father to Mr. Williams. 

DENMARK HILL, November 2$th, 1861. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am requested by Mrs. Ruskin to return her very sincere and 
grateful thanks for your kind consideration in presenting her with so beautifully bound 
a copy of the Selections from her son's writings ; and which she will have great pleasure 
in seeing by the side of the very magnificent volumes which the liberality of the 
gentlemen of your house has already enriched our library with. 

Mrs. Ruskin joins me in offering congratulations on the great judgment you have 
displayed in your Selections^ and, sending my own thanks and those of my son for the 
handsome gift to Mrs. Ruskin, I am, my dear sir, yours very truly, 

JOHN JAMES RUSKIN, 



382 THE BRONTES 

What Charlotte Bronte thought of Mr. Williams is 
sufficiently revealed by the multitude of letters which I 
have the good fortune to print, and that she had a reason 
to be grateful to him is obvious when we recollect that to 
him, and to him alone, was due her first recognition. The 
parcel containing The Professor had, as we have seen, 
wandered from publisher to publisher before it came into 
the hands of Mr. Williams. It was he who recognised 
what all of us recognise now, that in spite of faults it 
is really a most considerable book. I am inclined to 
think that it was refused by Smith & Elder rather on 
account of its insufficient length than for any other 
cause. At any rate it was the length which was assigned 
to her as a reason for non-acceptance. She was told 
that another book, which would make the accredited 
three-volume novel, might receive more favourable con- 
sideration. 

Charlotte Bronte took Mr. Williams's advice. She had 
already written Jane Eyre, and she despatched it quickly 
to Smith & Elder's house in Cornhill. It was read by 
Mr. Williams, and read afterwards by Mr. George Smith ; 
and it was published with the success that we know. 
Charlotte awoke to find herself famous. She began a 
regular correspondence with Mr. Williams, and not less 
than a hundred letters were sent to him, most of them 
treating of interesting literary matters. 

One of Mr. Williams's daughters, I may add, married 
Mr. Lowes Dickinson the portrait-painter; his youngest 
child, a baby when Miss Bronte was alive, is famous in 
the musical world as Miss Anna Williams. The family 
has an abundance of literary and artistic association, but 
the father we know as the friend and correspondent of 
Charlotte Bronte. He still lives also in the memory of a 
large circle as a kindly and attractive a singularly good 
and upright man. 

In printing a succession of these letters I am compelled, 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 383 

in my desire for chronological sequence, to interleave them 
with her still regular correspondence with Ellen Nussey 
and letters to other friends. 

Letter 260 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HAWORTH, January 4/tf, 1848. 

DEAR SIR, Your letter made me ashamed of myself that I 
should ever have uttered a murmur, or expressed by any sign 
that I was sensible of pain from the unfavourable opinions of 
some misjudging but well-meaning people. But, indeed, let 
me assure you, I am not ungrateful for the kindness which has 
been given me in such abundant measure. I can discriminate 
the proportions in which blame and praise have been awarded to 
my efforts : I see well that I have had less of the former and more 
of the latter than I merit. I am not therefore crushed, though I 
may be momentarily saddened by the frown, even of the good. 

It would take a good deal to crush me, because I know, in the 
first place, that my own intentions were correct, that I feel in my 
heart a deep reverence for religion, that impiety is very abhorrent 
to me ; and in the second, I place firm reliance on the judgment 
of some who have encouraged me. You and Mr. Lewes are quite 
as good authorities, in my estimation, as Mr. Dilke or the editor 
of the Spectator, and I would not under any circumstances, or for 
any opprobrium, regard with shame what my friends had approved 
none but a coward would let the detraction of an enemy out- 
weigh the encouragement of a friend. You must not, therefore, 
fulfil your threat of being less communicative in future ; you must 
kindly tell me all. 

Miss Kavanagh's view of the maniac coincides with Leigh 
Hunt's. I agree with them that the character is shocking, but I 
know that it is but too natural. There is a phase of insanity 
which may be called moral madness, in which all that is good or 
even human seems to disappear from the mind, and a fiend-nature 
replaces it. The sole aim and desire of the being thus possessed 
is to exasperate, to molest, to destroy, and preternatural ingenuity 
and energy are often exercised to that dreadful end. The aspect, 
in such cases, assimilates with the disposition all seem demon- 
ised. It is true that profound pity ought to be the only senti- 
ment elicited by the view of such degradation, and equally true is 



884 THE BRONTES 

it that I have not sufficiently dwelt on that feeling : I have erred 
in making horror too predominant Mrs. Rochester, indeed, lived 
a sinful life before she was insane, but sin is itself a species of 
insanity the truly good behold and compassionate it as such. 

Jane Eyre has got down into Yorkshire, a copy has even pene- 
trated into this neighbourhood. I saw an elderly clergyman 
reading it the other day, and had the satisfaction of hearing him 

exclaim, ' Why, they have got School, and Mr. here, I 

declare! and Miss ' (naming the originals of Lowood, 

Mr Brocklehurst and Miss Temple). He had known them all. 
I wondered whether he would recognise the portraits, and was 
gratified to find that he did, and that, moreover, he pronounced 

them faithful and just. He said, too, that Mr. (Brocklehurst) 

1 deserved the chastisement he had got* 

He did not recognise Currer Bell. What author would be with- 
out the advantage of being able to walk invisible ? One is thereby 
enabled to keep such a quiet mind. I make this small observa- 
tion in confidence. 

What makes you say that the notice in the Westminster Review 
is not by Mr. Lewes? It expresses precisely his opinions, and he 
said he would perhaps insert a few lines in that periodical. 

I have sometimes thought that I ought to have written to 
Mr. Lewes to thank him for his review in Fraser-, and, indeed, I 
did write a note, but then it occurred to me that he did not 
require the author's thanks, and I feared it would be superfluous 
to send it, therefore I refrained ; however, though I have not 
expressed gratitude, I haveyW/ it. 

I wish you, too, many many happy new years, and prosperity 
and success to you and yours. Believe me, etc., 

CURRER BELL. 

I have received the Courier and the Oxford Chronicle. 

Letter 261 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, January tfh, '48. 

MY DEAR Miss NUSSEY, I am not going to give you a * nice 
long letter ' on the contrary, I mean to content myself with a 
shabby little note, to be engulphed in a letter of Charlotte's, 
which will, of course, be infinitely more acceptable to you than 
any production of mine, though I do not question your friendly 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 885 

regard for me, or the indulgent welcome you would accord to a 
missive of mine even without a more agreeable companion to 
back it ; but you must know there is a lamentable deficiency in 
my organ of language, which makes me almost as bad a hand at 
writing as talking unless I have something particular to say. I 
have now, however, to thank you and your friend Miss Ringrose 
for your kind letter and her pretty watch-guards, which I am sure 
we shall all of us value the more for being the work of her own 
hands. . . . You do not tell us how you bear the present un- 
favourable weather. We are all cut up by this cruel east wind, 
most of us, i.e. Charlotte, Emily, and I have had the influenza, or 
a bad cold instead, twice over within the space of a few weeks. 
Papa has had it once. Tabby has escaped it altogether. I have 
no news to tell you, for we have been nowhere, seen no one, and 
done nothing (to speak of) since you were here and yet we 
contrive to be busy from morning to night. Flossy is fatter than 
ever, but still active enough to relish a sheep hunt. I hope you 
and your circle have been more fortunate in the matter of colds 
than we have. 

With kind regards to all, I remain, dear Miss Nussey, yours 
ever affectionately, ANNE BRONTfi. 

Letter 262 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January \\th, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, How are you getting on by this time? How is 
your houseful of guests? Especially how is Amelia Ringrose? 
I hope you are not ill yourself in consequence of over fatigue, the 
only good side of the bustle seems to me to be that it will keep 
you on the alert oblige you to act, and prevent you from sitting 
still and thinking. At present it is much better to be worried 
with too much company than to be alone ; to be fagged with 
excess of action than to be ennuied with monotonous tranquillity. 
What a pity you and Amelia could not go to the party at Oak- 
well Hall ! We have not been very comfortable here at home 
lately, far from it, indeed. Branwell has, by some means, con- 
trived to get more money from the old quarter, and has led us a 
sad life with his absurd and often intolerable conduct. Papa is 
harassed day and night; we have little peace; he [Branwell] is 
always sick ; has two or three times fallen down in fits; what will 

VOL. I, 2 B 



386 THE BRONTftS 

be the ultimate end, God knows. But who is without their 
drawback, their scourge, their skeleton behind the curtain? It 
remains only to do one's best, and endure with patience. 

I wish all Brookroyd a happy new year, and to you I dedicate 
an especial wish of your own. Good-bye, dear Nell. 

C. BRONTfi, 

Letter 263 

TO GEORGE HENRY LEWES 

HAWORTH, January i2th> 1848. 

DEAR SIR, I thank you, then, sincerely for your generous 
review ; and it is with the sense of double content I express my 
gratitude, because I am now sure the tribute is not superfluous or 
obtrusive. You were not severe on Jane Eyre ; you were very 
lenient. I am glad you told me my faults plainly in private, for in 
your public notice you touch on them so lightly, I should perhaps 
have passed them over, thus indicated, with too little reflection. 

I mean to observe your warning about being careful how I 
undertake new works ; my stock of materials is not abundant, but 
very slender; and besides, neither my experience, my acquire- 
ments, nor my powers are sufficiently varied to justify my ever 
becoming a frequent writer. I tell you this because your article 
in Eraser left in me an uneasy impression that you were dis- 
posed to think better of the author of Jane Eyre than that 
individual deserved ; and I would rather you had a correct thin a 
flattering opinion of me, even though I should never see you. 

If I ever do write another book, I think I will have nothing of 
what you call 'melodrama'; I think so, but I am not sure. I 
think, too, I will endeavour to follow the counsel which shines out 
of Miss Austen's 'mild eyes,' 'to finish more and be more sub- 
dued'; but neither am I sure of that. When authors write best, 
or, at least, when they write most fluently, an influence seems to 
waken in them, which becomes their master which will have its 
own way putting out of view all behests but its own, dictating 
certain words, and insisting on their being used, whether vehement 
or measured in their nature; new-moulding characters, giving 
unthought-of turns to incidents, rejecting carefully elaborated old 
ideas, and suddenly creating and adopting new ones. 

Is it not so? And should we try to counteract this influence? 
Can we indeed counteract it ? 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 887 

I am glad that another work of yours will soon appear; most 
curious shall I be to see whether you will write up to your own 
principles, and work out your own theories. You did not do it 
altogether in Ranthorpc at least, not in the latter part; but the 
first portion was, I think, nearly without fault; then it had a pith, 
truth, significance in it which gave the book sterling value; but 
to write so one must have seen and known a great deal, and I 
have seen and known very little. 

Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I am puzzled 
on that point. What induced you to say that you would have 
rather written Pride and Prejudice or Tom Jones, than any of the 
Waverley Novels ? 

I had not seen Pride and Prejudice till I read that sentence of 
yours, and then I got the book. And what did I find ? An 
accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a commonplace face; a care- 
fully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and 
delicate flowers ; but no glance of a bright, vivid physiognomy, no 
open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck. I should 
hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant 
but confined houses. These observations will probably irritate 
you, but I shall run the risk. 

Now I can understand admiration of George Sand ; for though 
I never saw any of her works which I admired throughout (even 
Consuelo, which is the best, or the best that I have read, appears 
to me to couple strange extravagance with wondrous excellence), 
yet she has a grasp of mind which, if I cannot fully comprehend, 
I can very deeply respect : she is sagacious and profound ; Miss 
Austen is only shrewd and observant. 

Am I wrong; or were you hasty in what you said? If you 
have time I should be glad to hear further on this subject ; if not, 
or if you think the question frivolous, do not trouble yourself to 
reply. I am yours respectfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 264 

TO G. H. LEWES 

January i8/>%, 1848. 

DEAR SIR, I must write one more note, though I had not 
intended to trouble you again so soon. I have to agree with you, 
and to differ from you. 

You correct my crude remarks on the subject of the ' influence ' ; 



888 THE BRONTES 

well, I accept your definition of what the effects of that influence 
should be ; I recognise the wisdom of your rules for its regula- 
tion. . . . 

What a strange lecture comes next in your letter! You say 
I must familiarise my mind with the fact that * Miss Austen is 
not a poetess, has no " sentiment " ' (you scornfully enclose the 
word in inverted commas), ' no eloquence, none of the ravishing 
enthusiasm of poetry ' ; and then you add, I must l learn to 
acknowledge her as one of the greatest artists, of the greatest 
painters of human character, and one of the writers with the nicest 
sense of means to an end that ever lived.' 

The last point only will I ever acknowledge. 

Can there be a great artist without poetry? 

What I call what I will bend to, as a great artist, then 
cannot be destitute of the divine gift But by poetry, I am sure, 
you understand something different to what 1 do, as you do by 
'sentiment/ It is poetry, as I comprehend the word, which ele- 
vates that masculine George Sand, and makes out of something 
coarse something godlike. It is 'sentiment,' in my sense of the 
term sentiment jealously hidden, but genuine, which extracts 
the venom from that formidable Thackeray, and converts what 
might be corrosive poison into purifying elixir. 

If Thackeray did not cherish in his large heart deep feeling 
for his kind, he would delight to exterminate ; as it is, I believe, 
he wishes only to reform. Miss Austen being, as you say, without 
'sentiment/ without poetry, maybe is sensible, real (more real than 
true), but she cannot be great. 

I submit to your anger, which I have now excited (for have 
I not questioned the perfection of your darling ?) ; the storm may 
pass over me. Nevertheless I will, when I can (I do not know 
when that will be, as 1 have no access to a circulating library), 
diligently peruse all Miss Austen's works, as you recommend. 
. . . You must forgive me for not always being able to think as 
you do, and still believe me yours gratefully, C. BELL. 

Letter 265 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

January 22nd, 1848. 

DEAR SIR, I have received the Morning Herald, and was 
much pleased with the notice, chiefly on account of the reference 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 889 

made to that portion of the preface which concerns Messrs. 
Smith & Elder. If my tribute of thanks can benefit my pub- 
lishers, it is desirable that it should have as much publicity 
as possible. 

I do not know if the part which relates to Mr. Thackeray is 
likely to be as well received ; but whether generally approved of 
and understood or not, I shall not regret having written it, for I 
am convinced of its truth. l 

I see I was mistaken in my idea that the Athenaum and others 
wished to ascribe the authorship of Wuthering Heights to Currer 
Bell ; the contrary is the case, Jane Eyre is given to Ellis Bell 
and Mr. Newby, it appears, thinks it expedient so to frame his 
advertisements as to favour the misapprehension. If Mr. Newby 
had much sagacity he would see that Ellis Bell is strong enough 
to stand without being propped by Currer Bell, and would have 
disdained what Ellis himself of all things disdains recourse to 
trickery. However, Ellis, Acton, and Currer care nothing for the 
matter personally ; the public and the critics are welcome to 
confuse our identities as much as they choose ; my only fear 
is lest Messrs. Smith & Elder should in some way be annoyed 
by it. 

I was much interested in your account of Miss Kavanagh. The 
character you sketch belongs to a class I peculiarly esteem : one 
in which endurance combines with exertion, talent with goodness ; 
where genius is found unmarred by extravagance, self-reliance 
unalloyed by self-complacency. It is a character which is, I 
believe, rarely found except where there has been toil to undergo 
and adversity to struggle against : it will only grow to perfection 
in a poor soil and in the shade ; if the soil be too indigent, the 
shade too dank and thick, of course it dies where it sprung. But 
I trust this will not be the case with Miss Kavanagh. I trust she 
will struggle ere long into the sunshine. In you she has a kind 
friend to direct her, and 1 hope her mother will live to see the 
daughter, who yields to her such childlike duty, both happy and 
successful. 

You asked me if I should like any copies of the second edition 
of Jane Eyre, and I said no. It is true I do not want any for 
myself or my acquaintances, but if the request be not unusual, I 
should much like one to be given to Miss Kavanagh. If you 
would have the goodness, you might write on the fly-leaf that the 
1 This was the Dedication of the second edition of Jane Eyre to Thackeray. 



390 THE BRONTfiS 

book is presented with the author's best wishes for her welfare 
here and hereafter. My reason for wishing that she should 
have a copy is because she said the book had been to her a 
suggestive one, and I know that suggestive books are valuable 
to authors. 

I am truly sorry to hear that Mr. Smith has had an attack of 
the prevalent complaint, but I trust his recovery is by this time 
complete. I cannot boast entire exemption from its ravages, as 
I now write under its depressing influence. Hoping that you 
have been more fortunate, I am, dear sir, yours faithfully, 

C. BELL. 



Letter 266 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HA WORTH, January i&th^ 1848. 

DEAR SIR, I need not tell you that when I saw Mr. Thack- 
eray's letter enclosed under your cover, the sight made me very 
happy. It was some time before I dared open it, lest my pleasure 
in receiving it should be mixed with pain on learning its contents 
lest, in short, the dedication should have been, in some way, un- 
acceptable to him. 

And, to tell you the truth, I fear this must have been the case ; 
he does not say so, his letter is most friendly in its noble sim- 
plicity, but he apprises me, at the commencement, of a circum- 
stance which both surprised and dismayed me. 

I suppose it is no indiscretion to tell you this circumstance, for 
you doubtless know it already. It appears that his private posi- 
tion is in some points similar to that I have ascribed to Mr. Roch- 
ester, that thence arose a report that Jane Eyre had been written 
by a governess in his family, and that the dedication coming now 
has confirmed everybody in the surmise. 

Well may it be said that fact is often stranger than fiction ! 
The coincidence struck me as equally unfortunate and extra- 
ordinary. Of course I knew nothing whatever of Mr. Thackeray's 
domestic concerns, he existed for me only as an author. Of all 
regarding his personality, station, connections, private history, I 
was, and am still in a great measure, totally in the dark ; but I 
am very very sorry that my inadvertent blunder should have made 
his name and affairs a subject for common gossip. 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 891 

The very fact of his not complaining at all and addressing me 
with such kindness, notwithstanding the pain and annoyance I 
must have caused him, increases my chagrin. I could not half 
express my regret to him in my answer, for I was restrained by 
the consciousness that that regret was just worth nothing at all 
quite valueless for healing the mischief I had done. 

Can you tell me anything more on this subject? or can you 
guess in what degree the unlucky coincidence would affect him 
whether it would pain him much and deeply: for he says so 
little himself on the topic, I am at a loss to divine the exact truth 
but I fear. 

Do not think, my dear sir, from my silence respecting the advice 
you have, at different times, given me for my future literary 
guidance, that I am heedless of, or indifferent to, your kindness. 
I keep your letters and not unfrequently refer to them. Circum- 
stances may render it impracticable for me to act up to the letter 
of what you counsel, but I think I comprehend the spirit of your 
precepts, and trust I shall be able to profit thereby. Details, 
situations which I do not understand and cannot personally in- 
spect, I would not for the world meddle with, lest I should make 
even a more ridiculous mess of the matter than Mrs. Trollope did 
in her Factory Boy, Besides, not one feeling on any subject, 
public or private, will I ever affect that I do not really experience. 
Yet though I must limit my sympathies ; though my observation 
cannot penetrate where the very deepest political and social truths 
are to be learnt ; though many doors of knowledge which are 
open for you are for ever shut to me ; though I must guess and 
calculate and grope my way in the dark, and come to uncertain 
conclusions unaided and alone where such writers as Dickens 
and Thackeray, having access to the shrine and image of Truth, 
have only to go into the temple, lift the veil a moment, and come 
out and say what they have seen yet with every disadvantage, I 
mean still, in my own contracted way, to do tny best. Imperfect 
my best will be, and poor, and compared with the works of the 
true masters of that greatest modern master Thackeray in 
especial (for it is him I at heart reverence with all my strength) 
it will be trifling, but I trust not affected or counterfeit. Believe 
me, my dear sir, yours with regard and respect. 

CURRER BELL. 



892 THE BRONTES 

Letter 267 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

January 2%th, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I meant to have written to you by to-day's 
post, but two or three little things occurred to hinder me. I did 
not answer Amelia's letter, not because I was indifferent to her 
kindness in writing or to the pleasure of hearing from her, but 
because I really had nothing to say worth saying, or which could 
interest her. I might, indeed, have sat down and concocted 
something elaborate, but where is the use of scribbling letters of 
that sort? It is merely time thrown away. 

I am very glad to hear she is better, and that she still remains 
at Brookroyd, but I fear, poor thing, she will feel the change 
severely when she returns to her somewhat uncongenial home. 

She always speaks of you in her notes with such a trusting, 
childlike affection ; it is easy to see the loss of your society will 
be a very great loss indeed to her. My praise of you does not 
half satisfy her. I said you had your faults or you would not be 
human, but that with all these you were, etc. some very good 
things. Amelia declared I quite amused her by talking in that 
way to her you seemed faultless ! 

I hope she will not regard many people with the same over- 
partial affection, or it will be her lot in life to be often dis- 
appointed. 

It is kind in you to continue to write occasionally to Anne 
for I think your letters do her good and give her pleasure. The 
Robinsons still amaze me by the continued frequency and con- 
stancy of their correspondence. Poor girls ! they still complain 
of their mother's proceedings; that woman is a hopeless being; 
calculated to bring a curse wherever she goes by the mixture of 
weakness, perversion, and deceit in her nature. Sir Edward Scott's 
wife is said to be dying ; if she goes I suppose they will marry, that 
is if Mrs. R. can marry. She affirmed her husband's will bound 
her to remain single, but I do not believe anything she says. 

We all thank you for the pretty, tasteful watch-guards you 
sent ; the steel beads glitter like diamonds by candle-light. We 
chose them by lot. I got the single bead, Anne the double, 
Emily the treble. 

I will try to get this off to-day. Good-bye, yours, 

C. BRONT& 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 393 

Letter 268 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

February ist, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I shall not scold you for being so long in 
writing to me, but I really was beginning to fear there was some 
unpleasant cause for your silence ; however it is all right now as I 
have heard from you at last, and as you are not ill. I was sur- 
prised but pleased to find that Amelia Ringrose was still with you ; 
her long stay will do her good, and I doubt not her society has 
enabled you to pass the winter more pleasantly than you would 
alone. 

I think the choice of the Bishop of Chester to the Primacy is as 
good a one as under the circumstances could have been made. 
The curates, as you conjecture, are wroth on the circumstance. 

Papa received a letter from a brother of H . It expressed 

shame and indignation at what the writer termed the shameful 
termination of his ministry in England. It appears he absconded 
without the knowledge or sanction of his friends, and that they do 
not know where he is or whether he is yet in the land of the living. 
His principles must have been bad indeed, he can have had no 
sense of honour. Amongst other debts it appears he got five 
pounds of Miss Sugden for a charitable purpose, and that he 
appropriated the money to his own use. Believe me, dear Nell, 
yours, C. B. 

Letter 269 

TO MISS KAVANAGII 1 

Feby. 2nd, 1848. 

DEAR MADAM, Jane Eyre is but a defective production, yet I 
dare say whatever merit it has will be appreciated by you ; of its 
faults, too, you will be a competent judge : you had a right, 
therefore, to possess a copy. I only wish it had been in my 
power to offer you some less insipid token of esteem than a 

1 Julia Kavanagh (1824-1877) was the daughter of M. P. Kavanagh, who wrote The 
Wanderings of Lttcan and Dinah, a poetical romance, and other works. Miss Kavanagh 
was born at Thurles and died at Nice. Her first book, Tht Three Paths, a tale for 
children, was published in 1847. Madeline, a story founded on the life of a peasant girl 
of Auvergne, in 1848. Women in France during the Eighteenth Century appeared in 
1850, Nathalie the same year. In the succeeding years she wrote innumerable stories 
and biographical sketches. 



394 THE BRONTES 

novel which had already undergone perusal With sincere wishes 
for the success of your own undertakings, I remain, my dear 
madam, yours faithfully, CURRER BELL. 

Letter 270 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

February 5/A, 1848. 

DEAR SIR, A representation of Jane Eyre at a minor theatre 
would no doubt be a rather afflicting spectacle to the author of 
that work. I suppose all would be wofully exaggerated and pain- 
fully vulgarised by the actors and actresses on such a stage. 
What, I cannot help asking myself, would they make of Mr. 
Rochester? And the picture my fancy conjures up by way oi 
reply is a somewhat humiliating one. What would they make 
of Jane Eyre? I see something very pert and very affected as 
an answer to that query. 1 

1 Although fane Eyre has been dramatised by several hands, the play has never 
been as popular as one might suppose from a story of such thrilling incident. I can 
find no trace of the pai ticular version which is referred to in this letter, but in the next 
year the novel was dramatised by John Brougham, the actor and dramatist, and pro- 
duced in New York on March 26, 1849. Brougham is rather an interesting figure. An 
Irishman by birth, he had a chequered experience of every phase of theatrical life 
both in London and New York. It was he who adapted 'The Queen's Motto' and 
'Lady Audley's Secret,' and he collaborated with Dion Boucicault in 'London 
Assurance.' In 1849 he seems to have been managing Niblo's Garden in New York, 
and in the following year the Lyceum Theatre in Broadway. Miss Wemyss took the 
title role in Jane -Eyre, J. Gilbert was Rochester, and Mrs. J. Gilbert was Lady 
Ingram ; and though the play proved only moderately successful, it was revived in 1856 
at Laura Keene'b Varieties at New York, with Laura Keenc as Jane Eyre. This 
version has been published by Samuel French, and is also in Dick's Penny Plays. 
Divided into five Acts and twelve Scenes, Brougham starts the story at Lowood 
Academy. The second Act introduces us to Rochester's house, and the curtain 
descends in the fourth as Jane announces that the house is in flames. At the end of 
the fifth, Brougham reproduced verbatim much of the conversation of the dialogue 
between Rochester and Jane. Perhaps the best-known dramatisation of the novel was 
that by the late W. G. Wills, who divided the story into four Acts. His play was pro- 
duced on Saturday, December 23, 1882, at the Globe Theatre, by Mrs. Bernard-Beere, 
with the following cast : 

Jane Eyre, Mrs. Bernard-Beere. 

Lady Jngram^ Miss Carlotta Leclercq. 

Blanche Ing) ant, ..,.. Miss Kate Bishop. 

Mary Ingram , Miss Maggie Hunt. 

Miis Beechey, ...... Miss Nellie Jordan. 

Mrs. Fairfax, Miss Alexes Leighton. 

Grace Poole % ....*.. Miss Masson. 

Bertha, Miss D'Almaine. 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 895 

Still, were It in my power, I should certainly make a point of 
being myself a witness of the exhibition. Could I go quietly 
and alone, I undoubtedly should go ; I should endeavour to en- 
dure both rant and whine, strut and grimace, for the sake of the 
useful observations to be collected in such a scene. 

As to whether I wish you to go, that is another question. I am 
afraid I have hardly fortitude enough really to wish it. One can 
endure being disgusted with one's own work, but that a friend 
should share the repugnance is unpleasant. Still, I know it 
would interest me to hear both your account of the exhibition 
and any ideas which the effect of the various parts on the 
spectators might suggest to you. In short, I should like to 
know what you would think, and to hear what you would say on 
the subject. But you must not go merely to satisfy my curiosity ; 
you must do as you think proper. Whatever you decide on will 
content me : if you do not go, you will be spared a vulgarising 
impression of the book ; if you do go, I shall perhaps gain a little 
information either alternative has its advantage. 

I am glad to hear that the second edition is selling, for the 
sake of Messrs. Smith & Elder. I rather feared it would remain 
on hand, and occasion loss. Wuthering Heights, it appears, is 
selling too, and consequently Mr. Newby is getting into 
marvellously good tune with his authors. I remain, my dear 
sir, yours faithfully, CURRER BELL. 

Letter 271 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

February I5/7/, 1848. 

DEAR SIR, Your letter, as you may fancy, has given me some- 
thing to think about. It has presented to my mind a curious 

Adele, Mdllc. Clemence Colic. 

Mr. Rochester, Mr. Charles Kelly. 

Lord Desmond, Mr. A. M. Dcnison. 

Rev. Mr. Price, Mr. II. E. Russel. 

Nat Lee Mr. II. II. Cameron. 

James, Mr. C. Stevens. 

Mr. Wills confined the story to Thornfield Hall. One critic described the drama at 
the time as 'not so much a play as a long conversation.' A few years ago James 
Willing made a melodrama of fane Eyr* under the title of Poor Relations This piece 
was performed at the Standard, Surrey, and Park Theatres. A version of the story, 
dramatised by Charlotte Birch -Pfeiffer, called Die Waise von Lowood> has been rather 
popular in Germany. It was also dramatised in Danish and Italian. 



396 THE BRONTES 

picture, for the description you give is so vivid, I seem to 
realise it all. I wanted information and I have got it. You 
have raised the veil from a corner of your great world your 
London and have shown me a glimpse of what I might call 
loathsome, but which I prefer calling strange. Such, then, is a 
sample of what amuses the metropolitan populace ! Such is a 
view of one of their haunts ! 

Did I not say that I would have gone to this theatre and 
witnessed this exhibition if it had been in my power? What 
absurdities people utter when they speak of they know not 
what ! 

You must try now to forget entirely what you saw. 

As to my next book, I suppose it will grow to maturity in 
time, as grass grows or corn ripens ; but I cannot force it. 
It makes slow progress thus far : it is not every day, nor 
even every week, that I can write what is worth reading ; but 
I shall (if not hindered by other matters) be industrious when 
the humour comes, and in due time I hope to see such a result 
as I shall not be ashamed to offer you, my publishers, and the 
public. 

Have you not two classes of writers the author and the book- 
maker? And is not the latter more prolific than the former? Is 
he not, indeed, wonderfully fertile? but does the public, or the 
publisher even, make much account of his productions ? Do not 
both tire of him in time? 

Is it not because authors aim at a style of living better suited 
to merchants, professed gain-seekers, that they are often com- 
pelled to degenerate to mere bookmakers, and to find the great 
stimulus of their pen in the necessity of earning money? If 
they were not ashamed to be frugal, might they not be more 
independent ? 

I should much very much like to take that quiet view of the 
* great world ' you allude to, but I have as yet won no right to 
give myself such a treat : it must be for some future day when, 
I don't know. Ellis, I imagine, would soon turn aside from the 
spectacle in disgust. 1 do not think he admits it as his creed 
that 'the proper study of mankind is man' at least not the 
artificial man of cities. In some points I consider Ellis somewhat 
of a theorist: now and then he broaches ideas which strike my 
sense as much more daring and original than practical ; his reason 
may be in advance of mine, but certainly it often travels a 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 397 

different road. I should say Ellis will not be seen in his full 
strength till he is seen as an essayist. 

I return to you the note enclosed under your cover ; it is from 
the editor of the Berwick Warder ; he wants a copy of Jane Eyre 
to review. 

With renewed thanks for your continued goodness to me, I 
remain, my dear sir, yours faithfully, CURRER BELL. 



Letter 272 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

February 2$th, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I thank you for your note ; its contents moved 
me much, though not to unmingled feelings of exultation. Louis 
Philippe (unhappy and sordid old man !) and M. Guizot doubtless 
merit the sharp lesson they are now being taught, because they 
have both proved themselves men of dishonest hearts. And 
every struggle any nation makes in the cause of Freedom and 
Truth has something noble in it something that makes me wish 
it success ; but I cannot believe that France or at least Paris 
will ever be the battle-ground of true Liberty, or the scene of its 
real triumphs. I fear she does not know ' how genuine glory is 
put on.' Is that strength to be found in her which will not bend 
'but in magnanimous weakness'? Have not her * unceasing 
changes' as yet always brought 'perpetual emptiness'? Has 
Paris the materials within her for thorough reform? Mean, dis- 
honest Guizot being discarded, will any better successor be found 
for him than brilliant, unprincipled Thiers ? 

But I damp your enthusiasm, which I would not wish to do, for 
true enthusiasm is a fine feeling whose flash I admire wherever I 
see it. 

The little note enclosed in yours is from a French lady, who 
asks my consent to the translation of Jane Eyre into the French 
language. I thought it better to consult you before I replied. I 
suppose she is competent to produce a decent translation, though 
one or two errors of orthography in her note rather afflict the 
eye ; but I know that it is not unusual for what are considered 
well-educated French women to fail in the point of writing their 
mother tongue correctly. But whether competent or not, I 
presume she has a right to translate the book with or without my 



398 THE BRONTES 

consent. She gives her address: MdlleB , care of W. Gumming, 

Esq., 23 North Bank, Regent's Park. 

Shall I reply to her note in the affirmative ? 

Waiting your opinion and answer, I remain, dear sir, yours 
faithfully, C. BELL. 

Letter 273 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

February 28/tf, 1848. 

DEAR SIR, I have done as you advised me respecting Mdlle 

B , thanked her for her courtesy, and explained that I do not 

wish my consent to be regarded in the light of a formal sanction 
of the translation. 

From the papers of Saturday I had learnt the abdication of 
Louis Philippe, the flight of the royal family, and the proclama- 
tion of a republic in France. Rapid movements these, and some 
of them difficult of comprehension to a remote spectator. What 
sort of spell has withered Louis Philippe's strength? Why, after 
having so long infatuatedly clung to Guizot, did he at once 
ignobly relinquish him ? Was it panic that made him so suddenly 
quit his throne and abandon his adherents without a struggle to 
retain one or aid the other? 

Perhaps it might have been partly fear, but I dare say it was 
still more long-gathering weariness of the dangers and toils of 
royalty. Few will pity the old monarch in his flight, yet I own 
he seems to me an object of pity. His sister's death shook him ; 
years are heavy on him ; the sword of Damocles has long been 
hanging over his head. One cannot forget that monarchs and 
ministers are only human, and have only human energies to 
sustain them ; and often they are sore beset. Party spirit has no 
mercy ; indignant Freedom seldom shows forbearance in her hour 
of revolt. I wish you could see the aged gentleman trudging 
down Cornhill with his umbrella and carpet-bag, in good earnest ; 
he would be safe in England ; John Bull might laugh at him, but 
he would do him no harm. 

How strange it appears to see literary and scientific names 
figuring in the list of members of a Provisional Government! 
How would it sound if Carlyle and Sir John Herschel and 
Tennyson and Mr. Thackeray and Douglas Jerrold were selected 
to manufacture a new constitution for England ? Whether do 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 899 

such men sway the public mind most effectually from their quiet 
studies or from a council-chamber? 

And Thiers is set aside for a time ; but won't they be glad of 
him by-and-by? Can they set aside entirely anything so clever, 
so subtle, so accomplished, so aspiring in a word, so thoroughly 
French, as he is? Is he not the man to bide his time to watch 
while unskilful theorists try their hand at administration and 
fail ; and then to step out and show them how it should be 
done? 

One would have thought political disturbance the natural 
element of a mind like Thiers 1 ; but I know nothing of him 
except from his writings, and I always think he writes as if the 
shade of Bonaparte were walking to and fro in the room behind 
him and dictating every line he pens, sometimes approaching and 
bending over his shoulder, pour voir de ses yeux that such an 
action or event is represented or ;;/;Vrepresented (as the case 
may be) exactly as he wishes it. Thiers seems to have contem- 
plated Napoleon's character till he has imbibed some of its nature. 
Surely he must be an ambitious man, and, if so, surely he will at 
this juncture struggle to rise. 

You should not apologise for what you call your ( crudities.' 
You know I like to hear your opinions and views on whatever 
subject it interests you to discuss. 

From the little inscription outside your note I conclude you 
sent me the Examiner. I thank you therefore for your kind 
intention, and am sorry some unscrupulous person at the Post 
Office frustrated it, as no paper has reached my hands. I suppose 
one ought to be thankful that letters are respected, as newspapers 
are by no means sure of safe conveyance. I remain, dear sir, 
yours sincerely, C. BELL. 

Letter 274 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

March ^rd, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have received the Christian Remembrancer, 
and read the review. It is written with some ability ; but to do 
justice was evidently not the critic's main object, therefore he 
excuses himself from performing that duty. 

I dare say the reviewer imagines that Currer Bell ought to 
be extremely afflicted, very much cut up, by some smart things 



400 THE BRONTES 

he says this, however, is not the case. C. Bell is on the whole 
rather encouraged than dispirited -by the review : the hard-wrung 
praise extorted reluctantly from a foe is the most precious praise 
of all you are sure that this, at least, has no admixture of flattery. 
I fear he has too high an opinion of my abilities and of what I can 
do ; but that is his own fault. In other respects, he aims his 
shafts in the dark, and the success, or, rather, ill-success of his hits 
makes me laugh rather than cry. His shafts of sarcasm are nicely 
polished, keenly pointed ; he should not have wasted them in 
shooting at a mark he cannot see. 

I hope such reviews will not make much difference with me, 
and that if the spirit moves me in future to say anything about 
priests, etc., I shall say it with the same freedom as heretofore. 
I hope also that their anger will not make me angry. As a body, 
I had no ill-will against them to begin with, and I feel it would 
be an error to let opposition engender such ill-will. A few indivi- 
duals may possibly be called upon to sit for their portraits some 
time ; if their brethren in general dislike the resemblance and 
abuse the artist tant pis! Believe me, my dear sir, yours 
sincerely, C. BELL. 

Letter 275 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March 6th, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am afraid you will by this time begin in good 
earnest to feel the void Amelia must have left by her departure. 
She really seems to be, from what you say, and I have a certain 
dependence on your accurate judgment of character, one of the 
most prepossessing as well as most sterling characters that can 
well be imagined. Why is it that sound, strong health of body 
is so rarely visited with perfect amiability of disposition ? Why 
is it that when we love a fellow-creature very much we are often 
kept in constant fear of losing them ? I suppose to prevent us 
from regarding them with a too idolatrous attachment. 

The symptoms you mention seem to indicate the presence of 
a constant low fever in the system, a bad sign, often accom- 
panying scrophulous (sic) habits. Anne suffered from much the 
same ailments, except that constant thirst, I recollect, was one 
of her peculiarities, and you have not mentioned that as observ- 
able in Amelia. Mary Taylor, too, has more than once been in 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 401 

the state you describe she has however got the better of it, and 
perhaps that may be the case with Miss Ringrose indeed, I trust 
and believe it will, for I fancy that complaint usually kills in early 
youth if it is destined to be fatal. 

You ask me to write to her occasionally, but I don't think I 
shall do anything of the kind, for I cannot see of what use my 
letters could be ; you can say all to her in the way of advice 
and consolation that I could say, and more than all, as being 
thoroughly acquainted with her case and character. I am glad 
she cherishes no false hopes about George, for such hopes, long 
deferred as they too probably would be, would only have a con- 
suming and injurious tendency. 

We have had some curious, startling news lately from France, 
and I believe this news has been received with enthusiasm by a 
party in London who regard the proclamation of a republican 
form of government in France as a grand triumph of freedom. 
What the end will be I don't know, nor does anybody else, I 
fancy. The provisional government have committed no atrocities 
as yet, thank God ! and they have taken one good and humane 
step the abolition of the punishment of death. It is well the 
French royal family have arrived safely in England; our little 
Island seems literally to be the home of the world, and the last 
refuge of exiled Kings. 

Write to me as soon as the multiplicity of your tasks will 
permit you. Give my love to all, and believe me, dear Ellen, 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE, 

Letter 276 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

March nth, 1848. 

DEAR SIR, I have just received the copy of the second edition, 
and will look over it, and send the corrections as soon as possible ; 
I will also, since you think it advisable, avail myself of the oppor- 
tunity of a third edition to correct the mistake respecting the 
authorship of Wuthenng Heights and Agnes Grey. 

As to your second suggestion, it is, one can see at a glance, a 
very judicious and happy one ; but I cannot adopt it, because I 
have not the skill you attribute to me. It is not enough to have 
the artist's eye, one must also have the artist's hand to turn the 
first gift to practical account. I have, in my day, wasted a certain 

VOL. I. 2 C 



402 THE BRONTES 

quantity of Bristol board and drawing-paper, crayons and cakes 
of colour, but when I examine the contents of my portfolio now, 
it seems as if during the years it has been lying closed some fairy 
had changed what I once thought sterling coin into dry leaves, 
and I feel much inclined to consign the whole collection of 
drawings to the fire ; I see they have no value. If, then, Jane 
Eyre is ever to be illustrated, it must be by some other hand than 
that of its author. But I hope no one will be at the trouble to 
make portraits of my characters. Bulwer and Byron heroes and 
heroines are very well, they are all of them handsome ; but my per- 
sonages are mostly unattractive in look, and therefore ill-adapted 
to figure in ideal portraits. At the best, I have always thought 
such representations futile. You will not easily find a second 
Thackeray. How he can render, with a few black lines and dots, 
shades of expression so fine, so real ; traits of character so minute, 
so subtle, so difficult to seize and fix, I cannot tell I can only 
wonder and admire. Thackeray may not be a painter, but he is 
a wizard of a draughtsman ; touched with his pencil, paper lives. 
And then his drawing is so refreshing ; after the wooden limbs 
one is accustomed to see portrayed by commonplace illustrators, 
his shapes of bone and muscle clothed with flesh, correct in pro- 
portion and anatomy, are a real relief. All is true in Thackeray. If 
Truth were again a goddess, Thackeray should be her high priest. 

I read my preface over with some pain I did not like it. I 
wrote it when I was a little enthusiastic, like you, about the 
French Revolution. I wish I had written it in a cool moment ; 
I should have said the same things, but in a different manner. 
One may be as enthusiastic as one likes about an author who has 
been dead a century or two, but I see it is a fault to bore the 
public with enthusiasm about a living author. I promise myself 
to take better care in future. Still I will think as I please. 

Are the London republicans, and you amongst the number, 
cooled down yet ? I suppose not, because your French brethren 
are acting very nobly. The abolition of slavery and of the punish- 
ment of death for political offences are two glorious deeds, but 
how will they get over the question of the organisation of labour ! 
Such theories will be the sand-bank on which their vessel will run 
aground if they don't mind. Lamartine, there is not doubt, would 
make an excellent legislator for a nation of Lamartines but where 
is that nation ? I hope these observations are sceptical and cool 
enough. Believe me, my dear sir, yours sincerely, C. BELL. 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 408 

Letter 277 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March nth, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, There is a great deal of good sense in your 
last letter. Be thankful that God gave you sense, for what are 
beauty, wealth, or even health without it ? I had a note from 
Miss Ringrose the other day. I do not think I shall write again 
for the reasons I before mentioned to you, but the note moved 
me much; it was so truly amiable, so sincere. It was almost all 
about her * dear Ellen,' a kind of gentle enthusiasm of affection, 
enough to make one at once smile and weep, her feelings are 
half truth, half illusion. No human being could be altogether 
what she supposes you to be, yet your kindness must have been 
very great to her to have awakened such attachment in return. 
Whether you will miss her or not, she will indeed miss you. Mrs. 
Nussey's letter is interesting and nicely expressed. People often 
write more affectionately to their relatives than they speak or 
behave. If one were only rich, how delightful it would be to 
travel and spend the winter in climates where there are no winters. 
I trust Henry's health will be re-established. What a state the 
family must be in ! I daresay Ann is a great comfort to them. 
Give my love to your mother and sisters. Believe me, faithfully 
yours, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 278 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

March 28M, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I return the two letters, both of which interested 
me much. Miss Carr's is characteristic there is much of the old 
bitter character still, though in an improved form, a certain keen 
edge her nature still possesses, though covered carefully up in 
a neat case of good manners, and, I hope, and indeed am inclined 
to believe, good principles. 

There is, and there always was amidst much that is noxious, 
a touch of something that is superior about Miss Carr, no great- 
ness of mind whatever, but a little refinement, a considerable 
aptitude for cultivation. I always found her an intelligent though 
never an agreeable pupil, for some reason or other she was docile 
with me, though utterly untractable with Miss Wooler. I pity 
Marianne, if Miss Carr represents the case aright, and if she has 
really not been flirting. Why should Mrs. Anderton wish to 



404 THE BRONTES 

compel her to marry the prig of a curate? (as prig I have no doubt 
he is). It is a shame. 

I had a letter from Miss Wooler a few days ago. She says that 
Mary will probably be advanced before she can redeem her pledge 
of coming to spend a month at Brookroyd, and hopes that if any- 
thing occurs in the meantime to render her visit inconvenient, 
you will have no hesitation in mentioning it. She is now staying 
at the Vicarage, at Heckmondwike. 

Amelia Ringrose gives a good account of Mary Gorham's 
brother ; what age is he, older or younger than you ? It is nonsense 
building castles in the air. But certainly if some kind, sensible 
man, with something competent to live on, would take a fancy to ask 
you to have him, and you could take a fancy to say ' yes,' I should 
be glad to hear of the event. However, I don't expect it, the 
world takes its own course, and we cannot help it. I was glad 

to see by the papers that poor Mrs. S is released from her 

sufferings at last. I trust you are all well at home. Love to all. 
Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 279 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

March 29^, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, The notice from the Church of England 
Quarterly Review is not on the whole a bad one. True, it con- 
demns the tendency of Jane Eyre, and seems to think Mr. 
Rochester should have been represented as going through the 
mystic process of * regeneration ' before any respectable person 
could have consented to believe his contrition for the past errors 
sincere ; true, also, that it casts a doubt on Jane's creed, and 
leaves it doubtful whether she was Hindoo, Mahommedan, or 
infidel. But notwithstanding these eccentricities, it is a con- 
scientious notice, very unlike that in the Mirror, for instance, 
which seemed the result of a feeble sort of spite, whereas this is the 
critic's real opinion : some of the ethical and theological notions 
are not according to his system, and he disapproves of them. 

I am glad to hear that Mr. Lewes's new work is soon to appear, 
and pleased also to learn that Messrs. Smith & Elder are the 
publishers. Mr. Lewes mentioned in the last note I received from 
him that he had just finished writing his new novel, and I have 
been on the look-out for the advertisement of its appearance ever 
since. I shall long to read it, if it were only to get a further insight 
into the author's character. I read Ranthorpevfith lively interest 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 405 

there was much true talent in its pages. Two-thirds of it I thought 
excellent, the latter part seemed more hastily and sketchily written. 

I trust Miss Kavanagh's work will meet with the success that, 
from your account, I am certain she and it deserve. I think I 
have met with an outline of the facts on which her tale is founded in 
some periodical, Chambers* s Journal I believe. No critic, however 
rigid, will find fault with * the tendency ' of her work, I should think. 

I will tell you why you cannot fully sympathise with the 
French, or feel any firm confidence in their future movements: 
because too few of them are Lamartines, too many Ledru Rollins. 
That, at least, is my reason for watching their proceedings with 
more dread than hope. With the Germans it is different : to their 
rational and justifiable efforts for liberty one can heartily wish well. 

It seems, as you say, as if change drew near England too. 
She is divided by the sea from the lands where it is making 
thrones rock, but earthquakes roll lower than the ocean, and we 
know neither the day nor the hour when the tremor and heat, 
passing beneath our island, may unsettle and dissolve its founda- 
tions. Meantime, one thing is certain, all will in the end work 
together for good. 

You mention Thackeray and the last number of Vanity Fair. 
The more I read Thackeray's works the more certain I am that 
he stands alone alone in his sagacity, alone in his truth, alone 
in his feeling (his feeling, though he makes no noise about it, is 
about the most genuine that ever lived on a printed page), alone 
in his power, alone in his simplicity, alone in his self-control. 
Thackeray is a Titan, so strong that he can afford to perform 
with calm the most herculean feats ; there is the charm and 
majesty of repose in his greatest efforts ; he borrows nothing from 
fever, his is never the energy of delirium his energy is sane 
energy, deliberate energy, thoughtful energy. The last number 
of Vanity Fair proves this peculiarly. Forcible, exciting in its 
force, still more impressive than exciting, carrying on the interest 
of the narrative in a flow, deep, full, resistless, it is still quiet 
as quiet as reflection, as quiet as memory ; and to me there are 
parts of it that sound as solemn as an oracle. Thackeray is 
never borne away by his own ardour he has it under control. 
His genius obeys him it is his servant, it works no fantastic 
changes at its own wild will, it must still achieve the task which 
reason and sense assign it, and none other Thackeray is unique. 
I can say no more, I will say no less. Believe me, yours 
sincerely, C. BELL. 



406 THE BRONTES 

Letter 280 

TO MISS WOOLER 

HAWORTH, March 3u/, 1848. 

MY DEAR MISS WOOLER, I had been wishing to hear from 
you for some time before I received your last. There has been 
so much sickness during the last winter, and the influenza especi- 
ally has been so severe and so generally prevalent, that the sight 
of suffering around us has frequently suggested fears for absent 
friends. Ellen Nussey told me, indeed, that neither you nor Miss 
C. Wooler had escaped the influenza, but, since your letter contains 
no allusion to your own health or hers, I trust you are completely 
recovered. I am most thankful to say that papa has hitherto 
been exempted from any attack. My sisters and myself have 
each had a visit from it, but Anne is the only one with whom it 
stayed long or did much mischief; in her case it was attended 
with distressing cough and fever; but she is now better, though 
it has left her chest weak. 

I remember well wishing my lot had been cast in the troubled 
times of the late war, and seeing in its exciting incidents a kind 
of stimulating charm which it made my pulse beat fast only to 
think of I remember even, I think, being a little impatient that 
you would not fully sympathise with my feelings on this subject, 
that you heard my aspirations and speculations very tranquilly, 
and by no means seemed to think the flaming sword could be 
any pleasant addition to the joys of paradise. I have now out- 
lived youth ; and, though I dare not say that I have outlived all 
its illusions, that the romance is quite gone from life, the veil 
fallen from truth, and that I see both in naked reality, yet, 
certainly, many things are not to me what they were ten years 
ago; and amongst the rest, the 'pomp and circumstance of war 1 
have quite lost in my eyes their factitious glitter. I have still no 
doubt that the shock of moral earthquakes wakens a vivid sense 
of life both in nations and individuals ; that the fear of dangers 
on a broad national scale diverts men's minds momentarily from 
brooding over small private perils, and, for the time, gives them 
something like largeness of views ; but, as little doubt have I that 
convulsive revolutions put back the world in all that is good, 
check civilisation, bring the dregs of society to its surface in 
short, it appears to me that insurrections and battles are the 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 407 

acute diseases of nations, and that their tendency is to exhaust 
by their violence the vital energies of the countries where they 
occur. That England may be spared the spasms, cramps, and 
frenzy-fits now contorting the Continent and threatening Ireland, 
I earnestly pray ! 

With the French and Irish I have no sympathy. With the 
Germans and Italians I think the case is different as different 
as the love of freedom is from the lust of license. 

To pass to other subjects, perhaps more within the grasp of my 
comprehension ; about a fortnight since I had a letter from .* 

Letter 281 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 20th, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I send you the drawing and copy which is 
Anne's doing. Miss Ringrose's letter is the most interesting I have 
yet seen, but I think when you write again you cannot give her 
too plain an explanation of the real state of matters ; the longer 
she is suffered to indulge false hopes, the more bitter will be her 
final disappointment. You said I was to think of you on Monday, 
why ? The 2oth is not your birthday, is it ? I thought it was 
the 22nd. I return your kind wishes on that point with interest. 

It is hoped Mrs. Heald will now have better health. What 

does Mrs. J. Swain know about J. T and I. N , what are 

her reasons for incredulity ? 

I had a very short note from Ellen Taylor last week, she is at 
Hunsworth. Joe Taylor was at Brussels. No news yet from 
Mary. I suppose you have received my last, ere this ; it crossed 
yours. Good-bye, dear Nell, C. B. 

Letter 282 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

[Undated]. 

DEAR ELLEN, I have just received your little parcel and beg 
to thank you in all our names for its contents, and also for your 
letter, of the arrival of which I was, to speak truth, getting rather 
impatient. 

The Housewife's travelling companion is a most commodious 

1 This letter is mutilated and cannot be completed. 



408 THE BRONTES 

thing just the sort of article which suits one to act, and which 
yet, I should never have the courage or industry to sit down and 
make for myself; I shall keep it for occasions of going from 
home, it will save me a world of trouble ; it must have required 
some thought to arrange the various compartments and their 
contents so aptly. I had quite forgotten, till your letter reminded 
me, that it was the anniversary of your birthday and mine. I am 
now thirty-two. Youth is gone gone and will never come 
back : can't help it. I wish you many returns of your birthday 
and increase of happiness with increase of years. It seems to 
me that sorrow must come sometime to everybody, and those 
who scarcely taste it in their youth, often have a more brim- 
ming and bitter cup to drain in after life ; whereas, those who 
exhaust the dregs early, who drink the lees before the wine, may 
reasonably expect a purer and more palatable draught to succeed. 
So, at least, one fain would hope. It touched me at first a little 
painfully to hear of your effort, but on second thoughts I dis- 
covered this to be quite a foolish feeling. You are doing right 
even though you should not gain much. The effort will do you 
good ; no one ever does regret a step made towards self-help ; it 
is so much gained in independence. Is Mary Swain better? 
Give my love to your mother and sisters. Yours faithfully, 

C. BRONTL. 

Letter 283 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

A/ml 2$th, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I was not at all surprised at the contents of 
your note ; indeed what part of it was new to us? Joe Taylor has 
his good and bad side like most others ; there is his own original 
nature, and there are the alterations the world has made in him. 
Meantime, why do Birstall and Gomersall trouble themselves with 
matching him ? Let him in God's name court half the country- 
side and marry the other half, if such procedure seem good in his 
eyes, and let him do it all in quietness, he has his own bothera- 
tions no doubt ; it does not seem to be such very easy work 
getting married even for a man, since it is necessary to make up 
to so many ladies. More tranquil are those who have settled 
their bargain with celibacy. 

I like Miss Ringrose's letters more and more, her goodness is 
indeed better than mere talent. I fancy she will never be married, 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 409 

but the amiability of her character will give her comfort ; to be sure 
one has only her letters to judge from, and letters often deceive, 
but hers seem so artless and unaffected. Still, were I in your 
place, I should feel uneasy in the midst of this correspondence. 
Does a doubt of mutual satisfaction in case you should one day 
meet never torment you ? 

I am sure you have done right to be plain with her about 
George. She seems at last to have caught a glimpse of the real 
truth. 

Anne says it pleases her to think that you have kept her little 
drawing, she would rather have done it for you than for a stranger. 

I have got a trifle of a headache to-day, and can write only in 
the most stupid manner. 

Good-bye to you, dear Nell. Give my love to your mother and 
sisters. C. BRONTE. 

Letter 284 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

April 26/7*, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have now read Rose, BlancJic, and Violet, 
and I will tell you, as well as I can, what I think of it. Whether 
it is an improvement on Ranthorpe I do not know, for I liked 
Ranthorpe much; but, at any rate, it contains more of a good 
thing. I find in it the same power, but more fully developed. 

The author's character is seen in every page, which makes the 
book interesting far more interesting than any story could do; 
but it is what the writer himself says that attracts, far more than 
what he puts into the mouths of his characters. G. H. Lewes is, 
to my perception, decidedly the most original character in the 
book. . . . The didactic passages seem to me the best far the 
best in the work ; very acute, very profound, are some of the 
views there given, and very clearly they are offered to the reader. 
He is a just thinker; he is a sagacious observer ; there is wisdom 
in his theory, and, I doubt not, energy in his practice. But why, 
then, are you often provoked with him while you read ? How 
does he manage, while teaching, to make his hearer feel as if his 
business was, not quietly to receive the doctrines propounded, but 
to combat them ? You acknowledge that he offers you gems of 
pure truth : why do you keep perpetually scrutinising them for 
flaws? 



410 THE BRONTES 

Mr. Lewes, I divine, with all his talents and honesty, must 
have some faults of manner ; there must be a touch too much 
of dogmatism : a dash extra of confidence in him, sometimes. 
This you think while you are reading the book ; but when you 
have closed it and laid it down, and sat a few minutes collecting 
your thoughts, and settling your impressions, you find the idea or 
feeling predominant in your mind to be pleasure at the fuller 
acquaintance you have made with a fine mind and a true heart, 
with high abilities and manly principles. I hope he will not be 
long ere he publishes another book. His emotional scenes are 
somewhat too uniformly vehement : would not a more subdued 
style of treatment often have produced a more masterly effect ? 
Now and then Mr. Lewes takes a French pen into his hand, 
wherein he differs from Mr. Thackeray, who always uses an 
English quill. However, the French pen does not far mislead 
Mr. Lewes ; he wields it with British muscles. All honour to him 
for the excellent general tendency of his book ! 

He gives no charming picture of London literary society, and 
especially the female part of it ; but all coteries, whether they be 
literary, scientific, political, or religious, must, it seems to me, 
have a tendency to change truth into affectation. When people 
belong to a clique-, they must, I suppose, in some measure, write, 
talk, think, and live for that clique ; a harassing and narrowing 
necessity. I trust the press and the public show themselves dis- 
posed to give the book the reception it merits ; and that is a very 
cordial one, far beyond anything due to a Bulwer or D'Israeli 
production. I am, dear sir, yours sincerely, C. BELL. 

Letter 285 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

April 28//*, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, Write another letter, and explain that last 
note of >ours distinctly. If your allusions are to myself, which 
I suppose they are, understand this I have given no one a right 
to gossip about me, and am not to be judged by frivolous conjec- 
tures, emanating from any quarter whatever. Let me know what 
you heard, and from whom you heard it. You do wrong to feel 
any pain from any circumstance, or to suppose yourself slighted. 
You can only chagrin me and yourself by such an idea, and not 
do any good or make any difference in any way. C. BRONTE. 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 411 

Letter 286 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

May ist, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am glad you sent me your letter just as you 
had written it without revisal, without retrenching or softening 
touch, because I cannot doubt that I am a gainer by the omission. 

It would be useless to attempt opposition to your opinions, 
since, in fact, to read them was to recognise, almost point for 
point, a clear definition of objections I had already felt, but had 
found neither the power nor the will to express. Not the power, 
because I find it very difficult to analyse closely, or to criticise 
in appropriate words ; and not the will, because I was afraid of 
doing Mr. Lewes injustice. I preferred overrating to underrating 
the merits of his work. 

Mr. Lewes's sincerity, energy, and talent assuredly command 
the reader's respect, but on what points he depends to win his 
attachment I know not. I do not think he cares to excite the 
pleasant feelings which incline the taught to the teacher as much 
in friendship as in reverence. The display of his acquirements, 
to which almost every page bears testimony citations from 
Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, and German authors 
covering as with embroidery the texture of his English- awes 
and astonishes the plain reader ; but if, in addition, you permit 
yourself to require the refining charm of delicacy, the elevating 
one of imagination if you permit yourself to be as fastidious 
and exacting in these matters as, by your own confession, it 
appears you are, then Mr. Lewes must necessarily inform you 
that he does not deal in the article ; probably he will add that 
therefore it must be non-essential. I should fear he might even 
stigmatise imagination as a figment, and delicacy as an affecta- 
tion. 

An honest rough heartiness Mr. Lewes will give you ; yet in 
case you have the misfortune to remark that the heartiness might 
be quite as honest if it were less rough, would you not run the 
risk of being termed a sentimentalist or a dreamer? 

Were I privileged to address Mr. Lewes, and were it wise or 
becoming to say to him exactly what one thinks, I should utter 
words to this effect 

'You have a sound, clear judgment as far as it goes, but I 



412 THE BRONTES 

conceive it to be limited ; your standard of talent is high, but I 
cannot acknowledge it to be the highest ; you are deserving of ail 
attention when you lay down the law on principles, but you are 
to be resisted when you dogmatise on feelings. 

* To a certain point, Mr. Lewes, you can go, but no farther. 
Be as sceptical as you please on whatever lies beyond a certain 
intellectual limit ; the mystery will never be cleared up to you, 
for that limit you will never overpass. Not all your learning, not 
all your reading, not all your sagacity, not all your perseverance 
can help you over one viewless line one boundary as impassable 
as it is invisible. To enter that sphere a man must be born 
within it ; and untaught peasants have there drawn their first 
breath, while learned philosophers have striven hard till old age 
to reach it, and have never succeeded. 1 I should not dare, nor 
would it be right, to say this to Mr. Lewes, but I cannot help 
thinking it both of him and many others who have a great name 
in the world. 

Hester Mason's character, career, and fate appeared to me so 
strange, grovelling, and miserable, that I never for a moment 
doubted the whole dreary picture was from the life. I thought 
in describing the ' rustic poetess,' in giving the details of her 
vulgar provincial and disreputable metropolitan notoriety, and 
especially in touching on the ghastly catastrophe of her fate, he 
was faithfully recording facts thus, however repulsively, yet 
conscientiously * pointing a moral,' if not 'adorning a tale'; but 
if Hester be the daughter of Lewes's imagination, and if her 
experience and her doom be inventions of his fancy, I wish him 
better, and higher, and truer taste next time he writes a novel. 

Julius's exploit with the side of bacon is not defensible; he 
might certainly, for the fee of a shilling or sixpence, have got a 
boy to carry it for him. 

Captain Heath, too, must have cut a deplorable figure behind 
the post-chaise. 

Mrs. Vyner strikes one as a portrait from the life; and it 
equally strikes one that the artist hated his original model with 
a personal hatred. She is made so bad that one cannot in the 
least degree sympathise with any of those who love her ; one 
can only despise them. She is a fiend, and therefore not like 
Mr. Thackeray's Rebecca, where neither vanity, heartlessness, 
nor falsehood have been spared by the vigorous and skilful hand 
which portrays them, but where the human being has been pre- 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 418 

served nevertheless, and where, consequently, the lesson given is 
infinitely more impressive. We can learn little from the strange 
fantasies of demons we are not of their kind ; but the vices of 
the deceitful, selfish man or woman humble and warn us. In 
your remarks on the good girls I concur to the letter ; and I 
must add that I think Blanche, amiable as she is represented, 
could never have loved her husband after she had discovered 
that he was utterly despicable. Love is stronger than Cruelty, 
stronger than Death, but perishes under Meanness ; Pity may 
take its place, but Pity is not Love. 

So far, then, I not only agree with you, but I marvel at the 
nice perception with which you have discriminated, and at the 
accuracy with which you have marked each coarse, cold, impro- 
bable, unseemly defect. But now I am going to take another 
side : I am going to differ from you, and it is about Cecil 
Chamberlayne. 

You say that no man who had intellect enough to paint a 
picture, or write a comic opera, could act as he did ; you say 
that men of genius and talent may have egregious faults, but 
they cannot descend to brutality or meanness. Would that the 
case were so! Would that intellect could preserve from low 
vice! But, alas! it cannot. No, the whole character of Cecil 
is painted with but too faithful a hand ; it is very masterly, 
because it is very true. Lewes is nobly right when he says that 
intellect is not the highest faculty of man, though it may be the 
most brilliant ; when he declares that the moral nature of his 
kind is more sacred than the intellectual nature ; when he prefers 
* goodness, lovingness, and quiet self-sacrifice to all the talents in 
the world/ 

There is something divine in the thought that genius preserves 
from degradation, were it but true ; but Savage tells us it was 
not true for him ; Sheridan confirms the avowal, and Byron seals 
it with terrible proof. 

You never probably knew a Cecil Chamberlayne. If you had 
known such a one you would feel that Lewes has rather subdued 
the picture than overcharged it ; you would know that mental 
gifts without moral firmness, without a clear sense of right and 
wrong, without the honourable principle which makes a man 
rather proud than ashamed of honest labour, are no guarantee 
from even deepest baseness. 

I have received the Dublin University Magazine. The notice 



414 THE BRONTES 

is more favourable than I had anticipated : indeed, I had for a 
long time ceased to anticipate any from that quarter ; but the 
critic does not strike one as too bright. Poor Mr. James is 
severely handled ; you, likewise, are hard upon him. He always 
strikes me as a miracle of productiveness. 

I must conclude by thanking you for your last letter, which 
both pleased and instructed me. You are quite right in thinking 
it exhibits the writer's character. Yes, it exhibits it unmistakably 
(as Lewes would say). And whenever it shall be my lot to submit 
another MS. to your inspection, I shall crave the full benefit 01 
certain points in that character : I shall ever entreat my first 
critic to be as impartial as he is friendly; what he feels to be 
out of taste in my writings, I hope he will unsparingly condemn. 
In the excitement of composition, one is apt to fall into errors 
that one regrets afterwards, and we never feel our own faults so 
keenly as when we see them exaggerated in others. 

I conclude in haste, for I have written too long a letter ; but it 
is because there was much to answer in yours. It interested me. 
I could not help wishing to tell you how nearly I agreed with 
you. Believe me, yours sincerely, C. BELL. 

Letter 287 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May yd, 1848. 

DEAR ELLEN, All I can say to you about a certain matter is 
this: the report if report there be and if the lady, who seems 
to have been rather mystified, had not dreamt what she fancied 
had been told to her must have had its origin in some absurd 
misunderstanding. I have given no one a right either to affirm, 
or hint, in the most distant manner, that I am 'publishing' 
(humbug!) Whoever has said it if any one has, which I doubt 
is no friend of mine. Though twenty books were ascribed to 
me, I should own none. I scout the idea utterly. Whoever, 
after I have distinctly rejected the charge, urges it upon me, will 
do an unkind and an ill-bred thing. The most profound obscurity 
is infinitely preferable to vulgar notoriety ; and that notoriety I 
neither seek nor will have. If then any Birstallian or Gomersallian 
should presume to bore you on the subject, to ask you what 
'novel 1 Miss Bronte has been 'publishing,' you can just say, 
with the distinct firmness of which you are perfect mistress, when 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 415 

you choose, that you are authorised by Miss Bronte to say, that 
she repels and disowns every accusation of the kind. You may 
add, if you please, that if any one has her confidence, you believe 
you have, and she has made no drivelling confessions to you on 
the subject. I am not absolutely at a loss to conjecture from 
what source this rumour has come ; and I fear it has far from a 
friendly origin. I am not certain, however, and I should be very 
glad if I could gain certainty. Should you hear anything more, 
let me know it. I was astonished to hear of Miss Dlxon being 
likely to go to the West Indies ; probably this too is only rumour. 
Your offer of Simeon's Life is a very kind one, and I thank you 
for it. I dare say papa would like to see the work very much, as 
he knew Mr. Simeon. Laugh or scold Ann out of the publish- 
ing notion ; and believe me through all chances and changes, 
whether calumniated or let alone, Yours faithfully, 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 288 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

May i2f/>, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I take a large sheet of paper, because I foresee 
that I am about to write another long letter, and for the same 
reason as before, viz., that yours interested me. 

I have received the Morning Chronicle, and was both surprised 
and pleased to see the passage you speak of in one of its leading 
articles. An allusion of that sort seems to say more than a 
regular notice. I do trust I may have the power so to write in 
future as not to disappoint those who have been kind enough to 
think and speak well of Jane Eyre ; at any rate, I will take pains. 
But still, whenever I hear my one book praised, the pleasure I 
feel is chastened by a mixture of doubt and fear ; and, in truth, 
1 hardly wish it to be otherwise : it is much too early for me to 
feel safe, or to take as my due the commendation bestowed. 

Some remarks in your last letter on teaching commanded my 
attention. I suppose you never were engaged in tuition yourself; 
but if you had been, you could not have more exactly hit on the 
great qualification I had almost said the one qualification 
necessary to the task : the faculty, not merely of acquiring but of 
imparting knowledge the power of influencing young minds 
that natural fondness for, that innate sympathy with, children, 



416 THE BRONTES 

which, you say, Mrs. Williams is so happy as to possess. He or 
she who possesses this faculty, this sympathy though perhaps 
not otherwise highly accomplished need never fear failure in the 
career of instruction. Children will be docile with them, will 
improve under them ; parents will consequently repose in them 
confidence. Their task will be comparatively light, their path 
comparatively smooth. If the faculty be absent, the life of a 
teacher will be a struggle from beginning to end. No matter how 
amiable the disposition, how strong the sense of duty, how active 
the desire to please ; no matter how brilliant and varied the 
accomplishments ; if the governess has not the power to win her 
young charge, the secret to instil gently and surely her own 
knowledge into the growing mind intrusted to her, she will have 
a wearing, wasting existence of it. To educate a child, as I dare 
say Mrs. Williams has educated her children, probably with as 
much pleasure to herself as profit to them, will indeed be im- 
possible to the teacher who lacks this qualification. But, I 
conceive, should circumstances as in the case of your daughters 
compel a young girl notwithstanding to adopt a governess's 
profession, she may contrive to instruct and even to instruct well. 
That is, though she cannot form the child's mind, mould its 
character, influence its disposition, and guide its conduct as she 
would wish, she may give lessons even, good, clear, clever lessons 
in the various branches of knowledge. She may earn and doubly 
earn her scanty salary as a daily governess. As a school-teacher 
she may succeed ; but as a resident governess she will never 
(except under peculiar and exceptional circumstances) be happy. 
Her deficiency will harass her not so much in school-time as in 
play-hours ; the moments that would be rest and recreation to the 
governess who understood and could adapt herself to children, 
will be almost torture to her who has not that power. Many a 
time, when her charge turns unruly on her hands, when the 
responsibility which she would wish to discharge faithfully and 
perfectly, becomes unmanageable to her, she will wish herself a 
housemaid or kitchen girl, rather than a baited, trampled, desolate, 
distracted governess. 

The Governesses* Institution may be an excellent thing in some 
points of view, but it is both absurd and cruel to attempt to raise 
still higher the standard of acquirements. Already governesses 
are not half nor a quarter paid for what they teach, nor in most 
instances is half or a quarter of their attainments required by 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 417 

their pupils. The young teacher's chief anxiety, when she sets 
out in life, always is to know a great deal ; her chief fear that she 
should not know enough. Brief experience will, in most instances, 
show her that this anxiety has been misdirected. She will rarely 
be found too ignorant for her pupils ; the demand on her know- 
ledge will not often be larger than she can answer. But on her 
patience on her self-control, the requirement will be enormous; 
on her animal spirits (and woe be to her if these fail !) the pressure 
will be immense. 

I have seen an ignorant nursery-maid who could scarcely read 
or write, by dint of an excellent, serviceable, sanguine, phlegmatic 
temperament, which made her at once cheerful and immovable; 
of a robust constitution and steady, unimpassionable nerves, which 
kept her firm under shocks and unharassed under annoyances 
manage with comparative ease a large family of spoilt children, 
while their governess lived amongst them a life of inexpressible 
misery: tyrannised over, finding her efforts to please and teach 
utterly vain, chagrined, distressed, worried so badgered, so 
trodden on, that she ceased almost at last to know herself, and 
wondered in what despicable, trembling frame her oppressed 
mind was prisoned, and could not realise the idea of ever being 
treated with respect and regarded with affection till she finally 
resigned her situation and went away quite broken in spirit and 
reduced to the verge of decline in health. 

Those who would urge on governesses more acquirements, do 
not know the origin of their chief sufferings. It is more physical 
and mental strength, denser moral impassibility that they require, 
rather than additional skill in arts or sciences. As to the forcing 
system, whether applied to teachers or taught, I hold it to be a 
cruel system. 

It is true the world demands a brilliant list of accomplishments. 
For 20 per annum, it expects in one woman the attainments of 
several professors but the demand is insensate, and I think 
should rather be resisted than complied with. If I might plead 
with you in behalf of your daughters, I should say, ' Do not 
let them waste their young lives in trying to attain manifold 
accomplishments. Let them try rather to possess thoroughly, 
fully, one or two talents ; then let them endeavour to lay in a 
stock of health, strength, cheerfulness. Let them labour to attain 
self-control, endurance, fortitude, firmness ; if possible, let them 
learn from their mother something of the precious art she possesses 

VOL. I. 2 D 



418 THE BRONTES 

these things, together with sound principles, will be their best 
supports, their best aids through a governess's life. 

As for that one who, you say, has a nervous horror of exhibi- 
tion, I need not beg you to be gentle with her ; I am sure you 
will not be harsh, but she must be firm with herself, or she will 
repent it in after life. She should begin by degrees to endeavour 
to overcome her diffidence. Were she destined to enjoy an 
independent, easy existence, she might respect her natural dis- 
position to seek retirement, and even cherish it as a shade-loving 
virtue ; but since that is not her lot, since she is fated to make 
her way in the crowd, and to depend on herself, she should 
say : I will try and learn the art of self-possession, not that I may 
display my accomplishments, but that I may have the satisfaction 
of feeling that I am my own mistress, and can move and speak 
undaunted by the fear of man. While, however, I pen this piece 
of advice, I confess that it is much easier to give than to follow. 
What the sensations of the nervous are under the gaze of publicity 
none but the nervous know ; and how powerless reason and 
resolution are to control them would sound incredible except to 
the actual sufferers. 

The rumours you mention respecting the authorship of Jane 
Eyre amused me inexpressibly. The gossips are, on this subject, 
just where I should wish them to be, i.e. as far from the truth as 
possible ; and as they have not a grain of fact to found their 
fictions upon, they fabricate pure inventions. Judge Erie must, I 
think, have made up his story expressly for a hoax ; the other fib 
is amazing so circumstantial! called on the author, forsooth! 
Where did he live, I wonder? In what purlieu of Cockayne? 
Here I must stop, lest if I run on further 1 should fill another 
sheet, Believe me, yours sincerely, CURRER BELL. 

P.S. I must, after all, add a morsel of paper, for I find, on 
glancing over yours, that I have forgotten to answer a question 
you ask respecting my next work. I have not therein so far 
treated of governesses, as I do not wish it to resemble its prede- 
cessor. I often wish to say something about the ' condition of 
women' question, but it is one respecting which so much 'cant' 
has been talked, that one feels a sort of repugnance to approach 
it. It is true enough that the present market for female labour is 
quite overstocked, but where or how could another be opened ? 
Many say that the professions now filled only by men should be 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 419 

open to women also ; but are not their present occupants and 
candidates more than numerous enough to answer every demand? 
Is there any room for female lawyers, female doctors, female 
engravers, for more female artists, more authoresses? One can 
see where the evil lies, but who can point out the remedy? When 
a woman has a little family to rear and educate and a household 
to conduct, her hands are full, her vocation is evident ; when her 
destiny isolates her, I suppose she must do what she can, live as 
she can, complain as little, bear as much, work as well as possible. 
This is not high theory, but I believe it is sound practice, good to 
put into execution while philosophers and legislators ponder over 
the better ordering of the social system. At the same time, I 
conceive that when patience has done its utmost and industry its 
best, whether in the case of women or operatives, and when both 
are baffled, and pain and want triumph, the sufferer is free, is 
entitled, at last to send up to Heaven any piercing cry for relief, 
if by that cry he can hope to obtain succour. C. BELL. 

Letter 289 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

May 24/A, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I shall begin by telling you that you have no 
right to be angry at the length of time I have suffered to slip by, 
since receiving your last, without answering it ; because you have 
often kept me waiting much longer ; and having made this gracious 
speech, thereby obviating reproaches, I will add that I think it a 
great shame when you receive a long and thoroughly interesting 
letter, full of the sort of details you fully relish, to read the same 
with selfish pleasure and not even have the manners to thank 
your correspondent, and express how much you enjoyed the 
narrative. I did enjoy the narrative in your last very keenly ; 
the exquisitely characteristic traits concerning the Brooks were 
worth gold ; just like not only them but all their class, respectable, 
well-meaning people enough ; but with all that petty assumption 
of dignity, that small jealousy of senseless formalities which to 
such people seems to form a second religion. Your position 
amongst them was detestable. I admire the philosophy with 
which you bore it. Their taking offence because you stayed all 
night at their aunt's is rich. Which of the Miss Woolers did you 
see at Mr. Allbutt's. It is right not to think much of casual 



420 THE BRONTES 

attentions, it is quite justifiable also to derive from them temporary 
gratification, insomuch as they prove that their object has the 
power of pleasing. Let them be as ephemera to last an hour, 
and not be regretted when gone. Write to me again soon, and 
believe me, Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 



Letter 290 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

June 2, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I snatch a moment to write a hasty line to 
you, for it makes me uneasy to think that your last kind letter 
should have remained so long unanswered. A succession of 
little engagements, much more importunate than important, 
have quite engrossed my time lately, to the exclusion of more 
momentous and interesting occupations. Interruption is a sad 
bore, and I believe there is hardly a spot on earth, certainly not 
in England, quite secure from its intrusion. The fact is, you 
cannot live in this world entirely for one aim ; you must take 
along with some single serious purpose a hundred little minor 
duties, cares, distractions ; in short, you must take life as it is, 
and make the best of it. Summer is decidedly a bad season for 
application, especially in the country ; for the sunshine seems to 
set all your acquaintances astir, and, once bent on amusement, 
they will come to the ends of the earth in search thereof. I 
was obliged to you for your suggestion about writing a letter to 
the Morning Chronicle, but I did not follow it up. I think I 
would rather not venture on such a step at present. Opinions 
I would not hesitate to express to you because you are indul- 
gent are not mature or cool enough for the public ; Currer Bell 
is not Carlyle, and must not imitate him. 

Whenever you can write to me without encroaching too much 
on your valuable time, remember I shall always be glad to hear 
from you. Your last letter interested me fully as much as its 
two predecessors ; what you said about your family pleased me ; 
I think details of character always have a charm even when they 
relate to people we have never seen, nor expect to see. With 
eight children you must have a busy life ; but, from the manner 
in which you allude to your two eldest daughters, it is evident 
that they at least are a source of satisfaction to their parents ; I 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 421 

hope this will be the case with the whole number, and then you 
will never feel as if you had too many, A dozen children with 
sense and good conduct may be less burdensome than one who 
lacks these qualities. It seems a long time since I heard from 
you. I shall be glad to hear from you again. Believe me, yours 
sincerely, C. BELL. 

Letter 291 

TO SUSEY - l 



*/^ 3, 1848. 

MY DEAR SUSEY, I was very glad to receive your note, especi- 
ally as it informed me you were quite well. I was afraid that at 
the first you would not feel very comfortable among strangers ; 
persons who have lived most of their lives in a quiet little place 
like Haworth find a great difference when they go to a fresh 
neighbourhood and enter the society of strangers. The change 
will, however, do you good, though it be but for a short time ; I 
thought when you left you would be absent six months at the 
least, and was much surprised to learn that you would scarcely 
stay at York as many weeks. You cannot make all the improve- 
ment that could be wished in so short a time, but, from what I 
know of you, I am convinced that you will make the most of 
your opportunities. 

Meantime, if ever you feel troubled about anything, you will not 
forget who is your best Help and Guide in every difficulty, and, 
separated as you are for a little while from your earthly friends, 
you will humbly and faithfully entreat the protection of your 
Friend and Father which is in Heaven. With best wishes for 
your welfare, believe me, my dear Susey, yours sincerely, 

C. BRONTE. 
Letter 292 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HAWORTH,///^ \yh, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, Thank you for your two last letters. In 
reading the first I quite realised your May holiday; I enjoyed 

1 Name unknown. Evidently a pupil from her Sunday-school class who had gone 
out as a servant. 



422 THE BRONTfiS 

it with you. I saw the pretty south-of-England village, so 
different from our northern congregations of smoke-dark houses 
clustered round their soot-vomiting mills. I saw, in your descrip- 
tion, fertile, flowery Essex a contrast indeed to the rough and 
rude, the mute and sombre yet well-beloved moors overspreading 
this corner of Yorkshire. I saw the white school-house, the 
venerable schoolmaster I even thought I saw you and your 
daughters ; and in your second letter I see you all distinctly, for 
in describing your children you unconsciously describe yourself. 

I may well say that your letters are of value to me, for I 
seldom receive one but I find something in it which makes me 
reflect, and reflect on new themes. Your town life is somewhat 
different from any I have known, and your allusions to its ad- 
vantages, troubles, pleasures, and struggles are often full of 
significance to me. 

I have always been accustomed to think that the necessity of 
earning one's subsistence is not in itself an evil, but I feel it 
may become a heavy evil if health fails, if employment lacks, 
if the demand upon our efforts made by the weakness of others 
dependent upon us becomes greater than our strength suffices 
to answer. In such a case I can imagine that the married man 
may wish himself single again, and that the married woman, 
when she sees her husband over-exerting himself to maintain 
her and her children, may almost wish out of the very force 
of her affection for him that it had never been her lot to add 
to the weight of his responsibilities. Most desirable then is it 
that all, both men and women, should have the power and the 
will to work for themselves most advisable that both sons and 
daughters should early be inured to habits of independence and 
industry. Birds teach their nestlings to fly as soon as their wings 
are strong enough, they even oblige them to quit the nest if they 
seem too unwilling to trust their pinions of their own accord. 
Do not the swallow and the starling thus give a lesson by which 
man might profit ? 

It seems to me that your kind heart is pained by the thought 
of what your daughter may suffer if transplanted from a free 
and indulged home existence to a life of constraint and labour 
amongst strangers. Suffer she probably will ; but take both 
comfort and courage, my dear sir, try to soothe your anxiety 
by this thought, which is not a fallacious one. Hers will not be 
a barren suffering ; she will gain by it largely ; she will * sow in 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 423 

tears to reap in joy.' A governess's experience is frequently 
indeed bitter, but its results are precious : the mind, feeling, 
temper are there subjected to a discipline equally painful and 
priceless. I have known many who were unhappy as governesses, 
but not one who regretted having undergone the ordeal, and 
scarcely one whose character was not improved at once 
strengthened and purified, fortified and softened, made more 
enduring for her own afflictions, more considerate for the afflic- 
tions of others, by passing through it. 

Should your daughter, however, go out as governess, she 
should first take a firm resolution not to be too soon daunted 
by difficulties, too soon disgusted by disagreeables ; and if she 
has a high spirit, sensitive feelings, she should tutor the one to 
submit, the other to endure, for the sake of those at home. That 
is the governess's best talisman of patience, it is the best balm 
for wounded susceptibility. When tried hard she must say, * I 
will be patient, not out of servility, but because I love my parents, 
and wish through my perseverance, diligence, and success, to 
repay their anxieties and tenderness for me.' With this aid the 
least-deserved insult may often be swallowed quite calmly, like 
a bitter pill with a draught of fair water. 

I think you speak excellent sense when you say that girls 
without fortune should be brought up and accustomed to support 
themselves ; and that if they marry poor men, it should be with 
a prospect of being able to help their partners. If all parents 
thought so, girls would not be reared on speculation with a 
view to their making mercenary marriages; and, consequently, 
women would not be so piteously degraded as they now too 
often are. 

Fortuneless people may certainly marry, provided they pre- 
viously resolve never to let the consequences of their marriage 
throw them as burdens on the hands of their relatives. But as 
life is full of unforeseen contingencies, and as a woman may be 
so placed that she cannot possibly both ' guide the house ' and 
earn her livelihood (what leisure, for instance, could Mrs. Williams 
have with her eight children ?), young artists and young gover- 
nesses should think twice before they unite their destinies. 

You speak sense again when you express a wish that Fanny 
were placed in a position where active duties would engage her 
attention, where her faculties would be exercised and her mind 
occupied, and where, I will add, not doubting that my addition 



424 THE BRONTES 

merely completes your half-approved idea, the image of the 
young artist would for the present recede into the background 
and remain for a few years to come in modest perspective, the 
finishing point of a vista stretching a considerable distance into 
futurity. Fanny may feel sure of this : if she intends to be an 
artist's wife she had better try an apprenticeship with Fortune 
as a governess first ; she cannot undergo a better preparation for 
that honourable (honourable if rightly considered) but certainly 
not luxurious destiny. 

I should say then judging as well as I can from the materials 
for forming an opinion your letter affords, and from what I can 
thence conjecture of Fanny's actual and prospective position 
that you would do well and wisely to put your daughter out 
The experiment might do good and could not do harm, because 
even if she failed at the first trial (which is not unlikely) she 
would still be in some measure benefited by the effort. 

I duly received Mirabcau from Mr. Smith. I must repeat, it 
is really too kind. When I have read the book, I will tell you 
what I think of it its subject is interesting. One thing a little 
annoyed me as I glanced over the pages I fancied I detected 
a savour of Carlyle's peculiarities of style. Now Carlyle is a 
great man, but I always wish he would write plain English ; and 
to imitate his Germanisms is, I think, to imitate his faults. Is 
the author of this work a Manchester man ? I must not ask his 
name, I suppose. Believe me, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 

CURRER BELL. 



Letter 293 

TO W. S. \VILLIAMS 

June 22nd, 1848. 

My DEAR SIR, After reading a book which has both interested 
and informed you, you like to be able, on laying it down, to speak 
of it with unqualified approbation to praise it cordially ; you do 
not like to stint your panegyric, to counteract its effect with 
blame. 

For this reason I feel a little difficulty in telling you what I 
think of The Life of Mirabcau. It has interested me much, and 
I have derived from it additional information. In the course of 
reading it, I have often felt called upon to approve the ability and 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 425 

tact of the writer, to admire the skill with which he conducts the 
narrative, enchains the reader's attention, and keeps it fixed upon 
his hero ; but I have also been moved frequently to disapproba- 
tion. It is not the political principles of the writer with which 
I find fault, nor is it his talents I feel inclined to disparage ; to 
speak truth, it is his manner of treating Mirabeau's errors that 
offends then, I think, he is neither wise nor right there, I 
think, he betrays a little of crudeness, a little of presumption, not 
a little of indiscretion. 

Could you with confidence put this work into the hands of 
your son, secure that its perusal would not harm him, that it 
would not leave on his mind some vague impression that there is 
a grandeur in vice committed on a colossal scale ? Whereas, the 
fact is, that in vice there is no grandeur, that it is, on whichever 
side you view it, and in whatever accumulation, only a foul, 
sordid, and degrading thing. The fact is, that this great 
Mirabeau was a mixture of divinity and dirt ; that there was no 
divinity whatever in his errors, they were all sullying dirt ; that 
they ruined him, brought down his genius to the kennel, deadened 
his fine nature and generous sentiments, made all his greatness as 
nothing; that they cut him off in his prime, obviated all his aims, 
and struck him dead in the hour when France most needed him. 

Mirabeau's life and fate teach, to my perception, the most 
depressing lesson 1 have read for years. One would fain have 
hoped that so many noble qualities must have made a noble 
character and achieved noble ends. No the mighty genius 
lived a miserable and degraded life, and died a dog's death, for 
want of self-control, for want of morality, for lack of religion. 
One's heart is wrung for Mirabeau after reading his life ; and it 
is not of his greatness we think, when we close the volume, so 
much as of his hopeless recklessness, and of the sufferings, 
degradation, and untimely end in which it issued. It appears to 
me that the biographer errs also in being too solicitous to present 
his hero always in a striking point of view too negligent of the 
exact truth. He eulogises him too much ; he subdues all the 
other characters mentioned and keeps them in the shade that 
Mirabeau may stand out more conspicuously. This, no doubt, 
is right in art, and admissible in fiction ; but in history (and 
biography is the history of an individual) it tends to weaken the 
force of a narrative by weakening your faith in its accuracy. 

C. BELL. 



426 THE BRONTfiS 

Letter 294 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 



, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I should have answered your last long ago if 
I had known your address, but you omitted to give it me, and I 
have been waiting in the hope that you would perhaps write 
again and repair the omission. Finding myself deceived in this 
expectation, however, I have at last hit on the plan of sending 
the letter to Brookroyd to be directed ; be sure to give me your 
address when you reply to this. 

I was glad to hear that you were well received at London, and 
that you got safe to the end of your journey. Your naivett in 
gravely inquiring my opinion of the ' last new novel ' amuses me ; 
we do not subscribe to a circulating library at Haworth, and 
consequently * new novels ' rarely indeed come in our way, and 
consequently again, we are not qualified to give opinions thereon. 

About three weeks ago I received a brief note from Hunsworth, 
to the effect that Mr. Joe Taylor and his cousin Henry would 
make some inquiries respecting Mde. Hdger's school on account 
of Ellen Taylor, and that if I had no objection, they would ride 
over to Haworth in a day or two. I said they might come if 
they would. They came, accompanied by Miss Mossman, of 
Bradford, whom I had never seen, only heard of occasionally. It 
was a pouring wet and windy day ; we had quite ceased to expect 
them. Miss Mossman was quite wet, and we had to make her 
change her things, and dress her out in ours as well as we could. 
I do not know if you are acquainted with her ; I thought her 
unaffected and rather agreeable looking, though she has very red 
hair. Henry Taylor does indeed resemble John most strongly. 
Joe looked thin, he was in good spirits, and I think in tolerably 
good-humour. I would have given much for you to have been 
there. I had not been very well for some days before, and had 
some difficulty in keeping up the talk, but I managed on the 
whole better than I expected. I was glad Miss Mossman came, 
for she helped. Nothing new was communicated respecting 
Mary. Nothing of importance in any way was said the whole 
time ; it was all rattle, rattle, of which I should have great 
difficulty now in recalling the substance. They left almost 
immediately after tea. I have not heard a word respecting them 



A LITERARY FRIENDSHIP 427 

since, but I suppose they got home all right The visit strikes 
me as an odd whim. I consider it quite a caprice, prompted 
probably by curiosity. 

Joe Taylor mentioned that he had called at Brookroyd, and 
that Ann had told him you were ill, and going into the South for 
change of air. 

I hope you will soon write to me again and tell me particularly 
how your health is, and how you get on, Give my regards to 
Mary Gorham, for really I have a sort of regard for her by hear- 
say, and believe me, dear Nell, yours faithfully, 

C. BRONT 



Letter 295 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July 4///, 1848. 

DEAR ELLEN, -As far as I can understand your brother John's 
proposal, it seems to me very grasping ; if it is so, you do right to 
resist it. Still you must consider well, lest unreflecting opposition 
should do incalculable mischief. As you say, your own actual 
present interest in the matter is small, and none can read the 
future, none can say because I am younger than this man or 
woman I shall live longer than he. Your brother, of course, does 
not mean to say that in case you should marry and have children 
of your own, you should not be at liberty to will anything you 
might have to them. Should this never happen, certainly his 
family are the nearest to you all : to them, whether bound to do 
so or not, you would naturally leave your property. It might 
under such circumstances be unwise to make a great sacrifice of 
present comfort and security for the sake of future possible 
contingencies. As to the principle of the matter, it is not a thing 
of which you are called upon to make a religion ; it is sometimes 
more meritorious to yield our own rights than to cling to them 
too tenaciously, if yielding will add greatly to the comfort of 
others. But there may be sides of the question known to you, of 
which I am ignorant 

C. BRONTE. 



428 THE BRONTES 



CHAPTER XVII 

MARY TAYLOR 

THE reader will have discovered that one of the most 
attractive personalities in Charlotte Bronte's life was Miss 

Mary Taylor, the 'M ' of Mrs. Gaskell's biography 

and the Rose Yorke of Shirley. 

Mary Taylor will always have a peculiar interest to those 
who care for the Brontes. She shrank from publicity, and 
her name has been less mentioned than that of any other 
member of the circle. And yet hers was a personality 
singularly strenuous and strong. She wrote two books 
* with a purpose, 1 and, as we shall see, vigorously embodied 
her teaching in her life. It will be remembered that 
Charlotte Bronte, Ellen Nussey, and Mary Taylor first 
met at Roe Head School, when Charlotte was fifteen and 
her friends about fourteen years of age. Here are Miss 
Nussey 's impressions : 

She was pretty, and very childish-looking, dressed in a red- 
Ellen coloured frock with short sleeves and low neck, as 
Nussey's then worn by young girls. Miss Wooler in later years 
Narrative. usec j to sa y t j iat w j len Mary went to her as a pupil 

she thought her too pretty to live. She was not talkative at 
school, but industrious, and always ready with lessons. She 
was always at the top in class lessons, with Charlotte Bronte 
and the writer ; seldom a change was made, and then only with 
the three one move. Charlotte and she were great friends for 
a time, but there was no withdrawing from me on either side, 
and Charlotte never quite knew how an estrangement arose 
with Mary, but it lasted a long time. Then a time came that 
both Charlotte and Mary were so proficient in schoolroom at- 
tainments there was no more for them to learn, and Miss Wooler 



MARY TAYLOR 429 

set them Blair's Belles Lettres to commit to memory. We all 
laughed at their studies. Charlotte persevered, but Mary took 
her own line, flatly refused, and accepted the penalty of dis- 
obedience, going supperless to bed for about a month before she 
left school. When it was moonlight, we always found her engaged 
in drawing on the chest of drawers, which stood in the bay window, 
quite happy and cheerful. Her rebellion was never outspoken. 
She was always quiet in demeanour. Her sister Martha, on the 
contrary, spoke out vigorously, daring Miss Wooler so much, face 
to face, that she sometimes received a box on the ear, which hardly 
any saint could have withheld. Then Martha would expatiate on 
the danger of boxing ears, quoting a reverend brother of Miss 
Wooler's. Among her school companions, Martha was called 
* Miss Boisterous,' but was always a favourite, so piquant and 
fascinating were her ways. She was not in the least pretty, but 
something much better, full of change and variety, rudely out- 
spoken, lively, and original, producing laughter with her own 
good-humour and affection. She was her father's pet child. He 
delighted in hearing her sing, telling her to go the piano, with his 
affectionate * Patty lass/ 

Mary never had the impromptu vivacity of her sister, but was 
lively in games that engaged her mind. Her music was very 
correct, but entirely cultivated by practice and perseverance. Any- 
thing underhand was detestable to both Mary and Martha ; they 
had no mean pride towards others, but accepted the incidents of 
life with imperturbable good-sense and insight. They were not 
dressed as well as other pupils, for economy at that time was the 
rule of their household. The girls had to stitch all over their new 
gloves before wearing them, by order of their mother, to make 
them wear longer. Their dark blue cloth coats were worn when 
too short, and black beaver bonnets quite plainly trimmed, with the 
ease and contentment of a fashionable costume. Mr. Taylor was 
a banker as well as a monopolist of army cloth manufacture in the 
district. He lost money, and gave up banking. He set his mind 
on paying all creditors, and effected this during his lifetime as far 
as possible, willing that his sons were to do the remainder, which 
two of his sons carried out, as was understood, during their lifetime 
Mark and Martin of Shirley! 

Let us now read Charlotte's description in Shirley, and 
I think we have a tolerably fair estimate of the sisters. 



480 THE BRONTfiS 

The two next are girls, Rose and Jessie ; they are both now at 
their father's knee ; they seldom go near their mother, except 
when obliged to do so. Rose, the elder, is twelve years old ; she 
is like her father the most like him of the whole group but it is 
a granite head copied in ivory ; all is softened in colour and line. 
Yorke himself has a harsh face ; his daughter's is not harsh, 
neither is it quite pretty ; it is simple childlike in feature ; the 
round cheeks bloom ; as to the grey eyes, they are otherwise than 
childlike a serious soul lights them a young soul yet, but it will 
mature, if the body lives ; and neither father nor mother has a 
spirit to compare with it. Partaking of the essence of each, it will 
one day be better than either stronger, much purer, more aspiring. 
Rose is a still, and sometimes a stubborn girl now ; her mother 
wants to make of her such a woman as she is herself a woman 
of dark and dreary duties ; and Rose has a mind full-set, thick- 
sown with the germs of ideas her mother never knew. It is agony 
to her often to have these ideas trampled on and repressed. 
She has never rebelled yet ; but if hard driven, she will rebel one 
day, and then it will be once for all. Rose loves her father ; her 
father does not rule her with a rod of iron ; he is good to her. 
He sometimes fears she will not live, so bright are the sparks of 
intelligence which, at moments, flash from her glance and gleam 
in her language. This idea makes him often sadly tender to her. 

He has no idea that little Jessie will die young, she is so gay 
and chattering, arch original even now ; passionate when pro- 
voked, but most affectionate if caressed ; by turns gentle and 
rattling ; exacting yet generous ; fearless of her mother, for in- 
stance, whose irrationally hard and strict rule she has often defied 
yet reliant on any who will help her. Jessie, with her little 
piquant face, engaging prattle, and winning ways, is made to be a 
pet ; and her father's pet she accordingly is. 

Mary Taylor was called ' Pag ' by her friends and some- 
times ' Polly.' In a letter we have read, 1 reference is 
made to her father's death. He was the Mr. Yorke of 
Briarmains in Shirley. Soon after that event Mary began 
to talk of going to New Zealand, but four years were to 
pass ere she carried out her plan. Instead she went to 
Brussels, which, as we have seen, was the direct cause of 

1 Jan. 31, 1841. 



MARY TAYLOR 481 

Charlotte and Emily establishing themselves at the 
Pensionnat Hger. In Brussels Martha Taylor died. 

It was while Charlotte was making her second stay in 
Brussels that she heard of Mary's determination to go 
with her brother Waring to New Zealand, with a view to 
earning her own living in any reasonable manner that 
might offer. 

Here she was joined by her cousin Ellen Taylor, and it 
was from Wellington that she wrote the many interesting 
letters that I have been permitted by her executors to 
publish. Her letter on receipt of a copy of Jane Eyre is 
particularly noteworthy. 

Letter 296 

TO CHARLOTTE BRONTE 

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND, 
July 24///, 1848. 

DEAR CHARLOTTE, About a month since I received and read 
Jane Eyre. It seemed to me incredible that you had actually 
written a book. Such events did not happen while I was in 
England. I begin to believe in your existence much as I do in 
Mr. Rochester's. In a believing mood I don't doubt either of 
them. After I had read it I went on to the top of Mount 
Victoria and looked for a ship to carry a letter to you. There 
was a little thing with one mast, and also H.M.S. Fly, and 
nothing else. If a cattle vessel came from Sydney she would 
probably return in a few days, and would take a mail, but we 
have had east wind for a month and nothing can come in. 

Aug. i. The Harlequin has just come from Otago, and is to 
sail for Singapore when the wind changes^ and by that route 
(which I hope to take myself sometime) I send you this. 
Much good may it do you. Your novel surprised me by 
being so perfect as a work of art. I expected something more 
changeable and unfinished. You have polished to some purpose. 
If I were to do so I should get tired, and weary every one 
else in about two pages. No sign of this weariness in your 
book you must have had abundance, having kept it all to 
yourself ! 



482 THE BRONTES 

You are very different from me in having no doctrine to 
preach. It is impossible to squeeze a moral out of your pro- 
duction. Has the world gone so well with you that you have no 
protest to make against its absurdities? Did you never sneer or 
declaim in your first sketches? I will scold you well when I see 
you. I do not believe in Mr. Rivers. There are no good men of 
the Rivers species. A missionary either goes into his office for 
a piece of bread, or he goes from enthusiasm, and that is both 
too good and too bad a quality for St. John. It's a bit of your 
absurd charity to believe in such a man. You have done wisely 
in choosing to imagine a high class of readers. You never stop 
to explain or defend anything, and never seem bothered with the 
idea * If Mrs. Fairfax or any other well-intentioned fool gets 
hold of this, what will she think ? ' And yet, you know, the world 
is made up of such, and worse. Once more, how have you written 
through three volumes without declaring war to the knife against 
a few dozen absurd doctrines, each of which is supported by ' a 
large and respectable class of readers * ? Emily seems to have 
such a class in her eye when she wrote that strange thing 
Wuthering Heights. Anne, too, stops repeatedly to preach 
commonplace truths. She has had a still lower class in her 
mind's eye. Emily seems to have followed the bookseller's 
advice. As to the price you got, it was certainly Jewish. But 
what could the people do? If they had asked you to fix it, 
do you know yourself how many ciphers your sum would have 
had? And how should they know better? And if they did, 
that's the knowledge they get their living by. If I were in your 
place, the idea of being bound in the sale of two more would 
prevent me from ever writing again. Yet you are probably now 
busy with another. It is curious to me to see among the old 
letters one from Sarah sending a copy of d whole article on the 
currency question written by Fonblanque ! I exceedingly regret 
having burnt your letters in a fit of caution, and I Ve forgotten all 
the names. Was the reader Albert Smith? What do they think 
of you ? I perceive I Ve betrayed my habit of writing only on 
one side of the paper. Go on to the next page. 

I mention the book to no one and hear no opinions. I lend 
it a good deal because it 's a novel, and it } s as good as another \ 
They say 'it makes them cry.' They are not literary enough 
to give an opinion. If ever I hear one I'll embalm it for you. 
As to my own affair, I have written 100 pages, and lately 50 



MARY TAYLOR 488 

more. It 's no use writing faster. I get so disgusted, I can do 
nothing. I have sent three or four things to Joe for Tait. Troup 
(Ed.) never acknowledges them, though he promised to pay or 
send them back. Joe sent one to Chambers^ who thought it 
unsuitable, in which I agree with them. 

I think I told you I built a house. I get I2S. a week for it. 
Moreover, in accordance with a late letter of John's, I borrow 
money from him and Joe and buy cattle with it. I have already 
spent 100 or so and intend to buy some more as soon as Waring 
can pay me the money perhaps as much by degrees as ^400 or 
$oo. As I only pay 5 per cent, interest I expect [to] profit 
much by this, viz. about 30 per ct. a year, perhaps 40 or 50. 
Thus if I borrow 500 in two years' time (I cannot have it 
quicker) I shall perhaps make 250 to 300. I am pretty certain 
of being able to pay principal and interest. If I could command 
^"300 and 50 a year, afterwards I would 'hallack' 1 about N.Z. 
for a twelvemonth, then go home by way of India, and write my 
travels, which would prepare the way for my novel. With the 
benefit of your experience I should perhaps make a better bargain 
than you. I am most afraid of my health. Not that I should 
die, but perhaps sink into a state of betwcenity, neither well nor 
ill, in which I should observe nothing, and be very miserable 
besides. My life here is not disagreeable. I have a great 
resource in the piano, and a little employment in teaching. 
Then I go in to Mrs. Taylor's and astonish the poor girl with 
calling her favourite parson a spoon. She thinks I am astonish- 
ingly learned but rather wicked, and tries hard to persuade me to 
go to chapel, though I tell her I only go for amusement. She 
would have sense but for her wretched health, which is getting 
rapidly worse from her irrational mode of living. 

I can hardly explain to you the queer feeling of living, as I 
do, in two places at once. One world containing books, England, 
and all the people with whom I can exchange an idea ; the other 
all that I actually see and hear and speak to. The separation 
is as complete as between the things in a picture and the 
things in the room. The puzzle is that both move and act, 
and [I] must say my say as one of each. The result is that one 
world at least must think me crazy. I am just now in a sad 
mess. A drover, who has grown rich with cattle-dealing, wanted 
me to go and teach his daughter. As the man is a widower I 

1 To idle away time. 

VOL, I. 2 E 



484 THE BRONTES 

astonished this world when I accepted the proposal, and still more 
because I asked too high a price (70) a year. Now that I have 
begun, the same people can't conceive why I don't go on and 
marry the man at once, which they imagine must have been my 
original intention, For my part I shall possibly astonish them a 
little more, for I feel a great inclination to make use of his 
interested civilities to visit his daughter and see the district of 
Porirua. If I had a little more money and could afford a horse 
(she rides), I certainly would. But I can see nothing till I 
get a horse, which I shall have if I'm lucky in two or three 
years. 

I have just made acquaintance with Dr. and Mrs. Logan. He 
is a retired navy doctor, and has more general knowledge than 
any one I have talked to here. For instance, he had heard of 
Philippe jgalitc; of a camera-obscura ; of the resemblance the 
English language has to the German, etc,, etc. Mrs. Taylor, 
Miss Knox, and Mrs. Logan sat in mute admiration while he 
mentioned these things, being employed in the meantime in 
making a patchwork quilt. Did you never notice that the 
women of the middle classes are generally too ignorant to talk 
to? and that you are thrown entirely on the man for con- 
versation? There is no such feminine inferiority In the lower, 
The women go hand in hand with the men in the degree of 
cultivation they are able to reach. I can talk very well to a 
joiner's wife, but seldom to a merchant's. 

I must now tell you the fate of your cow. The creature gave 
so little milk that she is doomed to be fatted and killed. In 
about two months she will fetch perhaps 1$, with which I shall 
buy three heifers. Thus you have the chance of getting a calf 
sometime. My own thrive well, and possibly I have a calf 
myself. Before this reaches England I shall have three or four. 

It's a pity you don't live in this world, that I might entertain 
you about the price of meat. Do you know, I bought six heifers 
the other day for 23, and now it is turned so cold I expect to 
hear one-half of them are dead. One man bought twenty sheep 
for $, and they are all dead but one. Another bought 150 and 
has 40 left, and people have begun to drive cattle through a 
valley into the Wairau plains and thence across the straits to 
Wellington, etc., etc. This is the only legitimate subject of 
conversation we have, the rest is gossip concerning our superiors in 
station who don't know us on the road, but it is astonishing how 



MARY TAYLOB, 485 

well we know all their private affairs, making allowance always 
for the distortion in our own organs of vision. 

I have now told you everything I can think of except that the 
cat 's on the table and that I 'm going to borrow a new book to 
read no less than an account of all the systems of philosophy of 
modern Europe. I have lately met with a wonder, a man who 
thinks Jane Eyre would have done better to marry Mr. Rivers ! 
He gives no reason such people never do. 

MARY TAYLOR, 

This brings me to a letter by Charlotte which throws a 
flood of light upon an event of July in this year that 
provided a moment of too wild excitement ; for two of the 
three sisters, Charlotte and Anne, went up to London to 
see their publishers, who up to that time had no knowledge 
of their appearance, although they had long known the 
sex of 'Mr. Currer Bell/ 

Letter 297 

TO MARY TAYLOR 

HAWORTH, September 4*%, 1848. 

DEAR POLLY, I write you a great many more letters than you 
write me, though whether they all reach you, or not, Heaven 
knows ! I dare say you will not be without a certain desire to 
know how our affairs get on ; I will give you therefore a notion as 
briefly as may be. Acton Bell has published another book ; it is 
in three volumes, but I do not like it quite so well as Agnes 
Grey the subject not being such as the author had pleasure in 
handling; it has been praised by some reviews and blamed by 
others. As yet, only 25 have been realised for the copyright, and 
as Acton Bell's publisher is a shuffling scamp, I expected no 
more. 

About two months since I had a letter from my publishers 
Smith and Elder saying that Jane Byre had had a great run in 
America, and that a publisher there had consequently bid high 
for the first sheets of a new work by Currer Bell, which they had 
promised to let him have. 

Presently after came another missive from Smith and Elder ; 
their American correspondent had written to them complaining 



438 THE BRONTES 

that the first sheets of a new work by Currer Bell had been already 
received, and not by their house, but by a rival publisher, and 
asking the meaning of such false play ; it enclosed an extract 
from a letter from Mr. Newby (A. and C. Bell's publisher) affirm- 
ing that to the best of his belief Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, 
and Agnes Grey, and The Tenant of Wildfett Hall (the new work) 
were all the production of one author. 

This was a lie, as Newby had been told repeatedly that 
they were the production of three different authors, but the 
fact was he wanted to make a dishonest move in the game to 
make the public and the trade believe that he had got hold of 
Currer Bell, and thus cheat Smith and Elder by securing the 
American publisher's bid. 

The upshot of it was that on the very day I received Smith and 
Elder's letter, Anne and I packed up a small box, sent it down to 
Keighley, set out ourselves after tea, walked through a snow- 
storm to the station, got to Leeds, and whirled up by the night 
train to London with the view of proving our separate identity to 
Smith and Elder, and confronting Newby with his lie. 

We arrived at the Chapter Coffee- House 1 (our old place, Polly, 
we did not well know where else to go) about eight o'clock in the 
morning. We washed ourselves, had some breakfast, sat a few 
minutes, and then set off in queer inward excitement to 65 Corn- 
hill. Neither Mr. Smith nor Mr. Williams knew we were corning 
they had never seen us they did not know whether we were 
men or women, but had always written to us as men. 

We found 65 to be a large bookseller's shop, in a street almost 
as bustling as the Strand. We went in, walked up to the counter. 
There were a great many young men and lads here and there ; I 
said to the first I could accost : ' May I see Mr. Smith ? ' He 
hesitated, looked a little surprised. We sat down and waited a 
while, looking at some books on the counter, publications of theirs 
well known to us, of many of which they had sent us copies as 
presents. At last we were shown up to Mr. Smith. ' Is it Mr. 
Smith ? ' I said, looking up through my spectacles at a tall young 
man. ' It is.' I then put his own letter into his hand directed to 
Currer Bell. He looked at it and then at me again. ' Where did 
you get this ? ' he said. I laughed at his perplexity a recognition 

1 The Chapter Coffee-House at the west corner of Paul's Alley, Paternoster Row, 
'was noted in the last century as the place of meeting of the London publishers' 
(Wheatley's London). It was destroyed in 1858. 



MARY TAYLOR 437 

took place. I gave my real name : Miss Bronte. We were in a 
small room ceiled with a great skylight and there explanations 
were rapidly gone Into; Mr. Newby being anathematised, I fear, 
with undue vehemence. Mr. Smith hurried out and returned quickly 
with one whom he introduced as Mr. Williams, a pale, mild, 
stooping man of fifty, very much like a faded Tom DIxon. 
Another recognition and a long, nervous shaking of hands. Then 
followed talk talk talk ; Mr. Williams being silent, Mr. Smith 
loquacious. 

Mr. Smith said we must come and stay at his house, but we 
were not prepared for a long stay and declined this also ; as we 
took our leave he told us he should bring his sisters to call on us 
that evening. We returned to our inn, and I paid for the excite- 
ment of the interview by a thundering headache and harassing 
sickness. Towards evening, as I got no better and expected the 
Smiths to call, I took a strong dose of sal-volatile. It roused me 
a little ; still, I was in grievous bodily case when they were an- 
nounced. They came in, two elegant young ladies, in full dress, 
prepared for the Opera Mr. Smith himself in evening costume, 
white gloves, etc. We had by no means understood that it was 
settled we were to go to the Opera, and were not ready. More- 
over, we had no fine, elegant dresses with us, or in the world. 
However, on brief rumination I thought it would be wise to make 
no objections I put my headache in my pocket, we attired our- 
selves in the plain, high- made country garments we possessed, and 
went with them to their carriage, where we found Mr. Williams. 
They must have thought us queer, quizzical-looking beings, especi- 
ally me with my spectacles. I smiled inwardly at the contrast, 
which must have been apparent, between me and Mr. Smith as I 
walked with him up the crimson-carpeted staircase of the Opera 
House and stood amongst a brilliant throng at the box door, 
which was not yet open. Fine ladies and gentlemen glanced at 
us with a slight, graceful superciliousness quite warranted by the 
circumstances. Still, I felt pleasantly excited In spite of headache 
and sickness and conscious clownishness, and I saw Anne was 
calm and gentle, which she always Is. l 

1 They took the pseudonym of ' Brown ' when introduced to Mr. Smith's friends. 
'All this time, 3 says Mrs. Gaskell, 4 those who came in contact with the "Miss Browns" 
seem only to have regarded them as shy and reserved little countrywomen, with not 
much to say.' Mr. Williams tells me that on the night when he accompanied the party 
to the Opera, as Charlotte ascended the flight of stairs leading from the grand entrance 
up to the lobby of the first tier of boxes, she was so much struck with the architectural 



438 THE BRONTfiS 

The performance was Rossini's opera of the Barber of Seville^ 
very brilliant, though I fancy there are things I should like better. 
We got home after one o'clock ; we had never been in bed the 
the night before, and had been in constant excitement for twenty- 
four hours. You may imagine we were tired. 

The next day, Sunday, Mr. Williams came early and took us to 
church. He was so quiet, but so sincere in his attentions, one 
could not but have a most friendly leaning towards him. He has 
a nervous hesitation in speech, and a difficulty in finding appro- 
priate language in which to express himself, which throws him into 
the background in conversation ; but I had been his correspon- 
dent and therefore knew with what intelligence he could write, so 
that I was not in danger of undervaluing him. In the afternoon 
Mr. Smith came in his carriage with his mother, to take us to his 
house to dine. Mr. Smith's residence is at Bayswater, six miles 
from Cornhill ; the rooms, the drawing-room especially, looked 
splendid to us. There was no company only his mother, his two 
grown-up sisters, and his brother, a lad of twelve or thirteen, and 
a little sister, the youngest of the family, very like himself. They 
are all dark-eyed, dark-haired, and have clear, pale faces. The 
mother is a portly, handsome woman of her age, and all the 
children more or less well-looking one of the daughters decidedly 
pretty. We had a fine dinner, which neither Anne nor I had 
appetite to eat, and were glad when it was over. I always feel 
under an awkward constraint at table. Dining out would be 
hideous to me. 

Mr. Smith made himself very pleasant. He is a practical man, 
I wish Mr. Williams were more so, but he is altogether of the 
contemplative, theorising order. Mr. Williams has too many 
abstractions. 

On Monday we went to the Exhibition of the Royal Academy 
and the National Gallery, dined again at Mr. Smith's, then went 
home with Mr. Williams to tea and saw his comparatively humble 
but neat residence and his fine family of eight children. A 
daughter of Leigh Hunt's was there. She sang some little Italian 
airs which she had picked up among the peasantry in Tuscany, in 
a manner that charmed me. 

On Tuesday morning we left London laden with books which 

effect of the splendid decorations of that vestibule and saloon, that involuntarily she 
slightly pressed his arm and whispered, * You know I am not accustomed to this sort of 
thing. ' 



MARY TAYLOR 489 

Mr. Smith had given us, and got safely home, A more jaded 
wretch than I looked when I returned it would be difficult to con- 
ceive. I was thin when I went, but was meagre indeed when I 
returned ; my face looked grey and very old, with strange, deep 
lines ploughed in it; my eyes stared unnaturally. I was weak 
and yet restless. In a while, however, the bad effects of excite- 
ment went off and I regained my normal condition. We saw 
Mr. Newby, but of him more another time. Good-bye. God 
bless you. Write. C B. 

Here we may return to the regular order of the corre- 
spondence, which fully explains itself. 

Letter 298 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

CHAPTER COFFEE-HOUSE, IVY LANE, 
Julylth, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, Your invitation is too welcome not to be at 
once accepted. I should much like to see Mrs. Williams and her 
children, and very much like to have a quiet chat with yourself. 
Would it suit you if we came to-morrow, after dinner say about 
seven o'clock, and spent Sunday evening with you ? 

We shall be truly glad to see you whenever it is convenient to 
you to call. I am, my dear sir, yours faithfully, 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 299 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HAWORTH, //y 13/7;, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, We reached home safely yesterday, and in a 
day or two I doubt not we shall get the better of the fatigues of 
our journey. 

It was a somewhat hasty step to hurry up to town as we 
did, but I do not regret having taken it. In the first place 
mystery is irksome, and I was glad to shake it off with you and 
Mr. Smith, and to show myself to you for what I am, neither 
more nor less thus removing any false expectations that may 
have arisen under the idea that Currer Bell had a just claim to 



440 THE BRONTfiS 

the masculine cognomen he, perhaps somewhat presumptuously, 
adopted that he was, in short, of the nobler sex. 

I was glad also to see you and Mr. Smith, and am very happy 
now to have such pleasant recollections of you both, and of your 
respective families. My satisfaction would have been complete 
could I have seen Mrs. Williams. The appearance of your children 
tallied on the whole accurately with the description you had 
given of them. Fanny was the one I saw least distinctly ; I 
tried to get a clear view of her countenance, but her position in 
the room did not favour my efforts. 

I have just read your article in the John Bull\ it very clearly 
and fully explains the cause of the difference obvious between 
ancient and modern paintings. I wish you had been with us 
when we went over the Exhibition and the National Gallery : a 
little explanation from a judge of art would doubtless have 
enabled us to understand better what we saw ; perhaps, one day, 
we may have this pleasure. 

Accept my own thanks and my sister's for your kind attention 
to us while in town, and Believe me, yours sincerely, 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE. 

I trust Mrs. Williams is quite recovered from her indisposi- 
tion. 

Letter 300 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

July 2%th, 1848. 

DEAR ELLEN, There were passages in your last letter which 
touched me, but I shall not dwell on them. I am writing now 
simply because I want to hear from you again, not because I 
have anything of the slightest interest to say. I observe in your 
letters you have not said much about Mary Gorharn. I hope you 
find reason to like her as well as ever ; and indeed I cannot doubt 
that this is the case, as from your account of her I should con- 
jecture that she is not of those characters that deteriorate with 
time and experience, or even that change, except for the 
better. Perhaps the presence of the two other young ladies 
would, at first, keep you a little apart from her, but since you 
wrote last you will have been with her more alone, and can tell 
me more about her. 

I should suppose the brothers, from what you say, are of the 



MARY TAYLOR 441 

better end of mankind ; Mrs. Gorham I always stand a little in 
awe of; I fancy her somewhat cold and severe, even suspicious. 
I think I confuse her character with that of our old friend Mrs. 
Taylor ; doubtless I do her great injustice. As to Mr. Gorham, 
he seems a nonentity to me ; I dare say you may have described 
him to me at some time, but if so I have forgotten the very out- 
lines of the portrait ; you must sketch it again. 

Anne continues to hear constantly, almost daily, from her old 
pupils, the Robinsons. They are both now engaged to different 
gentlemen, and if they do not change their minds, which they have 
done already two or three times, will probably be married in a 
few months. Not one spark of love does either of them profess 
for her future husband, one of them openly declares that interest 
alone guides her, and the other, poor thing ! is acting according to 
her mother's wish, and is utterly indifferent herself to the man 
chosen for her. The lighter-headed of the two sisters takes a 
pleasure in the spectacle of her fine wedding-dresses and costly 
bridal presents ; the more thoughtful can derive no gratification 
from these things and is much depressed at the contemplation of 
her future lot. Anne does her best to cheer and counsel her, and 
she seems to cling to her quiet, former governess, as her only true 
friend. Of their mother I have not patience to speak ; a worse 
woman, I believe, hardly exists ; the more I hear of her the more 
deeply she revolts me ; but I do not like to talk about her in a 
letter. 

Branwell is the same in conduct as ever ; his constitution seems 
shattered. Papa, and sometimes all of us, have sad nights with 
him, he sleeps most of the day, and consequently will lie awake at 
night. But has not every house its trial ? 

Write to me very soon, dear Nell, and believe me, yours 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 



Letter 301 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HAWORTHj/tf/y 31 J/, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have lately been reading Modern Painters, 
and I have derived from the work much genuine pleasure and, I 
hope, some edification ; at any rate, it made me feel how ignorant 
I had previously been on the subject which it treats. Hitherto 



442 THE BRONTfiS 

I have only had instinct to guide me in judging of art; I feel 
more as if I had been walking blindfold this book seems to give 
me eyes. I do wish I had pictures within reach by which to test 
the new sense. Who can read these glowing descriptions of 
Turner's works without longing to see them ? However eloquent 
and convincing the language in which another's opinion is placed 
before you, you still wish to judge for yourself. I like this 
author's style much : there is both energy and beauty in it ; I like 
himself too, because he is such a hearty admirer. He does not 
give Turner half-measure of praise or veneration, he eulogises, 
he reverences him (or rather his genius) with his whole soul. One 
can sympathise with that sort of devout, serious admiration (for 
he is no rhapsodist) one can respect it ; and yet possibly many 
people would laugh at it. I am truly obliged to Mr. Smith for 
giving me this book, not having often met with one that has 
pleased me more. 

You will have seen some of the notices of Wildfell Hall. I 
wish my sister felt the unfavourable ones less keenly. She does 
not say much, for she is of a remarkably taciturn, still, thoughtful 
nature, reserved even with her nearest of kin, but I cannot avoid 
seeing that her spirits are depressed sometimes. The fact is, 
neither she nor any of us expected that view to be taken of the 
book which has been taken by some critics. That it had faults 
of execution, faults of art, was obvious, but faults of intention or 
feeling could be suspected by none who knew the writer. For 
my own part, I consider the subject unfortunately chosen it was 
one the author was not qualified to handle at once vigorously and 
truthfully. The simple and natural quiet description and simple 
pathos are, I think, Acton Bell's forte. I liked Agnes Grey 
better than the present work. 

Permit me to caution you not to speak of my sisters when you 
write to me. I mean, do not use the word in the plural. Ellis 
Bell will not endure to be alluded to under any other appellation 
than the now dc plume. I committed a grand error in betraying 
his identity to you and Mr. Smith. It was inadvertent the 
words 4 we are three sisters ' escaped me before I was aware. I 
regretted the avowal the moment I had made it ; I regret it 
bitterly now, for I find it is against every feeling and intention of 
Ellis Bell. 

I was greatly amused to see in the Examiner of this week one 
of Newby's little cobwebs neatly swept away by some dexterous 



MARY TAYLOR 448 

brush. If Newby is not too old to profit by experience, such an 
exposure ought to teach him that * Honesty is indeed the best 
policy/ 

Your letter has just been brought to me. I must not pause to 
thank you, I should say too much. Our life is, and always has 
been, one of few pleasures, as you seem in part to guess, and for 
that reason we feel what passages of enjoyment come in our way 
very keenly ; and I think if you knew how pleased I am to get a 
long letter from you, you would laugh at me. 

In return, however, I smile at you for the earnestness with 
which you urge on us the propriety of seeing something of 
London society. There would be an advantage in it a great 
advantage; yet it is one that no power on earth could induce 
Ellis Bell, for instance, to avail himself of. And even for Acton 
and Currer, the experiment of an introduction to society would be 
more formidable than you, probably, can well imagine, An exist- 
ence of absolute seclusion and unvarying monotony, such as we 
have long I may say, indeed, ever been habituated to, tends, I 
fear, to unfit the mind for lively and exciting scenes, to destroy 
the capacity for social enjoyment. 

The only glimpses of society I have ever had were obtained 
in my vocation of governess, and some of the most miserable 
moments I can recall were passed in drawing-rooms full of strange 
faces. At such times, my animal spirits would ebb gradually till 
they sank quite away, and when I could endure the sense of 
exhaustion and solitude no longer, I used to steal off, too glad to 
find any corner where I could really be alone. Still, I know very 
well, that though that experiment of seeing the world might give 
acute pain for the time, it would do good afterwards ; and as I 
have never, that I remember, gained any important good without 
incurring proportionate suffering, I mean to try to take your 
advice some day, in part at least to put off, if possible, that 
troublesome egotism which is always judging and blaming itself, 
and to try, country spinster as I am, to get a view of some sphere 
where civilised humanity is to be contemplated. 

I smile at you again for supposing that I could be annoyed by 
what you say respecting your religious and philosophical views ; 
that I could blame you for not being able, when you look 
amongst sects and creeds, to discover any one which you can 
exclusively and implicitly adopt as yours. I perceive myself that 
some light falls on earth from Heaven that some rays from the 



444 THE BRONTES 

shrine of truth pierce the darkness of this life and world; but they 
are few, faint, and scattered, and who without presumption can 
assert that he has found the only true path upwards ? 

Yet ignorance, weakness, or indiscretion must have their creeds 
and forms ; they must have their props they cannot walk alone. 
Let them hold by what is purest in doctrine and simplest in 
ritual ; something^ they must have. 

I never read Emerson ; but the book which has had so healing 
an effect on your mind must be a good one. Very enviable is the 
writer whose words have fallen like a gentle rain on a soil that so 
needed and merited refreshment, whose influence has come like a 
genial breeze to lift a spirit which circumstances seem so harshly 
to have trampled. Emerson, if he has cheered you, has not 
written in vain. 

May this feeling of self-reconcilement, of inward peace and 
strength, continue ! May you still be lenient with, be just to, 
yourself! I will not praise nor flatter you, I should hate to pay 
those enervating compliments which tend to check the exertions 
of a mind that aspires after excellence ; but I must permit myself 
to remark that if you had not something good and superior in 
you, something better, whether more showy or not, than is often 
met with, the assurance of your friendship would not make one 
so happy as it does ; nor would the advantage of your corre- 
spondence be felt as such a privilege. 

I hope Mrs. Williams's state of health may soon improve and 
her anxieties lessen. Blamable indeed are those who sow 
division where there ought to be peace, and especially deserving 
of the ban of society. 

I thank both you and your family for keeping our secret. It 
will indeed be a kindness to us to persevere in doing so ; and I 
own I have a certain confidence in the honourable discretion of 
a household of which you are the head. Believe me, yours very 
sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 302 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

August i4/tf, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, My sister Anne thanks you, as well as myself, 
for your just critique on Wildfell Hall. It appears to me that 
your observations exactly hit both the strong and weak points of 



MARY TAYLOR 445 

the book, and the advice which accompanies them is worthy of, 
and shall receive, our most careful attention. 

The first duty of an author is, I conceive, a faithful allegiance 
to Truth and Nature; his second, such a conscientious study of 
Art as shall enable him to interpret eloquently and effectively 
the oracles delivered by those two great deities. The Bells are 
very sincere in their worship of Truth, and they hope to apply 
themselves to the consideration of Art, so as to attain one day 
the power of speaking the language of conviction in the accents 
of persuasion ; though they rather apprehend that whatever pains 
they take to modify and soften, an abrupt word or vehement tone 
will now and then occur to startle ears polite, whenever the subject 
shall chance to be such as moves their spirits within them. 

I have already told you, I believe, that I regard Mr. Thackeray 
as the first of modern masters, and as the legitimate high priest of 
Truth ; I study him accordingly with reverence. Me, I see, keeps 
the mermaid's tail below water, and only hints at the dead men's 
bones and noxious slime amidst which it wriggles ; but, his hint 
is more vivid than other men's elaborate explanations, and never 
is his satire whetted to so keen an edge as when with quiet 
mocking irony he modestly recommends to the approbation of 
the public his own exemplary discretion and forbearance. The 
world begins to know Thackeray rather better than it did two 
years or even a year ago, but as yet it only half knows him. His 
mind seems to me a fabric as simple and unpretending as it is 
deep-founded and enduring there is no meretricious ornament 
to attract or fix a superficial glance ; his great distinction of the 
genuine is one that can only be fully appreciated with time. 
There is something, a sort of * still profound,' revealed in the 
concluding part of Vanity Fair which the discernment of one 
generation will not suffice to fathom. A hundred years hence, 
if he only lives to do justice to himself, he will be better 
known than he is now. A hundred years hence, some 
thoughtful critic, standing and looking down on the deep 
waters, will see shining through them the pearl without price of 
a purely original mind such a mind as the Bulwers, etc., his 
contemporaries have not, not acquirements gained from study, 
but the thing that came into the world with him his inherent 
genius: the thing that made him, I doubt not, different as a child 
from other children, that caused him, perhaps, peculiar griefs and 
struggles in life, and that now makes him as a writer unlike other 



446 THE BRONTfiS 

writers. Excuse me for recurring to this theme, I do not wish to 
bore you. 

You say Mr. Huntingdon reminds you of Mr. Rochester. Does 
he? Yet there is no likeness between the two; the foundation of 
each character is entirely different Huntingdon is a specimen 
of the naturally selfish, sensual, superficial man, whose one merit 
of a joyous temperament only avails him while he is young and 
healthy, whose best days are his earliest, who never profits by 
experience, who is sure to grow worse the older he grows. Mr. 
Rochester has a thoughtful nature and a very feeling heart ; he is 
neither selfish nor self-indulgent ; he is ill-educated, misguided ; 
errs, when he does err, through rashness and inexperience : he 
lives for a time as too many other men live, but being radically 
better than most men, he docs not like that degraded life, and is 
never happy in it. He is taught the severe lessons of experience 
and has sense to learn wisdom from them, Years improve him ; 
the effervescence of youth foamed away, what is really good in 
him still remains. His nature is like wine of a good vintage, 
time cannot sour, but only mellows him. Such at least was the 
character I meant to portray. 

Heathcliffc, again, of Wuthering Heights is quite another 
creation. He exemplifies the effects which a life of continued 
injustice and hard usage may produce on a naturally perverse, 
vindictive, and inexorable disposition. Carefully trained and 
kindly treated, the black gipsy-cub might possibly have been 
reared into a human being, but tyranny and ignorance made of 
him a mere demon. The worst of it is, some of his spirit seems 
breathed through the whole narrative in which he figures : it 
haunts every moor and glen, and beckons in every fir-tree of the 
Heights. 

I must not forget to thank you for the Examiner and Atlas 
newspapers. Poor Mr. Newby 1 It is not enough that the 
Examiner nails him by both ears to the pillory, but the Atlas 
brands a token of disgrace on his forehead. This is a deplorable 
plight, and he makes all matters worse by his foolish little 
answers to his assailants. It is a pity that he has no kind friend 
to suggest to him that he had better not bandy words with the 
Examiner. His plea about the ' printer' was too ludicrous, and 
his second note is pitiable. I only regret that the names of 
Ellis and Acton Bell should perforce be mixed up with his pro- 
ceedings. My sister Anne wishes me to say that should she ever 



MARY TAYLOR 447 

write another work, Mr. Smith will certainly have the first offer of 
the copyright. 

I hope Mrs. Williams's health is more satisfactory than when 
you last wrote. With every good wish to yourself and your 
family, Believe me, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 303 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

August i8/^ 1848. 

DEAR ELLEN, I fear the broken weather will have interfered 
with the pleasure of your visit lately ; perhaps, though, you have 
had more sunshine in Sussex, but in Yorkshire, nearly for the 
last month, one showery day has succeeded another, which cir- 
cumstance has caused some dire forebodings about the crops. To- 
day, however, it is very fine, and I hope people's hearts and 
prospects will be cheered by a return of summer. About ten 
days ago I received a parcel containing the Life of Mr. Simeon, 
which you offered to lend me before you went South. It has been 
lying at the George Hotel in Bradford during the whole interval, 
a period of nearly two months. I have always found it unsafe to 
send parcels by Bradford, the innkeepers are so very careless. 
Papa has been very much interested in reading the book. There 
is frequent mention made in it of persons and places formerly well 
known to him ; he thanks you for lending it. 

The Robinsons are not married yet, but expect to be in the 
course of a few months. The unhappy Lady Scott is dead, after long 
suffering both mental and physical. I imagine she expired two or 
three weeks ago. Mrs. Robinson is anxious to get her daughters 
husbands of any kind, that they may be off her hands, and that she 
may be free to marry Sir Edward Scott, whose infatuated slave, 
it would appear, she is. I do not know whether you remember 
the house called Woodlands, near Haworth, belonging to Mr. Jas. 
G d. The owner has failed lately, and the house and all its furni- 
ture have been sold by auction. The S s purchased a large 

portion of the latter to return to their relatives, who have now left 
the neighbourhood, and are gone to reside somewhere (I believe) 
in the East Riding. This is a great and unexpected reverse of 
fortune, and by throwing many of the poor of Haworth out of 
employment, has occasioned great distress in the village. I have 



448 THE BRONTfiS 

heard nothing whatever of the Taylors since their visit here. Write 
to me again soon, and believe me, yours faithfully, 

C. BRONTE. 

I had just written the foregoing when I received yours of the 
i6th. Dear Ellen, you must be careful in riding out ; it is a most 
merciful thing that your late accident was not more serious ; this 
is the second time your life or your limbs have been in serious 
peril. I hope no third risk will befall you. It gives me genuine 
pleasure to hear that you are so well amused, and that coming 
enjoyment is in prospect. I doubt not your health will benefit by 
the change. Good-bye. 

Letter 304 

TO MISS WOOLER 

HAWORTH, August 28M, 1848. 

MY DEAR Miss WOOLER, Since you wish to hear from me 
while you are from home, I will write without further delay. 
It often happens that when we linger at first in answering a 
friend's letter, obstacles occur to retard us to an inexcusably 
late period. 

In my last I forgot to answer a question you asked me, and was 
sorry afterwards for the omission ; I will begin, therefore, by 
replying to it, though I fear what I can give will now come a 
little late. You said Mrs. Chapham had some thoughts of send- 
ing her daughter to school, and wished to know whether the 
Clergy Daughters' School at Casterton was an eligible place. 

My personal knowledge of that institution is very much out of 
date, being derived from the experience of twenty years ago ; the 
establishment was at that time in its infancy, and a sad, rickety 
infancy it was. Typhus fever decimated the school periodically, 
and consumption and scrofula in every variety of form, which bad 
air and water, and bad, insufficient diet can generate, preyed on 
the ill-fated pupils. It would not then have been a fit place for 
any of Mrs. Chapham's children. But, I understand, it is very 
much altered for the better since those days. The school is 
removed from Cowan Bridge (a situation as unhealthy as it was 
picturesque low, damp, beautiful with wood and water) to 
Casterton ; the accommodation, the diet, the discipline, the system 
of tuition, all are, I believe, entirely altered and greatly improved. 



MARY TAYLOR 449 

I was told that such pupils as behaved well and remained at 
school until their educations were finished were provided with 
situations as governesses, if they wished to adopt that vocation, and 
that much care was exercised in the selection ; it was added they 
were also furnished with an excellent wardrobe on quitting 
Casterton. 

If I have the opportunity of reading the Life of Dr. Arnold, I 
shall not fail to profit thereby ; your recommendation makes me 
desirous to see it. Do you remember once speaking with appro- 
bation of a book called Mrs. Leicester's School, which you said you 
had met with, and you wondered by whom it was written ? I was 
reading the other day a lately published collection of the Letters 
of Charles Lamb, edited by Serjeant Talfourd, where I found it 
mentioned that Mrs. Leicester's School was the first production of 
Lamb and his sister. These letters are themselves singularly 
interesting ; they have hitherto been suppressed in all previous 
collections of Lamb's works and relics, on account of the frequent 
allusions they contain to the unhappy malady of Miss Lamb, and 
a frightful incident which darkened her earlier years. She was, it 
appears, a woman of the sweetest disposition, and, in her normal 
state, of the highest and clearest intellect, but afflicted with 
periodical insanity which came on once a year, or oftener. To her 
parents she was a most tender and dutiful daughter, nursing them 
in their old age, when one was physically and the other men- 
tally infirm, with unremitting care, and at the same time toiling 
to add something by needlework to the slender resources of the 
family. A succession of laborious days and sleepless nights 
brought on a frenzy fit, in which she had the miserable misfortune 
to kill her own mother. She was afterwards placed in a mad- 
house, where she would have been detained for life, had not her 
brother Charles promised to devote himself to her and take her 
under his care and for her sake renounce a project of marriage 
he then entertained. An instance of abnegation of self scarcely, 
I think, to be paralleled in the annals of the ' coarser sex. 1 They 
passed their subsequent lives together models of fraternal affec- 
tion, and would have been very happy but for the dread visitation 
to which Mary Lamb continued liable all her life. I thought it 
both a sad and edifying history. Your account of your little 
niece's natve delight in beholding the morning sea for the first 
time amused and pleased me ; it proves she has some sensations 
a refreshing circumstance in a day and generation when the 

VOL. I. 2 F 



THE DEATH OF BRAN WELL BRONTfi 451 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE DEATH OF HRANWELL BRONTE 

ONE sympathises greatly with those who resent the 
constant intrusion of Branwell Bronte's name into the 
biography of his sisters. His is a painful, sordid story. 
He is responsible, moreover, either directly or indirectly, 
for all the fables that have grown up round the subject 
the bogus portraits, the claim on his behalf that he wrote 
Wuthering Heights, and much else that is despicable. 
Neither his letters nor the various manuscripts of his that 
have survived show any of the talent that his sisters were 
at one time disposed to attribute to him. As for the 
foolish legend that he wrote Wuthering Heights? it is only 
less crazy than another suggestion, that that book was 
written by Charlotte. 

The growth of the legend as to Branwell's authorship 
is amazing. January Searle (George Searle Phillips), 
writing in The Mirror, gave a most circumstantial account 
of conversations with Branwell concerning a story he had 
written, and indeed he is made to discuss pretty freely 
Charlotte's novel as well. Another acquaintance, New- 
man Dearden, contributed to the Halifax Guardian of 
1867 some 'facts/ as he called them, whence we learn that 
Branwell read to this and other friends a large part of the 
story in manuscript exactly as it reads in Wuthering 
Heights. Yet another witness, Edward Sloane, of 
Halifax, made similar statements, and Francis Grundy is 
even more explicit, as the following passage indicates : 

1 Sec Leyland's Brontt Family. 



THE DEATH OF BRAN WELL BRONTE 451 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE DEATH OF BRANWELL BRONTE 

ONE sympathises greatly with those who resent the 
constant intrusion of Branwell Bronte's name into the 
biography of his sisters. His is a painful, sordid story. 
He is responsible, moreover, either directly or indirectly, 
for all the fables that have grown up round the subject > 
the bogus portraits, the claim on his behalf that he wrote 
Wuthering Heights, and much else that is despicable. 
Neither his letters nor the various manuscripts of his that 
have survived show any of the talent that his sisters were 
at one time disposed to attribute to him. As for the 
foolish legend that he wrote Wuthering Heights? it is only 
less crazy than another suggestion, that that book was 
written by Charlotte. 

The growth of the legend as to Branwell's authorship 
is amazing. January Searle (George Searle Phillips), 
writing in The Mirror, gave a most circumstantial account 
of conversations with Branwell concerning a story he had 
written, and indeed he is made to discuss pretty freely 
Charlotte's novel as well. Another acquaintance, New- 
man Dearden, contributed to the Halifax Guardian of 
1867 some 'facts/ as he called them, whence we learn that 
Branwell read to this and other friends a large part of the 
story in manuscript exactly as it reads in Wuthering 
Heights. Yet another witness, Edward Sloane, of 
Halifax, made similar statements, and Francis Grundy is 
even more explicit, as the following passage indicates : 

1 See Ley land's Brontt Family. 



452 THE BRONTES 

* 

Patrick Bronte declared to me, and what his sister said bore 
out the assertion, that he wrote a great portion of Wuthering 
Heights himself. Indeed, it is impossible for me to read that 
story without meeting with many passages which I feel certain 
must have come from his pen. The weird fancies of diseased 
genius with which he used to entertain me in our long talks at 
Luddendenfoot reappear in the pages of the novel, and I am 
inclined to believe that the very plot was his invention rather 
than his sister's. 1 

All this ' evidence ' causes little commotion in the mind 
of any one who has watched how legends grow and gather 
force. Branwell could not have written a line of Wnther- 
ing Heights, although he did doubtless furnish phrases for 
the mouth of this or that example of human wreckage 
flitting so tragically through its pages. His last two years 
of life, the years of his three sisters' greatest literary 
activity, were spent by him in utter debasement entirely 
outside all intellectual interests. He was the author of 
his sisters' books only so far as he was the shameful cause 
of their intense isolation during this period. ' Branwell 
still remains at home, and while he is here you shall not 
come. I am more confirmed in that resolution the more I 
think of him/ writes Charlotte to her friend, Ellen Nussey, 
in November 1845, and thence to his death, in September 
1848, things grew worse and worse. 

Charlotte Bronte, who was the soul of sincerity, has 
said the final word in her letter to Mr. William Smith 
Williams announcing Branweirs death : 

My unhappy brother never knew what his sisters had done in 
literature he was not aware that they had ever published a line. 
We could not tell him of our efforts for fear of causing him too 
deep a pang of remorse for his own time misspent^ and talents 
misapplied? 

The account of Branwell's death is fully recorded in his 
sister's letters. 

1 Pictures of the Past, by Francis H. Grundy. 



THE DEATH OF BRANWELL BRONTE 458 

Letter 306 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

October 2nd) 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, ' We have buried our dead out of our sight* 
A lull begins to succeed the gloomy tumult of last week. It 
is not permitted us to grieve for him who is gone as others grieve 
for those they lose. The removal of our only brother must 
necessarily be regarded by us rather in the light of a mercy than 
a chastisement. Branwell was his father's and his sisters' pride 
and hope in boyhood, but since manhood the case has been 
otherwise. It has been our lot to see him take a wrong bent ; 
to hope, expect, wait his return to the right path ; to know the 
sickness of hope deferred, the dismay of prayer baffled ; to 
experience despair at last and now to behold the sudden early 
obscure close of what might have been a noble career. 

I do not weep from a sense of bereavementthere is no prop 
withdrawn, no consolation torn away, no dear companion lost 
but for the wreck of talent, the ruin of promise, the untimely 
dreary extinction of what might have been a burning and a 
shining light. My brother was a year my junior. I had aspira- 
tions and ambitions for him once, long ago they have perished 
mournfully. Nothing remains of him but a memory of errors 
and sufferings. There is such a bitterness of pity for his life and 
death, such a yearning for the emptiness of his whole existence 
as I cannot describe. I trust time will allay these feelings. 

My poor father naturally thought more of his only son than of 
his daughters, and, much and long as he had suffered on his 
account, he cried out for his loss like David for that of Absalom 
my son ! my son ! and refused at first to be comforted. And 
then when I ought to have been able to collect my strength and 
be at hand to support him, I fell ill with an illness whose 
approaches I had felt for some time previously, and of which the 
crisis was hastened by the awe and trouble of the death-scene 
the first I had ever witnessed. The past has seemed to me a 
strange week. Thank God, for my father's sake, I am better 
now, though still feeble. I wish indeed I had more general 
physical strength the want of it is sadly in my way. I cannot 
do what I would do for want of sustained animal spirits and 
efficient bodily vigour. 



454 THE BRONTES 

My unhappy brother never knew what his sisters had done in 
literature he was not aware that they had ever published a line. 
We could not tell him of our efforts for fear of causing him too 
deep a pang of remorse for his own time misspent, and talents 
misapplied. Now he will never know. I cannot dwell longer on 
the subject at present it is too painful. 

I thank you for your kind sympathy, and pray earnestly that 
your sons may all do well, and that you may be spared the 
sufferings my father has gone through. Yours sincerely, 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 307 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

HAWORTH, October 6th, 1848, 

MY DEAR SIR, I thank you for your last truly friendly letter, 
and for the number of Blackwood which accompanied it. Both 
arrived at a time when a relapse of illness had depressed me 
much. Both did me good, especially the letter. I have only one 
fault to find with your expressions of friendship: they make me 
ashamed, because they seem to imply that you think better of me 
than I merit. I believe you are prone to, think too highly of your 
fellow-creatures in general to see too exclusively the good points 
of those for whom you have a regard. Disappointment must be 
the inevitable result of this habit. Believe all men, and women 
too, to be dust and ashes a spark of the divinity now and then 
kindling in the dull heap that is all. When I looked on the 
noble face and forehead of my dead brother (nature had favoured 
him with a fairer outside, as well as a finer constitution, than his 
sisters) and asked myself what had made him go ever wrong, tend 
ever downwards, when he had so many gifts to induce to, and aid 
in, an upward course, I seemed to receive an oppressive revelation 
of the feebleness of humanity of the inadequacy of even genius 
to lead to true greatness if unaided by religion and principle. In 
the value, or even the reality, of these two things he would never 
believe till within a few days of his end ; and then all at once he 
seemed to open his heart to a conviction of their existence and 
worth. The remembrance of this strange change now comforts 
my poor father greatly. I myself, with painful, mournful joy, 
heard him praying softly in his dying moments ; and to the last 
prayer which my father offered up at his bedside he added. 



THE DEATH OF BRANWELL BRONTE 455 

'Amen.' How unusual that word appeared from his lips, of 
course you, who did not know him, connot conceive. Akin to 
this alteration was that in his feelings towards his relations all 
the bitterness seemed gone. 

When the struggle was over, and a marble calm began to 
succeed the last dread agony, I felt, as I had never felt before, 
that there was peace and forgiveness for him in Heaven. All his 
errors to speak plainly, all his vices seemed nothing to me in 
that moment : every wrong he had done, every pain he had 
caused, vanished ; his sufferings only were remembered ; the 
wrench to the natural affections only was left. If man can thus 
experience total oblivion of his fellow's imperfections, how much 
more can the Eternal Being, who made man, forgive His creature? 

Had his sins been scarlet in their dye, I believe now they are 
white as wool. He is at rest, and that comforts us all. Long 
before he quitted this world, life had no happiness for him. 

Blackwootfs mention of Jane Eyre gratified me much, and will 
gratify me more, I dare say, when the ferment of other feelings 
than that of literary ambition shall have a little subsided in 
my mind. 

The doctor has told me I must not expect too rapid a restora- 
tion to health ; but to-day I certainly feel better. I am thankful 
to say my father has hitherto stood the storm well ; and so have 
my dear sisters, to whose untiring care and kindness I am chiefly 
indebted for my present state of convalescence. Believe me, my 
dear sir, yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

Letter 308 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

October th, '48. 

MY DEAR ELLEN, I should have written to you ere now had 
I been sure of your address, but I thought by this you had pro- 
bably left Rye as you talked of being in London soon. The past 
three weeks have been a dark interval in our humble home. 
Branwell's constitution has been failing fast all the summer ; but 
still, neither the doctors nor himself thought him so near his end 
as he was. He was entirely confined to his bed for but one single 
day, and was in the village two days before his death. He died, 
after twenty minutes' struggle, on Sunday morning, September 
24th. He was perfectly conscious till the last agony came on. 



456 THE BRONTES 

His mind had undergone the peculiar change which frequently 
precedes death, two days previously ; the calm of better feelings 
filled it ; a return of natural affection marked his last moments. 
He is in God's hands now ; and the All-powerful is likewise the 
All-merciful. A deep conviction that he rests at last rests well 
after his brief, erring, suffering, feverish life, fills and quiets my 
mind now. The final separation, the spectacle of his pale corpse, 
gave more acute, bitter pain than I could have imagined. Till 
the last hour comes, we never know how much we can forgive, 
pity, regret a near relation, All his vices were and are nothing 
now. We remember only his woes. Papa was acutely distressed 
at first, but, on the whole, has borne the event well. Emily and 
Anne are pretty well, though Anne is always delicate, and Emily 
has a cold and cough at present. It was my fate to sink at the 
crisis, when I should have collected my strength. Headache 
and sickness came on first on the Sunday; I could not regain 
my appetite. Then internal pain attacked me. I became at 
once much reduced. It was impossible to eat a morsel. At last, 
bilious fever declared itself. I was confined to bed a week a 
dreary week, but, thank God ! health seems now returning. I 
can sit up all day, and take moderate nourishment. The doctor 
said at first I should be very slow in recovering, but I seem to get 
on faster than he anticipated. I am ordered to be scrupulously 
careful about diet, etc., and I try to be obedient to directions. 

I shall be very glad to hear from you again, dear Ellen, it 
is true enough that your letters interest me ; there is no mistake 
there. I feel that I do not write to you enough in detail, but 
I cannot help it ; forgive me that shortcoming as you have 
forgiven me many others. Yours faithfully, C. BRONTE. 

P.S. You are to understand that my bilious fever is quite gone 
now and that I am truly much better. 

Letter 309 

TO MERCY NUSSEY 

HAWORTH, October 14^, 1848. 

MY DEAR Miss NUSSEY, Accept my sincere thanks for your 
kind letter. The event to which you allude came upon us with 
startling suddenness and was a severe shock to us all. My poor 
brother has long had a shaken constitution, and during the 



THE DEATH OF BRANWELL BRONTE 457 

summer his appetite had been diminished, and he had seemed 
weaker, but neither we, nor himself, nor any medical man who 
was consulted on his case, thought it one of immediate danger: 
he was out of doors two days before his death, and was only 
confined to bed one single day. 

I thank you for your kind sympathy ; many, under the circum- 
stances, would think our loss rather a relief than otherwise : in 
truth, we must acknowledge, in all humility and gratitude, that 
God has greatly tempered judgment with mercy ; but yet, as you 
doubtless know from experience, the last earthly separation 
cannot take place between near relatives without the keenest 
pangs on the part of the survivors. Every wrong and sin is 
forgotten then ; pity and grief share the heart and the memory 
between them. Yet we are not without comfort in our affliction. 
A most propitious change marked the few last days of poor 
BranwelFs life ; his demeanour, his language, his sentiments were 
all singularly altered and softened. This change could not be 
owing to the fear of death, for till within half an hour of his 
decease he seemed unconscious of danger. In God's hands we 
leave him : He sees not as man sees. 

Papa, I am thankful to say, has borne the event pretty well ; 
his distress was great at first, to lose an only son is no ordinary 
trial, but his physical strength has not hitherto failed him, and he 
has now in a great measure recovered his mental composure ; my 
dear sisters are pretty well also. Unfortunately illness attacked 
me at the crisis when strength was most needed ; I bore up for 
a day or two, hoping to be better, but got worse. Fever, sickness, 
total loss of appetite, and internal pain were the symptoms. The 
doctor pronounced it to be bilious fever, but I think it must have 
been in a mitigated form ; it yielded to medicine and care in 
a few days. I was only confined to my bed a week, and am, I 
trust, nearly well now. I felt it a grievous thing to be incapacitated 
from action and effort at a time when action and effort were most 
called for. The past month seems an overclouded period in 
my life. 

I am truly sorry to hear that Ellen is not in good health, having 
fully depended on her deriving benefit from her stay in the South. 
Mrs. Gorham is raised in my estimation by her favourable opinion 
of Ellen ; it proves she has some discrimination. 

Give my best love to Mrs. Nussey and Miss M., and believe me, 
my dear Miss Nussey, yours sincerely C. BRONTE. 



458 THE BRONTES 

Letter 310 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

October i8M, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, Not feeling competent this evening either for 
study or serious composition, I will console myself with writing to 
you. My malady, which the doctors call a bilious fever, lingers, 
or rather returns with each sudden change of weather, though I 
am thankful to say the relapses have hitherto been much milder 
than the first attack ; but they keep me weak and reduced, 
especially as I am obliged to observe a very low spare diet. 

My book, alas ! is laid aside for the present ; both head and 
hand seem to have lost their cunning ; imagination is pale, 
stagnant, mute. This incapacity chagrins me ; sometimes I have 
a feeling of cankering care on the subject, but I combat it as well 
as I can ; it does no good. 

I am afraid I shall not write a cheerful letter to you. A letter, 
however, of some kind I am determined to write, for I should be 
sorry to appear a neglectful correspondent to one from whose 
communications I have derived, and still derive, so much pleasure. 
Do not talk about not being on a level with Currer Bell, or regard 
him as ' an awful person ' ; if you saw him now, sitting muffled at 
the fireside, shrinking before the east wind (which for some days 
has been blowing wild and keen over our cold hills), and incapable 
of lifting a pen for any more formidable task than that of writing 
a few lines to an indulgent friend, you would be sorry not to deem 
yourself greatly his superior, for you would feel him to be a poor 
creature. 

You may be sure I read your views on the providence of God 
and the nature of man with interest. You are already aware that 
in much of what you say my opinions coincide with those you 
express, and where they differ I shall not attempt to bias you. 
Thought and conscience are, or ought to be, free ; and, at any 
rate, if your views were universally adopted there would be no 
persecution, no bigotry. But never try to proselytise, the world is 
not yet fit to receive what you and Emerson say : man, as he now 
is, can no more do without creeds and forms in religion than he 
can do without laws and rules in social intercourse. You and 
Emerson judge others by yourselves ; all mankind are not like 
you, any more than every Israelite was like Nathaniel. 



THE DEATH OF BRAN WELL BRONTE 459 

1 Is there a human being/ you ask, ' so depraved that an act of 
kindness will not touch nay, a word melt him?' There are 
hundreds of human beings who trample on acts of kindness and 
mock at words of affection. I know this though I have seen but 
little of the world. I suppose I have something harsher in my 
nature than you have, something which every now and then tells 
me dreary secrets about my race, and I cannot believe the voice 
of the Optimist, charm he never so wisely. On the other hand, I 
feel forced to listen when a Thackeray speaks. I know truth is 
delivering her oracles by his lips. 

As to the great, good, magnanimous acts which have been per- 
formed by some men, we trace them up to motives and then 
estimate their value ; a few, perhaps, would gain and many lose 
by this test. The study of motives is a strange one, not to be 
pursued too far by one fallible human being in reference to his 
fellows. 

Do not condemn me as uncharitable. I have no wish to urge 
my convictions on you, but I know that while there are many 
good, sincere, gentle people in the world, with whom kindness is 
all-powerful, there are also not a few like that false friend (I had 
almost written fiend} whom you so well and vividly described in 
one of your late letters, and who, in acting out his part of domestic 
traitor, must often have turned benefits into weapons wherewith to 
wound his benefactors. Believe me, yours sincerely, 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 311 

TO ELLEN NUSSEY 

October zgth, '48. 

DEAR ELLEN, I am sorry you should have been uneasy at my 
not writing to you ere this, but you must remember it is scarcely 
a week since I received your last, and my life is not so varied that 
in the interim much should have occurred worthy of mention. 
You insist that I should write about myself this puts me in 
straits for I really have nothing interesting to say about myself. 
I think I have now nearly got over the effects of my late illness, 
and am almost restored to my normal condition of health. I 
sometimes wish that it was a little higher, but we ought to be 
content with such blessings as we have, and not pine after those 
that are out of our reach. I feel much more uneasy about my 



460 THE BRONTfiS 

sisters than myself just now. Emily's cold and cough are very 
obstinate. I fear she has pain in the chest, and I sometimes catch 
a shortness in her breathing, when she has moved at all quickly. 
She looks very, very thin and pale. Her reserved nature occasions 
me great uneasiness of mind. It is useless to question her ; you 
get no answers. It is still more useless to recommend remedies ; 
they are never adopted. Nor can I shut my eyes to the fact of 
Anne's great delicacy of constitution. The late sad event has, I 
feel, made me more apprehensive than common. I cannot help 
feeling much depressed sometimes. I try to leave all in God's 
hands ; to trust in His goodness ; but faith and resignation are 
difficult to practise under some circumstances. The weather has 
been most unfavourable for invalids of late ; sudden changes of 
temperature, and cold penetrating winds have been frequent here. 
Should the atmosphere become settled, perhaps a favourable effect 
might be produced on the general health, and those harassing 
coughs and colds be removed. Papa has not quite escaped, but 
he has, so far, stood it out better than any of us. You must not 
mention my going to Brookroyd this winter. I could not, and 
would not, leave home on any account. I am truly sorry to hear 
of Miss Heald's serious illness, it seems to me she has been for 
some years out of health now. These things make one/^/as well 
as know, that this world is not our abiding-place. We should not 
knit human ties too close, or clasp human affections too fondly. 
They must leave us, or we must leave them, one day. Good-bye 
for the present. God restore health and strength to you and to 
all who need it Yours faithfully, C. BRONTfi. 

Letter 312 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

November 2nd, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have received, since I last wrote to you, two 
papers, the Standard of Freedom and the Morning Herald, both 
containing notices of the Poems ; which notices, I hope, will at 
least serve a useful purpose to Mr. Smith in attracting public 
attention to the volume. As critiques, I should have thought more 
of them had they more fully recognised Ellis Bell's merits ; but 
the lovers of abstract poetry are few in number. 

Your last letter was very welcome, it was written with so kind 
an intention : you made it so interesting in order to divert my 



THE DEATH OF BRANWELL BRONTE 461 

mind. I should have thanked you for it before now, only that I 
kept waiting for a cheerful day and mood in which to address you, 
and I grieve to say the shadow which has fallen on our quiet home 
still lingers over it. I am better, but others are ill now. Papa is 
not well, my sister Emily has something like a slow inflammation 
of the lungs, and even our old servant, who has lived with us 
nearly a quarter of a century, is suffering under serious indis- 
position. 

I would fain hope that Emily is a little better this evening, but 
it is difficult to ascertain this. She is a real stoic in illness : she 
neither seeks nor will accept sympathy. To put any questions, to 
offer any aid, is to annoy ; she will not yield a step before pain or 
sickness till forced ; not one of her ordinary avocations will she 
voluntarily renounce. You must look on and see her do what she 
is unfit to do, and not dare to say a word a painful necessity for 
those to whom her health and existence are as precious as the life 
in their veins. When she is ill there seems to be no sunshine in the 
world for me. The tie of sister is near and dear indeed, and I 
think a certain harshness in her powerful and peculiar character 
only makes me cling to her more. But this is all family egotism 
(so to speak) excuse it, and, above all, never allude to it, or to 
the name Emily, when you write to me. I do not always show 
your letters, but I never withhold them when they are inquired 
after. 

I am sorry I cannot claim for the name Bronte the honour of 
being connected with the notice in the Bradford Observer. That 
paper is in the hands of dissenters, and I should think the best 
articles are usually written by one or two intelligent dissenting 
ministers in the town. Alexander Harris 1 is fortunate in your 
encouragement, as Currer Bell once was. He has not forgotten 
the first letter he received from you, declining indeed his MS. of 
The Professor, but in terms so different from those in which the 
rejections of the other publishers had been expressed with so 
much more sense and kind feeling, it took away the sting of dis- 
appointment and kindled new hope in his mind. 

Currer Bell might expostulate with you again about thinking 
too well of him, but he refrains; he prefers acknowledging that the 
expression of a fellow-creature's regard even if more than he 
deserves does him good : it gives him a sense of content. What- 

1 Alexander Harris wrote A Converted Atheisfs Testimony to the Truth of Chris- 
tianity ' t and other now forgotten works. 



462 THE BRONTES 

ever portion of the tribute is unmerited on his part, would, he is 
aware, if exposed to the test of daily acquaintance, disperse like a 
broken bubble, but he has confidence that a portion, however 
minute, of solid friendship would remain behind, and that portion 
he reckons amongst his treasures. 

I am glad, by the bye, to hear that Madeline is come out at last, 
and was happy to see a favourable notice of that work and of The 
Three Paths in the Morning Herald. I wish Miss Kavanagh all 
success. 

Trusting that Mrs. Williams's health continues strong, and that 
your own and that of all your children is satisfactory, for without 
health there is little comfort, I am, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 

C. BRONTE. 

Letter 313 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

November i6t/i, 1848. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have already acknowledged in a note to 
Mr. Smith the receipt of the parcel of books, and in my thanks 
for this well-timed attention I am sure I ought to include you ; 
your taste, I thought, was recognisable in the choice of some of 
the volumes, and a better selection it would have been difficult to 
make. 

To-day I have received the Spectator and the Revue des deux 
Mondes. The Spectator consistently maintains the tone it first 
assumed regarding the Bells. I have little to object to its opinion 
as far as Currer Bell's portion of the volume is concerned. It is 
true the critic sees only the faults, but for these his perception is 
tolerably accurate. Blind is he as any bat, insensate as any 
stone, to the merits of Ellis. He cannot feel or will not acknow- 
ledge that the very finish and labor lima which Currer wants, 
Ellis has ; he is not aware that the ' true essence of poetry ' per- 
vades his compositions. Because Ellis's poems are short and 
abstract, the critics think them comparatively insignificant and 
dull, They are mistaken. 

The notice in the Revue des deux Mondes is one of the most 
able, the most acceptable to the author, of any that has yet 
appeared, Eugene Forbade understood and enjoyed Jane Eyre. 
I cannot say that of all who have professed to criticise it. The 
censures are as well-founded as the commendations. The speci- 



THE DEATH OF BRANWELL BRONTE 468 

mens of the translation given are on the whole good ; now and 
then the meaning of the original has been misapprehended, but 
generally it is well rendered. 

Every cup given us to taste in this life is mixed. Once it 
would have seemed to me that an evidence of success like that 
contained in the Revue would have excited an almost exultant 
feeling in my mind. It comes, however, at a time when counter- 
acting circumstances keep the balance of the emotions even 
when my sister's continued illness darkens the present and dims 
the future. That will seem to me a happy day when I can an- 
nounce to you that Emily is better. Her symptoms continue to 
be those of slow inflammation of the lungs, tight cough, difficulty 
of breathing, pain in the chest, and fever. We watch anxiously 
for a change for the better may it soon come. I am, my dear 
sir, yours sincerely, C. BRONTE. 

As I was about to seal this I received your kind letter. Truly 
glad am I to hear that Fanny is taking the path which pleases 
her parents. I trust she may persevere in it. She may be sure 
that a contrary one will never lead to happiness ; and I should 
think that the reward of seeing you and her mother pleased 
must be so sweet that she will be careful not to run the risk of 
forfeiting it. 

It is somewhat singular that I had already observed to my 
sisters, I did not doubt it was Mr. Lewes who had shown you 
the Revue. 

Letter 314 

TO W. S. WILLIAMS 

November 22nd, 1848. 

MY DEAR SlR, I put your most friendly letter into Emily's 
hands as soon as I had myself perused it, taking care, however, 
not to say a word in favour of homoeopathy that would not 
have answered. It is best usually to leave her to form her own 
judgment, and especially not to advocate the side you wish her 
to favour ; if you do, she is sure to lean in the opposite direction, 
and ten to one will argue herself into non-compliance. Hitherto 
she has refused medicine, rejected medical advice ; no reasoning, 
no entreaty, has availed to induce her to see a physician. After 
reading your letter she said, * Mr. Williams's intention was kind 



464 THE BRONTES 

and good, but he was under a delusion : Homoeopathy was only 
another form of quackery.' Yet she may reconsider this opinion 
and come to a different conclusion ; her second thoughts are often 
the best 

The North American Review is worth reading ; there is no 
mincing the matter there. What a bad set the Bells must be ! 
What appalling books they write ! To-day, as Emily appeared 
a little easier, I thought the Review would amuse her, so I read it 
aloud to her and Anne. As I sat between them at our quiet but 
now somewhat melancholy fireside, I studied the two ferocious 
authors. Ellis, the ' man of uncommon talents, but dogged, 
brutal, and morose/ sat leaning back in his easy-chair drawing 
his impeded breath as he best could, and looking, alas ! piteously 
pale and wasted ; it is not his wont to laugh, but he smiled half- 
amused and half in scorn as he listened. Acton was sewing, no 
emotion ever stirs him to loquacity, so he only smiled too, 
dropping at the same time a single word of calm amazement to 
hear his character so darkly portrayed. I wonder what the 
reviewer would have thought of his own sagacity could he have 
beheld the pair as I did. Vainly, too, might he have looked round 
for the masculine partner in the firm of ' Bell & Co. 1 How I laugh 
in my sleeve when I read the solemn assertions that Jane Eyre 
was written in partnership, and that it * bears the marks of more 
than one mind and one sex.' 

The wise critics would certainly sink a degree in their own 
estimation if they knew that yours or Mr. Smith's was the first 
masculine hand that touched the MS. of Jane Eyre, and that till 
you or he read it no masculine eye had scanned a line of its con- 
tents, no masculine ear heard a phrase from its pages. However, 
the view they take of the matter rather pleases me than otherwise. 
If they like, I am not unwilling they should think a dozen ladies 
and gentlemen aided at the compilation of the book. Strange 
patchwork it must seem to them this chapter being penned by 
Mr., and that by Miss or Mrs. Bell ; that character or scene being 
delineated by the husband, that other by the wife ! The gentle- 
man, of course, doing the rough work, the lady getting up the 
finer parts. I admire the idea vastly. 

I have read Madeline. It is a fine pearl in simple setting. 
Julia Kavanagh has my esteem ; I would rather know her than 
many far more brilliant personages. Somehow my heart leans 
more to her than to Eliza Lynn, for instance. Not that I have 



THE DEATH OF BRANWELL BRONTE 465 

read either A mymone or Azetk t \ntfi I have seen extracts from them 
which I found it literally impossible to digest They presented 
to my imagination Lytton Bulwer in petticoats an overwhelming 
vision. By the bye, the American critic talks admirable sense 
about Bulwer candour obliges me to confess that. 

I must abruptly bid you good-bye for the present. Yours 
sincerely, CURRER BELL. 



END OF VOL. L 



VOL. I. 2 G 



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at the Edinburgh University Press 



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